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Is it Bad that I liked Allegiant?

 

What would you rate this book?

This book gets 3.5 stars about everywhere you look. To me that indicates a bad rating. I don’t know about you, I don’t typically buy something on amazon with 3.5 stars. I understand why some people hated how this book ended. I mean HATED it, some of those reviews come off livid, even offended at how the author could write what she wrote.

I wasn’t offended, nor did I hate, the acts of the story that ruined it for others. Tris’s big ending was very appropriate for her head strong, ill advised decision making character. I don’t want to spoil it if you have not read it (but we can certainly talk about it in the comments!)

SOOOOOO is it weird that I enjoyed it? Yeah the story has some holes, characters just don’t think things through, I can get past that. Some reviewers said tone and having 2 narrators was an issue, and a means to an end; reviews said the characters sounded exactly the same, but I don’t agree…… well let me add that I listened to the whole series on CD, and I think this might help attribute to why I enjoyed the book so much.  A male narrator was added for Four in addition to the Tris narrator. Both narrator really capture the voice of their perspective characters very well.

I particularly love how Roth writes scenes. She has this knack for using smell to perfectly set a scene. Smell is such an underused sense in writing, and when it is used it is not often used well. I marvel at her ability to tap into this unused literary sense so keenly.

 

 

 

 

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Hybrid

Here, Learn some more about this book:

The 1-line Review:

Great characters and plot within an exciting story, but with some structural issues.

The longer review:

I really like the story, characters, and the new take on well used fantasy roles, but give the book a tough critique when it comes to structure.

Hybrid is the debut novel from author Venus Morales. Its a fresh take on fantasy with a uniquely  diverse array of characters; Greek Gods, Vampires, Demons, Angels, and a new take on phoenixes attribute to a cast of characters I have never seen together. I really enjoyed the authors portrayal of the Greek Gods, Ares and Hera. Greek Gods have been dominated by Rick Riordan fiction (some of my favorite books), and Morales created Godly characters I didn’t expect.

Ultimately, Hybrid is a love story and concentrates on Ari, the main character, and her relationship struggles with others and within herself.  Ari, is a kick butt, do-what-I-want-when-I-want-t0 loner type. She kills demons to let off steam and has no problem doing it with her god-vampire-phoenix ancestry. She has  an inner evil alter ego, Rheain, who is in a constant fight for control of Ari. The back and forth relationship between the two of them was my favorite in story relationship. They can’t live with each other, but can’t live without, and at times they get the best of each other.

There is a love triangle relationship that Ari has to come to terms with through the novel. I don’t want to give more away here, you’ll have to read to see who wins in this Edward vs. Jacob relationship struggle.

I think the middle of the book was the strongest. And there is an excellent story arc where Ari has to fight for the right to remain phoenix royalty while fighting her own demons. I think this middle piece had the chops to be it’s own story.

Bottom Line:

I think this is a strong showing from a new author, and believe the next book in the series will be an even stronger sequel.

….Where the book lost a stars:

This is the hard part, I liked the book plot and story line over all, but felt it had structure weaknesses.

While the story content had a YA feel, I think the writing and verbiage fit better into the juvenile fiction genre. (The book is definitely not meant for the juvenile age range though.)

The books starts with a blunt and unnecessary  prologue. It gave way too much detail away. The prologue could have been left out entirely and the reader would have been able to discover all that info naturally.

While the middle of the book was very strong over all. The beginning happened suuuuuper quick and i felt the ending was rushed.

Alaris- he was supposed to be supreme evil, but I never got more that a bad boy from the wrong side of town vibe from him. His evilness really didn’t develop enough.

I think Alaris was introduced (very quickly) and the main antagonist in the first few pages. Through the middle of the story he all but disappeared.  The middle story are I referred  to as strong is the fight for Ari’s nobility. It felt like a really good story within a story. During it I kept wondering if the Alaris thing was going to resolve at the end. The ending came back to Alaris, but ended very quickly.

