What is my author brand? When you think of what you’ve read from me, what do you think of?
Most of you reading this are not writers, so you probably don’t know what I’m about to tell you. In December, I had a book come out. Last week, I had a second. You’d think as an author that would be a very good thing. Everybody who bought the first book would buy the second, right? Guess again.
The thing is, readers who enjoy silly thrillers about Lycan gumshoes are not necessarily the same bunch who are reading serious books about making their remote teams work. That
doesn’t even include my short fiction, which has been published all over the world and in every conceivable genre. In fact, if you think about my work, including historical fiction like Count of the Sahara and the Lucca Le Peu stories, the Venn diagram of possible readers looks like this:
What I”m trying to say, is if you read my work, you are in very elite company, and I appreciate you. If you enjoyed The Long-Distance Leader, maybe take a chance on Acre’s Bastard or Count of the Sahara. The same brain, for good or evil, created all of them, and I hope you find, read and enjoy my work.
Plus, you’re in an exclusive club, and that’s kind of cool, right?
Recently, as part of a price promotion, I came across a few fantasy authors I really enjoyed. One is LS O’dea and her Lake of Sins series. It’s a unique combination of the races in the Time Machine meets Doctor Moreau. Figured you might enjoy meeting her…
Okay, lady. Tell us about you.
Hmm. I hate this question because I’m not very exciting – on the outside. Inside my head is where the excitement happens.
Internal conversations are a constant for me. They aren’t always stories but there’s always talking going on in my head. When I started writing, almost everything was dialogue. I had to go back and add description and scenery. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but those parts of the stories don’t come easily for me. Dialogue, on the other hand, just flows.
Because of these conversations, I was an odd-ish child. Even my mom said so. ? Like most people, I didn’t realize I was odd because I am who I am. It’s normal to me. When my mother mentioned that I was a bit different as a kid (I was an adult when she said this), I was surprised, but I believe her. She had seven kids, so she knows what “normal” children do, and that wasn’t me.
Unlike my annoying (my words not my mom’s) siblings, I entertained myself. I’d sit for hours and play, talking to myself. What she didn’t know was that I was actually talking to the characters in my head. I never realized that everyone doesn’t do this until she mentioned that. I’d be so lonely without those voices.
So…besides for being an odd child, I was also a tormented child. Growing up the youngest of seven in a time before 24/7 TV, computers, the Internet and video games, kids had to be more creative in their entertainment. Unfortunately for me, that meant teasing and tormenting me. In some ways I can’t blame my siblings. One of them was always stuck with me tagging along. I’m four and a half years younger than my closest sibling. That means nothing as adults, but as kids…that’s a lot of years.
The easiest way for them to not have to watch me was to get me to go home on my own. That always meant teasing me until I cried and ran home.
One would think that they would’ve gotten into trouble for this, but this was also before there were pre-made meals, fast food five minutes away, and dishwashers. My mom was busy. Really, really busy. Unless we had a broken bone or we were bleeding profusely she didn’t deal with our tears. Plus, if she’d punished my siblings for making me cry, she would’ve had to make them come home and then she would’ve had more kids under her feet and in her way.
Instead, when I came home crying my mother would make me take a bath and then I was in for the evening. The good thing was that when my siblings did come home, they still had to take a bath (we didn’t have a shower) and they always missed some of whatever TV show we were watching before bed. It wasn’t much, but I relished that small vengeance.
The other good and bad things were that I learned to deal with their teasing because I didn’t want to go home and take a bath. That was good because I was well prepared for life. The bad thing was that they had to escalate the torment in order to get the result that they wanted. It was kind of a vicious cycle.
With all that being said, I get along very well with all of my siblings. We are a close family. Was I teased and tormented? Yes, but they also played with me, and I knew that they always had my back against anyone outside of the family. Inside of the family it was every kid for themselves. Lol.
What is your series about?
I’ll tell you about Escape, which is the first book in the Lake of Sins series.
This book takes place on the earth of the future, but instead of a story filled with new technology, this world is more forest than city. It starts hundreds of years after the Great Death ravaged the world, killing most humans, all domestic animals, and most other animals. The humans who survived had to rebuild and in doing that they changed – genetically.
As far as the characters know, the only descendants of the human race are the Almightys. The other classes are something else, but the characters don’t know what they are. Just like a dog doesn’t know it’s a dog; it just is who and what it is.
