Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Interview With Author Jonathan Fortin

I have a real treat today with an interview with author dark fantasy and horror Jonathan Fortin. Enjoy!

Interview With Jonathan Fortin

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

My name is Jonathan Fortin, and I’ve just come out with my first published novel: Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus. I won HorrorAddicts.net’s Next Great Horror Writer Contest in 2017, attended Clarion Writing Program in 2012, and graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University in 2011. I’m a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and love all things dark and Gothic.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus is a Dark Fantasy novel about a woman in Victorian England who becomes a succubus, and must battle both a devilish new monarchy and her own repressed upbringing. It’s the first chapter in an epic Gothic saga, being published by Crystal Lake Publishing.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I’ve been writing more or less all my life. I wrote children’s books in elementary school and completed my first (embarrassing) novel trilogy in middle school. Lilitu is my first published novel. I have about a dozen short stories published prior to this, some of which are available as ebooks, such as Requiem in Frost (HorrorAddicts.net) and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press).

Do you have a favourite character? If so, why?
I’m very fond of Maraina Blackwood, the protagonist of Lilitu, because she’s extremely dynamic and has a very complicated arc. Maraina is a rebellious young Victorian woman who becomes a succubus in the wake of a demonic uprising, leaving her torn between the teachings of her youth and her desire to survive. Determined to make things right, Maraina seeks to end the demonic rule over England, but learns that doing so will mean seducing one of Hell's most wicked demons—and embracing a side of herself she was always forced to repress. Lilitu chronicles Maraina’s emotional transformation from a frightened Victorian girl into a powerful succubus warrior, hell-bent on overthrowing an empire. Through her, Lilitu fashions a heroine from an archetype long demonized: that of the seductress who takes control of her own sexuality.

What do you enjoy most about writing in the Dark Fantasy genre?

Fantasy and Horror have always been my two favorite genres, and Dark Fantasy combines elements of both—mixing the sprawling scale and magic of fantasy with the dark atmosphere and nihilistic tone of horror. Another thing I like, though, is that fantasy in general usually mixes together many different genres. You’ll probably have at least one epic battle in there, but there may very well also be a romantic sub-plot, ongoing mysteries, and horrifying monsters. My interest is in how these genres combine with each other. A streak of comedy or a compelling love story can do wonders to make you care about the characters because you’re laughing with them, falling in love with them, hoping that they can find happiness against all odds. So when things get dramatic later on, it hits harder. The horror is scarier. The tragedy is sadder. The battles are more emotionally intense.

That said, juggling so many genres is a very tough balancing act. Not only do you have to make sure the tone feels consistent, you also have to successfully pull off every single one of those genres on their own terms. If you have a romantic sub-plot, it can’t be boring. If the reader feels like their time (or the character’s time) is being wasted, it’s no good. Similarly, ongoing mysteries need enough development and seeding that their eventual reveals will carry weight, and not just feel like deus ex machinas. Dark Fantasy can also be particularly tricky to get right because Fantasy often features characters with some form of magical powers, and Horror focuses on disempowering the characters as much as possible. So you really need to make sure that your characters remain helpless and vulnerable no matter what magic they have on their side. So Dark Fantasy is a very tricky genre to do well, which makes it all the more rewarding when an author pulls it off.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I wrote Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus because I was frustrated about the lack of serious succubus fiction out there. I felt that the world needed a book that used succubi and incubi to explore issues of gender/sexuality, a book where they actually had wings and entered dreams and generally possessed the dark mystique that they command in the folklore.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Be persistent. Making it in this business is mostly about not giving up. You’re going to be rejected a lot, and that’s okay. The first draft is going to be garbage, and that’s okay, too. Workshop what you write with writer friends who you trust to be honest, and accept that it’s better for them to pull it apart now, so that you can fix it. Recognize that even when people complain about some things, there will still be other things in there that are wonderful and amazing—scenes and passages that move you and everyone else. Recognize that in later drafts you may have to cut those things out to fit with the bigger adjustments. Recognize that anytime anyone says “This isn’t good enough,” all it means is, “This isn’t ready yet.” Practice the bafflingly difficult art of self-compassion. Don’t listen to the critic on your shoulder telling you that you suck. Just put in the time to write, suck up your anxiety about showing it to anyone, and tell the stories you dream of telling.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

In addition to writing, I am a trained, working voice actor. I’ve been studying at Voicetrax, a school in Sausalito, for the past four years, and have a few small credits under my belt.

