Archive for January, 2013

A native of Chicago, former police detective and now romantic suspense author Chris Karslen grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents loved traveling, a passion they passed on to her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

Though her desire to write began in her teens, Chris spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies before she decided to pursue her dreams. Chris is the author of the romantic thrillers Golden ChariotByzantine Gold and numerous other romance novels.

Now a fulltime writer, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Learn more about Chris and her work on her website and blog.

Read my review of Byzantine Gold here.

Her mission as an author…

I want to entertain the reader with my stories. I want to share my love of certain things, like places, history, and time travel. It’s my way of saying, this is why I love England or Turkey or history etc. I like using the characters to present a “what if” question and have the reader join me in asking it to.

Her inspiration for Byzantine Gold

Charlotte and Atakan from Golden Chariot—I like them and wanted to show how their relationship progressed. I also liked many of the support characters. I wanted to bring them back. The best way is another shipwreck. I liked using Turkey, as I did in Golden Chariot but also liked the idea of keeping the setting in that region but not necessarily Turkish waters, but someplace a bit different. I needed it to be a place that Atakan still had authority. I set it in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The setting is beautiful and it still, for Americans, has an unusual flavour.

The next thing was what to do with Atakan and Charlotte. I had to resolve the issue of Tischenko and I welcomed the idea of fleshing him out more. I knew I’d set him on a path of revenge but I needed something more for the plot. Terrorism is a global problem. Artifact smuggling is one source of funding for terrorist organizations. I did not want to do the usual Al-Qaeda situation. I chose a terrorist organization that originated in Turkey and is in Iraq and Iran now too, the PKK. The extreme militant wing of the PKK presents an on-going problem in Turkey.

I picked a Byzantine ship because I love some of the art and jewellery from the period.

Her hero and heroine…

Atakan Vadim is an agent for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. He has his PHD in archaeology. Fact: The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism has a representative present at all legitimate archaeological sites in the country. Their job is to oversee the safe handling of recovered artifacts along with site safety and preservation.

He is from a middle class family and grew up near the town of Milas in the Mugla Province. His father was a career military man and his mother oversaw the family orchards in his father’s absence. Atakan has a married sister. He’s close to his family but can’t see them often due to distance. Istanbul is over 400 kilometres from Milas.

Atakan is a consummate professional. He is a reserved man unless he knows you well, then he shows his dry sense of humour and with Charlotte his very sensual side. He has a strong sense of honour and ethical code. He’s not a man driven to “obtain or possess” things. His apartment is functional although he has an interesting display of collectibles which are family heirlooms.  His apartment has a beautiful view of the Bosphorus Strait and that is more important to him than high end furniture. Nice suits are his one very expensive taste. He likes to dress well on the job.

Charlotte Dashiell is an American nautical archaeologist who just received her PHD. She’s outspoken and extremely determined in her pursuits, which sometimes disturbs, sometimes worries and sometimes amuses Atakan.

She’s the daughter of a Chicago policeman and a homemaker. Her parents divorced when she was a teen and her father remarried to a Chicago policewoman and her mother is remarried to a wealthy businessman. Charlotte also has an older brother who’s a member of the Chicago Police Department SWAT team She too is close to her family and tries to visit once a year.

Like Atakan, she is the consummate professional when working a shipwreck recovery team. She’s not overtly vain as her job requires her to keep her hair simple, she’s diving most days and not concerned with makeup. Conservation work on the relics is hard on a manicure. That said, she has a jealous streak when it comes to Atakan. She’s not above passing an acerbic comment or two when she’s introduced to a former girlfriend of his. When she has the opportunity, she does take pride in her appearance and dresses nicely.

Her guilty pleasure is belly dancing for Atakan. She takes lessons in Istanbul, where they live. Atakan is a big fan.

