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Review: Steph Post’s latest, Miraculum

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These days there are many books that bend genres, making them next to impossible to classify. It’s to the point that lately, I’m not sure that any book deserves its pigeon hole. But people like making comparisons to whatever they know, and so, that’s why genres are assigned. I’m not sure they are as relevant as they once were, though. When a reader has fallen in love with a given author’s work the importance of artificial categorizations diminishes. You read a book expecting the author to deliver and you follow no matter where his or her imagination takes you.

Steph Post writes Southern Noir, what a lot of people refer to as Grit Lit. Her novels are about rural Southerners who often get sucked into get rich quick schemes that are often illegal. But people who live on the fringe of society face hardship daily and often must make desperate choices that run afoul of authority.

Post’s previous works are A Tree Born Crooked, Lightwood, and Walk in the Fire, and if you have already read those you respect Steph Post’s writing chops. You know her characters are lifelike down to the grit under their fingernails and the grease that doesn’t wash off their calloused hands. Her gut-wrenching scenarios are authentic dilemmas. Her settings are based on her experiences growing up in a Florida far removed from the resorts and amusement parks. In Post’s books the American South feels genuine down to cypress knees jutting up from the oozing mud. There are snakes hiding in the tall grasses and gators lurking in fowl smelling, murky waters. If you’ve read her stories you have probably been waiting eagerly for the release of Miraculum, which entered our edge of the universe on 1/22/2019.

From the first page of Miraculum, Post grabs hold of your faculties and doesn’t let go for the duration of the strange ride that often dips into the darkness that underlies the superficial world that others, those who are invested in the systems and institutions of decent society believe is real. Ostensibly, the story is about a carnival/circus experiencing an identity crisis as it struggles to accommodate the changes of the early 1920’s, as America emerges as a major industrial power that survived intact while Europe was devastated by The Great War. To compete with other forms of entertainment for the nickels and dimes of the audience it draws, the circus must exhibit what people can’t find anywhere else, or at least convince them that its assortment of geeks, freaks and exotic enhancements is unique.

In the circus, Ruby is the snake charmer. Most of her body is decorated with multiple tattoos – not particularly well-done tats at that. She’s a survivor, and as the story unfolds, we are privy to some of her secrets, her origins, her past relationships, and her few aspirations. We understand how much the world around her limits her life.

Daniel, a stranger, who is a study in contradiction joins the circus as a geek and yet he always wears an immaculate and obviously expensive suit that never seems to soil. And never does he appear to sweat, despite the blistering muggy heat of summer. He seems urbane, well educated and well traveled, leading most everyone to wonder whatever he is doing in there. Of course, Daniel is attracted to Ruby but not for any obvious reason. Where he can control others, she is exempt. He finds it both frustrating and fascinating.

As always, Post breathes life into her characters with a careful eye for detail and well-tuned ear for dialogue. Her research into the period and the nuances of backstory are evident as the past collides with what cannot possibly be. Just as in the real world, the haves shun the have nots. Shady people pop out of dark corners, trying to make a fast buck, even if it’s not completely legal. Rejected people, those who are discarded through no fault of their own congregate in the only place that will allow them to make a living. as freaks in the circus side shows.

All the elements that have made Post’s past novels visceral and gripping anchor what becomes a bizarrely compelling novel that dabbles in beliefs apart from the mainstream. Miraculum deals a weird, creepy, supernatural vibe beginning on page one. Along the way that same feeling simmers just beneath the surface while the story gains its legs. And then, it bubbles up violently toward a tumultuous and inevitable climax.


Miraculum by Steph Post
Available in eBook, Hardcover from Polis Books

Audiobook from Blackstone Publishing  

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The Resurrection: Chapter 30 – Never Except For Always

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

By the time the local sun disappeared behind the skyline of Haven, one of the two moons was already visible just cresting the eastern horizon. Paul stared at the large beach combing machines the Sakum’malien drivers staged at the edge of the dunes awaiting the departure of all the human sun worshipers. Perhaps they wondered at the odd human behavior, but they said little if anything to anyone – even those who spoke some words of English.

The odd feeling of having forgotten something returned, taunting him with information he could not grasp to recall. Again, he sensed a presence but there was no one immediately around except for Chase, Julie and Clare.

“Come on,” Clare prompted. Paul turned and hurried along as the four of them were among the last to leave the beach and rinse off in the beach house before getting dressed into more proper attire for dealing with the big city life.

