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Axie Oh

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A KILLER'S ALIBI

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Monday, October 25, 2021

Michael J. Collins Interview - All Bleeding Stops


Photo Content from Michael J. Collins

Like their father, grandfather and great grandfather before them, Michael J. Collins and his seven brothers were born on the West Side of Chicago. Mike worked his way through college shoveling furnaces at South Bend Foundry during the school year and driving trucks in the summer. Following graduation from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a less-than-stellar member of the hockey team, Mike spent several years trying to figure out things he should have figured out years before. He worked as a truck driver, cab driver, construction laborer, dockworker and even did a little freelance journalism for the Irish Press in Dublin.

Mike was a 24-year-old, uninspired construction laborer when a coworker asked him how much longer he was going to continue to piss away his life. That rude awakening made Mike reexamine his priorities, return to school, and pursue a career in medicine. His days as a laborer trying to get into medical school are chronicled in Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs (St. Martin’s Press). Citing a case of what he insists was divine intervention, Mike was ultimately admitted to the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago. Upon graduation he spent five years in residency at the Mayo Clinic. His years as resident and inveterate moonlighter in rural Minnesota emergency rooms are the subject of Hot Lights, Cold Steel (St. Martin’s Press).

After completing his residency, where he served as Chief Resident in Orthopedic Surgery, Mike and his wife, Patti, moved back home to Chicago. They have lived in the same house for over thirty years, raising twelve wonderful kids, who may have aged them prematurely (especially three of you. Don’t give me that look, you know who you are!) but of whom they are immensely proud.
Since the publication of his first book in 2005, Mike has lectured throughout the country on topics relating to medicine and writing. He has served as the Alpha Omega Alpha Visiting Professor at both the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and at the University of Minnesota. He delivered the commencement address at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in 2016. Hot Lights, Cold Steel and Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs are on the required or recommended reading list at many medical schools and pre-medical programs.

His latest work, All Bleeding Stops, represents a departure for Mike in that it is a work of fiction. In writing this book, Mike says he hopes to raise awareness of the difficulty doctors face in learning to care for and about their patients. The very qualities—compassion, sensitivity, dedication—that lead young people to a career in medicine, are often the seeds of their own destruction. Sometimes they care too much. “A generation of young men went to Vietnam naive and idealistic,” Mike says. “They returned home broken and disillusioned—if they returned at all. We doctors are often victims of a similar fate. Like soldiers, the things we see and do are often too much to bear. And, like soldiers, not all of us make it back.”
        
  


Greatest thing you learned at school?
I remember what an eye-opening experience my Humanities Seminar was during my freshman year at Notre Dame. It was the best and the most rewarding educational experience I’ve ever had.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I was somewhat apprehensive about how All Bleeding Stops would be received. Would readers “get” it? Would they like it? The response so far has exceeded my wildest expectations.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
My books all have some sort of medical theme. The book I am working on now is about a man struggling with what it means to be a doctor, and what obligations this sort of commitment entails.

Can you tell us when you started ALL BLEEDING STOPS, how that came about?
My last book, Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs, was published in 2009. I started All Bleeding Stops before then, so I have been working on it for over 13 years. The book came out of a desire on my part to focus attention on the terrible price that overly sensitive doctors pay. Sometimes they simply care too much, and their empathy destroys them.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I want readers to be entertained, of course, but I also hope to raise awareness of the difficulty doctors face in trying to care for their patients without letting that care destroy them.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Matthew?
I like this question because it recognizes the fact that as a result of his work the author grows, learns, and is himself worked upon. As the character of Matthew developed during the writing of the novel, I came to understand that old adage “Virtue is its own reward” actually meant something more profound than I had imagined.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think perhaps it would be to Childe Roland in Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.” Both Matthew and Childe Roland are engaged in a noble but somewhat Quixotic quest. Both intend to accomplish something worthwhile, something meaningful, and both persevere in the face of tremendous odds.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I was fortunate enough to have had a wonderful childhood so there is a lot to choose from. I was from a big Irish Catholic family. The feeling of belonging, of being valued and treasured meant more to me than anything.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Fall in love.

Best date you've ever had?
My first date with my wife. I still recall the very first time I saw her and how it made my heart start.

What was the first job you had?
I’ve had jobs for as long as I can remember. As a kid I cut lawns, delivered newspapers, caddied, shoveled sidewalks. The first job where I actually got a paycheck was when I was 14 and got a job as a maintenance man at our local Park District.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’d go back to the first years of our marriage when we had nothing but each other. We worked our brains out but that didn’t matter. Those were very happy years.

Most memorable summer?
The summer I met my wife. The first three times I asked her out she said no – but then later she asked me out and we took off from there.

First Heartbreak?
Sophomore year in college when my girlfriend back home dumped me. It took me a long time to get over that one.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
The apostle John who rather immodestly proclaimed himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.”