ImageAbout the cover art…

The overall concept was mine. Although most of the story takes place in Cyprus, Istanbul has such distinctive architecture and buildings I wanted something of it on the cover so a reader knows the story has a different setting. I wanted the shipwreck and divers because of the nature of the story.   This is what draws the characters to this place. I worked closely with the designer. I asked her to look at my previous cover, and the trailer for Byzantine Gold, which I was very happy with, and to look at my book boards for both this and Golden Chariot on my Pinterest page. She had the idea for the bullets and crosshairs in the lettering. She put all my wishes together and came up with a cover I love.

Her advice to aspiring authors…

Do join a critique group. You need other eyes to read your work. Your family and friends will avoid hurting your feelings and as a result are often not as honest as you need them to be.

Take classes or if you can afford it, go to conferences and seminars to learn the craft. If you can’t afford workshops, then buy books from the experts. Three I like and keep in my desk and reference are: Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction by Don Maass, and Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

Develop a tough skin and accept the fact that your early drafts (and that’s what they are, drafts) are not ready to send to an editor or agent or to self-publish. Every new writer believes what they’ve written is perfect. Perhaps there’s someone out there this is true for but I can’t think of any. Hemingway said, “There’s no such thing as writing, only rewriting.” Stephen King in his book, “On Writing,” said, he never lets anyone see his first draft.

Read books in the genre you want to write in. This is important. You need to have an idea of how stories in that genre flow, how tension and action and characterization is handled. Literary fiction is generally not the same style as a thriller. The readership of different genres have different expectations.

When you read a scene that is especially moving or well done, or one that stands out to you, then dissect it. See what it is that “makes” the scene work so well for you and try to do the same but with your own spin.


Book Description

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

Read the first chapter / Purchase from Amazon 

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ByzantineGold 500x750 (1)Book description…

A sunken warship from the Byzantine Era carrying an unusual cargo of gold has been found off the coast of Northern Cyprus. News of the valuable cache has attracted the attention of a terrorist cell. They plan to attack the recovery team’s campsite and steal the artifacts. On the Black Market, the sale of the relics will buy them additional weapons.

Charlotte Dashiell, an American archaeologist, and her lover, Atakan Vadim, a Turkish government agent, are scheduled to be part of the recovery team that brings up the artifacts. While en route to Cyprus, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs of Maksym Tischenko, a Ukrainian contract killer bent on revenge. Charlotte, Atakan and Tischenko share a grim history. As a result, Tischenko is a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal—seeing them both dead.

Read the first chapter / Watch the trailer / Purchase from Amazon  /Author interview

My thoughts…

Being a great fan of nautical archaeology, exotic settings and long lost treasures, I absolutely loved this book. It is pure entertainment from start to finish. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first book in the series, Golden Chariot, and that was also a great read, but I have to say that this second installment was even better. The relationship between the hero and heroine–American archaeologist Charlotte and Turkish agent Atakan–evolves and deepens and their love scenes are a lot more playful, steamy and exciting. Karslen weaves the exotic aspects of the setting, the sensuality of the sea, and the sights and sounds of Cyprus to add even more thrill to their loving relationship. We also see a more complex human side to cold-blooded villain Tischenko that is quite interesting.

Then, of course, there’s the constant threat and danger, not only from Tischenko with his revengeful agenda but from a Kurdish terrorist who wants to steal the artifacts and sell them in the black market in order to support the PKK. I loved the tension-filled, underwater segments between Charlotte and the terrorist, as they dive together and she becomes more and more suspicious about his identity. He, of course, is pretending to be an archaeologist like the rest of them, when in reality he doesn’t know much about it.

The novel is written in multiple points of view separated by chapters, which works well with this type of thriller, making the action move at a quick pace. The dialogue is sharp and natural and Charlotte and Atakan are good at witty, darkly humorous comebacks and retorts.

If you enjoy romantic suspense or stories about treasures and archaeology set in exotic locales, I highly recommend you pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

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ImageThe World of Ink Network will be touring author Jack Remick’s contemporary women’s literary novel, Gabriela and The Widow published by Coffeetown Press throughout January and February 2013. ISBN: 978-1-60381-147-7 Publication Date: January 15, 2013

Gabriela and The Widow is the story of Gabriela, a 19 year old Mexican woman who migrates north (to El Norte) where she meets a dying 92 year old woman, The Widow. The novel is their story.

