Interview with Author Jeff Provine

By now, you’ve heard the name Jeff Provine a few times if you hang around here. I reviewed his book, Hellfire, a while back and he recently reviewed The Other Side of Hope as well. Today, I’ve got two more reasons to mention his name. First, I got the chance to interview him and ask some questions about Hellfirehis other works, and what he’s got coming in the future. But that’s not even the best part. What I’m really excited about is that he’s agreed to give a signed copy of his steampunk adventure Dawn on the Infinity to one of you. More details after the interview!

RF: There are lot of changes to the timeline, all stemming from the Newton’s Catalyst, in Hellfire. Can you tell us where the idea started for you? What was the original spark that got the whole thing rolling?

Jeff: Heh, “spark,” I like that! Steampunk has always been a huge source of interest for me, mixing the past with enormous new tech. The problem that keeps steampunk from being a reality, though, is that steam engines are so indirect with their energy consumption, something like 5% efficiency. That’s a lot of fuel to carry! So, I asked myself, “What if there were some kind of gateway that could just port in the heat?” It was a fun idea, and then it came with a great twist. What would have more ambient heat than the Lake of Fire?

RF: One of the best things about Hellfire is that you don’t spend countless pages telling us the whole alternate history of your world. But there is this one tantalizing tidbit where you mention Napoleon invading Britain with airships. Any chance we’ll get to see that time period explored in a future book?

Jeff: A prequel would be a lot of fun! There are a few bits dropped here and there about the influence of Newton’s Catalyst on the timeline, but they weren’t pertinent to the plot, just thought-experiments about what might have changed. One of my other favorites was the use of tanks in the Mexican-American War. Both of these could easily merit a short story at least. Perhaps there’ll be a Catalystverse out there someday.

RF: Tell us a little bit about Dawn on the Infinity. Why should we read it?

Jeff: Dawn on the Infinity is an adventure across the multiverse. Dawn’s your average fourteen-year-old: braces, contacts, and enough of a spitfire to headbutt a troll right in the solar plexus. She’s kidnapped by a space-pirate crew of doppelgangers, robots, vampires and more as part of a plot to steal a power generator from another timeline, but soon she learns that nothing is as it seems.

RF: Seems like you write in a few different genres. Is there one that you consider “your” genre or a favorite? If so, why?

Jeff: I’m all about asking, “What if?” That sums up why I tackle so many genres, from alternate history to fantasy, since they are all taking a world and seeing what we can do to twist it. My absolute favorite genre is Magical Realism, but it is a very narrow field and super-hard to write for. Always worth it, though!

RF: Where should we go to learn more about you and stay connected to your work?

Jeff: Check my website out at www.jeffprovine.com and on social media @JeffProvine and www.facebook.com/AuthorJeffProvine

RF: What are you working on now?

Jeff: I’m tackling some new alternate history and a middle grade horror project (Remember those Goosebumps books? Ask yourself, “What if it all happened to the same kid?”). As a side-project, I’m following up on my love of board games with a whole series of twists on existing games I’m calling, “New Rules for Games You Already Have.” 2017 should be a busy year!

Thanks, Jeff for answering my questions and for providing a copy of Dawn on the Infinity!

For those of you just itching for your chance to win that signed book, just click here!

New Review for The Other Side of Hope

Jeff Provine, author of Hellfire (click here to read my review) recently reviewed The Other Side of Hope and published his thoughts on BlogCritic.com. He wrote a fantastic review and I was pumped up to see how he really got the themes of the story.

Click here to read Jeff’s review.

Isn’t that great? I love it because it’s thoughtful and engaged with the content, not just a simple, “Oh yeah, I loved it.” I think it also does a great job of sharing enough details to get people interested without giving anything away. Probably even better than the blurbs and back cover copy I’ve written myself!

What do you think of Jeff’s review?

Win a Free Copy of Kingsley!

I’ve told you about Carolyn O’Neal and her dystopian eco-thriller, Kingsley, plenty of times. So I won’t waste space here going on about it. If this is the first you’ve heard of the book, here are few links where you can learn more:oneal-carolyn-kinglsey-200x300

My review of Kingsley

Podcast review of Kingsley on The Wrambling Writers

My interview with Carolyn O’Neal

If you’ve read/listened to any or all of that content, I’m confident you’ll be interested in what comes next.

I’m giving away a free, signed copy of Kingsley. Enter below for your chance to win and don’t forget to share the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter! You get three bonus entries for every friend who signs up using your link!

