Spotlight: The Serpent’s Tail by Martin Dillon

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They were recruited as police informers but they found themselves caught up in a shadowy counter terrorist war.

From the bestselling author of The Shankill Butchers and the Dirty War, The Serpent’s Tail is a novel based on a true life sting involving the IRA, the SAS and MI5. It is a gripping thriller based on a true sequence of events in which two young Belfast Catholics are recruited as informers and find themselves at the heart of a ‘sting’ involving the IRA, the SAS and MI5. The Serpent’s Tail is the first work of fiction by the man Conor Cruise O’Brien has described as ‘The greatest living authority on Irish terrorism.’

The true story of an SAS inspired sting against the Provisional IRA which almost destroyed the organization. The IRA later admitted that the operation was a brilliant piece of planning by the SAS and the British Intelligence Agency, MI5. Its success was, however, short-lived leading to the sacrifice of many agents and the emergence of a more determined and ruthless IRA leadership.

About the Author:

Martin Dillon has won international acclaim for his unique reporting and is considered one of the foremost experts on global terrorism and organized crime. His bestselling trilogy, The Shankill Butchers, The Dirty War and God and the Gun, from his twelve non-fiction works, is regarded as the definitive account of the Ireland conflict. He began his distinguished career as a newspaper reporter and later became a program editor with the BBC. He has written plays for television, as well as documentaries, and has been featured on television networks in Europe and across North America. Martin Dillon lives with his family in San Francisco.

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Book Review: Portraits of a Faerie Queen by Tay LaRoi

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I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. I’ve somewhat distanced myself from the fantasy genre over the years because it often felt tired and unoriginal. Thankfully, Portraits of a Faerie Queen was anything but that.

What drew me in most was how real the relationships felt between the characters. The romance develops naturally and is well paced. It was also nice to see diversity considering many books of this genre don’t feature LBGTQ protagonists. It was refreshing to say the least and the book felt much more with the times because of it.

I will admit that the plot was predictable, however it didn’t take away from the novel being a fun read.

Overall, it was an easy, enjoyable read. I look forward to the sequel!

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Author Interview: Eve Goldberg

Hi everyone!

I’m very excited to introduce today’s guest, Emmy-nominated writer and filmmaker Eve Goldberg. I had the opportunity to speak with her about her first novel, Hollywood Hang Ten, as well as discuss what pushed her towards fiction and more.

Enjoy! 🙂

Q. What’s the story behind the title of your book Hollywood Hang Ten?

A. I wanted a title that evokes the setting in which the story occurs, as well as one that gives a hint of the content. The novel takes place in 1963, primarily in Hollywood and Venice Beach.  Our hero-detective is a surfer on his first solo investigation.  The murder at the center of the book’s plot has its roots in the Hollywood blacklisting era of the 1940s and 50s, when the Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was investigating left-wing “subversion” in the motion picture industry.

Long ago I took a workshop from Allen Ginsberg in which he had us blindly combine unlikely words together. I used that technique to come up with the title.  I wrote a messy list of about 60 or 70 words and phrases, then started madly mix-and-matching until I found the combination that felt right.  “Hang Ten” is a surfing maneuver done on the long boards of the 1960s.  The “Hollywood Ten” were a group of screenwriters who were blacklisted and went to prison for refusing to cooperate with HUAC.

Q. How did you create the plot for this book?

A. Hollywood Hang Ten didn’t start out as detective fiction. It started out as a story about a boy who runs away from home.  But as I began writing, I realized that I wanted to write it as a murder mystery.  I trashed what I had written and began again.  Unlike some other forms of fiction, when writing a murder mystery it’s crucial for the writer to know how the story ends, so I wrote an outline of the entire book, then based my first draft on that.  In subsequent drafts, I added period details and deepened the characters and their relationships to make the story come alive.

Q. You have numerous accolades in the documentary film industry, including the Emmy-nominated “Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist”, “Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair” and “Maestra”. What made you gravitate towards writing a fiction novel this time instead?

