Monday, July 30, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Chris Barraclough

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

My book's a fast-paced, action-packed thriller called Crack: A policeman accidentally hits and kills a young girl with his squad car in a notorious British council estate, causing the locals to rise up and rebel.

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

It's a very adult book, filled with bad words, bloodshed and beyond - but all portrayed in a gritty, realistic manner. If someone gets slammed in the face with a metal pipe, they don't just get up again with a bloody nose! If you like action and drama but are sick of ultra-tough SAS-trained anti-heroes, then give Crack a shot!

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

There are literal cracks in the book, from the smashed windscreen on the very first page, but the title is a reference to the very fragile relationship between down-and-out Britons and the authority that tries to keep them in order. After the main character (Nathan Pang) accidentally kills a girl, the locals explode with rage - something we've seen happen for real during the Brixton Riots.

4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Definitely Pang, the conflicted cop who inadvertently causes the riots. He's an average guy stuck in this horrific situation, with hundreds of people baying for his blood, and no idea what to do. Add in the fact that he just killed an innocent girl, and his head's a real mess of a place!

5. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

A horrid little git called Terrence Fisher, based on far too many real-life characters. He takes advantage of the turmoil to fight, steal, and manipulate the rioters to fulfil his own selfish needs. If you saw footage of the recent UK riots, you'll have seen people using the chaos as an excuse to spread mayhem - that's Terrence, except he's a hundred times worse!

6. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?

I had to slash a number of chapters down to keep it fast-paced, stuff that was irrelevant to the story but great fun all the same. I'd love to release a 'director's cut' version that adds them back in...

7. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

I almost got hit by a car myself when shooting the cover, on the road outside my flat - this crumbly old Fiat flew around the corner without slowing and almost sent me flying. Of course, I was stood all gormless in the middle of the road, so I can't really complain!

8. What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

I actually haven't seen much like Crack around - most action thrillers are about grizzled, invulnerable army marines taking down armies of baddies without breaking sweat. Crack takes the battle to the street, with characters who are just like you or I - people caught up in a situation that's out of control, and heading for disaster. Pang certainly isn't like John McClane, he gets roughed up bad as the book goes on!

9. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I love karaoke, but it's certainly not a talent - more of a drunken obsession...

10. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

My website has details on all of my books, plus links to download. You can download a free sample of Crack from Amazon if you'd like to check it out, and if you'd like to get in touch, you can reach me at

11. What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm halfway through a prequel to Crack, which reveals more about certain events in that book, and has a number of returning characters, plus some very interesting new ones :)

12. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

If you leave an Amazon review I'll love you forever, it's something that practically no one seems to do any more! And feel free to get in touch via Twitter too - I'm Seebaruk

13. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Fellow writers, it's a tough, arduous road - it took me almost a decade to get my first book, Bat Boy, published in paperback. Make sure you write for the love of it, and stick with it too - the first time you hold a book that you wrote in your sweaty, greasy mitts, it's the best feeling in the world.

14. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Life is tough and full of surprises. Make sure you always wear clean underwear.

15. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

Cool, here's the first page!

The windscreen fractured, his face pricked by fragments which leapt from the surface and sliced into his skin. A scream died somewhere deep in his throat. With eyes squeezed shut, he slammed his foot on the brake. Agony ripped through his muscle, crippling him from thigh to toe. His body jerked forward as the car shuddered and shook, until the belt snapped across his chest and brought him to a breathless halt, just half an inch from the steering column.

Before he knew what had happened, he was crushed back into his seat. The world was silent again.

Pang’s fingers were bleach-white, still wrapped around the top of the wheel. Every breath was agony. His ribs shifted in unnatural ways and his skull was vibrating, like someone had sideswiped him. His eyes remained shut. Aside from a tender hiss, the only sound he heard was approaching footsteps. Several sets, all running - and now voices across to his side. They were warped somehow, almost monstrous.

Devils come to take me away.

He forced his eyes open and stared at the remains of the glass. For now it held firm, but in total ruins. The point of impact was to his left, directly level with his eye-line. Something solid, probably the size of a bowling ball, had struck it at a terrific pace. Pointed cracks spread from the centre, thick and jagged at first, then thinning out like veins.

“What happened?”

His own voice sounded distant, as if someone outside had mumbled his words for him. Through the cobwebbed cracks, Pang made out black and white shapes that danced before his car. More voices. He heard them clear enough now the ringing had subsided...
Thank you Chris for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Need Interview Questions for my Faelorehn Characters!

Hello Readers!

I have been spending a good deal of my summer break getting Dolmarehn ready for publishing and working on the third book in the Otherworld Trilogy.  The past few days, I've also been inundated with ideas for more books about the characters in this series, especially a short story told from Cade's point of view.  With that in mind, I'd really like to post a character interview sometime in the future with one (or more) of the characters from Faelorehn.  So, I'm opening this up to you guys: Does anyone have any questions they would like to ask Meghan, Cade, Robyn, Tully or any of the other characters from Faelorehn?  Now, I cannot guarantee that I can answer every question (some might be too revealing to discuss on a blog ;)), but I am eager to hear what my readers might be curious about.  If you would like to offer up your inquiries, you can either leave a comment for this post, or send them directly to me at  Thanks and I hope to hear back from some of you!  Until then, happy reading ;).

-J.E. Johnson

Monday, July 23, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Stephen B. Pearl

1.  Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

Nukekubi: A paranormal, detective novel; Ray, a modern day western wizard, must stop a creature from Japanese mythology from feasting on the people of Toronto Ontario.

