Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Bones of the Earth by Scott Bury: Character Interview

The Dark Age. The Earth has turned on humanity with earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and a new plague that kills the Roman Emperor himself. Barbarian invasions shatter civilizations.

In this chaos, Javor comes of age in a poor, remote village. Try as he might, though, he never fits in with his own people. There is just something about him that keeps him apart from the others.

When barbarian raiders kidnap the girl he loves, he takes a mysterious dagger handed down from his great-grandfather and tries to rescue her. But while he's away, a horror that Javor could never believe existed murders his parents and devastates his village.

Javor begins his quest for revenge, not realizing that he is entering a war against forces bent on eliminating humanity.

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CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Javor from the North

Today’s guest is Javor, the young warrior from The Bones of the Earth.

Javor hails from a little village north of the Alps, in the territory now controlled by the marauding Avars. Javor’s adventures include killing several monsters and a dragon. They’ve also caused controversy, as several people were killed in the process, while Javor himself got through with barely a scratch.

He’s graciously come to talk to us today so we can get to know more about this fascinating—and fabulous—young hero. Thank you for coming, Javor.

You’re welcome.

Tell us, Javor, do you dream of traveling?

Sometimes I dream that I’m flying high over a wide, dark plain. Most nights, I can’t remember the dream, but when I can, I wish I couldn’t.

Sometimes, I dream of being back at home. My mother is baking bread and my father is coming back from the forest with honey. I can almost put it in my mouth, but then I wake up.

And sometimes, I dream of Danisa — I mean, Ingund. The girl in the story. I dream of … you know … well, at least kissing her.

But most often, something horrible happens then. Like a huge serpent, or a monster, or Avar raiders come out of nowhere.

I meant, is there a place you would really like to go to?

Hmmm. Oh, I see — not dream, as in sleeping, but dream, as in day-dream. Right. Oh, sometimes I think I’d like to go back to my village, but then I think that I just wouldn’t fit in anymore. Actually, I never did fit in there. Still, it would be nice to check on my people again.

And the Caucasus! I’d like to go there, I think. I love mountains! And I’d like to see where my great-grandfather went, and where he found my … um …

It’s okay. We already know about his dagger and amulet.

Oh. Well, yes. Maybe there, I could find out more about them, too.

Tell us about your family.

Well, my great-grandfather was in the Emperor’s army against the Persians. He went on a campaign to the east …

I meant your immediate family.

My mother was small and perfect. She made the best loaves and, when she could get all the ingredients, cakes. She had tiny little hands that made perfect little rolls. I miss her terribly.

My father was not a big man. He was smaller than me. He never stopped working. At the end of the day, after he made me help in the fields, or fix the chicken coop, he would go into the forest. He had secret places where he knew the bees made honey, and he knew how to make friends with the bees and take their honey without getting stung. All the other villagers would pester him about the source of the honey, but he never told. But he would give away the whole village honey!

He had the worst singing voice you ever heard. Gods, it was awful. Birds would stop chirping. Once, the neighbour’s cow heard him sing, and wouldn’t give milk for almost a half-moon. It’s true!

I used to have a brother and a sister, Swat and Alla. There were other children, too, older than me, but they died before I was born.

Swat looked just like our father. He was the same size, had the same hair, eyes, everything. He was quick, and strong and funny. Alla was like our mother, except she had long black hair. Mama’s hair was short. And Alla was taller than Mama, even though she was quite young. Alla was very good at knitting. She made me toys from wool. But she was not as gentle as Mama. She yelled at the other kids, even boys bigger than her, when they teased me, sometimes. Actually, quite a lot. Once, Mean Mrost—he’s the worst bully in our village—pushed me down, and Alla came out of nowhere and pulled his hair until he cried!

You talk about them in the past tense. What happened to them?

They all died. Alla and Swat died of a pestilence in their lungs. And my mother and father … well, it’s hard to talk about, still.

They were murdered by the monster, Ghastog, weren’t they? It’s all right, you don’t have to answer. I can see you nodding. Do you want a tissue? Take a moment. I’ll get some water.

[Musical interlude.]

We’re back with Javor of the North.

Javor, what was the scariest moment of your life?

For me, it was the moment when I realized that Danisa, or Ingund or whoever she really is, was missing. It was at the Roman fort in Dacia. The last time I saw her, she was walking toward the dragon with my great-grandfather’s magical dagger. I did not know, at the time, what she intended to do with it. Now, of course, I know she was going to use it to control the dragon and take it to her mother. But all I knew at the time was that she was walking into danger. I thought she was going to try to kill the dragon! And she was holding it all wrong. Girls. They have no idea, do they?

