A Review of This Brilliant Darkness and an Interview with Author Red Tash

A Review of This Brilliant Darkness and Interview with Author Red Tash

I’ll begin with this: I’m a sucker for a well-written, fast-paced story with a twist that involves physics and supernatural phenomena.  My bias clearly labeled at the outset, I’ll begin my review of Red Tash’s well-written, fast-paced story of twisty physics and the supernatural entitled This Brilliant Darkness  The physics part of it involves the appearance of a star, Stella Mirabilis, above Bloomington, Indiana.  It’s the star’s behavior that provides the twist to the tale—a time traveling star that flickers in and out of our reality like particles flicker in and out of our reality.  The star draws out the supernatural, and for one Christine Grace, the consequences of its appearance suddenly and abruptly pound down into her own reality—a reality shared by her erstwhile boyfriend who is desperate to marry her and start a family, who is caught up in the strangeness that begins to define their existence in Bloomington.

The characters pop from the pages, and the interactions among them keep you turning pages.  What’s up with this character (I particularly liked Tristan)? How is Ms. Tash going to draw all these seemingly disparate threads together (she does, and that’s the only spoiler I’ll provide, because I want you to READ IT). It’s smart. Ms. Tash pulls no punches in the explanation of the physics of the problem, no punches in the questions Ms. Grace’s class at the university throws at her.  The university setting is eminently believable as well.  I felt like I was on campus, at The Corner, standing with Christine at that ATM when … well, I won’t spoil that part, either. Let’s just say the whole thing plays like a movie in your head, and you’re going to not want to push “pause” and put the book down.

The chapters are quick and tight. I thought I’d appreciate that—that there were places where I could put the book down without guilt because, after all, I was at the end of the chapter.  Well, by midnight, I had not put the book down, and had no intention of putting it down.  At 12:15am, my fourteen-year-old son stumbled out to get a drink of water. “You’re still up?” he asked. “Go to bed.” I looked up from my Nook, smiled, and said, “Not on your life, dude. Not until this ends.”

The point of view changes with the chapters.  Ms. Tash gives a summary of the characters in the beginning of the book, as if we’ll get confused by having so many players.  I didn’t read the characters summaries.  I found, as I read, that the characters are so well-drawn and memorable, I didn’t need to read the summaries.  I had no problem keeping the who’s who of the cast straight because the personalities were so diverse and the mannerisms and dialog were unique to each. Sometimes the prose devolved into the rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness musings of a particular character.  That’s not a bad thing in the least.  It set the pace of the story in those places; some of the stream-of-consciousness writing leaves the reader breathless.  It’s a catharsis of sorts for the character, but it’s creepy in the best of ways for the reader.  Talk about a joy to read.

(I purchased This Brilliant Darkness on Smashwords in ePub format for my Nook (No Nookie Like My Nookie).  5 Stars for a great, twisty plot, awesome rendering of supernatural characters (hey, now, that one creature creeped me out beyond measure!), great pacing, and a fantastic read)

And now, as promised, an interview with author Red Tash!  Enjoy!

JM:  How long have you been writing and what got you interested in writing?

Red: I started writing for publication about 29 years ago, when I was a kid. I got a poem about autumn published in the local newspaper, and from that point on, I was writing satirical newspapers about my fourth grade classroom politics (complete with my own hand-drawn comics), horoscopes for the camp newsletter, a horrid tween fantasy about the social dynamics of being the kid at camp with the curly perm (nobody told me perms were out, damn it!) and stuff like that. I won all kinds of awards for writing growing up. Contests, magazines, stuff like that. EVERYONE assumed I grow up to become a writer.

 

Instead, I let some kind soul with the heart of Voldemort convince me that I would be better served by pursuing a more *practical* career. I got my degree in accounting and lived miserably as a tax preparer and auditor for years, before I started writing again as a form of release. In a few short months after beginning that first online anonymous blog, I had a regular writing gig for an international website for Moms. I was being paid, even. Then, a local newspaper column. Then that column went national. Then…then…then…here I am.

I’ve written poetry on and off, mostly when I can’t control the impulse, and there’s truly nothing more therapeutic than sharing a good old tear-jerker from one’s own personal history, so you shouldn’t rule out poetry and memoir in this writer’s bibliography in the future. The thing I REALLY have always wanted to do, though, is be a novelist. From the moment I picked up the first three Harry Potters ten years ago and read through them straight, I knew there was no turning back for me.
JM:  Where do you get your ideas or information for your books?

Red: My fiction ideas just come to me. I don’t know where they come from. They just appear. It’s like that saying “The teacher will appear when the student is ready.” Right now I’m overwhelmed with editing responsibilities and a full writing slate, so I’m *only* booked about four projects in advance. I know before I reach the end of that list, I’ll have another idea step up and say “Me! Me! Choose Me!”

