Showing posts with label Author Spotlight. Show all posts

Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 16th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodre...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Payne Schanski!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 16th, 2021


For fifteen-year-old JB, life couldn't get much worse.

He's been grounded for six months after making a huge mistake that's ruined his reputation, and now his life consists of going to school and coming straight home: no more basketball games or adventures with his friends. The word "fun" seems to have been erased from his life, and he's lost all hope-that is, until he hears about a legendary abandoned house in a secluded area called Five Mile Creek, buried deep within the forests of Northern Michigan. The house is known by the locals to be haunted. Curious and fearless, JB rallies an unpredictable group of misfits to make a journey to the house one cold February night-even though he knows he's on the brink of making the same life-altering mistake again. However, what the amateur ghost hunters encounter is far from anything they could have imagined, and all of them are there for reasons of their own, and with a lot at stake. For JB, solving this mystery means facing the decisions that continue to haunt his soul.

Containing echoes of classic '80s films such as Stand by Me and The Breakfast Club, The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is, at its heart, an unflinching and authentic take on growing up. While wrestling with the always brewing inner storm of adolescence, the characters-all on the edge of adulthood, with childhood's idealism slipping from their respective grasps-crave greater answers about the mysteries of life and death, and about who they are as they form their own identities and images. At the heart of this funny, insightful, and profound book are several core questions: Should we allow our pasts to haunt us? Can the harsh reality of death bring any clarity on how we wish to live our lives? And lastly, are all mistakes truly "mistakes," or do they hold something deeper than shame?...


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

'Ghost' is my first YA novel, and at its heart, I consider it just a true and authentic take on a fifteen-year-old boy trying to navigate high school--figuring out who he is and who he wants to be. JB has been punished for an entire school year for some mistakes he made over the summer, but when he hears some of his classmates talking about this legendary 'haunted' house and planning an excursion to it, he can't help himself from wanting to go.

Along the way, I wanted JB to face a bit of a reckoning with the decisions he made to put him in his current predicament. I made sure to put him in position to face people from his past one-on-one and see whether he's grown at all (along with one from his future--though he doesn't know that yet).

The odd crew is out trying to unravel the mysteries behind the abandoned house, but at a certain point in the night, their interactions with each other become more important, and the 'ghost' takes a bit of a backseat. In many ways, I consider it something of a cross between "The Breakfast Club" and "Stand By Me" for that reason.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

Part of it is from my own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan; another large part is from my years working with middle school and high school students in a youth enrichment program.

Observing adolescence when you're not the one going through it is endlessly interesting--for instance, the fragile social dynamics, the constant swirl of rumors and how hard it can be to sort out the truth. One thing that I think is universal at that age is making countless mistakes, but ultimately just wanting to do well, find your place, and make someone proud of you.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

Jennie, because she starts off as such a side character, but becomes more and more influential as the night goes on. She is little bit older than the boys and in a different social orbit than them. She's able to get away with certain things too, which puts them in awe of her to an extent early on. Jennie turns out to be a far different person than the main character expects, and I think readers will enjoy building both respect and sympathy for her as the story progresses.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Most of my best ideas come while I'm shooting hoops by myself. The quiet repetition and peace of just playing a game that I love for no reason besides enjoyment turns that act into a creative space for me. You'll even see that aspect hit the page as basketball is a happy place that the character JB adopts as well and where he feels most calm and at home.

What are you currently reading?

I'm currently rereading 'Down and Out In Paris and London' by George Orwell, whle waiting on a fresh Amazon book order to arrive. Haven't been able to start any of these yet, but here is the upcoming list:
The Great Santini, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Burmese Days

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

Not with this book necessarily, but definitely for the next two that I've been working on. I would go for a week or two at a time, just playing the same five or six songs while I wrote, to the point where those artists even have an influence on how the story itself develops.

Artists I had on repeat at various times: Suede, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, J. Cole, M83, Oasis, Mariah Carey, The Stone Roses, probably others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Despite the contents of 'The Ghost of Five Mile Creek', I'd still probably go with the fairytale creatures--not the evil ones though.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

Yes, I have an Instagram account that's still very much in its infancy. I'll post about books that I'm currently reading, things that I'm writing, share (brag about...?) little victories along the way, show things that inspire me or my work. Readers are definitely encouraged to interact with me; I'm always excited to give book recommendations to people based on their personalities and interests.

Follow me @payneschanski_writer and introduce yourself!

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

I have two more books in the JB series that are on their way. 'Ghost' has a strange position in that I wrote it first, but it's actually the middle book of a three part series. I wasn't necessarily trying to be 'experimental' or doing some sort of Star Wars style chronology... it was just the first plot that I was able to fully form so I ran with it!


Payne Schanski has worked as an educator, coach, and mentor for middle school and high school students over the past decade. Working closely with these students has meant revisiting the fears, insecurities, and mistakes that make adolescence the turbulent learning experience that it is. These observations, as well as the author’s own experiences growing up in Northern Michigan, inspired him to write The Ghost of Five Mile Creek, his debut novel. The Ghost of Five Mile Creek is the middle book of a three-part series, along with the soon-to-be released Blue Houses on the Peninsula and Redemption Summer. His other writing includes humor pieces featured at 'The Toast' and 'Slackjaw' and as a Detroit Lions blogger for 'SideLion Report'. After eight years living in Boston, Schanski recently moved back to Northern Michigan with his wife, Cathy AuGuste Schanski. He enjoys playing tennis and basketball in his free time. 