QUOTES FROM ALL BLEEDING STOPS
(Sorry but you are about to get way more than you asked for. I had never done this before, so I went through the book picking out some of my favorite quotes. It was fun to do so. Just drop any ones you want)
  • “Like soldiers, the things we doctors see and do are often too much to bear. And, like soldiers, some of our wounds never heal.”
  • “His war begins with a quiet palette of turquoise and green; soft, shaded layers of blue and white layered like quicklime over all the darkness to follow.”
  • “Bluebells in a graveyard. The rouge daub of the embalmer’s art. Perhaps it is what they eye chooses not to see that matters. An amaurosis fugax of the soul.”
  • “Truth was a crystal I forged in the furnace of my own imagination and then held up to the light, twisting it, turning it, until I found that one particular refraction that served my needs.”
  • “He thought he knew what it would be like to go to war: wild eyes and gritted teeth, pounding heart and churning guts. Confusion, alarm, guns, cannons, bombs.
  • He never imagined war could begin with beauty.”
  • “He raises his hands, stares at them in the faint light, flexes his fingers, extends them, slowly turns them front to back, back to front. The hands of a surgeon.
  • He thinks he is ready - but how can he be sure?”
  • “He looks at the bloodstains on his white surgeon’s shoes slowly fading from red to black as they dry in the gray morning light. He knows he has to stop letting everything get to him. Didn’t Henderson warn him? Sensitivity, compassion, idealism - those things look great on paper, Barrett, but they don’t get you very far in this sick world. As a surgeon you can’t weep and wring your hands every time you see a terrible thing. If you wanna get good, you gotta get hard.
  • He wonders just how hard he has to get.”
  • “They hear them before they see them, the deep thudding whump of the rotors pounding in their brains, booming in their chests. The choppers come at them, rising over the wall of trees, leaking oil, dripping blood, enlarging, becoming darker, louder, filling the sky with their deafening roar.”
  • “They think death is a thing of substance and heft, a finish line, a destination, but he has found death to be a shadowy evanescence whose existence is always a matter of conjecture, of interpretation, of perspective.”
  • “The slow, steady trickle of the dead and the maimed continues - unwavering, unrelenting, as if in compliance with some dark, engineered quota of human suffering over which he is forced to preside, watching all those eyes, wide with terror, fade to nothingness.”
  • “The chopper sways, and she is pressed even tighter against him. The chopper rights itself, but the pressure remains. She is so close. He can smell her. He can taste her. All he has to do is raise his hands, slide them up her arms, over her elbows, across her chest, and draw her to him. But he can’t. He just can’t. Walls are all he has left. Walls are all that keep him functioning. Break down those walls, and he’ll be lost.”
  • “We are all flawed, soiled, imperfect. Lawyers have no trouble with this notion. Indeed, these very conditions are what brought our profession into existence. But pity the poor physician whose raison d’etre is premised upon the notion of curing the incurable, conquering the unconquerable. What does he do when he realizes he is living a lie?”
  • “On Barrett’s operating table, nineteen-year-old boys achieve communion with the warriors of generations gone by. They grasp hands and clap shoulders. A fraternity of the maimed. They know now, these shattered young men, and the knowledge hemorrhages from them, drips down the side of the table, pools on the floor. The knowledge leaps from their shattered limbs, oozes from their sightless eyes. They, too, have learned that there is no preparation for war, no defense against it, no vocabulary for it, and ultimately, no survival from it.”
  • “He has never been inside the nurses’ quarters. It is strictly forbidden. He could almost laugh. Kill, murder, slaughter, hack, gouge, slash, choke - but don’t set foot in the nurses’ quarters. It is strictly forbidden.”
  • “He was a complex man who revealed himself not so much by what he said as by how he said it: the struggle at times for words, the regretful sigh of wisdom come too late, the self-effacing smile, the voice of irony fading into pensive silence. At times he would look into my eyes to be certain I understood him. At times he would look away in the hope I did not.”
  • “What is left when a life is over? What hovers in the air?”
  • “He never knows when he will be called. There is no timetable for death. Night after night, chill winds begin to whisper through arteries and veins in Logan, in Canton, in Marietta. Youthful limbs grow stiff. Youthful hearts stutter and slow. It is time the laborers join the harvest.”
  • “He can’t stop staring at her eyes. Eyes that can no longer see but still have the power to burn, to transfix. The window to the soul - except the soul behind this window has already fled. Eyes with a focal length of infinity, eyes that can see nothing and everything, eyes that narrow all life’s questions to one: Why?”
  • “Awareness comes creeping tentatively from the purulent wounds of the diseased, from the burning foreheads of the febrile, from the cachectic limbs of the orphans. They come to him, day after day, the ill and the dying, the broken and the bleeding, and he cares for them, not in big ways but in the everyday manner of compassion and affection: cradling babies, wiping foreheads, sponging chests - small things that in their small ways begin to matter. The mundane rituals of mercy, of caring. Routine gestures that begin to gather the aura of grace about them.”
  • “How privileged we are to practice medicine. And how privileged we are to be rewarded so handsomely for what we do. Yet how many fools finish their residencies and never recognize what they have been given, who count their remuneration solely in terms of dollars - as if dollars would make this last journey any more decipherable.”
  • “She thinks she is not a good doctor because she hasn’t memorized enough textbooks or performed enough surgeries. She is so painfully aware of what she lacks, but she forgets that what we long for when we are sick - grievously sick, mortally sick - is not a cure. We know it’s too late for that. What we long for is a healing, an assurance that the human connection that seems about to be dissolved forever will somehow bridge the deep chasm we are about to cross. Scalpels can’t affect that. Textbooks can’t teach it. But compassion, the simple unaffected love of our fellow man, can. The knowledge that someone cares, that we are not alone. Gestures, touches, smiles.”
Journey to writing ALL BLEEDING STOPS
When I was a senior in medical school, working on a cardiology service at the local VA hospital, the intern on our service committed suicide. This left me shocked, saddened, and confused. What would lead a 27yo man at the start of a wonderful career to end his life? This was the beginning of my interest in the struggle doctors face in learning to care for their patients without letting that care overwhelm them. I came to realize that the very sensitivity and compassion that lead a young man or woman to a career in medicine can also be the instrument of their own destruction. Sometimes they simply care too much – and that is the story I wanted to tell in All Bleeding Stops.

