Guest Post from Author Rebecca Gibson: Why Toxic Masculinity in YA Fiction Can Do One

You may remember a couple of months ago I was disheartened by a trilogy I had just finished with the portrayal of an abusive relationship as a romantic notion. I spent a long time discussing this with friend and author Rebecca Gibson, and we found we had a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about the trend. I was so happy when she readily agreed to write a guest post on the issue, so buckle up because this is topic that Rebecca is really passionate about!

Why Toxic Masculinity in YA Fiction Can Do One

Or any fiction, really, because let’s face it—toxic masculinity is a particularly horrid head cold that’s long over stayed its welcome.

Now, as you will know if you’ve ever encountered me in real life, I have some opinions on this. And by ‘some’ I mean freaking millions. So strap in, ladies, gents, and non-binary folks, we’re diving in.

What I find bizarre right now in the world of fandoms is how romanticised abuse seems to be. Despite the MeToo and Times Up campaigns, still readers fantasise about villains who lock up their damsels in distress, hurt them, and cause irreversible psychological damage. But it’s okay! Because they love them and it’s all because of their own distressing past. They just need fixing. (And did you see those *insert jewel here* eyes smouldering beneath that sexy emo fringe? Beat me up, Scotty…)

Let me say this only once: If a man hits you, belittles you, locks you in a tower, or wants to use your magical powers to take over the world for his own evil gains even though it might kill you, DO NOT DATE THEM. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and don’t look back. And if you use the ‘but he’s so hot’ or ‘he’s just misunderstood’ excuse you can go sit in the corner.

A jawline so chiselled you could slice up your heart with it does not excuse psychopathic behaviour. (This also counts if they have pointy ears. A certain blonde spring dwelling faerie is not a misunderstood, damaged soul. He’s an abuser who deserves to spend his immortal life alone sans his favourite parts.)

Okay? Okay.

I’m not just speaking of magical and/or physical abuse, either. A man controlling where you are, what you do, who you see, or belittling you in any way is also toxic and should not be romanticised. They are not doing it because of love, or because they care, they are doing it out of their own need for manipulation and control.

As a society we’ve been made to believe this is just how men are. That nice men, kind men, are a fiction, except they’re not in books, either! If they are it’s as the side-kick, the best friend, the punch line to a joke. And so I ask, when did respect and kindness become unattractive? What twisted, backward steps led us here?

Good guys are sexy too—louder for the people in the back!

To complete this post, I put out a call on Twitter for recommendations of books with healthy relationships and/or non-toxic men because my mind was completely blank. Especially when it came to hetro relationships. (Gay book characters seem to know what consent is, go them!) The overwhelming response by errant tumbleweeds proved all my points. However, I did eventually manage to squeeze a few recommendations out… (Note: I’ve not read some of these. I’m relying on the good natured Twitter user here. If you disagree with any of them feel free to type a respectful comment below!)

  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  • Witch Child by Celia Rees
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The fact it was so difficult to get these recommendations is evidence we desperately need some respectful relationships up in here. YA is aimed towards teenagers and so responsibility comes with writing in that genre. We are failing our audience by teaching them toxic masculinity is okay. Not even okay, but sexy. Views will not change overnight, but small changes lead to big results, and books are an excellent place to start.

[For more content from me please feel free to head on over to my blog here: or follow me on Twitter/ Instagram @TheRGibson]


The House blog tour – The Perils of Researching Killers, Guest post by Jo Michaels

Earlier this month Jo Michaels released the eagerly awaited conclusion to the Pen Pals and Serial Killer Series – The House! But what is it like writing a series about serial killers, how do you research that stuff without raising all sorts of red flags?  Well there was only one way to find out and that was to ask Jo to tell us all about it in the blogs first ever guest post  – The Perils of Researching Killers!

I’d like to take a moment and thank Post-Apocalyptic Playground for hosting my guest post for this blog tour. What a great topic!

Let me start out with an introduction. I’m Jo Michaels, and I write about serial killers—amongst other things. My sociopaths are my favorite characters to date, though. They’re not only fun to dive into, they’ve also given me incredible insight into the human psyche and have generated some challenging and interesting research fodder. That’s what this post is about, so strap in, grab some coffee or tea, and let’s get to the fun!

Emancipation is the first in the Pen Pals and Serial Killers series (stand-alone novels with crossover characters), and when I started writing it, I knew only three things: I wanted my MC, Tobias, to be in prison, I wanted him to be a true sociopath, and I wanted an attorney to want to get him out. Those are the most important three elements in that novel. My courtroom scene had to be realistic, right? And what about prison? What is a sociopath, really? So, my research began.

I bought a book on serial killers and read it first. Needing to get into Tobias’s head was number one. Investigation Discovery was always on my television (freaked me out a few times late at night when the hubs was away), and I also watched shows about the inner workings of prisons. This helped me pick up slang terms and learn about the culture and the inmates—what they felt or thought. Then, I had to hit Google. Some of my searches wouldn’t look good if I were arrested:

How to knock someone out without killing them (this is harder than you may think—damned movies!).

The effects of speed on the human body.

How to pull off a fingernail.

Famous serial killers (then I searched each one and read their bio).

The effects of heroine on the human body.

How to send someone money in prison.

Prison pen pal system.