Julie and Clare hugged one another and said their goodbyes as Chase and Paul retrieved their coaches from the docking station. When they arrived queued behind one another, Julie hugged Paul and Clare hugged Chase. They two men shook hands. It was a nice late afternoon get together they shared.

Chase was always traveling, mainly between his company’s office in Andromeda and Haven where he worked. Paul worked from dawn to dusk daily, sometimes even going in to work for a few hours on weekends just to catch up. He sometimes worked every single day within a month just to finish a project.

Clare climbed into the floater coach and Paul entered after her, settling in at the controls of the console. He waited for Chase and Julie to get settled and pull away from the boarding curb before he pulled out of the parking area and onto the street. “You aren’t in any trouble leaving work early?” Clare asked.

Paul shrugged, “What if I am? I’ve been working there for five years. I receive minimal raises in reward for always finishing my work on time or ahead of schedule and being at work at least on time but usually early and always staying late when necessary.”

“You don’t want to lose your job.”

“Of course not but I don’t think they even know I exist. No one knows who I am but if I was missing for a while they might finally appreciate what ol’-what’s-his-name takes care of for them.”

“Maybe others would take up the slack and they’d never notice.”

Paul nodded. “Yeah, well that puts the onus back onto me, now, doesn’t it?”

After a long pause Clare cleared her throat, “What was it Chase and you went off to yourselves to discuss?”

“Were you and Julie jealous of phantoms and some imagined competition?”

Clare forced a smile but her eyes did not leave his.

“Chase knows a guy he met a while back named Pete. When I was out in New Milan with Chase last fall we both met him and I beat him at shooting pool.”

“He must be awful at it, then.”

“Thanks a lot!” Paul exclaimed even as he shook his head in disbelief.

“I’m, just being honest, hon,” she said. “My baby brother beat you when we went to visit my folks last year.”

“Yeah, that little scoundrel’s a hustler, though,” Paul countered, after receiving a wave of impressions and perceptions the memories cascaded into his mind, filling in many missing pieces of an established past that stretched back well before he stepped out of the ocean water onto the beach.

Everything was there, meeting Pete in New Milan, accompanying Chase to Andromeda on a detour while on their way home. Chase signed a band and then they returned to Haven. Paul never told Clare he and Chase detoured through Andromeda. It took them three extra travel days but Clare always believed he stayed in New Milan for an extra meeting. It wasn’t like they did anything wrong, but it was just he never bothered to tell her where all they went.

As Paul pulled the coach up to the curb of their apartment building, he pressed the button commanding the door to open and as soon as the coach stopped, Clare stepped out onto the curb and waited for Paul to do the same and dock the coach before he joined her. They both entered the building and stood in the lobby waiting for the elevator car to arrive.

“So, that was the big secret Chase had to talk to you about, this guy Pete?”

“Yeah, it was part of it. Pete’s in a band and they’re looking for a female lead singer.”

“So, of course he thought of Cristina.”

“Yep.” The elevator arrived and they both boarded. Paul pressed the button for their floor.

“I could see her doing it.”

“I could too,” Paul said. “I was waiting about calling her, seeing if she’d call first. I guess I have an excuse, now.”

“You miss Cristina, don’t you?”

“I do,” Paul confessed. Even though he felt as if he had been with her recently.

“It’s been a year a least since she left for school.”

“Closer to two years,” Paul said as he tried to pin down an exact time or event associated with it. “I mean we talk by phone or even exchange messages over the global network but we’ve not been together for a long time. The conversations we’ve had were mostly about her acting and how successful I am. I don’t know where she gets it from but somehow she thinks I’m successful.”

“Aren’t you?” The elevator arrived at their floor and they stepped out. Their apartment was just down the hall, the third door on the right.

“Maybe on a comparative basis. I have steady income. She doesn’t. That’s not how I would define success, though.”

“The material element is a consideration.” She arrived at the door two or three steps ahead of Paul, keyed in her security code and leaned against the door as it unlocked and opened. She held the door open for him as he arrived.

“I suppose what I make is a lot or most people.”

“Well, I think you’re successful.”

“I’m happy – not with work but the rest of my life’s great.” He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and kissed her neck.

“I love you unconditionally.” She reached up with both hands and grabbed his head, then turning she releases and kissed him passionately. 

