December 31, 2015

4 Free eBooks from Felicity Heaton & Caris Roane

free-paranormal-romances2

Two New York Times best-selling paranormal romance authors have teamed up to bring your four reads to warm up your winter and heat up those holidays. Not only that, but by signing up to receive the free ebooks, you will also be in with a shot of winning one of two $50 Amazon Gift Cards in an international giveaway.

This fantastic offer is open now but will end on January 3rd, so be sure to head on over to http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/free-paranormal-romances/index.php and enter now to avoid disappointment.

Get these hot paranormal romances today and begin your journey into four incredible and enchanting worlds packed with passionate alpha heroes and sassy heroines.

Here’s a teaser from one of the books to tempt you…

Excerpt from Kissed by a Dark Prince by Felicity Heaton

Olivia had never seen anything like the male specimen on the inspection table in front of her.

Her heart raced. She hadn’t experienced this explosive combination of uncertainty, anticipation and enthusiasm in a long time, ever since her superiors had stripped her of her rank and sent her to this satellite facility in London, taking away her high-level privileges and forcing her to work on studying demon and fae species already extensively researched. It still felt as though they had shoved her out of sight, burying her in the Archangel equivalent of a basement to punish her for her mistake. She had lost all hope of removing the taint it had left on her name in the organisation.

Until now.

The specimen lying right in front of her was her chance to prove herself again, a gift that some higher power had literally dumped on her doorstep.

Blood stained his neck and splashed across his jaw, and pooled at the left corner of his mouth too, luring Olivia’s gaze to firm sensual lips that had her staring blankly, lost in their perfection. She blinked herself out of her trance. Time was of the essence. She needed to get her study underway before her guest woke up or one of the other doctors belonging to the facility barged in and tried to take over.

She shook her hands to steady them, pulled her digital recorder from the pocket of her white coat, and turned it on. She set it on the silver trolley filled with all the equipment she thought she might need to complete her inspection of their unconscious guest.

Olivia tugged on a pair of latex gloves and ran her fingers over the scalpels and tools, and settled on a pair of shears. It had been a long time since she had been able to work on a live specimen and she wanted to start by getting his vitals monitored.

She picked up the shears and cut down the middle of his long black tunic style jacket. Red stained her cream gloves.

“Specimen appears to have suffered severe injuries, worse than at first thought, resulting in a high level of blood loss.” She reached the end of his jacket and peeled the two sides back. She paused, her eyes widening at the impressive display of taut honed muscles under tight bloodstained and bruised skin. “Specimen also isn’t wearing anything under his coat.”

Completely unprofessional of her but she had expected at least some sort of undershirt, and she certainly hadn’t anticipated a body like this. She drew in a shaky breath, mentally told herself to get it together, and cut upwards along each of his sleeves. She peeled the two sides of his ruined jacket away from his body and set them down on the tray.

“Multiple lacerations and abrasions on his torso and arms. Many appear to be claw marks. Possible demon attack. Subject wears matching black and silver metal bands on each wrist.” Olivia spread her fingers and stroked along the lines of four long slashes over his left deltoid. She gasped. “Specimen has markings on his body that hadn’t been visible prior to interaction with him.”

Olivia tracked the symbols with her fingertips, following them as they formed a curl over his deltoid to his shoulder. Whenever she moved along the line, more symbols appeared, luring her fingers. The colourful swirls and glyphs shimmered through the blood staining him. They swept over his shoulder and under his collarbone, and suddenly she was caressing his left pectoral, chasing them as they followed the shape of his muscle downwards over his heart and around across his torso, and then curled under his nipple to end in a point there.

She had never seen anything like this. It fascinated her. The ones that curled around his deltoid were already fading, disappearing into his skin.

She had made it her business to study the written languages of the fae and demons, because many non-humans bore markings like this and it made it easier to identify the species of the owner. Incubi were born with lines of symbols on their skin that not only changed colour to show their mood, but also detailed their lineage, proudly displaying their heritage in the paternal line. The symbols inked on this male’s skin weren’t that of the common fae language though. They were new to her.

“Specimen’s markings seem limited to his upper torso.” She leaned over him and swept a single finger across his right pectoral, and sure enough, markings appeared there too, perfectly mirroring the design she had followed. Olivia used the shears to cut through the waist of his black trousers and froze when more markings shimmered over his hipbone. “Correction. Specimen’s markings continue on his lower body, notably his hips.”

Olivia flicked a glance at the front of his trousers. If this lean, unusual male didn’t wear an undershirt, what were the chances he wasn’t wearing underwear too?

She curled her fingers into fists and stifled the blush that crept onto her cheeks. She had seen plenty of nude men during her years as a doctor and in her personal life too. He was just a specimen. Her gaze roamed to his handsome face, taking in its sculpted perfection. A very gorgeous specimen.

Her heart beat harder and she rolled her shoulders. She had to get a grip. This was her chance. If she had never seen anything like this man, then there was a chance neither had the other scientists employed by Archangel. All those scientists that were currently enjoying a soiree at headquarters, leaving her as the only medical staff in the building. If she could document everything about this male, and figure out what species of demon or fae he was, then her superiors would have to give her some credit, and maybe she could get back to doing what she loved most—studying new species.

