Interview with @MatthewJElliot1! @bigfinish @DoctorWho_BBCA @bbcdoctorwho @DWMtweets @SawbonesHex @GSear @MrHolness #DoctorWho #bigfinish #audiobooks #interview #doctorwhoislife

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Okay, this one I’ll admit I’ve been hanging onto for quite sometime, waiting for the perfect opportunity to post. And with it being 7 days till the new series of Doctor Who, now, is perfect.

Next up is the intriguing Matthew J. Elliot, an audio scriptwriter for Big Finish Productions. Today he’s here to discuss Doctor Who, the 6th Doctor, and his compelling audio drama The Lure of The Nomad.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

I’m from the North-West of England. It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from where I live.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I’ve been aware of Who ever since the Pertwee era. I have memories of the original broadcast of The Sea Devils, and of Tom Baker’s first story. The Hinchcliffe era frightened the bejeezus out of me, and eventually scared me away. I returned to the show infrequently, but I didn’t become a regular viewer again until Destiny of the Daleks.

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

DOCTOR WHO: VENGEANCE ON VAROS: GENERICThe Sixth. I grew up with the Third and Fourth, spent my teenage years watching the Fifth, but from the very beginning of The Twin Dilemma, the Sixth seemed like the perfect distillation of everything I’d come to expect from the Time Lord. Intelligent, childish, gentle, cranky, egotistical and selfless. He is, to me, the Doctor’s Doctor.

Question 4) Congratulations on the release of The Lure of The Nomad from Big Finish Productions. How did this opportunity come about?

511sPpuXZBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_It was by no means an overnight thing. I’d been writing for American radio for about 15 years, and sending CDs of my stuff to Big Finish without any response for about ten. It was when I wrote the book Lost in Time and Space (soon to be republished by Telos!) that I finally got their attention and was asked to submit some possible plotlines for a thirty-minute episode to be included on the You Are the Doctor release. Unfortunately, that e-mail went straight into my junk folder without my ever seeing it! Thank God they wrote again to ask why I hadn’t replied.

Question 5) I’m really interested in the whole behind-the-scene process. Do you approach Big Finish with a story idea, or do they contact you and state they want you to write a story for such-as-such Doctor?

thAs a relative newbie in the Big Finish world, it’s maybe different for me than for more established writers. I’m lucky to have had several offers in the past few years, although I recently contacted a script editor about an idea that had been kicking around in my head. You have to be aware, however, that the script editors have commissioned work for several years in advance; you can only hope that they’ll file your idea away and come back to it when a gap opens up in the schedule.

Question 6) What inspired you to write this story?

The only thing I was initially told was that a solo Sixth Doctor was required. A lot of inspiration came from watching the most recent Alien movie. It concerned a colony ship, where the crew had, as usual, placed themselves in suspended animation. I began to wonder whether there might not be a more efficient way of cutting the time down, perhaps by having time running at different rates inside and outside the ship.

Question 7) How did you prepare to write for Colin Baker’s Doctor?

I’ve been preparing for years! My Sixth Doctor DVD collection (and, before that, my video collection) has been watched, re-watched and then re-watched to the power of fifty! In this particular instance, though, I had The Two Doctors playing as I wrote, to try and capture the feel of the era. I became intrigued by Dastari’s line about several Androgums being sent back in time and never recovered. I wonder what became of them. There’s a Sweeney Todd tale there, waiting to be told…

Question 8) The plot twist involving the character Mathew Sharpe is one of the best I have heard in a Big Finish audio. Did you build the story around that twist or did that come about as you were writing the story?

William_Riker,_2383Once I was putting my ideas together, I was informed by the script editor that a temporary companion would be required, with the emphasis on “temporary.” By lucky coincidence, I was already thinking along the same lines, drawing inspiration from an episode of Star Trek: TNG, in which the characters all awaken with amnesia and a new character has suddenly cropped up, one whom they all assume is just another crewmember, but who turns out to be an alien interloper. Also, Riker and Ensign Ro totally do it, but that’s unrelated to my story. Mathew Sharpe was originally Daniel Speedwell, but there was a Daniel in something else Big Finish had coming up, so a change of name was necessary. Alan Barnes was very keen that it be a two-syllable biblical name. “Judas” was obviously a little too on the nose, and during our e-mail exchanges, he became very keen on the name “Matthew.” Obviously, I didn’t want people to think I was so egotistical as to name the Doctor’s companion after myself, which is why he’s very insistent that it’s spelled with one “t.”

Question 9) Have you written for other Doctors before, and if so, who is your favorite to write for?

I’ve written Dead to the World, Maker of Demons and The Silurian Candidate for the Seventh Doctor, Zaltys for the Fifth and Backtrack for the Tenth. Dead to the World, which was essentially my audition piece, was selected out of a number of plotlines as one that would suit the planned story arc in which the TARDIS was searching for Mel without the Doctor’s knowledge.

dwmr216_makerofdemons_1417_cover_mediumFor Maker of Demons, I was simply presented with the current team of the Seventh Doctor, Ace and Mel, and asked to devise a plot, which turned out to be a more complicated matter than I anticipated. My original idea was some akin to Enemy of the World and The Armageddon Factor, but lacked a hook, and – equally importantly in Who – any monsters. It was script editor Alan Barnes who suggested The Tempest as a possible source of inspiration, and the story changed noticeably as a consequence. Unfortunately, in my interview at the end of the CD, I unintentionally gave listeners the impression that I’d written an unsatisfactory script in its entirety and had to go back to square one. That certainly wasn’t the case – Big Finish wouldn’t allow me to write one word unless the proposal met with their approval. It was the proposal that was reworked, not the script.

For Zaltys (originally entitled The Feast of Beltane, until I had to admit there was no good reason why the planet in the story should be named Beltane), I was again given the lineup – The Fifth Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan – and a notion of the placement within established continuity. I threw a few ideas at Alan, and he suggested that a couple of them could be melded together to make one whole adventure.

bfpdwcd229_the_silurian_candidate_cd_dps1_cover_mediumThe Silurian Candidate was the first story where I had a more detailed recipe – I had to include the Silurians, and the story couldn’t take place in the present day. Straight away, I suggested a post-war Jamaica setting, in which the Doctor would encounter a young Ian Fleming, but this was nixed before I even came up with a story. For one thing, the tropical setting was too similar to the Sixth Doctor audio Bloodtide. In the end, the professional conspiracy theorists I’d used as an element in Maker of Demons provided the answer: what if the world really was run by lizard-people, and those lizard-people happened to be the Silurians?

Favourite to write for? Colin, but there are still a few Doctors out there I haven’t tackled yet.

Question 10) Do you have a favorite story you have written?

thelureofthenomad_image_mediumProbably The Lure Of The Nomad, because it’s structured like a detective story (which is my natural environment), and all the pieces fit together so well. I wish that Maker of Demons got more love. Perhaps I’m prejudiced because it was my first four-parter, but I feel there’s a lot of good stuff in there. My colleague and occasional co-writer Ian Potter says it feels as though I feared I might never get another chance to write for Who, so I put as much in there as I could, and that’s a fair observation. Is the mention of the Fourth Doctor’s comic strip companion Sharon Davies necessary? Not in the least. Am I glad I included it? Hell, yeah.

Question 11) What is the biggest challenge writing for an audio production versus print?

