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Interview with Christian blogger: Peter Younghusband

In Author Interviews on May 15, 2014 at 7:00 am

Peter-Younghusband

Today I’d like to do a something a little different.  On occasion I run into authors and in doing so like to do interviews about them. This time I’ve run into a blogger by the name of Peter Younghusband.  His blog is dedicated solely to Christian fiction.  Bloggers provide an important function in that they help to promote authors through their blog to their readers and sometimes provide reviews.  I met Peter while browsing through Amazon’s Shelfari.  When I saw his profile what impressed me was the sheer volume of novels he had read.  One need only visit his blog or check out his presence on Shelfari or Goodreads to see what I mean.  Today’s blog is going to be a bit long, but there is much to takeaway from Peter’s experience, and those that enjoy blogging, reading christian fiction and or authors will take something away from today’s interview.

Peter gave me a generous review when I solicited him about my own work sevral months ago, and after exchanging emails, and dialogue I just felt that he was someone that people should hear more about.  If you enjoy Christian speculative fiction.  Peter simply put is a man who can recommend a book.  Having said that welcome Peter.  Lets get started!

So tell us about your blog.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

My blog is called Peter Younghusband’s Christian Fiction Review. Address is www.christianfictionreviewguru.blogspot.com.au.
I started it when an author, Steve Goodwin (http://www.stevegoodwin.org/) contacted to say thanks for a very comprehensive review of his first book. He had investigated my other reviews on Amazon and suggested that I should start a blog as he believed my reviews, being longer and more comprehensive would encourage authors and readers alike. It is targeted towards anyone who enjoys the genres of:

spiritual warfare involving angels and demons,

edgy speculative Christian fiction

horror from a Biblical point of view

Christian special ops, military

supernatural themes

Nephilim related (Genesis 6:4)

Christian mystery​/thriller

Christian science fiction or fantasy

Christian time travel

Christian Steampunk

​​What were some of the biggest challenges in getting it off the ground?

​Getting used to HTML! My initial introduction to setting up the blog from was from Steve Goodwin whom I mentioned above who is also a software programmer and he was talking me through this set up over Facebook chat. I got so frustrated that I told him to forget it. It was only talking to another Christian at work about books, reviewing and blogging that he encouraged me to give it another go. So I did and this time round, I understand the HTML and got it off the ground.

 What advice would you give new bloggers?​

​Do you homework first. Read about the format you are thinking about, whether Google Blogger or WordPress or any other format. Do you want to use a free service or paid? Check out their features. This will help you decide what is best for your blog. Don’

t give up. Seek advice from friends, colleagues that may know about blogging and the different formats or programs such as Google blogger or WordPress, search the Net, buy a book on blogging (and /or HTML), ask other bloggers. Blogging does not have to be rocket science! Keep your content relevant and appropriate.

Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

I was brought up Catholic. Very sheltered upbringing due to having much older parents than my peers. When I started my Registered Nurse training at 19 years, I did not cope with life being away from home. The other male and female student nurses were involved in smoking, drinking, partying, swearing, recreational drugs all of which I had no exposure to growing up. It was not long before I was engaged in some of those activities just to fit in and it went against every part of me. I was not happy. We had a student join our second year and he was the only one whom I felt comfortable and safe with. He started witnessing to me about God and getting out of this destructive lifestyle. I spent my holidays that year on his parents farm and by the time I returned I had accepted Jesus and been born again. However, there was no follow up from a church when I started my studies again and I fell  back to my old ways. Another Christian nurse I worked with invited me to his church and at the altar call I rededicated my life to God. I stayed at this church and when I left the hospital a few years later to start my career as an Occupational Health Nurse, I met my wife who was my boss at the time! That  was in 1987 and we have been married since and now have two daughters, 22 and 19 respectively. We now attend a Presbyterian Church.

Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My first favourite author was Roger Elwood whose book Dwellers (1990, now out of print) which introduced me to the subject of the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4. This also introduced me reading Christian fiction. HIs other books, Angelwalk, Fallen Angel and Darien introduced me to angels and demons.  I then read the first two novels of Frakn Peretti that introduced me to spiritual warfare. Other favourite authors are Sigmund Brouwer, Jess Hanna, Steve Goodwin, Tim Downs, Alton Gansky, Ted Dekker, Bill Myers, Randy Alcorn, Jerry B Jenkins, Guy Stanton III, Ian Acheson, Graham Carter. Mike Dellosso, Mark Carver, David Alderman, Joseph Max Lewis, Dante Forstson, Cary Green, Clifton Voshen, Gary Rodenius, Timothy Tron, Bryan M Litfin, John Lyman, Robin Parrish, Joanna Penn, Tom Pawlik, Martin Roth, Joel C Rosenberg, Michael J Webb, James Somers,

Oh, and I have come across this new author who happens to have the same name as yourself!! LOL

I have already mentioned some of the genres I love to read and these authors all write in these.

Are there any other ventures similar to your blog you might be looking at?

I have been invited to be on an author’s Radio show to discuss my blog and anything Christian fiction! I would not mind doing the same in the future. Interviewing authors and reviewers. It has also been suggested that I try video reviewing, but I would need to invest in the appropriate equipment for this; the same for the radio show. But food for thought for the future.

When did you start blogging?

As I mentioned above, it was my second attempt that got the blog up an running and this was in October 2013.

What’s some of the best experiences you have had in your blogging experience?

When a new author who does not have any reviews or very few contacts me and states my review was a great encouragement and confirmed to them that they had made the right decision to become an author. Or that they say that my review captured what they wanted the reader to get out of the story. When they ask you for your permission to use your review on their website or in any promotional activities for their book. Also, when they ask you to become a beta reader for future books. One author states that my blog is the place for him to go to for his next novel to read.  Having an author request a review from a recommendation from an author you have reviewed. Word of mouth is a great advertiser!!

Also, when fellow readers buy the book you have reviewed based mainly on your review and they also state that if they want to find a good book, they will come to the blog and ​c​heck out the blog archives​.

Any negative experiences you would like to avoid?​

Having to write a review that is not positive or uplifting, but does reflect the problems with the book/author and you have to be honest, and deciding what is the best action: publish to the blog for all the world to see knowing this could upset the author, especially if it is a new author, or contact the author out of the public eye. Despite most authors wanting you to be honest and will be ok receiving negative feedback even on a blog or elsewhere, it is never easy. This is most unavoidable. An honest reviewer is an author’s greatest asset.

 What books have most influenced your life most?

Apart from the Bible, fiction genres of spiritual warfare or any Christian fiction no matter what genre, that educates, uplifts, and honors God. Some examples are Methusela’s Table by Gary Rodenius and Bruecke To Heaven by Timothy Tron, The Warrior Kind series by Guy Stanton III, the Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan M Litfin, The Road To Hell and Adverse Possession by Jess Hanna. All debut authors and all have had a huge impact on me.

What book are you reading now?

The Seal of the King by Ralph Smith, debut author, first in a trilogy. Christian fantasy, spiritual warfare. This was free on Amazon on March 29 and I was very much attracted to this based on it being fantasy, spiritual warfare and majority of reviews 4/5 or 5/5 stars. Later that day I received contact from the author requesting me to review his book! He had google searched “Christian fiction review” and my blog name came up! We were both surprised at how this came to happen on the same day and realised it was not a coincidence! I had about 5 books in the queue to review before getting to this. Ralph has been very patient!

Are there any new bloggers/authors that have grasped your interest? 

Yourself, and Dante Fortson as both bloggers and authors. Gary Rodenius and Timothy Tron as new authors.

Have you thought about writing a novel yourself?

I have thought about writing a novel and it has been suggested by family, friends, fellow readers and some of the authors I have chatted with. I have not ruled this out  and I guess it needs to be in God’s timing. I know now is not the right time but I know it would be good to think about what I would like to do.

Do you have any advice for other bloggers and writers?

