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Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig


The Fire Sermon
Author:  Francesca Haig
Series:  The Fire Sermon 1
Publisher:  Gallery Books, March 10, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
List Price:  $26.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781476767185 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.


Melanie's Review

The Fire Sermon is set in the future, in a post apocalyptic world where the effects of radiation has resulted in every child born with a twin. However, its not just any twin. Each pair of twins consists of an Alpha who is perfect in every way and an Omega who could suffer from one of a variety of different birth defects such as missing or too many limbs/eyes, dwarfism or in the case of the heroine of this tale - they are seers. Instead of treasured for their uniqueness the Omegas are separated from from their Alpha twin an early age and branded with the omega symbol on their foreheads. They are then sent to to live segregated from the rest of society in impoverished colonies. If they had the chance the civilisation would do away with the Omegas but only one thing is stopping them. Omegas and Alphas are linked not just by birth - if they are hurt their twin hurts. If they get sick so does their twin and if the Omega dies so does their Alpha twin. Cassandra is a seer and her brother (and twin) Zach has become a tyrant and is responsible for the subjugation of hundreds of Omegas. Cassandra is a wanted woman, not just by her brother who wants her imprisoned to secure his own life, but she is also wanted by the growing resistance movement. Who will she side with? Her brother who she can't help but love or the her own kind - the Omegas he wants to destroy.

The Fire Sermon is a great read. The post apocalyptic plot line is credibly explained and Haig has developed a number of multi-faceted characters. Haig doesn't make life easy for her characters, especially Cassandra who is ostracized from both groups in the story - from the Alphas for being an Omega and from the Omegas for being too much like an Alpha - physically perfect but with the ability to see future events. I also thought that Haig was clever to keep the reader guessing on both past and future events. I wanted to know what happened in the past to cause the war that devastated the world and what would happen to Cassandra and the other Omegas with the brutal regime her brother has created to silence her kind. I did have a sense of déjà vu when I was reading this book. The linked twins seemed very familiar to me but I couldn't quite put my finger on why or what book I may have read that was similar. I did think that in parts Cassandra was a bit of a wimp. Her brother Zach was truly horrid to her and all the other Omegas but she still kept sticking up for him. This is a pretty minor criticism for what is overall, a solid, interesting and exciting book. I am already looking forward the second novel in the series.

Interview with Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon - March 7, 20105


Please welcome Francesca Haig to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Fire Sermon will be published on March 10th by Gallery Books.



Interview with Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon - March 7, 20105




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Francesca:  I’ve been writing since I was a child – I was always a seriously nerdy kid, mad about reading and writing, and I always had a clear idea that I wanted to be a writer. Before I was a novelist I published poetry, and I worked in academia too, which is just a different form of writing – but now that I’m writing full time, it’s nice not to have to worry about the footnotes and bibliographies of academic writing!

As for why I write, I suspect it’s the same answer that most writers would give: I write because not writing has never really an option. I’ve always been a storyteller, and few things make me happier than mucking about with words.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Francesca:  Plot then pants. I’m a plotter at first – I find it really helpful to have an outline laid out. Apart from anything else, it breaks the novel down into manageable chunks. When I sit down at the desk at 8:30 in the morning, I’m never going to feel like “today I’m going to write a novel.” But I can just about face the prospect of: “today I’m going to write the scene where this character goes to X and discovers Y.”

While having a plot outline is helpful at the start, I find that I use it as a kind of scaffolding – it’s necessary when things are getting started, but then it’s often jettisoned once the writing itself takes shape. The main plot points tend not to change, but the way the characters end up getting to those points can often surprise me.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Francesca:  I think it’s letting go of the perfectionism of being a poet. When I started writing the novel, it was very hard to let myself off the hook and accept that a novel can have sentences, or even paragraphs, that won’t necessarily zing with the same intensity as a poem. In a poem, every single syllable and comma has to be carefully weighted. But sometimes a passage of a novel just needs to accomplish some necessary work in the service of the overall narrative. Obviously we work hard to get every page as good as it can be - but you simply can’t expect the same word-by-word exactitude in a novel as you demand of poetry. When I first started writing the novel, I’d agonise over every single word, and it could be paralysing.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Francesca:  There are so many, both poets and novelists. But of all of them, there are two novels to which I return more than any others. The first is Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces, an incredibly lyrical novel about the aftermath of the Holocaust. Like me, Michaels was a poet before she became a novelist, and when I read Fugitive Pieces I was stunned by how poetic her prose was. I can remember so clearly the sensation of reading it for the first time, and thinking: you’re allowed to do that with language!

The second is Cormac McCarthy’s astounding post-apocalyptic novel, The Road. It couldn’t be more different from Michaels’ novel – instead of lyrical prose, The Road is written in an incredibly stark, stripped-back language. It stuns me each time I re-read it. My writing style is probably much closer to the lyricism of Michaels than the starkness of McCarthy, but the bleak landscape of The Fire Sermon definitely owes a debt to McCarthy.



TQ:  Describe The Fire Sermon in 140 characters or less.

