Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Updates for Amanda Moonstone

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, life has been pretty hectic for me recently. But I HAVE got some great news! I have just recently handed in the second draft of my Disney inspired novel Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince to my publisher - who are now going through edits as we speak! I've gone through a few changes of the novel since the last update of this - adding a few more "darker" elements to it, so hopefully the publishers will be ok with that. Don't worry, it will still have the family friendly elements to it.

 

In the meantime, I have today created a Facebook page for Amanda Moonstone and will be publishing all updates frequently on there as they happen. So if you have Facebook, pop over there and give the page a like so that you see more amazing artwork (and even sample chapters) as they are brought out.

 

AMANDA MOONSTONE FACEBOOK PAGE

 

Release date will be early 2015 - so follow the facebook page as the updates will be posted there first of all. Watch this space!

 

Thanks for reading guys.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON DAN

 

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Pandragon Dan Interviews Sally Wiener Grotta

Hope you liked the last author interview - because I got ANOTHER one for you! Pixel Hall Press's own Sally Wiener Grotta very kindly stopped by to do a little interview and tell us about her new book The Winter Boy - and she even provided a little except of it! Let's not waste any more time and get down to the interview. Enjoy!

 

 

 
 

Thank you for taking the time to appear on my blog. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

 

Thank you for inviting me, Dan.

 

I’ve made my living as a freelance writer and photographer for my decades-spanning career. (I’ve never been on staff anywhere, though I’ve been a Contributing Editor at a number of magazines.) What that means is that I’ve covered a wide range of topics for quite a diverse readership.

 

If you were to ask me what one word would most fully describe me, I would say “storyteller.” I use words and my camera to explore what I want to understand and what I need to communicate. It’s the conduit I use to connect with others and attempt to make that connection meaningful.

 

The specifics? I’ve been on assignment for many major publications to all seven continents. I’ve interviewed and photographed hundreds of fascinating or famous (or both) people. And, I’ve been honored that my work has received numerous awards, grants and accolades. But mostly, I’m happy that I’ve been able to make a living at what I love doing most. (For more traditional bios, please go to http://www.grotta.net/events.htm and http://www.amhands.com/AboutSally.)

 

 

What first inspired you to get into writing?

 

I’ve always been a writer… or at least lived for story.

 

I suppose I could say that my inspiration started with bedtime tales that my mother read to me. Or perhaps it was my grandmother’s stories about her childhood and the years before I came on the scene. What always fascinated me were the people in the stories. How they felt, what they did, why they did it.

 

As soon as I could string words together onto a page, I was creating stories. As I grew older the stories became more complex, and eventually more refined and meaningful. But only after I learned that writing is more than story and inspiration – that it requires craft, professional acumen and discipline – did I begin to earn a living at it.

 

 

Who are your favourite authors?

 

Jorge Luis Borges, Margaret Atwood, Daniel Grotta, Viktor Frankl, Shakespeare, Michael Swanwick, Mary Doria Stewart, so many others.

 

I love discovering new authors. Recently, I read a wonderful book by Delia Sherman that transported me to the days before the American Civil War, and allowed me to see the South through a very different perspective than I ever had. That sense of experiencing something/someone new is part of the adventure of reading.

 

 

Do you have any other hobbies other than writing or is that your whole world?

 

I have no real hobbies. When I’m not doing assignment writing or managing my career, I’m working on my fiction, creating photographic portraits, mounting exhibits, etc. I’m not really a workaholic. I simply love my work and would rather create stories and pictures than do anything else.

 

My leisure activities include taking walks along the stream behind our house with my husband, the author Daniel Grotta, and Watson, our Golden Retriever, swimming occasionally, and of course, reading. While Daniel and I walk, we often discuss and brainstorm our stories.

 

 

Do you have a particular favourite genre to write in?

 

I don’t consider genre when I’m writing. I simply create the story that needs to be told. That’s why my novels and short stories tend to not fit neatly into the zeroes and ones of digital marketing. In terms of character-driven plots, I have literary tendencies. But I also enjoy exploring otherliness and imagined worlds, which are tropes usually found in science fiction and fantasy. A number of reviewers and readers have called my most recent book “The Winter Boy” literary speculative fiction, though others see elements of a political thriller and coming of age story.

 

Not all my fiction has speculative elements. My last novel “Jo Joe” was set in a Pennsylvania mountain village and dealt with the very real world issues of prejudice, the ethnic/racial divide and family misunderstandings.