A. In 2007, I was diagnosed with acute leukemia. I came close to dying, way too close.  After recovering, I didn’t have the stamina to do much film work, so I began to focus more on writing for print media.  I wrote several non-fiction essays which were published, then turned to fiction.  I had the core of the story for Hollywood Hang Ten floating around my brain for years; finally I sat down and wrote it.  There’s nothing like a brush with death to get a person moving.

Q. Having worked in both the film and writing industry, is there one you prefer? If so, why?

A. It’s a toss-up. I feel very fortunate to have worked for many years as a writer, editor, and eventually a producer-director in the film/video industry.  It’s wonderful to be part of a creative community, to collaborate with others, to work both on mainstream projects that reach a huge audience and on independent documentaries which attempt to speak truth to power.  On the other hand, the freedom of working alone on my writing has so many upsides.  I can set my own schedule, answer to no one but myself, and indulge my imagination and quirky pet interests.

Q. What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?

A. I was a somewhat cynical but basically optimistic teenager. I was certain that history, pushed forward by movements for social change, moved inexorably towards less suffering, more peace, more equality.  What I’m really glad I did NOT know then is that the president of the U.S. in 2017 would be Donald Trump, the divide between rich and poor would be growing by the minute, and we would be involved in who knows how many never-ending wars.  It might have put a damper on my energy and hope.

Q. What’s one of your favorite quotes?

A. My favorite quote comes from Salman Rushdie. It’s a saying that swirls around my mind again and again, especially when faced with difficult challenges:  “Our lives teach us who we are.”

Part of the quote’s appeal to me is its context. Following the publication of Rushdie’s novel Satanic Verses in 1988, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini called the novel “blasphemous against Islam” and ordered the author’s execution.  Forced to live underground for several years, Rushdie continued to write, including the personal essay “In Good Faith.”  Here are the final sentences of that essay:

“And I feel sad to be so grievously separated from my community, from India, from everyday life, from the world.

Please understand, however: I make no complaint.  I am a writer.  I do not accept my condition.  I will strive to change it; but I inhabit it, I am trying to learn from it.

Our lives teach us who we are.”

“Our lives teach us who we are” reminds me that while our lives can change unpredictably in an instant, the measure of who we are is based on how we meet each challenge. It reminds me to relish and embrace life, including all the ups and downs.  It reminds me that the only thing I can control is how I respond to what life presents.

Q. Do you have a routine for writing? Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?

A. Like a lot of writers, my best time to write is in the morning.   If I don’t write in the morning, chances are that I won’t write at all that day.  I can fool myself and say that I’ll write “after a walk” or “after I call so-and-so” or whatever, but it probably won’t happen.

I go through periods where I write nearly every day for a couple of hours. I also go through periods when I don’t write at all.  A few years ago, I joined a small writing group.  We meet twice monthly.  For me, the feedback from other writers is super-helpful.  Also, knowing that our next meeting is fast approaching motivates me to buckle down and write so that I’ll have something to read at the meeting.

Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write? Why?

A. Hollywood Hang Ten was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever written. Writing non-fiction has always come relatively easy for me, and that’s where most of my writing experience lies.  In terms of fiction, I’ve written a few short stories and a few movie scripts, but this is my first novel.  Plotting a fictional story, especially one that must cohere to the tropes of a murder mystery, was a challenge.  My natural inclination is to say, Could this really happen? Does that seem real? My comfort zone during the writing process was in the research — grounding the fiction in real mid-century Southern California history, culture, and architecture.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. Right now I’m working on what might be a novel and might be a novella. It’s titled Lankershim Nights, and genre-wise it’s about as far from a murder mystery as you can get.  It’s a story about three generations of idiosyncratic women.  The main characters are  a gender-fluid 28-year-old with impulse control issues, and her alcoholic grandmother.  I don’t want to say much more about the book, except that it includes underground bunkers, multiple POVs, and an adventure in New Zealand.