About the Book:

Through the intimate bond of a companion and benefactor, Gabriela reconciles the painful experiences of her youth as she is reshaped by the Widow, La Viuda. Together, day after day, night after night, La Viuda immerses Gabriela in lists, boxes, places, times, objects, photos, and stories, captivating and life-changing stories. It seems Gabriela is not just hired to cook and clean; she has been chosen to curate La Viuda’s mementos while taking care of the old woman’s failing health. “As you grow thick, I grow thin,” says the widow, portending the secret of immortality that will overtake both women.

ImageGabriela and The Widow is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com. After January 15, 2013, it will also be available in multiple eBook and 6×9 trade paperback editions on BN.com, the European Amazons and Amazon Japan.

Wholesale orders can be placed through info@coffeetownpress.com  Baker & Taylor or Ingram. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources or Midwest Library Service.

You can find out more about Jack Remick, his books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/akw7kk6

About the author:

Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer and novelist. In 2012, Coffeetown Press published the first two volumes of Jack’s California Quartet series, The Deification and Valley Boy. The final two volumes will be released in 2013: The Book of Changes and Trio of Lost Souls. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press, an imprint of Coffeetown Press, in 2011. You can find Jack online at http://jackremick.com

Follow Jack Remick at:

Author page: http://jackremick.com

Blog: http://bobandjackswritingblog.com

Twitter: @jackremick

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talibanTaliban Escape!

One Woman’s Journey out of Hell

By Aabra

It is difficult to believe that so many women still live in extreme violence and are killed in the hands of their partners. We all want to think that this doesn’t happen. But as Aabra shows in Taliban Escape, violence against women is a growing problem.

Taliban Escape is about one woman’s struggle to free herself from the shackles of violence and abuse in the Taliban. Adeela was brought up in a very repressed and violent environment. As she was growing up, she witnessed most of the members of her family killed, including her mother, sister, and beloved aunt.  The father was the king of the house and women were considered far beneath them. Female children were so shunned that the mother would be violently abused if she bore a daughter.

Neither were girls allowed to get an education or read books. But Adeela had a wonderful aunt who taught her to read and opened a whole life of freedom and emancipation for her. But she disappeared never to be seen again. No one knew if she was killed or if she escaped. Adeela’s relationship with her aunt made her dream of a better life. But Adeela suffered much before she was able to emancipate herself and escape.

This is one of the most intense books I ever read. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that there is so much cruel violence against women in the world. But since one in three women is currently suffering from some type of abuse in the hands of their partners, this book is an important one for all of us to read and ponder. This story was inspiring and very disturbing in places. After reading Taliban Escape, I now see women’s reality very differently. Thank you Aabra for such a wonderfully courageous and inspiring book!

Aabra has a degree in Psychology from Temple University. She has been writing most of her life and has eight published novels, including Taliban Love Slave, Sailing into Darkness, and her latest novel Time of Fear. All her books are written anonymously.

This review first appeared in Blogcritics Magazine

Roth (1)


About the Reviewer:

Irene S. Roth, MA is a Philosophical Psychologist. She writes and reviews books about philosophy, psychology and self-help as well as many other kinds of books. She reviews for Blogcritics, Midwest Book Review, Americann Chronicle, Redroom, Gather, Goodreads, Shelfari, Mom Bloggers and a lot more. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

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Jennifer Conner’s latest romantic suspense is a thrilling, steaming read that will be enjoyed by fans of the genre. 

Handsome, sharp-witted, and smartass Devan Burke is a detective working for the LAPD. In the evenings, he likes to keep himself wired up by ordering double espressos from the Naughty Latte stand’s drive-through, especially because of the pretty blond working there. Dev is a loner and blames himself for the death of a kid during a store shootout, during which he was also shot in the leg and, as a result, has been limping and using a cane since then.   

Beautiful and just as sharp-witted and smartass as Dev, Luci Lombard is working at the Naughty Latte stand in order to support herself through school at the University of Chinese Culture and Health Studies. 