 

I like the designation “interstitial” – art that exists in the between spaces (http://www.interstitialarts.org). The image I have of interstitial is a hallway of doors that open up onto a number of categories, taking from each what is necessary to create the story as it should be rather than trying to fit it to a template of something that has already been done.

 

 

Without giving away too many spoilers, can you tell the nice people us a little bit about your new/upcoming book?

 

My newest novel is “The Winter Boy,” which was just published (November 6th) by Pixel Hall Press (check out an exerpt HERE)

 

Here’s the basic blurb: The Valley of the Alleshi is the center of all civilization, the core and foundation of centuries of peace. A cloistered society of widows, the Alleshi, has forged a peace by mentoring young men who will one day become the leaders of the land. Each boy is paired with a single Allesha for a season of intimacy and learning, using time-honored methods that include dialog, reason and sexual intimacy. However, unknown to all but a hidden few, the peace is fracturing from pressures within and beyond, hacking at the very essence of their civilization.

 

Amidst this gathering political maelstrom, Rishana, a young new idealistic Allesha, takes her First Boy, Ryl, for a winter season of training. But Ryl is a “problem boy” who fights Rishana every step of the way. At the same time, Rishana uncovers a web of conspiracies that could not only destroy Ryl, but threatens to tear their entire society apart. And a winter that should have been a gentle, quiet season becomes one of conflict, anger and danger.

 

 

Where did you get the inspirations for this?

 

My answer to this question could wander the compass, taking us in any direction you want. That’s because my influences come from just about everything and everyone I have encountered, read, or experienced.

 

I could say that it starts with people. Characters pop into my mind, fully formed, with histories, names, and a very specific problem. At the same time, I usually know the first sentence of their story and how that story will end. (All the rest is negotiation with the characters in my head, which can take years to fulfil.)

 

Where do these characters come from? I really don’t know. Or maybe I should say, I really don’t want to analyze too closely how they come to me. The process works for me, so I would rather not overthink it.

 

On the other hand, I can state quite clearly the source of the themes of my fiction and the context of the plot. It starts with questions I have about how the world functions and the way people treat each other. The questions can come from some of my more personal concerns, such as why a friend or stranger might suddenly lash out at a misspoken word. Or it might develop out of my befuddlement about war, terrorism, bigotry, and such.

 

I write to try to understand, to hope to tease out some solutions – or at least, instigate discussions about why? why not? what if? how? I put characters I learn to love into difficult, if not impossible situations, and sit back to see what I can discover from how they try to dig themselves out of their problems.

 

 

Do you have any favourite characters in the story?

 

That’s like asking which child is your favourite. I love them all.

 

ME: Good answer ;)

 

In “The Winter Boy,” Rishana/Tayar is perhaps the closest to me, with her heartbreak when she realizes that her faith in her world and the people she loves is too idealistic, that they are much less and much more than she once believed.

I deeply empathize with Ryl/Dov’s unfocused need to rebel against structure and rules that he doesn’t understand. I ache for his sense of not belonging anywhere and delight in his vitality and charisma.

Impish Kaith, with her ancient knowledge and child-like sense of wonder, flits through my mind, teasing and teaching me.

Dara, Savah, Hester, Kiv and the other women of The Valley fascinate me, with their political intrigues, passions and sharp intellects – as do the men of their circles.

No, I couldn’t choose a favourite; I enjoy the company of all of them, and I miss them now that “The Winter Boy” has left home to go out into the world.

 

 

If your book was turned into a film/TV series, who would you get to play the characters? Do you have a favourite director you would choose for this?

 

I think I’ll pass on this question, and hope that someday it may become an issue. (Not that I would have a say in casting any movie based on my fiction. Still, it’s a fun fantasy.)

 

 

Fair enough. Which, in your opinion is more important – story or characters?

 

Both

 

Without plot, without a story arc or a framework in which the reader is taken through problems or situations to a hoped-for resolution, a novel has no real reason to exist.

 

But it’s the characters who create and live the story and make it come alive for the reader (and the author).

 

 

What do you look for in a good story?

 

To be awed and transported by excellent writing, characters I can’t forget, and a plot line that resonates, giving it meaning.

 

 

What’s the best advice you can give to authors?

 

Write and then write some more. Rewrite more than you write. Read aloud what you’ve written to hear the sounds and rhythms of your prose and dialog. Then rewrite again... and again.