Matthew Barrett, the protagonist, is drafted and sent to Vietnam as a combat surgeon. He is anxious to help the wounded soldiers brought to him for care, but despite his best intentions he can’t help everyone, can’t cure everyone. His inexperience shames him. His failures torment him. Only the love of Therese, one of the nurses, keeps him from falling apart.

After Vietnam, Matthew works for a while harvesting organs to be used for transplantation, but “stripping bodies for a living” leaves him as lost and confused as ever. Only when he travels to Biafra to care for the suffering and starving victims of the civil war does he finally come to understand the true nature of a doctor’s calling.


The best and the brightest may have been drawn to politics in the sixties, but the caring and compassionate have been drawn to medicine for centuries. All too often, however, the sensitivity that leads young men and women to a career in medicine becomes the instrument of their own destruction. They simply care too much. Nowhere is this cruel irony more clearly seen than in the setting of war.

Matthew Barrett is an idealistic young surgeon, fresh out of residency, who is drafted and sent to Vietnam in 1967. Sensitive and compassionate to a fault, he has trouble adjusting to life as a combat surgeon. His inexperience shames him. His failures torment him. In heart-rending detail, we witness the effect that constant exposure to death and dying has on an overly sensitive soul. We watch Matthew’s gradual disintegration as he tries desperately to care for the mutilated and dying patients brought to him. His compassion brings him nothing but pain, which he tries to drown in alcohol and denial as he spirals inexorably toward psychological disintegration. Only the love of Therese, one of the nurses seems capable of saving him - but will their love survive the horrors of war?

From combat surgeon in Vietnam to transplant doctor in Ohio to relief physician in Biafra, Matthew learns that in the end love and compassion, rather than being the instruments of his destruction, are the means of his salvation.

You can purchase All Bleeding Stops at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MICHAEL J. COLLINS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of All Bleeding Stops by Michael J. Collins.
1Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Tom Deady Interview - The Clearing


Photo Content from Tom Deady

Tom Deady’s first novel, Haven, was published by Cemetery Dance in 2016 and won the Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. He has since published a novel entitled, Eternal Darkness, as well as several short stories and novellas, his most recent being Coleridge.

His novel, The Clearing, is book one in a horror trilogy and inspired by true events. (Vesuvian Books, 2021) Tom holds a master’s degree in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a member of the New England Horror Writers. He resides in Massachusetts where he is working on his next novel.
        
 

ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09BYX63QX
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vesuvian Books (August 10, 2021)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 10, 2021
Language ‏ : ‎ English 

Praise for THE CLEARING

“Downright creepy. Tom Deady brings the scares in this gripping novel of horror and courage.” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

“Tom Deady excels in creating a history and mystery that is engaging and action-packed. The Clearing's strong protagonists and their realistic concerns, beliefs, and choices creates a memorable and thoroughly engrossing read that is difficult to put down and impossible to predict—just the ticket for a superior horror novel and should ideally reach into adult reader circles, as well as mature teens.” —Midwest Book Review

“Deady shows an ability to switch from adult to young adult horror with the ease and confidence of a true wordsmith. The Clearing is a fast-paced supernatural tale, intelligent and sparkling with great characters, and more than a few chills. Superb.” —Dave Jeffery, author of Beatrice Beecham’s Cryptic Crypt and Ship of Shadows



Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is important to me for so many reasons. As a reader (or listener) there is so much to be learned from the words of others, even in fiction. As a writer, I feel like I need to share my stories, hoping someone might gain something valuable from my words or get a new insight. Of course, there is also the entertainment that both parties experience. It’s truly a mutual beneficial relationship between the writer and reader.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Without a doubt, Haven winning the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. It still feels like a dream…I have to go take a peek at the haunted house statue once in a while to make sure it really happened!

