JeanBookNerd Storytellers BOX

Let your adventure begin...

Sylvain Neuvel


Sean Penn


Jeff Wheeler


Tom Bilyeu

Impact Theory

Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau


William L. Myers Jr.


Mel Darbon

ROSIE LOVES JACK Official Blog Tour

E.E. KNight


Robert McCaw


Gregg Olsen


Josh Duhamel


Trudi Trueit

THE TIGER'S NEST Offcial Nerd Blast

Evie Green


Katherine Johnson, Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore

ONE STEP FURTHER Official Nerd Blast

Christopher Ruocchio


Friday, March 5, 2021

Susan McCauley Interview - Pirates' Curse

Photo Content from Susan McCauley

Susan McCauley is a writer/producer of paranormal, fantasy, and horror films and fiction for adults, young adults, and middle grade audiences and readers. Susan fell in love with writing, theater, and film when she was eight-years-old. That passion inspired her to receive a B.A. in Radio-Television with a minor in Theater from the University of Houston, a M.F.A. in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California (USC), and a M.A. in Text & Performance from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and King’s College in London. Susan also studied acting at Playhouse West with Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day) in Los Angeles.

While living in Los Angeles, Susan wrote the story for and produced a short film, which later won awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Seabrook Film Festival. In 2002, she moved to London to further explore professional theater. While in London, her stage adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose” was performed at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art’s George Bernard Shaw Theatre; and, scenes from her play The Prisoner: Princess Elizabeth were performed at HMS Tower of London. She returned home to the U.S. in 2005. In 2007, she was the line producer of the Emmy Award nominated Civil War short film Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier.

Susan has several short stories published, one of which, "The Cask", was made into an award winning short film. "The Cask" was republished in the Camden Park Press anthology Quoth the Raven, which won Best Anthology of 2018 in multiple reader polls. In addition to her short stories, Susan has one novella and two novels in print, as well as two feature length screenplays in development.

Susan loves travel, animals, movies, theatre, taekwondo, and books (of course!)


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Webster, Texas. (It sounds like a small town, but it’s actually a suburb of Houston and very close to the Johnson Space Center.) I left Texas for many years and lived in Los Angeles, London, and Washington D.C., but came back to Texas and now live in Spring.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The most rewarding experience so far was when a boy who never willingly read on his own, wouldn’t put down my book, Ghost Hunters: Bones in the Wall. His mother told me that he took it to lunch with him and was even reading it in the car on the way to and from school and soccer practice. The fact he loved it that much and wanted to keep reading was/is amazing. I want to find more readers like him to engage with my books.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I don’t have a singular inspiration. I wrote my first short film when I was eight-years-old. From there, I just kept writing. I started with poetry in elementary school, but didn’t really get into writing fiction until my 20s. (My masters degrees were in playwriting and screenwriting). I suppose the final push that got me to write my first novel was when I was teaching middle school English and drama in London. It was at that time I started re-reading classic children’s literature and started reading current children’s fiction. It was then I was hooked, and the first story that became a novel was planted in my mind.

Tell us your latest news.
The biggest news right now is the upcoming release of Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse on March 2. I’m also having a fun virtual launch on March 3 for anyone who’d like to JOIN. I hope to have an in-person event that includes an actual ghost tour once more people have had the opportunity to receive the COVID vaccine (maybe in May). Finally, I’m nearly done with the first draft of Book 3 in the Ghost Hunters series. . . so more on that coming soon! J

In your newest book, PIRATES’ CURSE; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse is a spooky-fun adventure with a pirate twist. Growing up on the Gulf Coast of Texas, I always heard about the pirate Jean Lafitte and the treasure that is supposedly hidden to this day in the Houston/Galveston area. As a kid, I always had wild ideas of hunting for (and finding) the treasure. So, as an adult, I thought it would be fun to combine my love of the paranormal with pirates, which is what I did in this book.

For those who are unfamiliar with your series; GHOST HUNTERS, how would you introduce it?
Ghost Hunters is a bit like going on Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride. It’s spooky, but fun. There are sad moments, too, because I wanted to touch on real-life human issues and explore the growth of these kids as they find their way in a world full of ghosts. The series is a bit like Ghostbusters meeting Harry Potter (no wizards, of course, but there are fantasy elements to the books).