 

When your editor asks you to change something, listen to her/him. Maybe they are correct in what they want you to put in the place of what is there. Maybe it’s simply that what you have in that portion of your story isn’t strong enough to express your vision, so they’re trying to help you fill in the holes. Whichever it is, you need to look closely at that portion, and make sure it is the best you can write.

 

And read everything you can get your hands on, not just in your own genre, but a full spectrum of styles and textures.

 

 

Ok, now for the REAL questions of the interview – and these are real life or death here! The fate of the world rests on this question and could cause a time collapse that will wipe out all life in the Universe. So think carefully before you answer. What DOES the Fox say?

 

Whatever Fox says, it’s usually twisted. I try to listen, because I believe in hearing opposing views, and it might be grist for my stories. But I almost always end up turning the channel.

 

Oh wait, you were asking about the fox with the furry tail?

 

 

Er, yeah. It was a reference to the song What Does The Fox Say? Never mind. Why did the chicken cross the road?

 

That depends on what the road is, doesn’t it? Is it a path, a barrier, a portal? I suppose if I were a chicken, I would answer that I have to cross the road to see what adventure lay (yes, lay, it’s a chicken, right?) over the horizon. But given that I have yet to understand chickenish, I can’t say what’s in the bird’s brain.

 

 

Now that IS a deep thinking answer to an ancient proverb. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?

 

Are you talking metric or English measurements?

 

ME: Never mind... XD

 

 

Thanks to Sally for a very interesting and inspiring interview - especially in the last questions!

 

If you wish to follow Sally you can do so at the following links.

 

Blog

Facebook

Google+

YouTube: Sally Wiener Grotta

Twitter

 

Thanks again to Sally for joining me today. Authors, want to be interviewed or have a guest post? Please get in touch with me.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Dan Interviews G.S. Luckett

Time for another author interview! Today on my blog I have a special treat for you fans of Dark Fantasy and Horror. Please welcome to my blog - Mr G.S. Luckett.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to appear on my blog. Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

 

Thank you for having me. Well a little about myself; I went in the Army shortly after high school and after getting out of the Army, I worked public utilities and studied creative writing and screenwriting at U.C.L.A. and Pierce College. I have self-published two books so far, Gates and Alpha Hunter.  Now, I live outside of Portland, Oregon with my wife and two sons.

 

 

So what first inspired you to get into writing?

 

I have always loved writing and had an overactive imagination so it seemed like a natural progression.  It also helped to get ideas out to make room for new ones.  I like the idea that when I write a great story the reader will use it to direct their own film in their imagination and be compelled to live in the world I created for them.

 

 

I can relate to the having an overactive imagination part! Who are your favourite authors?

 

I like Steven King, Edgar Allan Poe, George R. R. Martin, and Bram Stoker, to name a few. These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head in no particular order.

 

 

Anyone who mentions Edgar Allan Poe is ok in my books! Do you have any other hobbies other than writing or is that your whole world?

 

Sometimes it feels that my whole world is writing but when I have time, I love to spend time with my family. We enjoy the outdoors here in the Pacific Northwest.  I also participate in martial arts and kettlebells.  If not that, I am researching and brainstorming new ideas.

 

 

Do you have a particular favourite genre to write in?

 

I currently write in the Dark Fantasy, Horror, and Action/Adventure genres. With my new book, To the Gallows, you can add action western to the mix.

 

 

Why don't you let the nice people know about your latest novel - without giving TOO many spoilers away of course.

 

My latest book, To the Gallows, is a Historical Fiction/ Action Western based on one of the first African-American U.S. Marshals.  Cole Winters finds out that his estranged Native American brother-in-law is wanted for murder and bank robbery in the territories.  In order, to protect him from being hunted down by hired guns, Marshal Winters does the only thing he can.  He hunts down his brother-in-law himself. I am also pre-writing Dystopian/Zombie book, Mortem.

 

 

Sounds interesting. Where did you get the inspirations for this?

 

I have always liked the action western and saw a show on the History Channel, while in the hospital as my son was treated for Jaundice. It was about the first African-American Marshals. I just ran with it and created Marshal Cole Winters.

 

 

Do you have any favourite characters in the story?

 

I like Cole Winters, his brother-in-law, Joseph Two Guns, and a Jessie Wainwright, a female long-gun shooter. I like the teaming of the three and the ending is an action packed last stand.

 

 

If your book were turned into a film/TV series, who would you get to play the characters? Do you have a favourite director you would choose for this?