Are you working on another book?

Yes, several. I am currently working on the next books in the Lilitu saga, as well as a horror novel with a protagonist who is on the autistic spectrum, and a Lovecraftian epic that is mostly done but needs serious editing. You can follow my endeavours at www.jonathanfortin.com/ or on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.

Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus is available at Amazon

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Interview with Author Francis H Powell

Today I have an author interview with Francis H Powell, who stops by to chat about his writing and his new book, Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation. Enjoy.

Interview with Francis H Powell

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am approaching 60 years old, I am married with a seven year old son and I live in Brittany.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

It is called “Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation”
Set in a different time in a variety of settings and time periods, the past, the present, and the future, the book explores the inevitable unknown that lies before us all "death". Death can arrive in a multitude of forms. Each part of the book explores different themes. There are characters who following their demises have to face up to their lurid pasts. There some who face annihilation and others who are in a crazy pursuit of world destruction. The book aims to contain some ironic twists. Even as young children we build up nightmare visions of what death involves. The reader is often left to distinguish between what is real and what is not, as stories reside within stories and the storytellers can never be fully trusted. Not all the book is doom and gloom, there are Elsa Grun's bizarre encounters with men and Shellys' hapless husband Arnie.

How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I have had two published, apart from short stories and poetry, in magazines and anthologies.

Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?

My first book I am obviously proud of, but my second I equally like, as it is an evolution from the first.

Why did you decide to write in the horror genre?

It is a genre that fits in well with my style.

What is the hardest part of writing horror fiction?

Writing consistently strong stories.

What do you enjoy most about writing in the horror genre?

Evil characters, in my first book, I have a character called Maggot, who sells his own daughter.

Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I guess I have always been fascinated as well as fearful of death.  There is also so much gloom in the media, newspapers, and TV. It seems like we are going to be hit by some rogue planet or be attacked by extremists.

What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

I got to describe heaven, which in my story is a vast luxurious hotel.

What did you find most challenging about writing your book?

Getting the story to flow. Creating a memorable ending.

What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?

Too attract new readers and build up a body of work.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

In Paris I started writing short stories. I had some published a small magazine called Rat Mort.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I have an idea, which I hope to expand. I don’t really write a definite outline, but at the same time my mind is calculating how the story will evolve. With my first book, with one of my stories, I imagined a character “Bugeyes” about a person with huge eyes and I wrote about all the misfortunes that befall this character.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I have a project called I am the Priest Killer.


Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation

What if the human race was considered irrelevant and then each being was just uploaded then locked away on hard drives called "brain pods"?

What if a subspecies was to come into fruition, then the human race turned on it, hunted it down before trying to annihilate it? Imagine you found out you were an ancient soul, who is reunited with another being from your former life?

Set in a different time in a variety of settings and time periods, the past, the present, and the future, the book explores the inevitable unknown that lies before us all "death". Death can arrive in a multitude of forms. Each part of the book explores different themes. There are characters who following their demises have to face up to their lurid pasts. There some who face annihilation and others who are in a crazy pursuit of world destruction. We are living in an age in which it appears that the doomsday clock is ticking ever faster, as we teeter over the edge of world destruction. The book aims to contain some ironic twists. Even as young children we build up nightmare visions of what death involves. The reader is often left to distinguish between what is real and what is not, as stories reside within stories and the storytellers can never be fully trusted. Not all the book is doom and gloom, there are Elsa Grun's bizarre encounters with men and Shellys' hapless husband Arnie.

From secluded beach houses, to obscure motels, to visions of heaven, which takes the form of the Hotel Paradiso, to the world of the future death is always a wild adventure, that can't be ignored.

Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation is available at Amazon

Excerpt from Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation

Part one

The strange goings on in the life of Amos Toft.
We had found her face down on the sand, as the tide closed in. The moon shed silvery light and there was a soft gentle offshore breeze that glanced our faces. We’d run out of our house, having seen torch light. They had left as quickly as they had arrived. There were sounds of horses, leaving at speed, shadowy figures, hooded, dressed like soldiers, soon fading into the horizon. We presumed she was dead and were relieved when she spluttered and coughed
and fought for breath.
“Let’s get her inside,” my wife said urgently. She was totally naked and had no possessions.
“Are you all right?” I demanded. She did not respond. I repeated myself again, there was just
the sound of her heavy labored breathing.
“She appears in terrible shock,” my wife said, as we helped her up. We draped one of her arms
over my wife’s shoulders while I propped the other. We struggled along the sand and then headed towards our small house, which looked over the large bay.
“What’s your name?” I asked, expecting by now she was in some kind of condition to speak.
Again no response, her eyes were fixed on the ground, she made no attempt to speak. We got her back to the house and sat her down on a couch.
What had happened? Why had she been left naked on the sand, as the tide came
in? What was going through her mind? My wife got a towel and offered it to her to clean her and cover her naked body.
“She will have to stay the night, it is late, at least she will be safe here,” my wife said before searching for some clothes. I hardly dared not look at her. She was evidently young, very beautiful, with long flaxen hair that cascaded down her back.

About the Author

Born in 1961, in Reading, England Francis H Powell attended Art Schools, receiving a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. In 1995, Powell moved to Austria, teaching English as a foreign language while pursuing his varied artistic interests adding music and writing. He currently lives in Brittany, teaching English and history while writing both prose and poetry. Powell has published short stories in the magazine, “Rat Mort” and other works on the internet site "Multi-dimensions." His first was called “Flight of Destiny” while his most recent is called “Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation.”

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Book Spotlight: Chawlgirl Rising

Today, I bring you another book spotlight, this time for science fiction with the novel, Chawlgirl Rising by Tim Young. Enjoy.

Chawlgirl Rising by Tim Young

Every time he shut off a city’s supply of food and water and doomed its citizens to starvation, Lucas Seraph thought he was doing the right thing. In the Indus Hegemony of 2118 AD few resources remain, and only the iron rule of the Hegemony’s sadistic leader Ju-Long Ng stands in the way of society’s collapse. But Lucas chafes at Ng’s cruelty and his wife’s devotion to the Hegemony, and when he clashes with Ginevra, the scarred but beautiful leader of a shadowy resistance against the Hegemony, his faith in Ng’s vision for humanity’s survival is shattered.

Ordered to eliminate the rebels, Lucas instead discovers Ng’s true goal: the forced modification of every Hegemony citizen’s body to adapt to the wasted planet, and the murder of all those who cannot survive the procedure. Horrified, he joins Ginevra in a desperate search for a poor girl from the slums named Shakti who escaped Ng’s experiments and holds the key to toppling the Hegemony somewhere in her damaged mind.

Yet Shakti has been hunting Lucas as well, and may be the avatar of a Hindu god who’s chosen him to aid her own inscrutable plan for humanity’s evolution. Caught between conflicting loyalties and despair at the suffering he’s helped cause, Lucas must choose who and what to believe in the race to stop Ng’s plan before starvation and thirst claim two billion lives. 

Chawlgirl Rising is available on Amazon

About the Author

T.K. Young’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of Microliterature, Rosebud Magazine, and Hopewell Publications’ Best New Writing anthology. He’s the author of the flash fiction collection When We’re Afraid and once played a mean lead guitar in one of MTV’s Top 10 DC-area bands.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Book Spotlight: Death is for the Living

Today I bring you all a new book spotlight on the vampire fantasy novel, Death is for the Living by J C Steel. Enjoy.

Death is for the Living by J C Steel

...when ‘here be monsters’ doesn’t only mark the unknown.

By day, Cristina Batista is a deck girl on a Caribbean charter yacht, with all the sun, smiles, and steel drum music that entails. By night, she and her crew hunt the monsters that prey in the dark: the powerful vampire clans of the New World.
Unfortunately, Cristina’s past is hunting her in turn - and it’s catching up. Without her partner, sometime pirate, sometime lordling, and ex-vampire, Jean Vignaud, Cristina wouldn’t simply be dead. She’d be something she fears far more.
Cristina and Jean are experienced, motivated, and resourceful. One faction wants them despite it. The other wants them because of it.

Death is for the Living is available at:

Author Bio

J C Steel was born in Gibraltar and raised on a yacht around the coasts of the Atlantic, and is an author, intermittent martial artist, and introvert. In between the necessary making of money to allow the writing of more books, J C  can usually be found stowing away on a spaceship, halfway to the next galaxy.
J C writes sci-fi and UF adventure set on planets and in places parked just a little off-parallel to this one. Most of the characters have been broken at least once and got back up to eviscerate someone with the broken edges. The books aren't written to Grade 6 level, none of the characters could find PC with a GPS, and reviews divide evenly between "but it was so complicated!" and "Awesome!"