Now, you’re probably thinking I’m as crazy as I felt, and you’re probably right, but I stumbled upon some extremely interesting websites/articles along the way. One was letters from prisoners to the general public. There was this one guy, a Latino, who wrote some telling stories that I drew a lot of knowledge from about things like quality of food and shady things that went on behind bars. If you’re ever in the mood to read stuff from a prisoner, do a search on stories from inmates. See what you get. Interesting stuff!

There was one thing that was incredibly frustrating: Finding out exactly the kinds of things that might be possible in prison. This is where my son-in-law came in handy. He works at a prison, and picking his brain was one of the absolute best resources I had. Not once did he flinch at a question—and there were many. Basically, he summed it up as: Anything can happen in a prison if you have a guard that’s corrupt enough and the cash to bribe that guard properly.

Once he told me that, it was no-holds barred. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read the book. Ha!

My second book in the series is Provocation, and this one took some serious deep-diving. I re-wrote the first three chapters over twenty times. It was during that twenty-fourth(?) rewrite that I realized something: The MC’s mother, Jane, needed a voice, too. That created more than one issue.

First off, her “voice” had to be set in the seventies in rural West Virginia. Second, I had to figure out how to seamlessly transition from that time period to current/present time without confusing the hell out of my readers. So, my MC, Victoria Ward, got two names: Victoria (current) and Vicki (past). That makes it easier to grasp as you move back and forth through time. Her past was a must. It had a direct impact on her current state of mind.

There were also some interesting search terms put into Google for this one:

How to make homemade napalm.

Best nerve gas in history.

How to rig a building to blow up with a series of switches.

Buying land in the Everglades.

How people washed clothes in the seventies with no electricity.

Women holding jobs in the seventies in small towns.

Average life insurance payouts in the seventies (this is really difficult to find).

But there again, a family member came in handy. That time, it was my dad. When I was researching ways to dispose of a body, and talking about it with my parents sitting there, my dad offered up a few bits of wisdom: Feed it to hogs—they’ll eat anything, bones and all. One thing you need to remember though, you have to crush the skull somehow. They can’t get their jaws around it to do it themselves.

Was I shocked? You bet. I also wondered how many people my dear old daddy had disposed of over the years. O.o

The character you meet in this book that appeared in the first is: Jessica Phang. She’s on Doctor Ward’s couch at age twelve.

The character you meet that you’ll see in the next book is: Hank Reynolds. He’s a detective with the Atlanta PD who works with Doctor Ward for a little while.

I hope you’re having fun reading this! I’m certainly having fun writing it. Let’s move on to the last two books!

Third in the Pen Pals and Serial Killers series is Intensification. In this book, you meet Hank Reynolds again, but you get to see him working on a major case that just hit his desk.

Some of my searches for this novel were:

Best realistic flesh compound (oh, the sex toys that came up in this one! Haha).

How to skin a human.

Tranquilizer darts and guns.

Taxidermy best practices.

Preserving human flesh.

Yeah, probably best not to ask. *grin*

This was the most difficult one to write because the chapters change POV in the middle of each. There’s a very good reason for this, but you have to read the book to find out. I can’t tell you anything else about the book or it’ll be ruined.

Characters in this book from a previous one: Victoria Ward. She appears in a phone call made to Hank.

Characters in (or mentioned in) this book that appear in the next: Hank, Claude, Detective Larone, and Jo Michaels. Those last two provide Hank with some much-needed information that helps him crack the case.

Character in this book slated for another (possible) in the future: Tony Moretti’s cousin, Nicky.

My fourth, and final (for now), novel in this series is the one this tour is about, but it’s totally different from the previous books. The House is written in first-person past, and every other book in this series is written in third-person past. It’s also a group of short stories that tell one long story—unlike the others. These are all reasons it has a different cover style and a different title style. While it’s part of the series, it’s also unique. I wanted to show that in every way possible.

I have to issue a spoiler alert here: If you plan to read Intensification, do that first. The House will ruin the surprise. If you never ever plan to read the other, then you’re fine. It’s not required in order to enjoy this one.

This story is being told by the house itself as though it’s speaking to someone who’s writing it all down.

I thought that would be an interesting way to give readers an unreliable narrator and make them think about what their house might say if it told someone its story. It’s all a little ironic, but it’s also fun and different. I’d be willing to bet my left arm that you’ve never read anything quite like it.

Something a lot of people may not realize is how massive the timeline for this series needed to be. It’s color coded—that’s how many items are on there. I couldn’t have Jess plopping down on Victoria’s couch in the wrong year, and Hank and Victoria couldn’t have shared that phone call on any other day. Larone calling Hank also had to happen at the precise time it was needed. That was the single biggest trial I had to overcome. When I cleaned my office up, I accidentally threw away my old notebook with my timelines in it. This was dead in the middle of writing Provocation. So, I had to go back and read Emancipation and re-create it all from scratch. Now it’s digital and backed up in several places. Haha! That was one hell of a task.

If anyone finds my search history, they’re going to wonder what I’m planning. These are some seriously intense books steeped in reality.

Thanks for hanging out with me and listening to my ramblings. I’m sure I’ve taken up way more space than I should’ve, but hey, a writer gonna write!

Until next time!


