Category Archives: Interview

The Unshakeable Road To Love BookTour

I’m pleased to be part of author Brenda Shoshanna’s “The Unshakeable Road To Love” Book Tour. Brenda is a long term zen practitioner as well as an author, and she integrates teachings of both East and West in all her work, including her latest book “The Unshakeable Road To Love” where she explores the differences between real and counterfeit love. Before I interview Brenda, here’s a quick summary of her book…

BOOK SUMMARY

The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships) is based upon Eternal Principles from all world scriptures, including Zen. These tried and true Eternal Principles, the Pillars of Love, show how to build foundations for relationships where happiness and well-being are inevitable. And where pain and conflict can dissolve on the spot. 

A radically different approach to love and psychology, the book offers a completely new perspective on fulfillment and what is truly needed to thrive. For example, one of the Pillars of Love upon which the book is based is:

To Be Happy, You Do Not Have To Be Loved, You Have to Learn What It Means to Be Loving.  

The book explores the difference between Real and Counterfeit Love. We discover how all suffering in relationships is due to being caught in the trap of Counterfeit Love. And how easy it is to break free from bondage and leave that trap behind.

This is a book of practice, filled with Turning Points, Pillars of Love, Interventions, and many enjoyable exercises so the reader can practice these principles in all their relationships and in their everyday lives.

Written by a psychologist, Interfaith Counselor, and long-term Zen practitioner, the book combines the practices and principles of both East and West, helping us to discover and celebrate the best in ourselves and others.

Publisher: Brenda Shoshanna (October 2022)

ISBN-10: 1094378046

ISBN-13: 978-1094378046

Print length: 208 pag

MY INTERVIEW

A warm welcome to the blog Brenda …

Hello! I am Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.d. author of The Unshakeable Road to Love (Value Centered Relationships. A psychologist, author, playwright, speaker, long term Zen practitioner, and Interfaith Counselor.  Overall, my work has focused on integrating the teachings and practices of East and West and showing how to make them real in our everyday life. I’ve offered talks, workshops, and meditation sessions for many years. My workshops are focused on both personal and spiritual development, and living an authentic life. My favorite teachers are my children and  grandchildren. They constantly remind me to be playful, expect the unexpected and join them in all their different journeys, with an open mind. I’ve just started a blog called Turn The Page, where I hope to integrate what I have discovered in the many different streams of life.

Your book, “The Unshakeable Road To Love”, is truly inspirational – an integration of both East and West teaching. What made you decide to write your book in the first place?

I have been working with these principles for many years, have always been fascinated by the power of relationships and love in our lives. The idea to write the book came during Covid.  I was inspired to write thebook as, along with Covid, the epidemic of loneliness, anxiety and isolation was at its peak. I had come by then to realize that isolation, loneliness and anxiety could be easily dissolved through the experience of Real love. And often upset and conflict dissolved on the spot.

You are a long term Zen practitioner and you have a weekly podcast called “Zen Wisdom For Everyday Life” … but when did you first realize this empowerment that practicing Zen can make a difference in love and life in general? 

I actually started reading about Zen practice when I was fifteen years old, was give a small book on Zen by a teacher in school and could never put the book down. I read it again and again. About fifteen years later I actually met my Zen Master here in NY. After the first night at the zendo (place where Zen is practiced, place for Zen meditation), I could not stay away. It called to me immediately. Then, sitting by sitting, month by month, year by year, the power and strength of practice became more and more evident in my life. It became my life. In fact there is no difference between true practice and one’s life. They interfuse one another.

Your book is jammed pack with hints, projects and situations to help on that road to love. Were there any aspects of writing “The Unshakeable Road To Love” that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

It surprised and fascinated me, to realize again and again, how all encompassing and powerful the practice of love is, how important it was to keep mindful of it, and to keep practicing it myself. 

You have authored over 20 books, including self help titles, books on Zen, mindfulness and meditation- very impressive 😊 However, are you a reader too?  What genre of books do you read to relax?  

Believe it or not, I still love to relax with books on Zen, and also on the practice of releasing, love, and truths from all scriptures.

You are also the Playwright in residence at The Jewish Repertory Theater and the Ensemble Studio Theatre, both in New York.  When writing your plays,  do you use the same preparation as you would writing your books?  Would you (or have you) written a play based on the advice given in “The Unshakeable Road To Love”? 

I “was” playwright in residence at both of those theaters. I still write plays and actually, just received honorable mention from Tennesse Williams/New Orleans Literary Contest, for a play called “Searching For The Ox,” on Zen! The Master is the hero, it takes place at the zendo, and in Central Park among the homeless. 

When writing plays I approach them the same way I would fiction. I just allow the characters to arrive and to reveal themselves. I let things happen, unfold as they do. I don’t usually plot things out, but enter into a dialogue with my characters. And yes, yes, I use the tools I talk about in The Unshakeable Road to Love.

I welcome every character, grant them the right to be who they are and allow them to speak their truths. No rejecting them or trying to control them. In a sense it is a divine encounter I mention in the book. A true meeting.

Growing up, what career aspirations did you have?

I wanted to be an actress for many years. That morphed into being a playwright. Then I wanted to be a philosophy professor and also have a large family.

Is “The Unshakeable Road To Love”  available to purchase worldwide?

The Unshakeable Road to Love is available on amazon.com, bn.com, and other online platforms. Not sure about worldwide?

For pinning later

What are you working on now?

Just finished an Inspirational Memoir, called A Flash of Lightning. Working on finding the right agent and publisher for this work.

I’d love for you all to subscribe to my blog. There’s a place there to interact, and share your thoughts and feelings – The Forum. The blog will offer all kinds of articles on personal and spiritual growth, opportunities for dialogue, and a new upcoming podcast.

Also working on making the five and half years of my podcast Zen Wisdom for Your Everyday Life, into a series of books and also offering many articles based upon it on my new blog – TURN THE PAGE  (www.turnthepage.live)

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love colorful, simple, lively outfits, dresses, slacks and beautiful, printed top

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I like Coldwater Creek, Orvis, Bloomingdales.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I love long, knit dresses as the weather gets cooler, slacks and beautiful sweaters.

Boots or Shoes?

I like boots outdoors and shoes inside. Shoes are usually easier to get around in, and to get into at home.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

I am on Facebook: Facebook.com/brenda.shoshanna

 Instagram  Zenlife7

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/sunflower777

 Linkedin.com   Dr Brenda Shoshanna

BLOGhttp://www.turnthepage.live

BOOK TOUR DATES

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Brenda Shoshanna. My thanks to Brenda for the review copy of “The Unshakeable Road To Love “.

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Journey Of The Twin Flame

I first interviewed author Richard Barnard nearly a decade ago ( see post HERE) in August 2014. His new deeply spiritual novel, “Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret – Journey Of The Twin Flame “ was an idea hinted at during my first interview with Richard , an idea he was toying with for a new book that looks into reincarnation and spirituality. And lo and behold, this book has now been published and I am so pleased to welcome Richard back on the blog to tell us more about his new book.

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BOOK SUMMARY

An alien from the future dies and the soul reincarnates, reborn back 10,000 years ago to a small African village beginning human life as what would become earth’s secretly hidden genuine Messiah and angels. The soul reincarnates a further five consecutive lives to the same village psychic soul tribe and throughout each incarnation visually multi-shares futuristic astral travel experiences with them. This practice enables them to see the future horrific atrocities of Africa and the Black race. 

The fifth incarnation the Messiah soul is born male named Koolah and in view of what’s ahead it’s decided this unique soul tribe perform a powerful ritual.  The spell insures they recognise each other and come together during each incarnation to carry out their joint humanitarian sole purpose, ultimately current day spiritually assisting Mother Africa to receive her reparation compensation for mass crimes inflicted by other sections of humanity. 

Welcome back Richard. It has been almost a decade ago since I last interviewed you in August 2014, when you hinted about an idea for a book that looks into reincarnation and spirituality and here we are with your latest deeply spiritual novel “Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret – Journey Of The Twin Flame”.   What inspired you to write a novel of this nature?

Thank you, it’s great to be back for this interview Linda and goodness ten years, that’s flown. Yes, I hinted the reincarnation vibe in my ‘Danny’s Boys’ novel and it got so many curious positive reactions from readers. The inspiration for ‘Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret, Journey Of The Twin Flame’ came whilst serving a 23-year jail term I received for being the principle organiser behind a massive cocaine shipment.  I felt getting caught and the harsh sentence a curse at the beginning but later realised it was part of a huge blessing.  Prior to that I’d lived an unhealthy life style: late night restaurant meals, endlessly smoking cigarettes day and night, constant partying, consuming and using excessive amounts of alcohol and cocaine, and to an increasing degree, smoking crack. The prison sentence saved my life and gave me a new lease of life, revealing who I am and what I’m born to do in this life.  It was during that prison sentence I gave up cigarettes, became a fitness fanatic and realised the universe, God had taken me to jail to get cleaned up, awakened and show me my calling and soul purpose of this life.  My life purpose is to use my writing talent helping Mother Africa receive her reparations and human equality.  The Arab & Transatlantic Slave Trade still has an effect on the Black race today.  Invaded, sadistically enslaved and forced into the slave master’s religious beliefs. Made to forget nature’s spirituality we’d practiced from the beginning of creation.  For sixteen hundred years forbidden to read or be educated in the religious slavers systems up until just over a hundred years ago.  This is one of the reasons the Black race is behind in society.  It hasn’t helped the colonist still has Africa divided and they’re bleeding the wealth not giving the starving people of the land anything. Western media in the west making us hate and kill one another and even hate our own appearance.  We’re demanding compensation in line with British and US law courts, a figure of £25 Trillion.  Reparation for 500 years of everything under the umbrella of European slavery, murder, rape, forced to work for lifetimes, forcing us away from Gods spirituality, compensated for the wealth obtained from stolen land, the list is endless.  Compensated for stopping one Black Africa developing into the wealthiest nation today.  The colonists are to leave all business interest in Africa and with our compensation and natural recourses we will build ourselves, carry on where we were before the intrusion. Further inspirations came from finding that I’m both spiritually and biologically part of the Jamaican Maroon tribe.  The inspirational magic runs ever deeper; three to four years ago the universe revealed my Twin Flame connection and what I’m here to do on earth.  I’m now in contact with my ancestors receiving spiritual downloads, novel material and amazing ideas for when Africa receives her reparations as are other Twin Flames helping the Native Indians, Aborigines and so forth.  I always felt odd as a child, my deep thinking about spirituality and the way my views on life never fitted with others.  Even Black children’s views for instance the Caribbean born Blacks teasing the Africans for the way the spoke and also the African’s reaction by saying, “we’re not diluted” Up until recently I’ve kept my spirituality secret from the people that don’t get it. But so many of us are waking up, thank God.  Yes Linda, if all that’s not an inspiration to write this novel, what is?

