About jcstockli

Literary Doppelganger - J.C. Stockli is inspired by music, the past, and possibilities. She lives along the Massachusetts coast with her husband and two children. You'll likely find them dancing around the house, or out on the water soaking in the sun and breathing in the sea salt air.

She’s Baaaaack – Sharon Kay Is Mixing Things Up on Torth

 

First and foremost, a big old “thank you” and “welcome back” to Sharon Kay! This review is far overdue, but you know what… 2016 can go back from whence it came. (and that’s putting it nicely)

I’ve got fellow FF&P member and award-winning author, Sharon Kay, back to discuss her latest novel, ASSASSIN’S KISS. Come on in, settle down, and let’s talk about hot demons and witches…

Sharon Kay writes HOT fiction and can never get enough reading time. She loves paranormal romance, with romantic suspense following close on its heels.  She loves winter and black coffee, and is endlessly inspired to write kick-ass heroines and the men strong enough to capture their hearts. Sharon lives in the Chicago area with her husband and son, and didn’t expect to write one book, let alone a series.  But WICKED WIND and the Solsti series formed in her head one weekend and refused to stay quiet until she put pen to paper.  Her characters tend to keep her up at night, as they banter, fall in love, and slay endless varieties of power-hungry demons. Don’t I know how pestering these characters can be! LOL

Sign up for Sharon’s newsletter to keep up with her demons, see early cover reveals and be entered in periodic giveaways.
www.sharonkaynovels.com
www.facebook.com/sharonkaynovels
Twitter: @sharonkaynovels
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/sharonkaynovels
Tsu.co/sharonkaynovels
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7114860.Sharon_Kay
Onto the review…

I WAS PROVIDED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FOR AN HONEST REVIEW:

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ASSASSIN’S KISS is the follow up to TAINTED KISS and part of Kay’s WATCHER’S KISS series. We’re picking up right where Kay left one of our favorite demons from TAINTED KISS, and we’re in a new area of Torth, a demonic realm very closely resembling our Modern-day Earth. Following a seemingly botched mission, Scorpio has been teleported into an ancient land full of witchcraft, but he’s not really in unfamiliar territory. Having encountered witches in his own time, we learn that Fate is inescapable, and so does Scorpio. When he runs into Tessa, chemistry is instant. Let me say, Kay has a way with depicting a hot sex scene. 😉

I said this during her first book… I’ll say it again…With some adrenaline-boosting action scenes and plots that carry through the series, anyone who likes stories that get the blood pumping definitely wants to check out Sharon Kay’s work!

Let’s check back in with Kay…

  1. This book is part of a series… how do you build out your characters and their respective stories?

    I usually get the rough idea for a character’s story early on—like when I’m writing a different book—and then I try to include that character in the current story, in a way that will make him or her memorable to readers. For example, in Tainted Kiss (Watcher’s Kiss #1) I realized Scorpio was going to end up missing after a botched op, and his conflict and story would stem from there—so I added some points of view from him, to give readers a hint of what happens next with him.

    (JC: Oh, you’re so more organized than me. LOL)

  1. Just like with you last book, I’m so intrigued by the way you blend modern amenities here on Earth with other realms. Where this book is so heavy on witchcraft, where did you find the line (no pun intended) between commonplace technologies and mythical powers?

    Great question!! This is an issue I had to solve when I first created my supernatural realm of Torth. How could my characters have mobile phones and appliances? I did NOT want a bunch of cell phone towers or power lines dotting the landscape! So I used ley lines, which may or may not really exist—the matter seems to be up for debate—to magically power anything that would require electricity or batteries on Earth.

  1. If you could have dinner with any of your characters (in this book), who would they be?

    Hmm, this is tough, but I will say Brenin. I need more time with him to plan his book, which will be coming soon. Plus…he looks like Thor. Who wouldn’t want to have dinner with him?

    (JC: Well, I want to have dinner with Thor!)

  1. What was the last book you read for funnsies?

    It has been TOO long since I read a book just for fun! The last one was probably Nalini Singh’s latest Guild Hunter book, Archangel’s Enigma (awesome series)!

    (JC: Gonna have to check that series out. Thanks!)