Interview with Author Marya Miller

Last month, I reviewed Tales of Mist and Magic by Marya Miller. At the time that review was posted, the flash fiction collection wasn’t yet available, but guess what? Now it is!

Click here to buy the book on Amazon, or if you haven’t seen my review yet and want to get my take first, click here to read my review.

Today, I have something even better than a review for you, though. I got the chance to ask Marya a few questions about Tales of Mist and Magic and her upcoming novel set in the same delightful fantasy world, Under the Splintered Mountains. If you’re not excited about her work yet, you will be by the time you finish reading this interview!

RF: Granny Maberly feels so real with all of her quirks and weird traits. Is she based on a real person, or combination of real people?

Marya: She’s got elements from both my own grandmothers; she looks like my Polish Babka and has her wisdom and strong sense of morality and duty; and she has my Nottinghamshire grandmother’s accent, plus her practicality, pith and bluntness.

RF: I loved the story, “Like Father, Like Son!” I’m curious if we’re going to see any more of those characters, or the tower that’s in the story, in the full-length novel?

Marya: Yes and no. Neither is in the first Dragonish full-length novel, Under the Splintered Mountains (which is mostly about Granny, Ushguk and Anno the Tarn), but the Tower is a key element that runs through the entire Morwen Trilogy that follows. Idalos plays a major role in Book One of the Morwen Trilogy, A Sliver in Time; and Feynrir too.

RF: I can see parallels between Elves/Tarn and Orcs/Moraggim but Ushguk stands out as a unique creation. What was your inspiration for his character?

Marya: The inspiration for Ushguk was my father, who never fit in anywhere. Ushguk’s accent is his. My father was Russian-Polish, of Mongolian descent; and in post-war Britain, he might as well have been a Martian. He grew up on a very isolated farm on a mountain (Baba Goria) and learned to play guitar from Russian gypsies who would visit the village every year–I loved hearing his stories about his childhood and I loved listening to him play.

My dad survived hard labor in a Siberian POW camp and a trek across the desert before serving with the RAF as a radio operator. Feasts and food were a huge part of his childhood, and starvation was the key event of Siberia for him. He spent all his time there trying to get more food for his fellow prisoners (and staged possibly the first successful sit-down strike in Russia) and for the rest of his life, feeding people was his big thing–he was incredibly nurturing. Though I am NOT sure he would appreciate being cast as a big, hairy monster! And my dad could run rings around Ushguk, who is very much his own person with his own history. But still, there it is: My dad was the original inspiration.

RF: The stories in Tales of Mist and Magic seem to span a considerable period of time. Can you tell us where the novel will fit in? Before these stories? After them? At the same time?

Marya: “Like Father, Like Son”, “The Metallurgion” and “A World Without Magic” take place well before “Under the Splintered Mountains”. “Cannibal” and “The Prophecy” occur at the same time of the novel. “The Rabbit who Lived in a Tree” and “The Meaning of Flowers” take place at the beginning of the Morwen trilogy. “The Bits that Count” takes place literally about a week before Ushguk and Granny run into Anno the Tarn in the novel. He’s still wearing his pink sparkly dress (courtesy of Volkurr the Despoiler) when they meet him.

RF: This one’s just for my curiosity. Where does the name “Dragonish” come from?

Marya: From two words: dragon + inis (pronounced “inish”). “Inis” is Scots Gaelic for “island” and Dragonish is an island. I was born and grew up in Scotland, and still speak a smattering of Gaelic so it works its way into everything (including the Tarn language).

RF: How can we make sure we don’t miss Under the Splintered Mountains when it comes out?

Marya: Follow me on my Facebook Page, because I’ll announce it there. Or sign up to my mailing list at http://maryamiller.ca. (If you like the Dragonish stories, the advantage with this is that signing up will land you a completely original Dragonish short story not found anywhere else, “A Tail in the Mist”.)

Thanks so much to Marya Miller for answering my questions! Be sure to check out Tales of Mist and Magic to get pumped up for Under the Splintered Mountains.

Click here to sign up for her mailing list!

Interview with Author Patrick Marsh

This week I had the chance to talk to Patrick Marsh, author of The Greenland Diaries and Beware the Ills. Patrick writes dark fantasy and horror with a particular emphasis on monsters. So having him here is a pleasing contrast to Monday’s review of Tales of Mist and Magic since that one ran to the light end of fantasy. I’ve been following Patrick’s blog, What the Basement Said, for a while now and decided it was about time to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!


RF: I’ve noticed you write in journal form a lot. What is it about that approach to writing that attracts you?