When was you first aware of your ancestral spirits and your purpose in life?

My first deeply spiritual encounter happened at around the age of twelve.  A young Romany gypsy lady Rosella assisted my first spiritual past life regression. Our joint regression reading reawakened our minds; conscious in ancient Africa to find in that life we hadn’t been forced into any man invented religious beliefs, instead deeply spiritual humans and part of a unique soul tribe. During the reading I knew after that life we’d continuously reincarnate meeting the same souls born into different bodies.  Throughout my life growing up I’ve always known this and had guidance from these souls, my deeply spiritual ancestors I’d met again during my childhood past life regression. To answer the question, looking back now that childhood regression reading was when I was firstly aware of my ancestral soul tribe and life purpose for this incarnation.  Since then after experiencing much spiritual phenomenon I’m now thinking the first and only time I met the Romany gypsy Rosella she may have appeared as a so-called phantom of if you like a ghost. 

I loved the intertwining of the characters (souls) – so are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

Linda, coincidently I met another elderly psychic medium and she told me I’m a writer in many past and future lives and often use the entwining method.  The style is part of my own unique style;a characteristic of the soul. The story features Rosella, it had to. Although she’s someone I’ve met just the once; Rosella and my first past life regression has impacted my life so much that I’ve entwined the experience, her name and character into the story.  Among others Rosella actually inspired part of the story.  Incidentally I’ve been reminded there’s no such a thing as a coincidence or a coincidental meeting or coincidental anything in the entire universe.  The character Koolah the Messiah was at first the hardest, but at the same time easiest to portray.   The reason for this is my mother forced us into Sunday school as children where the preacher indoctrinated a to be feared White God and Jesus into the minds of everyone in the church; many of whom were Black children; myself included so therefore at first I found it difficult to create a Black Messiah.

Were there any aspects of writing this novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

Yes, the surprising part was how my ancestors with the material contacted me.  I also based one of the characters, Yanson Bailey off some circumstances that surrounded my young life. Yanson Bailey was hard to write because a lot of his struggles are based on my unique childhood.  The uniqueness comes from being the middle Black child growing up in a household with four lighter skinned mix-race siblings in the nineteen sixties and seventies. I had to go back in time and finally face my own childhood emotional struggles, which has in a way been an amazing therapy.  Which reminds me when I was a young man around fourteen and the lighter skinned people were more favoured, my White soul mate girlfriend was totally aware of my circumstances and she labelled me the ugly duckling.  At first, I felt why would she say such a thing but remembering the kids’ story book tale I knew she was one of many Angels put on my path, another member of my soul tribe. 

Hypothetically speaking, if “ Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret – Journey of the Twin Flame” was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters? 

When I began creating the novel, on the advice ofthe actor and friend Ray Winstone I visualised it as a TV series to be aimed at Netflix, Tyler Perry or one of the other huge TV producers. Back then I could only see Idris Elba playing Daniel Cottle and Ray Winstone playing the older Charlie Baker.  I’m in contact with Ray and Idris and it would be a dream to bring those guys together in a major production.   As it stands now ten years on Idris could still play the maturing Daniel Cottle in later seasons and Ray the dual role of Charlie Baker and the eighteenth Century Jim Morgan who reincarnates physically exactly identical to modern day Charlie Baker. There’s a sorrowful scene showing the elder legendary pirate captain Jim Morgan having previously been arrested on the island of Jamaica now in his London prison cell waiting to be taken to the Newgate Prison gallows. There’s only one actress I’ve ever visualised playing the dainty mix-race, quarter Black Haitian witch, Claudette and that is no other than Jan Anderson.  This particular acting talent would do it justice, exploding on screen with her natural psychic personality.  I love nothing more than rags to riches success stories and there’s so much talent around the world waiting to be discovered.  Linda, wouldn’t it be nice to find gems introducing unknown, upcoming British, American performers; giving underprivileged Haitian, Jamaican, African and Romanian acting talent this unique opportunity in what would be a massive online TV production.  My parents country of birth Jamaica produces so much talent in all areas of life and I’d also love to see a Jamaican descent male actor play the flamboyant sixties – seventies pretty boy gangster Nathaniel “Cutty” Robinson.  

I loved the fact that I knew the locations featured in the book from East London, where I also grew up, through to Jamaica, Ibiza and West Africa where I have visited; it somehow immersed me fully into the book. So, if you could visit any location in the world for inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why?

The follow up to ‘Religion’s Hidden Secret’ ‘The Truth’ is again set in Jamaica, Ibiza, Romania, Africa and additional countries.  I’ll be away from the UK touring, spending time in those locations when creating the later drafts of the novel to get a feel for the environment and spiritually. To also connect with my ancestral souls in those locations for inspirational purposes.

Looking through your face book social media platform I’ve noticed you’re associated with many famous celebrities, Idris, other fantastic novelists; Conservative Party politician Jonathan Aitkin among them, actors, footballers, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Kieran Richardson, Olympic Gold medallist Greg Rutherford, major producers like Nick Love and many more. Richard, you know some fascinating people!

Many others say exactly that.  The universe has presented each and every person and spirit to me in this life, including you Linda for friendship and this interview.  I was introduced to Idris and after reading some early drafts of this novel he said I was a great writer, which I took as a huge compliment because he gets screenplays thrown at him regularly by seasoned professional, renowned Hollywood writers. I spoke to him quite regularly whilst he was filming a season of Luther and people around him explained I had an effect on him because he never usually spoke to anyone whilst filming. Ray Winstone’s another one, we constantly spoke when he was on set in South Africa, these guys just find my journey and soul purpose of interest.  You mentioned Nick Love; he showed up at my book launch event in Notting Hill on the 25th August just last month and I’ve always known in him I’ve found a soul mate; always on hand to help with advice. 


Past or present if you could sit and have a conversation with anyone, singling out one who would it be?

 That’s easy, my Twin Flame; other half of me of course.  Linda, imagine meeting the other half of you, other half of your soul in this lifetime. Ok, other than my Twin Flame another person who is alive today : the greatest that has ever graced the sport of boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr.  I’m a huge boxing fan and firstly,  I have to say Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali is the greatest and I feel that Floyd would totally agree because not only what he did for boxing and other sports but influence he will always have on the entire planet. His stance on a Black man fighting in the Vietnam war and by the way I can’t remember word for word but this was his explanation for not going to Vietnam :“You want me to travel thousands of miles to kill a man that’s never enslaved , hated or racial abused me, has no problem with my colour or African heritage.  I’m to kill him for America where I’m just a nigger.  If I’m not shot dead or tortured to death in Vietnam; when I return to America I’m still a nigger, my wife and children not allowed in white schools, restaurants, segregated toilets and parts of buses. Legalised KKK terrorist doing what they wish.   Going to Vietnam would make me a coward in the eyes of my race and wife and I wouldn’t feel I deserve to share our bed.  Am I afraid of going to jail for a few years?  As a Black man in America I am already in jail.  So a few years in one of its jails is nothing. My ancestors went through lifetimes of horrific slavery, men  women and children so that I could be here today and protest for freedom and equality” . Most famous man in the world, if he’s not the greatest, who is?  Brazil are the greatest soccer nation in the world because they’ve won the most FIFA world cups.  Floyd is the greatest boxer because he has the best boxing record. Yes, for many reasons, I’d love to sit with Floyd, it would be a honour to be in his company, speak to him about his career and invite him to invest in our African project and also the TV series based on this novel.

Whose work is your favourite?

 Firstly film.  In my top thirty there’s many Black movies, Samuel L Jackson, in ‘Time To Kill’ Spike Lee’s ‘Malcolm X’, Denzil Washington in ‘Glory’ growing up as a bit of a lad I love all the gangster movies, Scarface, Goodfellas, Casino but it shocks people to say my favourite movie of all time has to be the Steven Spielberg masterpiece ‘Empire Of The Sun’ – it fascinates people when I say this because there is no Black characters but what got me was I aspire to be a great author such as the one who wrote the story J G Ballard and I watched the film during a difficult time in this life where I was on a deep survival mode.  The novel is based on the writer James’s life story where as a spoilt; well to do child in Japan in a split second his life was turned upside down and he had to survive.  I actually watched the movie before reading the novel and the novel was great but when reading back this novel Religion’s Dark Hidden Secret’ it sends shivers through me.  I read back parts of it thinking where did all this come from?  Then realise it was put into my mind by me ancestral soul tribe.  To answer the question the material my ancestors gave me is my favourite.  Also when this is made into a movie followed by an on-line series ‘Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret’ will push ‘Empire Of The Sun’ into my second place.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Whilst serving time and after release I’ve read some fantastic novels, Alexandre Dumas’s ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ JG Ballard’s ‘Empire Of The Sun’ and other all time greats although I’m not actually a book worm as such, I’m usually too engrossed into creating my own material. I don’t mind a kindle or actual book.  Just to add, I spoke to an old flame a few years back and she reminded me I once explained the kindle idea to her way before it was invented.  That must be the psychic power within me. 

Is “Religion’s Hidden Dark Secret  – Journey Of The Twin Flame” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes Linda! The hardback, paperback and kindle can be purchased on Amazon and later the audio copy will follow.  We’re in the process of promoting it all around the world, beginning in the Caribbean and moving to the US. This story is designed to help eradicate racism bring equality to humanity and end world hunger.  Among the many points it makes, our bodies die and we as souls reincarnate.  As a woman of any nation conceives birth we souls begin life, Black White or any nation in any era.  I’ve known for a long time that there is no such a thing as individual races.  We were all Black at some stage but some nations have evolved to appear differently to deal with climates. There is only one race and that’s the human race. By the way Linda, I strongly feel you personally have lived some enjoyable Black lives and you’ve actually felt a familiarity when holidaying in Black homelands. The story goes deeper explaining Black Africa is the cradle of civilisation; the entire human race began Black.  When you look at those two points alone it just shows how pointless, vile and sickening racism really is. 

Ok Richard, the goal? You speak of your soul purpose, bringing prosperity to Africa and so forth. How do you plan to do this?

