Interview with Rob Shackleford 

Standard
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to become an author?
I live in Australia and, for the majority of the time in writing Traveller Inceptio, lived where most of the book’s Transporter invention process took place, which is the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It is a beach location and is quite laid back. I also worked at the University for a time and knew the described locations well. I have, of course, applied liberal creative licence to some locations.
I enjoy reading, especially books with a great story and have, for quite some time, tinkered with the idea of writing. Like most, I started with a few short stories and children’s books, which are still awaiting the illustrations from my daughter, who is quite the artist and procrastinator. It was during a very down time in my life that the opening scene for Traveller Inceptio began running through my mind, how a person from the 21st Century could react in the forests of Saxon England, when I realised that a story was beginning to devfelop. I started writing that scene and it soon went on from there. The actual writing process took over five years and there were ideas I had to drop because I saw something similar on Game of Thrones and in other stories that would look too similar. I have a very strong aversion to cliche, so I hope I stuck to that.
Surprisingly, some of the language and story was based on the antics of my son and his surfer / skater mates. The things you overhear sometimes.
My vocational background is actually far removed from History, which has become a love because of my father’s interest in family history and genealogy. I worked in Customs in my younger years and then did time in the Media, Tourism, IT and Marketing.
In keeping with my coastal lifestyle preference, I am fortunate to live in a very chilled part of Australia’s Gold Coast with my lady love. I have two kids, both in their early 20’s so, yeah, I am advancing in life’s journey, but I am still young and silly enough to take the risks.
2) What was the inspiration behind your story?
I was sitting on the beach one day and thought, “What would this have looked like 100 years ago? 200 years ago? and then 1000 years ago? The next question was, “How would someone from this time survive if taken back 1000 years?” Like many books, I started with a couple of assumptions; that one could travel back 1000 years, and the book grew from there. The ‘visit to the beach’ chapters in Traveller Inceptio were based on that thought process.
I like Science Fiction, but aimed to keep any story as real as possible, so I and any reader could honestly relate. I tried to keep reactions and events as plausible as possible. This sometimes took the story away from where I had planned and added some interesting moments.
Fortunately I have travelled to many of the world locations mentioned in Traveller Inceptio and future books. The sights, smells and feelings are most inspiring. The forests of England, the great walls of Istanbul, and the deserts of Israel can never be fully imagined simply from research on the Internet.
 
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your story?
Wow, I have to be self-analytical here.
There are two main messages I think.
The first is the desire to travel, to see new places and take new risks. I particularly love the short film Wanderers with a narration by Carl Sagan, (Check it out on You Tube) which acknowledges humanity’s need to explore. If we could explore the Past, then we, of course, would.
The other theme is that people in our past were like us. Our parents and many-great-grandparents lived lives with similar aspirations. They laughed, joked, worried about their kids, farted, and got horny, but also had trying times when they were sad and shed tears. Sometimes they even experienced violence. The message is; They were people too, only without an iPhone.
When we realise our history and give credence to those who have gone before us, we can then better understand ourselves and the rich tapestry of interwoven lives and genetic material that has created each of us.
4) If you could sit down and ask any character in your story a question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
It think it would be Tatae, the healer and wise woman of the Saxon village of Giolgrave. She was one such as those who would be persecuted and killed in the ages following the Norman invasion of England in 1066. Tatae is enigmatic. Not only does she hold deep knowledge, but she has learned that many would debase and profit from it if she let them.
I think I would ask, “How did you gain your knowledge?” Assuming she would tell me, it would be quite a story.
5) What’s more important to you when writing: developing plot or creating characters?
I think the plot, because that dictates the reactions of the characters. Place the character into a situation and I try to see how they would realistically react. Sometimes it isn’t how I thought, which is always a pleasant surprise. Sometimes a minor character became a major one. One example was Tatae, as I had no intention of travelling down the romance cliche. How wrong was I?
6) What social media site has been the most helpful or beneficial in creating your readership?
Initially FaceBook, as friends refer friends etc, but it is beginning to be overtaken by Blogs. Naturally this will grow further, but this world of self-promotion through on-line media can be very challenging. Amazon and others can be a minefield. It becomes a question of persistence, losing money on bad marketing ploys, and not taking it too seriously.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or new authors out there?
Keep on going, even if it does mean that you end up rewriting your little gem fifty times. The other is that professional critics have their place, but can often get caught up in the detail. Be humble enough to recognise that your skills might need improvement, ie. writing skills, but also believe in yourself. It can be a tricky thing to balance. Don’t be surprised to be elated at a great review, then go down in a screaming heap when someone criticises your writing style. It’s all part of the gig.
8) What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon?
Traveller Inceptio lends itself to a sequel. I found this especially important when readers asked me “What Now??”
So, I have completed a draft of Traveller Probo – Traveller Book 2 – and I am in the never-ending process of fine-tuning the grammar etc. I hope this will be ready by the end of this year (2017) or the beginning of 2018. Traveller Probo (meaning: to prove or question) assumes the Saxon mission is successful. Governments vie to prepare the next Traveller mission, but safety is paramount. Missions to New Zealand, the USA, Ukraine, and the old Byzantine Empire of Turkey are planned, but the political rivalry is intense.
I have already begun Traveller Manifesto – which will be Traveller Book 3.
Why the funny names? I started Book 1 as Traveller, but when you google ‘Traveller’ you are inundated with book titles. Some friends thought it was a book about my travels. Traveller is spelled in the British / Australian way with 2 L’s, and the Latin word is to give an idea as to what the story is about. Latin, because 1000 years ago, Latin was the language of religion and education in Europe.
Inceptio = Beginning
Probo = Prove of question and investigate
Manifesto = Declaration to the World
Why Europe? Think about this. 1000 years ago, if you travelled anywhere in Africa or the Pacific, you would be eaten. If you travelled anywhere in the Americas, you might be sacrificed or skinned alive. In Asia, killed as a stranger, or limited because of the barriers of lost languages. England was selected because of the racial and national identity of the inventors and sponsors. Plus, it made my writing easier.
There is a criticism that the books are long – the irony being that Traveller Inceptio and Traveller Probo are precisely the same length – 190,000 words. To be honest, I created each story and then tore about 50,000 words away in the editing process. I hope the story makes the time taken in reading worthwhile.
I have written drafts for two other books that have nothing to do with Time or Transporters, but I believe I have to do the best I can with one project at a time. These others can wait.
Ultimately, I hope my books bring enjoyment to readers. It is, after all, about having a fun, entertaining read.
Advertisements

