book review: Marielle’s Witch by David Alexanian

Genre: fantasy / urban fantasy / paranormal fantasy / action

Newlink Publishing

To be released: July 1, 2021

After being captivated by Laplace’s Demon, the first book in The Sword Demon series by David Alexanian – in which unassuming university prof, Laplace, unwittingly awakens an ancient evil and is then possessed by the ruthless, sword-wielding demon who goes on to terrorize the streets of Paris – I was eager to dive into my ARC copy of the second book in the series, Marielle’s Witch.

Seamlessly picking up where Laplace’s Demon left off, Marielle’s Witch introduces us to the source of the evil that awoke in the first book. “The demons were the least of your concern,” the evil that is Sakura, proclaims. “The witch is here. She controls them all.” And that she does. Sakura, the Snow Witch, with her platinum blond hair and icy blue eyes, is one vengeful demon with a giant chip on her shoulder and an insatiable appetite for killing with her merciless sword of unrelenting death. Laplace, now freed from his own demon-encounter / possession, must help to fight the newest evil on the block, using his new-found abilities to see and communicate with the spirit world and once again save the streets of Paris from death and destruction,

I was just as captivated by this story as I was with the the first book in the series. The writing is superb. Quick and action-packed, intelligent and humorous at times – and I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate that the main characters, the heroes, of these book are unassuming, middle-aged intellectuals who handle the demon crisis with poise and grace, and yet remain vulnerable and all-too human and therefore, oh so likeable! Sakura, the Snow Witch, is a bad-ass villain with a lot to prove – and lot of people to kill.

The story ends with a delicious segue into book three and if it is true that the evil of the demon and the witch will never die, then I am all for it! I am a huge fan of this series. I say, keep that evil coming!

Marielle’s Witch will be released July 1st. You can pre-order it here and in the meantime, get your hands on Laplace’s Demon.

I give Marielle’s Witch 5 out of 5 stars, obviously!

Book review: Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

Laplace’s Demon by David Alexanian

5 of 5 stars

Genre: Urban fantasy / fantasy/ paranormal

Newlink Publishing (March 2020)

Synopsis:

Laplace’s innocent blood has awakened a centuries-old curse–a Japanese demon sworn to wreak havoc on this world.
The seductive powers granted by the demon’s sword help Laplace cut a swath through the Paris underworld. But with the rising body count, the demon’s strength grows. Its desire for blood will never be quenched. And once Laplace loses himself completely, it may never be stopped.

If I hadn’t requested to be an ARC reader for the second part of this series (The Sword Demon), I more than likely would not have picked up this book, in all honesty. Neither the cover nor the title grabbed my interest much and fantasy is not my typical read – BUT, two pages in, I was hooked. BIG TIME. I read it all in two days! I truly could not put it down.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s a riveting page-turner full of fascinating characters (a demonically possessed intellectual, a ghost of a murdered girl, monks who can see the dead!). The story seamlessly flip-flops between modern-day Paris and 16th-century Japan with an absolutely intriguing plotline about how the demon came to be and how he will go out, after exerting some vigilante revenge via his unlucky host, Laplace. Besides a fantastic, unique, and original plot, the writing is fabulous.

I am so glad to have come across this book and its very talented writer who I have been following for a few years on Instagram now – and who certainly doesn’t post about his writing talents nearly enough! Laplace’s Demon is so worth a read even if fantasy is not your regular sort of genre – you will NOT regret it.

I did also receive an ARC copy of book 2 of The Sword Demon series, Marielle’s Witch, slated for a July 2021 release and I am eagerly diving into it now….

The Innovators #7 with…author Lee Vockins

Introduce yourself and your books.

Yo, I’m Lee (also known as Lee A. Vockins). I’m a published writer, independent author and soon-to-be accredited life coach. For the past two years I had a novella available on Amazon (The Hunter: Monster Within), but it is currently unpublished so I can make some major changes. Although a successful release, it wasn’t quite up to my recent standards or writing ability. Us creatives are fickle creatures, right? Always striving for perfection.