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A Badass with Yellow Wings

Here, Learn some more about this book:

The 1-line Review:

A completely unique story and super thrilling read.

The longer review:

 Fledgling is very captivating and hooked me from the beginning. The plot instantly stood out as unique and is different remind me of anything I have read before. Quick spoil free plot- Murdered girl turned archangel in training on quests to save innocents by mind dumping conscious(es) into  evil doers. Cool, right? Author Katrina Copes spin on angels was a real refresher on you typical archetype.

Its all about angels, but I wouldn’t call it christian fiction. This is definitely a 13 and up read due to gruesome fight scenes.Cope really paints each scene very vividly in your brain, and that includes very detailed fight scenes. You can definitely feel the action jump off the page. The bone crunching and cartilage ripping pushed my (relatively low) limits for that kind of action sequence, some will like the realness of it, the faint of heart might, well… faint.

The main angel (no name dropping, kind of a mini spoiler. You’ll understand when you read it) is likable in that annoying kind of way. Her haste and haphazard choices really turn the pages. I can tell if I loved not liking her, or hated liking her. Either way she kept the story going.

Bottom Line:

Great scenes, excellent action.  Highly entertaining, very engaging page turner. Could be the start to a a very worth-reading series.

Where the book lost a half star:

Main angel was the most real feeling character, but she became a bit one tracked, especially in her decision making. One male angel had some decent enough depth. The rest of the small character cast were ambiguous (some by design) or felt very one dimensional.

The gruesomeness pushed the limits a bit. Like I said above, some will love it.

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The Atlantis Deception

Here, Learn some more about this book:

The 1-line Review:

The last 4 words were the most thrilling. There was too much ambiguity to get deeply invested.

The longer review:

 This is a ‘Don’t read the last page first’ kind of story. Some people peak, but don’t; otherwise it kills the whole story. I have not read any other story in this series, and this story is readable if it is your first one. While this story is a good read for a sci-fi/thriller, it didn’t make me so invested as to want to read others from the series.

The ARC, essentially an alien collection vessel  and mobile habitat, was filled with creatively dangerous species from a newly discovered planet. The crew member get trapped inside the recreated habitat and have to traverse the region in its entirety to get to a maintenance door and exit. The ship is cool, the creatures are cool. The action scenes and suspense are nice, but there is an amount of ambiguity from start to finish that kept me from getting deep into the story.

I think over-engineered technology drives the plot. That is to say, there would have been no danger if engineers had put door handles on all the automatic doors. Normally I don’t like when the storyline hinges on something so little. In this case I like it because it sheds some light on the way we are designing technology now. (Like key-less entry cars with electronic backup systems to open them in case of failure. If the electronics totally fail, you cant open the car…) Anyway the engineer in me is digressing…

Bottom Line:

 Props to Thracker for writing this story in a month. If you like his work, I would say this book was better than Golden Crystal but not as good as The Depths. (Have not read Enigma Strain yet, so cant judge that one.)

Where the book lost a half star:

Why even enter the zoo in the first place. The team could have figured away to defend against one species in the conference room. And Malai (the one team member not trapped) could have blown open the conference door, rather than the door he actually blew up. Common sense wise, it dint make sense.

The team of explorers about the ARC (spaceship) refer to their specie’s traits and how they do or do not resemble those traits. But never do we get an inkling of what this species looks like. So I ended up thinking about them all as humans who talked kind of nerdy. All the actions they take sound human; walk, sit at tables, eat soup, sleep lying down, etc. All of that is entirely human, nothing stood out as different. However all the other species in this book were clearly set apart from earth species.

Every species was designated a number and no name. Makes sense, but at times I have to stop and think which were which because you can forget when every name is a number.

While the over-ingenuity lucked out as being a plus, the team suffered from single personality disorder. With maybe one or two exceptions, the essence of almost every team member was the same; logical to a fault, stick to protocol, little creativity, meticulous. The team was very ISTJ when an advanced society capable of space travel should be able to get a more diverse team together.