____________________

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Eve Goldberg is a writer and award-winning documentary filmmaker.  Her screen credits include the Emmy-nominated “Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist” (co-writer), “Cover Up: Behind the Iran-Contra Affair” (writer) and “Maestra” (writer).

Her writing has been published in American Popular Culture, The Reading Room, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Hippocampus, and Censored: The News that Didn¹t Make the News. Hollywood Hang Ten is her first novel.

Other info:

Website:  https://eve-goldberg.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/eve.goldberg.3

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36048984-hollywood-hang-ten?from_search=true

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollywood-Hang-Ten-Eve-Goldberg/dp/1786080281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508540818&sr=8-1&keywords=hollywood+hang+ten

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Hang-Ten-Eve-Goldberg/dp/1786080281/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504113084&sr=1-1&keywords=hollywood+hang+ten

Book Trailer Launch: Cayleth Warding and The Scarlet One by Jessica Hernandez

Who doesn’t love a good book trailer?

I’m pumped to share the trailer to Jessica Hernandez’s newest novel, Cayleth Warding and The Scarlet One. Click HERE to check it out!

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Fifty-three families looking for a new beginning board a ship and sail to an uninhabited island. Happily they live for well over two decades. Homes are built and the past is forgotten. Paradise, however, is no more after the adults suddenly vanish one night. For three years, the teens and children rule the island of Oridd. For three years, they survive. When an old woman unexpectedly appears on Oridd, all is cast into disarray as the strange and awful threaten to become commonplace. The old woman wants something, and she won’t leave until she gets it.

 

Spotlight: Shu Wei’s Revenge by Jackson Fahnestock

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SYNOPSIS

This is a story about strength of family and friendships, heartbreak, perseverance, and personal trauma. The setting is 1898. In his role as Town Scribe in the sleepy village of Sanhou, China, seventeen-year-old Shu Wei is caught up in an incident in the town square, which ultimately causes the family to be banished from the town.

The ensuing journey to San Francisco’s Chinatown gives rise to the intrigue, mystery, and tension that only escalates the deeper the story goes. Shu Wei ultimately finds himself working for a local newspaper while he juggles the scurrilous demands and threats of Tong members as he attempts to restore his family’s honor.

It is his growing experience as a cub reporter and writer that brings him the confidence to confront not only his own mortality but the brutal world around him.    

About the Author

Jackson Fahnestock traveled as an architect, working on large-scale projects, in China, Taiwan, Vietnam and other parts of the world. His experiences formed the basis for Shu Wei’s Revenge. He earned a Bachelor Degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois and two Masters Degrees – one in Architecture and the other in Urban Planning at Columbia University in New York.  His first book, To Preserve a Heritage, was about landmarks in Lower Manhattan. He lives in San Francisco.

SHU WEI’S REVENGE

A Young Man’s Journey into the Depths of the Underworld

Available now on Amazon!

By Jackson Fahnestock

  • Price:  $12.95
  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Bayside Press (September 6, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 0998803413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998803418

Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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Ok, let me start by saying that for the first fifty pages or so, I had a hard time getting into Beartown. Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the amount of characters introduced (there are many), but I almost gave up on it. This, friends, would have been a huge mistake.

Beartown is set in a town much like my own; tiny, somewhat dying, where people have little to hold onto aside from their hockey team. With the whole town’s hopes and dreams riding on them, the players are left with a heavy weight of responsibility to carry. The pressure is high and morality often takes a backseat to winning. When one act of violence brings a family to their knees, Beartown forces readers to evaluate their own ethical standpoint. It’s smart, honest and feels very real.

Beartown is beautifully written and touches so many important subjects from rape-culture, to homophobia, to peer pressure, that I feel like this novel should be a mandatory read in every high school. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never read anything by Fredrik Backman before. After reading Beartown, this will change. And if you haven’t picked up any of his work yet, it should change for you too.

