Monthly Archives: February 2019

Author Interview: Daniel Dark

Today I am interviewing Daniel Dark, author of two new books Poison Cup Award Winner thriller/horror novel, Knife’s Tell, and his cookbook, Victorian Catsup.

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DJ: Hi Daniel! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Daniel Dark: Depending on who you talk to I am between forty-five and two hundred years old. I am just a crazy old guy that rides a penny farthing bike, drives a 1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash model R, and wears solid black with top hat every day.

DJ: What is Knife’s Tell  and Victorian Catsup about?

Daniel: Knife’s Tell is a prequel to Jack the Ripper and follows a man into the spiral of becoming the feared man of London’s 1888 East End.

Victorian Catsup is a cookbook containing approximately two hundred receipts for catsup and about sixty different flavors. All receipts are from 1910 to the late 1700’s.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Knife’s Tell and Victorian Catsup?

Daniel: My first influence for Knife’s Tell was my father being a homicide detective and us talking about cold cases when I was younger.

The influence for Victorian Catsup was me being a Victorian Chef before I had a stroke. I made different flavors of Catsup to match up with dishes for the restaurant I owned. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Brian Lee Durfee

Today I am interviewing Brian Lee Durfee, author of the new epic fantasy novel, The Blackest Heart, second book in the Five Warrior Angels series.

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DJ: Hi Brian! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Brian: Thanks for inviting me back! I am an artist and writer who was raised in Fairbanks Alaska and Monroe Utah. I currently live in Salt Lake City. As for the art; I’ve done illustrations for Wizards of the Coast, Tolkien Enterprises, Dungeons & Dragons, and many more. My art has been featured in SPECTRUM: Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art #3 and Writers of the Future Vol 9. I won the Arts for the Parks Grand Canyon Award and the painting is in the permanent collection of the Grand Canyon Visitors Center-Kolb Gallery. I am also the author of the fantasy series The Five Warrior Angels published by Simon & Schuster’s SAGA Press. I think after writing, reading, painting, and watching the Oakland Raiders (I am a huge football fan), travel would be my next favorite passion. Hong Kong was a favorite of mine. Alaska. Switzerland. Austria. Scotland. England. Northern Italy blew me away—its like stepping onto another planet. On a side note, I still work in Law Enforcement for my day job. I actually put together the first-ever-in the-history-of-the-world Comic Con inside a prison. Me and James Dashner (author of the maze Runner) put together a program for the inmates at the Utah State Prison which included, writing classes, watching the Maze Runner movies, panels on writing and publishing and other creative endeavors, plus I gathered many book donations for the prison’s 6 libraries (we got thousands of books & comics donated btw).

DJ: What is The Blackest Heart and then the Five Warrior Angels series about?

Brian: The Blackest Heart (bk#2 of The Five Warrior Angels) blends the best of all the quest/adventure fantasy series you’ve read, Lord of the Rings, Sword of Shannara, The Belgariad, Dragonlance, etc with all the great political-court-intrigue/assassination-plot type fantasies of George R. R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Steven Erikson etc. I really strove to make The Blackest Heart the best book it could be. The Forgetting moon set up the story, The Blackest Heart is where we start to get huge payoff scenes. In a nutshell, Blackest Hear is chuck-full of scenes I envisioned as a kid when I was dreaming of being a writer. The Forgetting Moon was really just a set-up novel so I could have an excuse to place all those cool scenes into the story. Another thing, as an adopted child, I was always drawn to the quest tales of orphans and bastards. I loved Luke Skywalker as a kid, and I love the old worn out trope of the orphan farm boy with a destiny. But In both Forgetting Moon and more so in Blackest Heart I really start to subvert that trop big time in a lot of wild and strange ways. I subvert the trope right up until the very last page of the very last book and I hope readers enjoy all the twists and turns. Another thing, as a kid I  dreamed up a scene where armored knights battled great white sharks. I researched oceans tides, horses, and sharks and came up with a seriously legit way to pull that scene off near the end of Blackest Heart and I think its AWESOME! Thing is, is I write vivid, detailed action scenes, and I promise the reader not one word is wasted. It all means something in the end, even that boring description of a forest orr cathedral holds clues to the mystery.   Continue reading

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From DJ to MD: Still Not Done Yet


I know, I know. Should’t I been done with whole med school thing by now? Well, it sure as heck feel like it XD Technically, I should be in the process of studying for my STEP exam right now, but there was a bit of detour in my path to a white coat this fall.

