Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Bonded by John Falin: Interview, Excerpt, Review


Welcome John.  Thanks so much for stopping by today and agreeing to answer a few of my questions.  Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

I can’t even drift into a light sleep with the TV on.  Everything around me demands attention and I can only concentrate on one stimulus at a time.  Music, for me, is incredibly powerful and sucks me into a world that I can’t escape.  So, listening to music and writing would definitely be an issue for me.  However, most of the story-line was created and dissected during long runs while enjoying music.  I love bands that are thick with mood forcing me to experience different, strong emotions.  I simply allowed those emotions to take control and construct various scenes and conversations.  I can’t tell you how many times cars would pass by and curiously stare at me because I was crying, or angry, or despondent.  Embarrassing… I know. 

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

After sobbing uncontrollably in a dark closet, consuming several gallons of my favorite adult beverage, and purchasing tickets to a remote island where no one can hurt me, I’m fine.  But seriously (or maybe not), I imagine that most writers are horrified when a poor review is given and I’m no exception.  I’m a private person and exposing readers to my inner thoughts and feelings leaves me raw and vulnerable.   I discovered that once the world was imagined, I couldn't leave it because it takes months to write a book.  It was in my mind while driving, drinking coffee, running, eating, dreaming… it became a large part of my inner realm and when any review is given, it feels so personal.  I really try to be objective, but is there really such a thing?  That being said, after the initial sting wanes I always try to approach their criticism with thoughtfulness.  There was one in particular that really helped me become better at this craft. 

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

Absolutely!  Wouldn't it be cool if we could change our names to more accurately describe who we really are?  I’d create the characters and get to know their different personalities before naming them.  Then when I felt comfortable, on to the internet to research onomastics.  I also did that with weapons, important items, and even the occasional journey.  

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

I think they’re utterly baffled.  I’m an introvert and savor time spent alone, but I also enjoy friends and experiencing the world around me as much as the world in me.  INFP, dude, I-N-F-P! 

Have any of your characters been modeled after yourself? 

Not per say.  I mean, every character has elements of my personality and experiences because I invented them, but none of them are me.  They’re more a composite of the people I know, the characters I’ve loved or despised, and how I would react in this or that situation. 

What do you find most rewarding about writing? 

I have some serious issues with finishing anything!  You know the story, lots of ideas, but no follow-thru.  Yup, that’s me.  This was one of the most difficult adventures I've ever had because it requires time, patience, detailed processing, and just about every characteristic that conflicts with my inner nature.  Completing this book was one of the highlights of my life! 

Does travel play in the writing of your books? 

Without a doubt.  I love to travel and immerse myself in diverse cultures with different realities.  Every region has its own idiosyncrasies, or flavors, that become a part of my reality, adding to who I am as a person and how I understand life.  On the flip side, I have no discernible accent because I've lived or visited so many places that I simply adopt whatever accent is surrounding me.  It’s kind of embarrassing at times because I butcher every one of them, other than ole faithful, the southern drawl. 



A chronic daydreamer, musician, black belt, consumer of books, and avid outdoor maniac, John Falin is a “foodie” wannabe, restless pacer, father of three girls, and devoted husband.  Before and after receiving his B.A. from Trevecca University, John traveled and lived in Europe and throughout the southern United States which helped shape him into the person he is today.  John’s not really limited to his full time job or as an author though; he was “Chicken Wing Champion” at Camp Happyland at the tender age of 13 and to his knowledge, still holds the record from 1989 for longest hair amongst all male Falins. 
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A word hastily scrawled on a scrap of paper left behind by his long dead parents, becomes much more than a mystery. It becomes Adriel’s world.

Adriel struggled with his life, travelling the world and searching for his place in it. His pale green eyes and snow-white hair instantly singled him out in a crowd, but that wasn’t what made him different. As he struggled with conformity, he also waged war with himself—never able to control the raging pressure that swelled deep within him, alluring him with dark desires, tempting him to think of unspeakable things. Things no human should ever think about.

When he awakens from a vicious attack, he is reborn in a world where the unspeakable is real. And they are more terrifying than the one he has fought within himself for so long. Blood-sucking creatures, terrors with razor-sharp claws, and strategists with lethal plans lurk in the shadows, living in a world of darkness.

