How This Sci-Fi Book Moved Me To Tears: The Last Hero Review and Interview

  1. The Last Hero by Nathaniel DanesFor Trent Maxwell, he wouldn’t give up the quiet life he had with his daughter and wife for the world, even if he did miss the life of a soldier. But with the world at peace, military was a thing of the past and he would have to settle for selling life insurance. Until two people from the government come to his office and tell him he’s being reactivated. An alien species never seen before ripped apart a human colony and now the world needs soldiers and fast. They need Trent most of all, because he was the Last Hero.

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An Interview with Jennifer Aqualaney

Jennifer Aqualaney, the author of JJ, was nice enough to let me interview her about her book. You can buy a copy of her book off of lulu for only $7.99, which, in my opinion is a great deal. It’s a well-written book that can be both dark and funny, and it’s perfect for YA fantasy fans.

An Interview with Jennier Aqualaney

Thanks for coming onto my blog, Jennifer! To start us off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I grew up in rural Massachusetts, the only girl with 3 brothers. So, I was a tomboy, unashamedly. I started doing theater because my grandmother asked me to audition for a play with her- she dropped out, I kept on. From there I was hooked on the arts, joining the drama club at my high school and eventually majoring in Lighting Design and Stage Management. 

I’d always enjoyed writing, but it never really occurred to me that I enjoyed it. Which seems silly now, because honesty- who enjoys writing essays at school? 

I’ve always written though, in some form or another- music, poetry, short stories, etc. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a group of wildly talented people from all over the world thanks to the miracle of the interwebs and through JK Rowling’s site, Pottermore. It was really there and with that group that I started honing my writing and realizing how much it meant to me and that I wanted to write a book. And here we are.

What was the hardest part about writing JJ?

For me, the hardest part was avoiding distraction. It’s easy for me to get sucked into playing on the internet and I felt bad for constantly telling my friends “no” when they asked me to hang out. But I had set a deadline for when I wanted to publish and I was able to stick to it! 

What was the easiest?

The easiest thing was the character of JJ himself. I came up with the idea for the character spontaneously one morning while I was getting ready for work and it was an instantaneous familiarity. I thought of him and I automatically knew his whole story. Everything that happens to him came to me at once. 

His voice is very easy for me to write in and I can tell you all his little nuances that never present themselves in the book. He’s a full person to me, with likes and dislikes that I know down to the most common things like… favorite colors, food, drinks, music, etc. 

Do you have any favorite characters in JJ? Favorite scenes or lines of dialogue?

I am very protective of the title character, JJ. He and Eve are probably my favorites, and it’s their scene when they’re sharing their personal stories with each other that is my favorite.

I actually do have a favorite line in the entire book, and it’s from that scene. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read it yet. But it’s the line that starts off: “Her story was written in parallel lines…”

If you were an Enchanter, what power would like to have the most?

That’s a great question! My first instinct is to say Moving. Because, as Daegan says, “You get to lift shit up and huck it at people.” Shifting would also be really cool, though. 

 

What does your typical writing day look like?

It really depends. When I was writing JJ, I didn’t do what some writers might and sit down at a desk and tune out the outside world and just write. A lot of the story was written out long-hand in a notebook on the subway, or when I was at work. Several LARGE chunks were written while I was doing follow-spot for a theater show and I had down-time between cues. My “desk” was my lap, often times. I also did some writing on my laptop, on the couch, with a very cuddly dog trying to vie for attention. 

Are there any writers that inspired you?

I already mentioned JK Rowling, and I would say she is the most inspirational. She creates a whole world with its own rules and then keeps the story within those parameters to help you believe the fantastic. That was what I wanted to do. I wanted to envision not just characters or a story, but an entire world. Something that could be real if you believed. 

 

Any parting comments?

I just want to thank you for having me on your blog for an interview! I love the opportunity to talk about my book and my writing and my characters and I just hope to share their story with as many people as I can. 🙂 

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The Sanctum Book One: The Girl by Madhuri Blaylock

“I am one thousand percent a girl. A most powerful, awesome, brilliant girl who can destroy you with a thought. I can creep into your mind and persuade you to kill yourself. I am immune to your silly, little Raven blades and Shields of the Gods. I am smarter than your most intelligent officers” -Dev

You know, maybe it’s just my crappy choices, but it’s hard for me to find a decent urban fantasy with a badass protagonist (or good fight scenes). Which is too bad, because I love them. And The Girl by Madhuri Blaylock has them.

