Interview with Rob Shackleford 

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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.
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Traveller – Inceptio by Rob Shackleford Review

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A historical science fiction tale like no other, author Rob Shackleford brings to life a tale of ancient Viking invaders, Saxon villagers and a time travel experiment that puts real lives in serious danger. What would the affect of time travel have not only on the past, but the future as well? Here is a synopsis:

If you were sent 1000 years into the past, would you survive?

Traveller – Inceptio describes how the Transporter is accidentally invented and becomes public knowledge when it sends a subject 1000 years into the past.

A Special Forces team of Travellers is then selected and trained with the intent to send them to Saxon England to explore what could be a very dangerous period of history.

From the beaches of Australia to the forests of Saxon England, Traveller – Inceptio reveals how Travellers discover they need a lot more than technology to survive the trials of early Eleventh Century life.

A realistic look into the lives of our ancient ancestors from around the world, this incredible story takes an in-depth look into the scientific study of time-travel and the ramifications our interference in the past can have. It also does a fantastic job of showing the hardships, struggles and way ancient Saxons viewed the world and life, and the twist of ancient beliefs and the introduction of religion into the region.

The attention to detail and use of great historical context made this such an engaging read. Taking a twist on time-travel science fiction stories and incorporating a detailed look into this time of conflict and bloodshed was thrilling to read, and put into context the struggles of the 21st century. The characters felt personal and did an excellent job of highlighting the way we would view that time period, as well as how they would view us.

Overall this was a phenomenal read, full of twists and turns and a fresh approach to the time travel genre. Filled with great historical references and characters you’ll love instantly, this story reads like an HBO drama, and would translate perfectly onto the screen. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of Traveller – Inceptio by Rob Shackleford today!

Rating: 10/10

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Alchemy: a story of perfect murder by Chris James Book Review

A thrilling tale of horror, suspense, and ancient mysteries brought to life. This is what author Chris James brings to his incredible historical
psychological thriller, Alchemy: a story of perfect murder. The trial of the century navigates the dark history of a brilliant young genius who’s
innocence becomes lost in a world of horrific science as he slowly turns into an unrecognizable monster. When a young artist finds he has cracked
the code for a formula to maintain immortality and to raise the dead, he soon learns his discovery has come with a price: the death of his love
and inspiration. His need to return her to the land of the living has him traversing the moral line as his mind becomes lost to drugs and his
determination to save her drives him to use the formula he’s discovered from the ancient tome: Alchemy. However, his only surviving muse learns
that things may not be what they seem, and she’ll have to learn for herself whether the young artist she cares for is innocent of the crimes
he’s accused of, or if she’s become infatuated with a monster.

Exploring the life of the people of Victorian Era London, the lines between science and ancient magic blur as the impossible becomes possible.
Readers will be delighted to explore the historical aspect of the story, looking into the beginning of hard science and the old beliefs in the
“magic” that comes from potions and concoctions. The reader will find themselves questioning the characters and their motives throughout the
tale, and by the last page you will not be able to catch your breath as the truth is revealed. With some incredibly original characters that are
amazing and engaging to read. This is a must read novel in the historical-thriller genre, so be sure to check it out now and follow Chris James as
this reviewer cannot wait to read more of this author’s work.

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Interview with Author Brendan Le Grange

A marine archaeologist
standing up for herself. A psychopath with mother issues.  A hitman who hates failure. A soldier with a
point to prove. And a treasure that tests every allegiance.

Brett Rivera has spent three years searching for the

Drachen

. The day she finds it is the day her life changes: there is
no sign of its legendary treasure and now a cold-blooded killer is hunting her.
What does he know that she doesn’t?

Brett is chased in Finland,
double-crossed in Tallinn, abducted in Lübeck, and shot at in Bremen as this
action-packed thriller dashes across northern Europe, barely pausing for breath.

A shipwreck.  A lost
treasure.
A hell of a
race from one to the other.

***

First off, I want to thank Branden for speaking with us today.

1)  
Tell
us a little bit about yourself and your motivation to become an author.

For
the last six or seven years I’ve been travelling a lot, for work and pleasure,
first primarily in Europe and more recently primarily in Asia. This got me into
writing in two ways: the pull of wanting to read a good book while stuck in
airports and the push of stories I though could come out of some of those
places.