 

Idris Elba for Cole Winters would be awesome.  John McTiernan as a director would be great. I hope he would want to do an action western.

 

 

Ah, yes - Idris Elba. Awesome choice! So this is a question that I like to ask that often gets mixed reaction - but it's also interesting to see what people think. Which, in your opinion is more important – story or characters?

 

I feel you have to have both to make a great book. I think if you have, a story that has an original hook people will be interested but when you have that together with a character you love so much that you want to see them in other adventures then people flock to that book.

 

 

What do you look for in a good story?

 

I look to be caught up in it and to have to know what is going to happen to the characters and feel like I am in their world. It also helps to have great twists that spin the story in a new direction.

 

 

This next one is a bit of cliche, but I still think it is important to know. What’s the best advice you can give to authors?

 

I would tell you to stay at it.  Keep at the craft of writing and always strive to better your work.  Learn to bear criticism and rejection, because they will give way to praise.  Also, do not be afraid to get your book reviewed.  While I value what my friends and family say about my work, there is nothing like having someone who only knows you for your writing and love it.

 

 

Ok, now for the REAL questions of the interview – and these are real life or death here! The fate of the world rests on these questions and could cause a time collapse that will wipe out all life in the Universe. So think carefully before you answer.

 

What DOES the Fox say?

 

Frak-kaka-kaka-kow.  At least that is my favourite from the song. I have never personally spoke with a fox but it is on my bucket list.

 

 

Why DID the chicken cross the road?

 

To avoid the KFC down the street.

 

 

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood?

 

Seven cords of wood, no more, no less… Nailed it, right?

 

 

Is the correct answer! Probably... thanks so much for being with me today and for the rest of you guys, please follow G.S at the following links.

 

G.S. Luckett Website

G.S. Luckett Facebook

G.S. Luckett Twitter 

 

Authors... want to be featured on my blog for an interview/guest post? Please get in touch with me - my links are below.

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Pandragon Reviews - Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth

NOTE: This will be my last Pandragon Reviews for a while – as I’ve previously stated that I am no longer accepting reviews due to my current workload. Please do not send me any review requests – however I will gladly accept interviews/blog posts if you wish to contact me about that.

 

I’m excited guys. I really am. Because today, once again, I am highlighting the highly talented Andrez Bergen. I’ve mentioned him numerous times on this blog and lauded him with as much acclaim as possible. For good reason. In my opinion, this guy is one of the best Indie Authors out there – if not THE best. His style of writing, attention to detail – and numerous references to music, pop culture, Anime and classic cinema, all mixed in with his Australian style of humour just come together in one perfect blend. It sucks you in and makes you feel that you aren’t just reading the story, you’re living it! That was the case I felt with Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude.

 

So when I heard he had a new novel coming out I just HAD to read it! And as this will be my last Pandragon Reviews for a while, what better way to end it than with one of my favourite authors! So let’s wrap up warm for the journey that is Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth.

 

 

About The Author

 

Andrez Bergen is an expat Australian writer, journalist, artist and DJ from Melbourne, entrenched in Tokyo these past 13 years. He published his debut novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat in 2011, followed by One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012) and Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013).

 

He has also published short stories and comics (such as Tales to Admonish with Matt Kyme) through Perfect Edge, Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey, 8th Wonder Press, IF? Commix, Big Pulp, Ace Comics and Another Sky Press, and edited an anthology of post-apocalyptic noir. On the side Bergen worked on adapting scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani at Production I.G.

 

He additionally hammers together tunes as Little Nobody, he covets sashimi and saké, and lives in Japan with his wife and eight-year-old daughter.

http://andrezbergen.wordpress.com

 

https://twitter.com/andreziffy

 

 

 

Cover

 

This cover is just WOW! I love how the white background allows all the other colours to just leap out at you and Mina’s icy stare just catches you off guard. Notice how she appears to have puppet strings around her? Symbolism! This kinda reminds me of old school Sci-Fi novel covers – or even classic Horror movie posters. Either way it catches the eye.

 

 

Synopsis

 

She's a disturbed, quiet girl, but Mina wants to do some good out there. It's just that the world gets in the way. This is Australia in the 1980s, a haven for goths and loners, where a coming-of-age story can only veer into a murder mystery.