The Sanctum is an organization founded by ten families to deal with Magicals (wizards, vampires, trolls, etc.). In New York, two of their Class A Warriors, Wyatt and Ryker, are sent to hunt down a hybrid demon that is said to be very dangerous. When they find her, however, things go a little awry, especially when Wyatt falls in love with her.

Dev is a trained warrior who hates the Sanctum– and is also half angel, and half demon. When the Sanctum kills her family and tries to kill her, she accidentally slips through a portal into New York City and arrives severely injured, and at the mercy of two Sanctum warriors who at the moment want to help her, not kill her.

This is an awesome book. No other words to really describe it. It’s funny, and the characters are awesome. I’d recommend this book to just about anyone who likes strong female protagonists and adventure, as well as anyone who watches Supernatural.

INTERVIEW WITH MADHURI BLAYLOCK

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a lawyer by day, writer and avid shoe and dress buyer at all other times. I live in Jersey City, via Brooklyn via Snellville, Georgia. I came to New York to attend Barnard College, fell madly in love and never left. What remains of my southern accent comes out when I’m nervous or pissed.

I’m married to Henry, who is also a lawyer, and only a lawyer (no side gigs for that dude) because he actually likes being a lawyer (go figure), probably always wanted to be a lawyer and is really, really good at all things lawyerly. He’s also pretty hot.

We’ve got a big kid, Miss Sydney, and a little kid, the one and only Dash. They’re awesome and fierce and supremely cool and able to make me laugh at the strangest things. I would love to add a dog, some chickens, a goat and a burro to this crew. Everyone needs a burro.

Some of my favorites, in no particular order: ice cream, Kill Bill, four-inch heels, Matt Damon, tattoos, Laini Taylor, scotch on the rocks, The Sanctum trilogy, random office supplies, Martha’s Vineyard, “The Girl” aka my Mini, Rihanna, Doc Martens, tulips, photo booths and dancing like a fool.

  1. What’s your typical writing day (or night)?

I usually write every weeknight after putting my son to sleep. I tend to stay up pretty late working, then review what I did in the morning and then on my way into work, I do more writing. It’s crazy because my commute into the city from Jersey City is only about 17 minutes, but I manage to get quite a bit of writing done during that time. On the weekends, I sneak it in wherever I can, between balancing a very active five year old, errands and life in general.

  1. Who was your favorite character to write about in The Girl?

Easily Dev. She’s the reason I created the trilogy and I love her madly. She’s so strong and determined and presents this incredibly fierce face, because she can really back it up, she’s seriously no joke, but she’s also playful and tender and sexy.

And vulnerable. I enjoy exploring her few weaknesses, which make her somewhat human and very relatable. You root for her on so many different levels.

  1. If you could put Jools in a fistfight with another character from fiction, who would you put her up against?

Evelyn Salt or Beatrix Kiddo, mostly because I freaking love them, not because I think either of them could beat her. No one’s beating Jools, except maybe herself.

  1. Was there any particular inspiration for the characters or the story?

Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” – it’s so beautiful and cool and completely unique and made me want to try to write something as interesting and  moving, something that sticks with you.

Regarding the characters, I had been reading a lot of fantasy and paranormal books and felt as if I kept meeting these amazingly powerful and wicked girls who only became that way because a boy clued them into whatever aspect of themselves made them so awesome and wicked in the first place. I wanted to create a girl who knew she was the sh*t from jump, who didn’t need anyone telling her about herself. And so came Dev.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s in store for Wyatt, Dev, Ryker, and Jools?

Without giving anything away, that’s tough. I can tell you in the face of tremendous peril and devastation, they each come into their own.

  1. What’s your favorite/least favorite part about writing?

My favorite is when an idea hits you out of the blue, at the most random moment, and you just write, it just pours out of you and it’s beautiful, almost perfect as soon as it hits the paper.

My least favorite aspect is the promotion, which isn’t truly “writing”, but when you’re an Indie author, it might as well be.

  1. Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need absolute silence?