So, she had to do this. He was just another subject.

Olivia cut away his trousers, running the shears straight down each long, toned leg. She removed the central part and swallowed as her gaze betrayed her, darting to his groin. No underwear. Her face flushed. Oh my. The man was built like a god with not an ounce of fat on his lithe body. All powerful muscle.

She set the shears down and took another steadying breath before touching the fading marks on his left hip. They brightened again and she followed them.

“Specimen’s markings curl over his hip from behind. Cannot risk moving specimen without harming him to investigate them. They move down past his... groin... and then sweep back around to curl over his hip.” Her heart ran away with her again, her blood rushing through her ears. She hadn’t needed to follow the marks all the way to make the ones that arced around towards his buttocks appear. Her fingers had brushed the ones closest to the dark thatch of curls around his genitals and they had appeared.

His hip twitched beneath her fingertips.

Olivia quickly pulled her hand back and froze. He didn’t move again. The breath she had been holding rushed out of her.

“I am going to proceed with monitoring the specimen’s vitals.” She picked up several of the pads used as contacts for the machines and stuck them to his chest and below his ribs on the left side. If he had a similar physiology to a human as many fae species did, chances were high that she could pick up and monitor his heart rate this way. She connected the wires, switched on the machine, and placed a clip over his index finger. The heart rate monitor beeped slowly but everything else was off the charts. “Specimen shows extremely high levels of oxygen in his blood, beyond normal parameters. What are you?”

She ran her gaze over him. He had taken a severe beating before they had found him unconscious outside the building, as if someone had wanted them to find him.

Sable, her friend and demon hunter extraordinaire, had taken one look at him and her gift had told her that he wasn’t mortal.

The hunters who had helped her bring him in had believed he had crawled to them or had made his own way to their doors. Sable didn’t believe that and neither did Olivia.

No demon or fae in their right mind would place themselves at the mercy of Archangel.

No. Someone had dropped this male on their porch and left him there, wanting Archangel to bring him inside. Why?

It could be a trap and it would be just her luck if it were.

“Specimen appears mortal. Markings on his skin appear fae possibly.” But they hadn’t captured a fae in years and he was nothing like the fae she had read about in the database or seen firsthand. “Specimen is male, estimated six-feet-six, one hundred and eighty to two hundred and twenty pounds. Black hair.”

Olivia inspected his stomach, pressing in to feel his organs. He felt human but something about him, something other than his mysterious markings, told her that he wasn’t. She peered closer at the severe wounds on his stomach and chest.

“Specimen appears to have advanced healing ability. Age of blood around the wounds is indicative of a recent injury, but the wounds in question are already closed and beginning to scab over.” Many demon and fae species had heightened healing. He could be any number of them. Olivia carefully pulled his upper lip back and studied his teeth. “No fangs. Canines appear normal.”

She drew back and something caught her eye. She parted the wild strands of his short black hair and traced the pointed tip of his ear. Was he a demon? They had pointed ears.

Olivia hovered over him, looking down at his handsome bloodstained face. She had never seen a demon as beautiful, mysterious, or deadly as he was.

Deadly.

She could feel it like an aura around him.

He was dangerous.

And waking up.

About the books in this offer:



kissedbyadarkprince


Kissed by a Dark Prince


by Felicity Heaton

Olivia thinks it’s her lucky night when a dangerously handsome unconscious fae ends up on her inspection table. He’s her chance to redeem herself with her employer, the demon-hunting organisation, Archangel. But when the tall, dark and deadly immortal warrior awakes, she gets much more than she bargained for...

Attacked by his enemy in the elf kingdom, the last thing Prince Loren expects when he comes around is a beautiful angel watching over him. Hazy from his injuries, all he can focus on is the pulse ticking in her throat and the sweet allure of her blood.

One single bite reveals she is his eternal mate, triggering a bond between them that will leave him weakened until it is completed... or broken, and pulling Olivia into the crossfire of his ancient feud.

Will Loren be strong enough to place duty before desire and give up the one thing he has waited millennia for and craves above all others—his eternal mate? And will Olivia be able to resist the incredible heat that burns between them and the temptation of her dark prince’s kiss?
bloodflame


Blood Flame


by Caris Roane

Connor, a powerful vampire serving as a Border Patrol Officer for his corrupt world, falls for a gifted witch who has the ability to kill him with a single touch...

In BLOOD FLAME, vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for the powerful witch, Iris Meldeere. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her?

When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.

But as they battle together to stay alive, and love begins to consume them both, will the witch be able to forgive the dark secrets of his past?
Covet


Covet


by Felicity Heaton

They’ve burned for each other for two years, the forbidden attraction between them growing each night. Now resisting the sinful desires of their hearts is becoming impossible.