Patrick: The journal format is appealing to me for a variety of reasons. First off, after reading so many chapter books in the standard first or third person format, I just wanted something different. I wanted to be part of the story, and when you’re trying to defuse the plot and figure out the characters like you would in a journal entry, you become emotionally and intellectually invested in a story. The journal is a very palatable author-photo-with-millieversion of making your audience work for information in your story. Instead of describing everything through an omniscient point-of-view, I’m limiting the details my readers receive, an I make their imagination fill-in-the-blanks. Sometimes when you make the audience work, they feel a closer kinship to the story.

RF: I loved reading your DOL stories when they were on your website and plan on picking up the book version when it comes out. Can you tell us what inspired the creation of the DOL monster?

Patrick: Thank you! DOL 39 is one of my favorite stories, and it really is fun to create. I’m in love with the monster. I wanted to create something truly terrifying and mystical. My basis for the DOL was to create something grounded in science, but also something completely unknown. The basis for the monster was something of a vampire, but more celestial and visceral. I basically took the idea of what if you had to live next to an evil god who was more powerful than you could ever imagine? How would you contain it? We throw so many shackles on god in the effort to control our idea of it. This is the same with the DOL. The DOL is a living nightmare. It is both alive and a legend at the same time. This is how a monster should operate. In a mixture of concrete feelings and complete suspense.

RF: Out of all the monsters you’ve created, do you have a favorite?

unblemished-coverPatrick: My favorite monster I’ve ever created thus far are my abominations from my book series The Greenland Diaries. The monsters in this series are unbelievably great. They are both mysterious and concrete. At times, they’re nothing more than shadows in the streetlights. Other times they are towering hooded shapes with claws dangling from empty spaces. Sometimes they’re clouds of spores with blades between their shapes. They throw thorns, move mirrors, and spray paint a language along the deserted highways no one understands. They only exist to kill humans. They never waver from their purpose. They’re like an elemental force, murder to them is air for us to breathe. They’re unknown and unrelenting. They are called the Unnamed.

RF: What’s your next big release or project?

Patrick: DOL 39 will be released on Halloween on the Kindle. This will include the first 25 chapters of the story. I will publish a sequel later this year. Depending on how the Kindle version does, I might publish a paperback version of the story as well. This will be an ongoing series. I’m very excited to get this story into a book format. I’m curious to see how the audience will enjoy the story. The format is unique, and the monster is to die for.

RF: What’s the best way for a reader to stay connected with you and your work?

The best way to stay connected to my work is to follow my blog What the Basement Said through WordPress, email, and Facebook. I publish three or five times a week on my blog. These are often new stories, nonfiction essays, and updates on my current publications and appearances. I love to blog, so you’ll always be in the loop.


There you go! Make sure to check out Patrick’s current releases The Greenland Diaries and Beware the Ills and keep an eye out for the release of DOL 39 later this month! I’ll be reviewing The Greenland Diaries soon as well and I can’t wait!

Click here to visit Patrick’s blog, What the Basement Said.

Review: Tales of Mist and Magic by Marya Miller

The Bottom Line

A fun, (mostly) lightly-hearted collection of fantasy flash fiction. The stories are connected by virtue of being set in the world of Dragonish and sharing a few key characters.

B+

The Review

If flash fiction isn’t your thing, don’t let that stop you from picking up Tales of Mist and Magic. Because it’s not usually my thing, either. If light and funny isn’t your thing, you also shouldn’t let that stop you. I had actually come across Marya Miller’s website a while back (I don’t remember how) and wondered away without reading anything because I got the impression I wouldn’t be interested (again, I don’t remember how). So I’m very glad that Josh brought this book to me because it is well worth the read.

There’s not a whole lot of bad things to say about this one. Honestly, the biggest complaint I have is that it’s a collection of flash fiction stories and not a full novel. My second biggest complaint is that it’s a bit too light hearted for my tastes. I like fiction that’s heavy and on the dark side just a bit (pun intended). So let this be your warning that you won’t find much dark material in Tales of Mist and Magic.

You will, however, find quite a bit of wit. While they might not be as engrossing as a full-length novel, these bite-sized stories are packed full of humor and ironic twists. For some light, humorous reading, you can’t do much better than Tales of Mist and Magic. The writing is superb and I enjoyed almost all of the stories. My least favorite is actually the very first one, so don’t let it deter you when you pick it up. Most of the stories are entertaining but not necessarily enduring. A week after finishing the book, I can’t say I remember most of them. I do remember the key, recurring characters, though, and I harbor a strong desire to spend more time in the world of Dragonish. That is the great brilliance of Tales of Mist and Magic because there is a full-length novel coming that will feature those memorable characters and take us deeper into their stories.