 

 

What I liked

 

Firstly, let me just say this. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth – BEST. TITLE. EVER! This is one of those titles that, even if you don’t know what the story is about, you wanna check it out just by the title alone! It’s a title that captures the surreal wit that Bergen is famous for. It also catches you off guard a little as, on hearing it, I thought it was gonna be a sci-fi story. The tale I got was a little different, but still worth reading.

 

Like his other novels, Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is told from the POV of the protagonist – in this case Mina. Mina is a kind introverted girl with some issues – mostly abuse at the hands of her older sibling and generally being just an outcast of society. Then she meets a dark character called Animeid (read it backwards and you get a hint as to what is going down) and then s*** really starts to get real! I won’t spoil too much of the story, but rest assured things get increasing more violent as the story goes on.

 

Now compared to other protagonists from Andrez Bergen’s previous novels, Mina is a little bit more introverted compared to say, the protagonists of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat and One Hundred Years of Vicissitude – but she still has the biting sarcasm and wit that you would expect from Mr Bergen’s stories. She probably is a little bit more unstable mentally than many of the other characters, but I personally could understand a lot of her agony. She has a pretty unhappy lifestyle and pretty much is tormented by members of her own family. Throughout the narration, we delve a little deeper into her psychological state and, through the help of Animeid, she gains a little more confidence – possibly at the cost of her sanity.

 

The one thing I liked about this story is that a lot of it was opened to interpretation – especially the character of Animeid. And as a lot of this is told from Mina’s point of view, we never really are getting the full explanation. Is there a supernatural element at work – or is Anim just in Mina’s head and she’s using it as a way of coping with all the crap that’s going on and using that as a way to help her stand up to her problems. Or maybe put something else right – again, no spoilers.

 

On a side note, it is great to read about a female protagonist. Not that I didn’t like his other main characters, I always enjoy reading about female leads that aren’t just “femme fatale’s”.

 

In many ways, the novel serves as a metaphor for growing up in general. Sorta like a coming of age tale in a way – albeit with somewhat darker themes of abuse and possibly mental illness. However, what I liked most about the story is that it doesn’t always go the way you expect it to and the tale can throw the odd twist in here and there. It means that even if you’ve worked out a twist, the story can still surprise you.

 

 

What I didn’t like

 

The only minor nitpick I would say about this (and it is just a nitpick) was that I felt some of the chapters were a little longer than they needed to be. Not that that was a major problem as the chapters are laid out so that they don’t overload you with too much info at once (which is always the trick when writing chapters), but I couldn’t help but think maybe the chapters could be shorter. That’s just a personal thing for me and the ONLY negative I would say about this book.

 

 

PROS (Frozen – that’s the Celldweller song NOT the film! Give it a listen):

  • Best title ever!
  • A great metaphor for isolation, loneliness and psychosis.
  • Tale is captivating and drags you in.
  • Has plenty of twists and surprises.

 

CONS (cold as ice):

  • Some chapters are a bit too long.

 

 

Summary

 

Once again, Andrez Bergen has written a tale that is entertaining, unique and has more style and substance in two pages than most recent bestsellers have in their entire word count! Why this guy isn’t winning more awards I don’t know – but he should. Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth is a great mix of coming of age with dark subtext and some possibly supernatural themes as well. It’s a captivating read – although maybe that’s just me being biased! Either way, I highly recommend this novel. READ IT NOW!!!

 

 

FINAL SCORE: 4.5/5

 

 

 

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PANDRAGON

 

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Stygiophobia: The Curse of the Cursed Queen

Here's a special treat to all you horror fans out there. Today I've released the first video in my new Creepypasta/Lovecraftian themed horror series called "Stygiophobia". A while ago I put up a post on my Facebook asking people for ideas for horror stories, with the original intention of creating a horror anthology series. However, after seeing readings of Creepypasta stories, it inspired me to do this new series.

 

And with Halloween around the corner, what better time to debut it than now?

 

So here is the first video in the series - Curse of the Cursed Queen. This story is about a fangirl that discovers a DVD containing a deleted scene of her favourite film - only to be plunged into a hellish nightmare.

 

Like any horror story, this is best watched in a dark room (or late at night) with the sound up. If you have headphones, feel free to use them as well.

 

WARNING: Not suitable for viewers under 18 years of age. You will need a Youtube account to watch this. This video does contain disturbing imagery and loud noises. So if easily offended or of a nervous disposition, please don't watch.

 

 

 

 
 
I welcome any feedback that you can give guys. Oh and before I forget... Happy Halloween!
 
 
 
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PANDRAGON

 

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