Keep your blog uncluttered. I have seen a few that are so cluttered with adverts, banners from other sites they belong to or support and other widgets/gadgets or backgrounds that it can be hard to navigate the site and see what you have come to see. I find this very frustrating and I usually don’t stay long, return or subscribe/follow. Keep everything you add appropriate and relevant to the purpose of your blog.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Writers spend months researching writing, developing their characters, plot and everything else necessary to complete the novel ready for us to read and enjoy, be informed, educated or inspired. The only feedback they receive to show whether they have achieved their aims and successfully executed their talent and passion is reader feedback. Readers are a writers best asset in this regard. I would encourage every reader to write a review to show how much they enjoyed or did not enjoy the writer’s work. It can be our way to say thanks for a great novel and affirmation of a great or promising talent or that the author needs to improve their craft. Honesty is the key here. If you want some guidelines on how to write a review go here. A review also encourages readers to choose quality books, increase their exposure to new genres, new authors and promotes an author and their work to readers who may not be convinced of its description on the back of the book or on a book website such as Amazon.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your blog to life

Even before I started the blog, if I felt it necessary, I would research the author by going to their website either their author or book website, their Amazon author page, their blog or any other internet site connected with them as author. I would read the previous reviews of their books. I would contact the author for further information on events or concepts that intrigue me or are causing me to stumble reading the book and enjoying it or I just want more information. See the last two posts in my blog for examples of this, Methuselah’s Table and Bruecke To Heaven.

That is me; I am not saying or suggesting that anyone else needs to do this to be a reviewer. Most reviewers just stay within the confines of the content of the book for their review and that is fine and on a basic level all an author requires and wants.

Are you part of any associations, blogging or otherwise?  If not any plans to be?

I am on the Judging Panel for ​The Crossover Alliance Anthology​;a collection of short written pieces that represent edgy Christian speculative fiction. The Crossover Alliance exists to bring attention to literary works that merge Christian themes, speculative fiction, and real-world content​​.​I subscribe to and/or follow the following blogs:

Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers: 

A group of readers and writers who enjoy edgy fiction, and in particular edgy Christian fiction.

http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/

John 3: 16 Network Marketing 

http://john316mn.blogspot.com.au/

Steve Goodwin: Author, Programmer

http://www.stevegoodwin.org/

Australiasian Christian Writers:

http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com.au/

Around the World of Inspired Fiction

http://christianfictionreaders.blogspot.com.au/

Mike Dellosso: Wide Eyed Fiction

http://mikedellosso.com/what-mike-says/

David N Alderman: Author of Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction

http://davidnalderman.blogspot.com.au/

Mark Carver: 

http://www.markcarverbooks.com/

​Well, there you have it, Donovan! ​Thanks for this experience! I appreciate it.

It’s been my pleasure Peter, thanks for coming by and sharing with my readers!

 

If you enjoyed this blog entry and would like to receive exclusive upcoming information about my works.  Please sign up for my newsletter!  In exchange I want to give you a free copy of non-fiction book the Gospel Explained! You can sign up here!

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Interview: Philip Dodd

In Author Interviews, On writing on April 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

Phillip Dodd

 

Today I am pleased to introduce to my audience the author of the Christian Fiction novel, Angel War.  I was pleased to meet him on Goodreads, and as his work deals with the same subject matter as my own I wanted to get to know him and appreciate his own take on the fall of Lucifer story.  Phillip has a degree in English literature from Newcastle University, and has been writing songs, stories and poems since he was twelve. Angel War is his first published novel. He was thirty four when he first began to write it in 1986 and sixty when he completed the final version of it in September, 2012. It took him twenty six years to write.

So lets get started shall we?

Tell us about your book Phillip. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

My book, Angel War, was inspired by Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, which speaks of the war in heaven, fought between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. The Bible only says that the war happened, but not why, so I decided to write my own version of the events of the war and its aftermath. My story is essentially the biography of Azel, the Prince of the White Castle of the Angels of Light, the one who begins the war in heaven and who later becomes known on Earth as Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. When I first read Chapter Six of the Book of Revelation, when I was a fifteen year old schoolboy,  I was astounded by the idea of there being a war in heaven, which led me to an interest in angels in The Bible, literature, painting and sculpture, and finally to begin to write, in 1986, when I was thirty four, what became Angel War.  My book could be called a work of fantasy fiction, rooted in The Bible. I think it would appeal to Bible readers and those who like to read fantasy fiction.