The first book gives a very narrow view of the world of the Lake of Sins because the story is told from the point of view of two Producers. The rest of the books build on that world view with new POV characters.
The two POV characters in Escape are in the class of beings that produce all the food for the other classes. Every year after harvest, the teenage Producers are either chosen to stay and assigned a mate or removed from the encampment. Trinity knows she’s not going to be picked to stay because she’s not a good specimen. She’s not even all Producer. Her father is a House Servant, but that secret will get them all killed.
Trinity escapes into the forest one last time, hoping to find her friend who was taken last year. She has a good idea of where her friend might be, but she doesn’t plan on being chased and hunted by Guards and predators that shouldn’t even exist. When she’s surrounded by a River-Man in the water, a team of Guards in one area of the forest and an unknown predator in the other direction, she must choose which enemy she thinks she may be able to escape.
Where did this come from? What are the roots of your story?
The roots of my stories vary. I’m not one of those writers who has trouble coming up with ideas. I am flooded with ideas from things I see, articles I read and many other things that happen in my daily life.
The roots of the Lake of Sins series goes back a long, long time to the movie Soylent Green. I saw the movie when I was a kid. I don’t remember much about it except the horror of the main character finding out what Soylent Green was.
Add to that, my personal decision to become vegetarian and you have the beginning of the main theme in the Lake of Sins series. I began to ponder what us humans would do if some catastrophic event killed all domestic animals and all other larger animals.
I’m also fascinated and a bit horrified with our tinkering with genetics. These things were tossed together in my cauldron of a brain and the Lake of Sins series was born.
The Chimera Chronicles series is a spinoff of the Lake of Sins series. There was a lot of interest by readers in the Rive-Man character in the first book of the Lake of Sins series, so I decided to tell his story. Rise of the River Man is Mutter’s story of how he is genetically modified and turned into a River-Man.
Once that book was written, I realized that I had to tell the stories of the other “monsters” that appear in the Lake of Sins series.
I’m not positive how the Immortal Defiance series came about. It probably stems from my love of Greek mythology. One of my favorite things to read as a kid were the various stories of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology. I started to wonder how they felt about going from being revered and worshiped to being nothing more than a myth. These thoughts rolled into A Demon’s Gift.
Iatee is a Punishment Spirit who refuses to conform with the times. He has no interest in becoming a kinder, gentler spirit, and he is punished for his disobedience to the gods. When the story starts his spirit is trapped inside a stuffed teddy bear.
Where can people learn more about you and your books?
I’ve created a series page that will give you an idea about the books in that series. The Chimera Chronicles and the Immortal Defiance series are standalone. The Lake of Sins series needs to be read in order.
I am someone who wears many hats. I was one of those who didn’t really have a plan for the future. I went to college and became an engineer because I thought it would be easy to get a job. And it was. There, I met my husband to whom I’ve been married 22 years. We have two teenagers now. I then changed countries and professions. I moved from Mexico to the US and became a teacher. At first, I wasn’t sure it was for me, but later I understood how to help kids and even studied for a Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education. I’ve been a teacher since 2003 and my favorite grade to teach is Kindergarten. All through that I have read and written stories. The first book I read for pleasure was Jurassic Park. But the book that really changed my life was Interview with the Vampire. I really liked movies about vampires, witches, werewolves and all things fantasy, and with Interview with the Vampire I realized that people wrote about these things too. I was was 17 when I wrote my first fan fiction. Years later I thought about my own stories and began to write them down. I have been writing them down ever since.
So what’s your series about?
My first series is an urban fantasy. It is completed and has 6 books and 2 short stories. It’s about a secret agency where vampires work to solve paranormal conflict. The witches are their allies and the werewolves their main enemies. Some agents hunt werewolves, and other hunt rogue vampires.
The story begins with Rebecca, an ordinary woman with nothing to lose. She meets Dylan, and he convinces her to join the vampire agency. The first book is about discovery. Rebecca has a lot to learn, and not only about being a vampire, but also how to become a werewolf hunter. At the end of her training, she must be tested. The rest of the books focus more on the conflict between the werewolves and the vampires. I don’t think my stories follow any tropes, and I think mine are a different type of vampires. You’d have to read and see.
Yeah, about that killing werewolves thing…. but that’s for another time. What is it about that form of magic and worldbuilding that appealed to you?