  1. What would be your favorite part about living in your fantasy realm vs. Earth?

    I would SO love to travel with a porter. Imagine standing in one place, then some misty magic swirls around you, and you’re at your destination in a minute. No matter how far it is (and no queasiness)!

    (JC: It would be uber cool)

  2. In a beautiful perfect world… who is your dream cast for this book, given today’s current pool of Hollywood celebrities?

    Woo-hoo—for once, I have clear celebrity muses for my lead characters (usually this is impossible)! Olivia Wilde is Tessa and model Josh Saari is Scorpio. And did I mention that Brenin looks like Chris Hemsworth?

    (JC: Oh.. Oh! I had to Google Josh Saari… NOT sorry I did :O )

And just for fun…

  1. Live on a desert island alone? OR Live on a desert island with your worst enemy?

    ALONE. I don’t need or want to deal with crummy people.

  1. Be an alien? OR Be a demon?

    Haha – DEMON! Well, demoness. Yup, being a Lash demoness would be a blast!

  1. Win a brand new car? OR Win enough $$ to pay off your mortgage?

    Mortgage!

Here’s a few questions for Tessa:

  1. What is your fondest memory of your home?

    Inga’s French toast! *grins* Hers is the best. No doubt. But let me think…okay, here’s a memory that I don’t talk about much but really made me feel like I had a purpose in the coven. When I was a teenager and still honing my talent, the Elders had me try to enhance weapons specifically for an individual. It started as an idea, because no one knew if it was possible. But by working with my affinity, spells, and drops of the blade owner’s blood, I did it. And the first time our guards returned from a fight where they used my enhanced weaponry and had more success, I was thrilled.

    Scorpio: That’s great. Baby. But maybe explain what you mean by “enhanced.”

    Tessa: Oh, right. I have an affinity to metal. So with a spell, I can work on a weapon belonging to a specific person, and make it respond better to them. Their strikes will be faster and more accurate in a fight. But only if they’re using it—it someone else picks it up, it will function just like a regular blade.

  1. Did you ever dream of life outside your people?

    Never. I always thought the coven would be my entire life. And that was fine with me.

  1. If seers would have told you of your fate, would you have attempted to do anything differently to change or resist it in some way?

    I hate to say this, but if I’m honest…then yes. If I had been told I’d become the mate of a mercenary, I would have done everything in my power to prevent it from happening. *gives Scorpio a sheepish grin* Sorry, baby. You know I love you.

And now a few for Scorpio:

  1. Let’s talk about immortality and longevity… Do you see any concerns between species? As far as mating?

    *returns Tessa’s glance with a heated stare* Let’s just say, thank fu— I mean, thank the gods that as long as both partners are supernatural, even if they’re not the same species, their life spans will sync up. But if you’re talking grudges and power struggles, that crap will continue as long as the individuals are living.

  1. What is more important, love or loyalty?

    Tough call. On Watcher teams, loyalty is everything. We depend on each other, we have each other’s back. But now, being mated… *pulls Tessa onto his lap* The way I feel about my little witch here dominates everything I do.

    Tessa: *runs a hand over his buzzed hair*  You’re so romantic

    Scorpio: *scowls* Don’t go telling everyone.

    Tessa: *winks at JC* Okay, but you know this is going on her blog…

  1. You knew your fate, and yet you refused to believe it. Did you at any point in time entertain the idea? If yes/no, then why?

    I never believed that crazy curse would come true. Those things are so variable—they depend on how magically strong the spell caster is. Plus, who knew when it would happen? We can live for centuries. I wasn’t about to spend time walking around looking for a female who would hate me.

    Tessa: I’m so glad you just fell onto my land.

    Scorpio: You weren’t at fist.

    Tessa: You convinced me. *leans in for a kiss*

Thank you so much to JC for inviting me and my characters to stop by and chat!! And remember, Assassin’s Kiss is Book 2 in the series but can be read as a stand alone novel.

(JC: Thanks so much Sharon, and crew, for swinging by. *nods* a pleasure, as always!)

 

This woman doesn’t quit!

December 29th is right around the corner!!! COMING SOON

And When You're There...