“I don’t know what I would do without you,” Paul said as their lips parted. “It’s just I’m not quite what I wanted to be and whenever Cristina sends me a message it reminds me because she’s the one who’s still faithful to her dream. I guess it makes me feel like I’ve given up and maybe sold myself short, just accepting what I can get paid to do.”

“Cristina reminds you of whatever it is that you perceive as your failures. But you’re successful at what you do.”

“I know. I know exactly what you’re going to say. I’m far from being a failure but failure lurks just past the next decision at my company. I’ve never felt like I have any sort of job security. Backstabbing assholes and highly political opportunists surround me. I have a knot in the pit of my stomach every day when I go into the office. I feel like they’re going to fire me, not just threaten it, but follow through with it. I’m not sure that enduring all of that is worth the pay credits.”

“You just take things way too seriously.”

“Maybe that’s part of it, but most of it is I work for self-serving pricks.”

“Everything in life is about perspective,” Clare said.

“And I lack perspective – is that what you’re saying?”

“I was going to say maybe Cristina is more mature than you are. You always say she handles rejection well. Yet you cannot seem to define your success. You have a good paying job. Some people would call it a dream position.”

“My job is anything but a dream position,” Paul said, flipping around a dining room chair backwards and sitting with his chest resting against the chair back.

“Nothing is easy, Paul. Is there any job anywhere that will pay you what you think your time is worth?”

Paul smiled. “Of course not. With the difficulty of the job comes the compensation.”

“Not always commensurate to the demands of the job…”

“But high enough that some damned fool, like me will attempt the job because it pays better than the last three things I tried.”

“Exactly,” she said. “So what do you want for dinner.”

“Let’s shower and get fixed-up and go out for dinner and some dancing.”

“Really? What’s gotten into you tonight? The beach didn’t wear you out?”

“Yeah a little, but I want to make it a memorable day for you.”

“It already is. “

“Then let’s work on the night part of it.”

“Okay,” she smiled broadly.

“I really need to take a proper shower and put on some lotion,” she said. “I’m sure you do too, you always burn so easily.”

“I wore enough sunscreen I think. I’ll call for reservations. Where do you want to east?”

“Surprise me,” Clare said as she headed toward the bathroom.

“I’m not sure you really want me to do that,” he called out after her.

“It’ll be fine,” she called back.

“Okay. But don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Paul said as he flicked on world viewer and brought up the index for local restaurants. “I think it’s always a good night for Italian.” He said to himself.

After calling for reservations, Paul began watching the news. By the time he heard her shower end he was ready and waiting to take his turn, tired of the dryness on his skin and the overall smell of fish.

When she emerged from the bathroom Clare headed to the bedroom to apply her makeup and get dressed. Paul showered quickly and joined her in the bedroom where he dressed accordingly, in casual attire appropriate for the restaurant to which they were going.

“Are we in a rush?” she asked while putting on her eyeliner.

“No, I made the reservations for eight thirty. Take your time.

“This is a nice surprise. Usually you take the easy way out.”

“What does that mean?’

“‘I’m tired – lets eat in and go to bed early’.”

“I’m a guy. I always seek the path of least resistance whenever possible. Sit down a relax a bit.”

“You are the one who was stressed out.”

“It’s a normal state of being for me. I’ll prevail.”

“I hope so.”

Paul joined her on the couch. “You look pretty.”

“Thank you. You look handsome.”

“We match well, then.”

She laughed. “Whatever’s different about you, keep it going, okay?”

As the news on world viewer played in the background, they shared light conversation about other things that had happened throughout the day, mainly the morning events in Clare’s life at her dance studio. She was grateful when Julie called her suggesting they take the afternoon off and head for the beach.

Clare looked at her wristband. “We probably should be going.”

Paul smiled, starting to get up a few seconds before his cell phone ringer flashed on his wrist. He tapped his earlobe, “Hello.”

“Hey, it’s me,” his sister’s voice was welcome.

“I was going to call you. What’s the news?” He tapped his right wrist to display her holographic image in the palm of his outstretched hand so that at least Clare knew whom he was talking to.

“I didn’t get the part.”

“When you didn’t call, I was worried it was something like that.”

“They wouldn’t tell me until yesterday. I went out with friends and got drunk after I found out. I’ve been sleeping it off all day.”

“Are you okay now?” He asked then allayed Clare’s concern with a nod and a wink.