Tinker’s Plague: A post-apocalyptic, science fiction, medical and political thriller. A lone man of science must battle a plague released from an ancient Bio-research facility by an uneducated, post-apocalyptic population.

Slaves of Love: e-book: A futuristic detective story of love and madness. Two men trapped in the same body make common cause to save all they love from the crime syndicates of the twenty second century.

The Hollow Curse: e-book: A centuries spanning tale of love and obsession. Soul mates cursed in an earlier life to be forever separated by a gulf of years and social norms struggle to come together and break the curse. 

2.  Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

I target people who have a desire to read something that follows the logical consequences of the story. If you are in our world investigating a string of killings committed by a disembodied flying head from Japanese mythology you are going to have to avoid police involvement or wind up in a coat with extra long sleeves.
;-) I’m also targeting people who want to enjoy their read. If there is an agenda in my books it grows out of the logical nature of the world and characters. Some people feel that Tinker’s Plague has an environmental agenda. In fact it is a fairly realistic extrapolation of current trends, nothing more. As a fiction writer it is my job to entertain anything else is secondary.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
For my novel Tinker’s Plague the title was simple because it is about a Tinker, in this context a Doctor of General Applied Technologies, dealing with a plague. The tinker part came from a tinkerer or Jack of all trades.
For Nukekubi I used the name of the species of mythical beings from which my antagonist is drawn
For Slaves of Love: : The story involves a drug that turns people into Love Slaves by heightening the infatuation response to ridiculous levels.

For The Hollow Curse: The curse that drives the action was the sores of the title both because of the way it makes my protagonists feel and the fact that in essence it is a hollow thing devoid of real power.
For my novel do to be released in March 2013: Worlds Apart: it is a love story involving a Wiccan Priestess from our world and a wizard from a parallel earth. Thus they are from ‘worlds apart’ yet oddly closer than many who were born on the same world as themselves. I’m doing the gallies for this one at present. It’s a fun read if I do say so myself.
4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Gods, it’s like asking ‘Who’s your favorite child.’ For me it is very situational. If I was fixing my car I’d want Brad, my tinker from Tinker’s Plague, around. If I wanted a Tarot reading Ray, my modern day wizard from Nukekubi, would be my choice.

If I was single, Joy put down the frying pan I said if, writer nervously glances over shoulder. Yes well, if I were single any of my female leads. I like strong, smart women who don’t put up with a lot of c**p. Astra, from Slaves of Love, might come in handy right now. My computer has been acting up and she’s brilliant with them. 

5. How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?

I have some characters I love to hate, will that do? I tend to like villains that are cultured, urbane, and well mannered. The kind that will snap off your fingers one by one as they have high tea with bone china and impeccable manners. A well known example of the type is the lead terrorist from the first Die Hard movie.

An exception to this rule is Dorrie, the villainess from The Hollow Curse; she is better defined as D in the book. If you read it you’ll know why. She is mean, shallow, deeply wounded and selfish. I frankly don’t like her, but even there there is a transformative ark. That, I think, is key to a villain. There must be some seed of virtue, some slight glimmer of hope that something admirable might grow out of this being otherwise they become a caricature and I tend to lose interest.

6. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be?  Why?
I’d update the windmill type in Tinker’s Plague. It would have no real impact on the story, but it would be nice to reflect the latest technology as it is so much more efficient.

7. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
Fun Facts. OK for Tinker’s Plague all the towns mentioned really exist. I had an exhibitors’ table a few years ago at the Eden Mills Writers Festival. Eden Mills is the town where the troops maintaining the quarantine in the book bivouacked. I will be, or by the time this is posted maybe have, attending Faery Fest in Guelph, June 22-24, 2012. The main action in Tinker’s Plague takes place in Guelph.
Cathy, my female lead from Nukekubi, lives in an apartment patterned after one I lived in several years ago. Ray, my lead from Nukekubi, drives the same kind of car I do. Ray’s knowledge of lifeguarding is drawn from my own having held a National Life Guarding Certification for longer than I like to think.

8. What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?
I have had Tinker’s Plague described as the Postman meats the Andromeda strain with a little I am Legend thrown in. (no zombies.)

The post apocalyptic setting and rural communities rebuilding runs parallel to the Postman the fact that I’m dealing with a plague is similar to the Andromeda Strain and I am Legend. Really in writing this one I looked at the facts of what we are doing to the planet and followed my nose.

Nukekubi is in the same vein as the The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher. I will say Nukekubi cleaves a bit closer to the “real” world than Jim’s work. They both deal with a wizard investigating para-normal baddies. And Harry and Ray both have a sarcastic streak.   

9. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
What’s unique? To me they are just part of my life. I swim better than most folk, I know first aid, and I study metaphysics and science. I’ve been attending a lot of SF conventions lately. I know the rudiments of fighting with several different kinds of sword, I do my own general car maintenance, and I’m a fair home handyman and have traveled most of Canada and the USA and a good bit of England.

10. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

YouTube reading:
Face Book:!/StephenBPearl

Tinker’s Plague:

You say you want an interesting post-apocalyptic novel, but The Road is too...Cormac McCarthyesque for you? Why don't you check out Stephen B. Pearl's Tinker's Plague? I read with Stephen at the Ad Astra science fiction convention, and when I was listening to him? Goosebumps. Ira Nayman - Proprietor of The Alternate Reality News Service. -
Stephen can truly spin a tale. “Tinker’s Plague” novel really is  the most original post apocalyptic stories I’ve read in…well…forever- Chris A. Jackson author of Scimitar Moon.

