Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan


Meet My Character

I was recently tagged in the “Meet My Character” blog tour and I was only too happy to take part. The aim of the game is that once you’re tagged, you have to interview a character from your series. Sounds fun! Before we see who I’m tagging, let’s check out my challenger – the fabulous author/voice actor, Morgan Straughan Comnick





About Morgan Straughan Comnick


Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.









So anyway – the character I’ll be interviewing today will be from my forthcoming novel Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince – published through Paper Crane Books in 2015. Today I’ll be interviewing a character called The Author – and no, he’s NOT based on me! XD! I brought him here so he can tell us a little about his role in the story.




Me: Thanks for appearing to answer these questions, Author.


Author: I’d like to express my joy on being here. I’d like to... but Joy is an emotion. And emotions cannot be expressed by one that does not feel them.


Er... ok... Right, well let’s move on.



The Interview


What’s your real name?


My Name? A name is simply a false identity that we grant ourselves to give us a sense of belonging. I, on the other hand, have no such illusions. I have been named many things. The Thing That Should Not Be, The Last Firstborn, The Dark Eternal Night – even The Tragic Truth. These are just titles – they have no meaning.



Ok... Are you a fictional or historic person?


I am neither a character of fiction nor a part of your history. I am a part of my own history. I have been and always will be.



*sigh* This is going to be a long interview! Ok, when and where is the story set?


The story of Amanda Moonstone is set on the planet Draconica, a world I believe your “readers” are aware about. Amanda resides on the country Celtland, next to Brittana. For those who have read Trapped on Draconica, it is set just after those events, but before Legacy of the Dragonkin.



Ok, well at least I got something out of you. What’s your role in the story?


I seek to help Amanda realise her full potential.



And how do you do that?


(The Author looks down at his book and turns a few pages)



Um... all right... What do we need to know about you?


Only what I allow you to know.



Right... So, what is your main the main conflict?


Conflict? I have no conflict (looks up and stares at me with his one eye) I AM the conflict.



Ok, starting to get scared now! :o Can you tell us your personal goals?


What are goals but dreams we chase. I have no goals. Only endings.



Well, can you at least tell us what your desired “ending” is?


I could... but I DO hate spoilers...



Can you give us ANY straight answer?


Possibly. If you ask the right questions.



Well can you at least tell the readers when Amanda Moonstone: The Missing Prince is due out.


That is not in my hands. But of the Goddess – she who holds the power to unleash the tale upon the world. She who decides what words are to be said. What order they appear. She of whom you are at her mercy. She who holds your fate in her hands.



You mean – the publisher?


Publisher to you. Goddess to me. Even Authors have higher powers they must obey.



Well, I'm sure my publisher will be grateful that you think so highly of her :) Ok then. Is there anything else you can tell us about you?


(Closes his book and stands up) You are starting to bore me. I shall entertain this joke no longer.



Hey! Come on, don’t leave like that! You haven’t given the readers anything! Can’t you at least tell us... (suddenly I feel a choking sensation around my neck).


Words are only as powerful as those who speak them. And your words do not hold power over me. You will find out about me when the time is right. When the time is upon us.


The Author disappears in a puff of smoke. As I check my neck to make sure that there is no major damage, I notice that, scrawled on my wall is a cryptic message.


Who Is The Author?



The Challenge


Ok, whilst I try and recover from that shock, I am going to set the next interview. And keeping it with my Author friends at Paper Crane Books, I’m gonna tag the super talented Michelle Franklin, author of the Haanta Series. I'm giving her until Sunday to post her interview. Be sure to check back on her blog next week for her character interview. I’m looking forward to it! :)




About Michelle Franklin


Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.











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Submitting Books To Pandragon Reviews







My blog is now open for book reviews! Got a book you want me to review? This is the place to be! If you are an author and would like to submit a book to me for review then I’d love to hear from you. Please read on and make sure you read ALL the information before emailing me.



How I will conduct my reviews


I will review any book by any author. It doesn’t matter if it’s self published, vanity published or traditionally published – if you’re an author who has a book, then I will be happy to give it a look (and you even got a little rhyme there from me!).


Reviews will be posted on my blog in the final week of each month (see below). I will also post any review on Amazon and Goodreads, and if you can suggest another place for the review to go, then let me know (I cannot currently put a review on Smashwords without buying the book first, so if you suggest this, please bear this in mind).