One night, only a few minutes after Dev leaves the coffee stand, he receives a message that the place has just been robbed. Back at the stand, he finds a very distraught Luci lying on the floor with her hands tied behind her back. Fortunately, the assailant didn’t have enough time to rape her. Although the robber was wearing a mask, she remembers he was wearing cowboy boots and tattoos on his arm: strange octagon symbols mixed into a vine. Dev offers to bring her to the hospital and then home. 

Since she doesn’t have medical insurance, he very generously pays for her medical bills. To show her appreciation, Luci decides to help Dev with his leg problem so he can get back in active duty. She believes his pain and limp could be improved with the aid of a chiropractor and holistic medicine. Though Dev is skeptical at first, he decides to let Luci help him. Thus, their relationship begins to evolve, rising in intensity as their feelings for each other deepen.

But the man with the tattoos isn’t a simple robber. In fact, he’s a member of the Mafia. And he hasn’t forgotten Luci and is intent on finishing what he started… 

Shot in the Dark is a light, quick, very entertaining read filled with lots of romance and lots of suspense. Having read Conner’s work before, I know she has a soft spot for tortured, imperfect heroes with big hearts who at times suffer a disability. In this case, it’s Dev’s leg and how it affects his self image and self esteem, and how, with a smart and kind heroine, he outgrows those feelings of insecurity. Her heroines are intelligent and independent, yet feminine enough to turn to their heroes for protection when needed. A very nice combination. The story, which moves at a good pace, is mainly told from both from Dev’s and Luci’s points of view, separated by chapters, so the readers get to know the feelings and motivations of both characters. Some chapters are also told from the robber’s point of view. If you’re a fan of romantic suspense, you’ll want to pick this one up. 

You can find more about bestselling author Jennifer Conner and her romantic suspense novels from her website athttp://www.jenniferconnerbooks.com 

Read more reviews and purchase the book from Amazon.

My review was first published in Blogcritics.

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ImageH. W. “Buzz” Bernard is a writer and retired meteorologist.  His debut novel, Eyewall, which one reviewer called a “perfect summer read,” was released in May 2011 and went on to become a best-seller in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

His second novel, Plague, came out in September 2012.

He’s currently at work on his third novel, Supercell.

Before retiring, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel in Atlanta, Georgia, as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force for over three decades.  He attained the rank of colonel and received, among other awards, the Legion of Merit.

His “airborne” experiences include a mission with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and a stint as a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135).

In the past, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope, and served two tours in Vietnam.  Various other jobs, both civilian and military, have taken him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

He’s a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.

Buzz currently is vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He’s a member of International Thriller Writers, the Atlanta Writers Club and Willamette Writers.

He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia, along with their fuzzy and sometimes overactive Shih-Tzu, Stormy.


ImageAbout the book

Deep in the secret recesses of a Cold War lab, the Russians created tons of deadly bio-weapons.  Now, decades later, a protege of that Russian research is about to release weaponized Ebola into the heart of the South’s most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American “decadence” range from a happily diverse population to the Coca-Cola museum and CNN headquarters.

A preliminary test of the horrifying virus demonstrates the unspeakable suffering of its victims–and alerts the Centers for Disease Control that a terrible pandemic is in the making.  CDC Virologist Dr. Dwight Butler begins a frantic effort to track down the source of the virus before it’s too late.

For new BioDawn CEO Richard Wainwright, it quickly becomes clear that the “accidental” plane crash that killed the pharmaceutical company’s entire executive hierarchy may have some connection to the evolving threat.  Suddenly, Richard is being stalked by a hit woman.  He and Butler join forces to find the lone terrorist at the center of a plan that could unleash the Black Plague of the 21st century.



Thanks for this interview! Would you call yourself a born writer?