Thank you so much Jo for an amazing guest post, you can ramble all you like here, i’m all about the ramblings!  It’s always fascinating to get an insight into the writing process, even if that process does get accidentally thrown away!  I would also like to thank Amber Garcia from Lady Amber’s Reviews and PR for hosting this tour, if you want to find out more about Jo and The House you can find earlier stops on the tour here and check back as there is more goodness on the tour to come! Below are all the links you will ever need 🙂

Author Links:


Buy Links:

The House:

Interview with Teri Polen, Author of the Gemini Connection

Today celebrates the ebook release of The Gemini Connection by Teri Polen!  I had the privilage to receive a review copy from Black Rose Writing last month and I lovedit. When Teri reached out to me, I already had a ton of questions rolling round my mind and she kindly agreed to answer them for me as well as the return of our Fictional Five question!

Q. For those that you are a new author to, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be an author?

Teri: I’ve always been an avid reader, but never really had writing aspirations until the day a fully formed story popped into my head.  So I wrote it. And it was amateurish, horrible, and violated every rule of writing ever created. Reading it now is a form of torture.  From there, I studied my craft through workshops, writing retreats, books, and seminars, then started over. And I’m still learning and improving.  I’m a young adult author who writes horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.

Q: In the Gemini Connection we hit the ground running, I would love to know a bit of history about Tage and how it came to be in the predicament that it finds itself in.

Teri: With drought conditions and severe shortages of rain, Evan and Simon grew up with water conservation and rationing – it was just a way of life for them.  The protein supply was never plentiful, but when the twins were around 10-years-old, an unidentified virus ran rampant through the livestock on Tage. Every time scientists developed a vaccine, it would mutate, making the vaccine ineffective, and the livestock population was decimated.  Tage and Earth, who had troubles of its own, shared resources until it became infeasible, and soon after, Earth fell, their fresh water supply exhausted. Tage is now in a perilous state, and all citizens are expected to contribute in some way to its survival.

Q: In the story your main characters are young men, there is a trend in YA at the moment towards female protagonists, was it a conscious decision to move away from that?

Teri: Although it may sound strange, I find it difficult to write from a teenage girl’s perspective.  I have sons, and over the years I’ve overheard them and their friends discuss life, girls, sports, etc. while they were at our house or when chauffeuring them from place to place.  When the my main characters began to speak to me, I wasn’t surprised they were 17-year-old boys.

Q: The Gemini connection relates to the twin status of your main characters, do you have first hand knowledge of being a twin or did that require any research on your part?  Did you discover any funny twinisms in your research?

Teri: I’m not a twin, and really haven’t been around twins that much, but was always fascinated by stories about twins with close bonds.  A friend of mine, whose mother is a twin, said it wasn’t unusual for her mom and aunt to prepare the same dinners on the same night, show up places wearing identical outfits, or pick up the phone to call the other, only to find her twin already on the phone.

Q: It was an interesting choice to launch the reader straight into the action and it was one that I loved!  Did you always intend to start the story that way?

Teri: I didn’t plan it that way.  Through various drafts, the story began in several different spots, but this was the one that felt right.  The reader is immediately thrust into Evan’s world and learns the stakes he’s up against as a Bender.

Q: The concept of Bending was pretty unique, how did you set about making something unbelievable so believable to read?

Teri: One of my favorite movies is Inception.  After watching it again (I’ve lost count of the number of times), I started thinking about why a person would be in someone else’s head.  What would it be like? What could they do while there? To make it believable to the reader, a writer has to establish rules for that world, and that’s what I attempted to do with the concept of Mindbending.

Q: What are you currently working on at the moment or is it a secret?

Teri: It’s not a secret – if anyone asks what I’m working on, they may regret it when I’m still talking about my WIP ten minutes later!  It’s another YA sci-fi/thriller involving genetic engineering, another topic that’s held my interest for years. I just write the stories the characters dictate.

Q: We like to round off our interviews with this question!  Fictional 5: Can you choose 5 fictional characters or authors that you would love to invite for a dinner party, what would make them such great guests?

Teri: That’s a hard one – there are so many!  Stephen King – requires no explanation why.  Victoria Schwab – I’ve met her a couple of times at book festivals, her Shades of Magic series is magnificent, and I’d love to spend a day in her mind just to see how it works.  Maybe some of that creativity would rub off on me! Kaz Brekker from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows – one of the most cunning and complicated characters I’ve ever read.  Simon from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – outstanding sense of humor.  Maggie Stiefvater – because of all things Raven Cycle.    

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog today, Gaynor!

You’re welcome Teri!  Thank you so much for taking part, I’m really intrigued about your WIP and I would have to agree with Kaz Brekker being a great dinner guest!

For those who’s interest has been piqued by The Gemini Connection it is available to buy today from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and direct through Black Rose Writing. You can also check out my review here!

You can also keep up to date with Teri pretty much everywhere!








Author Interview with M.A. Phipps!

Yesterday saw the much anticipated re-release for Ultraxenopia by M. A. Phipps!  I’m really chuffed that she had the time to speak with me and answer some questions about one of my favourite series!

Q: Congratulations on the re-release, your new cover is gorgeous!  It’s very different from it’s predecessor.  Were you excited to have the opportunity for a more symbolic cover?

M. A. Phipps: Definitely! While I loved the other cover, it never felt like it really hit the mark for what the story is. It always seemed to have too much of an apocalyptic feel to it, and although there is that element to the story, it’s not what the book is about at its core. It’s much more heavily focused on the science aspect with Wynter’s condition and then of course the Big Brother-esque society of the State and the corrupting influence of power. I wanted something that would convey this sort of ominous medical feel while also tying in the isolation of the world the story is set in. The new cover hit the nail right on the head for what I was after. I’m in love!