I’ve written three hundred radio dramas, so maybe for me the question should be the challenges of print versus audio. The real challenge is that what one audio production company wants might be very different from what another requires. It’s necessary not to be too precious, therefore, in order to meet their demands and get your work produced. Any audio production is, by its nature, a collaborative venture. Producers and script editors have their requirements, the BBC is, by necessity, protective of its product, and understandably there are elements that won’t make it into the script.    

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?  

BBC_Radio_Collection_Further_Adventures_cassette_coverWell, the inevitability of death haunts us all. Before that, I’m adapting a number of classic children’s novels for US radio, as well as writing a serial entitled The Autumn of Terror for the long-running American series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. As you can probably guess from the title, this story involves Holmes’ investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders, and involves more research than I’ve done at any time for anything.

And, of course, there’s RiffTrax, the online comedy experience created by the makers of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’ve been writing and performing material for them for the past ten years, most recently with the assistance of fellow Big Finish writer Ian Potter.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

Imagination Theater, the Seattle-based company who produce The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (and all the other series for which I’ve written over the last 20 years) has a YouTube channel, where episodes can be heard every week. You can also find my author’s page on Amazon, and purchase – among other things – my two authorised spinoff novels, Big Trouble in Mother Russia and Big Trouble in Merrie Olde England. Both are, of course, continuations of the cult movie, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. No, wait, I mean Big Trouble in Little China. Oh, and you could even visit RiffTrax.com and download everything with my name on it. That would be very generous of you, and a reminder of how nice it is to be wanted.   

 

How You Can Participate!

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Author Interview: J.E. Reed #fantasy #newrelease #runningwiththewolves @J_E_Reed_author @bhcpressbooks

Today I’m fortunate to present J.E. Reed author of Running with the Wolves.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

JE_ReedI live on the outskirts of Cincinnati, OH.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

Character. I love it when a story develops a character through adversity. Watching as someone grows up or grows stronger and gets through whatever they are facing is inspiring and I never get tired of it.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

I’ve always had a passion for writing, but oddly enough it was gaming that inspired my first published work. The new craze is virtual reality and we’ve seen movies/books that depict people in that environment, but the technology is always involved. I wanted to create a story where people are trapped in a sort of gaming world, but without technology’s interference. Kind of ironic, I know.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Messily organized. I’m a pantzer, which means I don’t outline and just write on the fly. My characters determine the direction of the story. Naturally, this has its draw backs as I’m forced to write more drafts to get everything right, but I feel like the story has better flow when I just let my imagination take over. I strive to write 3000 words a day when I’m working through a draft.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Sticky notes, they’re everywhere.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book. 

Running with the Wolves is the title of my fantasy debut novel and I’m very excited to share it with the world.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Running with the Wolves has a medieval setting. Due to this I’ve done research on that era, but I’ve also done a lot of research on various survival methods and tools. One of the more interesting things I learned was how to pick up someone who is dead weight. Have you ever tried to pick someone up from the ground? It’s hard and if you’re in a situation where you have to move fast, it creates a problem. There is a roll technique that enables you to grab the hurt/unconscious individual and stand with them on your shoulders. Yes, I’ve practiced this haha. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPrATJ-u5Rg

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share? 

Chapter 1

Unknown

Realm: 1

Day: 1

Running_With_the_Wolves_JE_Reed.jpg

Lying in bed, the chatter caused her mind to stir from that blissful place that lingers on the edge of dreams. It was too loud, too early. She rolled over, the fog slowly clearing as voices turned to song, birds greeting the morning sun. Strange how they’d never woken her before.

She groaned, reaching for a pillow, but something stung her fingertip, and she jolted. A small droplet of blood formed on the tip of her index finger. Her heart thundered as she looked at the culprit and then her surroundings.

This wasn’t her room.

Instead of cool sheets and a soft bed, she lay on dead leaves and grass, the musty forest scent filling her nostrils. White walls were replaced by an endless array of trees that blotted out the sun, save for a few rays that fought their way through.

 

 

She blinked, pushing herself up.

Am I still dreaming?

Her finger pulsed as she scanned the vicinity, and fear crawled into her mind.

Nothing.

No fire, no tent or tracks. Nothing that indicated civilization existed.

Surely someone had to be here, someone could explain—wait, had she been abducted?

Who would want to kidnap her? Why wasn’t she bound if that were the case? The list of reasons for waking in the middle of a forest were slim. Abduction, a lapse in memory, a vacation gone horribly wrong.

She stood, using a tree for support, but dizziness rocked her back. She leaned her head against the trunk, waiting for the spell to pass.

Small specks flew across her vision. Abduction seemed the most likely of scenarios, but where were her captors? Could a drug explain her lapse in memory?

The last thing she could recall was dressing for bed. The girl examined herself, pleased to find shorts and a tee-shirt rather than pajamas. Brown hair hung loose around tan shoulders, and nothing around her wrists indicated she’d been bound. The only odd possession she carried was a little bracelet with leather threaded around a small blue stone. White veins traced a sky-colored surface like cracks of lightning.

Unease settled in her gut at the name etched on its surface.

Kiuno

It was a surrogate name. Something she used for gaming and online activities. Few knew her—

She paused. Her name. She couldn’t remember her name…

What’s going on?

Her throat tightened as she slumped against the tree again, fighting back tears. She was alone and didn’t know her own name. What were the odds?

She took a deep breath, trying to steady her racing heart.

Stay calm.

A forest in mid-summer wasn’t so bad.

Summer? Wasn’t it only January?

Her heart pounded faster as she realized one of two possibilities. Either time had passed without her knowledge, or she was further from home than she imagined.

Calm down. Think.

Summer, okay. Food would be easy. She’d a spent a lot of time camping and experimented with a few survival techniques. That would help as long as she could remember them.

She glanced back at the name on her wrist. She tried to picture her husband calling when dinner was ready or when he needed her to fetch something from the house, but every time the recollection came close it eased away again. Like a cloud hanging over her mind. Maybe she’d recall it later. For now, Kiuno would have to do.

Knee-high foliage surrounded large trees, and fur covered vines snaked their way up the trunks. Thick air caused sweat to roll down her neck. She needed to find water.

Kiuno made her way through the foreign forest and allowed herself to become lost in its beauty. Heavy, snarled roots spread across the ground, connecting each tree in an endless network. Small animals eyed her with curiosity before scurrying beneath the brush.

It would have been the perfect painting.

Hours passed, and the temperature continued to rise as mosquitoes and other insects nipped at her skin. Beauty was turning to nightmare.

Kiuno stopped to catch her breath and plopped on a fallen log. Sweat rolled down her face as she tried to lift her hair for some relief. She was no stranger to the outdoors, but didn’t remember camping ever being so miserable.

She looked at the sun. Had someone noticed her missing yet? Surely her boss would call home regarding her absence. Her husband would know something was up.

Standing, she took another breath, wiped the sweat from her brow and started walking again, the dry patch in her throat a nagging reminder. Using the tree roots, Kiuno slid down a small hill and finally heard the sound she’d been searching for. Running water.

She made her way around a few more trees to find clear water cascading down a rocky cliff that stood twice the size of any person. The river stretched twenty feet across and flowed with a steady pace. Thick brush and cattail lined the bank, and a large piece of rock lay just below the falls, its previous fixture visible above.

Rushing to the water’s edge, Kiuno cupped her hands, the cool liquid easing her scratchy throat. She splashed more on her legs to ease the itchy bites.