I’d have to guess that people who love writing probably have some inherent or genetic predisposition for it.  My father was a prolific writer (text books) and I discovered at an early age I enjoyed both reading and writing.  I began writing short stories–to some minor acclaim–in high school, authored five nonfiction books between 1979 and 1993, then focused on becoming a novelist beginning in 2000.  But–and this is a big BUT–just because you can write well doesn’t mean you can write novels.  To do that you must learn a craft, and it took me ten years to do that.  To draw an analogy, just because you can hammer together a coffee table doesn’t mean you can build a house; that requires learning a different craft.

What was your inspiration for Plague?

I was inspired by a nonfiction book, Richard Preston’s Hot Zone, a best seller in the mid-1990s.  As I read the book, I became fascinated by the Ebola virus and scared to death by the thought there might be an airborne version of it.  Novelists, thriller writers in particular, love things that scare folks.  So, I began thinking about how I could craft all of this into a scary novel.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I don’t know that I ever set out consciously to explore specific themes, but themes of redemption and second chances seem to recur in my novels.  In Plague, for instance, the  protagonist, Richard Wainwright, a former high-profile and very successful CEO, has largely withdrawn from life, both professionally and socially, following the premature death of his wife.  But after reluctantly accepting a position as a temporary CEO at a biotech company, he discovers new (and deadly) challenges and even more surprisingly manages to rekindle an old love interest.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

Including the research, a long time actually.  I began writing it in 2003, put it away for awhile to work on what became my first published novel, Eyewall, then revived it in 2010.  The final version is the product of about five rewrites.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am decidedly disciplined and persistent–it took ten years and four manuscripts before my first novel was published–but there is no typical writing day for me.  One day I may have a chance to complete only one page, another day I may reel off eight or more.  Some days I may not work on my current novel at all, blogging or cranking out a short story instead.  I grab time where I can find it.  If necessary, I’ll sacrifice golf in favor of writing.  Fortunately, I’m a terrible golfer, so it’s not a huge sacrifice.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

The amount of research I had to do for it.  Usually my thrillers center on some aspect of weather–I’m a meteorologist by trade and training–so they’re pretty easy for me to write.  But virology and bio-weapons were something entirely foreign, but very interesting, to me.  I did a great deal of background work using the Internet, and also read about half a dozen books on the subject.

What do you love most about being an author?

Just the satisfaction of completing a project and then hearing someone say, “I really enjoyed that.”

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

My publisher is BelleBooks.  They were essentially a small, independent press when my first novel was published with them, but since then have grown into what might be termed a “mid-major.”  I’m extremely happy with them.  They’ve been able to leverage the tectonic shifts that have occurred within the publishing industry and have been very responsive to me as an individual.  I feel like part of the company.

Where can we find you on the web?


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Grand Theft Magic long banner


To enter, visit PumpUpYourBook

About the author

Publishing under a pen name to keep his personal life separate from his writing life, Richard Blunt was raised in the heart of Europe, in a nation where English is not the native language. Like his heroes, Richard Blunt is nothing more than a shadow – a spectre that whispers a story for everyone to hear.

Book description

Lucas and the others shift into high gear to avenge their injured friend. But when an unexpected foe arrives at the scene they quickly find themselves in a life or death situation that not even their extraordinary skills can solve. Realizing that they have bitten off more than they can chew Lucas desperately starts looking for trustworthy allies, just to find out once again that things are never as easy as they appear at first. Can they survive the battles at hand? Will they be able to tell friend from foe? Or will the epic quest they have stumbled into be too much for them to handle? Follow Lucas Trent and his friends through an action-paced story of mysteries, secrets and deceptions and find out

Purchase on Amazon.


Would you call yourself a born writer?

Definitely not. I would maybe call myself a born storyteller, but even that is subject to debate.

What was your inspiration for “Lucas Trent – Grand Theft Magic”?