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The Last Stored by Sonia Poynter- Review

Here, learns some more stuff about this book:

Will’s winning chapter: 14-Jessimn the Healer, (Honorable mention: 31, 31)

Will’s winning character: Lin

Will’s worn out word: giggle

The 1-line Review:

An enjoyable quest/destiny high-fantasy that would have been perfected with just a touch more depth in a couple places.

The longer review:

I would specifically recommend this novel to girls that enjoy or are just getting into fiction fantasy. The Last stored has adventure, tension, some mystery, and a few budding romances mixed into an excellent high fantasy. The story has a Lord of the Rings meets Immortal Bones kind of feel. (Don’t read that as two stories blended into one, more like little ingredients similar in feel blended together in a new recipe)

The book would fall under the christian high fantasy genre. I enjoy christian fantasy when the allegory is more subtle. Poynter does an excellent job at incorporating her faith in subtle, enjoyable ways. (Subtle vs not subtle christian authors: Wayne Thomas Batson:subtle, Christopher Hopper: NOT subtle.)–hopefully this gives you a perspective on what I mean if you enjoy christian fantasy yourself.

Sonia Poynter’s novel The Last stored is a great debut novel for a new upcoming novel. She creates an alternate world filled with color and dimension past what can visually understand here on earth. Her character cast in not overly large or too small and I enjoyed many of the supporting cast. My favorite character was the supporting protagonist Lin; I actually think i found her and her relationship with Chaney(another support protagonist) more exciting that the main characters Amber and Cree. (Adventures of Lin spinoff!)

The main characters Amber  and Cree alternate chapters in first person to give a great perspective on the same story. the characters really evolve as a team as they journey together through the story.  Amber is the unsuspecting destiny child with great potential power. She is protected by Cree, the highly trained and sworn protector who has the ability to ride the wind, be invisible, and sense others energies. Cree is called a “Wind Rider” and his ability is called “blowing out,” very cool name for a power 🙂

The book culminates to a great  fight seen in the end. I found it to be the high point of the book (The end should be the most exciting part). Some fantasies have a lack luster ending, but this is not the case here!

Bottom Line:

The Last Stored is a great new high fantasy that I would highly recommend for girls on any age that enjoy christian fiction-fantasy. Very worth the read and I would suspect more in this series to come.

If you want my critiques of the book read on….

Where the book lost a star:

For this book it was all minor points and not a major plot issue. (That is a good thing!)

  • I think the very colorful world became less descriptive as the story went on. The world is vastly different from earth and I wanted to here more of the settings.
  • Much of Amber and Crees feeling toward each other were explained very staccato-like. Ex. “I love that about her.”  I wish there was a bit more poetic-ness about it, and that the the character relied more on there actions portraying there affections rather than there thoughts on each other. I think this is why I enjoyed the Lin-Chaney romance more, because we could only see in through Cree and Amber’s perspective.
  • The characters do much traveling and avoiding conflict. I would of liked to see one or two more Moriavis(dragon) or Ague(mindless soldiers) attack on the traveling group.
  • Amber was consistently referred to by her full name and the people of Tali said that is how they do it, but Fej, Dartlin, Fink, Lin, Chaney, Lorthis were never referred to by there full name from what I can remember.

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A Different Me- Review


I was asked to read this for a review. It is far outside my normal genres, (But I never deny a request!) Having said that, it’s not the first time I have read this far outside my norm by request, but this has by far been my most impressive readI was surprised by this book, and think it’s deserving of 5 stars. This book will come highly recommended from me to its intended audience (Girls 13-18.)

I think the meaning behind the song “Demons” by Imagine Dragons and A Different Me are very similar. It is a strange comparison, but you’ll understand that correlation after reading it. Both sum up a concept of there is way more going on under the surface than you can possibly figure out from appearances.