When this novel is a success,  I’ll have a voice.  I’ll begin by bringing together everyone with influence and empathy for to the long horrific destruction of the Motherland and today still oppressing the Black race. Invite them to join me in a project that continuously comes to me by way of beautiful dreams. The Rapper Akon, Roger Federer, Sadio Mané, Idris, Tyler Perry, Floyd Mayweather, Nick Love, Oprah and hundreds of others are to be invited to invest in this project where the west will teach African indigenous people to be self sufficient.  Anybody will be able to by shares in this fruitful and at the same time meaningful investment.  We’re to approach an underdeveloped country government to talk about investing in a Black financed and Black built West coast African town to rival Dubai.  Education, tourism, export businesses, airstrip and an international airport, training and employing local labour, wouldn’t that be amazing? We won’t stop there, put another tourist attraction town further down the coastline and train track right around the coast adding hotels building the tourism industry. Tourist trips to the slave forts, etc showing the world Black and White, even Arab tourists where they came from; slaves and slave masters.  Linda, this is where it goes deep.  The human body I have at present will eventually die but I’ll reincarnate in around two hundred years to witness all the colonists that are still today bleeding Africa dry, they’ll be gone, all greedy sell-out, corrupt Black politicians, gone.   Instead Mother Africa smiling again, a booming Black African economy. No man invented religion, instead nature’s spirituality, one leader, one country, one currency. You ever listened to the John Lennon track, Imagine? For me among the simplest and most positive lyric ever written. It’s my responsibility to help make this happen.  With the help of spirit we’ll be unstoppable.

Personal now and on a much lighter note – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Sounds strange but even when going out partying, I like to dress casual in jeans, tee shirts, jumpers, especially makes like Hugo Boss, Replay. I’ve begun doing radio and televised events, which will lead to national TV talks surrounding this project and I suppose now I’ll have to treat myself to a new swanky suit or two.  Maybe Armani, Hugo Boss or another cool brand.  

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

All the shops I’ve just mentioned, Linda.  I’m also forever ordering a Nike training shoe from JD Sports.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

With a little luck many swanky suits, which would tell me I’m headed the right direction with this amazing project.

Boots or Shoes?

I’m a boots type of guy, Linda. The reason being I find nothing more annoying than when the backs of your jeans or trousers keep getting caught inside the heel part of the shoe.  With boots you’ve no need to worry about this.

Links:

Thanks for the chat, Richard. I found your novel riveting and I really enjoyed the entwining journeys of souls connecting and reconnecting across time. Many thanks for the copy of the book to experience the journey myself .

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the fire eater photo – by Linda Hobden) have been published with the full permission of Richard Barnard.

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Author Interview: Gethyn Jones

This week I’m interviewing former broadcaster Gethyn Jones who is also now a songwriter, producer and author. I was fortunate enough to read his debut novel “Fatal Equation” & listen to the accompanying EP of original songs by Gethyn performed by the band mentioned in his book, Coolstar. This is a book of two halves – you have the romantic drama and trials of an age gap relationship; and you have the music and the DJ life. It all cleverly intertwines and has enough drama to keep you on your toes!

BOOK SUMMARY

At the age of 16, his domineering father cruelly exiled Ali Kurmi to the south coast in order to protect the family name. Now in his thirties, he’s forced to work as an unofficial bailiff for his father’s property company, a job he detests. The only thing keeping him going is songwriting and DJ- ing. Ali invests all his cash in a plan to break into the notoriously unwelcoming music business. His off- beat passion for 70s and 80s music leads him into DJ work on the corporate events circuit, where he meets and is smitten with, a beautiful, older woman. Laura O’Brien recently inherited a fortune after the tragic death of her husband Frank, the internationally acclaimed Irish racehorse breeder. Determined to avoid returning to the bottle, she’s left Tipperary to start afresh in Hampshire – with plans to put her new-found wealth to good use. This unlikely couple’s happiness, and their plans to launch Ali’s music career, are soon imperiled when Ali finds himself being blackmailed by his own father – and innocently falling foul of a drugs cartel. Trouble’s brewing for Laura too, not least her unhinged and dangerous step-daughter, hell- bent on revenge.

THE INTERVIEW

Hi Gethyn and welcome….

Hi. I’m Gethyn Jones. I’m a musician, composer, author, web designer and for twenty five years I was a radio presenter with the BBC and Independent Local Radio. I laterhelped to set up a community TV station where I was News Editor/Head of Programmes and at one time I also taught senior military servicemen how to handle TV and radio interviews. Bit of a mixture isn’t it!

Who or what inspired you to write your debut novel, Fatal Equation?

 It started with a song called Fatal Equation! After a very long break from writing music I took it up again and before I knew it I had 18 professionally mastered tracks. Whilst it’s easy releasing tracks on Spotify, anyone can release a record nowadays – the trouble is, they do! It’s alleged that 60,000 tracks get uploaded to that platform every single day. Consequence? Most never see the light of day. So what to do with all those songs of mine?  Enter an experienced actor friend who suggested setting the songs into the context of a story – with a view to a possible TV drama series. The outcome of nearly four years work is: the Fatal Equation Book and three companion EPs of music featured in the storyline performed by the band Coolstar. There’s also the TV drama treatment waiting for when Netflix comes knocking (I wish).

I enjoyed the unravelling drama and romance of the age gap relationship between Laura and Ali ; the spitefulness of Laura’s stepchildren; the previous relationships/baggage of both Laura and Ali ; Ali’s family; and Ali’s budding music career. There were quite a few threads in the novel that seemed to gel well together. Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?  

Hands up – this is my first novel and whilst I have a lot of professional experience in writing, creating a novel was an awesome prospect. The very thought of embarking on the project terrified me. What came as a total surprise to me was how I ended up completely loving the experience. I’m very familiar with songwriting and how it can take you away from reality when you’re immersed in it. To my delight, writing this book had the same magical effect. I went somewhere else and not wishing to sound corny, the book kind-of wrote itself. I still don’t know where creative inspiration comes from – it’s ethereal, magic and addictive.

Copyright © Linda Hobden

My favourite character  was Laura – I liked her fondness for Ali and her strengthening love for him and their relationship despite a lot of setbacks.  Which character did you find easiest to write? Hardest? Any personal favourites? 

There’s a substantial amount of me in Ali Kurmi – I’ve always hankered for a place in the music business – so creating Ali’s character was a job half done. It was also really interesting exploring the other side of his persona: a troubled and traumatic childhood, a domineering almost abusive father, forced into a violent job he loathed – and the rest. But these negatives are ultimately outweighed by positives – as his survival instinct and determination to see his dreams through, kick in. I also love the idea that falling for Laura completely blind-sided him and turned his life around.

You are also a songwriter and a former radio broadcaster, so it should be no surprise that you have a companion EP of 6 original songs written by yourself and performed by Coolstar, the outfit mentioned in the book. So what came first, the book or the album? Why did you decide to have a companion EP?

I see Fatal Equation as a trilogy – an album of songs, a novel and a potential TV drama. In my head, the three go together. So we’ll see how that pans out. However, the project is driven by the music – that came first. Ali Kurmi is like me – he writes songs that vary in style dramatically. Heavy Rock, Country, Classical, Dance, Brass Funk and simple Abba-esque pop. All sung by different singers. 12 tracks out of 18 are already out there on two EPs. They’re all performed by the band Coolstar and varioussingers. The EPs are called Fatal Equation Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Both are streaming and available for download in the usual places. Coolstar exists as fiction in the novel – and in reality too. Read the book – check out the tunes.

Have you always wanted to have a career in music or as an author or did you have other aspirations? 

I’ve always wanted to create music – but I’m not so sure about a career as that’s probably a little late in the day for me. Back in the day when I was working in radio I also belonged to JUGG MUSIC who wrote and produced music for TV shows duringthe 70s and 80s – RUNAROUND the kids quiz show is probably the best-known. That was very satisfying. But I have to say that what I’m doing now is giving me the biggest thrill so far. I’ve managed to create a project I’m deeply proud of and I hope to make the most of it. The Fatal Equation story has more to give and a second book is not out of the question!

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I always have a book on the go – be it Kindle or physical. My reading is like my music – catholic with a small ‘c’. Anything goes. I love Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, Erin Kelly, Sarah Winman, TM Logan, Mathew Hall, Stephen Fry and many more I can’t remember. Most of my reading is done in bed so my progress can be slow!

Is “Fatal Equation” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes it is. It’s available as an eBook or paperback at Amazon and the companion CDs by Coolstar are available to buy or stream – at the usual places.

 Hypothetically speaking, if you could visit any place in the world to base your next novel in, where would you go and why? 

I’ve visited Australia once – my wife has relatives there – and it was fabulous. A few days in the Blue Mountains was an unworldly experience and one I’ll never forget. So down under, it could be.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Straight jeans (occasional chinos and, mainly for weddings and funerals, non-double-breasted/non-waistcoat/very dark blue, black or charcoal suits); layered tee shirts, shirts, pure wool sweaters, and fleeces; leather loafers; gym trainers; ‘posh’ leather trainers for socialising. For studio sessions and client meetings: always have a large leather messenger bag over my shoulder.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

For clothes: often, M&S – their menswear is (by and large) good-quality and their post-purchase customer service is no-nonsense and stress-free to navigate.

I used to use John Lewis for the same reasons; however, they seem to have fallen behind in reliability and customer service, which is a shame because my wife and I enjoy visiting their stores to see the goods first-hand, then buying online and clicking and collecting from our local Waitrose. 

My wife often sources the most wonderful velvet blazers in a variety of colours from White Stuff – nearer the festive season, their website has wonderful choices.

For shoes: again, often M&S – not least because they cater for half sizes. I like some Kurt Geiger styles but they don’t seem to encompass half-size preferences. Shame. I also like Clarks nowadays. They used to be very old-fashioned but they have come on leaps and bounds. AND, they cater for half sizes. If I had one wish, it would be for them to focus more on genuine leather you can actually polish, rather than suede/nubuck finishes. 

My ‘best’ trainers have proved to be Bugatti tan leather. They always receive oohs and aahs when I wear them. A sound investment.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I hunt for clothes items that have clever ‘finishes’ – small details that set them aside from the high-street norms. It can be a classy button-down shirt collar; a different shade of sewing machine cotton; a fun lining to a jacket … often, this is a clever tool used by White Stuff. The difference is in the smallest details. 