Francesca:  400 years after the blast, we're all twins. When one twin dies, so does the other. Oppression, resistance, adventure, juicy moral dilemmas!



TQ:  Tell us something about The Fire Sermon that is not in the book description.

Francesca:  It has some funny moments! I think when people pick up a post-apocalyptic novel, they’re not always expecting to find moments of humour. But for me, it was so important that there be some moments of levity, as a necessary counterpoint to the starkness of the devastated world. I’m not saying it’s a slapstick comedy, by any means – a lot of it is pretty grim and dark - but there are moments of lightness, particularly in the interplay between Cass and Kip.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Fire Sermon? What appealed to you about writing a post-apocalyptic novel?

Francesca:  I wasn’t thinking about it as a post-apocalyptic novel when I started to write it. All I had, at the start, was the idea of a world of twins, and when one twin died so would the other. Everything else (the post-apocalyptic setting; the oppressive society; the mutations of the Omega twins) grew out of that core idea. But I think there’s a reason that people keep writing (and reading) post-apocalyptic novels –I think many of us are catastrophists at heart, quick to imagine the worst-case scenario. Literature is one way of tackling those fears.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Fire Sermon?

Francesca:  Not very much. Although the novel has sci-fi elements, I was only interested in the human consequences of these things, rather than the mechanics of how they worked. My main research had nothing to do with nuclear radiation or genetic mutations – it was just the research that all writers do: reading authors I admire and being inspired and challenged by their writing.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Francesca:  Kip was the easiest. I really enjoy his wry take on the world, and his little sarcastic asides were great fun to write. I have such a soft spot for him, after all that he’s gone through with his traumatic past (even though it was me who inflicted his traumatic past onto him!).

The hardest was probably Cass. She’s the main character, and she’s so flawed and conflicted. I love her, but for a long time I was nervous that other people wouldn’t, because she’s so complex. It took a while for me to learn to trust my instincts with her, and to allow myself to concentrate on making her authentic, rather than worrying about whether she would be “likeable.”



TQ:  Which question about The Fire Sermon do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Francesca:  I wish people would ask about the editing process! It might not sound sexy, but it’s so crucial to making a novel work. People sometimes cling to a romantic idea that novels are banged out in a hurry, and I’m always keen to disabuse them of that notion by emphasizing all the rewriting and editing that goes on between a first draft and publication. Even though there were times during that long process when I wanted to burn the manuscript, I now recognise how essential that work was. A lot of the things that I’m now proud of in The Fire Sermon didn’t even exist at first draft stage. Novels aren’t written – they’re re-written.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Fire Sermon.

Francesca

“I don’t know when I first realized my own difference, but I was old enough to know that it had to be hidden.”



TQ:  What's next?

Francesca:  I’m hard at work on the two sequels to The Fire Sermon - I’m working with my editors on polishing Book 2, and I’ve recently started writing Book 3. At some point I’d like to finish my next collection of poetry, too. The Fire Sermon series is keeping me so busy that poetry’s had to take a back seat lately. I want to get back to poetry soon. But ever since my time in academia, I’ve also had a hankering to write a crime novel set in the English department of a university…



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Francesca:  Thanks for having me!





The Fire Sermon
The Fire Sermon 1
Gallery Books, March 10, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Interview with Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon - March 7, 20105
The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in this richly imagined first novel in a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by award-winning poet Francesca Haig.

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.





About Francesca

Francesca Haig lives in London with her family. She received her PhD at the University of Melbourne, and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester, where she is also Programme Leader in Creative Writing. Her poetry and prose have been published in many literary journals and anthologies in both Australia and England, and have won various prizes. In 2010 she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship. The Fire Sermon is her first novel.

Twitter @FrancescaHaig

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015


Please welcome Robert Levy to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Glittering World was published on February 10th by Gallery Books.



Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Robert:  I co-authored with a classmate my first poem at the age of five or six. It was about a family of mice, and our poetry teacher Marty transcribed it and hung it on the wall in the stairwell. I vividly recall looking up at that giant piece of paper with our poem on it and feeling nothing so much as amazement: something I'd written was out there for the whole school to see! I've been chasing that feeling ever since, and having my debut novel published all these many years later is a startlingly similar experience.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? How does being a playwright affect (or not) your novel writing?

Robert:  I'm a pantster who wishes he were a plotter. I plot, and then usually fail to adhere to my outline. There are significant moments in my work that I pin down early, such as the midpoint and denouement, but outside of that I land up winging it a lot of the time. This can lead to both fortuitous serendipity and brutal dead ends, depending on the day. I haven't given up on trying to outline more, however!

As for being a playwright, the only relatable skill I've found directly connected to writing in other forms is dialogue. I've written plays since I was fifteen, and they live and die on the dialogue level, so the spoken word is something I've been tuned into for most of my life. It's by far the part of writing prose that comes the most naturally to me.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Robert:  Ah, what a fitting follow-up question! In terms of writing this novel, I'd have to say that I definitely reached a point about 3/4 of the way through the drafting process when I couldn't for the life of me see the entire piece at once. This really rattled me, because as authors we're used to being these kind of godlike figures that can oversee our make-believe worlds as if from above, and not being able to sense the story's overall arc was disturbing. I powered through this dark night of the soul, however, and was relieved to be back on track.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Robert:  So, so many! Elizabeth Hand, Truman Capote, Laird Barron, Shirley Jackson, Toni Morrison, Dan Chaon, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jennifer Egan, James Baldwin, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Lanford Wilson, David Mitchell... I could go on all day.



