Writing on the Rocks

Join me as I review and interview the brightest stars in Independent publishing. Whether they are self published or published through a small publisher, these writers have the talent, voice and know how to carve a spot for themselves amongst the literary gods.

Interview with Michael Shean author of Shadow of a Dead Star

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Oh happy day! Michael Shean, author of Shadow of a Dead Star, stopped by the pub today to talk science fiction. Now if you’ve hung out in the pub before you know that only a few science fiction writers have made their way onto my bookshelves and Michael Shean is one of them. I love noir stories and the way he’s combined the two into a gritty and captivating story just blew me away. With that said, I’m super excited to have him here to talk about the possibilities of merging human with machine. And the best part about the interview? The Balvanie Scotch Michael has introduced me to. So pull up a barstool, grab yourself your favorite drink and listen up. Oh, and if you stick around after the interview I hear Michael’s buying a shots of Jaegermeister for everyone. Is this guy great or what? ;)

KD: Where did the inspiration for Shadow of a Dead Star come from?

MS: I was in a dark place a few years back, very angry with certain aspects of the world and how it was affecting myself and other people I knew – I started having strange dreams about the future, and I came to feel very distant from people and society.  Shadow is an artifact of that alienation.

KD: Your novel, Shadow of a Dead Star and your serial, Bones Wires, both take place in a futuristic Seattle. What is it about this time period and Seattle that draws you to set your stories there? 

MS: At the time I just thought Seattle was a good place to set the story.  It can be beautiful but also very grim and dreary, and I had friends who lived there talk about the penetrating gloom that they felt after living there for a few years.  It’s the paradox of the area that draws me there: I hear stories of isolation and despair, but also stories of vibrance and color.  I try to capture that, and I hope that I’ve done the city justice.

KD: You combined the darkness of noir with the endless possibilities of science fiction to create a bleak future full of illusions and disconnect. Is there a message hidden within your words regarding the path that we’re on in respect to technology?  (more…)

REVIEW: Shadow of a Dead Star by Michael Shean

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

In Michael Shean’s futuristic noir, Shadow of a Dead Star, we follow the gut instincts of Thomas Walken, an agent with the Industrial Security Bureau in Seattle, 2078. In a world where technology and commercialism is god, it is up to Walken to keep black-market technology off the Seattle streets. He has no idea that when he’s sent to intercept a shipment of smuggled Princess Dolls, which are little girls turned into sex toys, that his entire world, and the world as he knows it will be lost to him forever. When the dolls are stolen out of custody, Walken is put on the spot to find out the who and why behind it and this time it’s not just his job on the line, but his life.

Shean’s writing rips you out of your comfortable chair and hurls you directly into the story. It is one thing for a writer to write a story about a dark and brooding place, it is something entirely different when the reader can actually feel the coldness and the despair emanate from the page. Shadow of a Dead Star captures the spirit, or actually, lack-of spirit that the noir genre is so popular for. (more…)

Interview with Holly Bush author of Romancing Olive

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Holly Bush

Good Thursday, friends! Today I'm happy to introduce Holly Bush, a fellow Pennsylvanian, to you, my dearest friends. You may have caught my review of Holly's historical romance, Romancing Olive, this past Tuesday. Well, now the lovely lady has joined me for a crisp sauvignon blanc as we talk romance and the younger man.

KD: When and how did Olive’s story come to you?

HB: I’m not sure how to explain this without sounding odd but I see my characters in my head. They lodge themselves there. I saw Olive seated on the train west to Ohio, purse strings looped over her arm, bonnet tied and traveling coat buttoned-up, staring out the window at the passing landscape. She was very consciously not engaging other passengers and dreaming her dreams about raising her niece and nephew in her family home in Philadelphia. I didn’t have a clear picture yet of why Olive had to rescue these children, only that she did.  (I removed this entire opening chapter and worked bits and pieces into the current first chapter having decided it was too much back story and that the story really began as Olive waited impatiently for the sheriff to speak to her.)  (more…)

Review of Romancing Olive by Holly Bush

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
Romancing Olive

In 1891, a spinster librarian, Olive Wilkens left the quietness and stability of her Philadelphia home on a mission to rescue her now orphaned niece and nephew in Spencer, Ohio. All she knew when she embarked on her journey was that the children, Mary and John, were taken in by a neighboring farmer Jacob Butler after the deaths of her brother and wife. What she learned was that her brother was not living the respectable farm life he led her to believe in his letters. In fact, the quaint little farm house he painted in his letters was nothing more than a shack on overrun land. He was drunken gambler married to a whore who didn’t do much by way of their children. What starts out to be a saintly mission turns into a journey of self discovery for Olive and a lesson in opening your heart and mind to the world around you.

Olive’s character starts off very naive in the book; not that she can’t handle the horrors that the world can hold only that she hasn’t had to. She was by no means extraordinary privileged growing up, but she did have the nicer things in life. She is absolutely appalled, but then again, who wouldn’t be, when she learned how her brother actually lived. However, if she were truly naive and unworldy she would have taken the children and ran back to Philadelphia as fast as the carriage could take her. But she didn’t. She did what was best for the children, children who were traumatized by witnessing the death of their mother.  (more…)

Interview with Billy Purgatory author, Jesse James Freeman

Thursday, January 12th, 2012
SONY DSC

Hey friends! It's my favorite day of the week, and yes, I like it even better than Friday. You want to know why? Because I get to talk to my favorite authors right here in my own little pub. I am super excited to have one of my favorite Twitter pals join me at the bar, the totally badass, Jesse James Freeman! What are you drinking, Jesse?