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Spotlight and Blog Tour: Jack the Ripper Victims Series

Alan M. Clark’s Jack the Ripper Victims Series is comprised of five novels, one for each of the canonical victims of the murderer. These stories are not only meant to appeal to those interested in the horror that was the Autumn of Terror, but also those interested in the struggles of women in the 19th century. They are well-researched, fictional dramatic stories meant to help readers walk in the shoes of the victims and give a sense of the world as each of the women may have experienced it. The timelines for the stories run mostly concurrently, so it doesn’t matter in what order the books in the series are read. They are simultaneously drama, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, and horror. They are novels concerning horror that happened.

A Brutal Chill in August 
The First Victim of Jack the Ripper 
by Alan M. Clark 
Genre: Crime Horror

Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: December 7, 2019

We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?

Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstance. Jack the Ripper's first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings, to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.

With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is horror that happened. 

Music Video
The song sung by the ghost that haunts Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols

Apologies to the Cat's Meat Man 
The Second Victim of Jack the Ripper  
Publication Date: June 9, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

Annie Chapman led a hard, lower class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time 

Say Anything But Your Prayers 
The Third Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: June 11, 2017

This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper. The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself--Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hardbitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles ever closer. 

Of Thimble and Threat 
The Fourth Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: September 28, 2017

In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable squalor and suffering. Filth, decay, danger, sorrow, and death are ever-present in the streets. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the city's East End. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world. In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death. Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart. 

The Prostitute's Price 
The Fifth Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: August 30, 2018

A novel that beats back our assumptions about the time of Jack the Ripper. Not the grim story of an unfortunate drunken prostitute killed before her time, but one of a young woman alive with all the emotional complexity of women today. Running from a man wanting her to pay for her crimes against his brother, Mary Jane Kelly must recover a valuable hidden necklace and sell it to gain the funds to leave London and start over elsewhere. Driven by powerful, if at times conflicting emotion, she runs the dystopian labyrinth of the East End, and tries to sneak past the deadly menace that bars her exit.

Although THE PROSTITUTE'S PRICE is a standalone tale, and part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, it is also a companion story to the novel, THE ASSASSIN'S COIN, by John Linwood Grant. The gain a broader experience of each novel, read both. 

On November 5, Mary Jane and Joseph sat together, having a meal at the Cock’s Crow Tavern in Mile End Road.
“Our efforts will clear the way for a theft at the Deptford Victualing Yard,” Joseph said, pushing his plate away and finishing off his glass of ale, “the ordinary-looking cove I told you about is the client. I don’t have his name to give you. On the night of the theft, there will be two night rounders, Sims Overton and Roy Nagel, who stand in our client’s way.”
Mary Jane repeated their names to better fix them in her memory. She took another a bite of her rump steak pudding.
“Though they are Government employed,” he said, “as are the stevedores, much like lumpers, they are organized at a local pub. Their master works out of the Evelyn Arms just across Grove Street from the entrance to the Deptford Victualing Yard. They are required to eat and drink at the pub before their shifts. Often they spend breaks there as well. Their shifts are twelve hours long, eight o’clock at night ’til eight o’clock in the morning. They take breaks around midnight, one at a time for fifteen minutes. On Saturday nights, during his midnight break at about a quarter to twelve, Overton goes to the Evelyn Arms, hires a Judy and takes her back to the south gatehouse. The small building is part of the gated entrance to the yard, and has a back door, so she can slip out should anyone come. The hire is prearranged, so you’ll have to attract his attention in the week before, then be available that Saturday night, November 20. Overton and Nagel each take a turn with the woman, one having his way with her while the other stays outside to act as crow, ready to signal should someone approach the gatehouse.”
“They’re helping us without knowing,” Mary Jane said with a smile. Though she had little enthusiasm for the job, she wanted Joseph to see her willingness. She had agreed to help because of the money offered, ten pounds, and because both Joseph and Thomas were important to her.

Author and illustrator, Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including twelve novels, a couple of novellas, four collections of fiction, some of them lavishly illustrated, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr. Clark's company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audio books, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. www.alanmclark.com Visit his blog: https://ifdpublishing.com/blog

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