Continue reading

Author Interview: Angus Macallan

Today I am interviewing Angus Macallan, author of the new fantasy novel, Gates of Stone, first book in the Lord of the Islands series.

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DJ: Hi Angus! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Angus: Hi DJ! I’m Angus Macallan. I’m an Englishman, of Scottish descent, 53, married, two kids: a girl, 10, and a boy 7. I live in the UK, in Kent, about 30 miles outside London. When I’m not bashing out adventure stories in my garden office, I like travelling, reading, drinking, country walks, watching rugby on TV, and cooking for my family. I’m making my debut this month as an epic fantasy novelist with my Indonesian-inspired yarn Gates of Stone. This will be the 12th novel I’ve written: I usually write historical fiction under the name Angus Donald.

DJ: What is Gates of Stone about?

Angus: Gates of Stone is a 500-page epic fantasy novel set in an imaginary world that resembles Indonesia about two or three hundred years ago. It depicts a cut-throat pirate society in the warm southern tropical ocean called the Laut Besar. The chief cut-throat is the Lord of the Islands and he loosely controls the trade in obat – an opium-like drug, that can only be cultivated in this region. Two great world powers – the Celestial Republic to the north (a sort-of China) and the Indujah Federation to the west (a sort-of India) are vying for control of this very lucrative yet addictive and deadly drug trade in the Laut Besar.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Gates of Stone and the series?

Angus: The main influence for the book was reading George RR Martin’s brilliant series A Song of Ice and Fire. But I had wanted to try my hand at epic fantasy for years before that – since reading Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings as a boy, I guess. The specific inspiration for the extraordinary world of the Laut Besar came from a time in the late 1980s when I worked at an anthropologist in Indonesia. I was studying magic, witchcraft and sorcery in a remote village in Bali as part of my field work for a Masters degree. I spent five months in a remote rice-farming village on the slopes of Bali’s sacred mountain, a lovely, tranquil place but without electricity, or shops or restaurants, and with almost no residents who spoke English. I had an extraordinary time there, living in a bare room above a chicken house, and witnessed some incredible things. The magical parts of Gates of Stone are based on my weird and sometime very scary experiences there. I hung out with the local witch-doctors, known as balian, and came away a changed man. I didn’t believe in magic then, and I still don’t, but I saw things which were hard to explain rationally. I witnessed exorcisms of demons who were infesting sick people, and went to ceremonies at which people became possessed by gods and spirits. I thought I saw – or perhaps I hallucinated – a lot of very strange things. It was absolutely fascinating – and I knew that one day I would have to write a novel about my time there. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

Photo credit: Bina Khan



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Today I am interviewing Jared Shurin and Mahvesh Murad, co-editors of the new anthology, The Outcast Hours.

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DJ: Hi Jared Shurin & Mahvesh Murad! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourselves?

Jared Shurin: Thank you very much for having us! Mahvesh and I are a co-scheming team, separated by a mere 6,500 miles. A few years ago we discovered that, as much as we like plotting mad projects alone, it is much more fun (and productive) when we work together. Since then, we’ve written reviews and re-reads, shared a table of contents or two, and, of course, edited anthologies. The Djinn Falls in Love was published in 2017 and The Outcast Hours is out soon.

DJ: What is The Outcast Hours about?