Javier knows better than to succumb to his hunger for Lilah. The mortal female belongs to a powerful aristocrat patron of Vampirerotique, the theatre he runs with three other vampires. A single touch is all it would take to break the sacred law of his kind, sentencing himself to death, but his passion for her has become too fierce to ignore and he will risk everything to make Lilah his. When they find themselves alone in a private box during one of the erotic performances, will they surrender to their passion and live out their wildest fantasies in a night of wicked pleasure or will the threat of Lilah’s master keep them apart forever?
EmbraceTheDark


Embrace the Dark


by Caris Roane

Will she fall to temptation and give herself to a vampire...

Abigail doesn’t mind doing business with the realm-world, until she discovers she’s a rare commodity called a blood rose, something designed to satisfy the deepest needs of a mastyr vampire. She wants nothing to do with that kind of power and servicing a vampire is just wrong. But Mastyr Gerrod’s resistance to her gift, as well as his hot hunkiness in his Guardsman uniform, soon turns her head and she bends her neck to receive a sharp pair of fangs.

Mind-blowing sex, ecstasy, all good things follow. But how can she give up her human world to serve as a blood rose the rest of her life?

Sign up for these FREE ebooks and enter the giveaway now at http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/free-paranormal-romances/index.php

About Felicity Heaton
Felicity Heaton

Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | Pinterest | GoodReads


About Caris Roane
Caris Roane

I’m a NY Times Bestselling Author and I write super-sexy paranormal romance fiction designed to be as much an adventure as a soul-satisfying experience. With every book I write, I try to give a taste of real life, despite the fact that I’m writing about hunky vampire warriors. You’ll come away engrossed in the lives of my tortured heroes as they wage war, as they make love, and as they answer the tough questions of life in terms of purpose, eternity, and how to raise a family! I began my career with Kensington Publishing writing Regency Romance as Valerie King. In 2005, Romantic Times Magazine honored me with a career achievement award in Regency Romance. I’ve published thirty paranormal romances to-date, some self-published and some for St. Martin’s Press! I’ve also branched out into Contemporary Romance with A SEDUCTIVE PROPOSITION!

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

December 22, 2015

Seventeen of My Favorite Reads in 2015

Well, it's that time of year. The year-end lists. I wasn't gonna do one, but just like last year, I realized last week that these year-end book lists are one more little way to highlight authors and their books, spread the good word and maybe convince a reader or two to check out a book they might not otherwise bother reading.

The reason I was a bit reluctant to make up a year-end list this year was because I only read about half the number of books I read last year. But I still managed to read more than a book a week, so it all works out to provide me with a healthy list of books I'd heartily recommend to fellow genre mutts. I basically came up with a top ten of books, then threw in one more I really felt deserved to be included to make it eleven, then remembered a half-dozen comic book series I loved, too.

So, here they are, in no particular order I might add: seventeen of my favorite reads from 2015!



The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Tor Books, 2014) - I received this as part of the Hugo Award reading packet along with the other nominated books, and it wound up being the one I voted for. It didn't win, but whatevs. Addison is actually a pen name for Sarah Monette, whose short stories I have quite enjoyed in years previous, so it was cool to see she can just as handily write a sweeping, fantastical novel.

Knuckleball by Tom Pitts (One Eye Press, 2015)  - A crime novella based in San Francisco, and as the first 2015 release of the One Eye Press Singles, I dare say it set a high bar for the subsequent releases under that banner. This also marked my first time reading one of Tom's books, despite having bought a couple others previous to reading this one, thanks to high praise from some of his peers.

Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, & Babs Tarr (DC Comics, 2015) - I have never really read many superhero comic books, mainly because of the learning curve for a series' canon, not to mention the infuriating crossover events that demand you read multiple series just to get a grasp of what's happening. This book was great in that the backstory was taken care of succinctly and the new approach to the character was done wonderfully, with artwork to match. It made me a fan of Batgirl, that's for sure.


Mercy House by Adam Cesare (Hydra, 2015) - Holy crap, this book was like something Richard Laymon would've written after he'd been bitten by a radioactive spider. Intense, relentless, with a backdrop you don't often see in horror, and a tangible sense of glee from Adam's words as he unleashes a hundred-mile-an-hour horror show.


Fuckin' Lie Down Already by Tom Piccirilli (Crossroad Press, 2010) - After a hard fought battle with cancer, Tom PIccirilli died this year. He has fast become one of my all-time favorite authors, despite having read but a handful of his books. Each one though just devastates in remarkable fashion. And word of his passing compelled me to reach for one of his books to read. I picked a doozy with this hard-bitten bit of noir that is as riveting as it is remorseless.


Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro (Image Comics, 2015) - I first heard about Kelly Sue when her weird western series, Pretty Deadly, started up. That was pretty great. Then I heard this one was coming out and upon reading the premise for it, I was immediately sold. Take the women-in-prison genre from the old exploitation films, set it in space, and slip in a little commentary for good measure, not to mention DeConnick's inimitable style, and this was just pure entertainment all the way around.


It's Only Death by Lee Thompson (DarkFuse, 2015) - I suspect there isn't a genre Lee Thompson couldn't nail. Horror, check. Fantasy, check. Thriller, check. Noir, you betcha. This novella was just riveting and he has two more out in the noir genre that I am very keen to check out in 2016, plus he's got more in the horror and thriller and who knows what other genres coming down the pipe. The dude's a machine.


Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn & Cliff Chiang (Image Comics, 2015) - If you grew up in the 80s and you go in for that nostalgia vibe with your genre fiction, then baby, this one is for you. Take a little Stand By Me and mix it up with some E.T. and Back to the Future, and you might have something like Paper Girls. It's only three issues in, but I'm already overjoyed with how it's shaping up.


Prodigal by Melanie Tem (Dell, 1991; re-released by Crossroad Press, 2010) - It was with the news of Melanie Tem's death back in February that I figured I was overdue in reading her work. So I opted to go for her debut novel. It earned a nomination for a Locus Award for Best First Novel, and tied with Kathe Koja's Cipher to win the Stoker Award for Best First Novel. It was easy to see how it garnered such acclaim, and I'm definitely making it a point to read as much of her work that I can track down in the years to come.

Preacher Vol. 9: Alamo by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon (Vertigo Comics, 2001) - I have held off as long as I can, but this year I had to finally stop pretending there was more story coming in this series. I didn't want it to end, as Preacher became my favorite comic book series ever. It is like some perfect storm of everything I love about storytelling. And this final volume in the series, with Custer on his hellbent mission to hunt down God, did not disappoint.

Gestapo Mars by Victor Gischler (Titan Books, 2015) - Good lord, if you want some high-octane sci-fi pulp, this book delivers. I had initially thought this was gonna be some kind of satire take on Nazis in space, but it actually feels more like a love letter to the serial adventures of yesteryear, with enough no-holds-barred, tongue-in-cheek attitude to keep it from feeling old-fashioned. I knew Victor Gischler wouldn't disappoint.

Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Double Feature Vol. 3 by Alex de Campi & others (Dark Horse Comics, 2015) - Speaking of no-holds-barred, Alex de Campi's minor masterpiece continued this year with even more blood-spattered, obscenity-laden action. "Slay Ride" and "Blood Lagoon" differ in tone and delivery, but each one fits snugly in the grindhouse motif, and it was cool to see "Blood Lagoon" offered up as a sequel of sorts to "Bee Vixens from Mars," which kicked this whole series off.


Hashtag by Eryk Pruitt (280 Steps, 2015) - I actually interviewed Eryk about his book earlier in the year (you can read that by clicking here). A crime novel that's a little bit social commentary and a lotta bit gritty character study, with three lowlife characters given the spotlight in succession for one wild ride. It's a bit of a slow burn in spots, but Eryk really lets each character stand out and build to a satisfying end.

The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes by Lawrence Block (Hard Case Crime, 2015) - What I initially thought was going to be a straight forward private-eye story turned out to be way more than that. In one sense it felt like vintage Block, in another it felt like a thumb in the eye of conventional crime fiction. Block presents his main character with no filter on the lens. The guy is damaged goods, but it's not until your knee deep in the story do you realize just how damaged.

Harrow County Vol. 1 by Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook (Dark Horse Comics, 2015) - Cullen Bunn's The Sixth Gun was a year-end recommendation I saw a few years ago from someone, I forget who, that had me very interested in his work. I only just read that one this month, and checked out his take on DC's Lobo earlier in the year. But this southern gothic series that really stands out as a gem in horror, and really shows off how great a collaboration Bunn and Crook have here.

Beautiful Sorrows by Mercedes M. Yardley (Shock Totem Publications, 2012) - Is this the only short story collection on my list? Jeez, it is. Well, I didn't read too many this year, but even if I had there is no doubt Yardley's collection would have a secure spot on this list of favorites. She's turned a lot of her attention to the novel-length fiction, but if you want a glimpse of just how whimsically dark she can get, then you really need to check out this book.


Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch (Image Comics, 2014) - I really didn't know what to make of this series when it first came out. I thought it was gonna be a by-the-numbers epic fantasy, but it's the furthest thing from. It's a foul-mouthed feast of female ass-kickers. Imagine a swords and sorcery version of the A-Team, but with much stronger writing than anything George Peppard and gang had to work with.

Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland Books, 2015) - If I had to choose, my love of Lansdale tales would force me to pick Paradise Sky as my favorite book of the year. The book is over 400 pages, but it's a rocket ride like the slim western novels of yesteryear. The legend of Deadwood Dick is brought to life like no one else could do it, with a book that feels very much like a Lansdale novel, yet sets itself apart. I don't know if I would label it his best work yet, but the argument can certainly be made, because it's that damned good.


So there's my list, folks. What book or books did you love this year? Let me know with a comment or leave a link to your own list of faves, so I can check 'em out.

Oh, and have a MERRY MERRY and a HAPPY HAPPY!



December 21, 2015

The Fundamentals: an interview with Ken Murray, author of "Eulogy"

EULOGY: a novel by Ken Murray: The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car crash. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, living with unhappy parents who are constantly bickering, forced starvation, secrets and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Ken Murray’s powerfully written debut novel, EULOGY (Tightrope Books) explores an unusual, Rapture-obsessed fundamentalist Christian family that places all of its hopes on catastrophic destruction. The only offspring of a sad marriage, William practices self-flagellation, since being disappointed with salvation was a damnable sin, and experiences tremendous self-doubt because of his upbringing. Murray writes, “When the timbers of your house are cemented with bullshit, you ignore the smell and hope for the bullshit to hold.” He hides in his lonely, quiet world away from other humans, but is it enough to survive his traumatic upbringing?