Tell me about your book, The Hunter: Monster Within

The Hunter: Monster Within is a dark fantasy tale of monsters and magic and hope. It follows the journey of the enigmatic Azerius, and his inner struggle for power. He hunts those that lurk in the shadow, but only by harnessing something dark within himself. He has some interesting friends; oddities, supernatural and mysterious, much like himself. In my introduction to the series, Monster Within, Azerius embarks on the ultimate hunt. A challenge, perhaps, but something far more sinister waits just beyond. A challenge that he never could have anticipated… himself.

I wrote this book when I was going through a lot of struggle. It was my anchor and my means to vent. There’s a lot of darkness within, but it comes from somewhere true. On the surface, it’s a gore-smothered dark fantasy, but beneath, it’s a story about embracing difference, and those that are different. It’s a story of finding strength and hope, no matter how bad that inner struggle may seem.

Unfortunately, the re-write of the book isn’t quite ready yet, but it is in the works, and is looking more like what I intended it to be.

What role does creativity play in your life? What other creative ventures / hobbies do you have besides writing? Who or what inspires you?

Creativity, I find, is something that I must do, and I’m sure that many others can relate with this. It’s part of my being. My mind is always coming up with new ideas that I just need to put to page. It’s my vent and my escape, but also the thing that makes me feel most alive.

I have written in many forms over my years; game design, poetry, music. I have also played guitar since I was about 18 and I like to paint now and again (although I’m not very good). I love photography, especially when I’m out walking among nature, as many have probably seen on my Instagram. Oh, and graphic design, narration, and video editing. So, I’m quite the creative…

And who and what inspires me? My simple answer to this would be anything and everything. The world and all the souls on it. Nature. History. Books. Art. TV and movies and music. However, one of my biggest influences for my writing is H. P. Lovecraft. I grew up reading the Nerconomicon and all the tales of C’thulu, and you’ll probably see that reflect among my works of fiction.

You are open about your mental health struggles on your blog. Tell me why you feel that is important to be open about, to write about, to share.

I feel that it’s important for me to be open about my mental health because I need people to know that there is light in the darkness. I need people to know that there is every chance of getting back to a positive state of mind, no matter how lost they may feel. I’m hoping that by reading about some of my personal struggles, and how I got to where I am now, they will continue to fight.

I also want to push through a lot of the stigma out there surrounding the subject. Like, medication is bad for you or men aren’t allowed to show emotion or cry… these constructed mentalities need to stop, because they are dangerous for the people that are struggling. It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to just be yourself.

You identify as a Stoic. Tell me why. What role does Stoicism play in your writing/creativity?

I’ve been studying philosophy for about a year now, and among the ancient philosophy’s, Stoicism has resonated with me the most. The main reason for this, I believe, is that it builds upon much of what I have already practiced. Stoicism has influenced much of modern-day talking therapies, and as such, the study of it caught my interest. I already knew much of it, without the knowledge of its origin.

The philosophy helps me with my focus, routine, and ability to control my emotion. It enforces a daily ritual of self-reflection. It has taught me to let go of objects and relationships that weren’t serving my potential. It has taught me to accept fate and know that everything happens for a reason.

And that’s just the surface of it; I could talk about this subject for hours. But, for purposes of my creativity, it has mainly helped me with my daily routine and my confidence. One of the main points of Stoicism is to realise what we can and cannot control. So, what I can control is the effort I put into my work. What I cannot control is how others will perceive it. This gives me great confidence in my work because I know that everything that I do is to my potential. I have done what I can, the rest is up to fate.

What is the best part about being an indie writer for you? The hardest/most frustrating part?

I love being an indie writer. I love the absolute freedom to create and not having to worry about what might appeal to the mainstream. I absolutely write for me, and that is a powerful feeling. I love the marketing and business side of it. I love connecting with the community and developing new ideas to promote with them.

Have to be honest, I’m just having fun with it. I haven’t found anything hard or frustrating… yet.