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m very close to wrapping up the first draft of the sequel to The Clearing. After that, I’ll be finishing the sequel to Eternal Darkness. I’ve also got a story in the works for a western horror anthology I’m working on. So many stories, so little time…

Can you tell us when you started THE CLEARING, how that came about?
The idea for The Clearing came directly from a headline someone posted on social media. It was from an old story where a dog came out of the woods carrying a severed human arm. I saved the article until AI had time to go back and do more research. When I did, the rest of the story was just as crazy as the headline. It was the true story of the murder of Jeannette DePalma. The story involved rumors of cults and sacrifices and Satan worshippers. Most of it turned out be just rumors…except in my version. The real story can be found in the book Death on the Devil’s Teeth by Jesse P. Pollack and Mark Moran.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I like to think the story will evoke some of the same thoughts and feelings I had when I was writing it – the sense of wonder and mystery and fear and hope. Mostly, I want readers to identify with the real life struggles the characters are having – fitting in, single parents, bullies…and find some relief somehow.

What part of THE CLEARING did you enjoy writing the most?
My favorite parts to write are always the scary parts. But I also love when a scene comes together just right between two characters that makes it feel both real and special. Also, I’m sort of a history nerd, so retelling the tale of Wild Bill Hickok was really fun for me.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
My favorite non-horror novel is To Kill a Mockingbird – Hannah’s dog, Scout, is named after the main character. I think Hannah and Scout – despite the age difference, have a lot in common. I would love to listen to a conversation between them, discussing their harrowing adventures.

TEN FACTS ABOUT THE CLEARING
  • 1) The Clearing is inspired by true events: the 1972 murder of Jeannette DePalma. The initial reaction to the sixteen-year-old’s murder called it a ritualistic sacrifice related to satanic worship by a cult that gathered in the woods at Devil’s Teeth. Rumors stated that the body was surrounded by crossed sticks – makeshift crosses – and other symbols.
  • 2) The full story of Jeannette DePalma’s case can be read in the true crime book, Death at the Devil’s Teeth. In the real story, it is a human forearm that a dog carries out of the woods that leads to the discovery of Jeannette’s body. The entire satanic/cult connection is ultimately debunked.
  • 3) Hannah’s dog, Scout, is named after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird. It is my favorite novel and I wanted to include some sort of tribute to it.
  • 4) The story Big Jake tells about “Aces and Eights” is (allegedly) true. I’m an “old west” junkie and have visited both Tombstone and Deadwood.
  • 5) My father worked for most of his career at the Converse Rubber factory in Malden, MA. In The Clearing, the sneaker on the decomposing foot is a Converse high-top.
  • 6) The Burning Wagon tradition, mentioned in passing, plays the starring role in Book Two. This tradition was loosely based on something that I had heard actually takes place in Dedham, MA, though I have never participated. As far as you know.
  • 7) The recurring theme of flies is an homage to Lord of the Flies as well as The Amityville Horror. Those two books had a profound impact on me as a high-schooler.
  • 8) Champlain Park is named after Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont. The lake is rumored to be home to “Champs” a Loch Ness type creature.
  • 9) When they are at the concert, the line “listening to a local band massacre a Beatles song” is a hat-tip to John Mellencamp’s “I Saw You First” (the line is “some Cuban band was crucifying John Lennon”). I usually listen to classic rock while I’m writing, and that line stuck with me and I decided to paraphrase it.
  • 10) I researched a lot of guns before landing on the Ruger Blackhawk for Big Jake. It looks like an old western gunfighter’s pistol, appropriate given Jake’s Wild Bill Hickok story
Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
I grew up in the seventies and things were very different then. A lot of the reasons my first two novels were set in that era is the fond memories I have of my childhood. Those were the days when summer lasted forever, and every day was an adventure. Out of the house in the morning, maybe home for lunch and dinner. Nights were filled with games of hide-and-seek and relievio, and hanging out on someone’s porch until the mosquitoes got too bad. I can’t really think of a favorite event, but they all kind of blur together to make a very sweet memory.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
So many answers for this. Fall in love is definitely one of them, but I guess that’s as much a matter of circumstances as it is a choice. So, I think everyone should see the Grand Canyon. Pictures and videos simply cannot do it justice. It has the same grounding impact on me as the ocean, or a wide open, star-filled sky.