I have never read anything from Deborah Blumenthal, but I could tell this was not her first book. The writing was on point, exceptionally so. Blumenthal managed to create not one or two, but an entire cast of characters that felt real and deep on a level that hard to attain. I was further surprised at the character development, specifically the main character Allie, as well as David and Amber. Being able to add such multi-level depth and development to multiple characters is no small feat. Allie begins as a typical high school girl, and her problems and value set are those of a high school. I felt like I was watching a person, not reading a character. Then through a set of outside influences, Blumenthal transforms Allie in a way that feels so natural that it is hard to believe the girl at the end was the same as the one in the beginning.

This book has the ability to leave a lasting effect on certain readers. The story is clearly meant for girls 13-18 and I think it will hit its intended audience right on the mark. All the characters signify many stereotypical personas encountered in high-school, then open up to levels of insecurities and deeper issues that many individuals deal with at some point in their lives.

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Magic Ain’t So Bad

The Quick Review:
Bad magic is a fun book to read. A blend of magic, mystery, adventure, and a little comedy give the reader plenty of reasons not to put the story down. The writing is up tempo and quirky and is a very nice change in storytelling from a typical third person.
This is the first book in a new series by Pseudonyms Bosch, as well as the first book I have read of this particular author. This series ties into his previous one, which I plan to read after reading Bad Magic.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads)

As in fake. Cheesy. Unreal. At least, that’s what Clay, who has seen one magic show too many, thinks.

When words from his journal appear mysteriously on his school wall as graffiti, he never imagines that magic might be to blame. And when the same graffiti lands him at Earth Ranch, a camp for “troubled” kids on a remote volcanic island, magic is the last thing he expects to find there.

But at Earth Ranch, there is one strange surprise after another, until Clay no longer knows what to expect. Is he really talking to a llama? Did he really see a ghost? What is the scary secret hidden in the abandoned library? The only thing he knows for sure is that behind the clouds of vog (volcanic smog), nothing is as it seems. Can he solve the riddle of Earth Ranch before trouble erupts?

Elusive author Pseudonymous Bosch introduces an extraordinary new series that will have you believing in the unbelievable.

The Longer Review:
I think this story is a more exciting read if it is the first Book you have read from the author. Not having the familiarity with the author’s previous works makes it hard to peg where the story is going, and this adds to the excitement of the story. I Thought I had the story figured out, but the plot line moved back and forth making it hard to figure out how the book would end.

The narration is third person. The stories read as if someone is telling you the story. The narrator adds plenty of anecdotes to the story as he goes, sometimes adding his own personal opinions. I liked it; it is a different style and keeps the story fun and active.

Clay is a nice main character. He basically comes off as a C student Skateboarder with a knack for magic tricks, even though he hates magic. He isn’t an exemplary kid, but not a bad one either. His nerdy Big-Bang-Theory parents who take a hands off approach to parenting attribute to much of his misguided-ness as well as dealing with the disappearance of his brother. His parents are unique as far as support characters I’ve read, nice to see them break the parent molds we commonly see.

Conclusion:

Definitely a good read. A magic-mystery Survivor feel to it. Easy to start on this series and not Bosch’s original series. The original stories are in the same story arc as these. I want to read Bosch’s previous series now that I have read this one.

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The Map to Everywhere

 

 

The Quick Review:
This is the best read of the year. I loved it so much I will buy the hardcover when it comes out, even though I got the E-book for free. This book series will fit well into a shelf filled with Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan. The cover is one of those covers that make you want to buy the book (because everyone does judge books by their covers) and the story doesn’t let you down. Everything about this story feels different, original, and all blends together perfectly.

Story Summary:

(Taken from Goodreads) To Master Thief Fin, an orphan from the murky pirate world of the Khaznot Quay, the Map is the key to finding his mother. To suburban schoolgirl Marrill, it’s her only way home after getting stranded on the Pirate Stream, the magical waterway which connects every world in creation (Apparently she shouldn’t have climbed aboard the mysterious pirate ship that sailed out of nowhere and into a dry Arizona parking lot. How was she to know?).