TQ:  Describe The Glittering World in 140 characters or less.

Robert:  A dark contemporary fairy tale about four friends vacationing in Cape Breton and the wondrous and horrible things that happen to them there.



TQ:  Tell us something about The Glittering World that is not in the book description.

Robert:  The word "glittering," like the word "shining," makes most people think of light. But for something to truly glitter, it has to move in and out of the dark. For me, this novel is at heart about the journey in and out of darkness, and hence in and out of light, how one cannot possibly exist without the other.



TQ:  What inspired you to write The Glittering World? What appealed to you about writing a supernatural thriller?

Robert:  The novel's basic situation is inspired by life experience: traveling with my boyfriend (now husband) and another couple on vacation to Nova Scotia. As for the supernatural thriller aspect, I've long accepted that everything I write has at the very least a deeply creepy undercurrent, which is probably because that's what I most like to read. I can't help it!



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Glittering World?

Robert:  The bulk of my research was on Cape Breton and the supernatural element of the novel, which is an indigenous race of humanoid insectile beings that possess the ability to shift their shapes, among other powers. The setting of the novel, as it turns out, is inextricably connected to the essential nature of these beings.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Robert:  Of the four protagonists, the easiest to write was probably Elisa. All four are searching for meaning and validation outside themselves, but she's the most hyperaware of this fact, and hence struggles with it the most. I think that's true of me as well. As for the hardest, it would probably be Gabe, which is kind of surprising, seeing as how in some ways he's a younger version of myself. Maybe it was having to tap back into those earlier, rawer emotions that made it somewhat difficult.



TQ:  Which question about The Glittering World do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Robert:

Q: How did you manage to write such a heartbreaking work of staggering genius?

A: Why, thanks so much for asking, how kind of you to say! It was a very tortuous, angst-filled process, and necessitated a vast intake of red wine and stockpiled Halloween candy. Please send more of both as soon as possible.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from The Glittering World.

Robert:
Maureen had told them about the canoes docked at the water, and after clearing the dishes they sauntered down the steep hill, bright sparkles on the stony shore cast by the early afternoon sun that made the wet rocks appear dusted with glass shards, if not quite diamonds.


TQ:  What's next?

Robert:  I'm going on a book tour, which I'm super-excited about, and then it's back to work on a heap of new projects, including my next novel. You can read more about all of this at my home away from home, TheRobertLevy.com.



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Robert:  Thanks so much for having me!





The Glittering World
Publisher:  Gallery Books, February 10, 2015
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  $26.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781476774527 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015
In the tradition of Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), Scott Smith (The Ruins), and Jason Mott (The Returned), award-winning playwright Robert Levy spins a dark tale of alienation and belonging, the familiar and the surreal, family secrets and the search for truth in his debut supernatural thriller.

When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy, Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind.

But then Blue begins to remember. And once the shocking truth starts bleeding back into his life, his closest friends—Elisa, his former partner in crime; her stalwart husband, Jason; and Gabe, Blue’s young and admiring coworker—must unravel the secrets of Starling Cove and the artists’ colony it once harbored. All four will face their troubled pasts, their most private demons, and a mysterious race of beings that inhabits the land, spoken of by the locals only as the Other Kind...


Trinitytwo's Point of View

The Glittering World is an intelligent supernatural thriller that kept me riveted to its pages. Michael Whitley or Blue, as he’s called by friends, is off to Canada to sell the house left to him by his grandmother, a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from since he was five years old. Due to some desperate financial difficulties pertaining to his restaurant in New York, Blue is eager to sign the legal papers, but he wants to see the old place first hoping to stir up the lost memories of his youth. Vibrant Elisa, Blue’s newly married best friend, persuades Blue that he needs some R & R so a week away from it all while checking out the place would do just the trick. Blue invites Gabe, his “it’s complicated” companion; an emotionally wounded and physically scarred young man. Jason, Elisa’s husband, books four plane tickets from New York to Halifax and the pilgrimage to Blue’s birthplace begins. Blue rents a vacation cottage by a lake, near the ruins of the Starling Cove Friendship Colony, on the remote island of Cape Breton where he had lived as a child. On the night of their arrival, at a party held by their neighbors, Blue has the sensation of being watched from the woods. The next day, during a hike with his friends, he hears strange, alien voices. Something in Starling Cove awakens the memories of his long forgotten past and the mysteries that surround it. Something beckons to him and seems to welcome him home.