My non-fiction stuff, which you are totally welcome to keep up with at http://LesleaTash.com all comes from my life. I don’t have to go looking for stories. They happen, and I feel the need to talk about them, so there I go. I’ll be releasing a collection of my newspaper columns about family & parenting under that name, pretty soon.
JM:  Why do you think fans of horror movies should read horror books and how
can we appeal to them?

Red: Well, books are essentially movies in your head. They can be as intense as you want them to be, and you can go back over and over again and watch them in a way you can’t do movies. Every time you learn something new, it changes the movie in your head just a little bit. And that book you’re reading? Only *you* see it that way, so it’s like a personalized movie. Custom-made for you. Who can resist such an invitation? I sure can’t.

JM: Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?

Red: It’s not where I hope to take it–I can’t wait to see where it takes me! I’ve already met so many tremendous people. I look forward to the continued journey of writing, and the exciting new path we’re able to travel now, as writers.

Thanks for all you do, Amy! Thanks for having me!

Thanks, Red!  And THANK YOU for allowing me to read and review your book!  We’re going to be seeing GREAT THINGS from this author!

Visit Red Tash online at her blog: http://RedTash.com

THIS JUST IN!  RED TASH WILL GIVE AWAY THIS BRILLIANT DARKNESS FREE TO THE FIRST TWO WHO COMMENT ON THIS POST!!!!

This Brilliant Darkness has been in the top 100 for Dark Fantasy for most of the CoffinHop, and just received another five star review last night:

Get it from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005LSNB2A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=myxangaweblog-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B005LSNB2A

Get it from Smashwords here: http://www.smashwords.com/book/view/86715

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

COFFIN HOP 2011 CONTINUES!

KEEP HOPPIN’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Dark Places Excerpt for a Rainy Sunday

In Dark Places is a current WIP that I’m continuing to stitch together. It was my 2010 NaNo Novel, and, while I got to just over 77K words, they all weren’t words that I was fond of, and work continues.  While I finish up Red Tash’s book and send out the interview questions (will be posted tonight!), check out this excerpt from In Dark Places.

The story is set in 1913 at an Interior Alaska copper mine. Toby Caddock is a 19-year-old who comes up to Kupfer, Alaska and works under crew boss Tin Hansen.  The first three chapters are linked here as pages. While Tin, Toby, and the rest of the crew are working South Adit and staying at the Upper Ridge Bunkhouse, Jenny Strand, the girl Toby’s sweet on, comes up to collect Toby’s draw as they agreed. Toby, so taken with Jenny, had promised to marry her and take her away with him once his term of service at Kupfer is complete.  Jakub, the clerk in the store who hails from Poland, is suspicious of the woman with whom Jenny arrives…..

“Your name?” Mr. Koertig asked as he distractedly removed his glasses and pulled a cloth from his coat pocket.  He wiped at his glasses, shooting a furtive glance at Jakub who stood, unmovable, beside him, his dark eyes fixed on the two women who stood on the opposite side of the counter.

“Is well, Mr. Koertig?” he asked quietly, his eyes fixed, narrowing, on Dorothea who met his gaze serenely.

“Yes, of course, Jakub,” Mr. Koertig replied without looking at him.

Jakub nodded gravely, but did not move.

“Jenny,” Jenny started quietly as she moved closer to the counter.  “Jenny Strand.”

Koertig looked up abruptly and pushed his glasses back against his face.

Jakub felt his smile twitch as he glanced at Mr. Koertig.

“Strand?”Koertig muttered as he blinked.  He shook his head.

“If I may,” Jakub said kindly as he turned from the counter, taking Koertig’s arm and drawing him closer.  He leaned down to the pay clerk.  “Toby Caddock,” he said in a
whisper before he straightened.

“Oh, yes,” Koertig agreed, his voice losing none of its nervous edge, “Mr. Caddock mentioned you might be coming to Kupfer, Miss Strand.”  He hesitated, watching as Jakub fixed his gaze back upon Dorothea who continued to smile easily at him.  “I
will, of course, need you to make your mark on the appropriate paperwork.”  Again, Mr. Koertig hesitated.  He drew a breath.  “I’ll put everything in order then, shall I?”  Koertig nodded and turned, striding quickly back into the store’s main office.

Jakub turned his dark eyes to Jenny and smiled kindly. “Is there anything you need from the store, Miss Strand?” he asked.

“Oh, no,” Jenny replied with a nervous smile.  “I’m here because I promised Tob–”  Jenny blushed suddenly and Jakub’s eyes softened.  “Mr. Caddock,” she said by way of correction. “I promised Mr. Caddock that I would collect his draw.”