Deep colored pebbles lined the river bank with small water plants growing between them. Little fish played among the foliage and larger stones. If she could catch one that would resolve her growling stomach.

Before worrying too much about food, Kiuno hoisted herself onto the fallen rock, slipping a few times on the green moss. She looked down river, hoping for some sign of civilization, but it only renewed her sense of dread. Forest extended for miles.

Her stomach flipped, and she sank down, drawing her knees into her chest.

Trapped. Alone.

Kiuno stayed there for some time wrestling with ideas. She had water, first priority taken care of. The river would provide food, and it wasn’t as though she’d be there forever.

Despite some optimism, her nervousness grew with the looming shadows. Beings seemed to form and vanish as evening played on her fears. It was too late to build a fire, but at least a tree would be safer than the ground.

Glancing between branches, Kiuno found one that split, creating a nook just big enough for her to squeeze in. She rested her back against the biggest branch and watched the orange glow dip below the horizon. Her stomach growled, her skin itched, and every sound made her jump and recheck her surroundings. She curled into herself, trying to reason the shadows were nothing more than the reflections of trees.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?   

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Running with the Wolves and I hope to finish it as a trilogy. Beyond that I have ideas for dragons, kitsune and pirates. It’s just a matter of picking which one to work on first.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?  

A developmental editor. There is literally no better money spent. They’re not your friends and they know what to look for. A good editor will tell you what needs to be fixed and they aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings. You might think your book is good enough, but give it to a good developmental editor and they’ll make it shine.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Visit my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_J_E_Reed.html and Running with the Wolves http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Reed_Running_With_the_Wolves.html

Love social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J.E.Reed.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/J_E_Reed_author

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

 

Author Interview with @BenjamHope! #gothic #steampunk #Victorian #alchemy

Today I’m excited to present Benjamin Hope, author of The Procurement of Souls. As a fan of alchemy, the premise of his novel intrigued me, and after reading the first chapter, it’s definitely on my to-be-read list!

Benjamin HopeQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

I’m from Hertfordshire, just north of London, in the UK.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Good stories immerse the reader in their world. In order to do this most effectively, I think narratives need to have strongly imagined characters through which the reader can understand and experience this world. By strongly imagined, I mean characters who develop and grow through the arc of the story; who are fallible in one way or another; and who have a strong sense of purpose, a goal to achieve (and even better if this shifts or changes along the way!), and problems to overcome. In this way, characters not only allow the reader to connect more personally to the story but also drive the pace forward and craft the shape of the plot.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always been inspired to write, even as a very young boy. Although, my first attempt at a full-length novel came when I was about 18 – it was a disaster! I was trying to write with somebody else’s voice; to emulate an author rather than allowing my own natural style develop. It wasn’t until later on, after I truly felt that I had found my voice that I came up with a seed of an idea for The Procurement of Souls. It kept on resurfacing, like an itch that wouldn’t be scratched until I finally put fingers to the keyboard and started getting it down. I can’t say what the inspiration was exactly, only that I have always loved history and fantasy-sci-fi and I suppose those loves combined into an initial idea kept growing until I had the bones of my first novel!

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Well, I have a full-time job and an 8-month-old baby, so more recently I’ve been fitting it in as and when I can – lunchtimes, weekends, evenings, etc. I’ve also been on shared parental leave in Berlin for the last couple of months (with my wife’s work) and I’ve been very fortunate to have my mother-in-law with us too, which has enabled me to get cracking with my sequel in between changing nappies!

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

It’s not so much a quirk as an interesting circumstance, but my wife is an opera singer and so travels a lot with her profession. This means that I’m quite often a mobile writer! The Procurement of Souls was written in London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin! In fact, I finished my first draft of PoS in a smoky café in Vienna – I felt like Hemmingway!

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

My debut, The Procurement of Souls, had its official launch on 1stJuly. It’s a Victorian-gothic-steampunk crossover about the exploits of two opposing bio-alchemists.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

The fact that finishing a complete first draft of a novel is only the beginning of the journey! When you get there, it’s an amazing feeling and one that every writer should be proud of, but then comes the re-writes, the overhauls, the re-jigs, the additions, the exclusions, the copy-editing etc. As an indie author, you are reliant on a huge amount of self-discipline and of course it’s exceptionally hard to be objective with your work – you quickly become ‘snow-blind’ to the words on the page – both in terms of content and technical accuracy and without access to, or the means to employ, a professional editor, the ability to ensure all aspects of the narrative is a good as it can be, is a real challenge. I am a self-confessed perfectionist and to ensure that The Procurement of Soulsreflected the very best of me, I turned to a number of people I knew who could objectify my work, provide that much needed brutally honest feedback and eliminate any technical errors too. 

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpgI think it’s best to start at the beginning, so here’s chapter 1!

*CONTAINS EXPLETIVES*

The whites of two wide eyes were all that could be seen in the splinter of light that passed through the crack in the swollen doorjamb. Dr Weimer observed in silence the blind panic that radiated from them as they darted one way and then another, desperately trying to place themselves. The fear was pungent. Smells like he’s soiled himself, he thought with distastebefore throwing open the door and illuminating the room with such a contrasting brightness that the man in the chair audibly gasped.

‘Mr Wade,’ Dr Weimer began as he stepped inside, ‘you must forgive the enforced and abrupt manner in which we make one another’s acquaintance. I dare say that having a bag thrust upon one’s head unexpectedly is most unpleasant and disconcerting.’ His tone was saccharine; sugared with false sincerity. ‘But unfortunately, you hold in your possession something I require. Something important. Something personal.’ He smiled at him, his fat lips parting obtusely and revealing a row of white but stubby teeth, spread with almost uniform gapping in a blood-red gum, before pushing his circular glass frames further up the bridge of his nose with deliberate precision. ‘Nevertheless, this is the situation we find ourselves in.’ He moved a little closer towards him and noticed with curiosity and self-acknowledged satisfaction how the man visibly shrank at his advance.

Wade felt his throat constrict at this sudden and disturbing entrance. Panic took a slightly firmer grip and he tried pressing with all his strength against the back of the chair, to no avail.

His mind clutched at words to try to rescue himself from the situation. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do whatever you want. Just untie me and I’ll promise to –’ but he felt his voice catch, his mouth dry to gravel. He simply couldn’t seem to keep his sense of dread in check. He’d been in precarious situations before but this whole scenario seemed different. The moment he’d been taken and heard the purr of that woman’s accented voice in his ear, it was clear this was out of the ordinary. This man too; the smell of the place – acrid and chemical – was all wrong. He cursed inwardly for not keeping his cool. It was normally him doing the intimidating, yet his pulse continued to spiral higher as sweat pooled at the nape of his neck and thoughts of what this could be about flickered across his mind’s-eye like a flip-book. ‘Listen,’ he implored, ‘listen. I don’t know what it is you think I have but if you untie me, I promise to help you. I have connections. You just need to untie me first and –’

He was cut off with a single word. ‘No,’ the man said, savouring the roundness of the vowel before continuing. ‘That won’t be possible, I’m afraid. After I explain our situation further, I happen to know you’ll be rather less obliging of my needs. Untying you would be entirely counter-productive.’

Wade snorted a number of times in quick succession. Why him? Why now? It had occurred to him that this could be some vengeful intimidation strategy being exacted upon him by some enemy or other. God knows there were plenty of those. Somebody he’d cheated maybe? Perhaps a harbour-master from one of the dock sites he’d failed a run for? But although a good number of possibilities came to mind, not one seemed to fit this particular glove and looking up at this piggy-eyed psychopath in his pristine white apron, illicit goods and aggrieved dockers appeared to be the least of his worries. No, this was something different and strange: it sickened him to the gut. And as he looked wildly around for some hope of an escape, he thought he began to connect a number of the dots.