Interview with Milton Dewar

Standard
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to become an author?
Answer: I’m originally from NYC (The Bronx to be precise), born and raised, the youngest of six kids, and growing up, I was always surrounded by the arts. Music, theater, graffiti, poetry, Hip-Hop, dancing, breakdancing;  it was everywhere, growing up in The Bronx in the 80’s, and I think that artistic immersion, and those experiences, helped shape who I am today, and inspired me to become a Writer/Author, amongst other things, because the arts have always been about expression, and the written word was something that always had a very special kind of appeal to me as an expressive medium. I’m also a filmmaker and a music producer (as part of the music production team, The Arkatechz), and I would say that the common foundational denominator that supported my inspirations and aspirations overall, would have to be my love of storytelling. We tell our stories through the written word, we tell stories through music, through film, and I would attribute my specific attraction to storytelling and the written word, as a Writer/Author, to my love of comic books. I was a comic book addict, growing up, lol. The stories were amazing, the artwork was amazing, the writing was incredible, and I wanted to be a part of that; to be able tell my own stories. When it comes to storytelling and writing, I tell people that Marvel Comics founder, Stan Lee, made me, lol.
2) What was the inspiration behind your story?
Answer: The inspiration behind the story, “Backseat in The Dark,” was my wanting to examine the fragility of the human condition, how that fragility comes about through our experiences, and how dangerous that fragility can be to ourselves and others, if it’s not handled with care. There were a lot of times that I would be on the road by myself at night, leaving work, leaving an event, leaving a social gathering, etc., and I would see car accidents, road rage arguments, people driving recklessly, all kinds of negative things, or potentially negative things, and I would wonder what kind of day those people had. Maybe there was something else that happened, some other experience they had, or they were having, that might’ve influenced their current behavior, or predicament, for the worse. If the law of attraction can attract good things, then it would follow, that maybe it can also attract bad things.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your story?
Answer: That sometimes we, as people, have to learn how to let things go. “Backseat in The Dark” is a fictitious cautionary tale of what else could go wrong when we can’t shake off the things that bother us the most. If a person can’t move on, that person runs a great risk of getting “stuck.”
4) If you could sit down and ask any character in your story a question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Answer: This is an awesome question! I would want to sit down with our protagonist, Ian, and ask him how long his grudging attitude has been with him. Has this always been a part of his personality, or something that developed just before he got married?  He has a lot of issues.
5) What’s more important to you when writing: developing plot or creating characters?
Answer: It kinda varies, depending on the type of story I’m trying to tell, but generally, I apply the same importance to both of those development devices. A great plot will always grab your audience’s attention, but in order to maintain that attention, you have to develop characters that your audience will actually care about; whether they love to love those characters, empathize with those characters, or even love to hate those characters, within the parameters of a story.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful or beneficial in creating your readership?
Answer: It’s hard for me to say, definitively, but I think it’s kind of a toss up between Facebook and Twitter. Facebook’s reach is larger than Twitter’s, but Twitter is a somewhat smaller and different kind of pond, so you don’t have to swim as hard as you would have to on Facebook, in order to get to readers, because Facebook is just so saturated with things designed to compete for a reader’s attention. My team helps me out a lot with the social media thing, because it requires so much time and management, that I can’t always give it myself. Shout out to them. I appreciate everything that they do. They’re not happy that I’m not on Instagram though, lol. I’m like “how many social media accounts do I need?” and they’re like “You need all of them!” lol.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or new authors out there?
Answer: My advice to new and aspiring authors would be to keep writing, and never force it. Creativity gets lost in formality. To say to yourself “I have to write this story, and this many words, on this day, between these times,” hinders the creative process. Don’t pressure yourself. When the creativity is ready to flow, it’ll flow. Wait for it.
8) What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon?
Answer: The sky is definitely the limit, God willing. I’ve got several new projects on the horizon. I have a short film, and a new television series I’m currently writing, in development, along with an ongoing sketch comedy series, The Scenes, that’s out right now, and another feature film on deck, of which we’re trying to iron out some financing particulars. My first feature film was Hi Hater: The Documentary. As far as books are concerned, I already have a story and an early draft for another book I might put out in the coming months, but we’ll see what happens, because there’s an interest in flipping that potential book into a film, so I’m not sure what direction we’re going to head in, initially; film first, book second? Or book first, film second? Decisions, decisions, lol. Thank you, Anthony, for taking the time out to interview me. I appreciate it.
You can find the author on Facebook here –> https://m.facebook.com/AuteurDewar/