“Mr. Caddock is a good man,” Jakub said, his voice falling lower.

“Yes,” Jenny said with a nod.  “A good man.”

Jakub glanced over his shoulder, watching as Mr. Koertig continued to gather the necessary paperwork in the office.  He watched as the pay clerk adjusted his glasses, squinting down at a page briefly before straightening and moving toward the large safe built into the back wall of the office.

“Wait, please,” Jakub said, his dark eyes shining at Jenny before he turned and moved away from the counter, toward the side room where the dry goods were stored.

“I think everything is in order, Miss Strand,” Koertig said as he bustled from the office with a warrant and an envelope.  He motioned her to the far end of the counter where they could converse privately.  He looked intently at Jenny through the lenses of his glasses.

Dorothea looked up and around at the shelves that spanned floor to ceiling behind the
counter.  She turned an appraising eye to the inventory and moved away from the counter toward the center tables that were stacked with sundries and bolts of cloth. Wordlessly, she felt the fabric of several of the bolts through her fingers. The conversations droned on around her.

“Sweets for the sweet.”

Dorothea inclined her head slightly at the sound of Jakub’s voice further down the counter.  She cast a furtive glance at Jenny who reddened and extended a hand across the counter to Jakub.  She watched has Jakubtook her hand and kissed it gallantly, turning it over in his own and clasping it warmly.  Dorothea watched as his eyes lingered on the ring that shone against her finger.

“A good man,” Jakub said again, nodding as he smiled at Jenny.

“Yes,” she agreed again as she withdrew her hand.

Dorothea watched as Jenny slipped an envelope into her handbag.

“Thank you, Mr. Koertig,” Jenny smiled.  “You’ve been most kind.”

Koertig’s hand swept up the warrant Jenny had signed and fidgeted with his glasses briefly, checking her signature before nodding once and chancing a smile at the young woman across the counter from him.  “It is quite all right, Miss Strand.”

“Ready, Dori?” Jenny asked brightly as she turned from the counter.

Dorothea’s fingers hesitated on an elaborate brocade before she smiled and straightened.  “Ready, Jenny,” she replied.

Jakub’s eyes followed Jenny Strand as she swept across the store and pulled open the
door.  The bell above the door rang brightly.  Dorothea glanced back at Jakub
briefly before she turned and followed Jenny toward the door.  He watched in silence as the door closed behind the two women.

“An odd pair, that,” Koertig observed briefly as he glanced down at the warrant once again.

“Sir,” Jakub started, his eyes not moving from the door, “might I have leave to visit the
Assay Building?”

“Assay?” Koertig muttered.  He glanced around the store front, assessing the number of clerks that scurried to fill the orders of the customers who continued to stream in and out of the front doors.  “Yes, Jakub.”

Before Koertig had actually given him leave, Jakub had begun untying his apron.  He pulled it over his head and folded it carefully, setting it beneath the counter. Jakub strode quickly to the back room, retrieved his coat and hat, and hurried out the front door, closing it abruptly, causing the bell to ring sharply.

 

Josiah Craig straightened, his eyes narrowing at the Assay Building door that opened
suddenly and closed sharply.  A tall, thin figure, wrapped tightly against the winter cold unfolded itself, drawing up to its full height, its dark eyes meeting those of the mining engineer who stepped back from his work counter.

“Jakub,” Josiah said, his voice conveying his surprise at seeing the store clerk in his
office.  Josiah felt his lip twitch into a smile as he moved toward Jakub.  “What are you doing here?”

Jakub unwound his scarf and pulled his hat from his head before he said, urgently, “I fear I have need of you, Mr. Craig.”

Josiah hesitated.  “Need of me?” he repeated.  He watched silently as Jakub shifted restlessly on his feet.

“No,” he said suddenly.  He shook his head.  “Is not right. Is not right—how you say?”

Josiah stepped around his work table, his hand sweeping up a rag to clean his hands.  He waited as Jakub searched for the correct words.

“A problem,” Jakub said finally.

“At the store?” Josiah asked.  “A problem at the store?”

Jakub shook his head.  “Miss Strand.”

Josiah hesitated.  “She’s come to Kupfer?” Josiah could not keep the astonishment out of his voice.  He watched, his eyes widening as Jakub nodded stiffly.

“Yes, sir,” he replied.  “Just now she has left the store with Toby Caddock’s draw.”

Josiah blinked.  He looked away from Jakub.  “Indeed,” he muttered.Jakub watched as Josiah continued to hesitate.  He took a breath and attempted a smile.  “That is good
news, Jakub–”Josiah drew back as Jakub took an urgent step forward.  He shook his head.