Everything about this story impressed me. Robert Levy’s rich descriptions will envelop his readers in an eerie world filled with unfamiliar sounds, smells and feelings. The four companions' adventures in the forest and mountains of this secluded place are packed as much with peculiar events as with their personal baggage. The Glittering World is written in four separate sections, one from each of the main characters’ point of view but advancing with the unfolding events. Levy explores each person’s motivations and personality in a way that opens them completely to the reader. The complexities of the human spirit and soul are deeply delved into as each of his character's vulnerabilities and suffering is revealed. As I learned each person’s background, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for them, even if I didn’t necessarily like them. I hesitate to share too much of the book, as its mystery is delectable when savored. I wager this novel will be eagerly scoffed up by book clubs. I highly recommend The Glittering World - it’s a mesmerizing and thought-provoking story that will inspire both discussion and wonder.





About Robert

Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015
Photo by Colin Douglas Gray
ROBERT LEVY is an author of unsettling stories and plays whose work has been seen Off-Broadway. A Harvard graduate subsequently trained as a forensic psychologist, his work has been called "frank and funny" (Time Magazine), "idiosyncratic and disarming" (The New York Times), "ambitious and clever" (Variety), "smart" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) and "bloody brave" (the UK's SFX Magazine). His first novel, the contemporary dark fairy tale THE GLITTERING WORLD, will be published worldwide on February 10 by Gallery/Simon & Schuster.



Website  ~  tumblr  ~  Twitter @therobertlevy

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Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015


Please welcome Kristi Charish to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Owl and the Japanese Circus was published on January 13th by Gallery Books.



Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Kristi:  Oddly enough I only started writing about 5 years ago, February 2010 to be exact. As to why, I was in the process of writing up my PhD thesis and hated it. I’d always loved books and wanted to write fiction, but I’d never had the courage to actually try. I traded off an hour of thesis writing with an hour of fiction writing (turned into two hours fiction, one hour thesis). Once I started I couldn’t stop and so here I am five years later, almost to the day.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Kristi:  Total pantser all the way. ☺



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Kristi:  Hmmm. Time is always a huge factor, especially at the moment with OWL being a new release, but in general for me it’s pushing through the parts I don’t think are going that great. There’s a real temptation to stop but the only way to make progress is finish the story. I can always go back and fix it later.



TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Kristi:  In the UF arena I’m a huge fan of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong (she’s Canadian too!), Charlaine Harris, and Diana Rowland. They’ve all influenced my writing in some way and are all on my auto-buy lists.

Outside urban fantasy, some of my favorite authors and influences are Ian Hamilton (Ava Lee series- another Canadian!), James Clavell (King Rat, Tai Pan).

I also love 80’s style adventure movies like Indiana Jones, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Mummy. They are huge influences on my writing.



TQ:  Describe Owl and the Japanese Circus in 140 characters or less.

Kristi:  Owl: Fun adventure staring a modern ‘Indiana Jane’ who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.



TQ:  Tell us something about Owl and the Japanese Circus that is not in the book description.

Kristi:  The biggest omission from the back cover (that isn’t a spoiler) is that Owl has a Mau cat named Captain who accompanies her everywhere. He also smells out vampires and takes hunting them down a little too seriously. He’s not mentioned in the book description but has fast become many reader’s favorite character.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Owl and the Japanese Circus? Why an ex-archaeology grad student?

Kristi:  I had been struggling for a bit with third person narrative and really wanted to try something in first person. I had just finished a writing prompt exercise for a writing course (where the prompt was ‘When death’s clowns came for me’) and had also just finished reading a mystery novel called ‘The Water Rat of Wanchai’ by Ian Hamilton (Ava Lee series). It was the first mystery I’d read in a while and I thought wouldn’t it be great to write something like that! Prompt and mystery novel idea in hand, I started writing about an antiquities thief...with absolutely no monsters. It was going to be a normal book, a break from fantasy...

That lasted all of twenty pages when I realized I’d accidentally written a dragon into the novel.

There are a few other influences that came into writing Owl past that first chapter – most notably Indiana Jones – but that’s how it got started ☺

As to the archaeology background, when I first started university I was actually enrolled in Anthropology/Archaeology. I lasted about a year before I realized it really wasn’t like Indiana Jones and switched to genetics. I guess this is my way of living out vicariously my undergrad Indiana Jones fantasy.



TQ:  Your biography states that you are a scientist whose specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology. How does this influence and add to your writing (or not)?

Kristi:  Being a biologist influences my writing hugely – but not in the way you might think. I certainly use my background to add in plausible scientific explanations and details for monsters (if you accept the idea there could be vampires how would they work, etc.), but the problem solving that goes into designing experiments in a lab is probably the aspect of my science training that I use the most when plotting out my novels and trouble shooting logic issues.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Owl and the Japanese Circus?

Kristi:  As far as research goes, I went lighter on techniques and heavy on researching mythology and the archaeological sites Alix/Owl visits. It was a conscious choice to keep inline with the adventure genre. Plot always comes first when I write and after that comes the mythology and accuracy. I did spend a great deal of time referencing Balinese and Japanese mythology and archaeology sites and in most cases I tried to match the plot to mythology that made the most sense.