Payne, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather ! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: March 8th, 2021 Amazon |  Goodrea...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Kelsey Sather !

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: March 8th, 2021

Over millennia, across the seven seterras of Aligaea, twelve women—the Anima—develop powers akin to apex predators. Along with their bestial strength and speed, they inherit the Task to restore ecological Order to the world. Yet fulfilling the Task seems improbable as the Imperium spreads a plague of ecocide and despotism across the land, ushering in the apocalypse with its infectious Disorder.

Stout and smart Freda Johansson leaves behind a promising career, love, and community to seek the red-capped mushroom capable of turning her into the final Anima. Whether it's plant magic or free will guiding her from emerald forests to austere peaks, she doesn't care. She only needs to find the mushroom before the Imperial Forces can seal the catastrophic fate of the planet.

The sacred balance of Life depends on the birth of the Anima—but even then, she must choose to own her powers as both woman and wild beast.


Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


The idea for the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy began as a question. I was pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Humanities, and my course work involved a lot of depressing research about the ecological crisis we find ourselves in. I often wondered how, and why, humans became disconnected from the natural world that sustains us. One night, I wrote in my journal, what would it feel like to live fully, truly, as a human animal? The concept of the Anima grew from there.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


As many fiction authors will attest to, the process of creating characters is mysterious and organic. My characters reveal themselves to me at their leisure, and I’ll spend hours free-writing in an effort to get to know them better. It’s not unlike a relationship with a new friend: it takes time to understand a person, and even then, the person will continue to surprise us decades later. I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. .

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


I connect most with Elle and Freda, as I’ve spent the most time with them. Elle is like a beloved little 
sister to me, while I consider Freda an inner mentor.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


Such a great question! I studied nonfiction (environmental writing) in school, and while I’ve always loved reading fiction, especially fantasy, Birth of the Anima is my first project as a fiction writer. I was surprised to learn how mysterious and organic the fiction writing process proves to be. Characters become real people, and they constantly surprise me in making their own decisions, despite my efforts to “control” the story.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


I love nouns that lend themselves to verbs and adjectives through the qualities that noun exhibits. My favorite example of such a word is squirrel.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Woofta. So many things, but mainly: practice patience and faith. Show up consistently, hone your craft with intention, and let go of the need for external validation. Or as Deepak Chopra said, “If you focus on success, you’ll have stress. But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


My website and newsletter are the best way to stay up to date on my upcoming releases: https://kelseyksather.com/

I also love interacting with readers on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kelseyksather/

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?


I don’t have a favorite, but there is a line from the first version of Birth of the Anima that survived eight years of ruthless editing. It reads, “Elle took the long way to work.” It’s a simple sentence, nothing special on a surface-level, but its meaning runs deep in Elle’s story. Elle resists her inner power, and in so doing, she prolongs engaging with her life’s true work.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes! I'm currently writing Book Two in the Ancient Language of the Earth trilogy.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


My hope is that readers discover, or rather rediscover, their kinship with ‘other,’ both human and non, and feel deeply compelled to help create a just and ecologically sound world. Thank you for featuring me and helping me spread that message!


KELSEY K. SATHER lives in Montana. Her stories explore the complexities of human-nature interconnections. While an author of nonfiction essays for over a decade, fantasy remains her first and true love. She received an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. At the University of Montana, she received the Davidson Honors College Scholar Distinction in Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found in the mountains.

Connect with Kelsey K. Sather on her website and Instagram.

Birth of the Anima is available at independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Kelsey, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: July 19th, 2020 Amazon |  Goodreads...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Brett Salter!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: July 19th, 2020

What’s REALLY hiding in the forests of the Pacific Northwest? Could it be The Tyrant King’s army of Darkbrands? Could it be more of Mr. Jones’s liaisons? Or could it be the solution to the problem vexing our favorite heroes? Whatever mystery it is, you can guarantee the boys from Georgia are sure to find themselves deep in the thick of it.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

I would say “The Battle For Verdana” is my best work so far. By this time in the series, we’ve collected all the main characters and gotten to know their quirks and abilities pretty well. Also, the secrets and powers of the Talismans are really beginning to unravel for the reader. Plus, there is a massive battle scene (duh, it’s in the name of the book), and the end leaves the reader on the biggest cliffhanger yet.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

My mother actually dared me to write the first book as it was an idea I had a few years before the publication regarding the two main characters and the plot of the first book. From there, I liked writing so much that I just kept going. Now, I have 11 of the 12 proposed books "done" (Large air quotes there)

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Yeah, so in the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. That was therapeutic, for sure. But as the books continued and my characters grew in number, I found inspiration in outside sources such as close family and friends. I would not call it therapeutic, but I WOULD call it amusing to paint these extremely caricatured heroes with touches of the people I love. Most of my characters are just too dang goofy to be based on real people though.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

I would say my favorite character to write is Julian Rider. He’s a blast because he is totally snarky and sarcastic, but at the same time, he’s very loyal to his cause. Much like me…smiley face. Plus, his favorite word is “dude”. Also, much like me. There might be a pattern there…

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

That's a great question. Unfortunately, they both kinda go hand in hand, don't they? You must have an engrossing plot to develop your characters. And what is a highly developed character with no plot or adventure to embark on? But, I would say I tend to lean more towards plot since I am better at world building than character development.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I learned that when I have unlimited free time, I can knock out the barebones version of a book in my series in about 1 week.  The editing process is much slower though.  Man, is it tedious??!!


