Creating Fantasy Food

Ginger Cakes

Food is a vital part of life. It’s a major component in social interaction. It’s expressive of culture. And, let’s face it, we have to eat to live.

The characters in fantasy worlds are no different. They have to eat, and what they eat depends on where they live, their economic status, their culture, their personal preferences, and what time of year it is. Just like in our world.

The easiest way to create fantasy foods is to take something from our world and change the name of the dish or some of the ingredients. Easy-peasy.

However, if you’re more adventurous, you can create recipes for your world. These can be anything from typical meals to holiday delights. Mix ingredients you’ve never considered and have fun with it. Some of the dishes will be awesomely yummy, while others might be…well…more appropriate for the demons.

This was one of the things I enjoyed most about creating Grevared. There was an entire world full of different cultures, with a plethora of plants and animals that don’t exist in our world, to play with. The trick was finding our world equivalents for what I wanted to do.

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Tips for Creating Fantasy Food

  1. Decide what grows and lives in your world. I know this sounds like common sense, but knowing what plants and animals exist in your world and deciding on their ‘our world’ equivalent is important. For example, the assaberry is a common fruit all over Grevared. It’s used in Yuletide cooking, drinks, and candies. But what is it? My description of the plant is “common in all parts of Grevared except the Shizzuria Wasteland, the assaberry has small, bluish-green leaves and deep maroon berries. It has a sweet taste and is used in baking and pies.” Now, a raspberry would probably work, but I want something else. I’m still working on the ‘something else’, but there are several combinations I’m considering.
  2. Explore and expand. Fantasy food doesn’t have to be restricted to baked goods, though, for me, that’s what’s easiest. Creating main dishes is even more fun. Take talakilkonna tail, for instance. (A talakilkonna is an eight-foot-tall bipedal turtle-like creature common to the Sea of Sands in Moirena.) This is a dish favored by the demons, so it’s taking some thought. I want it to be edible, but, at the same time, not something your average human is going to pick up to munch on. I have some ideas for this, too, but getting the primary ingredient is proving difficult. I’m hoping to locate what I need soon.
  3. Be consistent with what’s available to your characters. Empire Delight is a cake made from a pudding base with typical Christmas spices added to it, while Rada’ke Cakes are made with pancake mix. While there’s nothing strange (to us) about the ingredients, I chose things that would mirror the cultures that created the dishes. The Xaggarene Empire is somewhat technologically advanced with strong trade and plenty of variety, while the Shizzuria Wasteland is frozen and supplies are limited. That being the case, Empire Delight is a three layer cake, while Rada’ke cakes are simple desserts made with few ingredients.
  4. Know the culture that created the dish. This is extremely important if you want to keep your cultures consistent. A people based primarily in the desert is going to have a much more limited diet than those who live in the forest. Likewise, those in cities with restaurants and markets are going to have access to ingredients that those in small towns won’t. Those with a religious background that forbids meat or alcohol aren’t likely to indulge in those foods.
  5. Have a strong stomach and an expanded grocery budget. Not all recipes will work, so having a strong stomach may be required. I discovered this with Melon Peckers and Nutty Fluffies. I still haven’t figured them out. And while breaking your budget on ingredients isn’t a necessity, you will have to purchase things to experiment with.

Creating fantasy food is one of the most enjoyable parts of creating a fantasy world, and it can add depth to the world you’re creating. If you’re one of those who likes to play in the kitchen, it can also give you more insight into the world and cultures that you’re bringing to life. Not to mention that it can improve your cooking skills.

Best wishes!

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

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It’s Alive!!! Sorry, live.

Path End Title Middle ShadowsI’m pleased to announce that the rewrites for The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley are complete. All three books are now live on multiple platforms.

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley: Path’s End

Ethan has finally settled in to his life as a Shadow Walker. Sure, he has to attend school, but with classes like combat, it isn’t too bad. On top of that, he’s made friends, so his life isn’t lonely or boring.

As Yuletide approaches, Ethan is looking forward to going home to see his family. And the best part? His friends are going with him.

After a harrowing trip across the void, Ethan finds himself once again at home. But nothing is how he left it. His best friends don’t take to his new friends, and his mother wants him to leave the Shadow Walkers. To make matters worse, Cronus again rears his head, and Ethan and his Shadow Walker friends must deal with the threat on their own.