The plot is well-done and the author clearly pays attention to modern-day politics and environmental issues. The bleak future painted therein is based on a world (ours, obviously) that didn't heed warnings about pollution and sustainability. Nicole Chardenet – Author of Young Republican,Yuppie Princess.

Wow what a gripping story, loved every page. Andromeda Strain crossed with the Postman with a little bit of I am Legend thrown in ( no zombies ) .... This book is worth getting if you love PA sci fi. Faye - on goodreads 5 stars.-

I am hoping that there will be a follow-up book to Tinker's Plague so I can read more of Brad's travels and adventures. Heather Pearson -


Nukekubi is an exciting read filled with mysticism and spiritual understandings. Melissa Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:
"Brilliant! Stephen Pearl reinvents the Paranormal genre!" - Karen Dales, Award Winning Author of The Chosen Chronicles: .
Five out of five stars. At the start of this book I knew I would love it. Linda Tonis Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team:
I was absolutely spellbound by this book and I applaud the imagination and creativity the author put in this book. I look forward to reading more by him. I give this book five stars ***** Reviewed by Nora Chipley Barteau Reviewers Helping Authors
The writing is exciting and easy to follow. The story is rich, and the characters real and fleshed-out. Nine out of ten stars. Reviewed by Sheena McNeil at Sequential Tart Web Zine:
Slaves of Love and The Hollow Curse:
I'm not talking about your grandma's smutty harlequin novels either. Stephen Pearl rocks out these books. The sweet Spot-
11. What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on the Galleys for Worlds Apart a paranormal romance due out in March 2012. I’m also working on the rough draft of Tinker’s Sea the sequel to Tinker’s Plague and hashing out the tag ends of a story, Three Parts Love, that will be out in the Breathless Press Hot Shorts anthology. I’m in the thinking stage for the sequel to Nukekubi and a comedic peace tentatively named Cats as well as looking at self publishing Havens in the Storm, one of my classic fantasy works because I’d like to see how the numbers stack up against my works published by third party publishers.

12. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
If they could write short honest reviews of my work I’d really appreciate it. Reviews are visibility and visibility is bread and butter in this business. The reviews don’t have to be complex. A simple “I really enjoyed this,” or “It was worth the price of the book,” with an honest star rating can go a long way. Post them on Amazon, Good Reads really any site dealing with books in any way.

If you are feeling really enthusiastic a link from your website if you have one to mine would be fantastic. Maybe a section “Authors I enjoy,” Heck if you want content there are free stories and introductory chapters on my site, lots of authors do this, link to them and people can have a fun free read.

Also word of mouth and remember books make great gifts, hint hint. J

13. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
If you aren’t yet addicted save yourself and get out while you can. I’m not kidding. It’s a hard slog and it’s getting harder to make a name for your self all the time.
If you’re trapped do the best work you can. Don’t worry about the “in thing”. By the time you’ve written something to match the “in thing,” it won’t be the “in thing” anymore. Before you pour your heart and soul into shorts have a novel ready to go. The real commercial value of shorts to an author is that they are great advertising. As a literary form shorts are fine in and of themselves, but I’m speaking of the commercial value.
Don’t bother anybody until you are over the “It’s my baby and you can’t touch it” stage. The only way to get good is to have others tear your work apart  so you can put it back together stronger than before. If you aren’t ready to do this and bite your tongue on all the things you want to say to defend your work then don’t waste other people’s time or ruin their day.

Remember that if you have to explain the work for people to get it than you have failed as a writer because you won’t be there to explain it to the majority of your audience. Of course some people wouldn’t get an elephant if it was standing on their chests, so take this advice with a little moderation.

If you are ready for constructive criticism join Critters it is an online writers group and a valuable resource.
Be braced for rejection. Realize that editors have a pile of stories cross their desk every day. They are looking for reasons to reject you, ninety percent of all manuscripts are rejected unread for formatting errors because these can be seen at a glance. So if you watch your formatting you “improve” your odds to ludicrously slim from imposable.

Be prepared to bleed and hurt and have people look at you like you were a retarded Dalmatian. Being a writer is like being on a never ending job hunt, its nerve racking and it seems like your successes are dismissed while your failures are magnified. This is writing, do it if you dare.

14. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Just to thank you Jenna and all the folk who read this interview for giving me a chance to pontificate.

15. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us.

This is taken from Nukekubi a little over halfway into the book when Ray, the wizard, astral projects in an attempt to locate the Nukekubi. Things don’t go as planned.

Getting back to work, I pictured the Nukekubi in my mind's eye and willed myself towards my foe. Blackness engulfed me like a rising tide of fetid water. Screams echoed on all sides and the stench of decay filled my nostrils. Jagged rocks bit into my feet, and the air felt slimy and thick. Blood-red lightning streaked, revealing the horrors of an abattoir. Fear rose up from the depths of my being. The sporadic light revealed hideous things creeping towards me. I could taste the terror that permeated the place.

"Keep your head, Ray. This is the lower astral, that's all. You can ascend from it. Now how in the name of Ra did I get here?" I spoke to myself.

"Help me," wailed a figure that approached in the half-light. I stared at it. It was female, Asian, middle-aged and dripping wet. Bubbles frothed from its lips when she spoke. She was drowning where she stood. My heart lurched. I knew her. I didn’t know from where, but I knew her and had felt affection for her in some other life.

The wraith released a gurgling howl, giving off an explosion of sickly, mustard-yellow, fear energy that permeated the air. It staggered then stood again.