In your opinion what makes a good story?


I like action in my stories. My series is full of that in spades; and suspense. I find that action keeps a reader's attention better than any other writing device. At least, it does for me.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


>
It hasn't. LOL. I still write just as frantically and bizarrely as ever. Basically, I try to make each book better than the previous by adding characters, lore, and bigger scenes to the plot. I HAVE found that most of the sarcasm of my youth has lessened over the years. Having kids helped that change as well.


>Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?


Of course I do! It's great to see what others think of your work. I think constructive criticism is the best kind of help there is. I hope you like it too!

What led you to start writing?


I write for a couple reasons. 1. I feel like there is something in me that needs to “create”. I try EVERY day to “create” something which scratches that itch. In my past, I’ve been a musician and a poet. Those were great outlets for allowing that creativity bug to escape, but unfortunately, I found those to be more like fleeting diversions. Writing a book is a project that keeps the creativity pouring out for months at a time. Not that writing music and poetry is easy. It most definitely isn’t! I believe musicians and poets follow the same creative yens that authors do. I just feel like writing a series of books, creating palpable characters, and keeping all the details juggled properly is a larger-scale project with more channels for creative output.

2. I write to inspire others. I remember being a kid and reading things like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Xanth Series and being awestruck and engaged to no end. I want that! I want to inspire others to embrace that creativity gene and nurture it. I tell my kids all the time to practice being creative. Take some time to draw a battle scene of dragons or a kaleidoscope of butterflies! Construct a folded-up, 8-page comic book about a superhero you invented. Make up a dance and share it with you friends so you don’t look like the only weirdo doing it. Use the rainy days to read about new places and explore that part of your brain that dies a little each time you stare at your screens. Egon Spengler famously said, “print is dead”, but it’s not. It’s just evolved. We have more ways to share our stories now than ever. And I just want to be part of that amazing assembly.

Do you have any writing superstitions?


Nope. Not any I can think of (rubs lucky rabbit's foot aggressively). Yeah! None.


What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I am a huge anime fan. And when I was younger, I read every fantasy novel I could find. So, I put the two together for my writing. This genre fits what I am trying to do perfectly.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?


As I mentioned before....."Dude".  I can't help it.  It's just falls out of my mouth on the regular.  
In writing, I love using words to describe a vocal intonation when a person talks instead of just saying "said" or "declared".  I like to use synesthetic words like "sang" or "harmonized" to touch multiple sense of the reader.  It's for engagement, I think.  

>What are you currently reading?


"The Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut.  (I know!)

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


I made a Spotify playlist a while back of all the best Punk Rock I grew up with.  There's about 28 hours worth of tunes on that playlist, so, it keeps me entertained.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start promoting waaaaaaaaaaaaaay earlier!  And hire an editor if you can't get picked up by a publisher.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


The entire MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  I cannot get enough of it!  And if I want to "use my brain", anything by David Lynch.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?


Rhino.  They're fat and lazy, but when they need to get something done, they do it with alacrity and a thundering shake of the plains!

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?


Cottage with fairytale creatures for sure.  As long as there are no Nocturns (bad guys from my series).  Those things are living nightmares, dude!

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

There's not enough words in the English language that are synonyms for "attack"....or "dark"......or "magical".  Or "thesaurus".

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


I LOVE to give my characters interesting quirks.  It's definitely a huge spotlight of my writing style.  For instance, I have a character that always talks in threes.  And a character that quotes lyrics most of the time when talking.  Or my favorite, a character that speaks in haikus. (He doesn't talk much.  It's tough to write in haikus, dude!)

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


Ask me anything.  I'm an open book....get it?

Do you have a favorite line that you've written? What is it and why do you like it?

I love EVERY time my character Mr. Jones makes some crazy, wild exclamation using mythological name drops like, "By the rancid stench of the Bonncon!"  Or something just as looney tunes as that.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?


Use your influences.  That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training.....um.  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


Yes.  I can!  In fact, I plan on releasing the 5th book of my proposed 12 by winter of this year!  It needs and edit or two….or three or four.  And it needs some cover art, but it should be out this year.  I can give you a little hint.  Remember when I mentioned the cliffhanger at the end of the 4th book?  Well, that DOES get resolved, but the 5th book opens so much more trouble for our heroes in the form Darkbrand threats.  Plus, we get a ton of reveals regarding the “big bad’s” plans, more Talismans, and we maybe, possibly, definitely get to visit a new dragon den???

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


I just want to add that I am genuinely appreciative of anyone who reads/has read my books.  You guys inspire me to keep at it.  You are what makes me feel cool for being kind of a big dork.  I hope that if you like my book or ANY book you read, you share it with someone else.  Opening doors for others will never get old, and it will ALWAYS be chivalrous.  Just remember to hold your Talisman tight and keep a wary eye out for portals.  Peace out!
My background in writing stems mostly from the inspiration I found as a kid when I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi books. These include The Chronicles of Narnia, The Xanth Novels, The Time Quintet, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and everything from Shakespeare to Dr. Seuss. In my formative years, I joined several punk rock bands and wrote songs, poetry, and short stories aplenty. As an adult (?) I took on a dare and wrote the first book in my Talisman Series. I loved the feeling it gave me and the idea of inspiring others so much that I kept writing until I had an entire series.