“Except I want to come home and I have no money. I mean, I really am embarrassed having to ask you, but…”

“I’ll get you home if that is what you want. How much do you need?”

“I don’t even know,” she said. “I have really tried to make it on my own. I even took a job waiting tables.”

“I think Chase might have something to interest you.”

“Really, I thought he did musical groups, not actors.”

“I think you need to broaden your horizons a little, sis.”

“Well, I’m an actress.”

“You have an amazing voice. You should be singing.”

“I’ve been auditioning for musicals, Paul.”

“You’re not getting the traction you need. For whatever reason, they’re passing you over, but everyone who knows you says you have a wonderful singing voice. So, let it become your vehicle.”

“I’m trying to do just that.”

“You aren’t getting it. Listen to me, Cristina. You have to make it where you can, and then go on from there. Then you can do the other things you want to accomplish. Once you have established your credibility, you can do other things maybe something you can’t imagine right now.”

“Well, I guess if you pay my way home I should at least listen to your advice.”

Paul laughed. “If you think I’m full of shit, just tell me.”

“It’s not that.”

“I think I’m being pretty reasonable.”

“Some of what you say makes sense.”

“Cristina, honestly. I think everything will be fine for you, but you have to adapt. It’s a big, strange world.”

“Yeah strange is not the half of it. Lately, I’ve had some bizarre dreams.”

“Really?” Paul asked even as Clare reached up on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek and then proceeded on toward the bedroom. “Hold on.”

“Okay,” Cristina said.

“Hon, retrieve the coach and I’ll be right down.”

“Last night could be explained away by all the alcohol. But even before that…the dreams are like the world had not been completely terraformed – like it was forty years ago, you know all the cities were still domed.”

Paul laughed.

“The strangest part, you were in a lot of trouble there,” she said. “You were in prison and trying to escape. It was very bizarre.”

“And what was it that you did in that world?”

“What do you mean what was I doing there? It was a dream, or more like a nightmare.”

“No, I mean what did you do for a living?”

“I don’t…remember…well, but no, I think…I think I was actually a singer.”

“See, in your dreams it’s your destiny. Take it as a sign.”

“Maybe it is, Paul. I don’t know. I’m tired of this craziness. And I want to see you and just sleep for a while.”

“Good you can rest up and when I go to New Milan next month you can come with me.”

“I’ll be back at school by then,” she protested.

“So you have spent almost two full years learning how to act and perform…”

“But I can’t land a role at an audition.”

“Sometimes, I think destiny forces your hand. Maybe you need to audition for a rock band in New Milan.”

“We’ll see.”

“Come home and make a fresh start, sis. Take a sabbatical from your studies. I have always thought you have the potential to be a star. All you need is to find the right path. Chase seems to think you’ll work out for this band in New Milan.”

“I don’t know…”

“The two guitarists are professional sound engineers so the audition will be at a real studio. Chase knew one of them, a drummer from another association. Chase sort of auditioned them. He said what they lack is a vocalist of your caliber.”

“He said that?”

“Maybe not in those exact words, but it was his idea to ask you to audition.”

“So, he’s the one who put you up to this?”

“Yeah, well, I worry about my baby sister, especially when she calls me to tell me she’s broke.”

“Okay, I hear you. I told you I’d give it a shot.”

“Go into this with a positive attitude. I have a very good feeling about this.”

“You know me. I’m always positive whenever I audition.”

“This can work for you.”

“In a strange way, I feel good about it, too,” she confessed.

“That’s the Cristina I know and love. Go to the station in the morning. I’ll arrange everything for the ticket from this end, okay?”

“I appreciate this a lot, Paul.”

“Hey, if I was in trouble I know you’d come to my aid.”

“Since Dad and Mom…well we only have each other.”

“I know. We have to be family first. “

“I’ll call if there is any change.”

“Okay, sis,” Paul said. “Have a safe trip.”

“See you day after tomorrow.”

He tapped his earlobe to disconnect the call. He went to the kitchen for a glass of water, fully intending to go straight downstairs. He hoped Clare was not pissed at having to wait. But when he passed through the dining room he felt the strange presence again, an eerie sensation as if he just passed through another consciousness, causing him to shiver as his skin erupted into gooseflesh.

“Who’s there?” He challenged.

With no answer, even the sensation of the presence was gone.