How I review the book will be based on the following criteria, starting with a brief synopsis of the piece/author:


COVER: They say never judge a book by it's cover, but I will spend a few moments talking abou the cover and outline any issues that it may have. This will not effect my overall review though - I'll just be making a comment on it if anything.

PLOT: Essentially: is it a good story? Does it flow well? Is the pace right for the subject?

CHARACTERS: Are they well developed and interesting? Do they stand out? How do they develop during the story? To me characters are a very important part of a story and a large factor in making my decision about a story.

READABILITY: This covers how the story flows and how the different parts join together. I will also include details of any typos or formatting issues.

ARTWORK: I'll briefly talk about the cover if I need to and any other artwork involved.


I will also identify the target audience and I will warn you if there is any adult content and anything else the reader needs to know. After that, I'll do a quick pros and cons section of each book and then a final mark. Much like my Read2Review reviews, I'll give a mark out of five and say for whom I think this book is recommended.


An example of how my reviews will look is found HERE.


Please note that all reviews will be purely be based on my own personal opinion and they will be as honest as possible. However, I will NOT post any reviews that are overwhelmingly negative. I myself am an author and know the level of hard work that goes into writing. That being said, I don’t believe in giving “empty praise” and will make my criticisms as valid and helpful as I can. If I feel that I cannot do a review without it being negative, I will contact you to advise you of this.



Time frame


Due to the fact that last time I got myself into a HUGE backlog of books last time, this time round I will be doing something slightly different, so as not to get myself into too much of a backlog. Therefore I will now be reading ONE book a month - and each review will be done at the end of the month. This way I can fully concentrate on the novel and give it the review it deserves. My calendar will start from September this year (2013) up until August 2014.


If selected for a book review, please select a month that you would like the review to be featured. I will aim to get reviews done in the last week of each month. Please note that these spots are based on a first come, first served basis and space can change. If more than one author wants a certain spot, I will have the final say as to who goes where. Please note that I am NOT accepting any review submissions for September 2013 as I have other commitments to focus on, so submissions will be from October onwards.


September 2013: CLOSED

October 2013: CLOSED

November 2013: CLOSED

December 2013: CLOSED

January 2014: CLOSED

February 2014: CLOSED

March 2014: CLOSED

April 2014: CLOSED

May 2014: CLOSED

June 2014: CLOSED

July 2014: CLOSED

August 2014: CLOSED


Should you require a review by a certain date, please let me know. I will try and accommodate where possible, but this cannot always be guaranteed.



What I WILL review


I will review Fiction novels (I will also accept short stories and novellas) of ANY kind, this means I will review Children’s/Young Adult/Adult/Etc. My main love is Science Fiction and Fantasy, however, I have also reviewed Romance novels in the past and I am more open to them than most male readers. I do not wish to limit myself to any particular genre so please contact me to discuss your book and I will usually accept it (with the exceptions mentioned below).


I also will accept poetry, graphic novels, comics and Manga of any style – in fact I openly encourage creators (artists/writers) of those to send them forward to me and I will be happy to take a look. For any artists out there who wish me to critique their work, I am also happy to do that as well.



What I will NOT review


I won’t review any novel that contains rape, bestiality, torture, murder, scat or child abuse if it is portrayed as a sexual fetish. I refuse to promote anything above that tries to pass itself off in that way. So that means no Hentai or anything resembling Hentai. That doesn’t mean I don’t accept erotic fiction – but if your work does include any of the above, please let me know in your submission.


I cannot accept any excessively erotic or pornographic artwork of any kind. Please bear in mind I have to be careful of the level of content I can post on my blog and this is the kind of stuff I don’t think I can get away with. If your novel or art contains anything like that then please let me know in advance.


Also, I won’t review fan-fiction of any kind. That’s not to say that I have anything against it, I just don’t feel right reviewing something that uses other peoples work. Unless of course it is a semi-canon source that is meant to be part of the same continuity. If your work falls into this, please let me know beforehand.


Finally, I will not accept Non-fiction books as I do not think I can give them a fair review. I also won't review autobiographies as I (personally) don't find them very interesting to read unless it's about a person I genuinely care about or have an interest in.



