Monday, 4 December 2017

Author Interview 


Kathryn Berryman is a Sydney based author whose love of history and mythology have led her to write her debut novel Erinland. Erinland is a time travel adventure set in both contemporary Australia and in 9th century Ireland and packed full of historic detail.

Tell us briefly about Erinland.
 Erinland is a virtual reality game (and world). The novel spans the 21st Century and the Viking Age and centres on three main characters who, through the course of the story face many challenges.

Amy, finding it difficult to ‘fit in’, becomes increasingly obsessed with the virtual reality game Erinland. The virtual reality characters and the mists of Erinland gradually invade her dreams and waking moments. Her obsession with the game leads her to be drawn into 9th century Ireland (Erinland), where she becomes part of this magical world joining in the struggle to defeat the Viking raiders.

Richard has a complicated home life and feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. Through a series of events he becomes homeless, desperate and living on the streets of Sydney. When Richard is brutally attacked and almost killed, he is dragged into 9th century Norway by a mystical Viking warrior. Richard finds acceptance with the Vikings and joins them on a colonisation raid to Ireland. 

Choices Amy and Richard make could mean the difference between life and death as the consequences of these decisions reach into their real lives.

Aidan is a monk living in 9th Century Ireland (Erinland). His monastery is facing imminent attack from the Viking raiders. His Abbott charges him with a sacred mission to protect the precious relics and hide them from the marauders. On his journey, Aidan meets many magical beings and his faith is tested.

(Do the three main characters cross paths? Well… you’ll just have to read the book to find out!)

What inspired Erinland?

Erinland has taken a long time to see the light of day. The seed for Erinland was sown when my husband and I travelled to Ireland, way back in 1992. We visited Dublin and Trinity College. During the visit to Trinity College I found myself drawn to one particular book – The Book of Kells. In those days the book was stored in a glass case, so visitors had to line up to view it. Every day a page of the book was turned to reveal a new treasure to the waiting, eager tourists. I was instantly drawn to the book’s primal beauty. To think that such an ancient book had even survived! The illuminated work fascinated me as did the intricate knot-work and colourful illustrations. Of course I had heard of The Book of Kells, but to actually witness it first-hand created a feeling of awe and respect. At the end of the day I recorded my reactions to the masterpiece in my travel journal. I had no idea that this experience and my hurried jottings would eventually lead me to write the fantasy novel, Erinland. 

Why the time-travel aspect? What made you go down that particular path?

I have always been fascinated with the idea of time-travel. The notion of people going to a different time, being plonked into a situation and culture that is totally alien to them, and having to quickly adapt to that scenario tweaks my interest. In Erinland, the fact that the characters who are transported are teenagers, complete with emotional turmoil (and some very real problems), hopefully make the story line all the more interesting.

Using a virtual reality game seemed to be the perfect vehicle to physically link 21st Century Amy to 9th Century Ireland.

But, who knows? Maybe it’s a hang-over from watching one too many episodes of Doctor Who as a kid!  

Why not put the entire story in the 9th century?  
I wanted to play with the idea of ancient Norwegian and Irish mythology meeting the contemporary world in a head-on clash. I thought it would be interesting for Australian teenagers to be the main protagonists, to be totally out of their depth in a world that is beyond their wildest imaginings – just to be different. 


Were you always interested in Irish culture and myth?  
My maternal Grandfather was an Irishman from Galway who came to Australia in the late 1800’s and my maternal Grandmother’s family were Irish Australians, so I guess it’s in the DNA! Families have their stories to tell and our family was no different. There was a lot of story-telling around the dinner table and by the fire at night, stories about Grandad and Ireland, especially when the extended family got together. To be truthful, I think as a kid I often zoned out and fell asleep during these stories! Something must have filtered through because I was eager to visit Ireland and experience the magic of the place first-hand. Visiting Ireland awakened my interest in their myths and culture.