Google Maps was also my best friend. You can trip plan travel between Tokyo stations and street view is a glorious thing.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Kristi:  

Easiest: Owl. She’s a fun character with next to no filter and writing from her perspective is a blast. There is something very freeing about sticking yourself in the head of someone who just doesn’t give a F*&k what people think ;-)

Hardest: Owl’s cat, Captain, but he’s also one of my favorites. He’s tricky because there’s no dialogue to fall back on and...well...he’s a cat. I ended up basing a lot of Captain’s behaviors on my own 20 lb Ragdoll monster.



TQ:  Which question about your novel do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Kristi:  The one about Alix’s grad school experience and whether it’s based on mine – (in the book hers is a resounding disaster).

Answer: Man was I ever worried what would happen if/when my old lab read this! Though some of the details about how the academic machine works are coloured by my own experiences (lost thesis a week before a defense anyone?), on the whole my time as a grad student was pretty great. In fact, I’m still working on finishing a paper with my old lab and visit regularly so I can keep one foot in the research science door.

But... there are stories supervisors tell their students. About labs where experiments go awry for no reason and controls disappear overnight. Where grad students are pitted against grad student and sabotage is par for the course. Those stories, always whispered in confidence at conferences, are what I based Alix’s academic experience on.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Owl and the Japanese Circus.

Kristi:

‘He feinted back and pulled on the leash in an attempt to break my hold and get back to Charles. Nope, not desensitized. Getting better at manipulation.’

‘People are real happy to make friends with you when a two-thousand-year-old mummy knocks off half their team, but returning the favor always pisses them off. No one likes to pay up out of the goodness of their heart; that’s why I usually get cash up front.’



TQ:  What's next?

Kristi:  Next January (2016) the sequel to OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS. It sees Owl settling into her new job as a contract thief for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa (with mixed results) when he sets his sights on a trio of artifacts sitting in a Los Angeles recluse’s private collection. Owl is sent to fetch them and finds out that the City of Angels is anything but. For reviewers out there ARCs should be available sometime this summer.

I also had Random House Canada pick up my second UF series, KINCAID STRANGE, which is coming out May 2016.

It’s about a voodoo practitioner named Kincaid Strange who lives in Seattle with her roommate, the ghost of deceased 90’s grunge rocker, Nathan Cade. More about the plot later this year but it involves murder, ghost mayhem, and voodoo zombies!



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Kristi:  Thanks for having me!





Owl and the Japanese Circus
Owl 1
Gallery Books, January 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.





About Kristi

Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 2015
Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Jan 13th, 2015, Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. The second installment, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, is scheduled for release Jan 2016. Her second urban fantasy series, KINCAID STRANGE (Random House Canada), about a voodoo practioner living in Seattle, is scheduled for release mid 2016.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @kristicharish  ~  Google+

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Glittering World by Robert Levy



2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Glittering World by Robert Levy


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Robert Levy

The Glittering World
Gallery Books, February 10, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 352 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Glittering World by Robert Levy
In the tradition of Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane), Scott Smith (The Ruins), and Jason Mott (The Returned), award-winning playwright Robert Levy spins a dark tale of alienation and belonging, the familiar and the surreal, family secrets and the search for truth in his debut supernatural thriller.

When up-and-coming chef Michael “Blue” Whitley returns with three friends to the remote Canadian community of his birth, it appears to be the perfect getaway from New York. He soon discovers, however, that everything he thought he knew about himself is a carefully orchestrated lie. Though he had no recollection of the event, as a young boy, Blue and another child went missing for weeks in the idyllic, mysterious woods of Starling Cove. Soon thereafter, his mother suddenly fled with him to America, their homeland left behind.

But then Blue begins to remember. And once the shocking truth starts bleeding back into his life, his closest friends—Elisa, his former partner in crime; her stalwart husband, Jason; and Gabe, Blue’s young and admiring coworker—must unravel the secrets of Starling Cove and the artists’ colony it once harbored. All four will face their troubled pasts, their most private demons, and a mysterious race of beings that inhabits the land, spoken of by the locals only as the Other Kind...

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish


2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2015 Debut Author Challenge.


Kristi Charish

Owl and the Japanese Circus
Gallery Books, January 13, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish
Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.

Interview with Alan Finn, author of Things Half in Shadow - Janaury 6, 2015


Please welcome Alan Finn to The Qwillery. Things Half in Shadow was published on December 30, 2014 by Gallery Books.







TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Alan:  I think I’ve always been a writer, in one form or another. My mother is a big reader, so I grew up surrounded by books. I also liked to tell stories. Apparently, as a child, I talked A LOT. So I was always reading, always making things up, always using my imagination. And reading was such a thrill for me. I loved falling so deep into a book that the real world faded away. Writing, to me, seemed like a very noble profession. I wanted to do for others what so many authors had done for me.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Alan:  I am a ridiculously detailed plotter. I can’t write a word unless I know where this whole undertaking is going to lead me. That doesn’t mean I don’t change directions midway, but I always need that well-plotted road map to get me started.

The biggest challenge for me is, well, the actual act of writing. I love plotting, revising and rewriting. But sometimes just facing that blank computer screen and knowing I need to fill it with thousands of words is very daunting to me. I envy those authors who can sit down and hammer out two-thousand words before lunch.



TQ:  Describe Things Half in Shadow in 140 characters or less.