The story originated with a dream. I dreamt about a vampire in a room full of people and how the only way to identify a vampire was when his eyes turned read. Everything started from there. The scene ended up in book 2, and it went through a complete revision to make it the first mission Rebecca needs to survive as a new werewolf hunter.
Who are the authors that influenced you? Who do you read?
I love reading. I have read most of Anne Rice’s books, as well as JK Rowling, Marissa Meyer, Marie Lu, Kiera Cass, Naomi Novak, Andy Weir, Jeff Lemire, Isaac Asimov, and Stephen King.
At long last, Book 2 of the Werewolf PI series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, is available. If you’ve preordered, blessings upon you and you should get it soon. If you haven’t, you can buy it at BlackRoseWriting (my publisher) The ebook is available at Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited,and the paperback can be ordered pretty much anywhere you buy books.
What are people saying about it?
“I loved this book. A rollicking, clever ride with a story so good you forget it’s a genre novel. If Jack Reacher was a werewolf, he’d be Johnny Lycan.” -John Wing, Jr., comedian and author of A Car to Die For
“Witches, a Werewolf, and a Berserker. Only in Vegas, Baby! Johnny, Shaggy, and the gang are back in this page-turning, magic-infused thriller of epic proportions. Beware: Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will cast a spell on you!” -Jean M. Roberts, author of The Heron and The Frowning Madonna
“As usual, Wayne’s fast-paced writing style draws you in immediately. Johnny Lupul is in fine form once again as he tries to keep some of Shaggy’s darker instincts in check and help those who can’t help themselves. If you’re hankering for a hairy good time, pick this novel up now!” -Katie Berry, author of the Claw and Abandoned series
I’m a sucker for a good spy thriller, and the Second World War has no shortage of opportunities for espionage, thrills and great stories. But how many heroines of those stories double as both spy and professor of botany? I’ll wait, because there’s only one I know of. My fellow Black Rose Writing author, Karen K Brees, tells this story in her new novel, Crosswind.
Karen, what’s your story?
I’ve lived long enough, seen enough, and done enough, that I’ll never run out of ideas for books. I’ve been a librarian on a bookmobile, a cattle rancher, a goat herder, a reluctant boater, a Harley biker babe ), and an enthusiastic, if clumsy, horsewoman. I knit well and hand quilt. To paraphrase Michael Travolta in Michael, “I listen. And I take copious notes.” I love history and especially love writing historical fiction. I can use the past as a framework and create a world that never was or might have been.
What’s Crosswind about?
Crosswind: The WWII Adventures of MI6 Agent Katrin Nissen is, at its roots, a story of the Nazi fascination with native plants that became their rationale for attempting to obliterate everyone and everything that didn’t fit their definition of “native.” The plot, of course, revolves around the search for a missing MI6 agent and the microfilm he possesses. The MI6 agent sent to find him and retrieve the microfilm is Yale Professor of Botany, Katrin Nissen. It flows from there, as she steps up to the plate to wage her own war against the Nazi agenda.
Where’d the story–and maybe more importantly, Karin, come from?
Strong female characters with a dry sense of humor have always appealed to me. Katrin is one of those women. She knows who she is and she does her job. Does it quite well, actually. But she always finds herself in some form of danger that requires her to use all her wits to escape.
Putting Katrin in a WWII setting just seemed natural. It was a time when ordinary people did extraordinary things to conquer pure (or impure) evil. Right and wrong were clearly delineated, and the fate of humanity hung in the balance. My WWII fiction tells the stories of these people. They’re composites, but they’re drawn from real life.
Totally unfair question, but what’s your favorite scene in the book?
My favorite scene, without giving away too much, is the night at the Blue Danube, a Bohemian bar, where Katrin meets two young women who have been targeted by the Nazis. What Katrin does at that meeting is pivotal to the outcome of the story.
I liked that scene a lot. Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Crosswind is my latest book. I’ve written several others both fiction and nonfiction. My website is www.karenkbrees.com. I’m on FB and Goodreads as Karen K. Brees.
The Second Book in the Werewolf PI series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker is out December 8. Preorder now from my publisher, Black Rose Writing, and save 15% with the code PREORDER22. You can also preorder it on Amazon
If you’ve read Johnny Lycan, you know that I”m a sucker for genre stuff that understands it’s genre stuff. I first came across Charles Phipps’ work through his Supervillainy Saga. It’s a hilarious but affectionate look at all the Superhero tropes we love, and also know are just damned silly. With his new series, Space Academy Dropouts, he does the same to Science Fiction. Here’s my interview with him.