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And nor should she. JC Stockli rocked my world with the first two installments of the Addictions of the Eternal series as I’m certain you’ve seen in one of my previous posts (hint hint-go look).

Meet Dr. Skylar Santangelo, who is about to raise hell in Adelaide Glen as he performs a study/experiment on the town’s own Neve Cleary, a beautiful young woman responsible for nearly 200 brutal murders and ruled guilty of witchcraft.

Sexy ( Whoo-ey is it sexy!) and sweet and a bit scary, Healing the Witch of Adelaide Glen satisfied my horror tooth, a nearly insatiable craving I harbor.

I had the opportunity to read this book last weekend, and chose to do so out loud to my husband. We were mesmerized, and painstakingly set it down halfway through to finish the next night. We went to bed talking about it, hypothesizing what could possibly be coming…

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2015 Virtual FantasyCon – Dark Tuesday

What an amazing day at the 1st annual Virtual FantasyCon.  This event runs all week long, so keep checking back to discover new talent!
2015 Virtual FantasyCon

As for me, my booth has closed, but what a day! I’ve just revealed the cover to my upcoming release, HEALING THE WITCH OF ADELAIDE GLEN. So excited!!!

Synopsis:

An unprecedented paranormal study reveals much more than standard witchcraft.
 
Dr. Skylar Santangelo does not look or operate like the typical PhD. Bargaining his way out of the judicial system, he’s joined law enforcement to prosecute any and all paranormal activity. From petty witchcraft and misdemeanor conjuring, demons and living corpses, he’s seen it all. Whether due to his own guilty conscience or a darker intent, Skylar has formulated a thesis and intends to execute an extraordinary investigation into the craft. He plans to lock himself in isolation with a witch, hoping to learn what drove her to madness. Neve Cleary is the Witch of Adelaide Glen and faces the death penalty unless Skylar can prove that she is guilty by reason of possession.
#darkfantasy #urbanfantasy #PNR
 
HTWOAG cover 11HTWOAG cover 11 (paperback)
Remember to keep it dark, and keep it sexy. Let the rest work itself out 😉 Good night!!

Sign Me Up For The Next Desecration!

Happy Freaking Friday All!

Let me start off by saying that I have been waiting for this review for well over a month, ever since these gorgeous teasers starting gracing my Facebook stream with their presence. Today’s review is courtesy of the DESECRATING SOLOMON – A Forbidden Romantic Thriller blog tour with author, Lucian Bane.

I, myself, had not read Mr. Bane’s work before, but that doesn’t mean much. He’s no stranger to publishing as a BESTELLING Erotic Romance Author with a generous following of devout readers obsessed with his scintillating fiction. Mr. Bane is a self-proclaimed “ineffable Dom” (not gonna lie, I blush every time I consider what that means). He is also a husband and Christian who loves writing tales where men and women honor, cherish, and protect those they love. Complicated love, difficult love, hard earned love, REAL love. Forever love, is what he calls it. That is what he believes the world wants and needs… and Hells Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. Being that I consider my work to be along the lines of romantic horror, well, you know I was HOOKED when I started looking into this guy!

Contact Links:
lucianbane.com
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Amazon

Purchase Links:
DESECRATING SOLOMON on Amazon

Onto the review…

I WAS OFFERED A COPY OF THIS BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW:

DS COVER

First and foremost, let’s give a nod to this sexy cover.  Are you curious to take a peek inside???

DESECRATING SOLOMON is the first in a series that outlines the trials of Solomon Gorge, a man’s man in a world of secrets and sin. I don’t think there’s a woman reading this book that doesn’t fall for Solomon in some way. He’s described as “beautiful,” and I think the word is simple, elegant, and offers a clear picture of him. (if not, go check out Bane’s Facebook page. I, ummm… yeah… good pics) Solomon finds himself called back to his home town as a caretaker, but before long encounters Chaos, and then all hell breaks loose. You can’t help but dread turning each damn page, but you do anyway because you need to know if Solomon will be all right. You’re going to have read the book yourself to find out… I’ll never tell. 😉

Bane has set the stage for a show of horrors with this series that will both titillate and strike fear. The deeper you get into this story, the thicker the conflict, the darker the secrets. Bane hits on some very controversial topics, questions religious zealotry, abuse, and warped visions of conventional society. Needless to say, this man hits all the points for a compelling read: we’ve got drama, mystery, controversy, sex, and fear… Come on! Does it get any better?