Alan:  A newspaper reporter and a cunning fake medium encounter murder, mystery and supernatural happenings in post-Civil War Philadelphia.



TQ:  Tell us something about Things Half in Shadow that is not found in the book description.

Alan:  Notorious showman P.T. Barnum is a secondary character in the book. His character was a blast to research and write. And although it’s a fictionalized version of Barnum, I still used actual details about his life. With all the ghostly happenings in the book, I wanted a real-life character to ground everything in reality.



TQ:  What inspired you to write Things Half in Shadow? What appealed to you about combining a thriller with the supernatural and occult? Why did you set the novel in Philadelphia?

Alan:  I’m obsessed with weird history and strange tidbits from America’s past. Things Half in Shadow stems from a book I was reading—for fun, I should add—about tricks used by fake mediums. Many were so simple, but so ingenious, that I really wanted to include them in a novel. Everything else—characters, time period, plot—developed from there.

The supernatural aspect just grew out of the subject matter. I thought it would be cool to have a book with both fake mediums and real ones, staged séances and legitimate spirits. I wanted to keep the characters—and readers—guessing as to what’s fake and what’s supernatural.

As for Philadelphia, it’s a city of history. It can be glimpsed everywhere you go. And I thought there was no better location for a story about spirits and secrets from the past than the nation’s birthplace. As I write in the book: Philadelphia, as it would happen, is filled with spirits. All of that history colliding with the new and the now. Wherever the past piles up, layer after dusty layer, ghosts are sure to linger.



TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Things Half in Shadow?

Alan:  I made several trips to Philadelphia, which is always a treat. I really love that city. I toured some locations that are used in the book, such as Eastern State Penitentiary and Rittenhouse Square. I read a lot—books about Philadelphia, mediums, ghosts, life in the 1800s. I even found a 19th Century guidebook that describes all the sites to be found in Philadelphia. There was also a lot of looking at archived maps, which helped me use actual street names and take advantage of the city’s actual geography during that time.



TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Alan:  The easiest was Edward Clark, the newspaper reporter assigned to expose fake mediums in the city. He’s the narrator, looking back on the events fifty years later. Because of the first-person narration, it was very easy for me to craft his character and write in his voice.

The hardest character was his counterpart, cunning charlatan Lucy Collins. She’s a complex woman, that Lucy. She’s crafty, selfish and scheming, yet there’s something very charming about her. It was a challenge trying to strike the right balance. I didn’t want her to be too sweet or too salty. I needed to get the tone exactly right in order for readers to embrace Lucy in all her complicated glory.



TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Things Half in Shadow.

Alan:

When people mention Lenora Grimes Pastor, if they still speak of her at all, many insist that she was killed by a ghost. 

That’s the opening line of the book, and I think it’s a very good indicator of what people should expect if they continue reading.



TQ:  What's next?

Alan:  Next is the follow-up to Things Half in Shadow. I really wanted to send Edward and Lucy on another adventure. After that is a present-day thriller. No ghosts. Just very dark people.






Things Half in Shadow
Gallery Books, January 6, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 448 pages

Postbellum America makes for a haunting backdrop in this historical and supernatural tale of moonlit cemeteries, masked balls, cunning mediums, and terrifying secrets waiting to be unearthed by an intrepid crime reporter.

The year is 1869, and the Civil War haunts the city of Philadelphia like a stubborn ghost. Mothers in black continue to mourn their lost sons. Photographs of the dead adorn dim sitting rooms. Maimed and broken men roam the streets. One of those men is Edward Clark, who is still tormented by what he saw during the war. Also constantly in his thoughts is another, more distant tragedy—the murder of his mother at the hands of his father, the famed magician Magellan Holmes...a crime that Edward witnessed when he was only ten.

Now a crime reporter for one of the city’s largest newspapers, Edward is asked to use his knowledge of illusions and visual trickery to expose the influx of mediums that descended on Philadelphia in the wake of the war. His first target is Mrs. Lucy Collins, a young widow who uses old-fashioned sleight of hand to prey on grieving families. Soon, Edward and Lucy become entwined in the murder of Lenora Grimes Pastor, the city’s most highly regarded—and by all accounts, legitimate—medium, who dies mid-séance. With their reputations and livelihoods at risk, Edward and Lucy set out to find the real killer, and in the process unearth a terrifying hive of secrets that reaches well beyond Mrs. Pastor.

Blending historical detail with flights of fancy, Things Half in Shadow is a riveting thriller where Medium and The Sixth Sense meet The Alienist—and where nothing is quite as it seems...









About Alan

Alan Finn is the pen name of an acclaimed author of mysteries and thrillers. He has worked as an editor, journalist, and ghostwriter. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.






Website  ~ Facebook  ~  Twitter @AlanTFinn

Review: Rise Again Below Zero by Ben Tripp


Rise Again Below Zero
Author:  Ben Tripp
Series:  Rise Again 2
Publisher:  Gallery Books, December 17, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages
List Price:  $16.00 (print)
ISBN:  9781451668322 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review:  Rise Again Below Zero by Ben Tripp
The sequel to Rise Again, from an author who “balances kinetically choreographed scenes of zombie carnage with studies of well-drawn characters and enough political intrigue to give his tale more gravity and grounding than most zombie gorefests” (Publishers Weekly).