How much will I charge for reviews


I will NEVER charge any author/artist for a review of their work. This also means that I will NOT accept bribes of any kinds, so don’t even think about doing that – it will not make me review your book any quicker. I will review the books in the order that I get them, so please be patient.



And now – the important thing... How to submit to me for a review


I will accept ONE title per author. If your book is part of a series, please send me the first part of the series. If you have more than one book currently out, please send me the one that you most want reviewed. If I like what I read, I will be happy to read more of your work.


Please send all review requests to with the subject heading “Review Request” and then the title of your book. All you need to do for this first email is a little synopsis of your book, telling me about the story, characters, genre, etc. You don’t need to go into too much detail, just a few paragraphs is fine. By all means include a link to your website or blog for me to check you out if you so wish.


DO NOT send me any review requests via my Facebook or Twitter - I do not read DM's on Twitter and my FB is purely to promoting my own stuff (ie, my writing and my blog) and other stuff. Any review requests sent this way may be ignored. Therefore send me an email.


If I like what I hear, I will ask for a copy of the book. DO NOT send me a copy of the book on your first email. I need to make sure that I can give a full and honest review of the book first, based on the synopsis you give me, so don’t send it until I tell you that I am ready to accept it. By all mean, send me any promotional material and a book cover – just don’t send me the book straight away until I ask for it.


I will ONLY contact authors who's book I have an interest in, so if I do not contact you - it's nothing personal, I just don't feel I can give you a proper review of your work.


For comic and graphic novels, it’s ok to send me some sample artwork if you so wish. I will probably only ask for one issue in the case of a long running series. If it’s a one off, the full issue will be fine.


When I ask for the book, it is probably easiest to send them in PDF or Mobi files. However, if you only have hard copies of the book, I will accept them as well – however please see the disclaimer below.





Please note that the above information is subject to change without prior notice.


I reserve the right to not review a book based on the above and I reserve the right to cancel a review at any given time. I will always give a reason for doing so in this instance.


By the same token, you have the right to ask me to cancel a review if you so request prior to its posting.


Should you wish to send me a paperback copy, you are responsible for your own postage and packaging. I will not return any paperbacks sent to me.


As previously stated, I will only contact those who's book I want to review. If I do not reply, within 7 working days, it means that I have chosen not to review your work this time.


By sending me a copy of your book, you acknowledge that I can use any material provided (ie, cover art) for review purposes. You will retain full copyright to the book and its contents. You also agree that any comments I make on your work will be based on my own opinion.



Guest posts/blog tours


For those wishing to do a guest post or wish to have me as part of their blog tour, or to include any of my works on their blog, please email me at the address above to discuss.



Reviews of my books


If you wish to express an interest in reviewing any of my books - please contact me at the above email to discuss.



So there you are, hopefully the above is ok for you and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.





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Right Side, Left Side - A Guest Post By Benjamin X Wretlind

Today I'm joined by Benjamin X. Wretlind, author of the excellently disturbing Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl With Scissors (click on the picture below to see my review of it), with a very interesting guest post on the subject of both sides of our brains. Hopefully it will give you all food for thought! Enjoy!

Right Side, Left Side (or Multitasking the Dinner Plate)

By Benjamin X. Wretlind


There have been, at different times in my life, three or four or even five different novel ideas competing for attention. In March 2006, I tried to analyze how to deal with this mess. The following is a post I made on my original blog (with some tense changes here and there). I bring it up now simply because I find it ironic to read just one day after finishing Phillip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.



Multitasking the Dinner Plate


Allow me to present you with this poor analogy. Pretend you’re sitting at the dinner table with prime rib in front of you. You’re offered a creme brulée and bottle of Dom Perignon. While the meat is good, you’re tempted to let the other two objects make love with your taste buds just as much. Yes, they compliment each other as a whole, but each one has a unique flavor that demands attention, not haphazard scarfing or slurping.


As a child, I ate my food in a specified order (usually clockwise). Peas never made contact with rice, steak sauce didn’t touch mashed potatoes and the last thing on my plate was the flavor I wanted to keep in my mouth the longest. As I grew older, I abandoned this approach and learned to combine the flavors of different foods on my plate by multitasking.