What inspired you to write “Eulogy?”

Eulogy started quite innocuously, more than ten years ago. On a Sunday afternoon, walking home from enjoying time at a cafe with friends, I became obsessed with the mental image of a boy and his father going to an amusement park, but the trip is neither fun or amusing, something is not right about it.

I started writing that scene – if only to purge it from my mind – but it wouldn’t go away. I needed to know who these two were. Who was this kid? Who was this man? What was their story? What happens to them?

I wrote their story so that I could know it. Their image no longer obsesses me, and I’m glad for that.

Is this book in any way biographical?

The events are not biographical, nor are the people in it. The central struggle about religion has resonance to my life, however. I grew up in a house where we attended churches that preached the bible as a literal document and that were always looking for the end of the world. On the television we had a constant stream of televangelists, and they had all the answers, until I realized the answers didn’t work for me.

So one of William’s central struggles matters to me personally: How do you relate to the world when you come to realize that the beliefs in which you were raised are not acceptable to you? Rejection alone is not enough. You need to find your own way.

You write a serious story, yet there are many instances of humor in the book. Why is that?
I never try to be funny, and I don’t like making fun of anyone, but people are sometimes amusing just as they are. Take an intriguing character — like William’s mother, Janet Oaks — and give her the keys to an old beat up car and a conviction that she can get rich and be happy as long as she sells more Slender Nation, and just write what happens. The scenes are serious, but what the people do along the way is funny. The humor makes the sadness of the story all the more poignant.

Why is the main character so isolated and why does he try to harm himself?

I think William’s self-harm is best understood as him acting out on himself the emotional violence of his parents’ marriage. They are constantly at each other, and they place him in the middle of their battles, and their tug of war becomes something that he takes on as his own. As he moves away from them – at first figuratively in adolescence, then literally as he goes to the city – he retains that violence within him and the need for pain is the result.

As for his isolation, I think it is linked to the isolation of the home in which he grew up. He doesn’t necessarily like being alone, but it’s what he knows. Like many people, he takes comfort in something familiar which is not necessarily something he wants. If you look at the scene in the book when William first finds religion, in that moment he is genuinely happy to be among people who want to be his friend. It’s a fleeting moment, his euphoria doesn’t last.

Do you think the parents in this book are a fair representation of parents from fundamentalist households?

It would be too simplistic to call them representations of parents from fundamentalist households. They are simply people who are struggling in life and in their marriage, and with limited skills or willingness at their disposal to deal with their challenges.

They like the answers the church gives them; they like the certainties it professes.

What are your thoughts about fundamentalists around the world? How is fundamentalism affecting the world we live in?  What traits do they all have in common?

I think it’s important to acknowledge the obvious and that is, first and foremost, each unique fundamentalism believes that it is uniquely right, and that all other paths are wrong. This is cause for concern when different fundamentalisms encounter each other or non-fundamentalists. It’s a serious issue on a planet with 7 billion people, of many backgrounds and beliefs.

The other thing that all fundamentalisms have in common, and this may seem controversial to many people, is that the fundamentalisms are all populated by real people. We cannot dismiss billions of people because of their beliefs, much as we should not be forced to build societies or countries that reflect their beliefs. It’s a tricky balance when dealing with groups who believe they are authoritatively right, but life is difficult, so that’s nothing new.

They are humans, and have the human trait of being hard to understand. I do myself a disservice, along with my community and my world, if I dismiss someone I cannot understand as a mere whackjob. And when fundamentalists turn to violence, it is all the more important to see these as the acts of a human (whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or any other belief). Their humanity makes the violence all the more tragic. People want to dehumanize criminals, it makes them easier to hate, but that doesn’t help anyone.

How does fundamentalism affect children?

Children are likely affected more by the dynamics of their home than the religion in which they were raised. People who are raised in loving considerate homes find easier adjustment to life than those who grow up in acrimony. In my book, William is dealing with his own problems and the tensions between his parents and through this he is also dealing with the religion. But the greatest influences on his behavior are his parents, and their abuse of each other, and not the religion he left behind.
Every child grows up believing for a while that the world they know – the picture on the wall, their room, their home (or homes), their friends and their community is all that there is to know in the world. But the child who grows up in the fundamentalist home is to a certain extent asked to believe that much of this illusion really IS the entire world, to believe that the fairy tale is true. The teaching is along the lines of “What our religion tells you is all you need to know; don’t be deceived by those who tell you otherwise.” This is in high contrast to, for example, the home where a child is encouraged to be open and loving to the possibilities of life and the many cultures and beliefs that exist, as opposed to being fearful and mistrusting.