For shoes, I hunt down good-quality, polish-friendly leather. I hang on to my shoes for years. I choose classic styles that don’t date, so I get longevity of wear. It makes sense ecologically. Choosing faux leather isn’t all it’s made out to be – the footwear just wears out prematurely, requiring more shoe turnover. I’d rather invest in footwear that you don’t have to bin prematurely.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – every time. As a teenager, it was all about boots, and I certainly followed the crowd. But the fact is, boots are generally less comfortable and can also end up being frustratingly air-circulation-deprived (!) I plump for shoes nowadays and am very happy with that choice.

For Pinning Later

LINKS: 

https://fatalequation.com

https://gethynjonesauthor.com

https://coolstar.uk

Book (Amazon)

https://amzn.eu/d/fJ6jG0l

EPs – Coolstar (Spotify)

Social

https://www.facebook.com/gethynjonesmusic/

https://www.instagram.com/gethynjonesuk/

https://www.threads.net/@gethynjonesuk

https://twitter.com/gethynjonesuk/

https://tiktok.com/@gethynjonesuk/


Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Gethyn, and I love your shoe enthusiasm too! I thought your debut novel was superb, as well as your music and I look forward to seeing the book made into a film! Thank you also for you the copy of your book for reviewing – my views are 100% my own. Thanks also to Cameron Publicity.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Gethyn Jones; apart from the Pinterest photo, the header & the gramophone pic which were taken by me (Linda Hobden)

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Gypsy For God Book Tour

I’m pleased to be part of the “Gypsy For God” book tour. “Gypsy For God” is a Christian fiction book written by Yvonne M Morgan. In this book Yvonne has put together a novel that showcases not only her own love of travel but also her deep relationship with God.

BOOK SUMMARY

Kathleen is a middle-aged woman who loses her job, which leaves her doubting herself and fearing the future. This event sends her on a journey to find purpose and meaning in her life. She flourishes in a new career as a travel agent, but fear and doubt keep her from experiencing all life has to offer. Finally, an unexpected encounter changes everything as God begins to reveal His plans to Kathleen. Each new country she visits brings her closer to finding her real purpose. This story offers hope for readers seeking meaning in their lives regardless of their situation or age.

Publisher: Elk Lake Publishing

ISBN-10: 1649499280

ISBN-13: 978-1649499288

ASIN: B0C7NN5M41

Print Length: 332 pages

MY INTERVIEW

Please welcome onto the blog the lovely Yvonne to tell us more about her travels, her book and her faith …. Hi Yvonne!

Hi everyone. I’m Yvonne Morgan. A little about myself, I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and spent most of my summers there as I grew up and I also lived in Canada for eleven years before immigrating to the USA in 1974. I’m a mom to five children (two girls, an adopted set of twins and a son who lives in heaven). And, I’m a grandmother to five grandkids. I love Jesus, doing short-term mission trips and traveling.

Who or what inspired you to write “Gypsy For God”?

We started going on mission trips in 1983 to honor our son after his death. For many years, everyone wanted to know about the travel aspect of our mission journeys. So after writing my other books, I wanted to try my hand at fiction and include travel to other places. We learn so much when we travel. And as I got older and retired, I thought the book should inspire people who think they are no longer as useful in life. I didn’t start writing till I was in my 50s, so I know God can use any of us, no matter our age or circumstances. So all that came together as Gypsy for God.

I really enjoyed reading your book, “Gypsy For God ”and I particularly enjoyed the character of Kathleen. Researching for your novel must have been quite interesting…describing the various countries visited, for example. I know you love to travel and have done mission work too, so did you draw on your travel experiences? 

Yes, I drew on my travel experiences and each country in the book is one that I visited in my life. I wanted to really describe them in accurate detail for my audience, so picked the countries for that reason. Kathleen ends up visiting Spain, United Arab Emirates, India, Kenya, Nepal and Ireland. I found so much joy in revisiting those places in my mind as I wrote about them and digging out photos from my trips to make sure I got the details just right. I’m glad you enjoy the travels as I hoped and prayed that the travel sections would apply to lots of people as well as inspire them.

Streets of Dublin, Eire . Copyright © Photograph by Linda Hobden

Having been to some of the locations myself mentioned in the book, I admired how you described the coexistence of the extreme poverty alongside the extremely wealthier parts – as it is a total shock to the system when you first encounter this. I found this especially true the first time I visited with Kenya – especially when I saw the slums and “rubbish/garbage” hills of Nairobi. Where did you get your first culture shock?

My first genuine culture shock came on my first mission trip to Haiti. Even before my mission trips, I traveled a lot with my parents, but not to such impoverished places. In Haiti, we worked with children at a summer feeding program. Then one night, after dinner, I noticed our host agency collecting all our scraps from dinner. When she took them outside the compound to the trash area, dozens of children ran after her to claim the food we had not eaten. It broke my heart to watch them, but then it also encouraged me to keep trying to make a difference for poor children in the world. Somethingwe continue to do. As a side note, we are off to Kenya in the middle of August for me to teach at a women’s conference in a church outside Nairobi.

Prior to “Gypsy For God” you have written your memoir, a prayer journal, bible study books, Bible based children’s books … Gypsy For God book is the first Christian fiction novel you’ve written.  Was it harder or easier than you imagined to write a fiction book? Did you enjoy the experience? Were the characters based on people you know or met in your travels? 

Writing fiction was so much harder than I imagined after writing the non-fiction books and children’s books. I wanted to give up often because I thought it was too hard to make the transition. But God kept impressing on me to keep going, so I did and am thankful I did. During the process of editing, if you had asked me if I enjoyed it, I would answer, no. But now, I look back and I learned so much that I will try it again, probably with a sequel to Gypsy. None of my characters are based on actual people,but more of a combination of many of the people we have to meet or worked with over the years. I used the various personalities from the countries to comprise my characters.

A village on the island of Boa Vista, Cape Verde. Copyright © Photograph by Linda Hobden

Growing up, did you envisage yourself as a writer or did you have other career aspirations?

I used to love writing poetry in elementary and middle school but then lived happened. I never pictured myself as becoming a writer. But, I pursued a degree in accounting and worked my entire career in the accounting field. So when I felt the nudge to write, I tried to laugh it off. But God kept nudging me to write, so I started about 8 years ago. After my first book, I thought that would end my writing because I had done what God called me to do. But He kept nudging me with other ideas and so I keep writing them. Writing is a journey I never expected, but it has blessed me so much.

Is “Gypsy For God ” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, because it is available on Amazon and I think it holds a universal appeal for trying to understand our purpose in life.

If you could visit any place in the world to inspire your next book, where would you go and why? 

 I have a bucket list, lol. I really like to travel to remote, unspoiled by tourism type places. So one place I really want to visit is Mongolia. The vastness and history of the country appeal to me and, of course, I could incorporate it into a story. The other place is Morocco. I love their food and culture and dream of visiting it someday too. In both countries, I could see my main character get lost in a search for some kind of divine guidance. I might have to schedule some trips and call it research, lol.

Are you a bookworm yourself? If so, what genres (or authors) do you usually like to read? And are you a kindle or “proper book” fan?

I love to read and in some past years have read over twenty books in a year. Gypsy for God kept me busy for the last while. And I really do like all kinds of books. Right now, I’m looking over my books on Kindle to see if I can determine just one genre. So I love books set in other lands and full of adventure. I also like reading Christian non-fiction to strengthen my faith. I really love Alexander McCall Smith’s series called the “No. One Ladies Detective Agency,” set in Botswana. I’ve read all of them. I recently read the Gumbeaux Sistas series by Jax Frey. They are set in New Orleans, a city I love to visit so I can eat too much. And I just started “The Pinecraft Pie Shop” series by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore. These are Amish fiction books with great recipes. I prefer paperback books but use my Kindle when traveling on long trips so I can have more than one book available to me.

Menu from a Madagascan Restaurant copyright © Linda Hobden

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m a casual girl. I live in Oklahoma City and our summer is very hot. So most often I will be in shorts and shirts or sundress. I love my sandals and running shoes. It’s fun to dress up occasionally, but I am most comfortable in casual clothes. And if I’m completely honest, a lot of mornings, I stay in my pajamas while I write and drink lots of coffee.

Do you have any favorite shops or online sites?

 When we travel, I like to visit grocery stores to see what things they sell that differ from here in the USA and to see the prices on staple items. There is a store in New Orleans called California Drawstrings that carries lots of the clothes I love. That includes dresses, pants and tops made of 100% cotton or gauze like material. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am going to a wedding in Toronto, Canada at the end of September so need to go shopping for the event. It will be semi formal so I’m looking for a sparkle in the outfit and shoes.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – it’s too hot most of the time in Oklahoma for me to wear boots. But I own a red pair of cowboy boots, which I love. 

Links you would like to share:

a. Author’s Page: https://yvonne-morgan.com

c. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ymmauthor

b. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YMMauthor

d. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yvonnemorganauthor

e. Blog: https://turningmountainsintomolehills.org

f. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17829417.Yvonne_M_Morgan

g. Charity work page: https://orphan-relief-effort.org

BOOK TOUR DATES

Thanks to Yvonne for agreeing to be interviewed and for a copy of “Gypsy Of God” . All photographs are by me, apart from the author photo and the book cover.

Linda x

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Author Interview: Paul Graham

My guest this week is author Paul Graham, whose debut psychological crime thriller has just been published by Mereo Books – “In The Shadow They Cast”. I do enjoy a good thriller, and this novel is fast paced with twists and turns that kept me entertained from start to finish. The threads of the novel were very cleverly intertwined and I really can’t believe that this is Paul’s debut!A most excellent read.

BOOK SUMMARY

A gripping, psychological crime thriller set in London, Brighton and New York that explores the deadly nature of consequences.  

·         In the murky world that surrounds the powerful Vignone family, one man’s ruthless actions unleash wide-ranging and deadly repercussions. 

Despite his impoverished, tough childhood in New York, Paolo Vignone has built a thriving, if morally-dubious, business empire which he rules over with harsh discipline – a discipline that he also applies to those closest to him.  So, when his son Lorenzo becomes involved in a relationship which does not meet with Paolo’s approval, he sends him to Europe to defuse the situation. However, when Lorenzo returns the situation is not as Paolo had planned.  The chain of events that follows leads to tragic and murderous consequences.

MY INTERVIEW

Hello Paul, welcome ! Please introduce yourself.