 

What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Though my book is a work of fantasy fiction, it is presented as a history, the history of the angels of the angel lands and how it came to affect human history on Earth. So the biggest challenge I had in the writing of my story was to make that history consistent and convincing. It was also a great task for me to create on the page my own versions of such people from The Bible as Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Judas, Peter, John, Mary and Joseph, Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

 

What advice would you give other novelists?

When you have finally finished your story, understand that it is only the first draft, a base to build upon. When you have finished your final draft, you will know, for you will feel satisfied that there is nothing else you can do to improve what you have written. Study The Writers and Artists Yearbook and as many sites about publishing on the internet that you think will be helpful to you. Do not read narrowly. You may feel safe with your favorite authors and kind of book, but there are worlds elsewhere in other kinds of books. Learn from the masters. Classic novels have lasted for a reason, mostly because they are good tales, well written.

 

Tell us about your journey of faith. How did you become a Christian?

Looking back, I have happy memories of singing hymns and carols at junior school. I thought most about Jesus and The Bible at Christmas and Easter time, and when I went to Sunday school. Through my love of literature, I came to know more about Jesus from many different angles through the works of different writers. What truly drew me to Christianity is the story at its heart, the life of Jesus on Earth, which could not be more moving. That story has always been there in my life, so I have always been a Christian. It means more to me now, of course, now that I am sixty two, and I understand it more.

 

Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My favourite novelists are Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Mervyn Peake, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Franz Kafka, Dostoevsky and Hermann Hesse. Mythology is one of my interests, so I like The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, Gilgamesh, The Elder Edda and Beowulf. Poetry is another one of my interests. My favourite poets are William Shakespeare, John Keats, William Wordsworth, John Donne, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

 

Now that you’ve written your book, what other projects if any are you working on?

Recently, I completed the final version of my light-hearted science fiction story for older children and adults, called Klubbe the Turkle and the Golden Star Coracle. I hope to publish it in 2015. One day, I would like to publish a collection of my poems. At the moment, I am only writing verses, but I hope to write another story sometime in the future.

 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The basic theme of my novel is the battle between good and evil. If it has a message it is that whereas good is natural, evil is not natural and that it will be utterly defeated one day, as The Bible promises

 

When did you start writing?

When I was twelve, in 1964, I wrote on a scrap of paper the lyrics of my first song. It was the first thing I had written that was not for school. From then on, I have never stopped writing songs, poems and stories.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write simple, straightforward prose. I try to make it flow with no snag in its path and to sound close to poetry when I can.

 

How did you come up with the title?
I wanted the word angel in the title, as my book is concerned mostly with angels and their history, and I wanted the word war, too, so I reduced it down to those two words, put together, to form Angel War.

 

How much of the book is realistic?

In the final chapters of the book, there are references to events in human history, like the sinking of the Titanic, and the tension between America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980’s,  but seen in a new way, as events happening because of the war between the Dragon on his Citadel throne and the Father in Heaven, so the events are described realistically, but not as they are written of in human history books.

 

What books have influenced your life most?

The King James Version of the Holy Bible was the main inspiration for my book and it is the one that has influenced my life most. Since it was first published, it has had a greater influence on the history of English literature than some might think.

 

What books are you reading now?

At the moment, I am reading quite a few poetry books, some of them written by fellow members of the Poetry group on Goodreads, such as The Tenderness of Mountains by Lisa Marie Gabriel and A Rough Deliverance by Nancy Bevilaqua. After enjoying reading his collection of poems about his life working on river boats in America, called The Candle On The Reef, I will soon be reading a book of religious poems by Robert R. Whitford, called The Word, The Breath, The Saving Grace. Recently, I enjoyed reading the final, unfinished novel by Charles Dickens, called The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

 

Angel warWho designed the cover?

For the front cover of my book, I chose a print, called The Woman and the Dragon by Gustave Dore, one of his Bible illustrations, and for the back cover I chose another one of his prints, called The Fall of Babylon.