Best date you've ever had?
It wasn’t technically a date, but I proposed to my wife on the beach at St. Barth’s. Probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and the perfect spot to start our life together.

What was the first job you had?
Stocking shelves in a small market when I was about 14. Not a great experience for a lot of reasons.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
The birth of my two daughters. I don’t think there is a more terrifying and exciting and heartwarming and life-changing experience. To have your entire perspective shift, to care more another life than anything in the world is both wonderful and frightening.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Watching our two yellow labs play together. They chase each other in circles around our small yard like lunatics, then when Oscar gets tired – he’s older and has had a knee replaced – he starts taking shortcuts to catch Willow. Then he lays down on the first step of the pool to cool off.

First Heartbreak?
A girl named Debbie in middle school. She was my first real “date” – we went to a movie at the Granada Theater in Malden, then I walked her home and kissed her goodnight. It was also my last date with her – she hung out with a very different crowd than I did. Side note to this – it caused an actual fist fight between me and two of my friends. We were playing pool in my friend’s basement and this other guy kept changing the radio station. I was in such a bad mood, I told him if he changed it again I’d punch him in the face. He did. And I did. As I was waiting for him to retaliate, my other friend sucker-punched me in the head and tackled me, saying there was no fighting in his house. Ah, the hot-blooded teenage years.


When Hannah Green’s dog comes out of the woods carrying a sneaker that contains a partially decomposed foot, she thinks it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to her.

She is wrong.

Hannah and her best friend, Ashley, decide to play detective but find themselves in the middle of a decades-old mystery.


What is the strange old woman Mama Bayole hiding in her decrepit farmhouse? Why is the local librarian so determined to prevent them from researching town history? Who is following them around Hopedale, New Hampshire?

The girls make a shocking discovery about what has been happening in the woods behind Hannah's house. As they get closer to the truth, things take a dangerous turn, and they play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse that may end up costing them their lives.
You can purchase The Clearing at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you VESUVIAN BOOKS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of THE CLEARING by Tom Deady
1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card
WEEK ONE
OCTOBER 25th MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
OCTOBER 26th TUESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST
OCTOBER 27th WEDNESDAY TTC Books and More EXCERPT
OCTOBER 28th THURSDAY Twirling Book Princess EXCERPT
OCTOBER 29th FRIDAY BookHounds YA INTERVIEW

WEEK TWO
NOVEMBER 1st MONDAY Casia's Corner REVIEW
NOVEMBER 2nd TUESDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
NOVEMBER 2nd TUESDAY Books and Zebras REVIEW
NOVEMBER 3rd WEDNESDAY My Fictional Oasis REVIEW
NOVEMBER 4th THURSDAY Two Points of Interest REVIEW
NOVEMBER 5th FRIDAY Ya It's Lit REVIEW

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Friday, October 22, 2021

Leila Siddiqui Interview - House of Glass Hearts


Photo Content from Paul Clarke

Leila Siddiqui is a Chicago-born Texan who calls New York home. She currently works in publishing in the marketing department. Leila spent a childhood fascinated by history and horror, and how intricately both can be entwined, and now wants to write the kind of fantastical and strange fiction she loved to read growing up, by shedding light on pieces of history the rest of the world tends to forget or write off.

She is a horror film devotee and when not writing, spends her time fawning over her very floofy cat. She lives with her partner in Queens.
        
  


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My most rewarding experience is seeing pictures that my friends and family have taken holding the book. That’s when it hit home for me that my lifelong dream came true and having their love and support has been incredible.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on a 1920’s based historical fiction novel with a South Asian flapper as the main character. I feel like my goal as a writer has been to insert South Asian people in narratives where they haven’t previously belonged. I know in my heart there were Desi flappers in the ‘20’s so I’ve set out to tell the story of one of them.

Can you tell us when you started HOUSE OF GLASS HEARTS, how that came about?
I started writing it early in 2018. I can’t remember what exactly sparked the idea, but at that time I wanted to explore some of my family’s history in India during WWII and Partition and turn it into something that was as dark as Stranger Things. My grandfather had a creepy greenhouse on his roof that no one was allowed to go near, and I had heard stories about a great uncle fighting in WWII. Those personal histories, along with stories of my grandparents during the 1947 Partition, came together in my book.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’d like them to think about how history often favors white narratives. India was in a complicated position during WWII as a British colony. There were millions of colonized people across the Empire and also the Caribbean, who enlisted to fight on behalf of the British, and yet where are their stories? That’s millions of personal narratives not logged away in our history books. We see films that take place during WWII, and though historically they were there, Indian soldiers aren’t present on the beaches of Dunkirk or flying in war planes. So I’d like for readers to understand that history is a complicated thing and it has a very diverse cast.

