IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!
Your elusive creative genius | Elizabeth Gilbert
Author: Alec Birri
Narrator: Jonathan Keeble
Length: 6 hours 32 minutes
Publisher: Essential Music Limited⎮2018
Genre: Medical Thriller
Series: The Condition Trilogy, Book 1
Release date: Jan. 17, 2018
Synopsis: The first in a dystopian trilogy based on the author’s command of a top secret government unit.
What if all brain disorders were treatable? Few would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be “corrected”?
It’s 1966, and RAF pilot Dan Stewart awakes from a coma following an aircraft accident into a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Not being able to recall the crash might be expected, but what about the rest of his life? And what’s stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage that’s causing paranoia about the red pill, or is Dan right to think something sinister is going on?
His horrific injuries don’t make any sense either – a post-crash fire caused him to suffer almost 100% burns. How is it even possible to survive that? Are the hallucinations and strange dreams trying to tell him something? They are, and he’ll soon find out what, but not before his doctor’s sure the shock won’t kill him.
I loved this book. The writing combined with the excellent performance of narrator Jonathan Keeble made it great book. The Condition is a psychological medical thriller of its own kind. Author Alec Birri does an exceptional job of unraveling his plot, compelling point of view, and drawing headlong into the story. It seemed like one domino lead the next one, and so forth. Very entertaining with lots of suspense. Can’t wait to start book two!
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Horses for courses. It’s just a different experience. Having said that, it would worry me if no one read at all.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
Celebrate? I’m the original mister grumpy – the word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary! I carry on writing. There’s a running joke in the military, usually spouted by someone when morale is at its lowest: ‘Never mind, lads – the sooner this job is done, the sooner we can start another one.’ 😀
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
I think a series works better than a stand-alone when it comes to the business side of things, as the first can be given away, but that’s not how Condition started out – when it became too big for one novel I split it into two and then, as the words mounted, three books. I’m 25k into my current work, and have no idea if the word count will end up being 40k or even 400k. I write the story and stop when it’s told.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Seek out danger. Nothing like a near-death experience for freeing the imagination! Seriously though, get out of your comfort zone. There’s a good reason why the likes of Frederick Forsyth have visited war zones or risked crossing deserts just as hostile. No money to do that? Then hang out with your local ambulance crews, paramedics, police and get the experience second-hand. Anything that brings you into contact with the uncomfortable.
Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that experimented in new military capabilities classified at the highest level (Top Secret Strap 3) and it is this that forms the basis of his novels. Although semi-autobiographical, for national security and personal liberty reasons, the events and individuals portrayed have to be fiction but are still nonetheless in keeping with his experiences.
Jesikah Sundin is multi-award winning a sci-fi/fantasy writer mom of three nerdlets and devoted wife to a gamer geek. In addition to her family, she shares her home in Monroe, Washington with a red-footed tortoise and a collection of seatbelt purses. She is addicted to coffee, laughing, and Dr. Martens boots and shoes … Oh! And the forest is her happy place.
Other Interesting tidbits:
Jesikah owns Forest Tales Photography, and boasts a varied background in business administration and marketing, though her heart has always belonged to the arts and sciences. In college, she pursued a degree in geophysics and oceanography. And, as a teenager, she attended a performing arts school for musical theater and opera, performing in several theater productions, while also serving as editor-in-chief of her high school’s newspaper. She is married for over twenty years to her high school sweetheart and raising three awesomely geeky children. When not writing, she’s often found in her garden, hiking, gaming, baking, fangirling over all things Star Wars and Firefly, or attending various conventions in cosplay, notably Comicon and FaerieCon.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
I’m not sure if you mean “writing” as fellow writers who have inspired me or “writing” as in the stories I write. But, thankfully, the answer for both angles is similar.I read pretty much everything, from westerns to poetry to crime thrillers to the classics to everything in-between. Though, my main book diet is young adult science fiction and fantasy. My brain is author and story alphabet soup at this point. I’ve also lived in two vastly different states, in three vastly different geographical areas, and traveled all over North and parts of South America. These experiences make a great marinade for the imagination. Additionally, I spent my formative years immersed in the liberal arts (dance, opera, theater, competition choir) while studying for a degree in science (geophysics, oceanography, and ethnoscience). The combination? Weird, genre-mash-up stories, that blend the arts and sciences, and explore people, culture, geographies, and their relationship with the environments they find themselves in.