 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Having to discard chapters that I was proud of in order to make my story as short as possible was the hardest part of writing my book.

 

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

When I was writing my book, I learned that characters truly do have a life of their own. Often a character would say or do something that I did not plan or predict. That is one of the great mysteries and pleasures of writing fiction. When you are actually inside your story, while you are writing it, things happen that can seem magical.

 

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Because my book is rooted in The Bible, I found myself rereading parts of The Bible and looking at books about The Bible, to get certain facts right in my story. That was a challenge, but an interesting, worthwhile and enjoyable one. The most challenging character to create in my story was its main one, Prince Azel, who later becomes known as the Dragon, Lucifer, the Devil, Satan. It was psychologically hard to get him right, even disturbing at times, to make him believable as a character, particularly when he speaks and writes his true thoughts, but I was pleased in the end with what I managed to get down on paper. I did my best. My book took me twenty six years to write. Often the writing of it was a struggle, but it was well worth the strain.

I want to thank Phillip for taking the time to be with us today and you can find Phillip’s book Angel War on Amazon

 

D

 

 

 

Author Interview with L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

In Author Interviews on February 21, 2014 at 1:00 am

! Rachel Griffin Cover

 

Today I want to take the time to welcome L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright.

“L. J”. as I like to call her is the author of  the YA fantasy: The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Daughter series: Prospero Lost, Prospero In Hell, and Prospero Regained.  She has published numerous articles on Japanese animation and appears in several short story anthologies, including Best Of Dreams Of Decadence, No Longer Dreams, Coliseum Morpheuon, Bad-Ass Faeries Anthologies (where she is also an assistant editor) and the Science Fiction Book Club’s Don’t Open This Book.

Thanks for allowing my followers to get to know you some L.J.  So lets get into it!

1.      So tell us about your book.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

The Unexpected Enlightenment series is targeted at older teens, but is currently being read and enjoyed by people of nearly every age.

I decided to write this series because I fell in love with the idea for it, which was made up by a friend. I thought if I and my husband and our friend loved the idea so much, perhaps others would love it as well.

The series starts out much like Harry Potter. It concerns Rachel Griffin, a little British girl who attends Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, a school of magic in New York’s Hudson Highlands. She starts out as many children at schools of magic, concerned about fighting villains, fitting in, and making friends.

However, there is something else going on in her life. She lives in a world like ours except there is no notion of Monotheism—no God, no Jews, Christians, or Muslims. As the story continues, Rachel begins to discover that these things. Apparently, they once existed in her world, but all trace has been removed by magic.

As the story continues, Rachel fights evil, learns magic, struggles with friendships and star-crossed romance, but she also begins to learn about God, angels, Jesus, Heaven, the Bible and many other things that are part of the true wonder of the world.

2.      What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

The biggest struggles so far have been outside the book. Perhaps, when we are working on something important, we find ourselves facing unexpected odds. This one project has been fraught with more heartache and less support than anything else I have ever written.

If it were not for my love of the idea, and the delight my early readers took in the story—including a 15 year old girl in Alaska who read the first book eight times!—I very well might have given up.

IMG_81733.      What advice would you give new novelists?

Don’t give up!

Actually, as someone who waited 17 years for my first novel to finally be published I have two pieces of advice: Don’t give up and Don’t settle for less than the best you can do.

Take a look at your craft. Identify where you are weak. Do what you can…writing exercises, writing classes, whatever it takes, to strengthen those weaknesses. Don’t let yourself do less than your best.

I also strongly recommend the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and the related Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. Whenever I get stuck, I go back to these two books.

4.      Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

I have always been a Christian. But we all grow closer to God as we journey. As a child, attending church youth group and camp really helped cement me on the way. Since then, it has been a steady process of progress and plateaus. Times when I grow closer to God and can really feel his presence, and times when I flounder and get sucked into worldly thoughts.

Yet He is always waiting when I look up again, always ready to catch us!

5.      Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

I love Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. I find it to be such a great companion to the Bible, illuminating it and helping me understand more in the Bible each time I read it.