Hello, I’m Paul. I was born in Brighton and now live in Hove. That journey of less than 5 miles took me via Reigate, London, Barcelona and Bournemouth. I have worked in bookselling and IT, and currently teach English as a foreign language. I have two wonderful children each of whom has a partner and a dog.

“In The Shadow They Cast” is your debut novel – a psychological crime thriller set in London, Brighton and New York that explores the deadly nature of consequences. What inspired you to write a novel ?

A combination of things. I wondered if I could write an entire novel. I had dabbled with writing, produced short stories and filled notebook after notebook, but was never been sure that I had a book in me. 

Circumstances conspired to provide me with the opportunity and the idea. There is a an old story about a servant trying and failing to escape his destiny and also a tradition found principally in Asia which concerns The Red Cord which joins two people together. Those thoughts about connection and destiny form the backbone of In The Shadow They Cast. 

We can decide when to catch a bus, we can decide which bus to catch but we cannot decide who is on the bus, nor can we ever predict all the consequences of our actions. My novel is a story of decisions, actions and consequences (intentional or otherwise). 

In addition I wanted to explore the question of motivation – why people act the way they do. There are similarities in the difficulties that my characters, Paolo and Patricia, experience in their lives, but their reactions are very different.  Is the way people act and react a matter of nature?  Or is it cumulative, reaching a tipping point where everything becomes too much?

Are the characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

Here is a photograph which I took on Brighton seafront very early one September morning many years ago. ….

This scene was highly influential in my novel, providing me with characters, locations, incidents and atmosphere. I have no idea who the people in the photograph are, nor if their lives were anything like the one I have created based on them. All the characters are imagined, but many have quirks and foibles borrowed from people I have known. I also listened a lot to what people were saying and to the extraordinary things that had happened to them. However, there is one particular character who is more closely linked to reality than the others, but even so I have adapted the personality freely. 

The structure of the book is very important to me. I always knew the ending and worked back from that. The characters evolved by dint of that process, incidents were added to cause the characters to behave in a certain way, so the process was organic rather than each having a fixed set of characteristics at the outset.

Were there any aspects of writing your novel that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected?

For me the most difficult thing was leaving room for the reader. I believe that reading is an imaginative process. If the writer explains exactly how the character feels the reader can feel excluded. If the writer does no more than describe an incident then the reader can surmise how a character feels or what effect the incident has.

It was strange to realise that the writing process varied from day to day. Some days the words would flow and other days I would sit down to write and nothing would happen. Sometimes I would force myself and then have to delete it the next day, on other occasions the content was right but did not flow. Many times changing the order of the paragraphs solved the problem. There were other periods when I had to stop because I had set myself problems which I could not yet solve. 

I am pleased with the structure of the novel as a whole and there are some passages and dialogue which I particularly enjoyed writing and find satisfying when I re-read them

Hypothetically speaking, if In The Shadow They Cast was made into a film, who would you love to see portraying the characters, especially Lorenzo Vignone, Paolo, Patricia and Michael?

Paolo – Robert de Niro

Lorenzo – Ralph Macchio

Patricia – Olivia Coleman

Michael – Dan Stevens

Audrey – Emma Thompson

How did you come up with the book title? Did you consider any other titles?

The book had a working title (Like This) which was adequate when I started writing, but which no longer fitted as the book developed. The title In The Shadow The Cast is more closely linked to the themes of the book and is derived from a suggestion by the editor Chris Newton. 

Have you always wanted to have a career as an author or did you have other aspirations?

I have toyed with the idea of writing as a career and was once offered the opportunity to produce the in-house newsletter for a large company. I declined it because the role seemed to me very limited. I have never seriously thought about writing as a career. In The Shadow The Cast took a long time to write so I do not think I would ever be able to make a living from it.

 Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

Paper. For me there is something special about having a book in my hand. As for genre, at the moment I am in a thriller phase. I really enjoyed The Silent Patient and some of the books by Carmen Mola, but felt cheated when it was revealed that she is three men. I particularly like the mixture of myth and mystery in The Baztán Trilogy by Dolores Redondo. I am also drawn to metaliterature as exemplified by the early work of Jasper Fforde and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Is In The Shadow They Cast available to purchase worldwide?

Yes

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Cargo Pants, shoes by Josef Seibel, bright check shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Charles Tyrwhitt; Next

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

New boots – I’ve been looking for ages. I found some a few weeks ago, but they didn’t have my size and then discontinued them! The search continues.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots – it’s something to do with solidity and contact with the ground. If I don’t have the right connection then everything above it is wrong. 

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Website: paulgrahamauthor.co.uk

Facebook: Paul Graham

Twitter: Paul Graham @paul_paulgraham

Instagram: Paul Graham paul_paulgraham

Thank you very much for the interview, Paul. Thanks also for the copy of “In The Shadow They Cast” for reviewing – I found the story most excellent and have no hesitation in giving this book a 9/10!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Paul Graham.

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Dark Side Of Grace Book Tour

I’m thrilled to be part of author Ronald Chapman’s “Dark Side Of Grace” book tour. “Dark Side Of Grace” is the sequel to the much acclaimed novel “A Killer’s Game”.

BOOK SUMMARY

A devastating terrorist bomb blast at a spiritual retreat outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, sends journalist Kevin Pitcairn and his beloved Emmy on a quixotic quest to understand the roots of violence. Travelling across the country deep into the bowels of Southern Appalachia, their search takes them through a long-standing rift in the American consciousness to confrontations with remarkable and anomalous characters, some of them deeply spiritual, others well-grounded in research and psychology.

In this sequel to the much-acclaimed A Killer’s Grace, Pitcairn and Emmy return to the exploration of innocence while adding to it a deepening understanding of injury and ordeal―and its amazing corollary of Post-Traumatic Growth. As the quest and its dangers rip their lives apart, doors open that lure them back and forth across the country in search of tendrils tying together the events and anguish, as well as bringing the protagonists more deeply together.

  • ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1948749874
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Terra Nova Books (May 1, 2023)
  • Genre ‏ : ‎ Mystery Action & Adventure, Thriller & Suspense Action Fiction, Psychological Thriller
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 200 pages

The Dark Side of Grace  is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon. You can add it to your GoodReads reading list as well.

MY INTERVIEW WITH RONALD CHAPMAN

Hi Ronald and welcome to the blog! Please introduce yourself 😊

Hello. I usually refer to myself as a full-time, all-time student of life and living! It’s the only thing that seems to capture the breadth of my interests. Some years ago a career counselor told me I am a “spanner,” that I would never be able to ignore connections that I could make to other fields, disciplines, people and arenas. That has proved to be pretty accurate. Many of my professional clients know me as a master coach, a strategic consultant, and a process facilitator and trainer. Those in the twelve-step recovering community know me as a long-time student of the principles and practices of recovery. In the Toastmasters realm, in which I’ve developed my speaking talents, I’m an Internationally Accredited Speaker and Workshop Leader. For me, I’ve sometimes just said I’m an aspiring mystic, and want to learn all I can. I also sometimes christen myself Ron Quixote as well, because sometimes I find myself flailing at metaphorical windmills. Since that all seems like a lot, my favorite introduction from those who know me is, “This is my friend, Ron.”

Dark Side Of Grace” is the sequel to the much-acclaimed “A Killer’s Game”. What inspired you to become a writer?

As a kid growing up in a small city in Oklahoma, the local library was a refuge and sacred space. I would hang out in the dimly-lit bowels of the basement amid all those musty smelling books and lose myself. Books and reading were magical. There’s just no way that kind of love of books could not bring me round to writing. To this day, I get lost in the craftwork and the storyline. It is a happy place for me.

Sacred Red Rock at Jerez Pueblo in New Mexico – where Ron’s soul feels at rest

The characters in your book are all very strong and “vocal”, especially Kevin Pitcairn and Maria Elena (Emmy); but these strong characters expand to the people Kevin meets at his AA meetings too.  Are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

What a great observation, Linda. Yes, all these characters are reflections of real people I’ve come across in my wanderings. It’s almost like I have a psychological imprint as I engage people, many of whom I find fascinating. And the enticement to understand who they are, and what animates them, is so captivating. So when I translate those experiences into characters, they really do come to life for me. Of course, when on occasion we get a really good look at what lies deep down inside someone else, its as if their whole being suddenly makes sense.
An author once told me an interview that everything we write is in some way or another biographical, that we can’t see the world of others except through the lens of our own realities. No surprise the characters most challenging to capture are those most unlike me. Though with enough engagement with the real people, it can become much clearer how they are wired. Since I’m inherently optimistic, and enlivened by potential, it’s a real stretch to get inside the character of someone who is deeply pessimistic, or disengaged, or attached to their own futilities. Not that I have not had to navigate my own dark and difficult insides, but I’m much more compelled by transformation and realisation .

Were there any aspects of writing your book series that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected?

Another great question. I really have to slow down and be intentional about connecting things. It seems like connections come very quickly and naturally to me, that I can just see how things are related. The most common feedback I’ve received over the years is to spend more time bringing readers and listeners along in and through those connections. Curiously, I’ve become pretty good at it when I can remember to pay attention to that, though often I just get to rolling and have to backtrack. A few clients routinely record our conversations so they can play them back and then follow up with me with clarifications. I find that a bit embarrassing, to be really honest. As a social worker by education and sometimes by practice, it seems ridiculous I can’t remember to slow down and be more intentional and bringing others along in my thinking.

Ronald’s 2nd sculpture, now in bronze, “Longing”

Your writing works, whether fiction or non fiction, tend to explore many psycho spiritual themes such as innocence, spirituality, forgivenesss, 12 step recovery… what is it about these themes that ignites your passion for writing?  Would you ever consider branching out to encompass a completely different genre? If so, what would you tackle?

LOL … even my attempt to write an allegory, My Name is Wonder, turned out to be a psycho-spiritual journey! As an aside, that was inspired by a visit to a petting zoo in Victoria, British Columbia, when I had a transcendent experience with goats and crows. The story of a goat named Wonder on a spiritual quest with his spirit guide, Mac Craack Crow, was really a treat to channel onto the page. That aside, a balance for me, and one very much present in my social media posts is expressions of art, gardens and beauty. I guess that’s less about communicating and more about reflecting the wonders of the world. I do write some poetry, though I feel pretty inept. Oh … and I journal a great deal, which is very much stream of consciousness writing.

Have you always wanted to have a career in writing or did you have other aspirations?