A Bit of a Conundrum-Adult, YA, or Both?

Starshine Cover PurpleI’ve been playing around with the idea of The Hidden Roads, a series originally intended for adults. However, I’ve got an idea for a YA version, and I’m torn between having two of them, one for adults and one for YA, and making just one series that’s YA. It really wouldn’t be that difficult to make the adult character a bit younger and add her to the YA idea I have. The stories would gel nicely and add another dimension to the YA story. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the adult one (unedited). Thoughts on which way to go would be appreciated.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs

http://www.lissadobbs.com

http://www.hiddenhollowediting.com

The land was what mattered to Gemma. It always had. The way the pines and oaks cast dancing shadows over rolling hills had given her immeasurable pleasure. The scent of rain on fresh-turned earth had wrapped her in peace, and a silver moon nestled in a bed of stars had filled her with joy. She would speak for hours on the growth of a single sprout, and Serenity couldn’t remember ever seeing the woman without dirt stains on some part of her clothing.

But that was then.

Serenity sighed as she switched off her beat up Ford Tempo. She propped her hands on the steering wheel for a moment and simply stared out the windshield.

The house was the same as it always had been. A simple structure of wooden slats with a large wrap-around porch and flowers planted in beds at its base, it had been Gemma’s refuge from a world she didn’t understand.

“I wish I’d come when she asked,” Serenity muttered to herself.

Gemma had asked Serenity to come and live with her several years before, but Serenity had refused, determined to make it on her own. She’d spent enough of the previous twenty years being told she was a failure, not ambitious enough. When her world had ended, she determined she would not become dependent. On anyone.

“Yeah, ‘cause that worked out so well.” Serenity blew her bangs out of her face. “Idiot.”

Serenity climbed from the car and grabbed her backpack from the backseat. She shouldered the bag and stepped up onto the porch. A tear slid from her eye as she realized Gemma wouldn’t greet her with a smile and a song. Not anymore. Gemma had disappeared six months before. No note. Nothing missing. No sign of her since. And her sisters had determined she was never coming back.

 

Abyss

This little piece is one of those that just came fully formed. I can’t decide if I want to keep it as it is or make it into something longer.

This, then, is the place where souls are born.

I wouldn’t have known but for the pinpricks of light that shone in the darkness, beckoning those who yet had hope, who had not let the swords of life slice their tender hearts.

I stood on the edge of a cliff, needing only a single gust to propel me into the abyss. Feet flat and bare toes curled at the edge, I waited for a sign. Any sign. For good or ill. For hope or utter despair. I did not care which.

The lights fluttered around me, tiny butterflies that wanted only to live, and I wondered at their existence, at their desire for purpose. Below me stretched the abyss of utter oblivion, a yawning maw that promised dissolution. The choice was mine. Rise up and become again or plunge into the depths of nothingness.

This, then, is the place where souls are born. Not from a place of light, but from the darkness of despair, from that last moment where fear dominates and leaves only a desperate need to survive. From the hope of renewal when all other hope has gone.

I had to choose. Become the light in the darkness or welcome the bliss of nothingness.

The winds of change grabbed tendrils of my hair and caressed fevered skin. I stood, toes curled over the edge of the cliff. Thoughts of life flashed through a mind too tired to reason as I watched the lights do their dance of hope, each memory a shard of glass in an already broken heart. Choosing one above the other exceeded my capabilities.

The wind howled, angry now at my hesitation. The lights whirled faster, desperate to gain my attention, while the abyss waited below with no need to encourage.

I could wait no longer. With one final breath I closed my eyes and let my soul make its choice.

The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley: Path’s End

Path's End BookI’ve finally completed the rewrite for book three of The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley. It’s taken a bit longer than I wanted it to, but I’m glad it’s done. I believe the stories are stronger now, even if they aren’t quite as light-hearted as the originals. I’m hoping to have book three, Path’s End, released soon.

Check out this snippet and stay tuned for the release date.

The entire common room went silent when Mariostin Rocktosser entered the room. He was a tiny thing, just about the height of the tables, and his wheat blonde hair contrasted with his dusky skin. Freckles dotted his rosy cheeks, and his large lips were set in a frown. He froze at the silence, his eyes darting from table to table without stopping. He seemed to shrink into his cloak and become even smaller than he already was.