A surgeon’s operating table stood in the middle of the room with a tray of instruments waiting next to it. Beside that, a tangle of transparent tubes articulated with rubber joints led to a brass-coloured sphere the size of a carriage with a dozen or so pistons sticking out at a diagonal on either side. Bile rose in his throat.

‘What is this? What are you – a doctor? A surgeon? What do you want from me?’ Anxiety had forced his larynx so far up that the words barely squeaked out. He pulled upwards desperately with his wrists to try and loosen his manacles. ‘I… I really have nothing… nothing worth taking.’

‘That you know of, Mr Wade, that you know of. We all have something worth giving. You need to calm down or you’ll cut your hands to shreds. It’s surgical wire, not yarn; I don’t want you bleeding out.’

‘But… but what could you possibly need me for? I’ve told you, I have nothing to my name, I’m just a… a… nobody.’ He frothed at the mouth a little.

The doctor’s eyes narrowed tightly to slits. ‘That’s precisely why you’re here. You’ve no family either from what I’m told?’

‘Wha-what? No! I don’t – I – fuck! Please! Don’t cut me open! Don’t take my organs, I –’

‘Mr Wade, nobody is going to cut anybody open. What possible use could I have with your organs? I’m not some vulgar anatomist looking to advance his expertise. We shan’t be on the table today. What I want is much more valuable than that.’ He walked abruptly behind his chair and unlocked the wheels. ‘And it’s time to start the preparations.’

Wade’s chair took a sudden jerk backwards and he came face-to-face with his tormenter. He felt the floor slip away beneath him and heard the grumble and squeak of the casters as he was wheeled beside the bed.

‘Now, I should warn you that you may feel a certain degree of discomfort, Mr Wade. It’s perfectly normal. I just need to support your neck a little.’

Mr Wade screamed. Something was clamped suddenly about his thick neck, rigid and tall, pulling his vertebrae fully erect. Cold steel pressed against his skin and held him there unnaturally straight. His hands squirmed despite himself, the wire cutting into more flesh. He had been rendered absolutely useless, and despite his muscular, bullish frame, he was quite at this malefactor’s mercy: a pathetic fly wound tight in the spider’s web.

‘Forgive me,’ continued the doctor, ‘just a precautionary measure to ensure the tubing doesn’t shatter mid-journey. It’s imperative your oesophagus remains in one piece.’ He unhooked a length of tubing from the stand and held one end up to the bare light. An evil metal barb, like the tail of a stingray, flashed as he turned it slowly in his gloved hand. ‘Now listen, you’re an exceedingly large man and I would suggest that the stiller you are, the easier this will all be and the fewer accidents we are likely to have. Open your mouth please, wide.’

Wade’s eyes took on the appearance of twin new moons crossing each other’s orbits as the metal end came towards him.

‘Your mouth, Mr Wade.’

A spike of pain burned unexpectedly at his side forcing him into an involuntary gasp and in that instant the end of the tube found itself secreted at the back of his mouth. He tasted the cold tang of metal briefly on his tongue before it passed back and slipped down into his throat and further still. He gagged to no relief. His tongue lolled inadequately to one side.

The doctor put the scalpel he’d been holding back on the table. ‘Now take slow steady breaths. You will manage that if you remain calm.’

Down the tubing went, like some uninvited serpent, all the way until he felt it in the pit of his belly. The doctor held the other end up vertically above him and with a curt nod looped it through a fine wire coil dangling from the ceiling.

‘Well, we’re in place and anchored at your core. So, let’s begin.’

The syringe was not like anything Wade had ever seen before. For one thing, the needle was curved, and flexed at the touch.

‘We need to introduce the antithesis of what we require in order to act as a lure. It is the simplicity of opposite attraction.’ The doctor held the syringe a little higher and squirted a touch of the scum-coloured fluid into a kidney-shaped tray. ‘Human brain to be precise, mixed with a unique compound of my own design – the cerebrum is quite dead you see and just what we need to draw our target out.’ He depressed the plunger, introducing the liquid steadily into the tubing. This he unlatched from the wire loop and secured the opposite end to a panel at the bottom of the brass sphere behind them. Mr Wade blinked violently in protest, his teeth vibrating against the glass. His mind swam. What was he talking about? What did he mean? Surely, he would realise he had the wrong man.

Suddenly a terrible cramp grasped at him somewhere near the pit of his stomach. For a second, he had the notion that he might soil himself. The cramp grew. He felt an excruciating wrenching of something pulling apart; could actually feel involuntary movement in his abdomen. A tearing was faintly audible. ‘Sthh-sthh’ he hissed with his tongue on the tubing.

He could feel the doctor’s eyes upon him, observing. His apparent composure was chilling, as he stood, hands formed into a cage at his chest, simply watching. And then a peculiar stillness came over him too: an emptiness and sensation of release, much like the feeling after vomiting. Was this it? Would he let him go now? His eyes searched sideways for an answer.

‘The calm before the storm,’ noted the doctor.

A crippling, violent spasm shot through Wade’s body, radiating from his centre so that, despite the length of glass-tubing inside him, he stretched out awkwardly against his wire restraints, his frame rigid as steel. He couldn’t breathe, not at all. He tried to suck in air. His lungs burned. Blood rose to the surface, covering his skin in raised veins and capillaries: worms of red, threatening to burst at any moment. I’m dying, he thought. This is it.

An audible popsounded from within him, the noise making even the doctor jump slightly. Wade’s body slumped as far as it could in the chair and then movement shook the tubing. Something viscous issued from his mouth along the length of glass. Pink, yellow, plum, red, green: its colour seemed to morph as it moved rapidly towards the brass sphere, like light refracted through water. It gave off a haze or glow that bathed the room in a peculiar tint before disappearing again inside the machine.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

Benjamin Hope midshotI’m currently busy writing the sequel to The Procurement of Souls. It’s called A New Religion and I won’t give too much away about the plot except to say it features more steampunkesque inventions, a host of new characters, and a few familiar faces along the way! I also have plans for a collection of gothic-influenced cautionary fairy-tales. I released one for World Book Night this year, The Rookery at Smeaton Abbey, which you can read on my website here. I have also sketched out the bare bones of a full-length cautionary fairy tale. So, with the addition of my regular blogging and book recommendations, there’s lots going on but I am focusing my energies on A New Religion at the moment, which should be set for publication in 2019.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Well, The Procurement of Soulsis my debut so I’m yet to experience that joyous moment but I did treat myself to a new laptop a few months ago. As I said earlier, as I travel a lot, it’s important that I have something reliable and portable, so that I can write wherever I am.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can check out my website, www.benjamin-hope.com where you can find out about my latest work and read my regular blogs about the writing process. You can sign-up to my mailing list there, follow me if you’re a WordPress user, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @BenjamHope.

The Procurement of Souls is available as a paperback or eBook (in most formats) from your local Amazon and most online bookstores.

Quick links:

USA Amazon

UK Amazon

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpg

Author Interview with @authorcsmith! #FridayFeature #DoctorWho #Whovian #scifi #fantasy #steampunk #timetravel #authorinterview

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This interview I’m very excited about as it is my kickoff to the latest section of my blog on novels, short stories, anthologies, scripts, audio scripts, fanfic, etc, surrounding the #DoctorWho fandom.