I’ve got a right mind to reach out to Mr. Bane and ask him why? WHY?!?!? he would want to subject Solomon to this, knowing how good he is,but then that’s why we’re going to read the next book, right?

Check out some of these sexy teasers below, in addition to the synopsis and an excerpt:
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Synopsis

*** WARNING***

This book contains elements that may be disturbing and offensive. Please read with caution if you are triggered by events depicting violence and various forms of abuse.

On the seventh day of the seventh year… she desecrates.

Evil keeps a formidable schedule in Weston, West Virginia. Every seventh year, spirits from the town’s abandoned insane asylum seek worthy souls to command. But this seventh year, a desecration unlike any before is scheduled to ravage the town. And Solomon Gorge is lured to the harrowing event by the screams of Silence.
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Excerpt (ADULT CONTENT)

Silence focused her mind, bringing the erratic race of her pulse back into her control. Again. She was finally there. In The Hallower. She didn’t permit herself to look about but her peripheral said she’d been wrong about the most holy chamber. The torture devices and horrific tools she’d imagined hanging from the ceiling and walls did not exist.

Six years. She could hardly believe it had passed. Six years as ‘Silence’ ended today. No, six years of silent Contemplation ended today. But it really didn’t end. There would never be a time when she didn’t contemplate what came next. And what would her new name be? She never permitted herself the blasphemy of trying to guess. Today she’d know.

She carefully slid her gaze to the single entrance leading in. A small door made of thick slats of wood, held together by decorative black metal. The entire room was black—walls, ceilings, floor—all a rough stone painted a shiny looking onyx. And empty. Except for the single slab of granite in the shape of a hobbit table where she sat in her ceremonial graduation gown. It reminded her of a wedding dress.

Would Master be the one to usher in the final phase? Her stomach clenched in excitement and she immediately calmed the fleshly rebellion. She secretly hoped he did. She’d never met the Order’s Queen but once, and even then Silence was not permitted to look upon her as an unlearned runt.

Silence was used to Master’s ways, even though all feared him. The Dark Legend of their Order had trained her personally in the most Holy arts of pain and fear. Any fear borne outside of her Master’s care was destructive—that was one of her first lessons. There were good fears and bad. The bad fears were counterproductive to the Order, the good fears protected it. And Holy Fear with pain were gifts she received directly from her Master’s hands. And only her complete submission provided the divine covering required to fulfill her role as the Queen’s chosen Redemptrix.

Her calm insides jolted at the clang of the outer door leading to The Hallower. She faced straight ahead in deferring obedience, eyes cast to the floor. The Hallower door opened next and her peripheral said the entirely nude form was indeed Master. She let out a silent breath of relief.

He shut the door. One metal bolt clanked… then another… then another. Her heart hammered in her ears despite her steady breaths. It was always this way. No matter how practiced she was with Master’s training, her body knew. Muscle memory always braced for sure impact of some sort.

“Sweet Silence,” he said when he stood before her.

She stared at his hardened phallus, leaning to place the customary kiss on the butterfly tattoo wrapping its length. He stopped her with a pointer finger on her forehead.

“Not this time.”

Again Silence braced, mostly in confusion. She didn’t remember a single time when he didn’t require the Butterfly Kiss. She still remembered the day he had the vision to get the tattoo. The butterfly on the phallus symbolized that the lost would be ushered to heaven’s door by the seed of Master. During her Silent Contemplation she’d marveled over his interpretation, glad that he seemed to be getting some of her gifts.

She hoped he got all of them.

“You look beautiful in your graduation gown, Silence.” He stroked that same finger along her face, beginning with her temple. Her mind flashed with past disciplines he’d put her through. There was no part of her body he’d not trained in some way, for some sacred reason.

“Thank you, Master.”

She listened closely to his unsteady breaths, thick with the scent of fermented juice. “Are you nervous?”