Interview with Author John P. Kildemm

Standard

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. What inspired you to become a writer?

I was inspired to become a writer through comedy. I have been a standup comedian for over a decade and even as a kid, standup was one of the few professions that I could actually respect. Which, despite a fear of talking in front of people, allowed me to pursue standup comedy.

2) What was your biggest inspiration for writing this book?

The biggest inspiration for writing this book, Hey Doorman VIII, was the election of Donald Trump. Which if one reads the book will easily identify as the inspiration. As I saw, and continue to see, a lot Trump’s attributes (arrogance, thin-skinned, xenophobic, misogynistic etc.) in the intoxicated and not intoxicated patrons of the establishments I work at. The number two inspiration was having time in between other projects (and not being hired to write on a tv writing staff, but that’s a story for another day about being black in Hollywood).

3) What theme or message do you hope readers identify with when reading your book.

In all of my non-fiction titles, which Hey Doorman is, there is no overall message or theme, besides being entertaining and funny in my signature brand of comedy. Which is honest, simple and wrapped in a Tarantino/Palahniuk/Chappelle darkness. In my fiction titles, the overall message often follows one of my favorite lines (albeit modified) from the Matrix trilogy: “Everything that has a beginning has an end. I see the end coming. I see the darkness spreading. I see death. And there is nothing that stands in its way.”

4) What social media site has been the most helpful in gaining a readership?

I’m not sure there is a social media site that has been most helpful in me gaining readership. Each one that I’ve used in the past, Facebook and Twitter, have there own benefits. But neither seems to have outweighed the other. If anything, the best way to gain readership without a big financial push, is word of mouth. So in that way, Facebook and Twitter are about equal in my estimation. But I just joined Instagram, so we’ll see what happens there.

5) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to pursue a writing career or is a beginning author?

My biggest advice to aspiring authors, is the same advice that Too $hort gives to aspiring rappers: “Don’t stop rapping.” In other words keep writing.

6) Any future writing projects in the works?