Faylen rose from her seat and wove through the tables to where Mariostin stood like a cornered coniklo. “Hello,” she said. “I’m Faylen Icebreeze. I’ll show you where to get lunch if you’d like.”

Mariostin gave her a tentative smile and followed her to the serving area. As if she’d lifted a ban, the rest of the students began talking again, and the room was soon filled with laughter and conversation.

“So, where are you from?” Faylen asked when Mariostin joined them at the table.

“Crowborough,” the Halfling replied. His voice was a quiet mutter, barely more than a whisper. He didn’t say any more.

“Well, I’m from E’ma Thalas,” Faylen replied.

“I’ve heard of that. My parents traveled there when they were young, before I was born. They talked about it a lot.” He took another bite. “They even talked about living there all the time.”

Mariostin fell silent then and seemed more concerned with eating his fist meal than with talking. He had chosen ham, and, true to form, Old Marshall had loaded both pieces of bread with meat and cheese before toasting it to a golden, yummy brown.

Ethan watched the Halfling shovel the food into his mouth and grimaced. Mariostin was super thin, but he didn’t look like he was starving. And, yes, Old Marshall made the best fist meals of all time, but that didn’t explain Mariostin’s gobbling the food up the way he was. Ethan wondered where he’d come from and what had happened to him for him to get the Hourglass of Saturn.

Kayne turned to Ethan with his rakish grin, interrupting his thoughts. “So, what are the girls like in Land’s End?”

Ethan shook his head. “Really, Kayne? I don’t know. Like they are everywhere else, I guess.”

“Well, what’s there to do?”

Ethan shrugged. “My friends and me spent a lot of time playing kickball in the park, and I made deliveries for my mom’s bakery.” He paused a moment. “It’s a small town. Nothing like Ymla.”

Mariostin looked up with a bit of bread hanging from the corner of his mouth. “Where’s all this?” he asked.

“Land’s End,” Ethan replied. “It’s where I’m from.” He waved his hand at the group around them. “We’re all going to my house for Yuletide.”

Mariostin’s shoulders drooped, and he laid the rest of his fist meal on his plate. Then his eyes lit up, and he said, “I’m going home, too. My parents have this awesome place in Crowborough, and they get the biggest tree they can find. We spend hours adding the lights and the ornaments to it.”

“I’ll bet it’s really pretty,” Faylen replied. She dropped her eyes for a moment. “In E’ma Thalas, we decorate the forest trees some. The birds and animals help.”

Electa sighed and played with a piece of cheese on her plate. “I don’t remember there being a lot done at my house. I think we had a tree and whatnot, but that’s all I remember.” Tears filled her eyes but didn’t fall.

Faylen placed her hand on Electa’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze, then she turned to Kayne. “What about you?”

Kayne shrugged. “Don’t know.” He turned to Ethan wearing a grin that didn’t reach his eyes. “What’s say we get some practice in before combat class this afternoon?”

Ethan nodded and rose to his feet. “It was nice to meet you, Mariostin,” he said as he picked up his tray. “Maybe we’ll see you later.” He glanced back over his shoulder at the Halfling. Something wasn’t right about Mariostin’s story. Ethan just didn’t know what it was.

 

New Books from Heggerwood Realms

The first book to be published under Heggerwood Realms is a wonderful teen fiction fantasy by American author, Sheila Hendrix.

Zack and Matt McCannon have had a difficult life up to now; abandoned by their parents, when they were very young, Zack took it upon himself to raise his brother himself, not an easy task at the best of times.

Matt possesses supernatural powers and because of this, something malevolent always seems to be after him—this ever present evil has Zack struggling to maintain his younger brother’s safety. One of Matt’s visions leads the brothers to a cave which they soon find out to be a trap and the start of a terrifying adventure. The demon, Alanya, wants to control Matt and possess his powers, and kill Zack.

When the demon asks Zack a question, “How far will you go to save your brother?” Zack replies, “As far as I have to.”

Now an evil like no other is determined to destroy everything the brothers hold dear and if the McCannon’s are not careful, neither will be able to escape!

Available on all Amazon sites and in ebook and paperback.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1720392196/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1720392196/

Congratulations to debut author, Peter Martin on the Heggerwood Realms publication of…

TP1000: The Bishops

Mark Bishop, a reclusive Yorkshire farmer with no living relatives, meets Pauline Grainger, a tax accountant, herself emotionally scarred from a disastrous relationship. A time machine, left by a traveller from the future, allows Mark to travel into the past. Despite initial qualms and antagonism towards each other, Mark and Pauline travel together to pursue their mutual desire of one another and to learn more about life in Victorian times. They take temporary residence in Chesterfield, England in 1839 where a surprising and life changing discovery awaits them.