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
Well, it was all rather simple. Sunny did all the hard work and I got to enjoy the fruits of his labor with commentary. Usually I’d see a notice in my inbox that another chapter was ready for review. I’d squeal, plunk myself down in a comfortable spot, pull my book up, read along as I listened to the narration, and take notes of any discrepancies I found, or feedback on how I’d prefer something to be said (emotional notes). That’s pretty much it. A fun process on my end!
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Ha! No, actually. Never even crossed my mind. LEGACY was originally published in January 2014. It wasn’t until last year that I even considered an audiobook and only because I had so many potential readers comment on social media that they wished my book were in audio format. Anything for my readers 😉
How did you select your narrator?
It was an involved process that included far too many cups of coffee, sacrifices to the Audible gods, and sleepless night wondering if I’d ever find The One. And then I did, which was rather miraculous, as finding The One usually is. I honestly didn’t think I’d contract a voice actor because of the language difficulties narrating LEGACY would present (American and British English, Latin, French, and Japanese) and different point-of-view writing styles (cyberpunk and classical fantasy style). I’m pretty sure I cried oceans of grateful tears when Sunny sent in an audition.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
Oh, the languages and dialects for sure. Sunny Patel’s lovely British accent breathed life into my New Eden Township characters. But I was floored when the written French and Japanese became real. I sort of melt into a puddle whenever I hear him speak Leaf and Oaklee’s lines in French or Fillion’s Japanese dialogue.
Fillion Nichols (born in Dublin, Ireland and raised in Seattle, Washington state) is a hacker in the Anime Tech Movement’s computer underground, even though he is part of the Corporate Elite. At age 17, he is fluent in Japanese, can hack most Smart devices, websites (including government sites), and holographic computer technology. He also writes encryption software algorithms, same as his life-long best friend, Mack. Fillion works the communications night shift at New Eden Enterprises for New Eden Biospherics & Research, the companies responsible for the experiment at New Eden Township.
At age 20, he’ll come into trust majority of a large legal Legacy, an inheritance he resents. But, as he states, it never matters what he wants. Ever. Fillion sees himself no different than a drone, something programmable. Something his father owns to manipulate and use at will. A fate he fears he’ll never escape.
His sister Lynden is 11 months younger than him. The media scrutinizes his every move. When he had attended Academy, he was bullied regularly. For this reason, Mack and Lynden are the only two people Fillion trusts.
He is known for his quick wit and sarcastic humor, analytical/philosophical thinking, rambling thoughts, deep emotions and convictions, guitar playing, and his fondness for whiskey and cigarettes.
WILLOW OAK WATSON
Willow Oak Watson, lovingly referred to as Oaklee by her father or the Daughter of Earth by the community, is nearly 16 years old when the story opens. She was born inside New Eden Township (Salton Sea, California), much the same as others from the second generation. At age 8, she apprenticed with Mistress Katie, the head village spinner and weaver, and became a master spinner and seamstress at age 14.
Her fingers prefer to stay busy, even if to twirl strands of hair when her hands are not otherwise occupied. Quite often, she perches high above her community in the branches of her beloved willow oak tree, humming a merry tune while pondering the world around her. When grieved by offense, she feels the injustice whipping inside of her with gale force winds, earning her the family nickname Hurricane Willow.
Her father, Joel Watson, was the Earth Element, one of four head Nobility positions within New Eden Township. Her mother, Claire Johnston, died from childbed fever when she was 8 years old. Willow has an older brother named Leaf (age 19) and a younger sister named Laurel (age 8).
Willow is best known for her atmospheric personality, poetic tendencies, quick wit, deep and thoughtful emotions, empathy, and her connection to nature.
Leaf Watson, titled the Son of Earth, was the first child born within the walls of New Eden Township. He is the eldest child in the Earth Element house at age 19 and among the oldest members of the second generation. Since a small boy, he has found great pleasure in watching living things grow and flourish. Unlike most from Nobility, he was pushed through a rigorous education, which included additional studies under the tutelage of the village Barrister.
Since age 15, Leaf has acted as First Representative for his father, Joel Watson, who was a head Noble inside New Eden Township. But an unthinkable situation changes everything. An invisible crown of power is bequeathed to Leaf as his father takes his final breaths. This family secret propels Leaf into a position that not only threatens his home but also his way of life. To Leaf, each day seems to unearth new secrets and present new challenges, an overwhelming situation, especially as he is now the legal guardian for his sisters, Willow Oak (age 15) and Laurel (age 8).