Today, I’m fortunate to present Claire Smith, author of The Quest Of The Prodigy.

Welcome!

Thank you so much, Mackenzie!!! Always love getting love from a #Whovian! Whovians make the best sort of humans 🙂 

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

Claire_BHC_Web.jpgBorn and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. Moved to Greenville, SC in 2013 to be with family. Loving the southern life! 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

For me, it’s always the characters. I always say the story starts and ends with a good character. If you don’t have interesting characters, my attention gets lost very easily! That’s why I take character building very seriously! I also believe that one should learn something from reading a book. Not like an after-school special, but either a new take on something or an actual fact they might not have known. I believe that’s the power of fiction, to teach us something about reality too. 

Question 3) Congratulations on the release of The Quest Of The Prodigy! Tell us what inspired you to write this book?

Quest_of_the_Prodigy_Claire_Smith_WEB.jpgThank you so much! Well, it was back in 2012 and my friends and I were making fun of the rather new BBC show Sherlock. We were teasing about British surnames and I somehow thought of the name Barkley. And somehow I knew he was a time-traveler! And everything else just came from that 🙂 

Question 4) What would you consider your greatest writing challenge?

Finishing!!! I get so many ideas, that is hard to stay focused and finish a project. I have about five projects I’m working on at the moment!

Question 5) I understand your book was also selected by Barnes and Noble as a special two-week exclusive release on Nook! How did you react when you heard the news? 

Thank you! Well much to the disappointment of my amazing publishers, BHC Press, I had laryngitis at the time so I could barely say anything!!! So, I was screaming on the inside, lol.

Question 6) Turns out, your target audience is the same as mine – #DoctorWho fans! What made you select #Whovians?

I wrote this book FOR Whovians 🙂 I’ve always loved Time Travel, and been a Whovian for almost 8 years now! I wanted a book that was a fun, light-hearted read that would satisfy the Whovian in between seasons. And this book was also geared towards the sci-fi fan that likes the technology side of sci-fi explained so it’s less ‘magical’ and more ‘scientific’, kind of like Doctor Who! 

Question 7) Who’s your Doctor?

Matt-Smith-and-David-Tennant.png

Well, it’s cliche but the Tenth Doctor! It just wasn’t on his handsome looks, lol. I started watching Doctor Who a little differently because I started with Torchwood which was introduced to me first via BBC America. Then my British friend @jetlbomb introduced me to Doctor Who! She said if I loved Jack Harkness so much I should watch all of Doctor Who! So I started with the Empty Child, hit all the Jack episodes and then started again with Rose. It wasn’t until I saw the Utopia two-parter that I was HOOKED and so David Tennant will always be my Doctor. And Matt Smith is COOL, and well, being a Smith, I’m a little bias, so they are both my Doctor’s 🙂 Gotta love 12 though! They all rock! 

Question 8) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

I’m very excited! At first, I was worried about the casting just to please an agenda, but JODIE is going to be BRILLIANTLY AMAZING and I cannot wait! Also super excited for the new showrunner. Moffat had fine moments for sure, but new blood I think is most welcomed! 

Question 9) Okay, back to writing. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Oh yes, I could talk about Doctor Who all day! I think my ‘quirk’ might be my habit of going into tangents / rants when I write, in character! My next coming novel In Need of Direction, a modern adult contemporary, the main character Charlie Vail goes in MANY side-rants. I have to trim them down a lot lol. I also like to make pop culture reference because I’m easily amused!

Question 10) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

DfGv9UIW0AAblUwI think the whole book itself surprised me. The first draft, horrible as it is, is WAY different and was more middle grade level. I changed it a lot too also to add more STEAMPUNK elements which I’m also a big fan of!

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Certainly! Grab a preview here! https://issuu.com/bhcpress/docs/qotp_cs 

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?   

In 2019, my contemporary fiction novel In Need of Direction, about a Hollywood movie director who finds love a little too late when he finds out he’s dying, will be released. 2020 is expected to be the release of the sequel to the Quest of the Prodigy where our heroes will travel to the golden age of piracy! I’m also working on some screenwriting scripts for some contests, so WHO knows 😉 

Question 13) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Thank you so much! I like how you have THIRTEEN questions for the new Doctor, woohoo!

They can visit me at writewithclaire.net! I’m also very active on Twitter @authorcsmith!

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Author Interview: Gary Morgenstein #amoundoverhell #speculativefiction

Today I’m fortunate to present Gary Morgenstein, author of A MOUND OVER HELL, the first book in THE DARK DEPTHS series.

Hi Gary Morgenstein, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

Gary Book Jacket PhotoWhat part of the world do you come from?

I’m from Brooklyn, the Center of the Known Universe, but I grew up in the Bronx in the shadow of my beloved Yankee Stadium.

What do you think makes a good story?

Ultimately it’s about the characters. In our world of science fiction and fantasy, we’ve become sadly conditioned to the big spectacle, entranced by CGI which all too often takes the place of plot and characters. But let’s never forget it’s all about the story. You don’t read Lord of the Rings because you think Orcs are cool, but because you’re moved and drawn by the courage of Frodo and Samwise. And on and on.  Gimmicky plots are no substitute for caring about sympathetic and identifiable characters, which in the world of speculative fiction where the setting is often non-human or highly tekkie, is a challenge.

What inspired you to write your book?

Baseball and science fiction are my two loves, so this was the perfect literary vehicle for me, especially since as best as I can determine, there are few if any science fiction baseball novels. Writing speculative fiction is all about taking current events to that next terrifying level by asking “What if?”. So in my dystopian baseball novel A Mound Over Hell, what if the current conflict with Islam escalated to a World War which we lost? America is vanquished for the first time, surrounded. Then throw in the end of baseball forever. What would this look like and most importantly, who are the people?

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Writers always write because even when we’re just thinking, we’re writing, plotting, editing, pondering, so it’s kind of 24/7. At least I don’t dream about my novels. Yet.  But I start just after breakfast, sitting with my pug on my laptop, breaking for yoga, and continuing until the end of the day or until I feel my brains are dripping out of my ears.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

My wife has made the mistake of being in the room when I write, not something I encourage, and she’s been alarmed by my facial expressions, thinking I’m suicidal, murderous, sad, happy or just plain nuts. I’ve explained that is not Gary expressing emotions but Gary writing the characters and their emotions.  Course, it must be pretty scary to observe, especially when I talk lines of dialogue aloud. My dog doesn’t mind at all, which is why she can stay and my wife is asked to leave.

Give us the title and genre of your latest work?

A_Mound_Over_Hell_Front_FINALA Mound Over Hell, the first book in The Dark Depths series. It’s science fiction-baseball. Or dystopian baseball if you prefer. Twenty-five years after we lost World War Three to radical Islam, this new America is based on love and ethics, run by The Family, led by the elderly Grandma. It doesn’t matter what your race, gender, ethnicity or sexual preference is as long as you love someone. What a notion, huh? All acts of patriotism, from flying the flag to singing the National Anthem, are illegal. Social media has been banned under the Anti-Narcissism Laws. Religion, associated with Islam, is also illegal. In a nation where children are revered, abortion and the use of contraceptives are capital offenses along with pedophilia. Banks, lawyers, psychologists and the entertainment industry were banned by the Anti-Parasite Laws I and II. Robots with faces are also outlawed; during the 2030s the AIs caused havoc by posing as humans and blending into society.