He continued, rapidly gulping down the water.

“Is anything wrong?” Clare stood in the doorway?”

“No, I was just coming. I’m still having odd feelings,” he said.

“Maybe you need to rest. We can go out some other time.”

“No, I need to spend all the time I can with you.” He felt the presence again – behind him, but saw nothing.

“You’re sure?”

“Yeah.” He nodded.

He opened the closet door on his way out the door to grab a light jacket. After slipping it on he stepped out into the hallway to join Clare. “I hope I don’t get a ticket. I’m parked in the loading zone.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s okay. So, Cristina is coming home?”

“Yeah. I have to get her a ticket.”

Clare nodded as they arrived at the elevator.

“She’ll be here at least a month. Then she’s going out to New Milan.”

“With Chase and you?”

“Or just Chase. I haven’t decided to go.”

The elevator doors opened. They stepped inside. He pressed the button for the lobby. Then as mostly a reflex he plunged his hands into the jacket pockets, his right one wrapped around a small orb. Withdrawing his hand he looked at it resting in his palm.

“What’s that?”

“Something I thought I lost.” He closed his fist around it, the opening his hand palm up it disappeared.

“That’s from the magic act you used to do?”

He chuckled. “Yeah. Maybe that was the last time I wore this jacket.”

“You need to check your pockets before you hang things up.” She wrapped her arm around his elbow.

“I know, hon. Sometimes I forget,” Paul admitted.

“So, where are we heading?”

“I thought you wanted me to surprise you.”

“I said that, didn’t I?”

“Having second thoughts?”

“No, it’ll be fine. I’m sure,” Clare said.

The End

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Starting Out In The Middle

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There’s a manuscript I wrote a long time ago that starts out in the middle of the story. In fact the first paragraph is about why it makes as much sense to start telling a story in the middle as it is at either the beginning or the ending. I never submitted that manuscript for publication because it just never felt quite ready to go through that level of scrutiny. As I recall the story was mainly about living and though it had its moments of excitement and resolution it seemed to begin in the middle and after several hundred pages it was still in the middle. But, because of the experience of writing it I have always thought about the concept of starting out in the middle as a commentary on real life.

You know, of course, that we all start out in the middle of something else that is going on around us. For years we play catch-up, learning and absorbing from parents and other, more experienced, family members. Then, as we mature we have teachers, clergy and bosses – pretty much everyone we meet is in influence for whatever span that is determined as appropriate for being a human sponge. At some point, though, someone decides we have become competent. Perhaps it is a degree conferred or some other credential we earn. Maybe it is simply that we have mastered doing something and others decide we are suddenly expert. Whatever and however it happens we are an adult at that point. Maybe some of never reach that point. Who knows?

My thought here is that the beginning of each of our lives is an illusion as much as the endings arbitrarily attached to death. Between times we are immersed in the world and life is a matter of sinking and drowning or swimming and surviving. Living is all about being caught up in the experience. I believe that if a writer is to imitate life, he or she needs to understand being the midst of things. For a reader being in a book world should be similar enough to real life that disbelief is suspended as the author introduces a new, surrogate world. Mainly I deal with fantasy worlds but I think it applies to all fiction.

A writer must engage the reader instantly because entering a book’s contrived universe can and perhaps should be like being born. Spend the first few chapters staking out the territory and meeting the important people who will help or hinder the experience of living. Somewhere in that process you’ll learn about the conflicts from what the characters say or how they interact. Either way, as a reader, you’ll know early on where the story is headed but probably not where it is going.

A well written book always leaves the reader wondering what will happen next because, as with real life, it is filled with challenge and mystery. There are surprises that are both good and bad. There are horrendous failures to overcome and transcending experiences of joy and ecstasy. Some other characters prove necessary or even vital to the hero or heroine in their lives. Extreme difficulty and immense pressure await and a lot of dull detail can be skipped over or summarized because those are the parts of life that are mostly tedious and routine.

At the climax something important is learned. One climax may lead to another and another, or simply a single culmination may be enough to complete the story that you began telling on page one – which was picked up, of course, in the middle of the character’s life. In conclusion, with the major difficulty resolved, doesn’t that character’s life goes on sen though the voyeurs are gone? We as readers assume that it does even if all that is said about the future has a lot to do with magic, myth and happily ever after. As authors we may decide a sequel is in order but just as likely we may never get around to writing it.