And then later, I realized she was gone. After the dragon flew off, I mean. I looked all over the fort for her, and could not find her anywhere. I thought the dragon took her, along with that silly village girl, Veca. You can imagine how I felt!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I thought I’d be a farmer, like my father. I had no idea there was any other kind of life.

What is your favorite meal?

Wild boar with mushrooms, and fresh bread. And good wine from Italy.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

It would be Photius, for doubting him. He told me so many stories. I never listened. I thought they were boring! But now I realize how he was trying to warn me, warn all of us, about the many things that are changing the world.

Who should play you in a film?

What’s a “film”?

Morning person? Or night person? How do you know?

Morning. I like to sleep at night. In the day, I can climb trees and see far.
What would we find under your bed?

Mostly useless stuff that I don’t need. Or maybe some dirty socks.

Tell us about your favorite restaurant.


I like Yosef’s mother’s place in the Hebraica in Constantinople. That’s the Jewish district. The food there is wonderful. They have the best bread! Better than the Romans’. And they know how to use spices well. Not too hot, but great combinations of flavours.
Yosef’s mother is the best of them all. That’s why I love to visit. That, and the place next door makes beer. I like it much better than the sour wine they drink in Constantinople.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy bear, unless you have something good to eat!

Do your friends think you are an introvert or an extravert? Why?

They think I live in my own world. But I think they don’t live in the real world. So many people refuse to see what’s plain in front of them! In my village, people talk about spirits that make the grain grow. But if you ask, no one has ever seen a spirit!

Here in Constantinople, people go to Church and argue about things that happened hundreds of years ago as if they were there! Or they riot about the difference between the nature of God. But they, too, have never actually seen God, or an angel. And then they’ll tell me that the things that I’ve seen and felt are not real. So who’s the introvert, and who’s in the real world?

I say, if you want to convince me about something that sounds incredible, show me some concrete evidence!

Do you have any special routines or rituals?

I don’t like rituals. I like to do things that make sense. A ritual means you do something over and over, no matter what the circumstances, even if following the ritual would be dangerous. I don’t do that.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I can usually tell what the weather will be the next day. For example, in the evening, if the wind is from the east, you know the weather’s going to change by the morning. Usually for the worse.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

People are always giving me advice, and I don’t pay much attention. But my father once said I should always think for myself. So I guess that’s one bit of advice I’ve followed.

So, what’s next for Javor from the North?

I don’t know. I cannot predict the future. And you know what? No matter what all those mystics say, I don’t think anyone really can.

Scott Bury is a journalist, editor and writer living in Ottawa, Canada. He has written for magazines and newspapers in Canada, the US, UK and Australia, including Macworld, the Ottawa Citizen,the Financial Post, Marketing, Canadian Printer, Applied Arts, Workplace and others.

In his blog, Written Words, he writes book reviews, writing tips and opinions on anything related to communication.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan: Interview & Excerpt

A mysterious young woman called Jane appears in a small New England town. She claims a fragmentary memory of growing up in this place, yet she has never been here before in her life. Searching for an explanation, she arrives at the unthinkable: that she is somehow connected to a beautiful girl who disappeared from the town in 1853. Is she recalling a past life? Jane becomes convinced of it. As she presses onward to find out what happened in this town over 150 years ago, strange and alarming things begin happening to some of the town’s inhabitants. A thunderhead of karmic justice gathers over the village as Jane’s memories reawaken piece by piece. They carry her back in time to a long-buried secret, while the townspeople hurtle forward to a horrific event when past and present fatally collide.

Author Sarah Kernochan, an Oscar-winning filmmaker and screenwriter, explores  reincarnation and the paranormal as she fashions a suspense story out of two Janes separated by two centuries. Jane Was Here is sure to be enjoyed by fans of The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Advance quotes from other authors:

"Sarah Kernochan's second novel, Jane Was Here, has an insane premise -- that the presence of one young woman can literally cause the past and the future to collide in real time and space. How Kernochan, the writer of the film 'What Lies Beneath,' pulls it off, and she does, is nothing short of magic. See Jane break the world wide open."
~Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature, a Love Story

“An eerie story that not only kept me guessing but kept me up at night. Sarah Kernochan delivers a quirky tale with the perfect amount of creepiness, intrigue, and small town New England politics. A perfect choice for book clubs.”
~Brunonia Barry, author of The Lace Reader and Map of True Places

"Sarah Kernochan's profoundly modern story of the vengeful reincarnation of a young 19th century New England woman is sly, terrifying, witty, perverse, seductive and thoroughly satisfying."  
~Rafael Yglesias, author of A Happy Marriage

“In Jane Was Here Sarah Kernochan demonstrates she knows how to cast a spell in prose that is haunting, elegant and seductive.”