As A Mound Over Hell opens, baseball, a sport now identified with treason, begins its final season ever, playing in battered Amazon Stadium (formerly Yankee Stadium), the only remaining ballpark. All of the nation’s stadiums were razed after the failed terrorist attack by the pro-war, pro-baseball Miners at the Seventh Game of the 2065 Yankees-Cubs World Series.

Holograms play for out-of-shape players and attendance barely averages 15 fans a game. Just as the sport is about dead, everything changes. Infused by the miraculous appearance of great players from the past such as Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle (and from the future, the greatest of them all, the female Mooshie Lopez), baseball regains its popularity, only to become a pawn between those who want peace — Grandma is reaching out to dissident Muslims chafing under the tyranny of the Caliphate — and those who want another war.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

How many characters there are running around in my head.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Book Two of The Dark Depths series, which picks up two hours after the end of A Mound Over Hell.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Buying my first electric typewriter.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books

Here’s the link to the website of the publisher BHC Press http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Morgenstein_A_Mound_Over_Hell.html

You can also follow me on Twitter at @writergary and friend me on Facebook!

 

Author Interview: Mary R. Woldering #Tuesdaybookblog

Today I’m fortunate to present Mary R. Woldering author of Children of Stone.

Hi Mary, thanks for agreeing to this interview.

10014489_228282274027119_1981351165_oQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

The United States

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Strong characters and their interaction with each other

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I don’t recall. I just wrote a story when I was about 14.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Chaotic and full of distractions, but I manage.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

No idea what you would consider interesting or a quirk. I do a lot of research & Googling.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Opener of the Sky – Book 3 of the Children of Stone Series.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

That I have very few readers. I think the story is a great one and so do my few readers, but news of the tale is just not spreading.

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Sure! I preceded it with the blurb.

Children of Stone Book 3 – Opener of the Sky

I had grown fierce and hard
Thrilled by death, torture, blood…
the madness of it when I tasted its warm saltiness
A warrior god.

… from the poem Howl by Mary R. Woldering (as told by Raemkai-2012)

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Marai, a former shepherd, who discovered a fallen ‘star’ and was gifted with amazing abilities by the unearthly Children of Stone, has been separated from those he loves.

Turned sojourner, he begins a desperate mission to find them, but the spectre of wickedness and corruption is never far behind and his journey to wisdom becomes even more uncertain.

While Opener Of The Sky, the third book in the Children of Stone series, is the continuing story of Marai’s magical search for his companions, it is also the story of Maatkare Raemkai, a sadistic shape-changing warrior-prince, whose twisted relationships once propelled him into power, then nearly destroyed him.

Through sorcerous manipulation of the women Marai loves, he has planned his own revenge. The sojourner Marai is just in the way.  Will he be too late to save those he loves or will he welcome them in victory?

In this excerpt from Sokor and Khmenu, Ariennu and Naibe attempt an escape from the clutches of their captor Prince Maatkare one day away from the king’s palace. He, being part wolf/dog tracks them, manipulating them into the very temple where he offers sacrifices. He’s intent on teaching them both a lesson.

(Reader’s note. Ariennu is nicknamed MaMa and Naibe is called Baby, but they are not mother and daughter.) 18+

 

Ari stared at Maatkare Raemkai as he chatted, noticing Deka sat next to her prince oblivious to the surroundings. She had done the same thing in Little Kina Ahna when everyone had lived with Marai.  That much of her personality had not changed. For Ari, Maatkare was much more interesting.

So good looking though. He was even fun to drink with last night before it got to be too much; watching him show off for his men. Ariennu mused, a slight smile on her lips. Maybe not the worst idea in the world, except having to share him. And whatever he did to Naibe this afternoon was uncalled for, knocking her out like that.

She paused, tucking in her thoughts, when she saw the prince glance her way as if he had heard every one of them.

The signal to Naibe was a yawn.

Ari leaned to a servant.

“Where is your privy? My friend and I need to…”

The servant glanced at the priest who spoke to the prince.

Maatkare, his eyes glimmering a little in recognition of something, motioned for an older guard to follow them. He raised a forefinger, then lowered it in a quiet but mystical gesture.

Don’t be gone too long, ladies. His thoughts whispered as he pulled Deka a little closer.

The shaded stall with an open half wall provided just enough room for a person to squat. After a moment, Ari rose and gestured to Naibe that it was her turn:

I’m going to cover myself and stand over you. If you just concentrate on getting to the king and not being seen, I think it’ll work.

She wrapped the prismatic illusion around herself like goddess Nut’s mantle, hugging Naibe up into her arms and slipping away past the guard who paced just a few feet away.

As soon as she reached the causeway to the river, she let Naibe down and dropped the illusion. The two women gasped and then caught their breath, shrinking back into the shadow. Once there, they tried to get their bearings.

“Do you think he saw which way we went?” Naibe whispered.

“No, but we have to keep moving down the river. I’m sure the guard has already told…Oh Goddess…fast. The bastard knows already.”

Ari stopped and crouched with Naibe as guards with bobbling torches erupted from the gate to priest’s house.

“Bring him out here. Stupid bastard let them run off.”

Prince Maatkare.

Storming by.

He whirled as two men dragged the guard who had been set over the women out to the wall near the water in the causeway channel.

Naibe and Ariennu crouched lower, wrapping secrecy around themselves.

“Highness. They used sorcery. Gone in a flash.” The guard pleaded, then accepting his fate, whispered: “Have mercy…”

“I do have mercy on you, because you have served me well.” The prince replied. “And I have mercy on your children.”

The shup sound of a blade striking hard into a body was followed by a groan. A shadow drifted over the three figures who supported the fourth, followed by a snapping sound. It meant the man’s neck had been broken in a quick gesture of mercy.

Ari clapped a quick hand over Naibe’s mouth to keep her from squealing aloud in horror.

“Take our unfortunate old friend to the open edge of the water. He has been given a message for Lord Sebek. What you men will know” the hand gesture again, as if he was imprinting the men with a different story, “is that as he was chasing the women, slipped at the muddy bank and the crocodiles got to him before we could. I will write a message to his family of his noble deeds in my service and award them his pension. Be careful of the crocodiles yourselves. They can be keen on those who break the rules or bear tales.” He grew silent as the guard’s body was carried away.

Ari faded herself into the color of the wall. She couldn’t make out everything the prince was doing but it seemed to be additional ritual gestures, followed by the spiritual howl of a wolf-dog. It grew in piercing volume overtaking Ari’s heart and filling her heart with uncustomary terror.

Naibe’s mouth opened in a silent cry.

Maatkare stopped, as if he noticed, and sniffed the air.

For a moment, Ari thought she recognized the flash of shiny fang teeth in an eerie grin but realized it was an image of warning he had conjured up so that he would appear as a beast before her eyes.

I know you are near, ladies. I can smell your scents. Because you decided to run away, you now see a little more of how I am. I will find you before dawn. I hope the chase will leave me feeling less upset by that time. The prince’s thought voice was calm and unruffled, just as it had been when he spoke to the unfortunate guard. He moved back up the causeway, scenting and searching for them.

As soon as Ari saw he was far enough away to appear the same size as a shabti doll, she silently grabbed Naibe and darted around the perimeter of the priest’s home and into the first entrance they could find that didn’t seem to be part of the building complex.

The path became a shrouded tunnel.