What part of Maera did you enjoy writing the most?
I named Maera after my first cousin! So that was one thing. J But also I wanted to explore how grief and hope can mingle together to inform a character’s decisions and behaviors. Maera is grieving for her lost brother, but she also is hopeful that she has a chance to find him when her grandfather’s mysterious greenhouse shows up her backyard. She isn’t the most rational at times, and I think that’s okay. Grief affects all of us in different ways.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like to introduce the Churail that lives in the greenhouse to Frankenstein’s monster. I feel like both are a manifestation of other people’s traumas and both are created against their own wishes. I feel like there would be a strong kinship there and they can both go marauding together across the Indian subcontinent and England.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
We used to do a lot of road trips when I was a kid. There was one summer where we drove from Dallas to Chicago and I met most of my dad’s side of the family. I was eight years old and I’d never met my cousins before. I thought I had made new friends and I was upset thinking I’d only have the summer with them, but when I was told that they were my actual family, I remember being so ecstatic that I had a deeper kinship with my new friends. That summer in Chicago was one of the best summers of my childhood. I still remember it fondly.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Write a book! I feel like everyone has at least one book in them. It’s a torturous journey, but having created something with your own personal stamp on it is rewarding.

Best date you've ever had?
My partner recently took me over the ferry to Governor’s Island where he taught me how to write a bike for the second time. The first time he’d taught me was several years ago in Central Park where I’d fallen and was too terrified to do it again. It was a beautiful sunny day, there was great food on the island, and I managed to make my way around the island once without falling or crashing!

What was the first job you had?
My first job was at Half Price Books in Dallas, still the best job I ever had!

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I feel like 9/11 changed everything for South Asian people. Even now, I think of my life in terms of pre 9/11 and post-9/11. Before that, the macroaggressions existed, but without the under layer of vitriol and Islamophobia that started the day of the terror attacks. I remember watching the news with my family that day, glued to the TV, and as soon as we heard who was behind the attacks, the fear of what would happen to us was immediate. The TV show Ramy illustrates this very well in an episode that shows what it was like being a young person during that time. Our neighbors became cold with us, we put all sorts of American flag iconography around our home and in our cars and yet I was still bullied in school and we were still regarded warily by our neighborhood. I think before that time, South Asian people felt “safe” existing in white spaces, because of the model minority myth. Then we were reminded that it could take one terrible act of violence for friends and neighbors to turn on you and discard you from the privileged bubble they’d let you previously inhabit.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Probably hanging out with my wonderful partner, Paul. Every day I have a belly laugh with him. J

First Heartbreak?
There were so many heartbreaks in middle school, so many fleeting crushes, that I’ve lost count! I think back then it was easier to daydream about boys than pursue them!

TEN RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME
  • 1.) I have a twin sister
  • 2.) I was born on Friday the 13th
  • 3.) I was a supernumerary for the Dallas Opera, which is pretty much an extra on stage with no speaking or singing role
  • 4.) I’m an amateur chef and have perfected making my own vegan meat
  • 5.) I spend a lot of time in Ireland every year
  • 6.) My favorite flavor of ice cream is salted caramel
  • 7.) I have three cats
  • 8.) I’m very good at foosball
  • 9.) When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut
  • 10.) One of the most venerated Sufi shrines, beloved by both Muslims and Hindus alike, was supposedly in my family until my grandfather’s grandfather decided not to continue in the tradition of caring for the tomb. He wanted to go out into the world, so the lineage of caretakers was passed to his first cousin. It’s the shrine of Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, in India.
Your journey to publication
My path to publication was not a traditional, linear process. House of Glass Hearts was the third novel I’d ever written. My first novel will never see the light of day! But my second had quite a bit of interest on the first #DVpit Twitter pitch contest, though the interest didn’t turn into any offers. I had also submitted it to Pitch Wars and it didn’t pick up much interest. Which is an important thing to consider – pitch contests are only one way to find representation. I began querying HOGH in late 2019. I also wanted to explore submitting to indie presses so I subbed to both editors and agents and received an offer of publication from Yali Books. I had to do a reverse process of then going back to agents that I had an offer of publication! I’d previously queried my second novel to my agent, Cate Hart’s, previous agency, but that agent had left and then it had passed through several agents before before landing with her. However, I had forgotten which novel she’d had so I had contacted her about my offer, but when I realized it was for a different novel than the one she had, I let her know. She was still interested in reading it, so I sent her HOGH and she offered!

A small part of me was superstitious so I waited until the news was out that Yali Books would be publishing my novel that I told my close family and friends. Of course, they were really happy for me! But the only people I bored with all of my writer angst was my partner and my twin sister, who have been my beta readers from the first novel I’d written. They’ve been my constant champions and it’s a huge credit to the two of them that I’ve been able to consistently write and be motivated to finish my manuscripts.