"Help me!" it whimpered. The call was echoed by others like it. Glancing around I saw shambling, corrupted, human forms on all sides. Each one’s appearance mirrored a hideous, terror-filled death.

I focussed my mind on an image of the Amentet fields, the Egyptian heaven, and willed myself there. Nothing happened!

"Help us," screeched the shambling wraiths that now surrounded me.

"How? I can't be kept in the lower astral!" I muttered to myself as I tried again to leave that darksome place.

"You sought me, wizard. Now taste the fate of those who would challenge their betters." The voice was feminine and could have made a fortune doing phone sex

I spun to face the voice and saw a blood-soaked, human skull. Tentacles of shining red energy writhed beneath it, like some obscene jellyfish. I realized with a disgusted jolt that the tentacles were loops of intestine. The wraiths halted in their progress, hovering in a circle less than two metres away.

I willed myself away from that place, trying to return to my body.

"You cannot escape, human. This is my place, walled in with my power. None may depart without my leave." The sultry tones made the threat and horror of the beings appearance more terrifying.

"An astral pocket, bracketed by the fear and despair of your victims?" I made the connection. It’s a good thing I was on the astral or I would have had to change my underwear.

"You are quick, mortal, but you are also dead. I would have preferred that my earthly child feed upon your flesh, but I will at least taste your spirit." A red tongue darted from the skull’s mouth and swept across its teeth before it vanished and the wraiths about me rushed forward wailing. A line of glowing Nukekubi floated beyond them driving them on.

"NO!" I screamed and drew upon my heart chakra. Golden light exploded from my chest. The wraiths fell silent and halted as the energy enveloped them. It was the first comfort they’d known since their deaths.

"By earth and air and fire and sea, an orb of protection form round me." I spoke the words to focus my thoughts. A moment later a glistening orb of energy surrounded me.

"More," cried the wraiths who rushed me. Mutilated bodies crowded against the orb of protection and cracks began to cover its surface. Stalling them was taking all my concentration.

Thank you Stephen for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dolmarehn Cover Reveal and Teaser

Faelorehn fans . . . the wait is almost over!  Dolmarehn is in the final stages of becoming an ebook, but until the day it goes live on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble, here is a quick teaser to help tide you over: the cover image and the entire first chapter (not just the snippet found at the end of Faelorehn).  Enjoy and be sure to look for Dolmarehn towards the end of summer!

-J.E. Johnson

Book Two of the Otherworld Trilogy


Fifty one days.  Fifty one days ago Cade MacRoich walked out of my life like a ghost passing into the hereafter.  And no, I’ve not been obsessive enough to keep track of the hours and minutes, or even the seconds, but I’ve noticed every single one of them.  I probably wouldn’t have been so fixated on his absence if he hadn’t up and left the way he did.  Of course, at the time I’d been too distracted by my recent trauma to truly grasp what was going on.

Nearly a year ago, I was certain I was just a slightly abnormal teen.  Sure, I’m tall and gangly and insecure like everybody else my age, but now I know exactly how different I am.  One day this gorgeous boy shows up, out of nowhere, with a simple explanation for all of my eccentricities: my changeable eyes, my tendency to hear voices and notice odd things, and the fact that I’d been found parentless as a toddler, roaming the streets of Los Angeles like a young girl who’d been separated from her mother in the women’s clothing section of a super mall . . .  He had come to tell me that I’m Faelorehn, immortal, from the Otherworld.

Shaking my head, I got back to work.  Of course, watering Mrs. Dollard’s plants didn’t require much brain power.  I had considered getting a part time job in town this past summer, but when the old lady had come over to ask if I might feed her cats and keep her yard alive while she toured Europe, I accepted right away.  She was loaded and she always over-paid me.  Besides, working in a café or at a local clothing store meant dealing with the public.  I didn’t do well with the public.

The sharp caw of a crow made me hit the ground like a soldier avoiding gunfire.  If acting like an idiot wasn’t bad enough, the hose got loose and soaked me.  I glanced up and released a sigh of relief.  Only a normal crow.  I climbed to my feet and tackled the errant hose before shutting it off.  Yes, freaking out at the sound of a crow would be considered weird for any normal person, but when you’ve spent the last several months dodging a Celtic goddess in raven form, well, any large black bird would give you the heebie-jeebies. 

The garden was watered, Mrs. Dollard’s five cats were sleeping off a food coma, and the afternoon sun dipped low in the sky.  The giant wet spot on my t-shirt was making me cold, and it was time I headed home.  Didn’t want to be caught out after sunset.  That’s when the faelah are the most active.

A short bark greeted me as I made my way around the house.  I smiled.  A great white wolfhound with rusty colored ears sat patiently, panting and grinning.

“Hello Fergus.  When’s your master coming back?”

I placed a hand on his head and gave him a good scratch.  He didn’t answer my question, but I hadn’t expected him to.
Mrs. Dollard’s was only a few houses down from my own, but before I stepped inside, I kept on walking to the end of the street, bypassing the Dead End sign.  I’d developed the habit of checking the knothole in the oak tree every day, hoping Cade had left me a new note.

I frowned in disappointment when the knothole proved empty, but it didn’t surprise me.  Cade’s absence was understandable.  A few months ago I crossed into the Otherworld, bent on saving him from some cruel fate.  Turns out the Morrigan, one of the most powerful of all the Otherworldly deities, merely wanted me where she could conveniently kill me.  Still being rather ignorant of my roots, I believed her when she told me Cade needed my help.  Hey, she’d been pretty convincing, and well, I kind of had a huge crush on the guy, still do.  As a matter of fact, I can admit that it’s turned into something far more severe than a simple crush.