Brett, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Glenn Maynard! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: December 30th 2020 Goodreads Lizzi...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Glenn Maynard!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: December 30th 2020

Lizzie Borden took an axe...

And so goes the song depicting the 1892 axe murders of her father and step-mother. Research indicates that a killer gene could be passed down through generations of family members, and evidence begins with Lizzie’s ancestor who murdered his mother in 1673. Chatroom with a View opens with a bone-chilling episode, and what’s left of Troy Cullen’s dysfunctional family keeps him even further from the normal integration with society. Troy’s life further unravels when his ex-girlfriend, Veronica, announces that she is pregnant. Troy loses control and plots to do unto others as they have done unto him. When Veronica digs into his family’s past, she exposes this killer gene; she must try to balance her obsession for a family with shielding herself and their baby from evil. But Troy has his own agenda, resulting in an epic showdown.


Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

Chatroom With A View is a story about a third generation battling against the possible existence of a murder gene with the fourth generation on the way. Once the family secret gets out, it's a race against time when Troy's ex-girlfriend returns, claiming to be pregnant with his child. Her mission is to change Troy, but his mission is to remove her from his life. This rollercoaster storyline is a thriller to the end.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I wanted to write a story about a Social Media group moderator who lures his victims back to his house and keeps them hostage. The plot underwent major reconstruction during the writing process. I finalized the synopsis with three generation of chatrooms. Troy's grandfather would hold neighborhood gatherings in a log cabin on his property. Then his father did the same thing when he took over the property. It was their chatroom. Troy's chatroom was during the computer age, but he still had access to the chatroom on his property, and he had a score to settle. I was writing with Stephen King in mind, and the more I wrote, the darker the story became. It started out with horror but evolved into a thriller early on.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

The main character sketches are completed before I begin writing, but their personalities develop as I write, and additional characters emerge as well. So many twists and turns developed that the end result looked considerably different than I had envisioned. Sometimes in life, things don't play out exactly as you plan, and the writing process is no different.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

My favorite character to write was Veronica because she was insane but extremely entertaining because she didn't have any idea that there was anything wrong with her. She was the crazy ex-girlfriend who takes on a new life in this novel and really brings it to life. Her mental health plays a big part and her interactions with herself in the mirror for me were comedy gold. 

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Many of Stephen King's books influenced me in the writing of this novel because sometimes he is a sick and twisted man. He has a knack for getting really dark, and I dared to follow that formula.

What led you to start writing?

Ever since I remember, whenever something sad and tragic occurred, I would release my grief by writing it down in a notebook. Occasionally I would write about good things or funny things. Then I became an English major in college and took Shakespeare classes with deeply complex poetry. I began writing funny poems as a way to make poetry easier to understand in a rebellious, interesting way. After college, I embarked on a one-year journey through the 48 continental states of America in an RV. It gave me experience and my writing career officially began. I was a travel correspondent for two newspapers and amassed twenty articles, eventually turning my notes into a memoir entitled, Strapped Into An American Dream.



Glenn Maynard has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Connecticut, and a degree in Communications. After spending 4 years living in Denver, Colorado, he returned home to Connecticut and now resides in Wethersfield. He has a son named Andrew. He was a travel correspondent for three newspapers while traveling through the United States, Canada and Mexico during his one-year journey. He had a total of twenty newspaper articles published. His story was captured on the evening newscast upon his return. Currently, he is preparing to publish his fifth book, Chatroom with a View.


Glenn, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Eric Leland! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: February 1st 2021 Goodreads Can you ...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Eric Leland!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: February 1st 2021

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

In 1969, somewhere over South Vietnam, Captain Brandon Doran sits aboard an unmarked aircraft on final approach to a Top-Secret military base. A shadowy government operative offers a deal: in exchange for erasing Brandon's tarnished military record, he must ensure the recon team, to which he is about to be assigned, follows orders. Easy enough. Or so Brandon thinks. 

Sergeant First Class John Nicholas, Captain Brandon, and the elite Recon Team New York venture deep into North Vietnam to rescue Recon Team Florida, which has gone missing near a remote village in the north. John expects heavy resistance, but intercepted radio traffic suggests something near that village has spooked even the hardened North Vietnamese Army. Soon after New York's midnight insertion behind enemy lines, John finds out what. Confronted in the night by a merciless demon, John reacts the way any soldier would: he shoots it. But John discovers, far too late, pulling the trigger is the worst mistake he can make. 

Flung headlong into atrocity and supernatural chaos, New York's surviving members discover an unexpected ally in Jaran, a young novice in the old magic of her ancestors. She is the only defense New York has against this powerful evil, but her magic requires a cruel price. Now, with a ruthless NVA hunter-killer team on New York's trail, and an ancient evil lurking in the shadows, the few remaining survivors learn their escape demands brutal payment. To survive, New York must become as inhuman as their demonic pursuer.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

During a class for my MA I wrote a 25-page short story titled Recon Team: Mercury. That story was shortened to five pages and is now the prologue to Inhuman. For a NaNoWriMo idea I thought it would be interesting to see what happened when the rescuers came looking for the team that disappeared in my original short story. Inhuman is the result.

I want to provide veterans with fiction that entertains, but also lets them know someone else out there knows how they feel when they stare at the ceiling at night..