“Not Miss Stand,” he said, his voice falling lower.  Jakub’s eyes pleaded for Craig’s understanding.  “The other…”

COFFIN HOP 2011 CONTINUES!

KEEP HOPPIN’!

Being Human : A Review & Interview with Author Patricia Lynne

Being Human is a Young Adult-targeted vampire story with a twist.  Ms. Lynne examines the relationship between two brothers—twins—one of whom is turned as a teenager, the other of whom remains human and loyal to his brother.  Tommy, the twin who is turned, and Danny share the uncanny bond that so many twins share.  Even after Tommy commits what he, even with his remorseless, serial-killer instinct that infects all vampires, realizes is an unspeakable act, his brother stands by him. And, so it goes through their relationship as Danny grows up, goes to college, marries, and has a family. Tommy stays close and struggles to remember and recapture the feelings
he had as a human.

Because of its focus toward a YA audience, the violence tends toward the intense, but not graphically so. The author leaves the details of the attacks to our imagination, and
that is actually how I prefer it—my imagination is wild enough to picture exactly what is happening without a blow-by-blow (bite by ripping bite?) description.

The bond between the twins is what makes this story unique.  As readers, we look at ourselves as human through Tommy’s eyes. He is a stranger in a foreign land after he is turned.  As he hunts, he is, in turn,hunted by authorities and people who would like nothing better than to dispose of him permanently.  As the story progresses, Tommy begins to experience human emotions, and the reader begins to wonder if there truly are redemptive expressions of love and caring that can bring back or free even the darkest of creatures.

Now, I’ll admit that I’ve talked to some of my more voracious YA readers at my library about the story, and I’ve given out the Smashwords code more than once to readers who want to check out the story for themselves based on my description of the characters and events.

The prose moves quickly, the dialog is realistic and believable, and the conveyance of emotion is spot on.  My only bias lies in the non-use of dialogue tags. There has been quite a bit of debate about using or not using these identifiers.  My bias lies in that I’m
functionally dyslexic (really, I am), and sometimes I get lost amid rapid-fire dialogue; it’s a serious problem for me, and I find I have to read a passage that contains this type of tag-less dialogue several times before I completely comprehend it. But, again, that’s just me.

It’s definitely a pick up and read story, and if you like YA books, this is a go-to book for you.  As I said, four of my most voracious YA patrons are getting ready to plunk down
real money on Smashwords and download this to their iPads.

(I purchased BEING HUMAN in ePub format for my Nook (No Nookie Like My Nookie!) from Smashwords.  Four stars for a fun YA read with wide appeal)

You can find Being Human at these book outlets:

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12010541-being-human
Amazon Kindle:http://www.amazon.com/Being-Human-ebook/dp/B005JNBWBO/ref=dp_return_2?ie=UTF8&n=133140011&s=digital-text

Amazon UK:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Being-Human-ebook/dp/B005JNBWBO/ref=sr_1_9?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1316026279&sr=1-9

Amazon Paperback:http://www.amazon.com/Being-Human-Patricia-Lynne/dp/1466202629/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

CreateSpace Paperback:https://www.createspace.com/3656433

Barnes & Noble Nook:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1105383518?ean=2940011487033

Barnes & Noble Paperback:http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Being-Human/Patricia-Lynne/e/9781466202627?r=1&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1

Smashwords:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/84106

iTunes:http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/being-human/id462913126?mt=11

 

And now, as promised, an interview with author Patricia Lynne  Enjoy!

1. What do you do to unwind and relax?

I knit. Been doing it since I was 7 or 8 so at this point, I barely have to look at my hands if I’m doing a basic stitch. It’s pretty relaxing… usually. It gets a little frustrating when I get a good chunk knitted and realize I don’t have enough yarn and have to frog it (Frog it is a knitting term for tearing a project apart because you riiiiiipit!) Sometimes jewelry making relaxes me too if it’s not too involved.

 

2. What do you see as the influences on your writing?

Honestly, I have no idea how to answer this one. Nothing pops to mind. I mean, aside from the answer to question number three. I could say Twilight was an influence because I wanted to write a vampire story were the vampires were complete pansies. But other than that, nothing really springs to mind. I’m sure I’ll think of something later.

3. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Heather Brewer. She can create characters that put me through a whole slew of emotions and makes me forget about the real world.

4. The perception of the horror writer is that he/she is just a little bit weirder than most–kind of like half-a-bubble-off-plumb. Do you find yourself–and other horror writers–to be more idiosyncratic than the average person?

Oh yeah. I mean, who else can get away with saying “I write because the voices tell me to” and can get away with it? And horror writers are the craziest of the bunch. After all the voices are telling them to scare the crap out of everyone. 😉

COFFIN HOP 2011 Continues!

KEEP HOPPIN’!