~Ron Rosenbaum, author of The Shakespeare Wars

The night is pale, humid, with a few begrimed clouds. The moon has hung around so long it’s ignored, unremarkable as a thumb-tack.
On this July night, the girl soon to be known as Jane enters the village of Graynier.
It has grown since she was here last, though that was too long ago for her to remember. Back then there were only a few hundred people in Graynier.
It had never been one of those quaint New England hamlets, with neat white clapboard houses, town hall and Presbyterian church presiding over a cozy green, a registry spanning back to the Puritans.
Graynier came into being because of the glass factory. Built in 1828 at the foot of Putman Hill, it harnessed the gush of Pon-tusuck Creek for its great wheel. Workers arrived; their houses sprang up on haphazard dirt lanes. The factory owner’s mansion went up. His progeny built a cluster of modest Victorians to face the wooded hills, turning their backs on the working-class neigh-borhoods, repudiating community. The workers’ progeny estab-lished shops and took up the better professions, valiantly trying to confer an air of prosperity on the village…But Graynier was built on glass, and everyone felt that impermanence underfoot.
The factory no longer exists.
She remembers so very little, she cannot comment to herself how this and that have changed since the old days. Yet it was her home, this much she knows. That certainty produces in her a wild joy, thrashing like a bird against the curtain of fatigue sweeping over her body.
She wants to know everything, all, and at once.
Better that she does not: too soon for her to know the appalling events of the past. And the future she is rushing toward, sweeping the town’s inhabitants along with her in a frightful flood of justice, is also obscured—as it should be.
Some of the people who were present for what happened all those years ago still live here. The one who pushed her from the womb. The one who carried her on his shoulders. The one who taught her arithmetic. The one who kissed her first. The one who fell in love with her. The one she loved instead.
And the one who killed her.
That one is somewhere here: a small life that shimmers and pulses in the night—or so Heaven must see it, for, in spite of that terrible deed, all life is sacred. But her killer would have no more idea of that than a mole snuffling about its starless underworld.

And Heaven would have her be ignorant as well, as she walks into the village of Graynier, in the valley between two hills, under a vapid moon.

How did you start your writing career?

I self-trained to be a novelist from the age of 14; that’s how certain I was of my future. I even dropped out of college in my junior year to start a life worth writing about. However, when I assessed the road ahead, it looked pretty dreary: years and years of toiling in obscurity, submitting manuscripts for rejection after rejection, poverty and heartbreak… I was the impatient sort; I wanted to skip the hard part. In all the arrogance/innocence of a 20-year-old, I decided that I could rise more swiftly as a screenwriter, and my resulting fame would make it easier to get my novels published.

The odd thing is, that’s kind of the way it happened. With my eye toward screenwriting, I fell sideways into making a documentary, which earned me an Academy Award. That brief burst of fame (I was remembered chiefly for wearing a tuxedo to accept my Oscar) made it possible for me to get a recording contract as a singer-songwriter; and, later, to get my novel Dry Hustle published.

I should add, nothing after that ever came easy again.

Tell us about your current release.

Jane Was Here is a reincarnation mystery thriller. An unsolved crime was committed in a small New England town in 1853. Those people who were involved in that secret event have now been reincarnated to the present day. Of course they have no memory of the previous lifetime or of what they did. One summer they are all, separately and unwittingly, drawn to the same New England town, to be present when a mysterious young woman named Jane appears. She is the reincarnated victim. Her arrival sets the wheels of karma in motion. At the end, divine justice will prevail.

The book should appeal to anyone who loves an intricate puzzle, as well to fans of creepy, very edgy fiction. I’ve written a lot paranormal screenplays, one of which became What Lies Beneath.

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it?  If so, can you share it?

“Some of the people who were present for what happened all

those years ago still live here. The one who pushed her from the

womb. The one who carried her on his shoulders. The one who

taught her arithmetic. The one who kissed her first. The one who

fell in love with her. The one she loved instead.

“And the one who killed her.”

What are you passionate about these days?

To my stupefaction, I’ve become a mad Twitterer. I would even say it has changed my life, which has always been kind of hermetic. I love discovering, meeting and belonging to this far-flung community of striving writers. They are all so brave, so tireless, and often so generous to their fellow scribes. There’s an amazing amount of quid pro quo. I’ll follow anyone who follows me. Sometimes when I truly align with somebody I’ll read his/her book; I’ll post a review on Goodreads and Amazon if I have the time. These are books I would never ordinarily pick up: YA, sci- fi, etc. I know how much it means to me to have my book read by someone, anyone, and how hard it is to reach that dwindling population of those who read. I like to give other writers the same pleasure. Mainly I love feeling less alone.