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

The character Jaran is heavily based on my wife’s experiences who was born in Vietnam. At an early age, she and her family fled to a refugee camp after the war. The chaos of displacement during war time seemed terrifying. I can’t really say which character I have the strongest connection to—John’s sense of duty; Chris’s refusal to take anything seriously; and Brandon’s severe depression and self-doubt—they’re all variations of me.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

Military readers, from Vietnam veterans to Iraq/Afghanistan have told me they have all met guys like John and Brandon during their careers. 

In your opinion what makes a good story?

I’ll never turn down a chance to shout the names of Amy Hempel, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy. The Bluest Eye (Morrison) and Blood Meridian (McCarthy) are two of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. And it’s just a joy to watch what Amy Hempel does with language.

What led you to start writing?

After reading the Red Wedding scene from A Storm of Swords, and throwing the book against the wall, I wanted to learn how GRRM played with my emotions so I could do it to others. Inhuman isn’t my first novel, but it’s the first novel I wrote after I figured out how story works.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

I have a tragic little transgressive romance begging me to play catch with it, but from the messages I’m receiving it’s fairly obvious my readers want to see what’s next for the survivors of Inhuman. I suppose I can only blame myself. If you write an epilogue like that it’s probably best not to keep people waiting. Oops. So, books two and three of Inhuman are loosely plotted and I’m starting in on those.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

"(X) is my favorite character. Kill (them).”—Advice from my editor. 
So when you get there, don’t blame me. Thanks for having me and thanks to anyone who reads and reviews Inhuman.   



Eric Leland grew up in Massena, NY and entered Army basic training upon high school graduation. He was an MP in the Army for six years and reclassified to a Special Agent with the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Eric deployed to Honduras in 2002, and Iraq in 2003 and 2009 where he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor. He completed his MA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and has happily traded in his gun for a pen. Eric lives in Seattle with his wife. Connect with Eric Leland on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.



Eric, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Peter Topside! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: April 13th 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...


Today's Author Spotlight is author Peter Topside!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: April 13th 2021

It's been fifteen years since the vampire Blackheart was defeated, leaving Meadowsville desolate and broken.

Alexandra has returned to take over her father's church but is struggling to find her true purpose. Torn by her shaky loyalty to Christian Reed-the unstable town antihero who vanquished Blackheart years ago-and increasing efforts at seduction and manipulation from Blackheart himself, she is forced to face all her deepest traumas and insecurities.

As the town's only hope, Alexandra must gather her strength and transcend her terror in order to battle these adversities-or risk losing the very soul of Meadowsville.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 

In the first book of the Preternatural trilogy, readers are introduced to the town of Meadowsville, the home of the most popular urban myth, Mr. Smith. This vicious, vampire-like entity rules over this booming town by any means necessary, slaughtering its citizens, and upholding a long-standing tradition. Several residents form an unlikely alliance to combat the common threat of this dangerous monster and embark on an undertaking that will change each of them and their town forever.

Set fifteen years after the vampire Blackheart was defeated, Meadowsville is left desolate and broken. Alexandra has returned to take over her father’s church but is struggling to find her true purpose. Torn by her shaky loyalty to Christian Reed—the unstable town antihero who vanquished Blackheart years ago—and increasing efforts at seduction and manipulation from Blackheart himself, she is forced to face her deepest traumas and insecurities. As the town’s only hope, Alexandra must gather her strength to transcend her terror. Will she defeat adversity or will her failure lose the very soul of Meadowsville?

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I have always had a passion for writing and publishing my stories has been a lifelong goal. I spent my entire life being a fan of horror, and through my own personal experiences, developed characters and a story that were a really unique blend.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

I have a strong connection with all of my characters. I originally started off with the basic premise, and then wrote down emotions and developed characters based off those feelings. I wanted to be genuine in how these people would react under the, sometimes very difficult and extreme, circumstances of the story. And the only way that I could do that, is to experience it all myself and/or watch others around me closely over long periods. Once I got my characters established and put in the same story together, the books practically wrote themselves. I worked very hard to make sure they felt organic and not forced.


What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I have never read a book like Preternatural. Each book, while strongly linked to one another, has its own specific tone and story. I’ve read many horror books and felt that they sometimes become too complicated and overdetailed, and you lose track of the characters and plot. That was something I worked hard to avoid. So my books are easy reads, and can either be read ‘surface-level’ for the basic story and be purely entertainment, or they can be analyzed and picked apart to see the deeper themes, patterns, and other dynamics happening on each page.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?

I hope that my readers walk away thinking to themselves, “Wow, that was an interesting experience.”  And honestly, I am just thrilled to have people read something that I’ve worked so long and hard to achieve. The trilogy is very much a definitive horror story, but I hope it inspires people to combat their fears, insecurities, and traumas, and ultimately, never losing hope in themselves.   


My pen name is Peter Topside. I am an accomplished chef and baker, movie fanatic, a proud father and husband, and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist by trade.

I had a rough upbringing, which bestowed many traumas on me, that remained in place for a long time. I spent years struggling with crippling anxiety and depression, but once I got to my lowest point, I made the difficult decision to fight for better mental health. I traveled to a lot of dark corners of my mind, confronting the deepest and scariest aspects of my PTSD, over many years, but I was able to make it through successfully. Throughout my recovery process, I was able to funnel all of the energy, thoughts and feelings into my writing. My books are the culmination of my own personal, life-changing journey.



Peter, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews and Happy Book Birthday to Preternatural:Evolution!


Publication date: April 13th 2021


This fast-paced adventure is a must-read for horror aficionados and lovers of all things that are scary, gruesome and thought-provoking.