Available as an ebook or paperback at the following Amazon links:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1720602050/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1720602050

Author Spotlight — Ian Nathaniel Cohen

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Today we welcome Ian Nathaniel Cohen. He’s going to tell us a little about himself and his books, so grab a snack and meet your new favorite author.

What genres do your writings fall under? What age group?

My first book, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag, is a historical adventure thriller, mostly aimed at adults, although there isn’t much in it that young adults can’t handle. If I was going to rate it the way you would a movie, I’d give it a PG-13.

 

When and why did your start writing?

 

I’m not exactly sure when I started writing, as I don’t remember not having ideas for books and making various attempts at writing them. However, it was definitely during college that I found myself with enough time to actually write some of them out and share them with other people. The feedback I got was encouraging, and I got more ambitious with the kinds of stories I wanted to tell. It was also during college that I became a huge fan of H. Rider Haggard and Rafael Sabatini, whose writings have had a huge influence on the kinds of stories I enjoy writing. As more ideas for stories and characters popped into my head, I eventually decided to finally take the plunge and try and do something with them.

The same goes for my review blog, The INCspotlight. I’ve always enjoyed writing movie reviews, and I made more than one attempt at getting professional gigs in local and school papers. When I discovered the website That Guy with the Glasses, later Channel Awesome, and I saw that they accepted guest bloggers, I decided to give it a try. All the reviewers on the site had their own niche, and mine was less-familiar classic movies that I didn’t feel deserved to be forgotten about. A lot of these classic works inspired my own ideas for stories, and I guess I see the INCspotlight as my way of paying it forward. I’m no longer with Channel Awesome, but the INCspotlight continues, now hosted on my own website.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing?

 

I feel like all my hobbies are pretty old-fashioned, now that I think about it. In addition to reading, I’m a huge movie buff, classic movies especially, and I also like listening to old time radio shows (The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Abbott & Costello) and playing retro video games. I like collecting various stuff, such as vintage playing cards (or replicas) and comic books, older ones especially. My favorite kinds of music are jazz, swing, and blues, but I also like classical, folk, and Celtic music, as well as film scores.

What do you hope readers take away from your writing? Is there a particular theme in your work? Does your work have a moral?

 

At the very least, I hope readers find The Brotherhood of the Black Flag to be a fun ride, like a summer blockbuster. Beyond that, I hope that the book’s theme of how blind loyalty leads people to ignore logic and basic common sense will stick with readers. I also hope that my protagonist sets the kind of example more guys need to follow in real life, particularly in the way he tries to respect female characters (I’ll leave it to readers to decide if he succeeds) and doesn’t demand or feel entitled to their affections.

Which of your characters is your favorite and why?

 

Villains are fun to write, especially in adventure fiction where they’re allowed to be a bit over the top, so they’re always among my favorite characters.

What genre is your favorite to read?

 

It depends what I’m in the mood for at any given time. However, anything with sword fights is usually a winner, so historical fiction, heroic folklore, and high fantasy rank pretty highly. However, I like various other genres as well, and I’ll give most things a shot if it sounds interesting.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

 

I probably would have spent less time agent hunting and explored self-publishing options a lot sooner, given that publishers don’t seem that interested non-series historical adventure fiction. On that note, I probably would have done a better job putting together a marketing strategy, especially given limited time and financial resources.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

 

I use Facebook and Twitter, and I’m a member of various Facebook groups where us rookie authors can share our work and hopefully nab new readers. I’m still working on which ones work the best, though.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

 

For a long time, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag fit that category back when I was trying to get literary agents interested in taking a look at it. Eventually, I bit the bullet and decided to self-publish. It has its disadvantages, mostly having to market it myself and pitch it to total strangers to get them to buy it, but on the other hand, my book is out there and being read and enjoyed instead of taking up space on my computer.

Can you tell us about your book?