However, I still have my priorities: the main course is generally consumed in multiple mastication sessions, while complimentary dishes are taken care of in one or two. This is how I eat, and it is balanced.


However, my writing life has bounced between two extremes: multitasking to the point of never completing anything, and working on one thing only for months at a time. The former extreme is just plain bad for business and the latter results in a loss of focus. When a bunch of novel ideas compete with each other in my head, I wonder if my approach should not lean more toward a balanced combination of multitasking with more emphasis placed on the project I feel the most connected to at the time. After all, it’s all about focus.



Fixing the Focus Issue


There are exercises to combat loss of focus, but most of them are related to some aspect of project management in the business world. They are not easily transferred to the uninhibited creative mind; in other words, the right side of the brain cannot form strategies (i.e. the path to completion of a “real” project), or break down a project into component tasks. Our right side is often exercised in areas that are contrary to compartmentalizing our creative efforts. It does, however, explore possibilities. Within these possibilities, strategies can be analyzed, and eventually goals can be achieved.


If we subscribe to the notion that novels are projects, and writing them is a career path, then managing the creation of these novels should be no more difficult than managing a software development project or a large defense contract. I’m not saying we apply Critical Path Analyses or Gantt Charts to them, but there are tools that might effectively guide projects to completion without losing focus. To do this, though, we have to assign “novel writing” to the left side (or logical portion) of the brain and infuse creativity into what can now be called a managed project.


I’ll back up for a moment. As some of you know, I used to be a meteorologist and often used a managed process and creativity to analyze the state of the atmosphere at a given time to forecast what the state will be in hours, days or weeks. I was also, for about three years, a project manager and interface designer of prototype climatological Internet applications for the Department of Defense. Software developers who might be reading this are usually guided by requirements documents and shudder at the idea of “creativity.” Damn you for thinking outside the box, and such. As a meteorologist who developed software, though, I had a unique point of view while managing these projects at work: I could insert creativity into the regimented software development process without fear of reprisal. Things got done, and there was much rejoicing in the land.


If I were to turn that around, though, and attempt to apply a managed process to what I feel should be a strict creative expression, I would ultimately lose focus and feel my creativity is being stunted by the logical progression of the requirements document. Timelines would be missed, and although a project might see fruition, it would not do so in an ordered fashion. The end result would be a pretty-looking piece of crap.


So if the first approach to managing projects at work was successful, I wondered: why can’t I apply this principle to writing novels? Why can’t I insert creativity into a managed task?


The answer is: I already do it, and so do you. Yes, the right side of our brain cannot accept guidelines; that’s the hemisphere that, when presented with the order “Stay within the lines,” will translate it into “What would my picture look like if I melted this burnt sienna crayon on the paper and used a tongue depressor to push it around?” And yet, we use our left side to force our creative expressions into linear patterns, to use words, to see order (exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, denouement), and to understand grammatical rules that we adhere to religiously. Combining the two hemispheres allows us to ultimately create something that is accessible to others.
Writing is a managed process infused with creativity.



The Man With Two Brains


When a writer loses focus on a project, there must be a breakdown in one or more of the functions of the brain required to create. I argue that the creativity is not lost here. It is, instead, writhing around in pain in the right hemisphere, unable to cross the corpus collosum–the bundle of nerves that connect the two sides of the brain–and guide the logical process of the left hemisphere. A writer’s focus becomes blurry at this point. He or she attempts to force creativity through the left side or tries to push some managed process through the right. The writer wants to believe that his or her work is a strict creative expression. Headaches ensue and projects suffer.
Roger Sperry, a Nobel Prize winner, conducted a study regarding the vast differences in the way the two hemispheres of the brain react to the world around a person. These “split brain” experiments laid out, in so many terms, what each hemisphere is capable of doing. More importantly, he characterized the need for synchronicity between the two hemispheres in the creative process:


Communication between the two hemispheres of the brain is essential if our creative efforts are to be well integrated in many dimensions . . . Indeed, when the halves of the brain exchange their disparate experiences, pool their viewpoints and approaches, the resulting synthesis brings . . . a whole symphony of talents. (Sperry, R. W. (1975) Left-brain, right-brain. Saturday Review. Aug. 9, pp. 30-33)


With all that said, I offer myself this analysis: in order to complete a project, we must break it down into its component parts, assign a logical progression of plot, and finally allow our creativity to guide the words that come from our left hemisphere. If we do this–assign novel writing to the logical side of the brain and treat it as a project to be managed like any other project and broken down into manageable tasks–we can allow the creative brain to explore deeper, imagine more, dream larger. The stronger the right hemisphere becomes, the more clout it has with the left hemisphere.