Maybe the reason I write serials is because I start in the middle more often that I begin at either end. The universe inside of me that I share in my writing is as real to me as the outside one that the rest of humanity shares with me. Its as hard for me to walk away from my characters after typing The End as it is to simply pick up and move somewhere else in town or across the country. Maybe that’s how it needs to be for characters to exist in the minds of my readers as well.

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#writing #fiction #fantasy #author #characters #beginning #ending #climax

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Fried Windows Comparisons

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I’m flattered when readers compare Fried Windows to The Wizard of Oz or Alice In Wonderland – the original books not the movies. Like those masterpieces the story has a touch of political satire and along with the playfulness there is some dark overtones. Like Dorothy and Alice, Brent is on a quest to discover something about himself as well as what the heck is going on.

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Although the book does not contain offensive language or adult scenes it is not a children’s book. I suppose there are precocious ten year olds who would enjoy the book but I considered the base age group for the story was high school aged. There is a lot going on in the book so I feel it is intended for more developed minds. There is a pule metaphor throughout the book. I think you have to be more mature to notice and resolve the riddles.

I’m a little surprised that people think Fried Windows is a children’s book. Although I have edited some children’s and middle grade books in the past I have never really written anything designed specifically for younger readers. There is a special art to that and I’m not sure I am blessed with it. My next book Becoming Thuperman may be as close as I ever come to writing a Middle Grade or Young Adult book. The main characters are kids discovering they have some super human abilities. What kid doesn’t dream about that. But it’s really not a kids book either.

Ironically, another book that is close to being in production, Spectre of Dammerwald, started out to be a children’s book. I had completed the draft of One Pack, which is now five books. I was working on the draft of The Last Wolfcat, which is now three books. And I was editing a MG book for a friend. I did a detailed substantive edit for him and suggested adding in a couple of chapters to increase the intensity of the climax. As a result the idea was suggested that I should try to write a children’s book. I was at a point in The Last Wolfcat that I realized I needed to know a lot more about the main characters’ pasts, things that happened before One Pack begins. So I set out to do what Tolkien did with The Hobbit, writing a children’s book as a prequel to the trilogy – in my case an octology in progress. So I started writing Spectre Of Dammerwald and about two chapters into the story it was clearly not going to turn into a children’s book. As the inspiration continues it became two books that rounded out the ten books that are The Wolfcat Chronicles.

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Brent, the main character in Fried Windows appears in The Last Wolfcat. Characters from One Over X who are friends with Brent appear in One Pack. Without giving away any secrets, there is a character introduces in Spectre of Dammerwald who is Brent in disguise, but you really don’t find out who that is until later on in the One Over X saga.

Yes, the stories are interconnected in some ways. Even Becoming Thuperman connects to the Brent Universe in a tangential way. In Fifteen Days of Danielle, a story about Brent as a college student, he mentions a cape-less superhero who talked with a lisp – Thuperman. Also in Becoming Thuperman, Will’s mother knew Terry Harper, a physicist who appears in One Over X and The Wolfcat Chronicles as well as some other books, in high school and they stayed in touch for many years after.

In general the supporting characters in one series end up being main characters in another. I figure if you are going to create an alternate universe and populate it with characters, there are billions of individual stories that can be told. I’m working on a few of the stronger associations.

#newreleasebooks #mustreads #friedwindows #ElgonWilliams #fantasy #WizardofOz #AliceInWonderland

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Multi-Talented Artist Alisse Lee Goldenberg: Author, Actress and Painter

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Recently I had the chance to ask Alisse Lee Goldenberg some questions about her writing, acting and painting. Alisse is an author of Horror and Young Adult fantasy fiction. Her book Sitnalta (that’s Atlantis spelled backwards) was published last fall through Pandamoon Publishing. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folklore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian.

 

Q: Imagine for a moment that you’re a famous, bestselling author. They’re making a movie out of your last book. What do you do next to top what you’re already achieved?

 A: First of all, that would be awesome! As for what I’d do next, I don’t know anything could top that! But I’d definitely keep writing and at the very least try to match it. Maybe write a screenplay?

 Q: Creative people tend to be spontaneous. In particular, most people think that writers are at least a little crazy. Tell us the most unusual thing you have done in your real life that doesn’t directly relate to writing.