And Adriel is one of them.

From Chapter 7  

She steps over rusted beer cans, empty bottles, and syringes stained with dried blood, and then she equals my hushed voice. “A couple more feet and there will be a clear path for us to take. There is no hurry. You have all night to understand this experience.”
My curiosity is peaking, but I choose to let her unravel this at her own pace. Seconds later, we arrive at the clearing as promised. The path isn’t formal, but has been formed through foot traffic, crushing small plants and snapping inconvenient tree limbs. The woods are deeper than expected and very still as the snow absorbs the sounds of life. She begins, “Have you ever had to put a dog to sleep?”
Stunned at the abrupt shift, I ask, “What do you mean?”
“Just answer the question.” She speaks with tenderness, so I react accordingly.
“When I was fifteen years old, we had a dog named Texas. He was very large, and I loved that dog like he was family. He had been mine for my entire life when the cancer hit. The vet said there was nothing he could do, and after several months of watching Texas lie down all day, whimpering, refusing to eat… the sight was too horrible to bear. He would look at me with painful eyes and I swear he was begging for death. It was soon after that my father offered to take him to the vet to ‘alleviate’ his pain. Of course I knew what that meant. I wanted to do it, not because I was some sort of sadist, but because I loved him enough to let him go.”
“Do you have similar feelings toward people who suffer as well?”
I think on that for a while and catch myself standing in the path, gazing into the sky. “I’ve visited those miserable, urine-soaked nursing homes where the old go to die slow and lonely deaths. I would never have judged them if they took their own lives. I may have even helped. I’ve also seen men with cancer deny an excruciating radiation treatment a second time, knowing death was imminent. There are many things I’ve seen and my perspective on death is not based on fear or ignorance, but relief. I’ve always valued the quality of life, not quantity. Where are you going with this, Percy?”
“We are going to offer relief to those who suffer.”
“Is this some twisted Angel of Death fantasy?” I say with serious humor.
“No, open your mind and empty it of preconception.” She moves aside some frozen brush and progresses like a cat on a hunt. I’m locked in place, in thought, and make a choice to discover what this graveyard is, so I follow her into the dense, unmolested section that hides our destination.
After several yards of tangled thorns scratching my thick skin, we arrive. It’s a clearing the size of an average living room, circular and surrounded by evergreens and hibernating oak trees. In the center there is a small fire crackling, coughing out sparks as it struggles for life in the midst of winter snow. The silence is eerie as five humans of various ages and different genders are sitting next to it with hands out, trying to absorb the ambient heat. They don’t acknowledge our presence while their fragile bodies tremble and convulse in retaliation of the cold. The sorrow and emptiness is palpable. I hate this place.
Percy breaks the silence. “It is time.” One by one they attempt to stand. I hear the cracking and popping of unused joints as aching groans escape their lips. They keep their heads down in submission, staring blankly at the campfire when the younger woman lifts her head to meet my gaze. My heart shares in her sadness. Her eyes are sunken and surrounded by blacks and deep blues, contrasting with her bloodshot eyes that possess tiny exploded capillaries that cluster the reds. She takes one wobbled step in my direction and I’m too spellbound to move. Her oily brown hair clings to a sweat-drenched neck and shoulders as she unhurriedly raises both arms to me, palms up in submission. I tear my eyes from her to oblige the unspoken request and find dozens of needle marks tracked along both arms. A heroin addict.
Zaragoza, Spain, was a beautiful city, hidden from the cameras and questions of ignorant tourists. It was a city with a tapestry of rich history and modernized technology, assimilated to enhance the function without destroying the aesthetics. In a tear-down, build-new world, Zaragoza was a welcomed reprieve. They were a proud people who embraced their culture, yet subtly enjoyed the influence of our westernized entertainment in bars dedicated to ‘50s American music or techno mixes in laser-lighted dance clubs. The streets were older and buildings were colored desert browns with oil lamps delicately balanced on windowsills. Wake up late, enjoy a siesta, and party into the morning… my kind of town. Yet there was a price to be paid, as the back alleys were littered with alcoholics and the much worse, heroin addicts.