 

The Brotherhood of the Black Flag is a tribute to the classic swashbucklers I grew up on as a kid, books and movies alike. It’s set in 1721, the early years of the United Kingdom and the tail end of the Golden Age of Piracy. The main character, Michael McNamara, was an officer in the British Royal Navy before his unjust expulsion, and he falls in with Captain Stephen Reynard, a pirate turned pirate hunter out to earn a pardon. Not really having any other options, McNamara joins Reynard’s quest for redemption, and his travels pit him against untrusting shipmates, bloodthirsty buccaneers, and an international conspiracy that threatens thousands of lives.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

 

When it came to plotting out The Brotherhood of the Black Flag and setting up character arcs, history cooperated with me beautifully. McNamara’s military history has him fighting in real battles during the War of the Spanish Succession and the War of the Quadruple Alliance – even the ship he was on at the Battle of Cape Passaro, the HMS Canterbury, was an actual ship. The same thing happened when it came to figuring out his reasons for leaving the British Isles and moving to Jamaica.

As for whether any of it came from my own experiences, some friends and I have had to go through not being able to follow the career paths they planned to, for one reason or another, and we’ve found themselves asking “well, now what?” It wasn’t planned that way, but once I got the idea that’s what was driving McNamara, it was easy to write him from that perspective.

Also, when I was learning stage combat, I specialized in rapier, and one time, I went up against someone who favored the schiavona. Now, I’m no expert at fencing, but I took lessons for six years, and rapier wasn’t all that different – even the stage combat version. But when going up against the fighting style for the schiavona, the blade comes at you from unexpected angles, and I was stumped. I had no idea how to defend against it or effectively counter-attack. As soon as that bout was done, I thought to myself “one of my characters for Black Flag has to use this sword and fighting style.” I actually consulted with that same guy in said character’s use of the schiavona, and he was very cooperative.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

 

Any scene where I got to write banter was a fun scene to write. I’m also especially proud of McNamara and Reynard’s friendly duel when they first meet. There are a lot of sword fights in The Brotherhood of the Black Flag, and while I’m happy with how pretty much all of them came out, that was my favorite of the bunch.

How did you come up with the title?

 

During the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates were known as the Brethren of the Coast, but also as the Brotherhood of the Black Flag. The latter sounded like a good name for a pirate story (either a movie or a novel), and I just ran with it.

What project are you working on now?

 

I’ve got a bunch of different books of different genres in the works – a murder mystery set in 1930s New York, another one set in Chicago in that same time period that pays tribute to classic pulp heroes, a fantasy series I’m collaborating with my beta reader on, and a telling of the Arthurian legends from the point of view of Sir Gawaine, as well as a couple of graphic novel projects. However, The Sherwood Caper, another historical thriller starring Robin Hood, is the one I aim to finish, given how much of it is already written and planned out, compared to the other ones. I’d always wanted to write a Robin Hood novel, and I was struggling with what direction to take it for a long time until I decided to make it a heist story, kinda like Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job. The tone will be similar to Black Flag – realistic, historically accurate, but without making it “grimdark.”

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

 

Um…define “soon.”

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

 

I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten any criticism that was emotionally tough to deal with. The feedback I’d gotten from beta readers and my editor, even when harsh, ended up making the book better, so I honestly appreciated it. I’m sure negative reviews will come, and when they do, I hope I can likewise learn from the criticisms as best I can and try not to repeat mistakes in future books.

The only truly discouraging thing I’ve had to deal with when it comes to reviews (so far) is when they’re arbitrarily yanked from Amazon with no explanation, and Amazon refuses to provide any details – I’ve lost about a third of all the reviews I’ve ever gotten this way. I know many indie authors have had to go through this, more so than usual lately, and it’s tough to deal with. We have to scrape and claw for every review we get, and it’s frustrating to have them taken away and not know why. I don’t think I’ve found any aspect of writing more discouraging and “what’s the point?”-inducing than that, and I know I’m not the only one.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

 

Take your time with your writing projects, and don’t rush them out the self-publishing door. Invest time in character development, world building, and writing craft, and get help if and when you need it. Your story will be all the better for it, and your readers will keep coming back for more. Also, most importantly, when people help you out, even if it’s a small thing, please make sure to show your appreciation.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

 

Thank you to all of you who have taken a chance on a first-time author, especially those who have invested a few minutes of time into reviewing it! I’d also like to thank the folks at indieBrag for awarding The Brotherhood of the Black Flag a B.R.A.G. Medallion – I’m truly grateful for the honor.

Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience?

 

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to travel all over the world, across six continents. When I was a kid, my mom took me on a Robin Hood tour in the actual Sherwood Forest and the Nottingham library, home to the largest collection of Robin Hood books. In college, I participated in the Semester at Sea program’s Fall 2000 semester, literally sailing around the world and visiting different countries along the way. Not only was it genuinely the adventure of a lifetime, but a learning experience and a unique opportunity to bond with people. In fact, I even dedicated The Brotherhood of the Black Flag to my Fall 2000 shipmates.

If you could visit any cartoon world, which one would it be?

Hmmmm…Tiny Toon Adventures, maybe? At Acme Looniversity, the main characters learn the fundamentals of animation, comedy, and cartoon-making from the classic Warner Bros. cartoon stars, such as Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. I’d love to drop in on one of those classes.

 

If you could visit any fictional world, which one would it be?

 

Middle-Earth, particularly the Shire or Rivendell (although given my height, I’d probably find Rivendell more comfortable). Listening to elven music or ancient tales during a grand feast sounds like a great way to spend a day. Option B would be The Dreaming from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series – specifically the Library of Dreams, where you can read all the books dreamed up by authors who never had the chance to write them, including works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, and so on.

Who’s your favorite superhero?

 

I’m a huge fan of most DC and Marvel characters, and I don’t know if I have an overall favorite. Outside of that, I also love Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Jeff Smith’s Bone, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. I need to broaden my range a bit and discover more indie creators – it’s just a matter of having enough time to discover and read them all.

 

 

 

 

 

New Release! Tainted Victory

Hi all!

I’m pleased to announce that Tainted Victory, book two in The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley, is now live. Need something for your middle grade student to read on that last summer vacation? Check out Ethan’s adventures. You can find out more about them at http://www.lissadobbs.com.

Coming from the small town of Land’s End at the southern tip of Moirena, Ethan has no idea what to make of the hustle and bustle of Ymla in Corleon. Narrow, crowded streets and horse-drawn trolleys are things he’s never seen before.
Then there’s the guild itself. A common room with billiards tables and Fizzy Drinks and the freedom to come and go as he pleases are things Ethan’s never experienced.
But his new life isn’t all fun and games.
On the day of Ethan’s arrival, the guild hall is attacked by harpies. No one knows who sent them or why, but the students are banned from investigating. A second attack, however, has his fellow Shadow Walkers wondering if Ethan is the target. Never one to ignore his curiosity, Ethan and his new friends take to the streets of Ymla to get to the bottom of the attacks, but when he finds out the truth, Ethan wishes he’d left it alone.

Best wishes!

New Anthology Release!-Twisted II

received_10216297905937546Where the twisted lurk and the horrors hide, will you find what lies within?

 From horrifying demons and witches to ghosts haunting people and places. Strange creatures to strange places. If it’s twisted this anthology has it.

 18 equally twisted stories by 19 amazing horror and paranormal authors.

 Will you take the plunge into this twisted world?

 Featuring authors…

Michael Young * Kelly Matsuura * Kerry E.B Black * Jack W. Finley * Jordanne Fuller * Jakki Hatchett * Liz Butcher * Duncan Swallow * Michael S. Walker * Aziza Sphinx * Shebat Legion * Beth W. Patterson * E.M. Valentine * Stacey Jaine McIntosh * Daniel J. Volpe * Scott Carruba * Carole Weave-Lane * Kerry Lee Holder * Gina A. Watson

 Available Now

 Amazon AU : https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07FKCMM3W

Amazon US : https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FKCMM3W

 

Author Interview — Peter Blakely-Novis

library-419254_1920Today we’re giving a warm welcome to author Peter Blakely-Novis. Read on to learn about this exciting author.