Pushing the hair out of my face, I climbed back up the slope and headed towards my bedroom on the basement floor of our house.  I didn’t like how much time I spent thinking about Cade; it couldn’t be healthy, but he had saved my life after all.  And he’d been the one to tell me the truth about where I’d come from.

My room greeted me with its usual chaos: various items of clothing spread all over the floor and furniture, computer screen saver glowing blue and green, comforter and sheets wadded up into an unintelligible mess.


I jumped, then grumbled.  “What Logan?”

My younger brother, oldest of the five, stuck his head through the trap door leading up into the main part of the house.  His blond hair fell to the side.  I grinned.  He looked like some miniature version of a pro surfer.

Logan’s eyes found me and he piped, “Dinner!  Oh, and we’re going to the beach for my birthday party tomorrow, remember?”

I cringed.  Ah, yes.  Forgot about that one.  Logan had turned eleven a week ago, but he hadn’t had his party because most of his friends were still on their summer vacations.

“Alright,” I said, “be up in a minute.”

Logan disappeared and I shot a glance back through my sliding glass door.  Fergus was gone, but I merely shrugged.  He tended to vanish like that a lot.  I had no idea if other people were able to see him or not (I didn’t know if he could be seen by mortals), but maybe he didn’t want to take the chance.

After quickly changing into a dry t-shirt and a pair of old sweat pants, I made my way up the spiral staircase and out into the circus that was the Elam family.

Mom darted about the kitchen, getting the last minute dinner items ready, Dad sat in his recliner, as usual, reading the paper, and all five of my brothers, Logan, Bradley, Aiden and even the twins, Jack and Joey, stared at the TV, thoroughly engrossed in some science special.  I rolled my eyes.  It was one of those ‘deadliest insects’ things and it included a detailed description of what sinister attribute made them so dangerous.  My stomach churned when they started describing internal parasites.

“Boys, could you turn that off?   We’re about to eat dinner!”
Thank goodness for Mom. 

We all sat down and tried to commence as a normal family would at mealtime.  Too bad we weren’t normal.  One of us was a Faelorehn from the Otherworld.  Of course, none of them were aware of my true identity.  Like the adoption agency who found me those many years ago, they thought I was just another abandoned human child.  I knew if I told my mom and dad what I’d learned over the past year, they wouldn’t be able to accept it.  Or they would drag me off to a new psychologist who would only prescribe mind-numbing medication.  No thanks.  I’d like to have all my wits about me when the Morrigan decided to attack again, thank you very much.

“Meg, you are coming with us tomorrow, correct?”

Dad’s voice snapped me out of my train of thought.  I grimaced.  Honestly, I didn’t want to go.  Not that I had anything against Logan or birthday parties or even the beach, it’s just that ever since my ordeal at the end of spring, I’d been extra wary about wandering too far from home.  This is what made Mrs. Dollard’s offer so appealing.  Only four houses down the road, piece of cake . . .

“Sure,” I shrugged and stabbed at some green beans.

“Sure?”  Mom gave me one of her looks.  “Meg, you’ve been practically cooped up in this house all summer.  You only ever leave to take care of Matilda Dollard’s cats, take those walks down into the swamp, or to visit Tully.”

Okay, I had good reason not to wander far, reasons having nothing to do with my fear of the faelah creatures creeping out of the dolmarehn hidden deep in the woods.  Up until a few weeks ago I had been in a leg cast, and that really limited my mobility.  She couldn’t count visiting Tully, my best friend, as ‘never going out’.  Tully lived all the way at the head of our street.  A good fifteen or so houses down.  And my walks in the swamp had the potential to be rather exciting.  An Otherworldly creature might show up at any minute and cause quite a stir.  And if that Otherworldly creature happened to be Cade . . .

I swallowed and put him as far out of my mind as possible.  No need to get all dreamy-eyed at the dinner table.  Regardless of what my parents thought, my walks were productive.  If Mom knew I practiced with my longbow and arrows during my walks, maybe she would change her mind.  Of course, I only went down there alone because Fergus always accompanied me.  Should Cade’s spirit guide suddenly disappear, I’d gladly admit defeat and take on the guise of a recluse.

“You have to go Meg!” Logan whined.

I glanced over at him, his blue eyes shining with unshed tears.  My heartstrings tightened.  How could I deny my little brother anything?

I released a sigh.  “What beach again?”

“Avila,” Dad said.  “We’re going to have a bonfire and everything, so be sure to bring your warm clothes.  It’ll get cold after dark.”

I gritted my teeth despite my smile.  After dark . . .  I had been lucky the past few months.  I’d only seen a handful of faelah wandering around in the swamp; small, demented rodents that often met their end in the jaws of a certain white wolfhound.  My own intuition assured me Fergus would not be accompanying me to the beach.  Time to face the truth: it had been too long since anything of noticeable significance had happened.  I was well overdue for a good haunting.

* * *

The sunny weather in Avila made me forget about my troubles for a while.  I helped my parents drag our gear down to the sand and we propped the fold-out chairs, extra towels, bags of food and various water boards and toys against the picnic table closest to the creek fanning out across the shore.  Almost immediately, my brothers went tearing off into the wide mouth of the stream, kicking up brackish surf as they screamed and splashed one another.