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Cover Reveal – Like Broken China

It’s here! The moment we’ve all (but mostly I’ve) been waiting for! My third novel, Like Broken China, is being launched on November 21st and I’m pumped to be able to reveal the cover art today. A huge thanks to Alyssa at Uplifting Designs for the mountain of patience she had with me and for creating a cover that I absolutely love. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Interview with Kenneth Kelly

Kenneth Kelly, co-author of the novel Virtue Inverted, joins us today to discuss his writing inspirations.

What genre do you write and why?

I dabble in Science Fiction, but I primarily write fantasy. Science Fiction is all about high tech gadgets, science, space travel…things that could possibly be in our own world or worlds very similar.  You have to have a good idea of scientific theories, astrology, and modern advances in space travel.  You have to follow certain ‘rules’ if you expect the reader to take you seriously, and while I’m up for a challenge, I prefer my writing to have a bit more freedom for creativity.  That’s what I like about fantasy: having more freedom.  That doesn’t mean I can write whatever story I darn well please.  Fantasy writing still has to have a certain verisimilitude, but it’s not as confined by research and ‘correctness’ of what constitutes good science fiction.  You can experiment a bit more with fantasy.  The rustic, woodland settings, sword and sorcery, outrageous monsters, things that aren’t possible and defy laws of physics and have no explanation and don’t need one; I can create the rules of the worlds my stories take place in.  With fantasy I can let my imagination go crazy in a way other genres wouldn’t permit.

Tell us about your latest book.

Virtue Inverted started off as a story I began in high school. I was very proud of it, showing it off to all my friends and English teachers.  But it wasn’t anywhere close to the work it is now.  Benny Clout’s character was essentially the same, but almost everything else (setting, plot, characters, etc.) was unrecognizable to how it is now.  After I graduated and began college, I quickly realized it wasn’t the masterpiece I’d hoped it would be and sat on it for a few years until I contacted Piers Anthony in 2015 in regards to another book I’d written.  We began to discuss this old story of mine, collaborated and before I knew it we’d completed Virtue Inverted and the following installments.  I don’t want to discuss too much of the story, but I’ll describe it as a hard hitting vampire fantasy.  However, it’s not your typical vampire story.

Who are your favorite authors?

This is a hard question because there are so many writers I admire. I’m obviously a big Piers Anthony fan, and I love the big names of sci-fi/fantasy like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Stephen King.  I love the more modern, popular writers like Robert Jordan, Isaac Asimov, David Farland, etc.  But there are a lot of lesser known writers I don’t feel received the recognition they deserved: John Bellairs,  H. Beam Piper, Niel Hancock, Brad Munson, and John Ruskin.  If I typed the names of every writer I consider a favorite this interview would go on forever.  An easier question would probably be “which writers aren’t your favorite?”

What advice do you have for other writers?

Keep writing and never give up. It’s hard to become well established as a published writer; I’m still working on that.  If one project doesn’t take off, set it aside and move on to the next.  You’re first big idea won’t always take off like a jet plane, so don’t become discouraged if your ‘magnum opus’ doesn’t get the reception you think it should.  Look at my example: it took over half a decade and the aid of a bestselling writer before Virtue Inverted was picked up by a publisher.  Also remember that I got lucky, and not everyone will get the chance to write with a man like Piers Anthony like I did. So I’ll go back a hundred times to the same advice: don’t give up and keep writing no matter what!  It’s easy to let everyday life and limited success steal your motivation.  Don’t let it happen.  The only way to be a writer is to write.

What’s your favorite quote about writing/for writers?