This self-segregation of a fundamentalist home will need to be faced by everyone who is raised there as they encounter more of the world. At some point, each person needs to choose whether they believe in what they were raised in, or if they are going to find another way to relate to the world. That’s universal no matter how you are raised, but there’s an added rub for the fundamentalist, because the fundamentalist child is usually raised cut off from the rest of the world.

I imagine that for some children, growing up like this works out just fine, but it didn’t work for me, and it doesn’t work for the fictional William Oaks. Of course, William’s case is a little different. He is not raised in the religion, but finds it as an 11 year old as a way to fix his problems as well as those of his parents. It works for them but, in the end, not for him. You can see the novel as a story of his heartbreak that this religion that promised him so much magic did not deliver.

KEN MURRAY is a writer and teacher of creative writing. His work has also appeared in Prairie Fire, Globe and Mail, Mendacity Review, Brooklyn Rail, Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Business Magazine, Maclean’s, and has also been published by the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies (through the Random House of Canada Student Award in Writing). While earning his MFA at The New School, he also trained as a teaching artist with the Community Word Project and taught with Poets House. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the inaugural Marina Nemat Award and the Random House Award, and received an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the Toronto Arts Council. Originally from Vancouver, Murray grew up in Ottawa and has lived across Canada and in New York City. He now divides his time between Prince Edward County and Haliburton Ontario, and teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and Haliburton School of the Arts.

December 18, 2015

Hungry Like the Wolf: an interview + giveaway with Jonathan Janz, author of "Wolf Land"

 WOLF LAND by Jonathan Janz


An unholy predator on the prowl!

The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. 

The werewolf.

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.





Gef: How old were you when you first found out about werewolves? Was it a movie, novel, comic book, Saturday morning cartoon?

Jonathan: Hmmm...I’d say my first brush with werewolves had to be the original version of THE WOLFMAN, which I saw when I was very young. Though that experience certainly creeped me out, it also created the foundation of humanity beneath the bestial side. Then, the Michael Jackson “Thriller” video came along and made me forget all about humanity and sent me sprinting out of the room. Seriously. That transformation terrified me.

After that, the movies that did it were THE HOWLING, SILVER BULLET, and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. By the time I was an adolescent, I was absolutely hooked.

Gef: What prompted you to take a crack at the werewolf mythos? Is this something you've had brewing for a while or was it more of a spur of the moment idea?

Jonathan: It was definitely brewing for a good long while. I’ve loved werewolves forever and have always known I’d write them at some point. It just took the right plot, which I found when I started thinking about some of the things I used to imagine during high school. Being from a rural small town, I spent a lot of time driving country roads at night. That sort of setting was just perfect for werewolf thoughts, and I used to imagine werewolves in the countryside pretty frequently.

There was also an amusement park where I grew up (Indiana Beach). I worked there during the summer and spent a great deal of time there. So as I thought back about those days and nights, my thoughts naturally trended toward the amusement park too. It all came together in WOLF LAND.

Gef: Wolf Land has a high school reunion as its backdrop. Any literary catharsis with that choice or all fond memories of high school?

Jonathan: Definitely a catharsis, though many of my high school memories are positive ones. See, the thing for me is how much I used to get sanctioned back in high school, and how many wrong ideas got perpetuated. Oh, I had great friends and many good times, but there were also things that bothered me on some level back then that I never took the time to examine or attempt to change. That bothers me now, so WOLF LAND was my way of dealing with that.

Gef: Some of your previous novels have winks and nods to other novels you've written. Any little easter eggs to be found by your more ravenous readership in Wolf Land?

Jonathan: Absolutely! This book goes both backward and forward with references to my work. SAVAGE SPECIES gets a nod in WOLF LAND, which was only fitting since there’s a kinship between the two books. They’re different in many ways, but there are also some similarities. Structurally, they both feature a big bloodbath early on, as well as an ensemble cast with multiple plot strands and points-of-view. Given those connections, I thought it would be appropriate to mention SAVAGE SPECIES.

The other Easter egg is a bit different. I usually don’t talk much about future works in my novels, but in this one I did. There’s a winter novel I’ll be writing some time in the near future called THE STARS HAVE LEFT THE SKIES that gets some early backstory in WOLF LAND. The Easter egg, I guess, will only make sense once the later story is released, but at that point it’ll be something cool to tie the books together.

Gef: Favorite and least-favorite aspect of the werewolf mythos?

Jonathan: I don’t really have a least-favorite aspect, unless you count the defanging that has gone on with both werewolves and vampires over the past couple decades. My favorite aspect of the werewolf mythos? Man, can I say all of it? I love the first “infection”; I love the paranoia that comes from being bitten or scratched. The transformation scene is one of the single most mesmerizing events in dark fiction, and in WOLF LAND, we get several of them. Add to all that the incredible opportunity for guilt and redemption, and you’ve got a whale of a lot of potential. I freaking love werewolves.

Gef: Werewolf vs. vampire: who ya got?

Jonathan: Both are incredible creatures when done right. I like to think I’ve done them justice in WOLF LAND and DUST DEVILS, respectively. The werewolves in WOLF LAND are absolutely monstrous, but then again, so are the vampires in DUST DEVILS. I feel like I’m cheating on them by going with one or the other, so I’ll just say they’re my two favorite creatures.