With the help of a bumbling wizard and his crew, they must scour the many worlds of the Pirate Stream to gather the pieces of the Map to Everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones looking. A dark and sinister figure is hot on their tail, and if they can’t beat his ghostly ship to find the Map, it could mean the destruction of everything they hold dear-not least of all themselves!

In Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis’ first installment of a fantastical new series, adventure, magic, and hilarity collide in the treacherous skies and dangerous waters of the Pirate Stream. Heart-pounding escapades and a colorful cast of characters will have readers setting sail through this wholly original and unforgettable tale.

The Longer Review:

This book had a lot of “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before” moments. It felt very original. Fin, one of the two main characters is fresh and completely out of the box. Many of the characters just struck me as different I didn’t find myself thinking about stereotypical characters types at all. There is no info dump and all the characters still have some mystery about them by the end of the book.

The scenery and locations in this book are fantastic. There all unexpected and it is hard to guess ahead to what’s in store as Fin and Marill travel down the pirate stream. They, along with the corky wizard Ardent and stern Captain Coll, hope from realm to realm on a magic induced goose chase that is hard to foreshadow. The story is very well thought out, the authors must have layered and re-layered the plot along the way. Every little detail in every chapter is related to the ending. Things I read over as such minor details became important at the end. There was no fluff or unnecessary chapters.

I disagree with the reviewers who say this book is too confusing. Middle school readers will have a fine time following along with this book. If the intended reader can keep up with a Fable haven book, then they will be fine reading through The Map to Everywhere.

There are a bunch of visuals that are going to be added to the final version that were left out of the advanced read copy. I want to know what they are! The book doesn’t need pictures, the writing is great, but the inner child in me wants to see the pictures. I want to see the movie as well. Can we get started on making that? There’s going to be a lot of cgi involved, so they need to get started now.

Conclusion:
Again, my read of the year. And that’s after reading Some Riordan earlier in the year (one of my favorites.) This book has the potential to be huge. I really hope it is. I want this to become a long series.

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Interview with Claribel Ortega- Author of The Skinwalker’s Apprentice

Everyone ready to get into the mind of Claribel Ortega? I had the chance to ask her a few question after reading her debut novella, The Skinwalker’s Apprentice. This debut novella is the prologue to her upcoming Empire Witch Series.

Ortega introduces us to the pink haired upstart Emerald Kipp to our left over hear. Emerald is a great new female character who should turn out to be a great new which, but breaks the mold of today’s Hogwarts wizards.

Everyone stop by Claribel Ortega’s website. Get updates on her new series, and maybe the chance to win a signed copy to. You can also talk to Claribel on Twitter and ask her about The Skinwalker’s Apprentice yourself!

Original review here.

Lets start off with a fun question; if someone spotted you eating your favorite food while watching your favorite TV show, what would each be?

It would be pizza, for sure and I am currently watching Sherlock on Netflix and I love it!

Pick you favorite heroine from any book you have ever read, and convince us why they are the best heroine ever?

My favorite heroine is Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy. She’s a hacker, she’s super smart, and she’s resilient. Her character goes through so much and she is able to pick herself up from devastating circumstances, and really kick butt. She has her own moral compass, which might not necessarily line up with the rest of society, but that’s what makes her so cool. She is loyal, intelligent and independent, and she’s someone you find yourself cheering for even if she also scares you just a little.

The YA genre has hundreds of possibilities, what compelled you to write a magic series?

Claribel Ortega

Author Claribel Ortega

Magic and fantasy has always fascinated me. The Hobbit, LOTR and Harry Potter as well as The Chronicles of Narnia are amongst my favorite books/series. I also really like Sci-fi and crime novels, but Emerald’s story just came to me first, and once I started writing it was like an avalanche.

Your first series is all about witches and magic, what will make The Skinwalker’s Apprentice and Empire Witch series stand out from the rest?