JJF: Whiskey with a Whiskey chaser with one ice cube which I have smuggled in from Hoth.

blinks ... Ooooooooookay. ahem Well, friends, grab yourself a quick drink, pass the peanuts and settle in for a lesson on badassery from the man himself, Jesse. Just let me grab my scotch and away we go. :)

KD: I think I fell in love in Billy Purgatory. Where did inspiration for his character, and his story, come from? 

JJF: Wow, thanks so much for saying that about Billy.  At his core, he’s kind of a knuckle-head – but I think he has some qualities that manifest themselves as the story goes along that catches people off-guard.  A lot of it, actually, caught me off-guard as I was writing him. (more…)

Review of Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird by Jesse James Freeman

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
B_Purgatory Cover1

Classifying Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird into a genre is like putting its main character, Billy Purgatory into a clean-cut character profile; not only can it not be done, but it shouldn’t. I could easily say that with the zombies, mythological creatures, the conflicts between the supernatural and humans, a hero with an unconventional upbringing with some romantic tension throughout the book that it could be considered urban fantasy. However, it’s not in the first person, as many urban fantasies are, and it takes place in the back woods, New York, Vietnam and beyond so people could argue its placement in that genre.

What Billy Purgatory is is too big to be categorized into the confines of just one genre. Simply put, its a story about a ten year old skateboarder who could care less about the world around him. However, when he’s faced with vampires and a monster he nicknamed the Time Zombie, Billy realizes that there is more out there that he wants to care less about. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times he turns his back to it, he soon learns that the gods have bigger plans for him. Ok, so maybe not so simple. (more…)

Interview with Rachel Abbott, author of Only the Innocent

Thursday, January 5th, 2012
Rachel-Abbott

Hello friends! I have a special treat today, Rachel Abbott has traveled all the way from Italy to sit at our bar and discuss her thriller Only the Innocent. Not only is she giving us an inside look at her favorite characters, what makes a thriller thrilling and tricks of the trade... she brought us WINE! Really, folks, she truly is a good friend. ;) So, sit back and relax and enjoy the chat. Cheers!

KD: Not many thrillers deal with a woman killer, what was the inspiration behind Only the Innocent?

RA: I think it started with a programme on television about the percentage of criminals by gender. Whilst the number of female murderers is quite low, it does actually happen from time to time. So I started to wonder what would be so bad that a woman would actually have no option available other than to commit murder. For it to be a cold-blooded murder, it would also have to be a very clever plot with precision planning. So what combination of circumstances would make it impossible to just walk away from a problem? I explored lots of theories, and then tested them on myself. Would I commit murder for that? If the answer was ‘no’ then it wasn’t good enough. I should just point out, here, that I have never committed a murder – and have no plans to do so!

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Review of Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

 

Rachel Abbott’s Only the Innocent is not your average “who dunnit” murder mystery. The question that drives this thriller is not “who” did it, but “why”. Abbott carefully constructed a world of mystery, depravity, sex, violence, manipulation and intrigue on so many different levels that I can honestly say you truly have to read until the last page to understand and appreciate the complexity of the story.

 

Philanthropist Hugo Fletcher is known world wide for his charitable works rescuing Eastern-European prostitutes from their dark world and giving them a second chance with a new job and foster family. However, there is a darkness to him that the flashing bulbs of the cameras hide. When he is found dead in the middle of sexual act, it is up to Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas to uncover the truth behind Hugo’s all too perfect public persona and unmask the vileness that was known to only those closest to him. It seems everyone who comes in contact with Hugo has a secret and it’s Douglas’ job to weave through the tangled web of deception and perversion to find the killer. (more…)

Interview with Preying Angels author Jeff Davis

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Hello friends! Welcome to the pub for another chat with one of our fellow authors. This time, thriller novelist, Jeff Davis is joining me. We just got cozy with our drink of choice, Irish whiskey and are about to dive into Jeff’s book, Preying Angels. So, grab yourself a tumbler of whiskey and settle in.

KD: Where did the idea for Preying Angels come from?

JD: Preying Angels came from several things. I was active in the ‘CB’ channels on CompuServe before the internet became affordable and available to everyone. I later got into the public chat servers out there. I saw a lot of “carelessness” when it came to people giving out information. At the same time, I assisted as a civilian consultant with some criminal investigations that were instigated in chat rooms. Each of those events helped me build the story that eventually became Preying Angels. (more…)

Review of Preying Angels by Jeff Davis

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

When the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Building were impossibly hacked, FBI Agent Gabrielle Sinclair knows who did it but there is only one problem, she thought the man responsible was long dead. In her desperation to find answers, Gabby dives into the technical world to find the one person who can stop the threat, Michael Thomas, a computer extraordinaire  who can manipulate computers into doing anything he wishes. From Michael’s home in Mississippi, they uncover the steps Lucifer took to take down the buildings, but they can’t find the one thing to tie everything together, the why. While they are working on uncovering the truth, several teen girls go missing in the area surrounding Michael’s home and Gabby is called in to help search their computers. What seems to be two totally unconnected coincidences turns out to be a race to find and stop the serial killer and the man behind him, Lucifer.

 

The internet is a scary place and Davis uses it for his playground in creating a cyber thriller that has me thinking twice about using social media to meet new people. Although Michael and Gabby are the heroes of the story I found myself intrigued with Lucifer and his puppet MansonsTwin. (more…)