Then again, I love the Children from SAVAGE SPECIES and Gabriel from THE SORROWS…

Wow. Did I really just cop-out on my cop-out? Whatever meager street cred I had is now gone.

Gef: How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?

Jonathan: It has been incredibly rewarding because it has been characterized by consistent effort and dogged determination. As far as subject matter, I’ve really been all over the dark territories of horror, and I’ve done several different subgenres. I’d like to think the quality of my writing has steadily increased, and I know my process has grown stronger. In addition to improving as a writer, I feel like I’ve become a more capable editor, which is nearly as important as being a good writer. I think the act of going through the novel-writing and editing process makes you better as long as you pay attention, try to learn from your mistakes, and attempt to build on your successes.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Jonathan: Well, folks can find me at my website (jonathanjanz.com), my Goodreads page, my Amazon page, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (always as Jonathan Janz). With regard to new projects, I have two novels and a novella coming in 2016. CHILDREN OF THE DARK is a prequel to SAVAGE SPECIES, though it’s a standalone novel as well. EXORCIST FALLS is a sequel to EXORCIST ROAD, and though the original was a novella, the sequel is a full-length novel. I’ll be releasing an updated, improved version of my first ever novella, WITCHING HOUR THEATRE. Additionally, I have several story ideas in my mind and others partially written, so the foreseeable future looks to be a fruitful, exciting time.

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful site, Gef. I visit it daily! 

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Use the Rafflecopter form below. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook[at]hotmail.com.


Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror--Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows--will find much to relish." Jonathan's Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.

Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a "Rousing-good weird western," and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014's top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan "Horror's Next Big Thing." His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the clichĂ© happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

December 17, 2015

The Shattered Kingdoms: a guest post by Sommer Nectarhoff, author of "The Death Ydain"

Sommer Nectarhoff is a writer from Chicago. He's always loved to read and write both fiction and poetry. His shorter pieces have been published in a variety of literary journals, and he is the author of numerous books to date, including the fantasy series The Book of Lokk.




The Death of Ydain takes place in a land called the Shattered Kingdom, which lies across the sea from the events in Kthönar, which are catalogued in my first fantasy series, The Book of Lokk. The story is one of those larger than life tales in the spirit of King Arthur—“The Death of Ydain” title itself comes from the famous King Arthur legends contained in “Le Morte d’Arthur,” a text from the fifteenth century.

To create the same feel—The Death of Ydain involves a white cast of characters, ranging from knights to sorcerers and giants—I wrote the book in late Middle English after an extensive period of research. The Death of Ydain is both epic and fun, and brings fantasy back to a world where anything can happen.





December 16, 2015

Raising Hell in the City of Angels: an interview + giveaway with Robert E. Dunn, author of "The Red Highway"

The Red Highway by Robert E. Dunn - In 1992, as Los Angeles begins to simmer in the heat of racial injustices, one dark man appears everywhere, spreading his message of race war. At the same time, Paul Souther, a homeless drunk, joins a strange group of outsiders. Some black and some white, they all carry the weight of broken lives and lost faith. They are all drawn to LA, for the arrival of a child, impossibly carried by Mary Prince, a sterile porn star.

Through back roads and freeways everyone is pulled into LA and Mary's side just as the baby is born. None of them have any idea that the city is a ticking bomb of anger. As riots explode, the mysterious man reveals himself to be an ancient, dark spirit using the rage of the people to stoke his own, literal, fires. He demands Mary’s child as sacrifice to keep the city, and perhaps the nation from burning. It falls to Paul, a faithless man, and a drunk with blood on his own hands, to make the impossible choice between the child and the city, and to save the people he has come to care about.

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON / B&N / NECRO PUBLICATIONS




Gef: What was the spark that got you going on The Red Highway?

Robert: The Red Highway, like so many of my books, was sparked by an image. This one was in my mind while traveling. I went over a bridge in a lonely area and for some reason it struck me as an image of desperation and isolation. I thought, it was a bridge but it could just as surely be a place of endings. As I continued the thought and image wouldn’t let me go. It transformed and populated itself with someone stopping their car to jump. Then, when that didn’t satisfy, it became someone throwing someone off. The word, sacrifice, came to mind. From there it became a baby alternately thrown from the railing or from a moving car. It begged the question, what brings a person to that kind of sacrifice?

Gef: What was it about the L.A. riots that you felt you had to set your story there?

Robert: The LA riots were so big. They were televised and studied, commented on and mythologized. Then they were forgotten, because we always go on. But I was seeing so many things that we had a chance to discuss and settle reoccurring all these years later. Why is that? Collective insanity, a stubborn nature? Maybe there is a deeper reason, I wondered and the thought of sacrifice, national sacrifice, brought me to the image of the bridge.

Gef: The premise of a mysterious figure attempting to whip up racial turmoil reminds me a little bit of Charles Beaumont's The Intruder. Any inspiration from that book or its film adaptation?