I love Tolkien, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, and Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes of Amber. I am also a big fan of Harry Potter and Harry Dresden—I particularly like the hints of Christian presence in Jim Butcher’s Dresden series.

6.      Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

Currently, the first book, The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, has been published. The second book, The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, is finished and will soon go to press. I am currently writing the third book, Rachel and the Technicolor Dreamlands.

I really enjoy writing this series and am glad I have a great deal more to do.

7.      When did you start writing?

I wrote my first chapter of my first novel at the age of twelve. I have been writing, on and off, ever since. My first published series, The Prospero’s Daughter series, was started in 1992, and was finally published by Tor in 2009. (This first series is a sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest set in the modern world. It is a sort of Shakespeare meets Dante story.)

8.      Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I try not to write with a message, but rather to pray and let whatever message the Divine Muse might wish to share with readers reach the page. I hope that the books can bring a sense of wonder and joy to those who read them, as well as make them think about how they see life and the world—and, ultimately, to help them grow closer to God.

9.      Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t know if I do. I try to write with a sense of wonder…if romances are about love and mysteries are about curiosity,  then my books are about wonder…about seeing the beauty of the world beyond what we often recognize. But they are also stories of action and humor and romance.

10.  How did you come up with the title?

The title for the first book came to me as I contemplated how my character changed. In the original setting in which I was introduced to the idea, I did not realize it was a Christian story…hence the Unexpected Enlightenment.  The title for the third book came to me in a dream.  Friends and family members liked it, so I decided to stick with it.

11.  Ok so do you have any advice for other writers?

I have a weekly column called Wright’s Writing Corner (Wright is my husband’s name.) It has regular posts on the art of writing as well as guests posts and posts on the state of the market. You can see it here:

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/category/wwc/

I want to thank you L.J. for spending time with us today, is there anything else to add before we go?

Enjoy the wonder. God loves you!

When not writing, L.J. switches to her secret identity as wife and stay-home mom in Centreville, VA, where she lives with her dashing husband, author John C. Wright, and their four darling children, Orville, Ping-Ping Eve, Roland Wilbur, and Justinian Oberon.

 

Her website is: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/

Her blog is at: http://arhyalon.livejournal.com/

On Twitter: @lampwright4

You can read the first four chapters of The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin for free: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/chapter-one-the-treacherous-art-of-making-friends/

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Unexpected-Enlightenment-Rachel-Griffin/dp/1937051870

 

Author Interview with Tony Ross

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am

Tony Ross

Today’s interview is with writer Tony Ross.  Tony is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). His first novel, “Victor,” was released in 2011 and is currently out of print. “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” was released in January 2013 with a few details and minor changes made to the original story. The sequel “Orion” was released in October of 2013.

1.     So tell us about your book.  Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?

I have two books on the market right now: “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” and its sequel “Orion.” Both are supernatural/sci-fi thrillers, aimed primarily at younger adults who read those genres. Readers have compared my style to Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker and Stephen King. I’ve also drawn comparisons, at least with “Victor,” to Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne” series. The action and suspense probably appeal more to men, but I’ve heard good things from female readers too.

Victor“Victor” won a silver medal in the Readers’ Favorite 2013 International Award Contest. The story is set in 2040 in fictional Sunlight City, where choice is the only law and all things are permissible. The decisions of three people will influence the future of the world: a gifted assassin trying to hold together his fraying sanity, a brilliant scientist with a world-changing secret who must unlock the assassin’s mind in order to survive him, and a streetwise, energetic detective with secrets of his own.  All three are bound by the darkest of secrets. Only the truth will set them free.

“Orion” features a young man, David, protecting a frightened woman from a killer. Faced with a deadly ultimatum, trapped by the weather in an overcrowded hotel slowly boiling over with fear and mistrust, David must protect the woman, find and stop the killer… and confront the darkest secrets of his heart.