I think there are a few things that make it different. First, my books have strong historical roots. From the settings, to the characters, there are many aspects of the series that are inspired by real life NY residents and occurrences. For example, there is a character in book one (Emerald Kipp & The Riddle of the Timekeeper) named Henrietta Snowden. She was nicknamed The Witch of East Broadway and was a real life resident of NYC in the late 1800’s. I spent months in the NYPL researching and finding these stories which, really are magical on their own, and I made them a part of Emerald’s world and my alternate NYC.

Setting my series in the 1980’s will also help it stand out, because there is so much that has changed between teenagers then and now, and so much that really hasn’t changed. It was interesting for me to write about those similarities and to explore the differences, something as simple as not being able to text your friend to tell them where you are, it changes the dynamics of every day life.  Being able to include music, and 80’s music specifically will also be something to help the book stand out in the fantasy genre. It’s fun, and it can also be mysterious and lends itself well to fast paced action and more dramatic situations. There’s a lot of Smiths music J

Lastly, Emerald is, I hope, not your typical heroin. She has a mind of her own, but she’s also extremely flawed. She has many issues, and hang ups, but she is also confident about certain aspects of her life. She is not black and white, she is all over the place, and I think that makes her real and it makes her human. Emerald also doesn’t focus solely on a male love interest, there is love in my series, but it takes a backseat to friendship and family.

You graduated from college with a degree in journalism, was it always your goal to be an author?

Actually no it wasn’t, but not because I didn’t enjoy creative writing. It’s quite the opposite, I have always enjoyed writing poetry, short stories and lyrics, but I was always terrified of sharing it with others. As a reporter, I wrote articles about school board meetings, and community events, so the writing was structured and obviously really different from writing a fiction novel. It felt almost safe to write articles, even though there are critics for all styles of writing, what I wrote was more fact based and straight forward. People tend to get a lot more passionate when reading about witches and things that can’t really happen lol. It’s strange but true. I feel like I ran away from being a writer, I tried switching careers, but it was like a nagging thought that wouldn’t go away. Once I began forming Emerald’s story, there was no turning back. I became obsessed with the world, the characters, and the history. It’s so hard not being able to blurt out everything that happens, because it goes so much further than The Skinwalker’s Apprentice, but that’s something readers will hopefully find out for themselves.

Now some more question on your new series; how many books are you planning for The Empire Witch series?

For now three, but there I think depending on how the rest of the series unfolds, there could be more.

When did you realize that the Empire Witch series needed a prologue?

Book one is a third of the way done, and while I was writing it I realized Margo’s story needed it’s own book. She is central to the rest of the series and the story of her apprenticeship needed to be explained in depth in order for people to get a better feel for the rest of the series. It all comes together in a way people probably are not expecting at all, and I think fleshing Margo’s story out will only make it that much more enjoyable and that much ore of a “HOLY CRAP” moment for readers. At least I hope so!

If you were a witch and only able to only perform one type of spell/enchantment, what would that spell be? The magic you chose can be from your universe or another.

This is hard…hmm, I think any spell that made me invisible would really come in handy. I would say being able to fly on a broom, but I’m too much of a chicken for that.

Is the music that Emerald listens to a glimpse into your own playlist?

Some yes, some no. I also love The Smiths, but I can’t say I’ve ever listened to Echo and the Bunnymen or Siouxsie and the Banshees before researching them for the book. Emerald likes a mixture of more mainstream music (UB40, The Police) and little known bands. That being said, I listen to all of Emerald’s music now, and I love it.

When can we expect Emerald Kipp and the Riddle of the Timekeeper, the first full book, to be released?

It should be out in the fall of 2014 from Winslet Press, but I will keep you posted with a more concrete release date when the time comes!

I am already ready to read the first in the series. The Empire Witch Series will be a strong new magic series. The Skinwalker’s apprentice already had a 4.5 start rating on Goodreads!

Thanks to Claribel Ortega for taking the time to answer some questions. Check back for more reviews and interview with Ortega as well as a potential giveaway of The Skinwalker’s Apprentice, signed by Claribel!