So who are you and why do we care?
When the churning black ooze of the primordial soup created the enzymes that would evolve life on Earth, I was already old. Eventually, I became trapped in a human host when my cult failed the proper summoning ritual. So I am pretending to be a chubby geek from Ashland, Ky in the meantime. I own two dogs, am married, and am the world’s biggest fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek. I have multiple science fiction and fantasy series. I also review books at Booknest.EU, Grimdark Magazine, The United Federation of Charles, and the Before We Go Blog. Whoo!
What’s the book about?
Space Academy Dropouts is a delightful homage to all the sci-fi influences of my life from Star Trek to Star Wars to Mass Effect and Halo with a side order of Mel Brooks on the side. Vance Turbo, HERO OF SPACE is initially kicked out of Space Academy when he’s dragooned into a secret mission for the Interstellar Community’s security service. Unfortunately, it’s to serve as a decoy along with the worst crew in the galaxy. Events conspire to force poor Vance into doing what needs to be done even if he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it.
What is it about Vance that appealed to you?
Vance Turbo is my attempt to do Captain Kirk if he had the personality of William Shatner. No, just kidding. No, that’s Zapp Brannigan Poor Vance is a genius at what he does but what he does isn’t very smart. No, that’s Wolverine. Well, he’s a guy who would be a massive science fiction nerd in our world but lives in a science fiction universe so he has some advantage over his fellow cadets even though he really shouldn’t. He’s a snarky wiseass of the Harry Dresden vein but also a lot more idealistic than he lets on (or even admits to himself).
All books like this start with loving the genre, I know mine did. What are the roots of this particular story?
As mentioned, I’m a huge science fiction nerd and I feel like it’s always fun to take something familiar and put your own spin on it. In this case, I really enjoy the idea of a Deep Space Nine-esque take on a utopian scifi future. Yes, the Community is a great place to be and a massive improvement over the current world. However, you have to wonder what sort of challenges a place like the United Federation of Planets faces as well as what needs to be done to maintain such a place. Getting into that while doing all my comedy and twists was a lot of fun.
You are really active in the Urban Fantasy and Sci-fi communities. Who did this to you? Who are the authors you really enjoy?
I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, and other urban fantasy authors. For my space opera fandom, I’m a huge Jack Campbell fan and David Weber. I’m also a reader of both the Star Trek and Star Wars Expanded Universes. If I was going to recommend any indie authors, I’d recommend M.L. Spencer, Glynn Stewart, Rick Gualtieri, and Drew Hayes.
When I return I hope I’ll have an interview or two to post, and maybe even a sneak preview of the cover for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker. Be good to each other, read something, buy a book and leave a review.
I believe one of the most important concepts in writing fiction is that the success of a story depends on the villain. Johnny Lycan would be a weird little adventure story without Kozlov. But good antagonists have a reason for being all villain-y. Some writers dig deep into that.
Hi. I am Isra Sravenheart, a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author. I first found success with my book Her Dark Soul in 2017 which is book 1 in my Dark Spell series. Of which I am currently promoting the boxed set of 1-4 in the series. I am very much an introvert at heart living with my four cats who are sassy as they deem themselves to be. I’m also an avid binge-watcher of fantasy and paranormal shows such as Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Buffy Angel. I also am releasing my first PNR book this May “Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil” an interesting tale about young lone witch Sabine who has faced a break-up and now founds herself entangled with two vampires.
There’s a lot going on there. Tell me about your series.
Dark Spell series is a dark fantasy series featuring witches and warlocks. It’s an epic vivid world that I created with angels, demons, unicorns, dragons, light-bringers and I mainly focus on the aspect of villains and their POV. It spans eight books and mainly follows Isra and Astrid in their journey however things are not as clear cut as they seem. Don’t judge someone because nothing is what it seems. The good guys might look cute on the outset but they have their own tale of darkness to tell.
It has been compared to Grimms and Disney by many of its readers however it has a dark tone and focuses on aspects such as betrayal, forbidden love, unrequited love and dealing with one’s own personal demons (darkness.)
What are the roots of the story? Where does all this come from?