  1. What would you like to tell us about yourself? My name is Peter Blakey-Novis, and I’m based in a small town on the southern coast of England. Although I’ve enjoyed writing as a hobby for as long as I can remember, it wasn’t until February 2017 that I released my first book. I’m fairly new to it all and am learning a lot as I go! I also co-run Indie Writers Review, a monthly digital magazine featuring book reviews, short stories, poetry etc.
  2. What genres do your writings fall under? What age group? Quite a mix, actually. I started out writing a novel, which is a femme fatale thriller along the lines of Fatal Attraction. This book (The Broken Doll) has a sequel which was released in August 2017. I have also written two collections of short horror stories, and at the other end of the spectrum, have a children’s book out which was co-authored by, and stars, my daughter.
  3. When and why did your start writing? I had an idea for a story back in March of 2016, which kept playing on my mind. I wrote a little when I had a bit of spare time, with no real thought as to what I’d do with it if I ever finished it! It came along slowly to begin with, until I needed minor surgery and was bed-bound for a few weeks. With little else to do I cracked on with the story and the end of it began to appear in the not-too-distant future.
  4. What other goals do you have for yourself? How do they fit with your writing?Writing has been a great way for me to get ideas out there, and has given me a real sense of accomplishment and pride. I’ve always been very wary of how I’m perceived by other people, and it took a lot of courage to show my work to others, but the feedback has been better than I could have imagined, and that helps build confidence in what I do.
  5. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing? Reading is just as important as the writing, so I get through a couple of books a week. Aside from that, life is pretty busy with four children.
  6. What do you hope readers take away from your writing? Is there a particular theme in your work? Does your work have a moral? My two novels are purely fictitious, perhaps a life-lesson in how fragile relationships can be when someone from outside decides to try and destroy it. The horror stories that I have written cover a range of sub-genres – some are creepy ghost stories, there’s one from the POV of a serial killer, and others are simply about people and their fears.
  7. Which of your characters is your favorite and why? Probably Ella, the antagonist from The Broken Doll. She was the most fun to write, anyway. Despite the trouble she causes, you can’t help pitying her a little, and wishing you could somehow save her.
  8. Which of your characters is your least favorite and why? I’m quite fond of all three of the main characters in The Broken Doll books, but there are quite a few despicable minor characters. I’d say Maggie, from book one, isn’t a person I’d like to hang around with.
  9. What genre is your favorite to read? I mostly read horror, much more so since writing my own. I’m keen on collections of short stories more than full-length novels, but I’m usually happy to read almost anything.
  10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? I would have been better prepared! I didn’t even look at what to do with the first book until it was almost finished. I knew nothing about self-publishing, or where to promote it. As a result, sales have been much better in the months following that first release, once I had a better idea of what I was doing.
  11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre? Social media is now the only way that I promote, through my pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The novels have had good reviews, and I share these in book-related Facebook groups. I have tried paid advertising on Facebook and Amazon but it didn’t seem worthwhile. My horror books actually sell better than the novels, but I am involved in a number of horror-specific book groups, and learned how important it is to promote other peoples work just as much as your own. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have received some fantastic reviews on a number of blogs, as well as in Scream Fix magazine. For the children’s book, selling in person far outweighs online sales, so I attend school events such as summer and Christmas fairs.
  12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published? All of my books are self-published, although I have had a few stories included in other anthologies, so I am able to put a book out there myself without the fear of rejection from a traditional publisher.
  13. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? I currently have a few projects on the go. One is (probably) going to be a novella, about a young woman to kills someone but can’t remember doing so. It deals with some mental health issues and PTSD in particular. I have a few stories completed ready for my next collection of horrors, and I’m expecting that to be ready around June. I also have another horror book planned for later in the year, around novella length, but quite different to most books. My daughter is keen to release another children’s book, but I’m holding off until we have recouped the money spent on the illustrations!
  14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?The two novels are entirely fictitious, but a number of the landmarks in the books are easily recognized as being around my home town. The characters are not based on real people, although the main characters are quite similar to myself and my wife. Some of the horror stories are rooted in some past experience, for example Opened Up is a medical horror about an infestation, inspired by the surgery I had on my foot. There is one called Embrace the Darkness, which features a creature that I did have nightmares about when I was a child. So, although not ‘true stories’, they are partly based on real events.
  15. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? In the second Broken Doll book, something happens to one of the main characters. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but it seemed inevitable from my point of view, yet I knew it would really affect the readers. It was a difficult chapter to write, but was the best fit for the story, and gave the whole tale a change of direction.