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Interview with Bethan-Ann Scott: Author of Empress Fallen

Bethan-Ann Scott is the youngest author I have had the chance to work with so far. Her first novel, Empress Fallen, is an exciting Space Opera that made its debut Late 2013.  Ms. Scott is already a well-traveled Scottish adventurer with an exciting career  ahead of her -(find some more out about her here.)

Among the many blogs Bethan-Ann hosts is The Writer, her fantasy fiction blog.  Talk to her on twitter to find out more about her and her other blogs, you could like her on Facebook too.

This interview has been my most unique and interesting one to date. Bethan-Ann shared with me some thought provoking ideas behind her writing, as well as a very entertaining ramble, and one answer that is practically an adventure story of its own.  Read on to see what I mean, and if you missed the review, find it here.

You are a very young author, with several blogs and now your first published novel, what gave you the inspiration and motivation to start writing?

One word: space. I’ve always had an irresistible fascination with the stars, and I want nothing more than to travel among them. However, I was enticed away from my first ambition to become an astronaut by a love of economics, history and politics. I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil, and I was actually about eight years old when I began my first novel, a children’s fantasy book called ‘Ramosia’. I still have those 30,000ish words stashed away somewhere, and who knows, I may revisit them again in the future! My motivation comes through an ardent love of the power of words and imagination. And I think that sense of being anything you want to be, going anywhere you want to go, is just seductively enticing. That power of creation is a power like no other, and I relish becoming lost in my own creations. It’s really the path to immortality, isn’t it? Something Carl Sagan once said (one of my idols of course) has always driven me, ‘books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.’

Empress Fallen is a Space-Opera that portrays government ambiguity; Was the original idea for Empress fallen to have political undertones?

Yes, it was. I had recently read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and was beginning delve into works by the likes of Friedman and Hayek. I was intrigued by the idea of a bloated government entangled within the entrapments of labyrinthine bureaucracy, as well as how political freedom is sacrificed when power is concentrated. So I essentially created an authoritarian state with elements of economic freedom but blatant corruption and ethical perversion. But I also can’t resist filling my stories with adventure, as well as that essential ingredient: romance. I’m going to decorate my words with another Carl Sagan quote: ‘for small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’

For your career as a writer, would you rather be more known for your fantasy-fiction or political undertones in your writing (or perhaps something else)? Or more simply if you don’t want to answer that one is — Where would you hope to see your writing career in the future?

Great question. But I’ll answer the second one too! Firstly, I’d definitely want to be known for my political undertones, because I have plans to explore other genres too, such as high fantasy, literary fiction, historical fiction, murder mystery, and action adventure/thriller. Although there will most likely be scifi elements creeping into all of those! I’d love to be known as a political writer.

And as for the second question? Well, I’m someone who sets myself almost unattainably high standards, as well as being crazily competitive and insanely ambitious . . . so ideally, because why not, the truth is, well, probably the wildest dreams of any writer, would be something along the lines of the following: publish three books a year, all of them bestsellers, books rapidly made into internationally bestselling blockbusters that win ten Academy awards each, books then win a plethora of prizes, (the Pulitzer, the Carnegie, the Man Booker, definitely the Man Booker), travel all over the world as a philanthropist and advocate of peace and democracy, write some fiercely analytical and poignant political non-fiction that lead to international acclaim and honours from the Queen, then have a daring adventure across some war-torn nation chased by separatists or extremists where I fall madly in love with a fellow victim, before we finally make it back on British soil following an international campaign for our safe return, maybe another Man Booker, then somewhere along the way, a Nobel Peace Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, somewhere in there, I also intend to be the second female British Prime Minister (either as a Tory or heading up a reinvented New Liberal Party centred around Friedman’s economics), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, and the first person to set foot on Mars . . .

But I digress . . . My more realistic targets for my writing career are to publish at least one book a year from now on, and achieve widespread critical acclaim. (One of my life goals is to have one of my books made into a film by JJ Abrams!) Sorry for that long-winded reply, but my imagination tends to take off when I’ve had too much caffeine.