I love exploring a villain’s POV and while we’re not justifying what they did and we know it’s bad, we can understand the root of the character so at least their actions become understandable, Not everyone is born bad. There has to be a good reason. What makes people tick? I look at the ins and outs of the whole emotionally dragged-out mess, whilst not condemning them for it because everyone has their own reasons for being a certain way. It’s been a fun series to write and I love how there has been such a wide range of characters and eccentric personalities. My fave characters to write are Astrid and Samuel the light-bringer. He is off his rocker, to quote my editor Jody Freeman.
Who hurt you like this? Who are the authors who influenced you?
Neil Gaiman. Gregory Maguire, L Frank Baum, Phillip Pullman. lots of dark fantasy vibes here. That;s kinda my jam and read most of these when I was young especially the oz and Wicked series.
One thing about being with a publisher like Black Rose Writing, rather than publishing myself, is that you become a community and get introduced to plenty of other writers. One such person is Oklahoma author Luke Swanson. I got a chance to read his new thriller, Epicenter, and thought it would be great for you all to meet him as well.
Luke, what’s your deal?
My name is Luke Swanson, and I’m a fledgling author from Oklahoma City. I currently have three books published—a mystery, an action thriller, and a tragi-comedy—with a fourth coming in July. If I had an agent, they would tell me, “Write a consistent genre, you dolt!” But I don’t, so I do what I want.
I feel you. Moving from historical fiction to urban fantasy was hardly a career move. What’s your latest novel, Epicenter, about?
Epicenter is a standalone sequel to my first book, The Ten, which is a murder mystery. Epicenter shifts into full-on action mode—I’ve had a reviewer describe it as a Die Hard movie, which is high praise (as long as they’re talking about 1, 3, or 4). On a hot day in Los Angeles, Detective Jason Flynn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He needs to keep a witness and a hostage safe as a brutal cartel is gunning for them all. And on top of that…the “Big One” hits. The worst earthquake in US history rocks the city, and Jason and his reluctant allies need to survive.
As someone whose life got upended by the Northridge quake, I thought that was a great twist, and you caught some of the chaos that would naturally follow while just trying to do your darned job. Where did the idea come from?
I love Jason Flynn, who I created as a lead in The Ten. I could have made a continuing crime series with Jason solving a murder every week, but I didn’t feel I would do very well in that space. Michael Connelly and others have already mastered that genre. Thus, I took Jason and tossed him into an action movie. Epicenter specifically came from a few daydreams. For one, I wanted to put Jason through the wringer. In this story, he has the worst day imaginable, and his character arc reflects that. Also, I was inspired by the breakneck pace of Mad Max: Fury Road, as odd as that might sound. There’s no stopping for a breath, there’s only survival. I loved that idea. Being from OKC, I also am constantly toying with the idea of a mystery set during a tornado…and since Jason lives in LA, I transposed that obstacle onto him, with an earthquake.
What inspired you to be a writer?
I’ve always been a huge reader, and the idea that someone somewhere someday might be inspired by a book I’ve written is what motivated me to put words onto a dauntingly blank page. I love stories, and I hope to share that love with my readers.
Who did you read as a kid that inspired (or corrupted) you?
As a young reader, my bread and butter was the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz…and as a modern reader too, since I still keep up with that series. I love Steven James’s thrillers too.
How can people contact you or learn more about your work?
You can follow or reach out to me on Instagram! I’m fairly reachable, and I’d love to chat with readers. You can also follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and Letterboxd to see what I’m watching—after all, the media one consumes tells you a lot about them.
Speaking of Black Rose, the second in the Johnny Lycan series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, is coming out on December 8. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.
First, 2022 is not a real year. It’s science fiction. Blade Runner took place in 2019. Soylent Green takes place in 2022. But I’ll play along and pretend that it really is the Year of Our Lord 2022. If that’s the case, what will I be up to?
When it comes to the dreaded Day Job, there are two big creative projects in the pipeline.
The Long-Distance Team, which is about designing the work culture you really want, is under construction. It will be officially out on January 22, 2023, but available for pre-order before the end of the year.
Also, it’s likely I will be doing a podcast. It won’t be the late lamented Cranky Middle Manager Show, but it will be informative and snarky. Details to follow.
On the fun, creative front look for the second in my werewolf detective series. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will be out before the end of the year from Black Rose Writing. The third book in the series is under construction so it won’t be 2 years between installments, I pinky swear.
You can find out everything that I’m up to creatively by signing up for my infrequent but action-packed email newsletter. Use the signup box on the side of the screen.