The Enneagram psychological assessment pegs me as a #2 – The Helper, which is a very apt description. I have a constant tension between the act of creation, and the need to make it useful or applicable for others. No wonder I ended up with a Masters in Social Welfare, and no wonder so many of my worldly roles involve coaching, consulting, mentoring and guiding. I guess the other part of my personality that finds a lot of expression is The Wanderer. Those who know me well often ask, “Where the hell are you now?” And my daughters, Natalie and Brianne, have joked about the need to put a microchip for tracking under my skin so they can find me. There is so much to see and to experience. To keep that all together I have really strong meditation and contemplative practice to keep me grounded.

Ronald’s daughters, Natalie and Brianne, on a wandering into the North Georgia Mountains looking for waterfalls

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

Love, love, love a really immersive continuing storyline! (Of course I’d be writing five books as The Chronicles of Grace involving Pitcairn and Emmy. Manuscript #3 is in the hands of the publisher, manuscript #4 is up to about fifty pages, and I have the outline for Manuscript #5, after which I think it comes to closure.) I recently re-read the Dune series, and The Hunger Games when the latest book released. When Carlos Ruiz Zafon died a few years ago, I honored his passion by re-reading his series on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. And I’ve been reading and studying Maurice Nicoll’s five volumes on the Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky for many years. So too all the writings of the great American mystic, Joel Goldsmith, and his Infinite Way.

Is “Dark Side of Grace” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes! Only as English language however. The audio book should be out by September.

For pinning later. The West Mesa, high desert outside Albuquerque where A Killer’s Grace and The Dark Side Of Grace are centred.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A big and delighted belly laugh on this question! Due to some problems with how my big toes function, I’ve had to gravitate to loose fitting shoes: clogs, moccasins and sandals. However, I can spend hours in the western, hand-tooled boot stores in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And I am a total sucker for jewel tone colored heels on women. For reasons unknown, they jump into my awareness when I’m walking through public places.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love eclectic offerings, and sometimes wander off down rabbit holes looking for things I haven’t found elsewhere. Oh, and roomy, comfortable pullovers are a most beautiful thing!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Just has a passion recently for heavy cotton, jewel tone t-shirts, which are perfect to wear under a sports coat.

Boots or Shoes?

Heavyweight hiking boots or beautiful western boots, though my feet just don’t like them much anymore.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Home Site from which all my other sites pivot is RonaldChapman.com Fresh psycho-spiritual content released free several time a month at SeeingTrue.com/blog Free twelve-step recovery content added regularly at ProgressiveRecovery.org Constantly pushing out reflective material at https://www.facebook.com/ron.chapman.5
Note: All this stuff is free because of the recovery principle that saved me from myself, “Freely received, therefore freely give.”

BOOK TOUR DATES

My thanks to Ronald Chapman for inviting me onto his book tour and for the preview copy of the Dark Side of Grace. All views expressed by me are 100% my own thoughts and observations. All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Ronald Chapman

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An Interview With Lagom Glassware

There is more to glass than meets the eye – and this week’s interview is with Karolina Obroniecka Perez-Maura, founder of Lagom Glassware. This glassware has been designed in London, handmade in Czech Republic and has been made to last a lifetime. Welcome to the blog, Karolina!


Hello! My name is Karolina Obroniecka Perez-Maura I am 28 y.o. I am originally from Poland but I was born in France. While my background was originally in Graphic Design, I now also hold a degree in Product and Industrial Design degree from UAL Central Saint Martins where I currently work as an Associate Lecturer. I started Lagom Handmade Glassware back in 2022 while being 8 months pregnant with my first baby. There was something about completing my dream of creating my own company before becoming a new mum. Mission accomplished!

What inspired the creation of “Lagom Handmade Glassware”?

The thought of creating Lagom Handmade Glassware was born after I had graduated (2020). During my last year of studies I worked on a really fun ice cream project during which I discovered borosilicate glass and had the chance to meet some incredible cratfs people who showed me everything there is to know about scientific glassblowing. I did go into working in the industry for over a year after graduating. However I got so tired of re mote working (covid times!) that I started to work on setting up my company again. Finally in Q1 of 2022 I just went for it.

I’m always interested in the origins of company names – so what does “Lagom” mean and why did you pick that name?

Lagom actually means “just the right amount” in Swedish. I absolutely love this concept as it re the balance that I try to achieve in my professional (and private life) between beauty, utility and environmental impact.

You have a lovely range of glassware – I particularly like your Vivienne decanter. What designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far?

All of them have been quite successful so far but people definitely love buying sets. The Alexandra set and Bernice sets are the most popular – especially with fluted glass.

Do you have a particular favourite design?

The Eileen glass is my absolute favourite, it was the first one that I created and I guess that I am just emotionally attached to it!

Your glassware is handmade in the Czech Republic using borosilicate glass – what is borosilicate glass?

Borosilicate glass tubing is a type of scientific glass that is mostly used for research laboratories and hospitals due to its impressive resistance to thermal shock as well as the fact that its chemical composition makes it harder than most common types of glass, allowing it to be fabricated into more intricate and complex shapes. For our glasses it means that you can use them for both hot and cold drinks and put them safely in the dishwasher.
However what matters the most to me, is the uniqueness of each piece. Each one is entirely handmade, making each piece slightly different than the other with its minor imperfections.

I love that each product is named after an incredible woman that has shaped the land- scape of art, design and society! So, hypothetically speaking , if you were to pick a woman to represent your brand, who would you pick & why?

I feel very inspired and respectful of every one of them but if I were to pick just one, I would have to pick Isatou Ceesay or as they call her the “Queen of recycling”. She is a Gambian, an incredibly impressive woman that founded a social enterprise that is helping to fight plastic pollution and em powering women and young people to gain economic independence.

As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?

I am based in London but the products are handmade in the Czech Republic. I do ship overseas though.

Have you always wanted to have an artistic career or did your career aspirations lay elsewhere?

I have always been a very creative person. I have always liked to draw, paint and would hand make all of my gifts as a child/teenager! I did want to go into the History of Arts and interior design at some point but then I decided to study Graphic Design and then Product and Industrial Design.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

99% of the time you will find me wearing jeans, a shirt or simple blue or grey sweater and white sneakers (usually Vera).

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I always try to shop locally and favour small shops but THE HOME OF SUSTAINABLE THINGS comes to mind and AndHand for stationery and Bothanique workshop for plants.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Summer is around the corner so some some espadrilles for those warm nights! I’ve got my eye on a couple of very cute pairs from Alohas.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, sneakers to be more specific (almost always). As a mum of a 1 year it’s all about comfort! I would go for heeled boots for a date night though.

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Lagom Glassware.
www.lagomglassware.com

@lagom.glassware

Thanks Karolina for enlightening us on the subject of glass and you have designed some very stylish sets indeed.
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Karolina Obroniecka Perez -Maura

Linda x

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Hope Always Rises Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of author Kathie Giorgio’s “Hope Always Rises” Book Tour. Author Kathie Giorgio’s novel is on an emotional subject that few people tackle – suicide. “Hope Always Rises” is rich with empathy, with a sprinkling of humour and tons of imagination. I found the book very intriguing – although the subject matter is a very emotional one, Kathie’s imagination made me giggle in parts and thoughtful in others. I just couldn’t wait to interview Kathie …. but first here’s a book summary and an excerpt…..

BOOK SUMMARY

In Heaven, there is a gated community for those who end their lives by choice. This is a complete surprise to Hope, who ends her life one morning on the banks of the Fox River in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Hope has always dealt with deep sadness. From childhood on, she visited therapists, doctors, alternative medicine practitioners, Reiki artists, etc., to no avail. In Heaven, God reassures her that he knows what caused the sadness, but he won’t reveal it yet.

All community residents are required to attend weekly group therapy. Hope’s first group is led by Virginia Woolf. Several of the book’s chapters tell the stories of other members of this group.

Filled with many moments of striking humor, uplifting realizations, and difficult challenges, Hope finds her way in Heaven. She meets many people like herself, who help her restore her forgotten artistic talent and passion, and God himself, who is amazingly human in the most inhuman of ways. Hope finds understanding and forgiveness, and most importantly, friends.

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ISBN-10: 1685132421

ISBN-13: 978-1685132422

ASIN: B0BV36PQKL

Print length: 342 pages

AN EXERPT

I never knew God slept. I certainly never expected him to wear pyjamas or have rumpled hair. But if he looked like the God I always imagined, the God with long white hair and a beard and a moustache and a serious, serious face, I never would have been able to rest my head on his shoulder, like I was able to do now.

I was very glad he wore blue flannel pyjamas.

“You knew you couldn’t expect them to be happy, right, Hope? You knew that,” he said, and wrapped his arm around me. “It was part of your choice to end your life.”

I turned my face into his chest and wept.

It had been my choice. I didn’t expect them to be happy.

But I never thought I would witness their sadness.

For the first time, I regretted Heaven. I wished for the black void that I thought death might be, that day that I swallowed each pill with a gulp of wine.

“It’ll be okay, Hope,” God said. Not a booming voice from a burning bush or a dark cloud. A soft voice that soothed me as I cried.

THE INTERVIEW

Hello. I’m the writer Kathie Giorgio, the instructor Kathie Giorgio, the business owner Kathie Giorgio, the wife and mom Kathie Giorgio…and a few other roles too. But the writer is who I am at my purest form. I knew I was a writer by the time I was eleven years old. All the others came afterwards. 

Who or what inspired you to write “Hope Always Rises”? 

As a creative, and someone who teaches creatives, I’ve known many people who have chosen to end their own lives. The incidence of suicide among creatives is higher than that of the average person on the street. For me, the decision to write this book came when I overheard a conversation between two women who were talking about a “friend” who’d recently chosen to end her life. They talked about how selfish she was, how awful, a monster, what a terrible thing to leave her husband and family behind. I was in a coffee shop, and before I left, I turned to them and said, “Did it ever occur to you to think about what kind of pain your friend must have been in to make this decision? To make it seem viable and the only way out?” And then I left. 

I went home and began to write this book.

It is always difficult tackling non conventional/emotional topics in novels but I think with “Hope Always Rises” you have tackled the topic with empathy, a dose of reality, a touch of humour and, as for the gated communities of Heaven – imagination!  In fact, the Heaven imagination is quite comforting, and makes the thought of death less “scary” (when it comes to the fear of the unknown). I’m not sure whether I can forget the vision I had when I read about God in his pyjamas! The characters in your novel are quite a believable  bunch – the main character Hope, her mentor Faith, her friend Joy, the coffee barista Joe, Virginia Woolf …. to name a few.    I had a fondness  for Hope but I also liked Joy!  She made me giggle. Did you base a lot of your characters on people you’ve met in life? Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

My characters always come purely from me; I don’t base them on anyone I know. I am probably the most fond of Hope. She tried so hard in life, and she hasn’t given up in death. Her desire to know and understand is so strong. 