What is your favorite scene from Empress Fallen?

Aargh, how can you ask that? That’s like asking a parent to pick a favourite child! No . . . I can do this. Right, let’s think . . . Ok, my favourite scene would have to be . . . (spoiler alert!) when Miriam and co. are trying to escape the Eversor missile, when she kills her father, and when she finally tells Damon she loves him. My second favourite scene is the confrontation between Aliya and the Empress at the top of the Imperial Tower in Regnum, when all hell breaks lose. Also, I absolutely loved writing the final scene just before the epilogue!

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

Wow. That’s a question with a looong answer, but I’ll try to keep it concise! I read across a very wide range of genres. My all-time favourite books include Wuthering Heights, The Lord of the Rings, Murder on the Orient Express, The War of the Worlds, Life of Pi, and 1984. The book I’m reading right now is called ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult.

What was your biggest take-away from your first experience writing a novel?

That sense of pride and satisfaction when you first hold a copy of your book in your hands. That’s an insurmountable emotion. And just the sense of accomplishment at completing a year-long project, and of course, the feedback from readers is so motivational. I can’t wait to work on and improve on areas that need improvement.

How did you choose to publish independently? Who was the greatest help along the way?

Well, I initially tried the traditional publishing route but their timescales were far too long and I wanted it published before I applied to university, so I withdrew my agency submissions. But in the future I’ll probably always try traditional first before committing to doing it independently. I think this is the consensus among most authors. It’s just fantastic that POD technology and the ebook market are liberating literature and advocating the love of reading and writing across the world. The landscape of literature is shifting, the tectonic plates are moving, and it heralds an era of independence, a new golden age. The success of an author no longer lies in the corrupt and sordid hands of the editor, with the single subjectivity of one individual with eyes only for money, but in the hands of the most supreme judge . . . the reader. Talent is now paramount. It’s great.

When writing Empress Fallen, did you start writing from the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of the book?

I started from the beginning but I actually only added in the prologue later on. The prologue-epilogue frame narrative was something I only realised was what I wanted about a third of the way through the novel.

Who was the first character or scene you created for Empress Fallen? I.E. where did the idea of Empress Fallen first begin?

The first character I created was the Empress herself. I remember when I first began thinking about this story almost two years ago now, I wrote down a string of ideas, something like, ‘empire, corrupt society, oppressed proletariat, empress, revolution.’ And it really just grew from there!

What was the hardest aspect of writing Empress Fallen?

The hardest aspect would probably be being forced to hurt my characters, my creations. I know that sounds rather odd and hypocritical as I’m the one hurting them, but sometimes the story just takes the author along for the ride!

Are you currently working on a sequel to Empress Fallen? How is it coming along?

Yes, Book II of the Through Darkness trilogy is coming along nicely! It’s called ‘Erebus Born’ and begins just over two months after the events of Book I. I’ve almost hit 20,000 words and plan to release it in November 2014. (And Book III of the trilogy will be released in November 2015!)

After the series is complete, do you have plans for a new series?

Oh, I have a thousand and one ideas! I suspect this is the same for all writers, especially those of fantasy and science fiction. Our heads are just teeming with stories. But the thing I’ll probably write first is a near-future science fiction called ‘Suspended in a Sunbeam’ set on Earth just after robots are distributed into households and factories worldwide. It centres around a young astrophysicist and explorer, John Ptolemy Falconer, and the new global space race! There’s also an epic scifi-fantasy series I’ve been planning called ‘The Nexus Key’, which involves Magi and FTL travel among other things. I also have a romance murder mystery in the works set in 19th century industrial London, as well as a literary fiction story that centres around a young Scottish student volunteering in Vietnam, who meets a mysterious, silent boy on the banks of the Red River and rapidly becomes drawn into a whole new reality of hardship, love and courage. Thank you for all these fantastic questions, by the way. Now, I’ll get back to writing! (After I make another cup of tea!)

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