Q: Wynter isn’t your typical protagonist, she starts off very much in line with the state, trying to remain just another face in the crowd. What was it like to write a character that underwent such a change?

M. A. Phipps: Wynter is an intriguing character because she doesn’t just show growth in terms of physical strength with her increasing powers but she also shows tremendous growth in strength of mind. I think a lot of readers would probably get frustrated with her, wondering why she isn’t questioning every aspect of her society when in reality, that’s what happens when you’re brainwashed to believe something—it’s happened in history and is still happening today in places like North Korea. You believe what you’re told and you don’t question it because questioning it means putting yourself in danger and could ultimately lead to your death. She’s lived her entire live immersed in this absolutely toxic place and she’s experienced traumas in her past that suppress her urge to fight even more, with the government using fear as a weapon against her. For so long, she was just told ‘that’s the way things are’ and embraced that for the sake of blending in and surviving. So to go from that extreme and then open her eyes to reality was such an interesting experience. It couldn’t just happen overnight and it had to somehow involve something she previously came to terms with and accepted—that was the only way she’d really see the depraved depths of her society and understand just how wrong it is. And I think that growth of mind and will really made up for the weakness she showed with her degenerating health through the book and still made her seem strong in spite of that. So yeah, in a lot of ways, it sort of felt like her story told itself. She’s been such a commanding presence in my head over the last few years that everything just falls into place around her, and thankfully, she’s been incredibly easy to write (knock on wood—still have Part Three to get through!)

Q: Dr Richter is a character that I love to hate, did he start out as the villain of the piece or did he evolve like that?

M. A. Phipps: Oh, Dr. Richter. When I came up with this story, I always knew it wouldn’t have some typical big baddie, like the head of the government or anything like that. It had to be more intimate and personal—someone Wynter knew in some respect. Dr. Richter was always going to end up as the villain, although I did originally play with the idea of starting him off as sympathetic to Wynter’s situation and almost as a friend to her. But then I realized that wouldn’t work. You can’t do what Dr. Richter does to her and be a “nice guy.” And although Dr. Richter uses science as an excuse for his actions, you can’t torture another human being the way he tortures her and be redeemable at the same time. So, I guess to answer your question, there was the consideration of making him a better person and then the final decision to show his true colors from the get go. Saying that, he does still evolve…into an even more horrible person.

Q: If you were forced to sit an exam, like Wynter, that would map out the rest of your life, what do you think the outcome would be?

M. A. Phipps: What’s funny is that the exam Wynter sits was actually based on a real test! It’s called Kudos and it’s this software where you answer a series of questions and it tells you what sort of jobs you’d be good at. I took this exam in middle school, and I remember thinking, “What if I HAD to do this job it’s telling me I’d be good at?” And that’s where the idea behind the placement exam came from. This thought that we don’t truly have a say in our future and are instead forced into a career where our strengths can be utilized. Now, if this test actually existed, I’d like to hope I’d end up with some sort of creative job (although books and art aren’t allowed in the State, so there goes both of my careers!), but since I’m good at math, I’d probably end up in a job similar to what Wynter was projected—banking or some such.

Q: If you could be any of your characters for a day, who would you choose to be?

M. A. Phipps: As much as I wouldn’t want to experience the crippling pain she goes through, I do think it would be cool to experience an awesome power like Wynter’s. I mean, come on, telekinesis? I could just look at the TV remote and it would come to me. That would be awesome.

Q: If you could have dinner with any 5 writers or fictional characters who would you choose?

M. A. Phipps: J.R.R. Tolkien will always by my #1 choice. The Lord of the Rings has been such a huge part of my life, and I would just love to talk to him about it and fangirl with the creator of my biggest obsession. He also had a really interesting life with his involvement in the World Wars, so I think in general, he would’ve been a fascinating person to speak with. I also greatly admire authors like J.K. Rowling, Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island is amazing), and Stephen King, so I definitely wouldn’t turn down a dinner party invite with that lot. Maybe we could get together and do a seance to talk to Tolkien, ha! In terms of fictional characters, no one will ever top Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, so let’s throw him in for good measure!

Thank you so so much for stopping by and talking to me today, I wish you the best of luck with the re-release!

Readers: If you’re intrigued and want to get your copy of Ultraxenopia, follow this link

Author Interview with Rebecca Jaycox

For this weeks spotlight we welcomed Rebecca Jaycox, despite being busy promoting The Other Queen, which was released at the beginning of the month, she graciously found time to take part in our author interview!

Q: For those that are new to Rebecca Jaycox, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books? Rebecca: I’m from a small town in Missouri and have been living in NYC for the past 12 years.

Q: At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Rebecca: I was around 10 years old, and I discovered Star Wars. I’ve been writing every since.

Q: Tell us about your writing space, do you need calm and tranquility or do you have to have a playlist to keep you going?  Would you say you were more of a planner or a pantser?
Rebecca: I actually like having Netflix on in the background while I sit on my loveseat and write in my journal. Yes, I handwrite my books. I’m crazy. I’m a planner and a panster.

Q: The Other Queen was released this week and you held a bookstore launch, was that a great experience?
Rebecca: It was amazing! I had such great support.

Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?
Rebecca: I’m working on my third book in the Inheritance series.

Q: For both The Other Inheritance and The Other Queen, there are some beautifully imagined scenery and set pieces, from the Airships to the inspired diving breathing apparatus, was creating the world of the other a world that came naturally to you or did involve a lot of research?
Rebecca: It was a world that mostly came naturally. I did look at some steampunk images to get some inspiration. I’m so glad you enjoyed my diving suit!

Q: Brwyn is perhaps one of the best characters I have ever read, did you set out to make him a reader’s favourite or did he develop into his role?
Rebecca: Thank you so much!! Brwyn was a happy accident. He didn’t even show up until the third draft of The Other Inheritance, and then he just took over.

Q: Following on from that, if you could be any one of your characters who would you choose? Rebecca: Hmmm, I think I would be Reggie. As much as I want to be Brwyn, I like being a woman. 😉

Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Rebecca: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Q: Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions 🙂
Rebecca: Ilona Andrews, Maggie Stiefvater, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, and Anne Bishop.

Thank you so much for taking part Rebecca!

If you want to know more about the books please take a look at my reviews by following the links below.

The Other Inheritance:

The Other Queen:

Author Interview with Lindsay Johnston

For this weeks spotlight, we welcome debut author Lindsay Johnston, who released her first book Tatyanna, a fantasy adventure, last year! 

Q: For those that are new to Lindsay Johnston, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Lindsay: I am a mother of two rambunctious adorable kids, a wife and I work full time for a non profit as an educator. When I’m not working or writing, I also play World of Warcraft, and I enjoy working out (mainly so I don’t feel guilty for eating the way that I do).  I currently am working on a fantasy series about a young woman, Tatyanna who has spent her entire life feeling like she doesn’t belong, especially in her own family. Weird things start to happen to her, that she can’t explain and eventually she finds out that she is a princess from a hidden world and has the ability to heal people with her touch. She has to make the choice if she is strong enough to leave the only world she has ever known to save her people that she never knew existed.

Q: At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Lindsay: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Growing up, writing was very difficult to me partly due to a learning disability so it was something that I always struggled with and never felt good enough. In my youth I was HUGE into scary stories, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike etc so some of my stories I would write had some sort of blood and gore in it. In High School, I used to write poetry and then as an adult, I had an idea and I just ran with it, and Tatyanna was formed.

Q: Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do would you share it with us?

Lindsay: It varies. I prefer to listen to music when I play because it helps keep my mind focus and music helps me to come up with ideas. Music is a big part of my life. I don’t have a play list, I probably should. For Tatyanna, I can tell you that I listened to a lot of Ra and a few of their songs inspired some scenes. Do you Call my Name, Rectifer What I Am. Fallen Angels, I Lost Everything Today etc. Pretty much this entire CD inspired various parts of the book. One Republic: Stop and Stare

Q: Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Lindsay: Oh geez, for this book, Several of the characters were inspired by someone I know personally or an object or previous fascinations.
Q: What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?

Lindsay: Social media is a blessing and a curse. It’s been great because it’s gotten me connected to the Indie Book World, and to be honest I never realized how big and complex this world really is. It’s a distraction because of facebook’s silly games and spending hours checking out what other people have done or are doing.

Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

Lindsay: I am currently working on book 2: of my series: Seraphina (Princess of Air). I have also thought about revamping a half written book that is a paranormal murder mystery and maybe publishing it between books 2 and 3. Not sure yet.
Q: For Tatyanna, you created a fantasy world that she was unknowingly connected to, how do you go about creating a new realm like that?

Lindsay: I was a hardcore gamer when I first thought of the idea for Tatyanna. It started with me being bored at work one day and asking myself “Wouldn’t it be cool if this game was real?” from there different ideas flowed through my mind until I settled on the hidden world, something that was once there but not. I have always had a fascination with The Bermuda Triangle and the stories, so I actually used that as a way to create and explain my hidden world. I won’t say too much as to how I did it, you’ll just have to read it and see. 🙂

Q: If you could be any character you have written who would you choose?

Lindsay: Hmm. A lot of me is already in Tatyanna, I would LOVE to have her gift to heal but I think it might be Terran, I would like to be. He is the Prince of Earth (Yes, I realize I am a girl, he is a boy, but if I could have his powers that would be AWESOME!). You don’t know too much about Terran and what he can do, but he is the Prince of Earth and can control the Earth, plants, trees, nature etc and can communicate with living life. I think that would be cool. I have plastic plants because they can’t die on me if that tells you anything.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Lindsay: The Heir by Eillie Dane and I actually have a few arcs I need to read, one of them is Courage to Fight by Pavan Kaur (LOVED the first book), Loving Ruby by Roya Carmen

Q:Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions!

Lindsay: Archer and Bree from Archer’s Voice (Heck, Mia Sheridan would work too, the author). I better stick to authors, I’ll get more characters out of them that way. C.M. Owens (LOVE her Sterling Shore Series), Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Nora Roberts.

Thank you so much for taking part in our interview Lindsay! I loved Christopher Pike growing up too! I’m excited to get reading Tatyanna and even more so following this interview, check back later in the week to see my review!

Author Interview with Courtney Ruggles

For this weeks spotlight I welcomed Courtney Ruggles, Author of the New Adult Dystopian Domicile Series. In time for the release of book 3 in the series, The Sauvage Domicile, she graciously found time amongst the busy preparations to take part in our author interview!