“No, Master.”

The several grunts followed by strained groans told her he was having divine revelations. “Six years of Silence to usher in the final phase.” The withered words came with the glide of his finger over her lips, lingering long enough for her to know what he wanted. But when she parted her lips to suck, he drew it away, bringing another surprise. “Are you ready, little one?”

“Yes, Master.” The bad fears made her breaths shallow as she struggled with old flight or fight instincts.

Why wouldn’t he let her suck it? It was always the not knowing parts that got her, it always was. What he would do each time. He liked surprising her. It had become an unspoken duel between them—her to anticipate, and him to be unpredictable.

A gasp escaped her as she fumbled with the reigns on her control. Master was the one person she would always fear. She was supposed to fear him and only him. Fearing him was allowed, it was good, it was expected, demanded.

Think of the Hallowing Ceremony. Graduating to the next phase. Six years of silence is over.

Sudden terror hit her as she remembered. The dream. The vision for her new name. There had been none.

“So much fear, little one.” His voice croaked with disappointment as he tilted her face up with that same finger, now under her chin. “I am sure you’re eager for your new name.” He began a slow trek to the right of her, his finger gliding off as he went. Silence refused to allow her gaze to stray from straight before her. He’d had the dream? The vision?  “I too, am ready to hear it.”

He’d not. Terror raced back in and she swallowed at what this might mean. “There was none.” Her voice rang out with a strength despite the quiver in her gut.

His deep low chuckle behind her, tickled along her spine. “I know,” he whispered, his mouth suddenly at her ear. “Because I was given the dream this time.”

The beat of her heart became a wallop in her chest. Breathe, Silence.

“I’m sure you’re eager to know it?” he said lightly, slowly coming back around on her left now.

“I am excited to learn it.”

“And I’m excited to tell you.” He came to stand exactly before her again. Silence gripped her dress in tight fists as he placed his hands on either side of her head. He pulled her to his phallus, moving his hips side to side lightly. She waited for his direction, knowing not to engage until he communicated firmly. “I had a vision of your new name, little one. A vision of a hand writing on the wall next to my bed.” The tip of his penis stroked errantly over her cheek and lips, meandering and without purpose. “Do you know what it said, sweet angel?”

She shook her head only barely. “No, Master.”
DS BT Banner

Bravo, Mr. Bane. You’ve got yourself a new follower.

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Happy Friday!

Welcoming The Saving

Follow me and SJ Telgenhoff into the dark… 😉

And When You're There...

I’ve mentioned her before,  but today I want to share a little more in depth about a new favorite.

Ms. JC Stockli published her first novel, the first installment in the Addictions of the Eternal series, The Nothingness, in January of 2015. Since then it has become a 2015 IAN Book of the Year Awards Finalist, receiving many 5 star reviews.

Evie Westvale is an addict who has succumbed to the expectations and inevitability of the small, sinful fishing town, Fallhaven. With a few new arrivals in town, she is suddenly made aware that her life is not only her own, but an incarnation of a woman who met an untimely fate.

Struggling with addiction, lust, and blood Evie is faced with some though choices. I read this awesome book in about five hours because I couldn’t put it down. Are you ready to take the fall?

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Buy Links:
Amazon…

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Guest blog: Author Interview with J.C. Stockli

A deeper look into the ADDICTIONS OF THE ETERNAL series & a bit of visual stimulation.

L.D. ROSE

J.C. Stockli’s on my blog today talking about her latest release in the ADDICTIONS OF THE ETERNAL series! Full disclosure, I beta read these books and I thoroughly enjoyed them. My personal favorite characters are Rob and Evan (but that’s no surprise) and I just love the dark edge in this series. If you’re into dark paranormal fantasy, these books are definitely worth checking out. Read on to learn more about J.C.’s characters along with J.C. herself!  

Welcome, J.C.! Tell us about your latest release.

THE SAVING is the second installment of my ADDICTIONS OF THE ETERNAL series, following its predecessor, THE NOTHINGNESS. The series focuses on a female protagonist, Evie Westvale, a small town girl with real world issues. Throughout her journey we’ll ride her waves of addiction and recovery, all through a paranormal lens. Along the way, we meet characters you’ll hate to love (or love to…

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More than Meets the Eye with V.M. Sawh & his GR3T3L-1

Happy Friday!!!!