I looked at my parents and they nodded before they started setting up.  We shared a silent agreement between the three of us.  Since Aiden, my youngest brother besides the twins, had autism and had a tendency to pay less attention to his surroundings than the others, I made it a point to keep an extra eye on him.  Jack and Joey, despite having turned three over winter break, were actually quite self-sufficient.  Besides, my other two brothers stuck to them like glue.

Aiden, well, Aiden was different.  We’re not sure what caused his autism, but Mom and Dad always suspected it had something to do with the stress he was under during his birth.  It had been a difficult delivery, and they had been terrified he wouldn’t make it.  He had to stay in the intensive care unit for a few months before we were allowed to bring him home.  Perhaps he’d missed out on some vital element and was now trying to compensate.  None of that mattered, though.  I still loved him dearly; we all did.

I set my own bag down and headed after my brothers.  They had all crossed over to the other side of the creek, climbing on the pylons of the road bridge stretching overhead.  I chose to cross closer to the shore.  I wasn’t a germ freak or anything, but semi-stagnant water just gave me the willies.
“Meg!” Bradley complained from the rock he perched upon.  “I want to go check out the tide pools, but Logan’s being a turd!”

“Hey!  I said I’d go, I just wanted to wait for Meg!”

A shoving contest ensued as I reached down and scooped Aiden up, grunting a little at his weight.  I couldn’t believe how big he was getting.  Soon I wouldn’t be able to pick him up at all.

“Bradley, you do know it’s Logan’s birthday party, right?  Shouldn’t he choose what to do?  His friends will start showing up at any minute, so we should get back to the picnic table and wait for them.”

Through some miracle of older-sisterhood, I managed to round them all up and bring them back.  Logan’s friends arrived ten minutes later and soon we were all roasting hotdogs and eating cake. 
About an hour before sunset, Logan insisted on going back to the tide pools on the other side of the creek.  I shaded my eyes and squinted up at the sky.

“I’m not sure, Logan.  By the time we get there we won’t be able to do much exploring.”

Well, if we left before the sun set.  The walk didn’t take long, but I wanted to be close to the fire once darkness started settling in.  I had encountered the faelah in daylight before, but they preferred the darkness, and the worst attack I ever suffered on this side of Eilé had come right after sunset.

“Go on Meg, you have plenty of time before the sun goes down,” Mom insisted. 

I think she wanted the kids to play somewhere else so she and Dad could relax before we started roasting marshmallows.

I squirmed, torn between pleasing my brother and my own, semi-paranoid fear.  Eventually I caved.  I mean, what were the chances of faelah showing up at the beach anyway?  Cade had never mentioned any dolmarehn around the Avila area, and I’m sure he would have if there had been any.

“Alright, but you and Bradley have to help me with Aiden and the twins.”

The small herd of pre-teen boys all cheered in obnoxious unison.  Oh boy, this was going to be so fun . . .

The rocky shelf that featured the tidal pools teemed with other beach-goers.  I held Aiden’s hand the entire time, pointing out star fish and sea anemones as we carefully walked across the slippery rocks, the deep sloshing sound of the ocean drowning out most of our words.  Logan, Bradley, the twins and all of Logan’s friends started hunting for crabs and after a handful of minutes, I allowed myself to relax a little.  This was actually pretty nice.  Spending quality time with my brothers like a normal, human teenager.  Of course, the delusion didn’t last.

“Seal,” Aiden said, pointing towards the water rushing into the giant fissure between the rocks.
I twisted around and looked down, almost slipping on some seaweed in shock.  It was a seal, sort-of.  A dark head turned to gaze at me, but instead of seeing the cute, whiskered face and big brown eyes of a spotted seal, I caught a glimpse of the deep ocean-blue eyes of a young woman.  I blinked several times, but the vision didn’t fade.  It was as if someone had skinned a harbor seal and now floated around beneath the tide pools, wearing the skin as some sort of gruesome robe.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to be surprised.  The seal woman’s dark eyes grew wide and she pulled the seal skin over her face.  I had to blink again.  No human likeness remained, but in her place floated an actual seal.  Wait, what had just happened?

“Perty,” Aiden whispered.

I looked at him.  He liked animals, and I’m sure he only noticed a seal.  Cade had once told me about Otherworldly glamour and from past experience, I knew not all the faelah made their presence known.

“Yes Aiden, very pretty,” I murmured.

The sun fell beyond the horizon and no more Otherworldly beasts surprised us.  On our walk back, I contemplated what I’d seen.  I mentally went through the various Irish myths I had read in one of my books.  I knew the seal had seemed familiar, but why?  A faded memory suddenly came back to me.  The Silkies; Irish seal-people.  Had the creature been a Silkie?

Now that I’d decided what she was, I wracked my brain for more details.  When Silkies removed their seal skin, they became human, and if another human being got a hold of the seal skin, they could control the Silkie.  I shivered, hoping my obvious recognition would encourage the Silkie to find a much less populated beach to visit.  Glamour or not, that was too high a price to pay if someone managed to steal her skin.

“Ah, there you are!” my dad crooned as we came traipsing back to the picnic table. 

Delight coursed through me when I caught sight of the fire, for we were all soaked from the waist down.

“Who’s ready for some marshmallows?”