That’s
really where it started, or at least where it moved from writing work-related
articles to trying to write fiction.

2) Where did you get the inspiration for your debut novel, Drachen?

I
often joke that it was inspired by the carving of three dragons and the stained-glass
window that book-end most of Drachen’s
action.

While
living in Denmark I used to love visiting the Hanseatic towns of Northern
Europe. I knew I wanted to pull some of that charm and history into my first
book, but it was when I linked those two unusual dragon motifs that I got a
tighter theme and geography. And I knew it had to be fun and fast-paced because
I’d just finished my MBA and had had my fill of serious non-fiction. I decided
I needed to write the sort of book you could read in an airport or on a flight,
while not necessarily operation at your highest intellectual capacity!

With
those boundaries established, I started writing and largely followed where the
story took me, finally zooming in on the parts of longer story I really wanted
to cover.

My
earliest drafts included Brett’s discovery of Drachen, her ill-fated dive on the wreck, and her escape from the
armed gang that hijacked her boat – all scenes now on ‘the cutting room floor’
so that the reader hits the ground running.

3) How did your experiences in traveling through 40 different countries help
you with writing the book?

I
would have done it anyway, but it certainly plays a big role for my writing.
Personally it is a great way to capture some memories and to keep random walks
through new towns interesting. And for the story it adds a degree of realism
that you can’t get from Google. I actually don’t write all that much about the
towns in Drachen but still many
people comment on how nicely the locations play out – I think this is because
if you’ve visited a place and enjoyed it yourself, you’re better able to write
its essence not just its exterior.

I
have visited every location in Drachen,
the follow-up is set in the mountains above my new home, and the longer term
plans for the series include visits to the Philippines where I spend about 30%
of my time at the moment and India where I honeymooned so I hope the trend
continues.

4) Drachen fits in the historical-fiction/thriller genre. Is this a genre you
are interested in exploring further with future books, or are
there other genres that interest you as well?

In
the longer term I would like to write something more artistic, and if I let
myself dream up some talents I don’t yet have it’d be a whimsical fable inspired
by The Little Prince, but…

For
the moment I’ll be writing in the genre I think of as ‘adventure thriller’:
part action and adventure/ part thriller. The history side of things is
important for this as it allows me to lean more towards the ‘fun’ adventure side
of the thriller genre.

As
I hinted above, I have a few more books in the series planned but I also have a
new character I’m waiting to let loose in a slightly more quirky world.

5) Was there a character in the book that you could identify with or that you
particularly enjoyed writing in this book?

I
let myself have the most fun with Patrick I think, but all of them were fun to
write as I modeled them all on good friends: I worked with Brett for many
years, Matthys and I moved to Denmark at the same time, Roman is a mix of two
of my good friends, and Sam and his family arrived in Hong Kong the exact same
day we did.

The
same was true of Patrick but he had a head-start, being a real-life spy and
all… Okay, maybe he isn’t. He claims to be a mild mannered architect but after
a few drinks you’ll soon be undecided as stories from his travels to some of
the world’s wildest places emerge!  

6) Drachen focuses a lot on a revised history around the Hanseatic League. Is
there another historical period, event or place that you would
be interested in rewriting or molding into a new story?

There
are so many options, really, but the Middle Ages are nicely placed not so far
removed that there is no trace of them today, not so recent that we have complete
histories: Drachen’s follow up will
be built around a local legend of the demise (or not) of the Song Dynasty which
happened at a similar time, and a number of great Philippine legends come from
then, too.

When
I get around to starting the next series, though, it’ll examine some more
modern mysteries: there are some great conspiracy theories and legendary beasts
I’d love to write about.

7) For any aspiring authors out there, what would you say is the best piece of
advice you can give them?

Two
things stand out in my mind: start writing and join a critique group.

It
is really important to just start writing. I know I started by trying to read
books on writing but honestly, if you haven’t made the mistakes or run into the
hurdles it is hard to conceptualize them. So start. It doesn’t have to be any
good, but it gives you examples to work from. I scrapped many more versions of Drachen than I kept but ultimately it evolved
from the original unrecognizable attempt.