Well, the whole Lucas Trent storyline had been in my head for a long time. The actual writing was inspired by people that I told parts of the story to, who almost bullied me into writing it down. The current book, “Grand Theft Magic”, is part three of that story. And beside the inspiration that was there in the beginning this one is also inspired by a lot of feedback that I got over the years from my readers.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

I don’t explore anything in my writing, as in the end the writing is nothing more than persisting something that has already been explored in my head long before I even start. What it’s all about for me is something deeper. For me to write a story I must first know every detail about the characters. That part is the one I really like to explore most.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

First word to final publishing? A little more than a year. But there is a lot of idle time in between, both during writing and during the final steps afterwards.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

No, I am for sure not. *laugh* And there is no typical writing day. I get up early in the morning, go to work, just like most other people do, have a normal social life, etc. Writing is just something that goes in between when I have time left, and am motivated to do so.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

There were two things this time. For one, this is the first book that incorporated feedback from readers and reviewers alike. Getting that many nuances in without compromising my own style was quite a hard thing to do. (And I am still not sure if I got it right…) For the other, there is this issue with sexuality that keeps coming up again and again. And why shouldn’t it? My main character is 16 years old. Which boy that age doesn’t think about girls most of the time? The challenge is in writing those thoughts and interactions in a way that is still feasible for young people to read. After all, I don’t want to get rated R…

What do you love most about being an author?

There is a lot that I love about it. First of all, I like the control. The book is exactly what I wanted it to be, from the story itself, via the cover, the trailer, the homepage, everything. So there is nobody else to blame when it goes wrong. I was in control all the time, the result is mine, top to bottom. But I think even more than the control in writing I like hearing people talk about my story. There is nothing better than that, especially when they don’t know that you are listening.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I went down the self publishing route. (Like I did with my first two books.) The process is rough, it’s a lot of work and it’s not exactly cheap. But by now I have smoothened out most of the edges, so it’s not THAT bad. And yes, I am quite happy with that decision. I would maybe consider other options if they should pop up, but I will always happily go down the same path again as well.

Where can we find you on the web?

My homepage is http://www.lucastrent.com/ You will find the link to my blog there, and of course I am also on Facebook and Twitter, with the corresponding links also being there.

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The Long Road Home: The Death and Birth of America is Nick West’s second novel and the sequel to his first book, The Great Southern Circus.

In this story, we follow the lives of the same characters from book 1 as they traverse the difficult and painful years of the American Civil War. Four people, four lives: two men–one white, one black–join the Union; one joins the Confederacy, one young woman tries to hold it altogether while war rages around her. 

I enjoyed reading this story of friendship, hardship, hope and heartache; it’s a poignant story of friends divided then reconciled by the darkness and bitterness of war. I learned many facts about the Civil War I didn’t know before. The book is well researched and West writes with a lot of attention to detail, making this a must-read for Civil War history enthusiasts and a valuable book for group readings. The prose flows nicely, too, and the author’s love of writing and this part of his family history really shine through the pages.

This isn’t your standard novel, however, in that it is mainly biographical–the characters and their stories are real–and there are a lot of facts and information mixed in with the story. Since I was kind of expecting it, though, it didn’t bother me, but if you’re not particularly interested in this time of American history and you’re more in it for the characters and the story, you might find the informative paragraphs a little distracting. That said, West’s clear, smooth writing style alleviates the problem and, as I mentioned, the information is interesting and at times even fascinating.  

The Long Road Home is definitely worth reading and should be on the shelves of Civil War history and fiction fans. Recommended. 

Find on Amazon.

Visit the author’s website.

Read my interview with the author on The Dark Phantom Review.

My review originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine

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A native of Gainesville, Florida, author Nick West attended the University of Florida where he became interested in writing. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, and together with his family, have owned and operated a landscape business in the area for over twenty years. He and his wife Kay and their children, Tammy, John and Christy, along with their families all live on the farm where he grew up near Archer. He is the author of The Great Southern Circus and The Long Road Home.

The Great Southern Circus, his first book, is a collection of circus stories told to him by his grandmother as they were told to her by her grandmother, Miranda Madderra, who performed with this horse drawn caravan just prior to the Civil War. His second book, The Long Road Home, follows the main characters from The Great Southern Circus as they traverse the difficult and painful years of the American Civil War.

Visit the author and learn more about his work at http://thelongroadsouth.com.