 A: It’s a little hard to choose! If I were looking for the most adventurous thing, that would be cliff jumping. That entails literally jumping off a cliff into a body of water. I would say that the most unusual thing I’ve done had to have been when I was asked to play the role of Jack in a production of Into the Woods. I don’t think many women have ever gotten that opportunity. The costume was uncomfortable for many reasons (mainly to do with breathing!)

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Q: Creativity comes in many ways – for example, painting, photography, sculpture, music and theater. What other things do you do or have you done that are examples of using your imagination or other artistic talents?

A: I do quite a bit of painting, mostly in acrylics, and I act on stage and on screen. I actually find that the acting helps my writing in that it allows me to get into the skin of other characters, and I get to meet so many fantastic people! As for my painting, I wish I had more time for it, but right now, the writing and my family takes up more of my time.

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Q: Family and relationships are important in peoples’ lives and so, it is little surprise that there are relationships between characters in books. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

A: Considering that there are a few dysfunctional families in my books, I hope not a lot! However, there are also some amazing and powerful friendships, and those are definitely reflective of the wonderful support groups I have around me.

Q: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

A: It happens quite a bit! And for a plotter like myself, I find it especially irksome. When that happens to me, I pour myself a glass of wine, complain to anyone I can get a hold of, and watch The Avengers pretending that the Hulk is smashing the characters that have gone on a tangent.

Q: There is a point in every professional writer’s life when it stops being a hobby and starts being a vocation. When did that happen for you and why did you choose to pursue this career?

A: I think it’s always been a vocation. I’ve wanted to do this since the day I learned the squiggles in my books were words and told stories. I feel that I’d be doing this even if I didn’t make a single cent from my stories. My head and my heart are full of them, and I need to put them out into the world. I just hope people like to read them!

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Alisse Lee Goldenberg in print:

The Strings of the Violin is a fantasy adventure interweaving Eastern European folklore with modern characters.

Seventeen-year-old Carrie is lying in her backyard ignoring all the looming responsibilities in her life, when a fox makes a mad dash across the grass in front of her. After she manages to keep her dog from attacking the frightened animal, the fox turns to Carrie and seems to bow in gratitude before he disappears into the bushes. All Carrie knows in that moment is that something has unexpectedly changed in her life.

Carrie has been best friends with Lindsay Smith and Rebecca Campbell for years. During a summer when they should focus on choosing colleges, the girls suddenly find themselves swept away on the adventure of their lives. The fox reappears three days later and reveals to Carrie that he is Adom, emissary to the king of Hadariah. With his land of music and magic in peril, Adom has been sent to seek help from Carrie and her friends. In the blink of an eye, the three teenage girls go from living an average suburban life to being the champions of a world where they must contend with giants, witches, and magical beings. Will they ever make it home once more?

Sitnalta: Everyone in the land loves Princess Sitnalta of Colonodona. Everyone except her father, the monstrous King Supmylo, whose thirst for revenge and hideous cravings, have nearly destroyed the once peaceful kingdom. He cares only for power—the more the better—and he despises Sitnalta because she wasn’t born a boy. He wanted an heir, a prince, to grow his kingdom and fulfill his own father’s legacy. But now, his only choice is to join with a neighboring kingdom, and at the tender age of 15, Sitnalta is to be married to another king who is at least as old as her own father. 

But Sitnalta has other ideas. Before her father can come for her, she sneaks out of her bedroom window, scales the castle walls, and enters the magical forest that surrounds her kingdom. There she meets Najort, a kind-hearted troll, who was tasked by a wizard decades earlier to protect a valuable secret—with his life, if necessary. 

But King Supmylo has vowed that nothing will stop him from returning his daughter to Colonodona, and forcing her to go through with the royal wedding. With the help of friends from both kingdoms, Sitnalta and Najort flee ahead of the rabid king. For if they are captured, Supmylo will become so invincible, no one could stand against him. 

Bath Salts: The time is now, and a mysterious virus has infected much of the world’s population, turning them into flesh-craving zombies. As people die from what the media call “drug-fuelled Bath Salts attacks” one young mother sees what is truly happening beneath the lies, and with her good friends An and Olivia, takes matters into her own hands to keep her family safe. 

Day by day, Bath Salts tells of their escape to the arctic tundra, and their desperate attempt to survive the elements, zombie attacks, and armed bandits with their humanity intact.

Visit Alisse on the web at www.alisseleegoldenberg.com