So here is another warning: if you read Tales of Mist and Magic, you will end up buying Marya’s novel when it comes out.

I said I didn’t remember most of the stories, and that’s true. But there were some that stuck with me. Two to be precise: “Like Father, Like Son,” and “The Meaning of Flowers.” These two flash pieces stray ever so slightly from the light hearted humor that characterizes most of the collection to hint at a more complex world behind the jokes. “Like Father, Like Son,” is actually quite dark but in a subtle way. Since I enjoy subtlety as much as dark fiction, this one is easily my favorite in the bunch. “The Meaning of Flowers” hints at tragedy without exploring it in depth and gives us insight into one of the main character’s background. It retains the bubbly humor of the collection in most regards but still manages to inject a profound truth that resonated with me. So it makes my favorite list as well.

I don’t want to give the impression that the other stories aren’t good, because they are. The whole collection is an entertaining read, if not an engrossing one. This book is the perfect thing for those of you who “don’t have time” to read. Reading a single story won’t take more than two minutes and, by the time you’re done, you’ll be so hooked into the world that you’ll find the time to read Marya’s novel when it’s released.

Click here to read the first story from the collection. The full collection has not yet been released but I will tell you right here when it is. You can also sign up for Marya’s email list to stay up to date.

To Read or Not to Read

Read. Absolutely read. Tales of Mist and Magic is fun, quick, and easy to read but you’ll still come away with some nuggets to chew on. Best of all, you’ll find unique characters to love and look forward to seeing more of.

Interview with Author Carolyn O’Neal

I recently read Kingsley, the dystopian eco-thriller from fellow Virginia author Carolyn O’Neal and shared my thoughts both here on my website and over on The Wrambling Writers podcast.

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I loved the book so much that I wanted to talk with Carolyn a bit more. So I asked her a few questions about Kingsley, where it came from and what might be coming from her next. Also, keep your ears tuned to The Wrambling Writers where we’ll have Carolyn as a guest in the not-too-distant future!

RF: Where did the idea for Kingsley begin?

Carolyn: About 8 years ago, my son and a friend were playing video games in the den.  They were middle-schoolers and adorable.  (I might be the only mom in the world whose heart melts when she sees her son playing video games!)  As they were playing, I was reading a report about how certain chemicals in petroleum based pesticides and herbicides mimic estrogen and have a detrimental effect on male fish and reptiles.  Almost immediately the conversation between Bapsi and Charlotte in Chapter 16 popped into my head, when Bapsi compared men to tigers: beautiful and dangerous and mourned deeply when they were gone.

RF: Do you have a favorite character from the book?

Carolyn: I think I did a good job of creating very different characters, each with their own personality.   My readers say their favorites are Joyce and Charlotte.   I’m happy with that.

RF: What do you do besides writing?

dscf0176Carolyn: I volunteer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program.   It’s important to me that I not just fret about the environment; I want to make a difference.   These two non-profits have improved the water quality of Virginia waterways.  I’m proud to be a part of this positive change.

RF: Can you tell us about what’s coming next from you?

Carolyn: I am writing another eco-thriller that continues the story in KINGSLEY and I’m working with an illustrator on a children’s picture book entitled TERRY AND THE MONSTER BEATERS that’s geared to preschoolers and early readers facing a frightening visit to the hospital.

In my next eco-thriller, I want to touch on the global effects of climate change. As with all momentous changes, there will be winners and losers.  Probably the best comparison is 1492 when North America was introduced to the rest of the world.  On the human scale, this accelerated the rise of the Spanish Empire and the fall of the Mayans, but the environmental impact s were arguably more devastating. The introduction of European and African plants and animals to the Americas drove hundreds, perhaps thousands, of native species to extinction.  Our beloved honeybee, which graces the cover of KINGSLEY, is a European import. It was considered a harbinger of evil to many early native cultures because it meant European settlers weren’t far behind.

Railroad Success!

I was at Railroad Festival in Appomattox, Virginia this weekend and had a fantastic time. Sure, it was raining all day Saturday but it wasn’t that bad. And, despite the wet weather and packing up several hours before the festival was actually closed, I still sold two books that day.

Sunday, however, was a whole different story. Sunday was absolutely fantastic! I sold lots of books, connected with a ton of people, and had a great time. So, to everyone who came out and stopped by, thanks for making the Railroad Festival a smashing success for me and my writing!