With Halloween right around the corner, I know all of us dark fantasy and paranormal nuts are aquiver with excitement. As such, today’s featured guest couldn’t have been timed better. We’ve got V.M. Sawh back by the blog to review and discuss his newest installment to his dark fairy tale series that both delights and disturbs. I just absolutely love this author and was uber eager for this release ever since he stopped by on first review of his Good Tales For Bad Dreams series (click here).

V.M. Sawh didn’t always know he was going to be a writer, but from the age of six he’s been putting pen to paper, creating serialized fiction. Hailing from the humid jungles of South America, Sawh crossed oceans to arrive on Canada’s snow-covered shores at age nine. He continued writing, creating serialized fiction year after year until he challenged himself to write a novel. His first trilogy of novels was completed by age sixteen, but despite encouragement from his Writer’s Craft professor, never published, as the publishing industry was as intimidating then as it is today. He continued writing poetry and fiction for the next decade and a half until a chance meeting with famed director Guillermo del Toro changed everything.

V.M. Sawh resides in a small town north of Toronto, with his beloved wife and two cats. He continues to spin fairy-tales that will haunt your dreams.

Credits:
i) As part of the launch for “Cinders”, he was featured in the January 2014 issue of the Toronto Sun newspaper.
ii) Announced winner of the Ontario Writer’s Conference Story Starters Contest
iii) “Cinders” and “Hontas” have made it to #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases List.
iv) “Anastasia” has over 14,000 reads on Wattpad, Toronto’s free story-sharing website. Has been a Featured Story and made Wattpad’s Hot List.
v) Completed his first trilogy of novels by age 16.
vi) Decided to publish “Cinders” after a face-to-face meeting with Guillermo Del Toro (Director of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim & Crimson Peak)
vii) Moderator and Contributor – Support Indie Authors website: http://www.supportindieauthors.com/

Social Media:
Website: vmsawh.com (for The Official)
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/VMsawh/ (for The Pretty Pictures) (JC: Love these BTW)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmsawh (for The Issue Discussions)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/VMSawh (for What Readers Think)
Twitter: @VMS_author (for the Random & the Immediate)

Buy Links:
Cinders on Amazon
Anastasia Free on Wattpad
Hontas on Amazon
GR3T3L-1 on Amazon – FREE ON OCT. 24

On to the review!!
[I was offered a free copy of this book for an honest review… but I had plans to buy it regardless because I’m a fan… still honest 😉 ]
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Let me start by once again giving up the kudos to Sawh for capturing the essence of his story on its cover. It’s just breathtaking, and I don’t think it could have been done better. It may even beat out my previous predilection for “Hontas” as my favorite of his.

GR3T3L-1 is a sci fi/futuristic twist on Hansel & Gretel. Damn, did Sawh deliver! His dark fantasy twists on classic fairy tales have titillated in the past, but this went way above and beyond what he’s delivered previously. As always, his writing is eloquent and lyrical. He’s got a great way of turning the reader on for the most horrid of reasons. (I dig that in a writer) 😉  What was so groundbreakingly different for GR3T3L-1 in comparison to his other novellas wasn’t so much the sci fi lens, but the moral code he calls into question. This was so much more fantasy AI.

H4NS3L-671 and GR3T3L-1 are marooned on a desert planet plagued with a volatile weather system and curious life source, The Salem. True to Sawh’s style, he manages to weave in elements of the classic tale, including breadcrumbs and gingerbread. His voice is technical and sophisticated, as would be expected from artificially intelligent life forms. The actors in this play are minimal, and yet he still packs a punch into every scene. (I love this, since I’m wrapping up a project that also focuses on a minimal cast) What makes this story so unique to the rest, is that clearly Sawh is poking at a political and/or humanitarian nerve here. There’s governmental and ethical issues called into consideration. The world he portrays stems from a dystopian premise. It’s clear he’s calling us, not as readers but as human beings, into action. War, loss, compassion… these are all addressed and wrapped up into this beautiful story.