Welcome to Meadowsville, the home of the most popular urban myth, Mr. Smith. This viscous, vampire-like entity rules over this booming town by any means necessary, slaughtering its citizens, and upholding a long-standing tradition. Follow several residents as they form an unlikely alliance to combat the common threat of this dangerous monster and embark on an undertaking that will change each of them and their town forever.

Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: February 17th 2021 Links:  Am...


Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana!

Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: February 17th 2021


The Craft meets The Shining in this slow-burn Florida gothic horror.

As the only daughter in her Cuban-American home, 18-year-old Valentina Callejas has been raised to do what her Catholic grandmother and mother say to do. But Valentina feels a different pull--an affinity with nature, a desire to read tarot cards and study the occult. After ditching her church's retreat and fighting with her family, Valentina flees her Miami home and ends up five hours away at Macy's house, a sister she's never met until now.

When a mysterious wolf leads Valentina to nearby abandoned Sunlake Springs Resort, she meets the "clairs," young psychics drawn to the hotel's haunted history. They've been waiting for her, they say, to open a magical entryway to the spirit world. But Valentina's sensitive hands tell a different story--of anguished spirits, menacing cracks, and hooded ghosts of Florida's hateful past. Even the local legend, the beautiful Lady of the Lake, all hint to the hotel's sinister history. To protect her new friends from the horrors awaiting them on the other side, Valentina must use her growing powers and decide, once and for all, if she's the witch she was always meant to be.


Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I'd always wanted to write a story set in a haunted hotel. In fact, my first ever completed novel is a middle-grade story called FREDDIE AND THE BILTMORE GHOST, set in the famous Biltmore Hotel of Coral Gables, FL. It was never published, but it's the book that got me started in fiction writing. The hotel in MOON CHILD, The Sunlake Springs, is loosely based on the Biltmore. Also, for three years, I kept having visions of an opening scene of a book where a Catholic girl would hide her witchcraft away from her strict grandmother and decided last summer that I had to write it next.


When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?

Valentina presented herself to me long before I wrote the book, as I said. She was always a witch in the broom closet, and I always knew that would be the basis for her character. Aspects of her personality and story developed later, of course, and some, like her suppressed rage, ended up becoming an important theme of the novel.


Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?

Besides Valentina, I loved her older sister, Macy. I felt it was really important for Vale to have one person in her life that she could trust, who wouldn't lie to her and would always be there for her, even if she was new in her life. At times, we're not sure if to trust Macy, but that's not because of anything she did. It's because we're experiencing life through Vale's eyes, and Vale doesn't know who to trust.


What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?

In my Haunted Florida series, it's plot a little more than character. In MOON CHILD, I decided early on, it was going to be character all the way. If the plot ended up weak as a result, I'd be okay with that, because this story had always been, since the beginning, about a Catholic Latina's struggle with her hidden identity, and that's what the focus needed to be.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?

I was shocked to discover how much of this book was about me in many ways. Valentina are not copies of each other, but aspects of her personality are, such as all the anger she was holding back. That was like therapy for me.


What books or authors influenced your own writing?

I've always been a fan of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lois Duncan. Nowadays I don't try and write like anyone else, but these folks definitely influenced my writing.


Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

I do read them, because I'm curious to see what people liked or didn't like. Also, because I like to see when people are happy with what I've given them. It's the reason I write--to entertain. Bad reviews don't affect me, though. I just shrug and move on.


What led you to start writing?

I've been writing my entire life. My ENTIRE life. :)


What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?

I love gothic horror because of its moodiness and atmospheric quality. I love old Hollywood black and white 30s movies, I love the notion of abandoned castles, and violins playing in the middle of the night from somewhere behind a hidden passageway. I'm intrigued by secrets and by veneers covering something dark and rotten underneath."


What are you currently reading?

Right now I'm reading Christina Henry's The Mermaid, part of her series of dark retellings of classic fairy tales, although this one isn't about The Little Mermaid, as it sounds. It's about PT Barnum's famous Feejee Mermaid scandal. I just finished reading her other book, The Lost Boy, her take on the origin story of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.


A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?

I actually can't listen to any music while writing. I have a lyrical brain as well as a musical one after years of playing violin, and I can't listen to any kind of phrasing without wanting to hum or sing along when I'm supposed to be crafting a novel. It just doesn't work.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 

One day, you're going to be co-writing YouTubers Sam and Colby's book PARADISE ISLAND based on their creepy trip to Kauai, and it's going to be fun as hell.


What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Young Frankenstein is one of my October classic favorites. I also love Dirty Dancing as a guilty pleasure. It's feminist, sexy, the dancing is great, and the soundtrack is the sound of my high school years. Moana is another favorite. The characters, the music, the grandmother's spirit as a stingray, omg I can't. It's a perfect movie.


Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

A cat. They're cool and aloof, warm and loving to a few select people, loyal if you're loyal to them, and they give silent, deadly looks. When nobody is looking, they're total goofballs.


Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale creatures?

Oh, haunted mansion without even question. My husband proposed to me at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, I convert my house to a haunted mansion every October, and I throw badass Halloween parties.