Billions died and rose again, hungry for human flesh. When the nightmare reached Sheriff Danielle Adelman’s small mountain community of Forest Peak, California, it was too late for warnings . . . forcing her to lead a small group of survivors out of hell, all the while seeking her estranged runaway sister at any cost.

Two years later, the undead have evolved. Now, besides the shambling, mindless cannibals are the hunters—cunning and fast, like wolves—and the thinkers, whose shocking intel­ligence and single-minded predatory obsession may mean the downfall of what’s left of humanity. As Danny leads a ragtag band of the living through the remnants of the American Midwest, rumors arise of a safe place somewhere east. But the closer they get to it, the more certain Danny becomes that something evil waits for them at the end of the line. With an unspeakable secret riding beside her and an unbreakable promise made to a small, silent boy, Danny must stake everything she has—her leadership, her sanity, and her life— in order to defeat the ultimate horror in a terrifying and dying world.
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository : Books-A-Million : IndieBound


Doreen’s Thoughts

I was initially surprised to see the prologue to Rise Again Below Zero written in a semi-literate, phonetic manner, but knowing that it was a post-apocalyptic story, I should not have been. I am always impressed when someone tries to imitate how the written word might evolve over time, and as the novel progressed, I felt that this was rather true to the story and the character involved. However, after about the first 15 pages, I realized that this was a sequel and was initially disappointed before becoming so immersed in the story that I could not put it down – I read long into the early morning hours. I actually lost sleep over this book!

The Walking Dead television series has made zombies popular again, although for those of us who read fantasy, they really have never gone out of style. Ben Tripp has reinvented the zombie story, at least in this sequel. His zombies are actually evolving – some of them are physically changing in appearance as well as others becoming more human in their thinking as time progresses after the “end of the world.” He has developed “zombie hunters” – zombies that work together in packs to bring down their prey – and “zombie thinkers” – zombies who use their complex thinking to further their feeding efforts. These zombies are even more dangerous than the typical zombies – who are pretty dangerous in their own right.

Tripp continues Sheriff Danielle Adelman’s story in this sequel. Apparently, when the world ended in the first novel, Danny had led a small group of survivors out of a Californian city while seeking her sister. This story starts after Danny has found that sister, Kelley. Danny is still leading the group, now known as the Tribe, foraging off the remains of the land and moving steadily east, where there are rumors of a safe place. Life for the Tribe is difficult, but not as difficult as going alone might be. Unfortunately Kelley has secrets of her own that may endanger the Tribe, and Danny is walking a tightrope, trying to do right by her sister and still lead the group.

Danny’s motorcycle scouts find a young mute boy and his dog alone in the midst of the wilderness. No one knows how he has survived alone at such a young age, and Danny takes him under her wing, promising to keep him safe. Unfortunately, circumstances occur which could make her break that promise, and she is absolutely unwilling to do so. The story centers on whether she can protect Kelley, the Tribe, and the boy in a world which is dissolving further every day.

I enjoyed the focus on Danny and her relationships with those for whom she cares. She is a strong individual who has been put into an untenable situation, yet she continues to struggle and remain human when everything around her is breaking. The zombie hunters and thinkers add a complexity to this thriller – if these monsters actually begin to think and work together, would humanity even have a chance? How does one retain their humanity when humanity itself is destroyed? These are some of the questions that Tripp attempts to answer in his novel, but the action is absolutely non-stop and the philosophy is more of an afterthought.

Now that I have read this one, I have to go out and get Tripp’s first book, Rise Again. I will expect to lose some sleep when I pick it up, because I could not put down Rise Again Below Zero. It is probably one of the best thrillers I have read this whole year.

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter


The Troop
Author:  Nick Cutter
Publisher:  Pocket Books, July 22, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 528 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781476717722 (print)
Review Copy:  Hardcover provided by the Publisher
Previous Edition:  Hardcover, Gallery Books, February 25, 2014

Review: The Troop by Nick Cutter
Now in mass-market paperback! “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best.” —Stephen King

Once a year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder stumbles upon their campsite—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. A horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival with no escape from the elements, the infected…or each other. Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.



Brannigan's Review

The Troop is my second horror book for the month of October. I like reading books that creep me out to get me in the mood for Halloween and fall. While my previous book was family friendly, The Troop isn't for children. It's also not for the squeamish reader since it takes some dark turns. I honestly had to stop reading the book at times to take a break. Nick Cutter is a gifted writer of disturbing scenes and doesn't shy away from the use of gore, and I mean gag-inducing gore. Now, I would like to give a disclaimer for those of you out there who like watching The Saw or, heaven forbid, Mordum, to calm yourselves down before bed, you might not blink an eye at the events in this book. For the rest of us, it'll do its job of creeping you out.