These addicts would prostitute themselves, rob their families, or murder, if necessary, for a single fix. It was both pathetic and heart wrenching. There was no predictor as to who would be an addict—it didn’t matter the class or gender; all that was needed was a predator dealer and someone who was willing to experiment. I recall passing by dark corners in the night, stifled from the smell of fresh vomit as addicted vultures would converge on those who died from overdose or malnutrition to claim what little amounts of heroin or belongings that were left.
I wonder if she’s ever been to Spain. She stares with anesthetized interest and forces out, “I don’t want to go on. Take me from this place, from this pain.” I wince with empathy and know the ‘pain’ isn’t just physical. She’s damaged in many ways. I look for Percy and see her avert her eyes as if she is a voyeur to my private world.
I say, “Is this what we are here to do? To release these people from their torments?”
“Can you think of a better way to feed? It has been ten years that they have willingly come to this place and I have mercifully granted them peace. For whatever reason, they find no solace in suicide, yet they desperately long for death. If you cannot stomach this, then please leave and I will meet up with you later.” She spoke the secrets of our kind with no fear of those who heard. There is a trust here, a long developed agreement between two parties for mutual benefit.
A soft touch presses on my hand as the woman pleads, “I-I-I don’t want this any longer. You don’t know how it feels to be controlled, to give up your body, to sever ties with friends and family, to lose what it means to be a person, to wish for death! Kill me! Please.” She closes the distance and rises to my chin’s height on her toes. I feel the warm moisture sourly exhaled from her dry, cracked lips and hear her heart faintly throb with yearning. She is so close that I can taste the inside of her scathed heart. Her blood is swishing in methodical rhythm and pressing against her neck. She tilts her head in anticipation and grabs my waist with unhinged conviction. “Feed!” she cries.
I am caught in a hurricane of primal desires. Hunger and violence are building in tempestuous pressure, swirling around me with irresistible force… and I yield. Her neck is tender as my two fangs penetrated deep into her flesh. The blood fills my mouth and I allow it to reach every part of my tongue to savor the delicious taste. I let my mind go and slip into her as I digest who she was with what she was in some sort of blood-essence sacrifice. I feel her impending death. I feel her dammed tears that want to break through, and I feel her mind cringe in memories of bartered sex and beatings, of broken ties, of selling her children, of so many horrors that as the blood enters my body, the tears leave in equal pace. I know her dreams of championing the addiction, of program after program, and dreams of having a family with a steady job, of growing old and grandchildren, of reconciling with long-lost parents. The dreams are a sick punishment that we both need to end, so I gulp ravenously. And as her memories and dreams fade, I let her lifeless body down gently next to the warm fire, watching my tears fall slowly onto her peaceful smile.
I run, not physically, but deeper into myself and let the demon have at it for a while. I hear the smacking of my tongue meeting blood as I drink from another, and I smell the disappointment of the two who were not chosen casually fade into the woods. I am in a place of isolation, lost, but present. It’s safe here and I’m numb… I’m so thankful for it. So, I fade into the darkness.



Well, this book sucked me right in.  I loved the mystery in this Urban Fantasy, and thought the tension was exceptionally well-maintained throughout. Adriel is a likeable, irreverent protagonist with a smart mouth and flippant attitude. I often laughed aloud at some of the zingers that came out of his mouth – sometimes at the most inopportune moments.  He is an enigma from the start; I remained curious and was kept guessing about his actual origins and bloodline throughout most of the book.
I really enjoyed this book.  Here we find an entire new mythos explaining the Supernaturals. But, there are no dull lectures or massive information dumps. The background history is sparingly doled out as needed in smallish segments. By utilizing this delivery method, the author masterfully crafted the framework for terrific, original world-building.    
Adriel is feared and wanted by both factions.  The interplay and relationships are complex and exciting. I particularly liked Percy. She and Adriel are perfect for each other, and I loved how they grew in power together as the story unfolded.  The pacing kept me interested all the way to the end; I never got bored, or felt the action slowed down too much.  I was also surprised a couple of times when there was an unexpected turn of events. I am thrilled the author approached me to review his debut book and I will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Reviewed by Laurie-J

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