  16. How did you come up with the title? The Broken Doll refers to Ella, the seductive femme fatale. The title seemed to fit well, balancing her physical beauty with the fact she was severely damaged inside. Titles for the horror collections were simply enough; I chose my favourite short story and used that, hence they are called Embrace the Darkness and other short stories, and Tunnels and other short stories.
  17. What project are you working on now? As I mentioned earlier, I have a few projects on the go. The next for release though will be another collection of shorts.
  18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? I’ve been very fortunate with the reviews I’ve received, with more than 90% of them being 4 or 5 stars. I did receive a 1 star review for The Broken Doll, although with no details written as to why. I happen to know the person that left it, which made it quite hurtful, but I managed to ignore it and focus on the good reviews. My favourite review described the Broken Doll as ‘incredibly well-written, an intense, gripping, and emotionally stirring read’ and featured on a blog.
  19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Keep at it! Get the book finished, check it over as many times as you can stand to, get other people you trust to read it before going public, and take on board any feedback – both positive and otherwise.
  20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans? Two years ago I never would have dreamed I’d be doing what I am now, so I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to everyone that has taken the time to read my work, to those who have given me advice and helped promote my books, and an extra big thanks to those who take a moment to leave a review, or to recommend one of my books to their friends. It really does mean so much, and it keeps me motivated to put out more stories.
  21. Do you also work a day job? How does it inspire your writing? For the last four years my wife and I have been running a catering business. Unfortunately, my wife became ill at the start of 2017, and we had to close the business. Although financially challenging, this has given us the time to focus on getting my books out there. My wife was able to train as a graphic designer and together we began Red Cape Publishing, an umbrella for not only my books, but the magazine Indie Writers Review, the upcoming horror book subscription service Boxes of Blood, as well as her design work.
  22. If you could visit any time period, which one would it be? It would be a tough decision between the 1920s and the 1950s, there is something exciting about the clothing and music in those times.
  23. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’m keen to visit Japan, New Zealand, and Iceland. They are definitely my top three countries whenever that becomes possible. We enjoy city breaks, and visited Venice last year, with Budapest being next on the list.
  24. Have you travelled to places outside your home town/country? Where did you go? What did you see/experience? I haven’t travelled all that much, I don’t feel. Of course being in England, Europe is close enough for short breaks, and I’ve been to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Greece. Out of these, going on a mountain safari day in Portugal with my eldest, and riding the gondola in Venice, are my fondest memories.
  25. Do you prefer comfortable clothes or dressing nicely? Both, I guess. My wife would definitely prefer me to be in a suit permanently, but once winter is out of the way I’m usually in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt!
  26. If you could visit any cartoon world, which one would it be? I’d have to take my daughter and visit SpongeBob Squarepants.
  27. If you could visit any fictional world, which one would it be? Strangely, the first thing that came to mind was Water World, the Kevin Costner film. I do love being near the sea, so perhaps messing about on boats all day wouldn’t be too bad?!
  28. What’s your favorite comfort food? Pizza, with a variety of meats and plenty of jalapeno.
  29. If there was one food you could get rid of, which one would it be? Celery, no need for that ever!
  30. Who’s your favorite superhero? Deadpool appeals to my sense of humour, so probably him. Although I have enjoyed the more recent Batman movies.
  31. What’s your favorite holiday? Why is that one special to you? Christmas is the only real celebration that we do, and I’ve never really been that keen on it! That said, last Christmas we managed to go away for a few days, and we had a really great time so I may be starting to enjoy it more.
  32. What historical figure inspires you most? Anyone who has stood up for human rights, whether that be defying the Nazis, opposing racism and segregation in the second half of last century, as well as those that do so today. Most of these people have names we wouldn’t recognize, but have helped so many people – that’s something that is very inspiring.
  33. If you had to have a mythological creature as a pet, which one would it be? My daughter’s obsessed with unicorns at the moment, so if there was a way of getting a mythological creature it would have to be that (or I’d never hear the end of it!)
  34. What was your favorite stuffed animal as a child? Does this toy show up in your writing? I had a stuffed dog, imaginatively called Doggy, which apparently was bought just before I was born. He’s seen better days, but I still have him (actually my youngest does).
  35. What author would you most like to meet? If I had to pick, I’d probably say Stieg Larsson. I have a special hardback set of the Millennium Trilogy, and thought they were incredible. I’d also really like the opportunity to meet up with some of the fantastic Indie authors that I connect with online, but geographically we are quite spread out across the globe.
  36. You get to bring one of your characters into the real world. Which one is it and why? What do you hope to accomplish through your relationship with this character? It would have to be Ella from The Broken Doll. As I mentioned, there is an impulse to help her. However, there would be a risk, of course, as she is both unstable and dangerous.