Q: For those that are new to Courtney Ruggles, can you tell us a bit about your books?

Courtney: The Domicile Series started out as a short story in a high school creative class and then blew up into this series! It’s been an amazing journey. The Domiciles were erected after a revolution where tyrant rebels destroyed the previous government. In an attempt to promote loyalty and love, the Elders forced strict restrictions such as the clothing people wear, their names, their life professions, and who they’ll marry. As well as each person has to wear a mask, concealing all identity, and making everyone conform. Of course, we humans don’t like to conform so an uprising happens and it’s Q437B’s and B116A’s love that sparks the Second Revolution.

Q: The Domicile Series touches on some very heavy subjects, how much does your background in social work influence the issues faced by Q?

Courtney: A lot! I don’t think I could write what I have in the Domicile Series without the education, knowledge, and experiences I’ve had. Studying oppression and marginalized groups has really helped me create the atmosphere and psychological climate in the Domicile Series.

Q: In a world of uniformity, what was it about masks which led you to choose them as the only symbol of individuality?  The decoration on some sound truly beautiful.

Courtney: Honestly, I had the idea of masks with designs over ten years ago. If the people are completely covered, then there had to be a way to differentiate each other. In order to continue with uniformity even in the themes of the masks, they mostly represent the individual’s Life Path tying their individuality to their career. So the Elders are still controlling it all. And in a place where all is uniform, there has to be some beauty, because even that can help keep complacency.

Q: The world within the Domicile is so complex and intricate, do you fall into the planner camp when writing or was the world there in your mind ready to flow to the page?

Courtney: I am definitely a pantser! When I first wrote The Sixth Domicile, I left it open to be turned into a series, but honestly, I thought it was going to be a stand-alone. Then my editor and publisher said I HAD to make it into a series, which I happily obliged! However, I had no idea where it was going after The Sixth Domicile, only inklings of where I might take the story. Even now I’m still flying by the seat of my pants as I write the fourth and final installment of the series.

Q: Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Courtney: A couple of my characters are definitely based on traits and personalities of people. B116A is based on a good friend. K706A in The Sauvage Domicile is also one of my good friends. His character is probably the most similar to the actual person in any of the characters in The Domicile Series. Grandmother, B116B, Maddox, Q437A are all complete fiction, though I’m sure I’ve ran into a couple of people in my life with characteristics from those characters 😉

Q: What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?

Courtney: I’m not an actual Indie Author. I am with a small publishing house, Elephantine. But I think the effect of social media are the same! It’s distracting! And helpful at the same time. In the current climate, I’m seeing more parallels to The Domicile Series which is both scary and motivating for the story. But I often find myself perusing through social media and marketing myself than actually fixating on writing sometimes.

Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

Courtney: I am currently working on Book 4 in The Domicile Series! It is the last book in the series, and I’m having a crisis as I know I have to say goodbye to Q and B. But I have a couple more ideas from my backlist that I will work on after the completion of Book 4 (yes, I’m keeping the title a secret for now 😉 ). A romance might be in order! Or maybe a rom-com?

Q: If you could be any character you have written who would you choose?

Courtney: I would definitely choose Chrysanthe from The Sauvage Domicile! She is so confident in who she is it is amazing to me. I loved writing her and secretly want to be her.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Courtney: I am currently reading Dark Dreams and Dead Things in Martina McAtee’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things series. The story got me hooked in the first book and I’m excited to see where these characters go. I’m also reading a manuscript for a fellow author.

Q: Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions.

Courtney: Holy crap! What a loaded question! Harry Potter for sure! Then Stephen King, after R.L. Stine he was my go-to author to read. Scott Westerfeld, author of The Uglies and Peeps and a few others, would definitely be a guest, I just love his dystopian twists. Darynda Jones, author of the Charley Davidson series seems like she would be a freaking ball of fun, so I definitely want her there. I seriously cannot narrow it down from here! Heather Hildenbrand, not only because she’s my publisher, but she’s freaking amazing (but I’ve had a dinner with her, so I know it’s awesome), Kristina Circelli, again my editor, but her mind kind of works like mine (again, already had dinner with her a couple times so I know it’ll be fun!). There’s so many people I want to invite! Can’t we just have a party?? I like parties.

Thank you so much Courtney for taking the time to answer these, good luck with the release of the Sauvage Domicile!

Author Interview with LC Morgans

For this weeks spotlight, we welcome LC Morgans, Author of the amazing Invasion Day Series. The 3rd book in the series, Resonant, was released this week but she still found time to take part in our interview in between all the release week fun!

Q: For those that are new to LC Morgans, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

LC: I write dystopian science fiction and currently have the first three in my Invasion Day series for sale on Amazon. It’s a story set a thousand years in the future, in which humans have used and abused the planet beyond repair to both the earth itself and to society. Close to cataclysm, an alien race called the Thrakorian’s step in to save the planet, and the humans, but at a price. The human race is then enslaved to their new masters, albeit willingly, and this is the story of a young girl and her journey into adulthood beneath their reign.

Q: Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

LC: They always start off as their own person of complete fictional creation, but then inevitably they end up with some traits from people I know or have come across along the way. I think those small edges make them real, as though they’re as flawed and lifelike as the reader getting to know them. I love developing elements like that within the storyline.