Jared: The people who live at night. Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you do – the sun always sets. There are so many people who live, work, play, and travel – all during the night. Who are the people who come to life when the light goes out? Bartenders, shift workers, ambulance drivers; people on dates, on duty, or on the run… There are so many stories, and we never hear them.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Outcast Hours?

Mahvesh Murad: Prince’s “Joy in Repetition”

Jared: There’s a fantastic quote from Ursula Le Guin that kicks off the book: “We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark; and fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night.” So, like everyone else in SF/F: her. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Paul Meloy

Today I am interviewing Paul Meloy, author of the new fantasy novel, The Adornments of the Storm, second book in the Night Clock series.

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DJ: Hi Paul! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Paul: Thank you for inviting me to do the interview, DJ.

I live in Devon with my family and I work full time as a senior mental health nurse in a community team in Torquay. This takes up much of my time and energy, but when I get the chance, I write short stories, novellas and novels, and am delighted to say I’ve had some small success and met some wonderful people in the process.

DJ: What is The Adornments of the Storm and then the Night Clock series about?

Paul: A long time ago, it seems, I started writing short stories that began to develop a theme, or themes, that demanded exploration. It was an almost subconscious process, at least at first, and characters seemed to want to communicate with each other and inhabit the same world.  Eventually I realised I’d have to attempt a novel just to try and subdue the clamour from all these characters and make sense of their inter-tangled stories. Night Clock came out of that but I knew, finishing it, that there was more going on, and Adornments of the Storm was my attempt to round it all off. I intended the whole structure of the books and stories to be fairly loose, enabling the reader to dip in and out at any point and still be able to – hopefully- make sense of it. If you put all the stories together and the novels, each reader might get a unique reading experience. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jenn Lyons

Today I am interviewing Jenn Lyons, author of the new fantasy novel, The Ruin of Kings, first book in the A Chorus of Dragons series.

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DJ: Hi Jenn! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Jenn Lyons: You’re quite welcome. It’s a pleasure to talk to you! I suppose I could start by pointing out that I am coming to this whole writing business quite late: I was a graphic artist and illustrator for twenty years, worked in video games for another ten, and now here I am. (Add that all up and you’ll start to see I may not be a millenial.) Also–and this is important–I can’t make jello.

DJ: What is The Ruin of Kings about?

Jenn: It’s about a young man—adopted, poor—who daydreams he’ll find out that he’s a long-lost prince, which will naturally solve all his problems. Except when it happens, it’s horrible. It turns out that ‘rich’ and ‘nice’ aren’t synonyms, his new family is cruel, and he’s replaced his old problems with a whole new list of much more dangerous problems. He finds himself caught up in schemes and machinations of some astonishingly evil and powerful beings, who all want to use him to their own ends.

DJ: What were some of your influences The Ruin of Kings and the series?

Jenn: I was influenced a somewhat unusual juxtaposition of cultures. My step-father was Assyrian and so I grew up in a household with a lot of very middle-eastern food, clothing, stories, but then I also have a strong love of mythology of all sorts, particularly celtic. If you look close, I think both those influences come through very clearly in different ways. And I was a complete D&D nerd as a child–I still am–so that can’t help but have had an impact. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Joe Ollinger

Today I am interviewing Joe Ollinger, author of the new science-fiction novel, 10,000 Bones.

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DJ: Hi Joe! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Joe Ollinger: I’m an author. I’m a lawyer. I live in Los Angeles. I grew up in a small town in eastern Florida. I went to USC, where I studied screenwriting and psychology. I worked as a script reader for a while and read a lot of screenplays and some books in that role. Personality-wise, I take The Beatles over Elvis, coffee over tea, pizza over burgers, Batman over Superman, and Kirk over Picard. It’s a narrow margin for all of those except that first one.

DJ: What is 10,000 Bones about?