I do have a few projects currently in the works, but the one which I am most proud of is my directorial debut titled: HUMOR. The short film will be released October 30th on Vimeo On Demand and is available now for pre-order. This is the film’s trailer: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/humorashortfilm

 

You Can Follow John P. Kildemm At The Links Below!

https://www.instagram.com/outlawhaji/
https://www.facebook.com/hs.outlaw

Interview with James Gianetti

Standard

Interview with James Gianetti

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

 

I am a graduate of Montclair State University and have a background in education. Since I was twelve, I always had an interest in it and constantly worked on improving it throughout the years. When I was young, I’d pick up books and think about how daunting it would be to put all those thoughts, ideas, and characters into countless pages. Back then it seemed impractical and somewhat unachievable, now, it’s what gets me up in the morning. My motivation and passion stems from the notion of being able to create something from nothing or to write something that isn’t out there in the world yet.

2) What inspired you to write The Town of Jasper?

 

The inspiration to write Jasper came from breaking down and evaluating other stories. I didn’t want to necessarily follow a blueprint of other novels so I asked myself, “how can I write a story that appeals to all types of observers?” So I started studying and checking out television shows that were working well at the time like “The Leftovers” and “True Detective”. The challenge was balancing the new with the traditional, meaning, how can I tell a story that competes with a night of someone’s favorite show and pay enough tribute to the traditional reader’s market? Since I wrote it on spec, one of the benefits was not being confined to telling the story in a specific way. So I broke the story down and ensured that I was touching upon elements and themes that people flock to while also making sure I was creating something authentic and my own. 

3) What was the process like creating protagonists Jack Sutherland and Richard Morrissey?

 

When you have two dominant male figures like them in a story, you have to make sure there is a conflict or relationship of some kind between them. Initially, their arcs were completely different and the story just didn’t work the way I had it. I spent a long time deconstructing their arcs and transformations and the challenge was making it compelling enough where the reader would be hooked and actually care about their journeys. I took a step back and tried analyzing the effectiveness of the story from a difference spectrum. I wanted the foundation of the story to be driven by irony, so that is when I decided to have their arcs occur in parallel, though not necessarily in the same location. The story shifts between the two of them with the unwritten opening always being “Meanwhile, Richard is doing this or “Meanwhile, Sutherland is doing that”.

 

 

 

 
4) What theme or message do you hope readers will get from your novel?

 

There are countless themes in the book both significant and diminutive. Self worth and community are at the forefront, with elements of love, trust, truthfulness, politics, disabilities, etc. I welcome readers to scrutinize over some of the themes or nod/shake their head in recognition of some of the ones that are more implicit.

5) Which do you find more fulfilling when writing: creating plot or creating characters.

 

I think it all depends on what kind of story I want to tell. With Jasper, I had this idea of a town and a unique atrocity. It isn’t necessarily “post-apocalyptic” it’s more “present-apocalyptic” and before I wrote characters, I needed to nail down and drive home on the environment, the scenario, and the landscapes of the town. Once I had the appealing and unique setting, I began to write characters that would be suited or unsuited for such an incident.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

 

I knew throughout the process of writing it that I wanted the experience for the reader to be visual. Going back to my approach to writing a novel tailored to the status quo of exploring stories, I wanted readers to visualize it in addition to reading it. Instagram has been an incredible tool that has allowed me to reach a wide array of readers and people interested in following the story and characters.  I have and continue to release teaser images of events or characters within the book along with dialogue. The reception has been very positive thus far.

7) What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?

 

Do not embark on writing a novel unless you truly want to write it. Don’t write a story just for the sake of writing a story. The process can take years, so make sure you are completely certain you want to explore your story and characters.

8) What are you future plans after the release of The Town of Jasper? Any other novels or stories in the works?

 

I have written a few short stories that I will start to send out to journals. One of them is going to be showcased on “The Short Story Machine” podcast from Paul Alves. I feel like I have scratched my short story itch for now. I have been toying with some concepts and directions for another installment to Jasper, however, I am also very much open to writing an entirely new story.  

Interview with Author Clayton Graham

Standard

Interview with Clayton Graham

1) Tell us a little bit about how you got into writing.

I have written intermittently for many years and always loved Science Fiction. As retirement approached I thought that would be a good time to get serious!

It’s our connection with the rest of the universe which fascinates me. Science Fiction has been with me since I was a teenager, escaping to new worlds in the cobbled back streets of Stockport, England, where I grew up as a child. Halcyon days, when education and school milk were free, and summers were real summers. I treasured the ‘old school’ science fiction written by authors such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham – well before many were made into films.

2) What was the inspiration behind Milijun?

I wanted Milijun to explore how humanity would react when faced with an intelligence it cannot understand? It’s a good question, for it may happen someday. We are not currently prepared, of course, we are light years away from understanding how we should behave in such a circumstance.