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

Anxiety – over whether you’re any good, whether anyone will like or even read what you write, whether your book will be published or your script be produced, whether it will sell – totally sabotages the present moment. The creative belongs wholly to the moment; you should be in a continual state of inception. Tell that undermining voice of anxiety to take a seat in the waiting room and stay there until you finish your work. You can let it out later when you’re doing the dishes: then worry all you want.

I have a career as riddled with disappointments as with successes. It’s difficult to keep the negative out. I have to remind myself constantly that I’m writing for the love of it – the first, original lure that planted me at the keyboard. Humans are happiest when they love. Creativity flows easily from love. It should feel that simple.

Chopin once said that, after thrashing through all the complexity of creating, you must arrive at simplicity: “Simplicity is the final thing.”

Entice us, what future projects are you considering?

Currently, whenever I’m not on a script job, my blog has all my attention. I’m experimenting with posting a very long narrative in serial form: that is, I’m telling a personal ghost story, something that really happened to me, in installments, complete with cliffhangers. I wanted to see if readers would get hooked and come back for more. I’m happy to report that I now have a whole bunch of addicts on the needle. I’m on installment #36 and only halfway through the story! (I’ve had a lot of supernatural experiences.) My agent thinks it’s shaping up as a book, so I forge on. I don’t know, maybe it’s the first paranormal memoir.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

A fan of my music put up my website, It offers all my songs for download, as well as information on my films and links to videos and blog.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

I recently saw the Richard Linklater film Bennie. There was a funny line of dialogue that has stayed with me. The scene was an interview with a rural chainsaw artist who worked with wood. He was asked what his “process” was. He looked somewhat amused by that word. His response went something like this: “Well, I wake up in the morning with an idea. Then I come out here, get a log, and cut away everything that ain’t the idea.”

Sarah Kernochan has won two Academy Awards for her documentaries Marjoe and Thoth. As a screenwriter, she has written many films, among them Nine and ½ Weeks, Impromptu, and What Lies Beneath; she both wrote and directed the film All I Wanna Do as well. Jane Was Here is her second novel after 1977’s Dry Hustle. At present she is writing a memoir of her encounters with ghosts in serial form on her blog. She lives in New York with her husband, playwright James Lapine; daughter Phoebe Lapine is a food writer.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman : Interview

YA Paranormal Fantasy

For one boy and his friends, the path to Paradise comes at a cost - one they may not be prepared to pay.

When a biking accident leaves 17-year-old Joss Kazdan with the ability to hear things others can't, reality as he knows it begins to unravel.

A world of legends exists beyond the ordinary life he's always known, and he is transported to the same Paradise he's studying in World Mythology. But the strange gets even stranger when his new friends build a device that delivers people through the gates of the Garden of Eden.

Now Samael, the Creator God, is furious. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation on the ecstasy-seeking teens, Joss and his companions must find a way to appease Samael - or the world will be destroyed forever.

I'm happy to welcome Michael Sussman as my guest author today.  He's agreed to sit down with me and let me badger him with my questions.

Good Morning, Michael.  Thanks for being here. So, let's begin. Tell us about your current release.

My first novel, Crashing Eden, is a YA urban fantasy with paranormal elements. It was released by Solstice Publishing in May, both as a paperback and e-book.

I’ve been interested in world mythology for many years, and especially intrigued by the widespread myths suggesting that humans have degenerated from an ancient state of grace, symbolized by Paradise or the Golden Age.

In Crashing Eden, I tell the story of a group of youngsters who build a device that reproduces the state of mind experienced by people before the Fall. This instant enlightenment puts them at odds with Samael, the Creator God, who regards them as having crashed the Gates of Eden. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation, the protagonist and his companions must find a way to overcome his wrath or face oblivion.

How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

I begin with an idea, or even a title, and let my mind play around with it. Many writers prefer to work from an outline, but I find that too constricting. I like to let my unconscious lead the way, trusting that a good story will emerge. With Crashing Eden, I often started a new chapter with little or no idea where the story was heading next. That keeps me interested, as if I’m the reader!

What would we find under your bed?

All of the repressed, unresolved pain and humiliation from my childhood. (Also, a dust bunny convention.)