A now deceased English teacher, poet and father figure of mine, Kurt Van Wilt, once told me “write what you know.” I’ll remember this advice after everything else is forgotten.  You have to know what you’re writing about, even in a genre like fantasy.  I’ve never served in the military let alone gone to war, and I’ve never devoted much research to the idea, so for me to write a novel from the point of view of a soldier as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, or something similar, would be ludicrous and any readers who have experienced this would pick up on it.  It’s sort of like that.  Writing what you know is what makes your work believable and gives it credibility.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

I’d have to say Dale Beranger. He’s a tortured soul with a complicated past, who was a well seasoned adventurer who could handle any situation imaginable at any given time.  You never know what to expect with him.  Having him as a main antagonist and villain is what I feel makes Virtue Inverted the story it is.  I’ve always thought that the villain of a story is what made it compelling, and my own work is no exception.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

Virtue Inverted is a compelling, fast paced and action packed story. I know how much I hate a boring book, and I don’t want readers to find my work dull. The narrative is complex, with many twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Who Designed the Cover?

The cover for Virtue Inverted was done by Mitchell Bentley from Atomic Fly Studios.  I stumbled across his website a while back and loved his work.  So, Piers and I agreed to let him to the cover for our works.  I came up with the general idea for the cover, which Mr. Bentley used to design the finished art.

Who inspires you?

A short, simple answer would be God, family and friends. So many people have aided and supported me throughout my writing and life. My parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and friends, living and dead, have always pushed me to give nothing less than my 110% at any task I set before me.  I feel compelled to make them proud, and to help others in the way they’ve helped me.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

It may seem like a childish inspiration, but an old VHS tape is what inspired me to become a writer. When I was a toddler, a neighbor gave me some old video tapes full of old cartoons that I would watch on a daily basis.  As a child, I was mesmerized by the colors, characters, places and things I saw, and I would become lost in these amazing worlds I witnessed.  This inspired me as a child to create and tell stories to my parents, who would write my tales down before I knew how to write.  There were few things that stirred my soul more than a compelling story.  Each movie or book I watched or read became a real place, with real friends where I escape the boredom of everyday life.  They kept me motivated and gave me something to live for.  Every story I watch or read inspires me to this day, but it was those old VHS tapes, which I still have, that set me on the path to become a writer, so that I could help inspire and motivate others with my own work.

Kenneth Kelly

 

 

 

Interview with Author Piers Anthony

Piers Anthony is one of the world’s most popular fantasy authors, and a New York Times bestseller twenty-times over. His Xanth novels have been read and loved by millions of readers around the world.

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favorite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

Q. What advice do you have for other writers?

A. Publishing is changing so much now that much of what I might say would become dated about ten minutes after I wrote it. So I’ll just say read and study the genre you are in, keep writing and improving, and may the world go well with thee.

Q. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

A. For me the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

Q. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

A. It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

Q. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

A. My web site is http://www.hipiers.com where I have a monthly column, commenting on whatever is on my mind, and background information on my titles. I have also written two autobiographical books: Bio of an Ogre and How Precious Was That While.

Q. Where can a reader purchase your book?

A. From wherever the publisher puts it.       

Q. What are you doing to market the book?

A. Precious little. I’m a writer, not a marketer.

Q. Who inspires you?

A.  The world inspires me.

Q. Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?

A. I have written about 175 other books. Readers can find many of them listed on Amazon. Many readers like my Xanth fantasy series, which now number 42 novels, not all in print yet.

Q. Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

 A. I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.

Q. Does your family support you in your writing career? How?

 A. My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20.00. But it led to greater things, in time.

Q. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

A. Writing is my passion and my life. All else feels like dross. But I do make the meals and wash the dishes, as my wife is infirm. I also like to play cards on the computer, mainly Free Cell, which I believe is the best card game ever.

Q. What is your favorite line from a movie?

A. Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why?  “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candor surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.

Q. What do you like to snack on while you write?

A. I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.

Q. When you walk into a book store, where is the first place you go?

A. The last local book store closed down.

Q. What is the funniest thing that you’ve been asked during an interview?

A. At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!”

            Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail.

            I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.