In short, we must have two brains, and they must like each other.




Facebook Author Page:
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Barnes and Noble:


Thanks to Benjamin for the extremely interesting guest post, which I hope was equally as helpful to you guys. More guest posts to come in the future!


AUTHORS: Want to contribute a guest post? I am always welcome to any author who wants to post on my blog. Please contact me at to discuss.


Until next time.




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Author Interviews - De Kenyon

Up a day later than usually, but none the less I have today the last in my series of Author Interviews (for the time being) of authors whose books I have reviewed on Read2 Review. Today I have with me the wonderful De Kenyon.

Of all the interview's I've done, her's is by far the most entertaining and hirlarious. I love her sense of humour! De Kenyon is the author of the brilliant Tales Told Under Covers - a selection of Children's Horror stories. Featuring everything from zombies to wizards to giant sushi monsters (yes you heard that correctly), this book is a must read if you're looking for entertaining horror that's perfect for children. In fact I actually compared De Kenyon to H.P Lovecraft in some way, in the sense that her stories are so wild and imagitive it's hard not to be swept away by them!

Check out my review for the book HERE . In the meantime, let's see how De Kenyon decided to answer my questions. Enjoy!


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
No.  I refuse.  I refuse to tell you about my love of comic books, learning karate with my daughter, or living in Colorado with an awesome playhouse in the back yard.  You'll just have to live with your despair, which, I see, is making you cry  disconsolately.

2. Outside of writing, what would you say your favourite hobbies are?
Reading books.  I read a lot of books (and comics).  Cooking weird food that I don't know how to cook, just because I want to see how many ways I can mess it up.  Well, I suppose I also want to eat it, but mostly I want to see how far I can mess with things before I can't eat it anymore.  Playing online games with my family.  We usually end up on the bad guys' side.  They're just misunderstood, you know.

3. What made you want to get into writing?
I used to make up stories for people when they came to visit us. We lived on a farm, and my mom stayed home all day, so one or two of our cousins would stay with us every year and hang out and do chores and things.  And we'd play pretend--oh, for a very long time, probably until I was in sixth grade or so--and go on adventures and things.  I'd set up whatever the beginning was, and then we'd all play until everyone got mad at each other.  I got bored in school, and one of the teachers decided that I needed to be a writer, because that's what I'd do in class after I'd done all the homework: make up stuff.  I was sent to writer camp for a week...only I had to write a story before they'd let me in.  Does that make sense, I ask you?  First you teach me to write, and then I write the story.  But no.

4. Who would you say are your favourite authors and who inspires your writing the most?
I'm a huge Alice's Adventures in Wonderland fan, to the point where I know that the town where the author spent some of his vacations had a bunch of white rabbits running all over the parks.  LOTS of them, for some reason.  I find that Alice always inspires me.  I also love Terry Pratchett, Steven Brust, Spider Robinson, Robert Heinlein, Eoin Colfer, Carol Berg, Jonathan Stroud, Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones...oh, about a bajillion other authors, too.

5. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us a little about Tales Told Under The Covers?
It's a collection of short stories about a) defeating bullies, 2) getting in trouble, and d) a lot of other things.  I used to read a lot of horror stories as a kid, like the books with 101 spooky stories in them and stuff.  So all the stories are a little creepy in one way or another, and I can't think of any of the stories that doesn't have a fight in it.  But all of the stories have mostly happy endings.  Because I'm terrible at sad endings, really.

6. How did you get the ideas for the stories in the book?
I asked kids for ideas and then made them as weird as possible.  Like for "A Picture is Worth 1000 Chomps," I asked for an idea, any idea, and the girl told me she wanted a story about evil things coming out of mirrors or picture frames.  I just changed it to cameras and laptops, because nobody expects your tech stuff to be more or less haunted.

7. Do you prefer writing short stories over full length novels?
I like both, but short stories are harder for me.  The hardest part is coming up with the ideas for me, so short stories mean a lot of work for not all that much writing.