There’s an enormous amount of detail in your depiction of what life may have been like in the 9th century for the Irish and the Vikings.  
Yes, there is a lot of detail in the world building of Erinland. In the first book I concentrated on ‘establishing’ Erinland, making the world as real as possible. In keeping with the virtual reality theme, the idea was to recreate 9th Century life in ancient Ireland and Norway, so that the reader could have an almost tactile experience, feeling as if they were almost part of the scene.

In my mind the detail and imagery is necessary so that the characters are developed enough to become acclimatised to their new situation and roles. 

Were you already a bit of history buff or did you embark upon this project and have to a huge of amount of research?  

I don’t consider myself a history buff at all but I do enjoy reading historical stories that explore the cultures, myths and religions of people. Throw in a good fantasy plot-line and I’m hooked! 

Tell us a little about the breadth of your research. Sources? Time taken to research etc?  

I did loads of research for Erinland – to make the world authentic I had too. One bit of research led to another, so I ended up reading a lot more than I initially thought. I found the myths and legends of both the Irish and Viking peoples really interesting – it just took me ages to get my head around them. 

How did you conceive and develop the hybridisation of Christian and Irish myths?

 Interestingly, through my research I found that some Christian beliefs and Irish myths overlapped. There is even a school of thought that the goddess Brigid and St Brigid are one in the same person!

The hybridisation came about because I wanted to include the ancient beliefs and the ‘newer’ Christian beliefs into the fabric of the story, with the ‘old faith’ and the ‘newer faith’ collaborating to protect their homeland. 

The book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger. What can we expect in the next instalment?

The sequel will be set mostly in the 21st Century, returning to Erinland when the need arises. There will be a few surprises and plot twists. Keep an eye out for the Erinland sequel in mid- 2018.

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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Author Interview

Michael W. Huard is an American martial arts instructor and author of several books on self-defence.  His latest book, Land of the Free, is set in America in the year 3016. 



LIVE FREE or DIE! In the year 3016, the United States of America has fallen into great despair. The advent of advanced technology, robotics, and a power-hungry corporation rule the nation. However, there is hope. A sisterhood of enhanced, highly intelligent, beautiful, patriotic, martial arts masters are out to make the country free again. This is a sci-fi and fantasy book.

Looking at the cover art of The Land of the Free and its stars and stripes costume; I'm wondering if you're hoping to appeal to lovers of superhero stories etc?
Absolutely, yet these women are real and based in a non-fantasy world. Each has a super quality about them and I feel people will enjoy such. The dress on the book cover it part of the storyline. I hope people fall in love with the sisterhood as they women are very patriotic!

What age range are you aiming your story at? 
This novel is an 18+ book!

Where did you get the idea for the story?
I have a very creative mind. I have been a game master for over 30 years in dungeons and dragons. My wife keeps telling me write fiction, you have this amazing mind, so here I am.

Why female protagonists?
I think it’s more interesting to have the stars be women; and I find a sisterhood something that really feels like it could work well in a cool fantasy story. It’s nice to see these women be hero’s!

What makes your heroines different?  Do you think all the martial arts training / teaching you have done, obviously working with women, means you are writing female characters in a different way to other male authors? 
My martial art training is very much a huge part of the book. The women are all highly trained experts in fighting via real life skills. They’re a family out to make a difference; this is a hugely female empowering book!  You as a woman can be powerful and beautiful in both ways. The characters are deep not just there to look good.

How has your martial arts background influenced your writing?  (I’m not just thinking of the fight scenes here, but also perhaps regarding the themes.)
I love the way I can incorporate realism in the fights for one; but of course I add fantasy elements for fun. In this future world setting, it’s somewhat apocalyptic in nature so fighting to survive is a key part of the story.

Has the current state of US politics and economics influenced the creation of your story?
Great question, yes! I am patriotic, I want peace, and I love good people; so this sisterhood is out to make these things a way of life even in the harsh future setting of the story … a future which the USA has faltered from such conflicts.