I pulled up a lawn chair and jabbed a marshmallow on the end of my stick as I let the warmth of the fire pour over me.  The boys started sharing ghost stories, but I blocked them out and instead focused on the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.  I remembered Cade telling me once how the ocean soothed him.  On a normal day, I would have been of the same opinion.  The only problem was, he wasn’t here at the moment, and that fact alone dashed away any hopes of feeling truly content.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Author Spotlight: Interview with Diana Wilder

1. Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:

The title:  Pharaoh's Son

It is classified as Historical Fiction, and fits into the 'Historical Mystery' category.  Because it has a strong supernatural involvement, I also classify it with 'Historical Fantasy'.

Tagline: Something hidden deep in the temple is stirring.  Something that must be found and brought to the light before the walkers in darkness find it and turn it to evil.

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Pharaoh's Son is written for those who enjoy good, multi-layered mysteries, adventure, and good historical fiction in an authentic setting.  It offers these with a twist.

3. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

'Pharaoh's Son' is the literal translation for the ancient Egyptian title 'Prince'.  The story revolves around the actions of several princes - sons of Ramesses II ('the great').  It was a working title; it stuck.

4. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Without a doubt it is Hori, the Crown Prince, one of the three major characters.  He is a complex man, with some unexpected quirks.  Historically, he was the Commander in Chief of the armies of Egypt.  I envisioned one who held such a position as very direct,, intolerant of waffling, and tending to speak to the point.  He is all that, but he has some traits that set him aside.  He was called back to the capitol before the start of the story, and he took it as exile and indulged his sense of outrage and anger.  At the start of the story he has a sense of having done wrong and wanting to set it right: but how to go about it?  He is intuitive - many soldiers are, and, unexpectedly, he plays the harp when he wants to relax. 

5. How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

The unappealing characters, for me, are the whiners,  There is one, a villain, who is resentful of those who have wealth and privilege.  He becomes involved in the plot and comes up against Hori, to his detriment.  This man changes in the course of the story, and his final appearance, alive, shows resolution, determination and concern for others.

6. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

I'd change the title.  'Pharaoh's Son' is, indeed, the translation for 'Prince' in ancient Egyptian.  But so is 'King's Son'.  I had originally given the book that title.  I used 'Pharaoh's Son' instead thinking it would appeal to a wider audience.  Ignoring instincts without thinking things through is not a good idea.  Whether or not Pharaoh's Son appeals to a wider audience, I think 'King's Son' would have been better.

7. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

The other major Prince in the story - Khaemwaset ('Khay' in the story) actually did go crawling around the pyramids and investigating the Necropolis outside ancient Memphis.  He is considered the first archeologist in history, and if you visit that area you will find inscriptions from him, by permission of his father, that read rather like museum labels.

8. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I make the best chocolate stout cake you will ever eat.  Aside from that and writing, I show cats and clerk for show judges, and I work in graphic design in a small way.

9. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

I have a blog at  This has my thoughts and ramblings on various subjects.  My website is  I'm also on Goodreads.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm currently working on a story that comes before Pharaoh's Son.  It's a little different from my usual.  It involves a highly-placed man - Ramesses' father - dealing with the needless death of his son.  He learns of the death only after his son was buried. The story covers the summer after his son's death, when he stays in a small village of artists and makes himself useful.  It's been challenging to deal with a character who is very private and self-possessed as he faces his grief - and falls in love.  The initial manuscript is nearly finished, and the book is set to be released  the end of July.  The (more or less) finalized cover is on my blog.

I'm working in other periods, as well, with three other stories in the works.

11. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Pass the word on.  Write a review.  (And I'd love to hear from anyone who enjoyed one of my books).

12. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

In each case I would say 'if you aren't enjoying it, don't do it'.  Life is too short to suffer through books that don't 'speak' to you, or to write books that you can't get your heart and soul into.  As a writer, the advice I was given was 'Write Good Books'.  My initial reaction was a variation of 'duh', but as I thought things through over the years I realized that I was not being told to write books that sell well, but to write books that were the very best that I, myself, could make them.  My stories deserved nothing less than my best effort - and those people who trusted their time to me and read my writing absolutely required it.  How could I not give them my best?  To the writer, I'd say that people can tell when something is cranked out to make a quick sale, or to pander to a trend.  People are perceptive, and they can tell when they are being manipulated - and no one deserves to be the target of manipulation.

13. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Criticism is a good thing.  Even something that says 'It stinks!' can be taken the right way.  But also be aware of what it is that you want, what is imperative for you, what is good quality, and stick with it.

14. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

I'd be delighted!  This is a scene from the beginning of the story, one of my favorites:

**   **   **

In this scene, Khay (the first Prince you meet, is going inside the temple's pylon - facade - to see if he can find out what made a 40-foot statue suddenly fall over.  He is accompanied by the Guard Captain - Achtoy.  Khay has a  sprained ankle from the fall of the statue and can't move quickly).

The brilliant sunlight stopped abruptly as Khay ducked beneath the lintel of the small, dark doorway that opened into the pylon's inner stairway. He hesitated at the threshold and looked up the incline of steps to the small window that opened from the landing.

Achtoy, who had gone ahead of him, paused at the landing and looked back and down. "Highness?" he said.

Khay took a deep breath. For a moment it had felt as though a voice had whispered in his ear.

Achtoy's hushed voice awoke echoes that rippled through the darkness like the flight of bats. "Is anything wrong, Highness?"

"It's nothing," Khay said as he started up the steps. "I'm a little out of breath. It's dark and close in here."

Achtoy nodded--Khay caught the motion in the darkness--and went on ahead up the steps, his sandals whispering on the smooth stones.
The sense of foreboding grew as Khay went deeper within the mountain of stone. His heartbeat began thudding in his ears.