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

It’s a bit of a cliché to say that one’s characters take on a life of their own, but it’s true! I’m constantly amazed at some of the unexpected things my characters do and say. As my novel took shape, the protagonist did something that utterly shocked me. I dismissed the idea at first, but eventually accepted that it was meant to be.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

When I was 19, I suffered a concussion in a car accident in which the driver was killed. Only recently did I connect this memory to my novel. Like my protagonist in Crashing Eden, I spent the days following the concussion in what I can only call a state of grace, filled with deep feelings of gratitude and joy.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

My younger brother, whom I bullied as a child. Although I wasn’t nearly as vicious toward him as my protagonist is toward his younger brother, I do regret having teased and tormented Danny.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

“Never take anyone’s advice.” Naturally, I ignored it.


I’m originally from Lexington, Massachusetts, the historic site of the shot heard ’round the world. The middle son of two microbiologists, I grew up in a wonderful community called Five Fields, my lost Eden. I loved reading, sports, music and photography, and tried my hand at writing poetry and song lyrics.
My life changed forever in October of 1998, with the birth of my son. Ollie is a remarkable fellow, and he single-handedly jump-started my creativity. When he was five, I started writing picture books, and in 2009 I published Otto Grows Down, illustrated by Scott Magoon.
As Ollie aged, I started writing for an older audience. The result—Crashing Eden—is my first novel, an urban fantasy for young adults and savvy not-so-young adults. Ollie was my muse, my collaborator, and my most astute critic. I’m forever grateful to my son. Now, if I could just get him to clear his dishes …

This is just a portion of Michael’s biography. Read about him on his Website.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Genie Ignites by Kellyann Zuzulo: Character Interview

Paranormal Romance

Girl meets genie. They fall in love. Girl gets killed. Genie gets cursed. Three millennia later, she’s reincarnated as a smart, somewhat sardonic 21st century editor who can’t remember the great love of her existence. The genie however, will never forget her.

Zubis is the cursed and captivating genie who stars in THE GENIE IGNITES: Book One of the Zubis Chronicles, the new paranormal romance by Kellyann Zuzulo. We caught up to him via satellite at a five-star resort in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. He appears quite comfortable sitting on a padded chaise lounge in a steel gray, linen tunic, open at the neck, and pair of loose, white, gauzy trousers. He is barefoot.

Reporter: What are you doing here on the northeast coast of Saudi Arabia?

Zubis: [appears solemn, though curlicue glyphs, barely covered by a fall of dense black hair along his brow, have begun to glow.] I await the dissolution of a curse that unjustly bound me to this human dimension.

Reporter: How long have you been waiting?

Zubis: [a fleeting mist of sorrow tightens his brow] I was condemned in the time of Solomon by the king himself and have waited 3,000 years for freedom. But I feel a loosening of my fetters as Bethany draws near [a glint returns to his golden eyes]

Reporter: Tell me, how did you and Ms. Bethany O’Brien meet?

Zubis: [his gaze grows distant] We met in Solomon’s Temple when she was the Asima Uruk, the priestess assigned to learn the ways of the jinn. [the glyphs along his hairline glow brighter and begin to spark.] Thank Creation, she has returned in the divine form of Bethany. She will remember me. I know she will. [he waves a hand.] Please move on. This becomes too personal.

Reporter: [the room grows suddenly very warm] What are you drinking?

Zubis: Fresh water from my own well with preserved lemons. Very refreshing.

Reporter: If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Zubis:  Chirpy bird? Grumpy bear? [one eyebrow raises in an expression that is both menacing and dashing] You do know I am of the race of jinn, do you not?

Reporter: [nodding]

Zubis: Next question.

Reporter: What one word best describes you?

Zubis: Devoted

Reporter: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Zubis: That when I love, I love completely. There is no expanse of burning desert or raging sea that will keep me from the one I love. Though years pass like grains of sand in an hourglass, my love will never fade. That I would kill for love. That I would die for love.
Reporter: Okay. I said one thing, but that will do.
Zubis: [eyes darkening, he rises to his feet.] Now, if you will excuse me. There is a threat against Bethany that I must annihilate. Good day.
Reporter: Hey! [notebook begins to burn, then bursts into flame, quickly flaring then smoldering into cinders.] Chuck, did you get that on film? I think that guy really is a genie! Get me a copy of THE GENIE IGNITES pronto!

A former journalist, Kellyann’s interest in Middle Eastern myth and legend stems from her stint as a Managing Editor of Publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. She is a published author of several genie romance novellas. One book, Angels & Genies, was included in a collection for which Charlaine Harris wrote the foreword. Kellyann lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and a jaunty terrier named Djin-Djin.  

Where to find Kellyann Zuzulo online

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Boroughs Publishing Group

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