You say the story is inspirational – what is the message that you hope people will gain / learn from this?
That people can live in harmony with one another. We can all find common ground, and that we should love our country, God, and seek the good in all we meet.

Thank you for this interview, it was fun, Land of the Free will be releasing soon to Amazon as well as three novella’s in the Mystical Slayer book series, stay tuned and God Bless.

 - Michael

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review

How I Magically Messed Up My Life

in Four Freakin' Days

by Meagan O'Russell

(Published by Curiosity Quills Press, 2017)

**The publisher provided me with an ARC copy of this work.** 

Megan O’Russell’s YA novel,  How I Magically Messed up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, instantly drew my attention because of its title and its colourful cover art.  However, the following lines in the blurb really got my attention. “I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.”

I just had to read it!

For me, the mark of a good writer is one who, within the first few pages, grabs your attention and holds it, but also hits you solidly with a character’s “voice” and gives you a good glimpse into the character's nature and some of the issues that are important for that individual.  O’Russell did this extremely well.

Bryant is a teenager whose mind constantly wanders and daydreams.  He is the smart geek who’s too shy to speak to the girl he admires and who has a handsome best friend who is his opposite and epitomises all that is cool.  From the first page the quips and one-liners keep going throughout the entire novel; several times I found myself laughing out loud as I read.

Bryant’s troubles start when he finds a cell phone in a cab and decides it’s safer for him to return it to the owner rather than have it disappear into lost and found at the cab company.  Innocently unleashing a series of magical disasters, being pursued by evil wizards and a group of deranged witches becomes par for the course in Bryant’s life and his dealings with the “Rasputin of phones.”

O’Russell sets a cracking pace from the beginning of the book all the way through to the end.  This was an extremely enjoyable, fast read and I highly recommend it for MG readers all the way through to adults. 
 I hope O’Russell writes more adventures of Bryant Adams, because I’d love to read them and you will too.

Four Stars!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book Review

Vick's Vultures

by Scott Warren

(Pub: Parvus Press, 2016)

This military science fiction novel crossed my review desk ages ago. The publisher requested that I review it saying it had “pioneer spirit and the wisecracking tone of Firefly combined with the action and taut pacing of  Mad Max: Fury Road.”

At the mention of Firefly I was hooked. How could I resist?

Vick’s Vultures is set in a future where Earth, far behind the rest of the universe in terms of technology, runs a privateering fleet of spaceships whose crews scavenge alien tech from wrecks.  This enables earth to gradually expand its reach into universe and slowly cultivate tenuous alliances while aiming to keep Earth’s location off everyone’s radar. 

The story emphasises the position of Earth as being at the bottom of the universal dung heap with a government that walks a fine line between keeping Earth’s location secret because they’re hopelessly outgunned and slowly acquiring power / tech so they can one day defend themselves in a universe full of more advanced and often predatory species.

Victoria Marin is the Captain of the U.E. Condor and on one of her scavenging missions, she and her crew stumble upon an alien prince in need of rescuing, then find themselves firmly in the middle of an age old war between two of the most advanced civilisations in the universe.

Vick's Vultures is fast paced from beginning to end and the action sequences are excellent.  The story arcs, tension and world building thoroughly engaging.

The character of Victoria and the obsessive Dirregaunt Commander, who is the villain of this piece, are a little stereotyped but none the less fun to read. I found some of the secondary characters more interesting than the main ones.  I felt like the end needed a couple of extra scenes rather than an epilogue that summed everything up.  I would like to have read the unfolding of the final events after the big battle finale. 

However, what I particularly enjoyed were the various alien civilisations that Warren constructed.  I found them unique, enjoyed the different cultural / social customs and loved the backstory of intricate politics and betrayal.

The whole feel is rather like Firefly crossed with Star Trek.  It’s space opera done very well. I became hooked on reading it and abandoned my afternoon plans to finish it.  It was rollicking good fun. 

 I’m definitely going to read the next one and check out the rest of Scott Warren’s books.

Four Stars!
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