Ari saw two sentries at the open gate entryway.

Another temple, maybe? She thought, hurtling by the men with Naibe in tow. The sentries stirred as if they sensed something, stared at each other, then they closed the gate behind the women who were still moving deeper inside the passageways. Ariennu relaxed, her image becoming visible. She waited with Naibe in the dust and dark, while they caught their breath.

“Killed the guard, the bastard did, just to teach us a lesson. He set the whole thing up, because he knew we were up to something. I don’t even think N’ahab would have done that, goddess curse his soul.” Ari spat at the ground, then pulled Naibe to the left branch of the path when they came to a division.

The new hallway was close and torch lit with paintings on the walls. At intervals there were more paths and arched hollows that became other tunnels, but Ari was certain they would find the way out of the other side at any moment.

A right then another right then a left. Um. She paused to stroke the stone in her brow, hoping to clarify any message her Child Stone transmitted.

Where am I supposed to go? Damn. I’m going to get us lost. She froze. City of the Dead, Sokor. A Labyrinth, and I led us both in here.  She turned to Naibe. “Let’s just try to be calm and quiet. They will help us. They just have to.”

“Um, Ari…” Naibe paused, her hand staying the older woman’s hand. “You do know where you are going don’t you?”

“I just know we have to go deeper in. I can still feel his thoughts, Babe. He’s looking around down here…tracking us. He can smell us. If we keep moving in where the burial boxes are, there are enough of them and dust in the twists. I want his nose confused over what he thinks he smells. He can’t stay past dawn. Sooner or later he’ll have to give up on us and keep moving up the river. He’ll have to leave us.  Then we can get out and get down the river to Our Father Menkaure. If he’s going to keep showing me how he is ‘Prince Dangerous’ and killing people over nothing, we’re not safe. I’ll curse my own soul if I ever let some man kill me, whether he was glorious on his couch or not.”

“I didn’t like it, Ari.” Naibe admitted, just above a whisper.

“No? Really? I thought he was one wild hump! That El of his knew how to seek out every single part in my belly and womb like it was made for it. Mmm…Mmm…I wish I didn’t have to get away. I’m getting another itch for it, just thinking about it working me.”

Ari turned every way she could, realizing the underground complex must have been huge. So far she hadn’t found any two passageways that looked alike.

“With me, he put up a wall over his soul instead of becoming open to me. Devils came out of his eyes the more I sent up my loving to him. He just sucked it out and still gave nothing back. It was as if he was broken and couldn’t love me like a normal man. He could give the pleasure twice over to fill in that missing part and I was screaming for it, but then I couldn’t stop thinking of my Marai and how much I missed the real love he had for me…and then I couldn’t breathe. I fainted.”

“No I saw everything he did when you first came in. Read it off your stone when you were crawling around the cabin floor all shocked. Bastard choked you hard enough to end you and then painted night in front of your eyes…said he would drink your heart for saying Marai’s name to him.” Ariennu stopped walking and sat by the wall where five corridors branched out in the dark.

Now which way? She asked herself.

Naibe shuddered as if she wanted to gag in worry.

Ari she tapped the nearly imperceptible rise in the middle of her forehead just at the top of her nose. “Come on little one… some help here. Show me those little balls of light Marai told us about that led him in the dark to your boat of wonders so long ago, if this is still real…”

“It’s alright MaMa.” Naibe petted Ari’s shoulder.

“Still my fault we’re having to run like this. We should be at the palace soaking in asses milk, not having to get away from someone who’s no better than a slave master.” She saw the small lightened area in one of the corridors. “There. That way. I see those lights, I think. We have to go.” Ari got to her feet and pulled Naibe up.

After a series of twists and turns and more walking, the elder woman slowed, realizing the lights might have been an illusion born of her own fatigue.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

 

A voice exploded just under her brow. It was louder than the usual whisper-like singing to which she had become accustomed.

“Finally! Ouch, damn. Naibe, watch your step, there’s something back here. I thought it was a wall but there’s something out in front.” She murmured, then felt the lid of a low stone box with some carved object on top.

A Stone box. It’s like my dream when I saw Marai lying dead in that black box somewhere. She felt for the edge for a moment but realized the box in her dream had been plain and slick to the touch. This one was smooth but not as finely polished

“I can feel a draft coming over the top so maybe it’s in front of a hall that leads us out of here the back way.” Ari couldn’t see much in the dark until she paused and became calm enough for her eyes to switch into a kind of night vision.

In the back, a niche containing a platform for offerings. Something furred, broken and wet with gore lay in the dish. Her hands leapt up away from whatever it was as if they had been lightning struck. Atop the lid was a carved image. She felt the shape: Animal. Legs, haunches, muzzle and upright ears of Wepwawet as Guide of the Dead.

She gasped, realizing the irony of the place she had entered with the younger woman. The prince’s words from late last night rang in her ears.

 

I’m the Lord of the Dead by the Blood of Aset…the Lord of the Dead

 

She remembered the revelry of the party, and the way a very drunk Maatkare cried out his howling lament about his ill-fated marriage to the king’s daughter. Women always tryna put a collar on me.

That was the moment she knew she had to get him away from the king’s private area and onto his boat.

Well damn me she thought.

Ari suddenly realized the prince was here on more than business. This was a centering and safe place for the disciples of Wepwawet who presented as a wolf/dog.

He must be from the wolf school with all his skill with a bow, the howling, the…Oh goddess…shape shifting that’s so fast no bones bend or skin stretches…he just is. I led us both to his safe space…He came here to cleanse himself? Our dinner host was his witness while we were cleaning up?

Ariennu sensed something wasn’t right in the tonality of the Children’s voices. Sounds like a man imitating…like…She tensed, all the hair on her arm rising as she heard the great wolf/dog’s panting approach to the opening of the chapel.

The sound of his clawed feet tip-tapped on the hardened earth floor of the path. The panting merged into an evil titter; breathing in the dark; a faint growl that grew stronger and more threatening.

 

Push on if you must

Or stay

Or go this way

Either way leads to pain

You see, I know what they sound like,

Your little friends

These voices in your crystal eye.

 

The black furred hand/paw touched her arm just before it faded into illusion.

“MaMa!” Naibe cried, panting. “He’s finding us. Hide!” Naibe ran around the stone box. This time she grabbed Ari and hid in her cloaking arms. The women clung to each other, wide-eyed and silent. Before the shroud of silence covered them, Ari saw the silhouette of a black wolf/dog thin like smoke. In its place, Ari thought she saw a gold armlet flashing in the slight available light of a distant torch.

Oh. He’s here? She hardened her resolve, crouching and ready to fight.

In the distance, the women heard a faint scampering snapping, growling, yodel-howling, circling and finding the way.

They’re coming Ari. Dogs…He has power over dogs. He’s sending dogs. Naibe grabbed Ariennu harder, as if it would help her gain more invisibility.

I know Baby, I know…the elder woman listened silently for a long time as the sounds circled, grew louder and finally paused outside the room where they had become the most confused.

Footsteps.

Maatkare stood in the doorway, golden wrist and arm bands glimmering in ambient torchlight.

“I know what you tried to do.” He began to pace, trying to seem thoughtful “Maybe I would have done the same thing too if I had been in your situation. But now you’ve caused a good man to die, because you outwitted him with your little trick.”

The sound of dogs growling grew louder.  His thought voice growled too, half human half dog as if he had become one of them.