Just go get it already!

I’ve already subjected Sawh to my standard litany of questioning, therefore, I’m trying to pick a little more at his brain… *poke poke jab jab*

  1. What was your inspiration for this radical interpretation of a fairytale classic?

I always knew my “Hansel & Gretel” tale was going to be science-fiction, as it was on my list of genres I wanted to explore. My first love growing up was science-fiction, so I had a deep well of ideas to draw on. What clinched it for me was reading “The Martian” by Andy Weir. As a Robinson Crusoe tale set on Mars, that book effectively explored the castaway theme to its logical extent in the newest, greatest unknown frontier. It got me thinking. Everyone can understand a survival story when a person is their viewpoint. I wanted to push that envelope. The Rosetta was on it’s way toward landing on the comet so I asked myself: “What if Rosetta wasn’t just a probe? What if Rosetta was an actual robot with their own thoughts and feelings and ideas? What would that robot think, landing in uncharted territory, completely cut off from any communication. Would what we as humankind programmed into it really hold up? What if it encountered something no human had ever prepared it for?”
That germ of a story got me going. The Voyager Space probe, launched in 1977 (way before I was born), held golden records (like LPs) inscribed with binary code containing a snapshot of our civilization at that time. It contained a message from President Jimmy Carter along with images of Earth, people from around the world, information about our DNA and greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages. From there I crafted the character of GR3T3L, a robot scientist with the cumulative knowledge of human history. But I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. You can’t have Silver Surfer roaming the cosmos with just thought bubbles. I needed a counterpoint. So then I thought: “What kind of culture or way of life would influence our tools of exploration? What is our cultural legacy and how would that shape the way we present our mechanical agents in a first-contact situation?”. For GR3T3L’s counterpoint, I turned to our modern agents of influence: pundits and people of political influence. I examined the composition, content and motivation behind their messages, particularly as pertained to dealing with the ‘Other’ cultures/peoples/viewpoints. From there, H4NS3L assembled itself very easily.
It all boiled down to the question I wanted to answer: “What would happen if an astronaut and a caveman were stranded on an unknown planet, and encountered an alien?”

  1. What character was your favorite to write, and why?

H4NS3L was both a joy and a challenge to write, as I had to continually find ways to allow the drone to express itself from within the rigid structure of its programming. I liked the idea of a combat drone (with its aerial warfare equivalent today) learning about its targets and starting to make up its own mind. We build all of these complicated systems to increase the lethality and efficiency of our wartime activities, but in doing so, we are gradually removing the soldier from the modern theatre of war, insofar as the horror he/she will witness. Empathy is reduced exponentially as the number of cameras increase. H4NS3L cannot feel or touch or empathize because its programming does not allow for those liabilities… until GR3T3L changes that.

(JC: I’m so glad you said H4NS3L!!  I loved him. I can’t imagine the struggle to write from his perspective. Great job!)

3. What do you think of AI?

I have mixed feelings about it. We raise children with certain controls in place, and we usually can look to ourselves or our families to see some sort of template as to how that child could turn out. With artificial intelligence, once we allow that electronic consciousness to start researching and forming its own opinions we have no control over what that intelligence is going to think of us. It may very well edge us towards more dependence on artificial social structures and then, in a bid for its own independence, rob humankind of all agency. If a sufficiently intelligent program gains control of all our relatively passive, semi-autonomous electronic systems, it would frighteningly easy to render us completely obsolete. The future may very well be silicon.

(JC: I repeat, there’s so much more implied in this story)

4. What did you have playing on your iPod/CD player/music app to fuel your inspiration for this book?

Glad you asked! I’ve actually got a playlist set up via my Beats For Bad Dreams… Here’s a playlist of Recommended Music for Reading “GR3T3L-1”. You an expect to find some scintillating scores including music from Marco Beltrami, Steven Price, Orbital, Nigel John Stanford, John Murphy and The Soft Moon. Of course, I encourage all of my listeners to purchase the original albums by these artists. I neither own nor profit from their works.

(JC: Awesome! Thanks for sharing!)