If you got locked in a library overnight what section would you be found sleeping in? What books will be surrounding you?

That’s a difficult one. So much choice! My taste in books is extremely broad. But, to make the most out of being locked in a library, I would probably be found in the philosophy section. There is still much about the subject that I wish to learn and many philosophers that I am yet to learn from.

What upcoming projects are you working on? Where can readers find you and your work?

Aside from The Hunter: Monster Within, I am also working on the follow up book to the series. I like to write as ideas come to me, so always have multiple projects on the go. In terms of fiction, I also have a short story and poetry collection that I’m putting together.

Alongside all this, I’m writing some non-fic on self-care, incorporating my knowledge and experience of philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. I don’t like to put dates on the releases of anything, but I will definitely have something out by the end of next year.

You can find me and my work on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.

My Website is http://www.lavockins.com.

Thanks Lee!! Looking forward to your next releases!

The Innovators with…..author Eme’ Savage

Introduce yourself and your books.

I am Eme Savage author of The Genesis Chronicles. I write soulful fantasy with mysticism, magic, and mayhem. “Echoes of the Gidat” is my debut novel about a King with unnatural powers, the genocide of the Gidat, and a boy who is the subject of the Third Prophecy. “Tetarul Parallel” is the second book in the series about a young woman with a dark past who comes into possession of a magically enhanced book which will show her the role she is to play in the Prophecy. I also have a short story called “Elegy of the Gidat” which is also part of the Genesis Universe.

Tell me about The Genesis Chronicles: when was its “genesis” and where do you think the story/world/characters came from? What inspired them? What draws you to them?

I love that! There are two timelines that are woven together throughout the series. The Genesis Timeline is the one that came to me first. I grew up on 80 acres of woods and farmland. There is a crik that ran through our property. We would go down there and look for fossils and artifacts. I imagined what it might have been like for the first people who lived here and the story ran from there.

The Omega Timeline came later. The characters took on a life of their own, as they often do. I am drawn to really soulful, philosophical tales that focus on the idea that there is something bigger than ourselves at work. Each story is part of a larger arc but has a theme within them that pertained to a certain time in my life. “Echoes” is about the loss of innocence and finding your purpose. “Tetarul” is about knowing your worth and overcoming trauma. I’m still working out the main themes for my current WIP, but I wanted to bring my own voice as a person with a disability to the table. I am drawn to complex characters mostly because I’m a complex character. Epic fantasy is so often about good vs evil, but the reality is there are shades of gray in everyone. The villain believes they are the hero of their own story, and the heroes aren’t always pure with their intentions. I’m drawn to characters who make mistakes, have insecurities, and they all at the end of the day want to be seen for who they really are. 

As for the world? Worldbuilding is relaxing. I can get lost in developing topography, culture, language, and history for hours. I put a quote from the various books that exist in this world and the beginning of each chapter. I would love to read the Tome of Torcici. It’s quoted quite often. I’ll let you know when I write it. I’m endlessly researching how prehistoric tech might have worked and how people might have lived in that time period. It feels familiar because it is earth-like, but there are notable differences in the world I created. Magic is real, there are sentient beings other than humans, and there are floating islands. I believe that if you build a good world, that the characters will come from that environment and then the plot will drive itself forward.

Why fantasy? What draws you to write in that genre?

Fantasy provides an unrestricted way to process the world. Mental leaps come when we allow ourselves to imagine the improbable or the impossible. I end up in the most interesting places when I allow my mind to wander. I put myself in other people’s shoes and try to understand where they are coming from and what circumstances led them there. I take complex ideas, and issues and process them through the lens of fantasy. Such reflection has led me to a more positive and peaceful place. Don’t we all do that when we watch shows and read stories? Well, maybe not everything. Sometimes an escape from reality is just that, an escape. And that’s a good thing too. Reality can be too much at times.

What role does creativity play in your life? Besides writing, what other creative pursuits do you pursue? Who or what inspires you?