And
then share that writing with a critique group. I got lucky here, and have been privileged
to work with some great and experienced authors but even as a newbie I was able
to add value to their work too, so don’t be shy. I read a lot of self-published
books (the second half of last year I read them exclusively, and this year I’ve
been reading only my Twitter followers) and I can see the ones who haven’t had
enough eyes pass over them. Obviously a good editor can help, but if you’ve had
a few opinions throughout the process you’ll be better off, and that same
editor will be able to really make the finished product great.

8) When writing this book, which did you enjoy more: writing the plot out or
creating the characters and their backstories?

Because
I based my characters on a number of my friends, I had great fun dropping them
into unexpected situations – often having a chuckle to myself about what they’d
gone and done.

But
it’s no secret that at its core, Drachen
is a plot driven thriller. I think one of my strengths is the way I manage the
flow of ideas, smoothly leading readers from one point to the next, sometimes to
make the actions race, sometimes to lead them astray; and I really enjoy
playing around with that aspect of plotting.

What
I also enjoy about plotting is how it can grow organically. You can set-up a
scene, but once you start writing the characters can create unexpected dead
ends and unique solutions to them.

9) What authors or works of fiction helped inspire you and your writing career?

I
write in the genre dominated by Clive Cussler, and his books revived my
interest in action/ adventure as an adult, though I try to bring a snappier
style to bear so if I can channel some Lee Child then I’d be delighted.

But
writing starts with reading. I read a lot when I was younger but then stopped
for several years. I got back into it when I moved to Johannesburg for my first
job: in the days before Netflix and social media, books helped pass the time in
those early ‘settling in’ days. I remember getting caught up in a few South
African legends, JM Coetzee and Bryce Courtenay, mixed with whatever was lying
around or lent – in fact I was laughing about this with my friend the other
day, he gave me Matthew Reilly’s The
Contest
on my very first day there.

10) Any upcoming plans or novels in the works right now?

Yes!
I am a working on the follow-up to Drachen – set in the green hills above rural
Hong Kong, yes those exist, it follows Matthys Rossouw as he gets an unexpected
chance to pick-up Hiko’s trail.

I
don’t want to give too much away, but the underlying legend is inspired by the
legend of how my local village once hosted the de facto heirs to the Song
Dynasty throne. I wondered what might happen if those princes hadn’t exactly
left, and what the Chinese government might do if they found out.

Thank you to Brendan for taking the time to speak with us today, and I hope you all will pick up your copies of his book, Drachen, out now!

You can find Brendan Le Grange at his sites listed below:

website: brendanlegrange.com

twitter: @brendanlegfacebook:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/Action.Adventure.Thrills/

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B0133U3HGC

Book Review of Drachen by Brendan Le Grange

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Book Review of Drachen by Brendan Le Grange

If Dean Koontz were to write a historical fiction thriller with an Indiana Jones theme and both strong male and female characters, it would

be something like Brendan Le Grange’s “Drachen”. This story is a fast paced, action and historically driven thriller that tweaks a real life
history of the medieval Hanseatic League and creates a legend and treasure so powerful and illustrious that the lines between friend and
foe becomes blurred easily.

Taking a fun approach of looking through the eyes of various characters in this novel, the story follows a young marine archaeologist who’s
looking to find a treasure and must face the likes of a crazed killer with some serious issues, a hitman who doesn’t know what it means to
fail, and a soldier looking for a sort of redemption. Brett is hot on the trail of the Drachen, a ship said to hold untold treasure. Yet
not only does she not find the treasure, but she finds herself in the fight of her life as she delves deeper into the mystery of the Drachen
and must evade armed killers and soldiers who want the secrets of the treasure for themselves.

The writing in this book is very well told. The pace is constant and fast, keeping the plot moving forward at a reasonable rate and doing
a wonderful job of implementing a great sense of history into the modern age. The formatting of the book was perfect, and the characters
did a wonderful job of telling their stories and kept an air of mystery throughout the story, doling out bits and pieces of their past and
motivations to keep us wanting more until the very end.

Without spoiling the ending, Le Grange does a masterful job of using his life experiences and travels from around the world to tell a tale
that one rarely finds anymore. I personally loved the history that dripped from every page of this book, and it left me wanting to read more
of his writing. There are equal parts action, history, adventure and thriller mixed into this book, making this a story people will thoroughly
enjoy reading. Make sure to pick up your copy of Drachen by Brendan Le Grange today!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review.
Many thanks!