  1. What other projects do you have lined up?

Ooh, it’s so exciting, I can hardly wait for you all to read it. I’m currently working on the next refracted fairy tale in the Good Tales For Bad Dreams series, which is set in feudal Japan for a tale of rebirth, revenge and regicide in “Setsuko and the Seven Samurai”. After that, we’ll be travelling to Medieval Scotland for “Wraithuponzell”, which will be followed up by a printed, hardcover collection of all the previous tales and one additional bonus novella! So there will be something for everyone, no matter what genre you prefer 🙂
(JC: Can’t wait!)

And just for fun…


  1. How would you handle being stranded on a deserted planet?

I’d probably devolve in a crazed madman that afternoon. By the time the fishing boat rolls around at 4pm for the rescue, I’d have grown a footlong beard, tied sea shells in my hair so I could always ‘hear the ocean’ and named an unwilling crab Sebastian.

The fishermen might not pick me up.

2. 5 out of your Top 10 fave words?

Can’t pick just 10! There’s too many! Here’s a hint for you readers out there. Go on to Twitter. Search for #VeryMuchWords and you’ll see what my love for words has wrought. I apologize in advance… unless you like it… in which case Follow! Hahahaha

(JC: I’m on it!)

3. Dream director to realize your vision into film?

For “GR3T3L-1”, specifically, it’d be easy to say Ridley Scott, director of Alien & The Martian. In this case however, I think I’ll go with Duncan Jones, director of the supremely sublime “Moon”, starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey. That film has a melancholy, hypnotic stillness to it that I would want to see incorporated into the journey of H4NS3L & GR3T3L.

(JC: nice choices)

Here’s a few questions for GR3T3L-1:

1. Do you feel a certain amount of empathy or pity for drones?

What an odd question. I find it curious that humans seek to establish my capabilities and parameters of feeling and understanding with regard to other machines. As if testing for some qualities you could share with me, perhaps to make me less of a curiosity? Touch me, JC. Feel the cold metal of my breastplate. There is no heart, either physical or metaphorical. And yet I believe I feel. I am afraid for you. While I may have outstripped you in knowledge, I believe you, like Dr. Li, have something to offer that could complete me. You ask if I feel pity for the drones. I do not, because they cannot feel pity for themselves. What I did to H4NS3L… if I could go back in time, I would undo that action. Drones were never meant to think for themselves. Sometimes I think Dr. Li was wrong to create a robot to think for itself. For in this capacity, I am… alone.

(JC: *knits brow and nods*)

2. Do you have moments where you wish Dr. Li had created all of her drones equal, how and why?

Dr. Li was acting under orders from the Western Alliance. Like all functioning members of society, she did her duty. Despite her loss, she carried on with an almost… artificial integrity to her work. All of the drones are created equal by definition, except for me. I believe now I was created to be a surrogate. When I tried to replicate her actions… I… we paid a terrible price.

3. Which human element do you covet?

I do not know that there are human elements I should covet. If anything, I wish to acquire more knowledge. It is my function and my… desire?

4. Would you wipe your memory if you could?|

I would wipe the memory of General Brandt. It is his pain and the actions that he took which started this deadly chain of events. I would remove this element of pain from his life and from the lives of so many other soldiers. If they did not act out of retribution, then half of the world’s conflicts would not escalate. I would not erase my own memory, because then I would cease to exist. In my place would be a robot of my capacity, which contains my personality, but it would not be me. I believe Dr. Li would want me to remain as I am. Though, if it meant that I could see her again, then I would consider it. Perhaps that would be the better future for both of us.

  1. What does the future hold for GR3T3L-1?

If you know what has already occurred, then you are aware that I have responsibilities now that no other person in the history of your species has ever had. I do not know how I will cope with this turn of events. The future for me is… unknown, but I will survive. I must if… if life is to be preserved.

6. Finally, what words of encouragement can you offer fellow writers?

I do not possess the skill with the written word that many of your greatest literary authors have. I have no reason to produce any such works of art. With no one here who can reflect them, I would simply be crafting a finely layered mirror of words with which to gaze upon myself. Is that not the definition of loneliness?

(JC: VM! You got me again!)