I think I probably enjoyed writing the character of God the most. There were a couple of times when I made myself gasp, such as when God admitted that he has made mistakes. But in my head, a human-like God would be the most empathetic of all beings. Nonjudgmental, totally filled with unconditional love, and someone you can talk to about all things. I have no idea if God is real, but if he is, I hope he’s like mine.

I would say, though, that while God was the most enjoyable to write, the most poignant moment for me was Sarah, who was the main character in Chapter 16: The Fat Girl Takes The Long Way. That story originally appeared, in slightly different form, in my collection, Enlarged Hearts. All of the stories in that collection are set in a large women’s clothing boutique in a mall, and all the main characters are only known as the Fat Girl; no one has a name. But in this book, I was able to give her a name. Sarah. She so earned it. Because in Heaven, you just aren’t part of a group. You are yourself. 

The most difficult character? Probably Buddy, from Chapter 20: All Better?. His actions cost his little boy his young life. Trying to force myself into that head was so, so hard.

Your vision of Heaven –  I liked the idea of the numerous coffee shops and poodling around in golf carts!  What aspect of your Heaven appealed to you the most? 

Being able to eat and drink anything I want, and it won’t cause me any harm! Butter rum muffins for everyone! And the best coffee ever.

If you could visit any country/place in the world, to base a future novel in, where would you go and why? 

London. I have a very strong desire to see Big Ben. He was recently re-opened (yes, I refer to the big clock as a “he”) and now you can even go up inside of him, all 300+ steps. I would love to write a book about something that happened on the long trip up and the long trip down. There’s just something about that clock that is timeless.

For Pinning Later

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Absolutely I’m a bookworm. I don’t think you can be a writer without being an avid reader. I prefer literary fiction. I love Anne Tyler, Ellen Gilchrist, John Irving, and so, so many. And it must be a real book. No e-book, please. When I travel, I always make sure I have a washing machine available, so I can fill my suitcase with books and not clothes. 

Is “Hope Always Rises” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, it is.

Growing up had you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations?

I was writing before I knew I was writing. I told stories before I could hold a pencil. Eventually, I traced pictures out of my storybooks and rewrote the story the way I felt they should be written. And in the fifth grade, I read a story in front of my class, and from the back of the room, my teacher, Mrs. Fatticci, said, “Ohmygod, Kathie. You’re a writer!” And I knew that I was.

Apart from being an author of 7 novels, 2 story collections and an essay collection;  you have also written 4 poetry collections.  Do you have a particular preference ?

For what I prefer to write? Definitely fiction, though I love all forms. But if I was told I could only write in one genre for the rest of my life, I would choose the short story. Even my novels contain short stories. I just can’t help myself.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes wouldn’t you normally be found wearing?

During the fall and winter, you’ll find me typically in leggings and warm sweaters and boots, either ankle boots, or boots to the knee. During spring and summer, I’m in leggings or capris with polo-type shirts if I’m teaching, or t-shirts if I’m not. Oh, and sneakers. I have a pair of Skechers that are very subtly a rainbow. I keep buying one more pair so I’ll have it when the older pair wears out. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Love ThredUp online, and I love scrounging at Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s. I also hit the sales at Lane Bryant and Torrid.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I was shopping this last weekend for something to wear at the launch for Hope Always Rises on April 27th. Thus far, I have 4 outfits, with two more on the side. And I’m still not happy. So I’d like something that looks classy, not frilly, intelligent…and makes me looks like I fit in a size 10. 

Boots or Shoes?

I would change shoes to sneakers, and then I’d ask if I could have both boots and sneakers. 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

www.kathiegiorgio.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kathie.giorgio.5/

Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/kathiegiorgioauthor/

Instagram: @kathiegio1

Twitter: @KathieGiorgio

BOOK TOUR DATES

My thanks to Kathie Giorgio for a copy of “Hope Always Rises” for review purposes. All photos have been published with kind permission of Kathie Giorgio.

Linda x

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Author Interview: Pat Daily

Following on with the “Artificial Intelligence “ genre book theme that I mentioned last week, I had a double dose of AI this week when I read both books of the Spark Chronicles -“ Spark” and “Fire” by author Pat Daily. Although aimed at the teenage/ young adult reader, there is enough substance, interest and thrill factor to appeal to mainstream adult readers too. To my utter amazement, I found the books more riveting than I had initially envisaged. I caught up with author Pat Daily to find out his inspiration behind his books … but first, here’s my book review:

MY BOOK REVIEW/SUMMARY

Book 1 “SPARK”. Solar Prime Augmented Reality Park or SPARK , is a theme park for gamers – a reality complex with quests and games to appeal to all ages. When 16 year old Will escapes from his foster home, he runs to the place where he last found happiness with his parents – SPARK. Playing one of the reality games, a “princess” tells him to “Find Me. Save Me” – ironically his mother’s last words too. What does it all mean? The park has many secrets behind the scenes … which he slowly unravels as he bumps into another runaway, the feisty Feral Daughter, who has made SPARK her home and life. As their relationship grows, and his gaming exploits increase, Will begins to unveil the secrets of SPARK as well as settling in to a new way of life for himself. Add into the mix a terrorist attack, and things turn upside down again…

Book 2 “FIRE” – Terrorist forces are intent on destroying the technology behind Black Grass and the AI that help SPARK to run efficiently. Gamers Will and Feral used to fly under the radar, but their gaming successes has put them in the public eye – which doesn’t help when they are struggling to control an AI who has decided that actually killing humans can be an effective and efficient strategy.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Pat Daily is the CEO of Boundary Layer, Inc., a company dedicated to improving human performance in high-risk endeavors. He is a polymath, serial entrepreneur, gamer,and the author of The SPARK Chronicles, a near future science fiction series. Pat began his professional career as an engineer and Air Force test pilot. After leaving the military, Pat worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs before launching his first company. He has worked globally as a human performance and safety consultant. Pat and his wife live in Houston. They love spending time with their dogs and cats, but most of all with their daughters, sons-in-law, and grandkids.

Hi Pat ! Who or what inspired you to write “The Spark Chronicles”? 

Virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence have fascinated me for years. VR has promise but will always be limiting because of the constraints of actual reality. We grab the controllers, settle the headset into position and begin. Thirty minutes later, we’ve crashed into the TV, punched the wall, and stepped on the dog. 

Both my daughters were playing a game called Pokémon Go. I wanted to see for myself. As I walked the dog one morning, I simultaneously searched for the elusive Growlithe rumored to be in the neighborhood, but finding nothing but Pidgeys, it dawned on me. The superimposition of the virtual over real backgrounds solved most of the problems. You could still be aware of the TV’s location and manage to avoid the dog whilst fighting orcs and rescuing princesses.

I loved the characters in your books, and I liked how book 1 “Spark” linked in with book 2 “Fire” seamlessly.  It’s so hard to pick a favourite character:  I obviously liked Will (WB), but I adored feisty Feral; I giggled at the antics of my namesake Linda in “Fire” and in an odd way, the terrorist Dimitri had a sort of godfather feel about him! Did you base a lot of your characters on you and people you’ve met in life? Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

I select and blend people I’ve known. Will is an amalgam of two young men. The first inspired Will’s physical appearance. The second provided Will’s tragic backstory and fear of the dark. In both cases, a lot of my own imagination factored in.

Feral is a blend of my own daughters. They’d argue that she’s more like one than the other, but that feisty streak is there in both; the trait simply hides deeper in one than the other. Feral is absolutely my favorite character to write. She is unencumbered by filters and the people she encounters have no doubt where they stand with her.

Dimitri is the hardest to write. He thought his days as a warrior were behind him and that he’d be able to live a pastoral life. It is more tedious than he anticipated, and the cows don’t care that he’s cold, tired, or hung over; they expect to be milked every day. I work hard not to let him become a caricature.

Were there any aspects of writing the chronicles that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

Originally, Spark was to be a single novel. Write it. Tidy it up. Send it off and then turn to the next project. It wasn’t until I wrote the first draft of the final scene that I realized there was much more to the story. That was quite a pleasant surprise. It helped that I had grown very fond of the characters.

Conversely, when my editor told me that Fire was too long and that she felt one of two story arcs needed to be cut, I was unhappy. I refused to cut out the cave scenes because they play a critical role in how the world and Morrigan see Will. I had about seventy pages of questing that I ended up cutting. When I’ve polled my readers, I was surprised by how much they enjoyed seeing Will and Feral in quest mode. Cutting the OrcLand scenes hurt. 

Months later, and after continuing to think about those pages, I started reworking them into a novella. It should be available in May 2023.

So, imagine SPARK was a real venue, and you were completing the games/quests – what quest/area would you attempt first?  Any quest you would have avoided?

I would head straight for War on Mars. I’ve always enjoyed futuristic adventures and the aspects that frightened Will are those I would crave.

As you travel up the Modern Times arcade, you come to an anchor quest called The City. It’s urban warfare and human against human. It feels a bit too close to reality for me to want to spend time there. That said, it and its themes figure prominently in Ash, the third full novel of The Spark Chronicles. Ash is slated for release next spring.

Following on from my previous question, what would your avatar look like?

You’d find me kitted up like Commander Shepard – a tall, dark, and handsome warrior of the future from the Mass Effect game universe. My avatar would be more muscular and better looking than I am, but still recognizable to my family and friends. I’d have a Desnardian Commander’s blaster on my hip and a wakizashi (the middle of the three traditional samurai swords) on my back.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Yes, I chew through books at a good clip and always have a stack on my bedside table. In order, I prefer Science Fiction, Murder Mysteries, and cutting-edge nonfiction. In those genres, the last three books I read were:

• Have Spacesuit Will Travel – Robert Heinlein. I re-read this because of a poll I asked on my socials about favorite sci-fi. This came up and I hadn’t read it in decades. It was originally published in 1958 and stands up well, although Heinlein failed to foresee personal computers and smart phones. He does have some scathing comments about the state of public education and where he saw it going.

• Neon Prey – John Sandford. It’s one of his Lucas Davenport series. Great stuff.

• Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge – E. O. Wilson. Wilson makes a compelling case for the interconnectedness of knowledge. If you can’t find the links between Psychology and Biology and Math, that means that we don’t understand them well enough.

I like the heft of a physical book, the smell of the pages, and the ability to search by generally remembering where something was, and on which page – left or right – it could be found.

Are the Spark Chronicles books available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, they are. Buy them now; buy multiple copies they make great gifts. They’re available on Kindle Unlimited, so your subscription (if you have one) covers the cost. Buy some physical copies anyway. It’s very difficult to sign an ebook. 

Growing up had you always wanted to be an author, or did you have other career aspirations?

I wanted to be an astronaut first and still; the desire to become an author was born of my love of reading. I think everyone has a good story in them.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

It’s generally warm in Houston. I spend most of my time in shorts and a T-shirt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Basic Dude Stuff is atop my list of favourite sites at the moment. Pat Mac has a lot of things in common with Robert Heinlein. His videos are less than five minutes and give insight into what he believes a man should be and do.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new pair of Teva sandals for the summer.

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots. I’ve spent a good part of my flying life in boots like these. They’re comfortable in flight and breathe when you’re mucking about on the ground.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Website: https://thepatdaily.com

Blog: https://thepatdaily.com/blog/

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

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

Twitter: @patdailyauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21521042.Pat_Daily

I’m so looking forward to reading Ash when it gets published! Thanks so much Pat for chatting to me on the blog – it’s been a blast!

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the Pinterest & header photos which are by Linda Hobden) have been published with kind permission of Pat Daily. Thanks also to Pat Daily/Ben Cameron for the copies of Spark Chronicles for reviewing.

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The Algorithm Will See You Now Book Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of “The Algorithm Will See You Now” book tour, supporting author J.L. Lycette. This month has seen me reading a few “Artificial Intelligence “ books – a genre I haven’t really explored before – and this clever artificial intelligence medical thriller was a wonderful debut for me. Even more impressive is that “The Algorithm Will See You Now” is the debut novel for author J.L. Lycette too. I loved the twists and turns of the narrative, the characters and the fact that the situation in the novel was scarily plausible. Want to know more? Here’s a quick book summary , followed by my interview with the delightful author herself …

BOOK SUMMARY

The most dangerous lies are the ones that use the truth to sell themselves.

Medical treatment determined by artificial intelligence could do more than make Hope Kestrel’s career. It could revolutionize healthcare.

What the Seattle surgeon doesn’t know is the AI has a hidden fatal flaw, and the people covering it up will stop at nothing to dominate the world’s healthcare — and its profits. Soon, Hope is made the scapegoat for a patient’s death, and only Jacie Stone, a gifted intern with a knack for computer science, is willing to help search for the truth.

But her patient’s death is only the tip of the conspiracy’s iceberg. The Director, Marah Maddox, is plotting a use for the AI far outside the ethical bounds of her physician’s oath. A staggering plan capable of reducing human lives to their DNA code, redefining the concepts of sickness and health, and delivering the power of life and death decisions into the hands of those behind the AI.

Even if the algorithm accidentally discards some who are treatable in order to make that happen…

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ISBN-10: 1685131492

ISBN-13: 9781685131494

ASIN: B0BLD16W7T

Print Length: 303 Pages

THE INTERVIEW

Hello! I’m Jennifer. I’m a mid-career physician who discovered my writing muse on my path back from physician burnout in my forties. I’m now a novelist and award-winning essayist, along with being a rural physician, wife, and mom (to three humans and two of the canine persuasion). My first novel, The Algorithm Will See You Now (Black Rose Writing Press), is a near-future medical thriller, out now in paperback and ebook. My second novel (The Committee Will Kill You Now) will be out later this year, in November 2023 (also Black Rose Writing Press).

What inspired you to write “The Algorithm Will See You Now”? 

In my day job, I’m a hematologist/oncologist (a specialist in blood and cancer medicine). During the 2010s, there was a lot of talk about IBM’s Watson (a machine-learning AI) having a role in helping oncologists sort data and test results for our patients to help us define treatment. But in the mid-2010s, that all fizzled out without much fanfare.

Meanwhile, the amount of data we’re obtaining on our patients is ever-increasing, along with options for cancer therapies. If AI could help with the data sorting, sure, who wouldn’t want that?

It was about six years ago that I first had the idea for the novel when I read about some of the mistakes AI tools were making (like the misclassification of photos on Google), revealing the datasets (essentially: the Internet) that had been used to train the AI had led to racist and sexist outputs. I thought, this is a big deal because what if we did one day achieve the goal of an advanced medical AI, but it turned out to be ultimately flawed at a very deep level. Mix that with the increasing corporatization of healthcare in the U.S., and my premise was born. I suppose very much a classic trope of the science fiction thriller, which is the question of ultimately what fault lies in the technology versus what responsibility lies with humanity.

I enjoyed the range of believable characters  –  I obviously liked Hope, but my favourite was actually Marah Maddox, such a strong character & her relationship with Noah kept me guessing. Did you base a lot of your characters on you and people you’ve met in life? Which character did you enjoy writing about the most? Which character was the hardest?

I had a friend reading the book recently tell me she saw a lot of me in Hope, and I responded that perhaps that’s partially true, but the great thing about writing fiction is that we can create characters who make very different choices than we would in the same situation. In fact, I think that’s the fun of writing fiction!

In my first draft, I tried to make Hope the exact opposite of me because I actually kind of feared people thinking that the character was me. The result was that she was unrealistic and too “cardboard.” I realized that to write believable characters, one has to allow some of themselves, and if people think she’s me, well, they can think whatever they want, but I know she’s not. But some of my early experiences in medicine and how they influenced me, yes, those are some of the things I channeled to make her character more authentic.

The other characters are all fictional and grew as I wrote the story. Marah Maddox was actually both the hardest to write and the character I enjoyed writing the most. At first, she suffered from the same problems as my early Hope character, that she was too “cardboard cutout.” In the years of writing the book, I learned that the antagonist (or villain, if you will) must be equally as strong of a character to make the book successful. As has been said by others much smarter than me about writing, the villain thinks they’re the hero of the story. I had to dig deep and think about what experiences in a medical career might produce someone like Marah Maddox, with her beliefs and motivations.

I love that you also brought up Marah and Noah because, in the course of writing the book and digging into their backstory (much of which never shows up on the page in The Algorithm Will See You Now), I realized they needed to be the stars of my next book.

So I wrote a prequel featuring Marah and Noah in their younger years during their residencies. It essentially tells the “villain origin story” of Marah Maddox, wrapped up in a historical thriller about the inhumanity of physician training in the 1990s interwoven with the true-life history of the medical rationing of the first kidney dialysis in 1960s Seattle. Readers will get to see what exactly happened in the relationship between these two in the past…

‘The Algorithm Will See You Now” is your debut novel – congratulations on such a well written, riveting story! Were there any aspects of writing the novel that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

Thank you so much! This will sound like hubris, but I had no idea how hard it was to write a book. I joke that if I had known, I would have never started. It surprised me how much I loved the process, even though it’s been (for me) a years-long process. I also discovered that I love story structure. Like, I can really geek out about it. I guess it’s because, for me, it’s the science of writing. It reminds me of music theory. How you can create and play music without consciously knowing anything about music theory, but once you learn that music actually has a, what you might say, essentially mathematical structure to it, you can take your music to another level. That’s what story structure is like for me.

If you could visit any country/place in the world, to base a future novel in, where would you go and why? 

Oh gosh, this is such a hard question. I haven’t done much in the way of international travel and would love to spend time anywhere outside the U.S., but if I had to pick right now, I think I’d say New Zealand. Any country whose people elected a leader like Jacinda Ardern is somewhere I’d like to visit.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Yes, I’m the biggest bookworm and have been since childhood. I read across genres but am especially partial to SFF when reading for fun. My recent favorite author is Naomi Alderman. I don’t know how I missed The Power when it came out a few years ago in book form, but I watched the first three episodes of the new series on Amazon Prime and immediately bought the book and binge-read it in less than a day. I’m now re-reading it again. The concept, and her writing, are both equally brilliant. I’m now the biggest stan of The Power and could go on and on, but I’ll stop myself.

I usually read in ebook form on my iPhone. When I went to medical school in my twenties, I had to stop reading books for some years because I was too busy. Then, when I was in my early thirties, and my kids were babies, none of them were good sleepers. I would be up late holding and rocking them and discovered I could read on my iPhone in the dark while doing this. Game-changer.

I was that kid with the flashlight under their blanket to stay up reading books when I was little (in the dark ages of the pre-screens era, lol), and now I’m the adult who stays up too late reading on their phone.

Is “The Algorithm Will See You Now ” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes. It’s available in ebook on Kindle and paperback on Amazon, and also paperback from your favorite online Indie bookstore vendors.

Growing up had you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations?

I will be honest. I never dreamed of being an author when I was young. I was an avid reader, as I described above, and kind of had this notion that authors were magical people who existed in a different realm from the rest of us. I had set my sights on medicine from about twelve, and my twenties and thirties were devoted to my medical career. It was only after I burned out in my medical career that I discovered writing. It was quite a surprise to me to find out I had a creative side. I realize now I had suppressed that part of myself from a young age, as I didn’t think someone could do both, and I had only focused on nurturing the part of me that excelled in math and science. On a happy note, discovering my creative side also helped me recover from burnout.

When you are not writing, what do you do to relax? 

Oh gosh, relax, what’s that? I’m probably not the best person to answer this question. But in all seriousness, writing to me is my relaxation. It’s my creative outlet and helps keep balance in my life. But when I’m stuck on writing or need a break, I also crochet. And spending time with my family, even if it’s just hanging out watching a movie, that’s relaxing for me.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My favorite shoes are ankle boots. I have them in a lot of different colors, especially black.

Boots or Shoes? 

Definitely ankle boots. They go with everything and are comfortable being on my feet at work.

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Social media links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JL_Lycette

https://mindly.social/@JL_Lycette (Mastodon)

https://www.facebook.com/Author.JL.Lycette

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-lycette/

https://spoutible.com/JL_Lycette

website: https://jenniferlycette.com

BOOK TOUR DATES

Thank you Jennifer for an insightful interview – fabulous book, I really enjoyed it and thank you for introducing your book to me and got me reading a new genre by sending me your book to review ! I look forward to reading the prequel. It has been a privilege to be part of your book tour – thank you for inviting me 😊

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of J L Lycette.

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