Robert: I never read the book but I have seen the movie with Willian Shatner. It was a disturbing, and remarkable, for the time, look at hatred. It was not in my mind as I was writing but who knows what is in those dark corners whispering as you write. Influencers are not always the thoughts at the front of the line. Sometimes they are the small bullies at the back shoving everything forward.

In her review of The Red Highway, Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes mentioned Stephen King’s character, Randall Flagg from The Stand and made a comparison. I had read that book more than once, and had seen the made for TV movie version. Not to mention the fact, this is King. It was impossible not to be aware of that as an influence but again, it was not a conscious thing. I never thought, make it more like that character, or don’t do that, King already did it.

I imagine there were a million influences and inspirations most of which I remained, thankfully, ignorant.

Gef: How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?

Robert: Progression is a strong, probably optimistic, word for what I’ve gone through. I began writing early, like so many in this business. I transitioned from theatre to film in college then to the real business of writing, which is anything and everything and all needed right now. I wrote for news, and local commercials, training films and travelogues. All that time, I was pecking away at screenplays and novels that got slowly better. The story that became my first novel began as a spec script for a horror movie for a guy that had a development deal based on his art house and documentary work. It tanked but I kept the idea for years. Lots of m ideas were kept simmering for long times in my heated brain. The Red Highway went to thirty pages and stalled for several years while I periodically pulled it out and retooled and reimagined. Writing is the hard work of sitting down and putting the words down in order. You have to commit to the work. Sometimes though, the idea you want to work on is not ready. Sometimes it is never ready. Sometimes it is just bad. You go on to other stories and wait for those you believe in to be ripe.

Gef: Who do you count among your writing influences?

Robert: Within The Red Highway, some of my influences are probably too obvious. There is a lot of talk of poetry and music, much of it as cultural touchstone for the characters and reader. These are the kinds of invisible influencers I talked about earlier. Everything in our environment can serve to shape us and, to some small extent, we choose those that most speak to us, music, movies, books, theatre, TV, video games, quiet time fishing. Writers are obviously prone to seeking the influences of other writers.

I grew up reading Dafoe, Dumas, Burroughs, and Poe mixed in with Jack Kirby, Carmine Infantino and of course, Stan Lee. That was the wrong education for a budding writer. For a long time I believed that a “real” novel was written like a Tarzan novel or War of the Worlds. It wasn’t until later, when I discovered Robert Heinlein’s juvenile adventures that I began to understand that old fashioned was simply that and not a sign of quality itself. From there my reading and influences exploded.

Gef: What do you consider to be the saving grace of the horror genre?

Robert: Flexibility. Monsters and terrors are what the writer makes terrible. As long as the feeling of dread, the fear of something unknown, is present, the unknown or unknowable can be anything from an animated corpse to our own government.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Robert: I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any writing advice other than keep going, you’ll get it. People sort through things themselves and find the things that work or don’t I guess. It is not advice, but the one idea I wish I could eliminate, is the one of inspiration. Writing is inspiration. Don’t wait for some mythical muse to whisper the perfect words or plot into your ears. Grab an idea, I think the idea for an ending works best, then start with the question, how did we get here? Sit down and write toward that point. Just write, the ideas come from the effort of making connections. Often you reach a point where you say, this won’t work, or this won’t work unless… Then you probably know your story. You can fix the opening or add what’s needed but you’re on the road. That works if you’re writing the book or if you are working out an outline to write from later. Don’t worry about inspiration, write.

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Robert: All of my pleasures have some element of guilt in them. That’s what makes them so pleasurable. But, I proudly watch old, 1950’s style giant bug or alien invader movies whenever I get the chance.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Robert: Coming in 2016, a mystery from Kensington. It is the first of a series based on the character, Katrina “Hurricane” Williams. She is a former Military Police officer. Experiences on deployment in Iraq have left her damaged and dangerous. As a Sherriff’s detective in the Missouri Ozarks, she has to deal with murder, her own demons, and a bit of romance.
The Harrowing, is a horror/fantasy about a man who goes to hell to rescue an innocent. It turns out, no one is innocent.

And finally, so far finally, there is a romance/mystery just being completed and without a real title. It’ll make you blush but I bet you keep reading.


BOOK GIVEAWAY: Enter for your chance to win either a copy of The Red Highway, Behind the Darkness, or a print of the beautiful cover artwork from The Red Highway done by Erik Wilson! You can do multiple things each day to gain more entries! Just use the rafflecopter form below. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook[at]hotmail.com.






Robert E. Dunn was born an army brat and grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He wrote his first book at age eleven, stealing, or novelizing, as he called it at the time, the storyline of a Jack Kirby comic book.

His college course of study, philosophy, religion, theatre, and film/TV communications, left him qualified only to be a televangelist. When that didn’t work out, he turned to them mostly, honest work of video production. Over several years he produced everything from documentaries, to training films and his favorite, travelogues. Still always writing for the joy of it he returned to writing horror and fantasy fiction for publication after the turn of the century. It seemed like a good time for change even if the changes were not always his choice.


He lives in Kansas City with three daughters, a young grandson, and an old dog. He tweets sometimes as @WritingDead but makes no promises how interesting those little posts will be.