Q: What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?

LC: I love the freedom being an Indie Author gives me, and am lucky to have some great people on my team who help me along the way and keep me excited for my projects both new and older. Social media is a massive tool in cultivating those friendships and also getting your name out there into the big, wide world. Just as long as you don’t spend too much time on them when you ought to be writing or working on your manuscript, I think they’re a great tool.

Q: In the Invasion Day series you have created a whole new race and latterly a whole new world, how do you even begin to go about creating a whole new world like that?

I started with just a simple concept of ‘what would happen if an alien species invaded Earth?’ and I simply began to imagine a future in which it’d happened, but also that they weren’t all too bad. As though our race was in desperate need of help and they stepped in, but of course with their own agenda. After that, the concept progressed naturally and as I typed I loved coming up with new ideas and elements to their race and lives away from Earth.

Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

LC: Well, I’m pleased to confirm that I’ve started writing the fourth Invasion Day book so that’ll be coming in 2017 and I’m so excited with where the story is going so far. After the epic ending of Resonant, I was excited to get started on the next one and hope I don’t disappoint!
Q: If you could be any character you have written who would you choose?

LC: Wow, well of course it has to be Kyra! She’s the strong heroine of my series and has fought hard to find her way. I also fell in love with the leading men in her life a little too!

Q: You also pen under Laura Morgan, those books are very different in content and tone, is it difficult to genre hop?

LC: Yes, they’re incredibly different! It is hard at times to genre hop as the other books are aimed at purely adults and are dark, so I’ve been bouncing around between the two depending on my current moods and which story is most prevalent in my mind. I wanted to keep the two as separate as possible, and hope I’ve managed it, even if a little romance still crept into my science fiction and I simply couldn’t fight it!

Q: You’re a regular on the UK signing circuit, what is it about signings that keep bringing you back in for more?

LC: I love the energy and experiences on the day, as well as the opportunity the signings give me to develop my readership and hopefully come away with new friends, reader and connections in the book world such as the blogs and models. Everyone is so friendly and we’ve had a great time at all of my events so far. I urge all readers to attend one if they can, not only to see their favourite writers, but also to discover new ones while they’re there.

Q: What are you currently reading?

LC: I’ve just introduced my daughter to the Harry Potter series so we’re reading them together at the moment. I read them so long ago it’s lovely having the chance to revisit some of my old favourites!
Q: Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions.

LC: I guess it’d have to Harry Potter for sure, and then I’d love to invite the late Terry Pratchett so I could pick his brain about the worlds he created and impressive creatures. After that, I’d love to know what other big female heroine’s would make of Kyra so I guess it’d have to be Katniss (Hunger Games), Triss (Divergent) and then Bella (Twilight) just to see what they’d be like!

Wow, thank you so much LC Morgans for taking this time, very excited to hear that you have started writing book four in the series, I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Author Interview with Bethany Adams

As part of this weeks author spotlight, I was delighted to have Bethany Adams agree to take part in our author interview.  I reviewed Soulbound a while back and loved it, so am really glad to have this opportunity to find out more about Bethany and her books in this interview!

Q. For those that are new to Bethany Adams, can you tell us a bit about your books

Bethany: It’s pretty much a given that my books will contain magic. My current series is a fantasy romance blend, though I’d say it’s a bit heavier on the fantasy. But even when I try to write something contemporary, magic creeps in. 🙂 The Return of the Elves series features my favorite thing ever. You’ll never guess this, but it’s…elves. Hehe

Q: At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Bethany: Very early on. I started making up little stories as soon as I knew enough words to write them. I think I was in middle school when I tried to write my first book. It was baaaaad. LOL. I didn’t even know that “I” needed to be capitalized, and I didn’t get anywhere close to finishing it. But even though I’ve been writing for all this time, it took me until my 30s to get to a place where I was ready to publish.

Q: Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do would you share it with us?

Bethany: Most of the time, I listen to music. Peace and quiet isn’t something I get often, since I have small children, so I don’t expect it. I’ve always been inspired by music, though. Favorite artists on my playlist? Evanescence, Red, Sara Bareilles, Amy Petty, Sarah McLachlan, Disturbed…it’s pretty eclectic. One of my favorite songs to listen to with Soulbound was “Of These Chains” by Red.

Q: Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Bethany: My main characters are always a complete work of fiction, and 99% of secondary characters are, too. This goes back to my high school writing days. I started a story with characters based off of friends, and everyone wanted a say in what happened. It got tedious, so I decided not to do that again. Nope. And if you’re curious about that 1%…those aren’t usually people I know. For instance, there’s a scene in Book 2 where Kai is in another town on a mission, and he finds a murdered couple. They are directly based on an encounter I had in a restaurant when my youngest was a baby. So tick me off enough and I might kill you off in a future book?

Q: What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?

Bethany: So far, I love being an Indie Author! I think social media can be both help and distraction. I love connecting with friends and fans (especially friendly fans, heh), and it’s a great tool to share my work with others. But I do have to stop myself from checking social media when I should be working.

Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

Bethany: Well, I should be getting edits back on Book 2, Sundered, any day now. In the meantime, I’m working on a short story that takes place between books 2 and 3. Then I’ll be diving into the third book.

Q: The Elven world in Soulbound is so intricately  woven, including the language, how do you go about creating a whole new world like that?