I write these crazy stories, believe it or not, to minister. I don’t write Christian fiction strictly for Christians. We’ve heard the message already. Not everyone will read a book that’s clearly about Jesus, salvation, or Christian living. But if I can work those things into a fast-paced and entertaining novel, maybe a reader who doesn’t know God will decide, “Y’know, maybe I need to look into Christianity a little more.” And maybe I can encourage the Christian readers to take their walk with God a little deeper, beyond religion to relationship.

2.       What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

Time to write is always a bit difficult to come by. Between family, work, ministry, etc., there are only so many hours in a day. I wrote most of “Orion” sitting at the kitchen table while my homeschooling kids did their homework. Beyond that, turning off my internal editor is always a trick. I need to tell myself that writing a truly “rough” draft is okay. I sometimes get hung up on plot points and stop writing for a few days while I kick things around in my head.

3.       What advice would you give new novelists?

Number one, write. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel. Just write. I’ve done poetry, articles, short stories… You can’t hone your craft without using it. God’s given you the desire and the ability. Take every opportunity you can to perfect it.

Number two, read. A lot. Find out what good writing is. Why did this best-selling novel stand out? What didn’t you like in that other novel? What would you do differently? Don’t copy anyone, but learn from their styles and develop your own. Every good writer is a student too. Don’t be afraid or too proud to learn from those who have gone before. Learn from their experience.

Number three, pray every time you sit down with pen, pencil or keyboard. What does God want you to write? Really look for His will. You might have a plan, but God’s is going to be better and ultimately more fulfilling.

Other than that, research your publishing options. There are plenty out there and not all are good. I spent thousands to publish the original version of “Victor” and was less than satisfied with the results. I pulled “Victor” off the market, revised a few things, and released it as “Victor: The Reloaded Edition” through a different publisher. This time I saved thousands and am much happier with the end result. Save yourself the heartache and do your research before you publish.

4.       Tell us about your journey of faith.  How did you become a Christian?

This is a long story. Let’s see if I can provide a Cliff’s Notes version. I walked away from God in my teenage years. I had a lot of anger, bitterness and hurt to work through. By the time I turned twenty-two in 1994 I was a depressed, suicidal alcoholic who expected to be dead or in prison by twenty-five. God put a young lady into my life at that time who invited me to church. At the time she’d asked, I’d hit rock bottom and had nothing left to lose.

I went with that young lady to Calvary Apostolic Church in Clintonville, Wisconsin. I found a church that prayed and worshiped unashamedly, preached directly from the Word of God and welcomed me and all my issues with open arms. Over the next several months, I repented of my sins, was baptized by immersion in Jesus’ name and was filled with the Holy Ghost, just like we find in Acts chapter 2. God took a life that was completely hopeless, flipped it around and gave me a new and living hope.

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve been married to that lovely young lady since 1996. I have five beautiful kids, two boys and three girls. I’m part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic and have preached there since 2004. God has really done great things for me and I’m looking forward to the rest of the journey.

5.       Who are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?

My bookshelf is fairly diverse. Supernatural thrillers are my favorite, but I enjoy fantasy, mystery, westerns, a little bit of everything. I’m a big fan of Frank Peretti. I have a lot of Ted Dekker on my shelf. Robert Liparulo, Bryan Davis, and Mike Dellosso are also among the ranks.

6.       Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m just underway on “Brimstone,” the third book in my series. I’ve got a fourth in mind that should finish out the series, but I’m contemplating a series of short and very affordable ebooks, 20,000 words or so, featuring my characters at different points in their lives, telling new stories or letting readers see other sides of them.

7.       When did you start writing?

Oh, I don’t like math questions… (Laughs) Tenth grade. This would be… 1987-88. My English teacher had us write a journal. The first week we introduced a character, the next a second character. The third week was conflict, and so on. Most of my classmates wrote a sentence or two, a paragraph tops. I was writing pages. By the end of the year I had a 140-page handwritten epic, which really wasn’t very good, but I was hooked. At the end of the year my teacher told me, “Tony, you have one assignment for the summer. Get published.” I finally was in 2009. I hope she’s not mad that I’m late.

Tony Ross was born in Shawano, Wisconsin in 1972. In addition to full time factory work, Tony has been part of the ministry team at Calvary Apostolic Church in nearby Clintonville since 2004. He was married in 1996 and has five children.