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy. Sexy, tough girls. Not sure if my writing plays off my playlist or vice-versa, but either way, it’s working. Of course, when Adele’s “My Same” comes on, that can be a problem because it’s so distracting – I really can’t do anything but dance when I hear it.

  1. Which author(s) do you think has inspired you the most in your writing?

As I mentioned earlier, Laini Taylor’s ability to weave a beautiful tale has completely gotten under my skin; I have a huge girl-crush on her right now. I love Marquez’s and Amado’s magical realism, Zora Neale Hurston’s ability to capture a dialect, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s exploration of myth from the female perspective and David Sedaris’ incomparable and insane wit. He’s such a gift. (Just so we’re clear, I’m not comparing myself to these writers at all!)

  1. What books are you currently reading or that you want to read soon?

Veronica Roth’s Allegiant, Amy Joy’s The Academie, Hugh Howie’s Wool, Junot Diaz’ This is How You Lose Her

  1. Is there anything else you like to say? 

I would like to send a HUGE shout out to Kara for reading and reviewing my book and interviewing me about THE GIRL and the writing process. I am so very appreciative of the support, it means a lot. And am totally down for doing this again, any time you want. Rock on.

 

You can find The Sanctum Book One: The Girl here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780972422758?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;

The Order of Dimensions: Review and Interview

The Order of Dimensions by Irene Helenowski is a science fiction story about a woman named Jane. Because of her scientific research, she’s able to travel to different dimensions, where she ends up in different cities, in different jobs, and even with different husbands (although she much prefers the dimensions where she’s married to Randy and not Dr. Zelov, but more on that later).

She discovers that Dr. Anton Zelov is using the different dimensions for his own selfish purposes, not caring when he rips families apart and even destroys people by sending them in dimensions that are just black holes. With Randy, her true love, and the help of a unit of rebels, she must defeat Zelov forever before it’s too late.

I’m a fan of complex villains, and Zelov is definitely that. Although he can be, well, evil, he loves his daughter, and would do anything to protect her. In a couple of dimensions, he isn’t even a bad guy. My favorite character of Team Good is Emily Jones, a smart femme fatale who has a knack for confusing guards and acting slightly mentally unstable. In almost all of her scenes I crack up.

The Order of the Dimensions has a cool concept to it, about how you could be many things based on what dimension you are in, like showing you all of the roads of life you could have taken. It’s a fun read that I’d definitely recommend for science fiction fans who have a little bit of spare time.

1. What inspired you about writing?

Irene: I was watching a Discovery program on the Multiverse theory and how there could be different dimensions even within our universe and just thought about writing a book about how different characters leading different lives in different dimensions.  I’ve also spent hours talking about the subject with my niece, Julia.

2. Tell us about your niece, Julia.

Irene: Julia had suffered from juvenile arthritis since she was sixteen.  She thought about being a surgeon, like her father, my brother, Tom, who is a neurosurgeon, but her condition kept her from realizing that dream.  Then one day, she picked up a book by Michio Kaku and her love in theoretical physics began,  She thought about going to graduate school for physics and was already looking into applications but unfortunately, she passed away this spring from complications of her JA.  She had many other passions as well, creating beautiful jewelry and drawings.  I took a small break from promoting after she passed but then realized that spreading the word about this book could help carry on her legacy.  I’d like to think that she would want me to encourage an interest in the sciences among other young girls.

3.  Tell us about your book.

Irene: My book is about inter-dimensional travel and how characters lead different lives in different dimensions,  The protagonist, Jane Kremowski, is a physics graduate student whose part of a term developing a device called the Multiverser that allows for such travel.  But trouble ensues once the villain, Anton Zelov, is introduced.

4. Who do you think you would be in another dimension?

Irene: I love my job as a biostatistician and hope that I would be doing something similar in another dimension.  I also like living in Chicago, close to my family, but on the other hand, wouldn’t mind living by a beach.

5. Are you thinking about writing a sequel to The Order of Dimensions or another book in general?

Irene: I am working on a sequel now and am thinking about another idea for a book too but would like to see how this one fares first.

6. What did you think was the hardest part about writing a book?

Irene: Trying to make the story flow and imagining how best to connect to the reader.

7. What was your favorite part about writing a book? 

Irene: Just getting the story out there.

8. Do you have any parting comments?

Irene:  I just hope readers enjoy the story 🙂