Bethany: In an odd way, it’s sort of organic. It all starts with the scenes that flash into my head, which tend to be character driven. I almost never come up with the world first. As the story unfolds for me, the world does, too. After the first draft is complete, I might ponder certain aspects and see if I can richen them. Now when it comes to language, I do stop in the first draft to put thought into that. I almost went into Linguistics in college, and languages fascinate me. For example, I set up the Moranaian language as a verb, subject, object language with limited case markers. I also had to decide how to do their alphabet, etc. Maybe someday I’ll write a guide to their language. Someday. 🙂

Q: If you could be any character you have written who would you choose?

Bethany: Probably Arlyn. I mean, I wouldn’t want to lose my mom or family, but I’d love to find a portal to Moranaia. If one exists, I don’t know how to find it, though. Alas.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Bethany: I’m between books right now since I’m on a tight deadline, but next on my list is Angeli by Jody Wallace. Then probably the newest Lynsay Sands.

Q: Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions

Bethany: Ohhh, only 5? Aerin from The Hero and the Crown. Elspeth, Darkwind, and Vanyel from Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. Number 5, hmm….maybe Mercedes Lackey herself. I suppose you can guess who my favorite author is. Hehe

Thank you so much for taking part Bethany, I now know not to get on your bad side 😉 or perhaps I do to get a mention in a book! Can’t wait for Sundered!

Author Interview with Raye Wagner

For this weeks author spotlight, we welcomed Raye Wagner!  Raye is the author of the Sphinx Series, an addictive young-adult fantasy based in a realm of Greek mythology, so if you are fans of Percy Jackson and the Sweet Evil Trilogy, these are the books for you!  Raye very graciously accepted the invitation to take part in our author interview and here’s what she had to say to us.

Q:  For those that are new to Raye Wagner, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Raye:  I’m a red personality that wishes she was a little more yellow.  I love bakery treats.  I enjoy Tae Kwon Do, and I work out so I can eat what I want, and kick butt…just in case.  I work in healthcare, and I only dreamed of writing a story.  And then one day, a story dropped in my head, and I couldn’t help but write it down.

If you like Greek mythology, strong heroines, handsome demigods, and a twist now and again, you might enjoy Curse of the Sphinx.

Q:  At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Raye:  When I was 16 I wrote a goal that I wanted to write a book.  When I went into nursing in college, writing became a dream of childhood.  And then years later (lots of years), I started writing a story.  I thought it would be easy, and there have been a few times I’ve wanted to quite, but the story must be told, so I’m still writing.

Q:  Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going?  If you do would you share it with us?

Raye:  I love music, but it’s usually late at night, or nap time when I write, so I have to keep it quiet, and listen for sleeping littles yelling for mom.  I dream of the day I can write to music.

Q:  Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the idea rolling?

Raye:  I’ve been known to pilfer a characteristic or two now and again.  However, some characters come full developed.  That being said, when my mom read Curse of the Sphinx, she said, “Oh, I like how you put so-and-so in there like that.”  I thought, What?  But looking back, she was right.  A few of my characters were based on people I knew.

Q:  What are your experiences of being an Indie Author, do you find that social media is a help of a distraction to your writing?

Raye:  Both.  I’ve had to learn to stay off of it most of the time, because it’s fun being social.  But writing takes time, and that is the one commodity that I seem to lack the most of.

Q:  What are you currently working on or is it a secret!?

Raye:  I’m currently finishing Myths or Immortality, book 3 in the Curse of the Sphinx series.  I’ve also started outlining a book with dragons and fae.  Much more fantasy.  I can’t wait to actually write it.

Q:  What is it about mythology that inspires you?

Raye:  I actually wasn’t much of a mythology nerd until I started writing Curse of the Sphinx.  I had read the PJO series, and in book 4, Battle of the Labyrinth, the Sphinx is represented as a game show host.  I have a painting of the Sphinx done by a friend of mine in college.  The idea of her being a washed up game show host was an insult.  A couple of weeks later the idea dropped in my head.  I had to do a lot of research to make sure that I stayed close to the flavor of the myths.

Q:  If you could be any character you have written, who would you choose?

Raye:  Ryn from my fantasy series that will come out next year.  She’s amazing.

A close second would be Phaidra, Hope’s grandmother, the original Sphinx.  She had some amazing experiences.

Q:  What are you currently reading?

Raye:  Rock your Plot by Cathy Yardley.

Recently I finished Earth’s End by Elise Kova (book 3 in the Air Awakens series)  It’s amazing!!

Q:  Fictional Dinner Party – give me 5 fictional characters or authors who you would have as dinner companions.

Raye:  Ednah Walters, Quinn Loftis, Jaymin Eve, Holly Black and Mary Weber.  I would just sit and listen to them talk.  I’ve met Ednah and Quinn and I adore them and admire them as people and as writers.  The others I’m in awe of their writing talent, and would want to bask in their words.

As far as fictional characters, I’d love to meet Kitty Fremont (from Exodus by Leon Uris) as I pursued my career in nursing because of her.

Thank you so so much Raye for taking the time out to answer our questions!

For those who are interested in reading Raye’s books, there is currently a giveaway going on over at our facebook page.  It’s simple to enter and you will be gifted an ebook of choice from the series.  The giveaway closes on the 25th August at 8pm GMT, and is the pinned post on the page.