Milijun challenges our mindsets through the eyes of a mother and son, and as such is perhaps more powerful and meaningful than if that challenge was through the eyes of the United Nations or the President of the United States.

I trust the book is about more than an alien incursion into the Australian outback. The story challenges the reader to contemplate our place in the universe, or multiverses (as we are now led to believe may be a possibility).

3) What was it like to fuse the science fiction drama with the complex theme of spirituality?

In a word, fascinating. Humans have always searched for the meaning of life. The idea that, like humans, intelligent alien life will more than likely have a spiritual side is worthy of consideration. We have developed our spirituality through thousands of years. We are growing closer to understanding it, and where our place is in the universe. An advanced alien society will have progressed much further – for example, maybe they will have proven the existence of the afterlife, or maybe they will have entered other dimensions. Anything is possible – we should not deride anything even if it’s outside our comfort zone.

4) What is more important to you when writing: developing plot or creating characters?

Because I love Science Fiction, the plot intrigues me most. And I love plots which interlink with the paranormal or the supernatural [which can be the natural we have yet to discover]. Dialogue is driven by the characters and is probably the easiest to compile – I just let it flow as I believe it would in real life, bearing in mind the people and events involved.

Scene description I spend a lot of time on, and is probably the area which is revised the most.

hdmbomckieekbfdc

5) What social media site has been the most helpful for reaching your audience?

To be honest there is not that much out there beyond the obvious players. My primary focus has been on Facebook and I am just starting on Google Plus. Currently I do not do Twitter but I do rely on Book Bloggers and several Book ‘Clubs’. If anyone knows of any efficient media they are more than welcome to contact me at my website.

6) If you were to come face to face with one character in Milijun, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I would choose Laura Sinclair – an ordinary mother, really – until she encounters mysterious events!

The novel explores the relationship between a mother and son. How far can it be stretched before the links break? How far would a mother go to save her son? Would she be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, or undertake actions she would never have deemed possible prior to the alien incursion?

Based on that, I would ask Laura two questions.  What are her true feelings towards Major General Sebastian Ord? What does she think she is escaping to?

Knowing Laura, the answers would not be simple!
7) What advice would you give to aspiring writers out there?

We can start with the obvious one – read your genre. Don’t start to write before reading, that’s like running before you can walk. If you have done your reading, and you have the urge to write, just write and see what comes out. Never throw anything away – a lot easier now with the advent of computers.

Also keep a pencil and pad on your bedside table. Quite often you will wake up with an idea, a thought, maybe just a sentence or phrase, or even a piece of dialogue. Scribble it down, file it somewhere safe.

Also don’t release your book too soon. Check out marketing options and maybe get some reviews, but don’t be a slave to them.
8) What are your future plans/upcoming projects?

I am working on ‘Saving Paludis’ at the moment, which is set in the year 3898 AD, some one hundred and forty light years from Earth. This story is totally different to MILIJUN, but with the same elements of action, technology and the paranormal. It also includes some romance.

It explores the links between an alien culture and mankind, interplanetary economics, military force and power. It also asks the question: what happens when a culture concentrates on a single purpose-driven technology over a period of hundreds of years?

Web Site: http://claytongraham.com.au/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/claytongrahamauthor/

Authors Show Radio Interview: http://claytongraham.com.au/authors-show-interview/

YouTube Trailer:  https://youtu.be/d_0Na9Zu8JE

 

SALES AND REVIEW LINKS:

GOODREADS:   https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28525954-milijun?from_search=true

AMAZON:      viewBook.at/Milijun

APPLE:     https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/milijun/id1071758740?mt=11

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/milijun-clayton-graham/1123213251?ean=9780994495600

 

The Book Depository [Australia]:

http://www.bookdepository.com/milijun-Clayton-Graham/9780994495600

MILIJUN

Interview with Author K. Hanson

Standard

Interview with Author K. Hanson

1) Tell us about the inspiration behind The Azrael Initiative.

I’ve always enjoyed the books of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and other thriller writers. I love the idea of writing books that tackle modern issues, so I wanted to start a series of books that does just that. The Azrael Initiative is also about taking a normal person and turning her into someone who would willingly head into dangerous situations, such as being dropped into Syria to fight ISIS. As the series progresses, the events of this first book will prepare her for new dangers.
2) Why do you think it was important to tackle such a complex subject like terrorism and specifically the threat of ISIS?