Thanks for this interview. Tell us a little about what got you into writing?

I believe that all writers are avid readers. As such I have tremendous respect for those who are talented enough to draw their readers into a caring relationship with the characters in their books. I have found that after reading a good book, I often recall the experiences of the characters as I would good friends or family members. That is my goal as a writer. I have attempted to relate these stories in a way that future generations of my own family could relate to them as the real people that they were. My effort is to bring these wonderful people to life in my books so that even readers outside of my own family would feel as connected to them as I do.

What was your inspiration for The Long Road Home?

When The Great Southern Circus became available nationally on Amazon, I was contacted by a large number of readers who had become invested in the characters of that book. As that book ended, half the characters rushed to join the Union Army and the other half joined the Southern cause. Readers wanted to know what had become of these folks during the Civil War. This book answers those questions.

So the novel is part biographical, part fictional?

Biographical in the sense that these were real people who actually lived the events about which I have written, and fictional in the sense that I can only imagine most of their actual conversations based upon recollections as handed down through oral history for several generations.

For those readers who haven’t read your first book yet, is there something about the plot or characters they need to know in advance before reading The Long Road Home or is it a stand alone novel?

I have had readers who read The Long Road Home first, but invariably went back to read the Great Southern Circus to better understand the relationships. I would encourage folks to read the books in the order they were written to become more involved with all of these wonderful people.

How long did it take you to write the book and did you plot in advance?

The Great Southern Circus was a work in progress for years. I remembered the stories as they were told by my Grandmother and was determined to put them down in written form for future generations of my own family. The advent of the internet made it possible to not only verify that the events chronicled in the book actually took place, but also to connect me with other descendants of the same tour to compare notes and flesh out the other characters. This book took about a year to actually write and told the story of a two year circus tour that ended when the Civil War broke out. The Long Road Home picked up the adventures of the same characters as they struggled to survive the terrible years of the war. This book also took about one year to research and write.

I understand you did a lot of research for this novel. What was the process like and what surprised you most about this dark time of American history?

The American Civil War is probably the most researched period of American History. No matter how small a skirmish or political event, someone has researched and written about it. I read countless articles, books and research papers as they related to the experiences of my ancestors during this dark period. I found many surprises (at least to me) along the way. For instance, at the beginning of the War, Lincoln was more concerned with the preservation of the Union than he was about slavery which I was always taught was the major reason for the conflict. I also learned that racial prejudice in the North did not allow black men to even join the Union Army until late in the war. I had forgotten that our Nation was less than one hundred years old at the time and that many of the States believed that the Union was voluntary and that they could simply “opt out” if they believed that the Federal government was causing them more problems than it was helping their individual cause. I also learned to respect even more the character displayed by, and heartaches endured by President Lincoln during this time.

What themes do you explore in your novel?

Romance, friendship, adventure, hardships in a historical context. This is an attempt to put into perspective the individual stories of each of these men and women as they were swept along by events beyond their control. These characters first met each other and became close friends during the hardships of a circus tour that lasted two years before the outbreak of the War. One man was the northern son of the circus owner and performer, one young black man who joined to circus to search for his sister who was still held as a slave somewhere in the South, one young Alabama girl (my 3x Great Grandmother) who was a bare back rider and a young man from Alabama who joined the circus just to be near her. This is primarily their story.

What has been the reaction from your friends and family so far?

Friends and family loved both books and I have been blessed by the fact that total strangers have discovered my books. From the reviews on Amazon and other sites they seemed to have enjoyed them as well.

Are you planning any local book signings or other promotional events you’d like to announce?

I have periodic signing events that I advertise locally and through social networking. I am also happy to personalize and sign books that my office will mail to anyone who phones in a request to 1 (352)495-9858.

What’s on the horizon for you? Is there a third novel in the works?

I am now working on my third novel.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

I am always happy to hear from readers who have enjoyed my books. They can find me on Facebook or E-Mail me at CountryGator@AOL.COM

Thanks again for the interview and best of luck with your books!

My interview originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine

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