Maera and her ammi never talk about the Past, a place where they've banished their family's heartache and grief forever. They especially never mention the night Maera's older brother Asad disappeared from her naana's house in Karachi ten years ago. But when her grandfather dies and his derelict greenhouse appears in her backyard from thousands of miles away, Maera is forced to confront the horrors of her grandfather's past. To find out what happened to her brother, she must face the keepers of her family's secrets-the monsters that live inside her grandfather's mysterious house of glass.

Seamlessly blending history with myth, HOUSE OF GLASS HEARTS follows a Pakistani-American teen's ruthless quest to find her missing sibling, even if the truth would reveal her grandfather's devastating secret and tear her family apart. In a narrative that switches between colonial India and present-day America, this ambitious debut explores how the horrors of the past continue to shape the lives of South Asians around the world.

You can purchase House of Glass Hearts at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LEILA SIDDIQUI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of House of Glass Hearts by Leila Siddiqui.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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P.J. Flie Interview - Legacy of Seven: A Guardian Rises


Photo Content from P. J. Flie 

P. J. Flie is an author and educator passionate about working with the next generation of artists. He holds a BFA in theatre, and works in all aspects of theatre production from acting coach to director, set builder, lighting designer, and stage manager. He started writing at the age of 10, focusing on honing this craft throughout school and at college. Hailing from Canada, where he currently resides, he continues to create stories.

      



Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Seeing my book up for presale is a huge milestone. There’s a point as an artist where you decide to share your work with the world, or not. Now that it’s up for sale, there’s no turning back. That evokes feelings of excitement and anticipation. I’m looking forward to holding my book in my hands for the first time. It’s wonderful to see the results of all that hard work.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Current projects: The next two books in the Legacy of Seven series. Book two finally sees many of our heroes coming together and meeting for the first time. Just when things are looking brighter, a few twists of fate send our heroes on a tougher path, hence the title: Darkness Falls. There are some epic battle scenes in book three, The North Stands, the threat of which loom in the first two books. Books two and three are works in progress. I also need to revisit a stand-alone novel that’s about the afterlife, a subject that lends itself to many different beliefs and explanations as to what happens after death. Fantasy and Science Fiction lend themselves to exploring the idea of possibilities, to know the unknown: driving factors throughout my writing.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Put simply and stated in many different ways by others, storytelling is our way to learn more about ourselves and to make sense of the world we live in. From the earliest myths that explained the natural world, often with cosmic beings that control our fates, we’ve always had the curiosity and desire to know more about existence and our place within it. Also, for many people, stories are a way to take a break from our daily reality and delve into new worlds, a way to be captivated by compelling narratives. When good stories are told well, seeing the character’s journey can inspire us to take the next step on our own paths in life.

Can you tell us when you started A GUARDIAN RISES, how that came about?
Art is a reflection of reality. Throughout history, and even today, we’ve struggled with the balance between belief and fact, science and religion. A Guardian Rises started with that theme, exploring it with extremes, a society steeped in superstition while still containing highly advanced technology. From there, I developed characters with strong needs and traits; it’s from them that the world takes shape and crystalizes into one with clear rules of its own.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Most of all, I hope readers are pulled in by the characters, reacting to them as if they were real people, deciding who they want to see succeed by the end of the book. Once they’re done reading, if the experience gets them thinking about some of the deeper themes, such as ones around freedom, rights, and beliefs. That would be wonderful.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I focus on creating characters that feel realistic. Then I let my characters guide me. Sometimes they take me in new and surprising directions, that’s when my writing takes off, and the part I do enjoy the most: the idea of discovery brings that world to life.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love to see CD-45 meet Marvin, the paranoid robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I always loved Marvin when I first read that book at the age of ten. He made me laugh, much in the way CD-45 does. It’s the situations in which they find themselves, and the humorous ways they respond that would make that meeting a great one.

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
My twelfth birthday party - We had reservations for Tour of the Universe, a motion simulator ride, and very popular for the time. When they lost the reservation, I was heartbroken. But my parents wouldn’t let it go, not until they got free tickets for my friends and me, and still on my birthday. Loved that day.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Conquer at least one of your fears. I used to be terrified to ride rollercoasters. I got tricked into riding one that was not as easy as I was lead to believe. Full of twists and turns, sometimes the whole world went upside-down, exhilarating, scary, and left me feeling a little sick and dizzy. But after it was over, I couldn’t stop laughing. I have never been scared of them since.

Best date you've ever had?
Meeting the love of my life after a huge snowstorm; the first time I ever tried sushi, and on a dare too, a memorable day, to say the least.

What was the first job you had?
Delivering fliers for a pharmacy. Picture it: me wearing my bright yellow Walkman, listening to my mix (cassette) tape as I get my steps in (by the way, not a thing at the time, we simply called it walking back then), soaking in some sun while I lugged around stacks of cheap print paper to houses and apartments.