As the title suggests, all of this alarming stuff is happening to 12- to 15-year-old boys on a boyscout adventure. For me, this is what made it almost unbearable to read. The things these boys go through are pretty grusome. As a parent, I can't imagine something like this happening, and sadly it's not that hard for this book to be reality. Cutter does a great job of developing some of the characters quickly to establish an emotional connection for the reader while some of the boys still feel a little cardboard. Cutter also openly borrows a writing technique from Carrie by injecting newspaper articles, blogs, court records and even psychological records to give the reader additional information about what's going on off the island and after the events. I enjoyed these a lot as they tease the reader into trying to guess how the book is going to end.

My only issues with the book, besides freaking me out, is how he used the boy scouts organization. There were merit badges that didn't exist and the scout law he used in the book isn't real. As an Eagle scout it always bothers me when writers bend the truth in regards to scouting. Now, I don't know maybe he had to change things up just a little bit for legal reasons or maybe the Canadian boy scout organization is slightly different from the Boy Scouts of America, and, to be honest, it's a pretty small infraction that most people wouldn't notice. It's more of a personal pet-peeve.

If The Troop doesn't creep you out, I would recommend you see a psychologist to get some help. It might not scare you, but it should be a little distressing. As a recommendation, I can't stress this enough due to the high amounts of gore, violence, adult language, and sexual imagery, this is an adults-only book. After reading this book, I'm happily returning to my regular fantasy and science fiction books for a bit.


Review: Phoenix Island by John Dixon


Phoenix Island
Author:  John Dixon
Publisher:  Gallery Books, January 7, 2014
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $19.99 (print)
ISBN:  9781476738635 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Review: Phoenix Island by John Dixon
The judge told Carl that one day he’d have to decide exactly what kind of person he would become. But on Phoenix Island, the choice will be ma de for him.

A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble—using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island.

Classified as a “terminal facility,” it’s the end of the line for delinquents who have no home, no family, and no future. Located somewhere far off the coast of the United States—and immune to its laws—the island is a grueling Spartan-style boot camp run by sadistic drill sergeants who show no mercy to their young, orphan trainees. Sentenced to stay until his eighteenth birthday, Carl plans to play by the rules, so he makes friends with his wisecracking bunkmate, Ross, and a mysterious gray-eyed girl named Octavia. But he makes enemies, too, and after a few rough scrapes, he earns himself the nickname “Hollywood” as well as a string of punishments, including a brutal night in the “sweatbox.” But that’s nothing compared to what awaits him in the “Chop Shop”—a secret government lab where Carl is given something he never dreamed of.

A new life. . . .

A new body. A new brain.

Gifts from the fatherly Old Man, who wants to transform Carl into something he’s not sure he wants to become.

For this is no ordinary government project. Phoenix Island is ground zero for the future of combat intelligence.

And for Carl, it’s just the beginning. . . .



Trintytwo's Point of View

Sixteen year old Carl Freeman is a hard luck case. Both of his parents are dead and he has been in and out of foster homes and juvenile courts due to his uncontrollable temper and penchant for beating up bullies. The only good thing in his life was his brief boxing career and Junior Golden Gloves title. Carl finds himself facing another assault charge. A judge in rinky-dink Dale County Juvenile Court sentences Carl to Phoenix Island, a military style boot camp, where he will serve his sentence until he turns eighteen. Carl has high hopes that this could be a fresh start, but his optimism is dashed the moment the plane lands on the remote island jungle. He is immediately singled out and harassed by a maniacal drill sergeant. Carl soon realizes that the niceties of the civilized world don’t apply on Phoenix Island. Punishments vary from harsh calisthenics to interminable stints in the sweatbox. The soldiers warn the new “recruits” that the jungle is extremely dangerous but Carl senses that the dangers in the training camp are infinitely worse.

Phoenix Island is one young man’s perilous journey for survival. Carl Freeman is smart, determined and strong. He is a survivor who, despite his flaws, is thoroughly likable. You will root for right from the start. This is Peter Pan’s lost boys on steroids, trapped on the Island of Dr. Moreau with a psycho drill sergeant pushing them beyond their limits. Carl's most lethal weapon is his determination to survive. Phoenix Island is a combination of action, horror, survival, and psychological thriller. Something black and sinister is going on behind the barracks and drills.

I didn’t think that I would like Phoenix Island as much as I did. The book has been compared to Lord of the Flies but I enjoyed it much more. The novel is fast paced and the writing is so descriptive you feel that you are experiencing all the horrors of the island for yourself. John Dixon’s debut novel is one of those books you just can’t put down. Phoenix Island is taut, gritty and a real shot of adrenaline.


Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca HaigInterview with Francesca Haig, author of The Fire Sermon - March 7, 20105Interview with Robert Levy, author of The Glittering World, and Review - February 13, 2015Interview with Kristi Charish, author of Owl and the Japanese Circus - January 31, 20152015 Debut Author Challenge Update - The Glittering World by Robert Levy2015 Debut Author Challenge Update - Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi CharishInterview with Alan Finn, author of  Things Half in Shadow - Janaury 6, 2015Review:  Rise Again Below Zero by Ben TrippReview: The Troop by Nick CutterReview: Phoenix Island by John Dixon

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