Leaf is known for his kind, steadfast, and astute personality, as well as his honorable and gentlemanly demeanor. He is reserved and dutiful, sometimes to the point of self-sacrifice. Although a peace-maker by nature, he would be willing to wage war in order to protect his family.
Author: Jesikah Sundin
Narrator: Sunil Patel
Length: 12 hours 30 minutes
Publisher: Forest Tales Publishing⎮2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1
Release date: Dec. 11, 2017
She is from the past, locked inside a world within a world.
He is from the future, haunted by her death.
A sensible young nobleman and his fiery sister live in an experimental medieval village. Sealed inside this biodome since infancy, Leaf and Willow have been groomed by The Code to build a sustainable world, one devoid of Outsider interference. One that believes death will give way to life.
All is ideal until their father bequeaths a family secret with his dying breath, placing an invisible crown of power on Leaf’s head. Now everyone in their quiet town is suspect. Risking banishment, the siblings search for clues, leading them to Fillion Nichols, an Outsider with a shocking connection to their family. Their encounter launches Fillion into battle with his turbulent past as he rushes to decode the many secrets that bind their future together–a necessity if they are all to survive.
Cultures clash in an unforgettable quest for truth, unfolding a story rich in mystery, betrayal, and love.
A kingdom under assault.
A conspiracy born of anarchy.
A hero standing against tyranny.
Falsely convicted of a shocking crime, Robin Fitzooth, the Earl of Huntingdon, finds refuge in Sherwood Forest and becomes Robin Hood.
Leading a band of men against the injustices of a malevolent sheriff and his henchmen, Robin begins to unravel a web of treachery threatening the English royal family.
As shadowy forces gather to destroy the future of a nation, Robin faces deceit, betrayal, and the ravages of war as he defends his king, his country, his people, and the woman he loves from a conspiracy so diabolical, so unexpected, that the course of history hangs in the balance.
From the mists of an ancient woodland, to lavish royal courts teeming with intrigue, to the exotic shores of the Holy Land – Robin Hood leads the fight in a battle between good and evil, justice and tyranny, the future and the past.
Part one of an exciting three-part retelling of the Robin Hood legend!
Although the books in the trilogy are not stand-alone, they do not end in cliffhangers.
Authors Olivia Longueville and J.C. Plummer combine to produce a stunning work of art in Robin Hood’s Dawn, Book one in the Robin Hood Trilogy. The first sense I had in reading this book was like being in the setting with the characters. I truly believe that those who can write quality historical fiction are some of the best writers out there.
My second realization was the originality and richness of historical detail. This really puts you on the ground alongside the characters.
Third, the scenes in the book are quite stunning and captivating in their depiction and prose. My favorite scene is where Lady Marion and Robin are reunited at a certain point professing their love to one another. I don’t want to give away too many details here if you haven’t read it yet. But, it was literally dripping with rich prose that flowed back and forth between them. I can tell the authors really enjoyed writing that one.
Looking forward to the next book!
Robin Hood has been featured in many books, movies, and television shows. How is your story different?
We have taken a fresh approach to the Robin Hood story, and we’re excited to share our vision with fans of the legendary hero.
We have creatively reimagined the origins of the Robin Hood legend, which includes exploring the complexity of his family dynamics – an aloof, proud father loyal to King Henry II, and a kind-hearted, generous mother devoted to ministering to the poor with her gift for healing. One theme is that the consequences of immoral actions and secret sins can reverberate across generations, and this is part of the legacy that Robin receives from his father.
We wanted to cast him as a hero fighting against the tyranny of a lawless government official instead of a bandit redistributing wealth. When Robin is falsely accused of a shocking crime by the new Sheriff of Nottingham, he could have simply retreated to a safe place beyond the reach of the sheriff. However, he feels a responsibility to the people – he believes in the intrinsic value of every human being – so he takes a stand to defend the people from the actions of the sheriff. And this points to another theme: one person can make a difference by taking a stand for what is right.
Robin also feels great admiration for the newly crowned King Richard the Lionhearted. His loyalty to the king will create a number of conflicts and unexpected consequences in the story.