8. Which of the stories is your favourite?
It depends on my mood.  Usually I like "The Last Voyage of the Mermaid" the best, because my daughter, when she was younger, was always asking me what death was like, and I never knew what to say to her.  But when we go out for sushi, it's "Attack of the 50-Foot Sushi Monster," because that's where we came up with the idea.  Each of the stories has its own special moments where I'm like, "Oh, story.  I love you so."

9. Even though it’s aimed at children, do you worry that some of the content may be a bit too dark for them in places?
Yes and no.  Yes, because I know some kids are scared out of their wits by scary stories.  No, because the book kind of says, "Hey, there are some scary stories in here."  I think adults don't give kids credit for their bravery.  They see you be scared about one thing, like spiders, and think, "This kid's a chicken" for the rest of their childhoods.  And kids have to deal with scary things all the time--like divorce, parents who have job/money/drug or alcohol problems, not knowing whether you'll ever see your friends next school year, bullies, etc.  Why not talk about that?

10. I have to ask this – the story about the Sushi monster is one of the strangest, yet really entertaining stories I’ve read. Where did the inspiration for that one come from?
My daughter.  We were eating sushi, as we do, and sitting at the counter watching the chefs chop things up.  One of her favorite things to eat was octopus for a while; now it's two different kinds of fish eggs.  I told her I needed an idea for my next story.  When the rolls came out, we were messing around, and she kind of built a sushi figure from my roll.  "What if this was a sushi man and he ate everyone?"  I think that's how she put it.  I sometimes have to tone down her ideas a little; they're already pretty far out there.

11. Are there any current horror trends that get on your nerves?
The women who scream and get chopped to bits.  Really?  Really?  If I'm ever in a horror movie, I'm going for a cleaver.  Or a nice, heavy set of keys.  Even a pen.  I may die, but I'm taking at least a few bad guys with me.  Especially if there are kids to defend.  Hooh boy.  I'd just put down the chainsaw and run, if I were the bad guy.  Don't mess with ladies who are defending little kids.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read.  If you want to write, you should be addicted to reading the stuff you want to write.  Don't watch mostly TV if you want to write books, for example.  And write. A lot.  Not just when you feel like it.  All the time.  Every day.  It doesn't matter if it's terrible; if you keep writing, it'll get better.  It just will, believe it or not.  But write a lot.


I blog at and tweet at @writerde .  You can get my book in print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or as an ebooks at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords, and lots of other online bookstores.


Thanks again to De for the interview - I hope you all found it as entertaining as I did. More author interviews coming very soon!

Normal service should resume for blogging as from tomorrow! Until then, keep reading!




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Author Interview - Benjamin X Wretlind

Today I'm interviewing the author of Castles: A Ficitonal Memoir of a Girl With Scissors, Benjamin X Wretlind. Castles was a book that I reviewed earlier in the year and found it a very disturbing - but at the same time well written novel. Told from the perspective of the central character, it is a horrific coming of age story that leaves a lasting impression on the reader and I highly recommend if for any fans of horror.

See my full review of the book HERE

Interviewing Benjamin was an interesting experience, as you'll see below, but I say that in a good way. He's a highly intelligent lad with a lot of good insights into writing and how to write. Without further ado, for your reading pleasue, I present to you, Mr Benjamin X Wretlind.


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I guess the best answer to “who am I” has always been “eclectic.”  However, if I had to elaborate I would say: I’ve lived all over this country and was raised under the hand of a minister who teaches dead Biblical languages.  This probably has nothing to do with who I’ve become, but I’m sure there’s a story in there someplace.  In my life, I have been—at different times, of course—a fry cook, a range boy, a greens maintenance technician, a reservations agent, a room service attendant, an editor, a banquet server, a meteorologist, an instructor, a quality control demon, a program manager for Internet applications and a curriculum developer.  I’m currently working as a simulation engineer for a chemical weapons destruction plant.  I also like llamas.

2. Outside of writing, what would you say your favourite hobbies are?

I read a lot, but my biggest joy lately has been painting things I see in my head with acrylic.  That mostly involves surreal landscapes, but I hope to improve enough this year to start painting characters and creatures.  I also love photography, but I can’t say the camera loves me.