Tony does somehow still find time to write what he calls “thrillers for thinkers,” novels that not only entertain but invite the reader to contemplate deeper spiritual points. While a Christian thriller may seem like an oxymoron, Tony believes it’s all a matter of perspective

I want to thank Tony for allowing me to get to know him and for spending time with my readers.  If you want to learn more about him and his books you can check out his website here.

Author Interview with Carole McDonnell

In Author Interviews, On writing on January 22, 2014 at 8:00 am

Carole McDonnell

Today I would like to welcome author Carole McDonnell, author of the book The Constant Tower and the Wind Follower.

Thanks for allowing me to interview you Carol.  So tell us about your book. 

My newest release is The Constant Tower.  It’s Christian spec-fic.  It’s set on a planet where at the rise of the third moon, humans get tossed across the planet.  There are towers and longhouses, which have to contend with this problem and clans with different kinds of technology.  The theme is about being stuck in one’s tribe but the main plot is about a young prince who wants to please his father and flee his tribe.  But who can flee in a world like this?  Where would you go?

What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?

The first was finishing it.  I tend to work on so many things all at once that actually finishing a project requires effort.  The second was my memory of my first book Wind Follower.  Folks either hated it or loved it.  They complained that it was too Christian or not Christian enough, or too complicated or too sexual.  It’s very hard to write a second book when the success of the first book is aways in your mind.

Any advice would you give new novelists?  

It depends on if you want to self-publish or not. If you are aiming to be published by a traditional publishing company, you have to write to please the editors and you have to fit into a specific niche.  If you self-publish, you can write whatever you want to.  However, the important thing is to write well.  Get a good group of friends who will critique you and be open to suggestions.

Tell us about your journey of faith. 

How did you become a Christian?  — I really don’t know.  My family loved Jesus, going to Church, and the Bible.  There was no time where I said, “I will be a Christian now.”  I was always a Christian, always loving the Bible since childhood.  But there are many times when I grew deeper in my commitment to and faith in Christ.

Constant TowerWho are some of your favorite authors and or books to read?  

The Bible, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, various British poets.  I read a lot of poetry and memoirs.

 Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?

I’m working on two novels, two non-fiction books, some short stories, and a screenplay. The novels are a contemporary Christian young adult novel called My Life as an Onion, an adult contemporary novel called The Daughters of Men. The non-fiction books are Blogging the Psalms, and A Fool’s Journey Through the Book of Proverbs.

Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?   

I always try to write about God’s love and about how cultural identification works with one’s faith.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Not really but I often write in a folklorist fairy-tale style.

How did you come up with the title?   

Wind Follower is about someone who follows God, who is the Breath of Life and the “Wind.”  The Constant Tower is about the search for the “constant tower” a place where one finds the true and constant God.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In the first novel, Wind Follower, I wanted to talk about the problem First Nations have because Christianity was often brought by imperialistic nations who had conquered them. The second novel, Constant Tower, is about how religious, racial, and tribal groups often argue with themselves when they should be battling the demonic world.  In addition, we are thinking of the wrong people as enemies, wasting our strength, being tools of the demonic, when the end of time is so near upon us.

How much of the book is realistic?

I often think Fantasy is realistic.  More realistic than mainstream novels which don’t show spiritual or supernatural issues, more realistic than Science Fiction which is a false hope because so many futuristic events and inter-planetary space flight probably will not happen before Jesus comes.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the events are based on my experiences but not that many.  In my contemporary WIP, however, there are many events that mirror my own life.  This has been a problem because it weighs down the story sometimes and I have to watch carefully lest I fill the book with grudges.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  

I wouldn’t change anything but I would probably add some new stuff or clarified a few things. This happens a lot because one keeps thinking about the characters and the world.  I would also have proofed it a bit more to get rid of the typos.

I want to thank Carole for spending time with us today.  If you are interested in learning more feel free to check her out her writings at the following links.

 Fantasy Novel, The Constant Tower

Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction ebook

spirit fruit book

Wind Follower, a Christian multicultural fantasy