Lastly, we wanted to set our Robin Hood story in a fascinating time period: the 12th century. In our humble opinion, the 12th century has much to offer fans of sweeping tales of political, social, and spiritual upheaval.
We have carefully constructed our story within the framework of real history. We hope that this realism and devotion to actual history will add to the enjoyment of the story and encourage people to learn more about this time.
You’ve emphasized how your Robin Hood story has been reimagined. Will fans of the traditional ballads still recognize this as a Robin Hood story?
There is a lot of variety in the many books and screen adaptations of the Robin Hood legend. We wanted to create a story that was respectful towards fans of the original ballads and legends without necessarily adhering to the same storylines that have been previously written. It is our hope that all Robin Hood fans will enjoy this fresh retelling of the story.
For example, we feel that Marian is a character who deserves more attention. All too often she is a background character with little to do. With this in mind, we have focused on creating a Lady Marian who will figure more prominently in the story, especially in book 2.
Our Marian is more than a love interest for Robin. Over the course of Robin Hood’s Dawn, Marian transforms from a sheltered, somewhat pampered, girl into a brave woman who continuously strives to overcome both her fears and the obstacles that she faces. We also wanted her to be feminine and remain believable as a woman of the 12th century. Of course, keep in mind that the most prominent woman of the 12th century was the indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine, an inspiration to any woman living in a male-dominated society.
Fans of the Robin Hood legend will find many familiar characters: Maid Marian, Little John, Allan-a- dale, Will Scarlet, Much the Miller’s son, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Readers will also meet real historical figures such as King Stephen, King Henry II, Richard the Lionhearted, King Philippe II of France, Prince John “Lackland”, and many others, including Ranulphus Besace. Who was he? Well, he was a real person who was King Richard’s personal physician!
This book is advertised as the first in a trilogy. Will the first two books end in cliff- hangers? Will any of the books be stand-alone?
Although the final mysteries and conflicts will not be resolved until book 3, we have structured the trilogy so that books 1 and 2 do not end in cliffhangers.
The readers will not be left wondering whether the main characters will live or die, and we have endeavored to create a sense of completion in each of the first two books. Some story threads will be resolved, and some of the mysteries surrounding the main characters will be revealed in each of the first two books.
We think readers will be excited and eager for the next installment without suffering undue frustration at the endings of books 1 and 2.
The books will not be stand-alone.
How did each of you become interested in writing this story and working together as co-authors?
I love to tell stories with multi-dimensional characters. I speak several languages, and I found that I enjoyed not only writing stories but also writing them in different languages. My favorite legendary hero is Robin Hood, and my favorite historical figure is Anne Boleyn.
My first novel is an English-language re-imagining of the story of Anne Boleyn.
In 2015, I met Coleen (J.C.) on the Internet and we decided to co author a Robin Hood Trilogy.
It is amazing that Coleen and I have managed to successfully work together on our project despite the fact that we have never met each other in real life. We talk on the phone and frequently exchange skype messages as well as emails. We have been working together long- distance despite living in very different time zones.
I began writing about three years ago. I had previously done editing work for other authors, but I had never thought about writing my own stories until one day when I was suddenly inspired to start writing, and I’ve been writing nearly non-stop ever since.
I wanted to write a book that would honor the legend of Robin Hood as a man who stood against the tyranny of a powerful government official; a man who fought for justice and fairness because he recognized the intrinsic value rooted in the humanity of all people.
So, you’ve never actually met, you come from different countries, different cultures, and speak different languages. How can you co-author a book? Is it because you have similar writing styles?
Fortunately, Olivia is fluent in English, because that’s the only language I know!
We have found that we have a lot in common – especially our love of writing and of history. We have to work hard to merge our writing styles, but we have successfully done this.
That’s very true. Oliva and I have very different “voices” and writing styles. You might even say they are nearly opposite styles.
I tend to write in a straightforward, expository style, with a minimum of descriptive elements and metaphorical flourishes. I am good at explaining things, organizing ideas, and creating natural sounding dialogue.
My writing is characterized by lush romanticism and passionate lyricism. I love to create metaphors and descriptions which excite the imagination of the reader in a vivid and dramatic way.
In some respects, Olivia’s words are the emotional heart of the story, and my words represent the rational intellect. Of course, it’s not quite that cut-and- dried, but it is one way to describe how two people with such different styles have come together to create Robin Hood’s Dawn.
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