3. What made you want to get into writing?

I’ve written most of my life. In fact, there’s a story buried somewhere in my files I wrote in 2nd grade that my mom saved for me.  The story is naturally childish, but when I read it a few years ago I was convinced it was one of the many stepping stones I used to get to where I am.  I always wanted to write and always did.  I wrote for school and I wrote for me.  I wrote because it’s a major part of who I am.  For a real answer to what makes me think I’m a writer, there’s an entry on my blog I wrote in 2006 that covers the two most pronounced events that pushed me in the direction I’m headed.

4. Who would you say are your favourite authors and who inspires your writing the most?

My favourite current authors lately are Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Their novels, especially those revolving around FBI detective Aloysius Pendergast, always keep me entertained.  I’m also fond of Michael Ende, Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker.  Both Ende and Robert Holdstock were probably the most influential writers in my life.

5. Without giving away any spoilers, can you tell us a little about Castles?

Castles is a view into the mind of a woman who, throughout her life, is abused in more ways than one.  It's an emotional rollercoaster, told through the main character's voice, about what she sees, what she knows, and what she's been told.  There is violence and there is love, and there is violent love.  I like to think of Castles as a question: is madness really mad and is reality really real?

6. Of the books I’ve reviewed so far, I’d say that this one is probably the darkest. Do you tend to gravitate towards the darker side of fiction? 

I do, but not because I force myself in that direction.  At one point in my career, I thought I had to pick a genre and stick with it.  That’s when the original idea for Castles came about.  However, the latest project I’m working on includes elements of the paranormal (ghosts and witches), romance, family-oriented drama and a few thrills.  A novel I’m currently rewriting might be considered magical realism.  The next novel I’ve been outlining is actually a political thriller.  None of this is really dark, although my characters tend to have a depressing outlook on life, that’s for sure.

7. How would you describe the contents of the book?

If I had to use one word, I would say "disturbing."  If I could use another word, I would add "uncomfortable."

8. Do you think that the book, being written in a POV sense, gives it an edge over most other horror books?

Most certainly.  I think the style is what sets it apart from everything else out there.  Castles was told in the voice of the main character, Maggie, and it's that voice that really allows the reader to question madness.  I've told a few people that Castles wasn't written by me; it was dictated to me by a voice in my head.  That voice, Maggie, wouldn't shut up for seven years--the length of time it took to write to novel.

9. What gave you the idea for the story? Is it based on anything? 

The original short story was written in 2003 when I was part of a writing group.  The subject was "weather" and, as a meteorologist at the time, I thought I had an edge.  I picked dust storms and desert weather as the backdrop of the story because I grew up in Phoenix and love the weather during the monsoon season.  However, when I got my comments back from the group, there was one which stuck in my head: "what you've written is the outline of a great novel."  It took a few months for me to really start working on Castles, and then there was a long break (several years, actually), when Maggie wouldn't talk to me.  It was almost as if she felt I wasn't ready to hear her story.  When she did speak to me, I frantically wrote it all down and felt just as sick as most of my readers. I also felt I had to let the story loose, to let others hear what Maggie had to say.

10. If your book was made into a film, who would you get to star in it and why? 

I don't know.  Maggie has a slight Southern accent, but I don't know what she looks like.  She's in her early 20's, too, so if I had to pick someone, it would probably be Jennifer Lawrence, who starred in Winter's Bone.

11. What are your main ambitions for this book?

Maggie has something to say, and  I want the world to listen to her. In other words, I would really like people to give the book a chance.  There are several reviewers who have said they are very glad to have left their comfortable genre and tried something they normally wouldn't read.  I also would like the book to generate conversation, as it did when I wrote the original short story.  That conversation centered around women as victims and why some women remain victims.  It was strange to feel that something I'd written sparked a debate, and I'd like the full novel to do the same thing.

12. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

There is so much advice out there for aspiring authors, from "don't give up" to "learn the craft."  What I would say is this: Every thing and every one has a story; write it down and see what happens.


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A big thanks to Benjamin X Wretlind for taking time out from his busy schedule to speak to me. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and will be checking out his book sometime soon.

Next week, we will have the talented De Kenyon, talking about her short story anthology Tales Told Under Covers.

Until next time...



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