What did you do for your last birthday?
I don’t make a big deal of birthdays these days, a quiet one where we ordered takeout and shared it with loved ones.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese society since I studied history in university. If I could immerse myself in that culture for several months, that would be ideal. That way, I could learn at least some Japanese. My goal would be to become fluent. Then after, I would love to learn more languages.

First Heartbreak?
Grade 11. Young love. I even tried to switch schools, set everything up at the Guidance office. Then a group of people invited me out to a comedy club that weekend. One of them, I’ll call her Red, for her hair, asked me why I was so upset. When I told her what I was planning to do, she responded with, “No, you’re not.” That’s when I realized I had a group of friends. We had some amazing times together, memories I still cherish. Funny how life works out sometimes and I never did change schools because I had my people, and they made all the difference.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
As Alfred, Lord Tennyson said, “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I always thought those words were very wise.

TEN FACTS ABOUT A GUARDIAN RISES
  • 1. It takes place in approximately 4500 A.D.
  • 2. A shield protects the planet from an alien race that is determined to wipe out humanity.
  • 3. There are wands used by wizards who use them to rule over their kingdoms.
  • 4. It’s a medieval society that has risen from the ashes of a highly advanced human civilization.
  • 5. Many of the details of the medieval society came from my European vacation, where I experienced a lot of historical architecture.
  • 6. Ondreeal, the strong female lead, is based on the impressive women I have had the good fortune to have in my life.
  • 7. The religion in Legacy of Seven, is based on my upbringing in the Christian church, but is also influenced by many other religions from around the world.
  • 8. The main story takes place in the area we would know as the Southern States and Northern Mexico, but in a very different climate, and far in the future.
  • 9. I originally considered the name of Oz for the main antagonist, Zairoc. But reconsidered because of the set of assumptions that come with a wizard named Oz.
  • 10. CD-45 is like a child, in many ways, which adds a great deal of illogic and emotion into his choices. It creates a great deal of humor in his thoughts and actions.
Meet the Characters
ONDREEAL – She is the heart and soul of the story. Even though several chapters focus on other characters and their own journeys, she is the one who is experiencing this world for the first time, just as the reader does. Ondreeal is 18 years old, with big dreams, has lived a sheltered life on a farm with her adoptive father, who is cold and distant. That’s left her with her own thoughts, imagination, and a growing desire to see the world. She looks like her mother, who’s long dead, and that puts her in the position of seeing her mother’s face in her own reflection. Beyond this, she doesn’t think about how beautiful she’s become in her own right. She’s had to be emotionally strong to survive living with her father. Ondreeal is well-muscled from a lifetime of working the farm. When she finally experiences the world, often a brutal and callous place, she doesn’t shrink from it; she fights for as long as she draws breath.

Quote: “She took a deep breath and raised her head so that she could meet the monster’s condescending stare. Something deep within her mind wouldn’t let her lie down and die.”

SIR FRANCIS – Imagine the picture of every good old wizard that might come to mind, and that’s what Sir Francis looks like. A long, snowy beard, crisp white robes, he embodies the image of righteousness. As the story progresses, we get hints of the regrets and failures he’s had over his many years,; his fears and hopes for the future cause him to make mistakes with Ondreeal. We learn about what haunts his waking mind, which manifests in his nightmares. Like any figure that’s up on a pedestal, there’s a very real and fallible human being in there, simply trying to do the best they can.

Quote: “Everyone around wizards died, including magistrates and Beacons, but wizards went on—all of them did. Although others called them wizards, to Sir Francis they were just people.”

CD-45 – A Construction droid with an emotional side. He’s very much like a kid, experiencing and reacting to the world for the first time. In this way, he’s very much like Ondreeal. They both go through plenty of growing pains, learning the rules of a strange, new land. However, CD-45 is a bridge into our world. He is the observer, often understanding his experiences from a perspective that we can relate to. His thoughts explain the world in a way we can understand.

Quote 1: “Certainly, no one would ever understand such frustration, because the only being in existence that had ever experienced this turmoil was CD-45.”

Quote 2: “What did he expect, though? After all the centuries on the orbital platforms, pop culture had inevitably changed. Probability of finding someone who understood what pop culture meant: 1.5 percent.”


A world filled with magic, wizards and, enchanted beings—or the ashes of a highly advanced civilization? The truth is much more complicated.

Ondreeal has lived her whole life on the farm with her callous adoptive father. She longs to see the world and witness for herself the magical wonders that fill it—and she’ll soon get her wish, thrust into an adventure that carries her to heights she never dreamed possible, and to the depths of despair and loneliness. Ondreeal can never become the hero the world wants her to be.

But will she become the hero it needs?


You can purchase Legacy of Seven: A Guardian Rises at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you P.J. FLIE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Legacy of Seven: A Guardian Rises by PJ Flie.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
a Rafflecopter giveaway
jbnlatestinterviews