Joe: 10,000 Bones is a sci-fi thriller set on a world where calcium is used as currency. It follows a Collections Agent named Taryn, whose job it is to hunt down black market calcium to bring it back into the currency system. A job recovering the corpse of a little girl leads her onto the trail of a dangerous conspiracy, which threatens her life and forces her to confront her conflicted emotions toward the world she wants to leave.

DJ: What were some of your influences for 10,000 Bones?

Joe: In terms of literary influences, I grew up reading the classic sci-fi authors. Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Dick. Larry Niven came a bit later, but he’s my personal favorite, and his body of work is comparable to those guys. Years later, I read a lot of thrillers and became interested in the unique challenges of telling an emotional story in that mode of storytelling. In terms of real-life influences, the germ of the idea came from an academic interest in the power of money: the ability or inability of governments to control its value and manipulate it to their ends, the consequences of the use of the power. Continue reading

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Author Interview: S. Andrew Swann

Today I am interviewing S. Andrew Swann, author of the new fantasy novel, Marked.

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DJ: Hi S. Andrew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Andrew Swann: I’ve been writing SF and Fantasy for a little over 25 years now, averaging a book a year during that time. I live in the Cleveland area, the setting for a number of my stories, including MARKED. I’m married and share a small sort-of farm with my wife, a horse, three sheep, two Boxers and a pair of cats.

DJ: What is Marked about?

Andrew: It’s about a woman, Dana Rohan, who has a tattoo-like mark on her back that allows her to go to various alternate pasts and futures. She doesn’t know the source of the mark or its powers, and she’s kept it hidden from those around her. She’s built a life as a police detective, where she’s secretly used the mark’s powers to help her in her job. Her life is upended when an apparently crazy man accosts her speaking a language she doesn’t know and is abruptly killed by an armored swordsman coming out of nowhere. The dead man bears a mark like her own. Soon after she’s chased by zombie-like creatures bearing their own perverse marks, and is racing through myriad alternate worlds in a quest to find out about the mark and her own past.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Marked?

Andrew: The most direct and obvious influence is Roger Zelazny’s AMBER series which I read in high school. It gave me the seed of the idea that would eventually become MARKED. But there are a lot of other influences, from various police procedurals, to the more recent DAWN OF THE DEAD and WORLD WAR Z. We can also blame the airships on GIRL GENIUS by Phil and Kaja Foglio. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Eyal Kless

Today I am interviewing Eyal Kless, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Lost Puzzler, first book in The Tarakan Chronicles.

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DJ: Hi Eyal! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Eyal Kless: I am a performing classical violinist and a teacher (currently teaching violin in Tel Aviv University). The fact that I can now add the title ‘Author’ to my name is still mind boggling and I always hesitate when I tell it to people who ask me “what do you do for a living”

“Eh, I am a violinist… and an author”

The usually response is” wow, how interesting and exciting, but what do you do for a living?”

I am a devoted father to my four years old, I love martial arts and train MMA in a very sporadic way. I used to play D&D way too much and I still dream up new adventures in old rules. 

DJ: What is The Lost Puzzler about?

Eyal: Okay, it is a reasonable enough question, but to summarize 550 pages of exciting adventures, fights, chases, mysteries and fun dialogues to several sentences is quite a challenge for me, especially since I do not want to throw in spoilers (deep breath), right:

Four generations after a Catastrophe killed most of civilization, the survivors are spread thinly around the globe. Some are reduced to “sticks and stones” other still know how to use technology but not how to produce it (like most of us today). The only way to get your hands on high-tech is to raids the ruined cities of the mysterious Tarakan empire and brave its dangers. The mercenary groups sent to those cities are called Salvationists.

In the relative safety of the City of Towers, a secondary scribe is sent on a close to impossible mission: he must locate an elusive and dangerous Salvationist mercenary, Vincha, and convince her to tell the story of Rafik, a boy-mutant who disappeared long ago. This boy, now long dead, might be the key to yet another  dramatic change in human history, either bringing civilization back to the age of light or giving it one final, deadly blow. Continue reading

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