What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Everyone tells you "write from your heart." I'm going to give you a little bit of weird advice here: Yes, write from your heart, but to a certain extent. If you want to make it as a commercial writer and live off your writing, you also have to learn what readers want. You'll be writing for them more than for yourself. Learn everything about the genre you're writing in, listen to what the readers want, read reviews for other authors, and create a product that only YOU can give. Writing for ONLY yourself yields books that no one but you want to read. There has to be a balance. :)




GABY TRIANA is the bestselling author of 17 novels for teens and adults, including the Haunted Florida series (Island of Bones, River of Ghosts, City of Spells), Wake the Hollow, Cakespell, Summer of Yesterday (a tribute novel to Walt Disney World's River Country), and Paradise Island: A Sam and Colby Story. She's a short story contributor in Don't Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute Anthology to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a flash fiction contributor in Weird Tales Magazine, and the host of a horror-based YouTube channel called The Witch Haunt. Published with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Permuted Press, & Entangled, Gaby writes about witchy powers, ghosts, haunted places, and abandoned locations and has ghostwritten over 50 novels for bestselling authors. Her books have won IRA Teen Choice, ALA Best Paperback, and Hispanic Magazine's Good Reads Awards. She lives in Miami with her family and is at work on her next novel.


Visit her at www.GabyTriana.com
FB: @GabyTriana.author
Twitter: @GabyTriana
IG: @GabyTriana
YT: The Witch Haunt

Gaby, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!


Be sure to check out Moon Child on February 17th!




Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Matthew R. Davis! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: February 29th 2021 Links...



Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Matthew R. Davis!
Read on for the full interview.


Publication date: February 29th 2021
Links: Amazon 


THE MAN

Jonny Trotter has spent the last fifteen years running from tragic memories of the country town where he grew up-but the black envelopes pushed under his door won't let him forget, and now that his father has died, he can run no more.

THE TOWN

Returning to Waterwich for the funeral and wake with his partner Sloane, Jonny must confront old resentments, his estranged best friends Brendan and Coralie, a strange, veiled woman the locals call the White Widow...and the mystery surrounding the fate of his first lover, Jessica Grzelak.

THE GIRL

A morbid and reckless city girl banished to the country to live with her aunt, Jessica loved to push the limits and explore the shadows-and no one has seen her since the night of her high school formal, the night she and Jonny went looking for the Chapel.

THE CHAPEL

Rumoured to be found in the woods outside Waterwich, mentioned in playground rhymes about local lovebirds Billy and Poppy and their killing spree in 1964, the Chapel is said to be an ancient, sacred place that can only be entered by lovers-a test that can only be passed if their bond is pure and true.

THE TRUTH

Before he can move on to a future with Sloane, Jonny must first face the terrible truth of his past-and if he can't bring it out into the light at last, it might just pull him and everything he loves down into the dark, forever.


What's your latest release? 


MIDNIGHT IN THE CHAPEL OF LOVE, my first novel, published by JournalStone.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


I often describe it as a contemporary rural gothic mystery horror, which is a bit of a mouthful but covers most of the bases! The basic synopsis sounds fairly straightforward, even hackneyed - man returns to the country town he's been avoiding for years and must face up to his tragic past - but there's a lot more going on in this story, both above and below the surface. There's a cave out in the woods called the Chapel where lovers may test the strength and purity of their bond, which provides the narrative with a centre as well as a shot of cosmic awe. And it's a very Australian story, which may be of interest to international readers not used to such things. No spoilers, but I'll tell you this up front: there are no kangaroos.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

A drive between town and city, a Something for Kate song called "The Fireball at the End of Everything", my own conflicted feelings about the place where I grew up, the mysterious and ineffable atmosphere of PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, the mistakes I'd made in relationships and the ones I was yet to make...

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


The characters grew along with the story and changed to suit the narrative. For example, the main character's partner was initially a blonde white woman called Stephanie - a tip of the hat to Something for Kate and their bassist Stephanie Ashworth - but she didn't feel like an actual person so much as a conscious reference. I felt my way around in the darkness until I hit upon elements that I felt worked for the story: her name became Sloane, which felt right; she became a Chinese-Australian woman with a Polish-descended father, which fits neatly with some of the book's themes; she became an acquisitions manager for a local press, which allowed her an avid reader's perspective on the plot - she pushes Jonny to get closure on fifteen years of mystery and pain because she knows nothing else makes narrative sense! That last was something that found its way into the work as I wrote it, along with a number of other little details that add up to make Sloane Nowak a person I feel I really know and admire. Jonny Trotter, on the other hand, felt more like a cypher when I began writing as he didn't seem to have many distinctive characteristics, but he filled out and grew more real as I lived through him. I guess that makes sense as I have an intuitive understanding of the male experience, and indeed, the novel is in some ways an examination of Australian masculinity - the good, the bad, and the toxic. I find that interesting as I generally prefer to write female characters, and though there are strong and well-observed women at the heart of this tale, it is very much the story of a man.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


Character focus is very important to me when writing a novel, and on that level, my work carries the same weight as literary fiction - but I'm often disappointed by lit-fic's apparent disdain for solid, interesting plots. I try to ensure that my plots are watertight before I sit down to write the manuscript, that they start, continue, and end somewhere meaningful. And while I have a good idea of the characters when I begin writing, they accrue layers and details as I go that make them feel more real. So both elements are paramount to me.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about yourself, etc.) while writing?


I think the most interesting thing I learned came after. I put all this effort into writing a man whose insecurity and dishonesty damages his relationships and has far-reaching consequences... and then, without understanding it, I went and became that man myself. That particular irony was hard to swallow.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?