I appreciate books that challenge me and make me want to learn more about a topic. I wanted to use The Azrael Initiative as an opportunity to challenge the reader to think about terrorism and ISIS from the perspective of someone who is on the ground and in the fight. I also wanted to highlight the fact that just as many Muslims are victims of their hateful acts as non-Muslims are. I hope that The Azrael Initiative inspires readers to pick up a nonfiction book or two on the topic of terrorism to learn more.
3) What made you want to get into the world of writing?

What got me into writing was actually me desire to make my own video games. For a long time, I’ve had story ideas for games floating around in my head. Unfortunately, to make those games the way that I want to, I would need to hire more people to help me, and that requires money. Eventually, I realized that while I couldn’t make games alone, I could write the stories myself. From the moment I made that realization, I studied some books on novel writing, outlined my first story, and got into hammering out the rough draft.
4) What social media sites have been the most helpful with developing your readership?

For me, I think Facebook has been the most helpful, though I’m still working improving my Twitter game and learning how to use Goodreads effectively.
5) What matters most to you when writing: developing plot or creating characters?

I actually give equal weight to developing an engaging plot and creating interesting characters. An exciting journey is important, but I also need someone memorable to go on that journey. There also needs to be an internal journey that matches the external events in the story. Story events should change characters and what they learn should be on display with how they act.
6) What are your future/upcoming plans? Any plans to continue with the Kayla Falk series?

Right now, I’m working on editing the first novel in a fantasy series. This book is titled Storm Raven and features a pirate captain who stumbles into magical abilities. Once I’m done editing that book and while I’m waiting for beta readers to get through Storm Raven, I plan on starting the second book in the Kayla Falk series, which will focus on the issue of human trafficking within the United States.

Website: http://khansonbooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KHansonBooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/khansonbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16149902.K_Hanson
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Azrael-Initiative-Kayla-Falk-Book-ebook/dp/B01NAGQQ2F

Image

Red Death by Jeff Altabef Book Review

Fantasy and Dystopian genres blend together beautifully in author Jeff Altabef’s novel, Red Death. Exploring the impact of religion on various
groups of people and the dangers of how it dictates their lives, Red Death delves into the lives of several young people throughout this
deadly world, with various tribes and Kingdoms conflicting with one another and the mysteries of this world waiting to be unlocked by one
courageous hero. Here is the synopsis:

Every child of Eden fears the Red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient
sins long forgotten. For centuries, Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray too close. They must
keep Eden a secret if they are to survive.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliss is a highly-trained and dedicated Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother discovers a cure to
the plague, her world is turned upside down. The discovery is a miracle, yet miracles are dangerous in Eden.

The corrupt, all-powerful High Priest brands Aaliss and her brother Wilky as traitors, forcing them to run. They seek refuge in the last
place Aaliss thought she’d ever go—beyond the boundaries of Eden, and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval
world filled with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders who are only a few years older than her.

Aaliss yearns to return home to Eden, but she must protect Wilky at all costs. And when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the
Soulless, she questions everything she once believed, everything the Priests had taught her about those who live outside Eden—they are
forever cursed, savage, soulless.

Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens
to tear apart the Soulless world? Or… might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?

This was an incredibly well written novel. The dark dystopian world is so vividly described that you can visualize the characters in your
mind. The action and plot of this incredible book took this reader on a roller coaster of emotions and created a world that can easily
pass for a dystopian version of our own. The themes of this novel have never been more true than in this day and age, from the dark side of
power in religion, to the judgement we often have for anyone who isn’t a part of our own culture, to the true meaning of family and how
a person can find family in the most unlikely of places.

It was refreshing to see the gender roles reversed from the “traditional” book styles, where a man is the hardened warrior and the female
needs rescuing or needs to be taught how to fight. Aaliss is a seasoned warrior, and the male lead of this novel that fans will meet must
seek her help for a quest, and must use her skills in order to learn and survive. It shows a welcome trend of strong female characters that
may be flawed but still become the epic hero of the story and prove that they don’t need a man to save them. It helps to break down the
gender stereotypes of our world and showcases that a person’s gender doesn’t define a hero, but rather their actions.

This is a beautifully dark world that has been created by Jeff Altabef, and is a promising first novel in a brand new series. This new world
promises to bring deadly threats to Aaliss and the rest of the people she befriends in this novel, and shows that the world she knows is
going to change drastically. Filled with twists and turns, characters we love and characters we love to hate, this is a fantastic read that
every dystopian and Fantasy reader must check out, so make sure you pick up your copies of Red Death today!

10/10 Stars