A long landing leading to a small room had been built into the stonework, and four windows opened out over the courtyard. Khay hesitated. He wanted to pause and gaze out over the fallen statue, but the dark closeness was drawing in about him. He hurried on.
The feeling of danger increased as he emerged from the stairway, but it was easier to master in the full sunlight. Khay took a slow breath and then moved to the edge of the rampart, where a staff lay discarded. It was a Was scepter, a jackal-headed staff used almost exclusively by priests.

He lifted the bronze-pointed butt of the staff and cocked an eyebrow at Achtoy. "There," he said. "This is what they jabbed the colossus with."

"Your Highness is right," the Guard Commander agreed. "I can see the scarring on the point, but from this distance, standing atop this pylon, it'd be impossible to reach the statue. Do you think it could have been used from the window in the landing?"
"Probably," Khay replied. "I think it was a gesture of pure annoyance."

He leaned on the pylon and gazed down at the wreck of the colossus below. The gouges on the statue's left shoulder could be clearly seen, showing paler where the paint, the red-brown of a sun-bronzed man, had been chipped loose from the creamy limestone beneath. Running up the back slab of the colossus was the legend:

Erected by the Son of Re, the Lord of the Two Lands, Seti Mery-En-Ptah, in the Second Year of His Reign, to the Glorification of the Great God Ptah, Mighty One of Memphis.

The inscription was broken midway down, and on the very base of the plinth, where no one would normally see it, was the throne name of the king.

"'How the mighty are fallen'," quoted Khay, gazing down at the statue. Its mate, standing on the left side of the doorway, seemed to be looking down at the broken colossus with, Khay thought suddenly, a mixture of envy and surprise.
Achtoy turned and started to say something.

"Hush," said Khay, raising his hand. The drone of voices below sounded like shouts in the sudden stillness. "Silence them," he said.

The stillness surged back and in the sudden hush Khay heard the sound again, a grating noise, like a stone being dragged across a stone courtyard. A wave of pure foreboding suddenly engulfed him. It felt as though a huge hand had reached into his breast and wrung the air from his lungs and the blood from his heart. . He reeled and took a half-staggering step sideways.

"Call to the people below," he said through lips that were suddenly white and stiff. "They must get away from the pylon at once!"

He tried to lean back against the wall while Achtoy obeyed, but the sun-warmed stone seemed to heave and move like a living presence behind him, and he felt a quiver beneath his hand, as though he were touching the flank of a restive horse.

"Now let's get down from here," he said as Achtoy turned back.

"Give me your arm, Achtoy. I can't move quickly with this ankle, and we don't have any time to waste!"

They hurried down the stairway, their footsteps echoing.

Khay drew a shaking breath. "Faster," he said. "I can hear the stones moving.


"Run!" Khay snapped.

They erupted into bright sunlight, into the middle of a murmuring throng.

"Clear the courtyard!" Khay shouted. "Out of reach of the obelisks! Hurry!"

The crowd surged away from the pylon in a widening circle, but their motion seemed as slow to Khay's anguished gaze as the painful, labored movement in a stifling nightmare of closeness and terror.

The rumble that Khay had heard only in his mind burst upon them like a cataclysm.

The statue!

The cry was torn from every throat as a quiver shook the second colossus. The king seemed to be trying to break free of the encasing stone and step away from the pylon.

A crash split the air; the colossus strode forward in a shower of falling stones and reeled, the ground collapsing about its base. It turned slowly, halfway toward the pylon; Khay could see the faint, calm smile in its downcast eyes before it crashed headlong to the ground beside its mate.

The two faces almost touched, almost kissed in greeting before the dust billowed up about the statues and slowly subsided, lightening the brown shoulders, dulling the gold leaf that adorned the headdresses, the royal crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.

The wails of the bystanders changed to shrieks of dismay and snatches of terrified prayer as the face of the pylon rippled like a gauze hanging before a high wind. The roar of the wind was suddenly the roar of stone being torn asunder.

The pylon seemed to tower up and up, building cubit upon cubit, ready to break and crash over them like a great wave of stone, almost translucent in the brassy midday sun. The roar built to a shriek as the massive gateway shuddered and broke into a crash and spray of splintering stone.

Khay's dazzled eyes were riveted to the brightly painted carvings that disintegrated as he gazed. The vulture-goddess, offering the feather of triumph to Seti, wheeled and screamed. Armies raised their hands with cries of dismay, besieged cities tumbled, weapons clashed and broke, chariots splintered. Khay seemed to see his grandfather throw up his arms to shield his face as the southeast pylon gateway of the great temple of Ptah at Memphis subsided against the ground in a wave of rubble.

Thank you Diana for taking part in my Author Spotlight interview! I hope your writing continues to flourish and we hope to see more of you in the future.
If you or an author/illustrator you know is interested in being interviewed, feel free to send me an email at


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jahrra's Journal: Learning with Others

Here's a short entry from Jahrra's Journal that takes place right before the first book in the series.  I know it's not much, but I hope it might encourage a few of you to pick up The Finding if you haven't already ;).

Dear Journal,

 Master Hroombra told me today that at the end of summer I’ll be learning my reading, writing and mathematics with other children.  I was so excited that I spent half of my lesson asking him questions.  How many children will there be?  Will any of them be Resai?  What will they look like?  Will they be nice?  Master Hroombra just laughed and told me to save my questions for later.  But I couldn’t help it!  I spent the rest of my lesson daydreaming about what these other children would be like.  I hoped that by the end of summer, I would be ready to have my very own friends. 

 - Jahrra