There are so many! I am the net result of all my reading, so hopefully the influence of thousands of other authors, filtered through my own perspective and experience, becomes something entirely unique. That said, it's impossible to ignore the influence of Stephen King and Ramsey Campbell, though I sometimes spot lines or techniques that remind me of other favourites.

What attracted you to the genre you write in?


If we narrow my genre down to just horror, which is at the heart of everything I do: I think that horror, despite its outlandish trappings, trades in truths other genres won't touch - not just in spite of its irrationality, but BECAUSE of it. I believe that good, thoughtful horror comes closest to depicting and examining the many-faceted, complicated, and confusing nature of humanity. Also, I like blood, boobs, and spooky shit.

What are you currently reading?


I just finished AMERICAN HIPPO by Sarah Gailey and I've started THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones. I'm also working my way through the MONSTRESS graphic novels by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there are songs you had on repeat?


I don't write to music these days - too distracting - but I always, ALWAYS have songs looping in my head, and the ones playing as I wrote this novel were dictated by the chapter titles, which took their names from songs by acts mentioned in the story. I appended a playlist to the back of the book so readers can check out the songs and artists in question - The Cure and Joy Division, Deftones and Silverchair, Chelsea Wolfe and Diamanda Galas... Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Godflesh, Something for Kate. And there are plenty of artists namechecked in the book who don't get chapter titles, because music is how I relate to people and the world - it moves through literally everything I do.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


"Keep going, kid. You're on the right track."

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?


I've been leaning hard on RICK AND MORTY lately to unwind, and DOCTOR WHO is always close to my heart. I don't like to rewatch movies too much in case the shine wears off, but the Cornetto Trilogy - SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, and THE WORLD'S END - is something that repays repeat watches and is endlessly amusing whilst still delivering genuine pathos and great writing.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?


At the risk of jinxing myself, I'm preparing to write a creepy, heartfelt novel manuscript about derelict places, those who explore them, and the people who fall through the cracks. I've spent a lot of time wandering through abandoned ruins with my favourite photographer, and it's all going to pay off in grand style once I unpick the plot knots holding me back from starting on this one...

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?


My modest but informative blog is at matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com and you can find me on Facebook. I don't have the time, inclination, or talent at creating pithy bites of information to bother with other social media right now!

I’m an author and musician (plus sometime editor, visual artist, scriptwriter, composer, and all-round Renaissance man) based in Adelaide, South Australia.

I write dark fiction, horror for the most part, though I take an eclectic angle to all things. My approach to writing is character-focused, broad-minded, and averse to standard tropes. I cut my fangs on authors such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Richard Laymon, Anne Rice, Dan Simmons, Tanith Lee and Poppy Z. Brite, and these days I’m also drawn to folks like Alan Moore, Laird Barron, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Karl Edward Wagner, Joe Hill, China Miéville, Tom Piccirilli, Venero Armanno, Kaaron Warren, Joel Lane, Dennis Lehane, Livia Llewellyn, and Angela Slatter (to name just a few). So if you’re looking for a list of influences, there’s a place to start.

I’ve had around sixty short stories and poems published around the world thus far. The first story I recall writing came at the age of seven, a three-line opus about decapitating an invading horde of giant chickens; at thirteen, I won an all-ages writing contest and had my entry, a vaguely blasphemous sci-fi potboiler called 1″Time and the Bible”, published in Port Pirie newspaper The Recorder. I’ve always written, but for many years it came second to trying to establish a career in music; I didn’t begin submitting my work for publication until 2010, which is also when my first story appeared in print — the fittingly titled “Debutante”.

I won two categories in the 2019 Australian Shadows Awards: Best Short Story (“Steadfast Shadowsong”) and the Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction (“Supermassive Black Mass”). My work has been shortlisted two other times for the Paul Haines Award (“The Heart of the Mission”, 2016; “This Impossible Gift”, 2017), twice for Best Novella in the Aurealis Awards (“Andromeda Ascends”, 2018; “Supermassive Black Mass”, 2019), and once for Best Horror Short Story in the Aurealis Awards (“Pilgrimage”, 2019). I also served as a reader and judge for the Horror Novels and Novellas categories of the 2016 and 2017 Aurealis Awards — acting as Panel Convenor the second year — a Novels judge for the 2018 and 2019 Australian Shadows Awards, and an Edited Works judge for the 2019 Shadows.

My first collection of short stories, If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, was released by Things in the Well on January 31, 2020. My first novel, Midnight in the Chapel of Love, will be released by JournalStone Publishing on January 29, 2021.

I’ve performed spoken word shows with punk poets Paroxysm Press, including three Adelaide Fringe gigs, and with the SA Writers Centre — the latter in the West Terrace Cemetery. I attended MAPS Film School in 2010 and since then I have been sporadically involved in short films and live videos as a scriptwriter, director, editor, producer, composer, grip, and (gasp!) actor. My most recent film work has been as an extra in a number of club scenes for Dick Dale’s forthcoming splatterpunk feature Ribspreader.

I play bass and other instruments, sing, write songs, edit videos, create album sleeves, and do all sorts of other things in the progressive/alternative rock/metal bands Blood Red Renaissance (on hiatus since 2013) and icecocoon. I’ve so far played on seven albums, three EPs, and seven singles. I’ve gigged extensively with numerous bands and one-offs, including two interstate tours with BRR and one with Priority Orange.

I currently live in Somerton Park.

Matthew, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!