Easy brothers…he started, then spoke aloud “Perhaps I should let them come at you. They are my trick, Red Sister. See if you like it.” Maatkare’s dark hand swept the air in front of him. Ari sensed an almost-whisper.

Suddenly, black ravenous shadows emptied past him around his torso and over his shoulders; into the chamber pouncing, snarling and biting. Ariennu felt herself knocked back hard by the weight of several animals standing around and towering over her. She shrieked angrily, struggling against their bodies.

“Call them off! Damn you!” she swung, kicked and shoved, but accomplished nothing.

 

“You’re afraid…tsk, tsk…fearless Lady Ariennu…worried by some puppies.”

 

“Am not…get them off me…”

 

“About to soil yourself, you naughty ka’t” he chortled, toeing the threshold and gesturing. “Just a very small sample of what I can do, if you come to annoy me.”

Puppies?  Ari froze, her eyes clearing a little.

The clawing and biting beasts had become gregarious, yipping puppies. They frolicked happily about her prone body then left, heading past the prince and out the doorway as they vanished.

It had been a magnificent illusion.

 

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

The last 2 books in the series Book 4 “Heart of the Lotus” and Book 5 “The Lake of Memory” plus some spin-offs in other time periods including a Steampunk Crime novella “Miss Hattie and the Hoppers” and an autobiography of sorts. There are other plans in other times and places.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

Createspace covers. They are very professional looking.

Picture2

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-R.-Woldering/e/B00OND7QMU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website:  Palace intrigue, murder, madness, confusion, bizarre twists and plot turns…dangerous hookups, evil geniuses, punk sorcerers, traitors…

https://www.maryrwoldering.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChildrenofStone

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/ChildrenofStoneNovels?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

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Author Interview: Claire Buss

Today I’m fortunate to present Claire Buss author of The Rose Thief.

Hi Claire, thanks for agreeing to this interview!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

I’m from the UK, just moved to Southend-on-Sea sAuthor Pico I’m looking forward to being inspired by living next to the seaside!

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

I think a good story needs to capture the reader’s imagination so either a wondrous setting, imaginative storyline or characters that you can really connect with. Ideally all three in one book if possible. What I enjoy the most about reading is forgetting that I am turning physical pages because I am so swept up in the story world.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

Gaia Raven CoverMy first book, The Gaia Effect, was the result of taking part in a local book writing competition. I saw free writing workshops available at my local library and thought that would be a great opportunity to get back into writing. The workshops led to entry into the Pen to Print Book Competition with an opening chapter. I was fortunate enough to become a finalist in January 2015, all I had to do was write the rest of the book by August 2015! It was an amazing experience and I am so proud of The Gaia Effect, the first of many books I hope.

Tales from Suburbia jpgMy second book, which I released in July 2017, is called Tales from Suburbia and is a collection of short stories, plays and blog posts that intermingle my own personal experiences as a mum, the peccadillos of suburbia and the perils of social media. The subject matter varies from social observation to the humorous reflection of toddler life. Burying my Baby is heartbreaking. One, Two, Cha Cha Cha is hilarious. This collection is full of human foibles and folly and is both amusing and empathetic.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I am a stay-at-home mum so it can be difficult to juggle set writing times, it’s better if I try to remain flexible and jump on any and all opportunities to write. I often manage to get an hour in first thing as my little boy is a very early riser, between 5 and 6am usually. He watches Fireman Sam and I work on my latest project. When I am writing first draft I do sit down with a 1000 word daily target in order to make sure I get the book out of my head and onto paper. It’s a case of doing as much as I can, when I can.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hmmm, well I am a touch typist so I don’t have to look at my fingers when I’m typing which my husband finds highly amusing. I never plan, I’ll have a vague outline of the story – only about five lines or so – but absolutely no idea who is going to do what or how we will get from the beginning to the end. I think that’s why I enjoy writing so much because I have no idea what’s going to happen next.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

My latest book is called The Rose Thief, it’s a humorous fantasy set in a world where magic exists and humans live alongside fae folk.

Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. But that’s not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It’s up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn’t exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I am always surprised at being able to string words together. I think because I don’t have a writing plan and never know what’s going to happen back, it’s always impressive reading the first draft for the first time and thinking, wow, I wrote this!

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

 The Rose Thief Cover 1           Ned’s train of thought was disturbed by a blood-curdling scream coming from the direction of the Black Narrows. This in itself was not unusual. Most sounds down the Black Narrows were of the screaming persuasion. It wasn’t a place you visited after dark. Or in the middle of the day. Or ever, unless you were one of the unlucky hundreds who happened to call it home. There was no immediate response so the screamer tried a different tack.

            ‘It’s Two-Face Bob! Eee’s been murdered!’

            That did the trick. Soon the Narrows were filled with onlookers – some brought a stool and a beverage, the forward thinkers of Narrow society – others got stuck in the crowd. The murder alarm had started bonging in the thief-catcher’s office and seeing as the spell that ran the alarm had a bad habit of growing ten decibels a minute, it seemed to Ned to be a good idea to get away from that and investigate. Thief-Catchers were not required to investigate all murders, most were covered by The Guild of Inhumers. There was a monthly newsletter outlining who to look out for. As long as the correct paperwork had been logged and a receipt issued, everyone knew where they stood. They might not like it but at least they knew about it. The murder alarm somehow knew who had receipts and who didn’t. It was spell casting beyond Ned’s blocked ability, he couldn’t even manage the volume control.

            There was a bit of shoving and muttering as Ned pushed his way through the ranks. He didn’t have to look too hard to find the murder scene, all he had to do was follow the curious crowd. A fair number of the shifty looking men in nondescript clothing had come to make sure Two-Face Bob was actually dead. Certain people owed certain things and if his death were true, life had suddenly become a lot brighter. It only took one look to know for certain. One of Two-Face Bob’s faces stared lifelessly at the smog-ridden skies above, both eyes missing. The other face, which incidentally remained on his head, attached to his body, had eyes popping, mouth open as if to scream and a terrified look of fear and shock frozen in place. Someone had clearly taken a violent dislike to Two-Face Bob. Looking down at the separated visages of Two-Face Bob, Ned felt a flicker of unease surge in his stomach. It could be because he hadn’t eaten in the past twenty-four hours. Or it could be because Two-Face Bob had been to see him less than five minutes ago, claiming intel on the Rose Thief. Ned didn’t hold much weight with coincidences. The viciousness of the attack was unusual for the type of murder usually committed in Roshaven. Put that together with Two-Face Bob’s extensive protection system of both magical and mundane origin and it was obvious.

            ‘He’s been ripped apart by a wraith,’ Ned muttered under his breath.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

I have a short story in the new Inklings Press anthology, Tales from the Underground and one in a brand new anthology called Quantum Soul – both of which should be out by the end of 2017. I shall begin writing the sequel to The Gaia Effect in January 2018 and I have plans to revisit the world of The Rose Thief with some additional stories. I also have a techno-western, a re-imagined fairy tale, a possible multi-book series as well as a second short story collection and a book about my book club. Lots more to come!

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

So far, the best money I’ve spent is to have the cover of The Rose Thief designed by a proper artist who is talented and knows what he’s doing, the wonderful Ian Bristow.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can contact me via Facebook – www.facebook.com/busswriter – or twitter – www.twitter.com/grasshopper2407. I also have a website – www.cbvisions.weebly.com where you can find the sign-up link to my newsletter, the latest news, and other social media links.