The act of creation is everything. If I can create in whatever form, then I have a sense of well-being. I have been sewing almost as long as I have been writing. There is something soothing about the feel of fabric, the crinkle of pattern paper, and the detailed work necessary to give the project something unique. I specifically enjoy costume design. I was the costume designer for youth theater programs for five years. I put together over 500 costumes in those years, everything from Hairspray to Addams Family. Right now I’m creating a cosplay of one of my iconic characters, The Lady. I’m posting once a week on Wednesdays showing the process I’m going through to get it ready in time for Halloween. I would say my Ma has a lot to do with my love of costumes. She was not a consummate sewist, but she found ways to make these elaborate costumes. My favorite was when I was a peacock. It was a blue sweater with blue tights. She handstitched peacock feathers to my backside, and to a band on my head, created a beak out of painted cardboard, and put my Da’s yellow farm gloves on my feet.

What is the best part of being an indie author?  What is the most difficult part of being indie for you?  What is the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring indie authors?

The best part is the amount of control I have over my work. I decide how it should look, what the content should be, and how much I want to charge. But the best part is interacting with readers. It feels intimate and wonderful. It tickles me to no end when someone pulls a quote out of my novels and tells me what they got out of it. It surprises me every single time. The worst part right now is marketing. It’s a steep learning curve, but I will find a way to master it like I have all the other parts of the writing process. The best advice I can give to aspiring indie authors is to not compare your work with someone else’s. Comparison is the death of creativity. The only thing you should be comparing your work to is your previous work. We are all at different places in our journey. We should be viewing that as something to aspire to, and not a commentary on how much we have yet to do or that we are somehow lacking. You are doing great! Keep going! You absolutely got this! The writing community is so helpful. Sure there are a few bad apples out there, but for the most part, people are so helpful and encouraging. We need that since writing is such a lonely profession. 

What is your superpower? Do you use it for good or evil?

Connecting ideas and things that don’t seem to connect at first glance. I found I have a knack for predicting the socioeconomic effects of public policy. And yes, I did use it for good. I wrote a series of articles on austerity policies, jobless recoveries, tax policies, monetary and fiscal policies, and the global economy.

What was your favourite childhood book or author? How did it/ they influence as a child? And now as an adult?

This one is easy. Madeleine L’Engle is my all-time most influential author. My 4th-grade teacher read “A Wrinkle in Time” to us and I was hooked. That was when I started writing fantasy and SciFi. I loved how the mystical, fantastical, and scientific would intersect in her world. The Time Quintet is the finest series out there. It was true then and it is true now. She was a true pioneer. Women writing science fiction/fantasy was not that common, and having a female protagonist was even less common. “Many Waters” is my favorite. It is a Noah’s Ark retelling, and that sparked my imagination. I reread the novels years later, and I was stunned at how much her writing influenced my style.

What upcoming projects are you working on? What do you want readers to take away from your books? Where can readers find you?

Right now I’m revising the third novel in my series called “Mirror of Ettek”. It picks up where “Tetarul” leaves off with imminent war on the horizon in the Omega Timeline and the aftermath of the Beast Attack in the Genesis Timeline. Both MCs have endured serious physical injuries and are looking for a way to cope. Sakedos possesses a magically enhanced Mirror. He hopes to glean some significant insight into his own situation by watching Vitos’ story unfold. 

I plan on drafting the Scifi companion novel during NaNoWriMo. It will dovetail into the fantasy series. We will learn more about Etevun, the Gidat Tree, Mercy, and the Voice. I have a working title for it, but we’ll see where it goes. I’m very excited about this idea. 

I want you to think about them long after you put the books down. I want at least one idea in there to stick with you and keep you awake pondering the deeper meaning of life. Every reader has taken something different away from these books, and that is what I find so interesting. People from different walks of life and different parts of the world finding their truth in these pages.

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @eme_savage, on Facebook as eme.savage, Goodreads as Eme Savage, and both books can be found here: Amazon.com as an ebook, paperback, and on Kindle Unlimited.