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope that both adults and kids will enjoy the scares, but will also enjoy the characters and stories. A few reviews have compared Ghost Hunters with Goosebumps, which is great and I totally get it. I mean, Goosebumps is a HUGE middle grade horror/paranormal brand. But, there is more character development in my books that in Stein’s series (at least I hope). I want readers not just to get a “scare”, but to feel for the characters, and to come away from the books with a sense of connectedness to the characters’ personal growth and the human challenges they face.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
I don’t think there’s a single most surprising thing, but I always find it interesting when I have plans for a character (based on plot), but they have other ideas. . . and the story has to move forward differently because it’s a choice the character (not the author) would or wouldn’t make. I won’t force a character into something because of plot. The two have to go hand-in-hand, which can be challenging sometimes!

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’ve always thought it would be fun if Alex from Ghost Hunters could meet Anthony Lockwood from Lockwood & Co. The alternate worlds they live in are different, but both characters are kids dealing with ghosts in different countries. The conversations they could have!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Being a mom. LOL. When my son, age 12, is home from school it’s very difficult to get my work done because there are always questions, problems, or things to do. Now that he’s a bit older, I strive to hit 1,000 words a day when he’s home.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
I think everyone should visit a foreign country, and, if possible, live in a foreign country. I lived in the United Kingdom for over two years and loved it. It was a transformational period in my life. I don’t get back there as often as I’d like, but I do go back and see friends when I’m there. If I could go every year, I would!

Best date you've ever had?
I think the best date I’ve ever had was the first date with my husband. We met for dinner at a waterfront restaurant. The conversation was easy and we both “knew” we’d met the right one.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I’d probably go and talk to myself at age 20 when I first moved to Los Angeles and give myself some career and personal guidance. If I couldn’t actually talk to myself, but just went back in time – it’d definitely be while I was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and living in London.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
I think I’m most afraid of loss (especially the idea of losing my son), which is probably why loss/death is something I tackle in some of my books.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
I don’t have a single best memory (yet), but I love it when kids have read my book and come up to me at author events or if I’m doing a school visit and are excited about meeting me because they loved my book(s).

First Heartbreak?
My first heartbreak. . . wow. Well, I was in first grade. I “married” this boy named Brian Raines on the playground. The sixth grade class put together an outdoor wedding with a little plastic ring and everything. LOL. Brian and I would spend most weekends together. I mean, obviously we were kids and it was just hanging out having fun, but we had a special bond. Then, in the middle of the school year—without warning—he and his family just disappeared. I believe his father got into some sort of business trouble and they literally moved without a trace overnight. I never saw or heard from him again. Here I am decades later, and I still wonder what happened to Brian.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. I’ve had a few broken hearts. One was an especially bad heart break, but I recovered. I think every time we open ourselves up to love, we open ourselves up to loss. The loss part isn’t fun, but it’s all part of the intricate emotional ebb and flow of being human.

  • 1. I drew upon my experiences during Hurricane Harvey for the scene where Alex goes out into the hurricane.
  • 2. The character, Jason, is named after one of my oldest, dearest friend’s brother, Jason Grant. I met Jason when he was two-years-old and I was five. Sadly, Jason was killed at 19. I wanted to honor his memory and his family by naming one of my main characters after him. (Like the character in the book, the real Jason was also of Jamaican descent).
  • 3. The real-life Lafitte Blacksmith Shop Bar is a main location in Pirates’ Curse.
  • 4. I did a lot of research on Jean Lafitte and his time in New Orleans for the book.
  • 5. The cats in the book are named after my cats. ;-)
  • 6. The main character, Alex, is named after my son.
  • 7. The idea for the hidden treasure in the book and where it’s found (not going to give a spoiler!) came from real treasure that was found in my 6th grade school in Galveston, Texas! A portion of the building was damaged, and hidden treasure was found.
  • 8. My family and I visited New Orleans near Halloween so I could incorporate elements of the city and that season into Pirates’ Curse.
  • 9. I printed a map of the French Quarter and, using Googlemaps, plotted the walking distance and time from each character’s place of residence and/or business to the other. (I want to make sure the details are accurate!)
  • 10. I used my knowledge as a Dive Master and Scuba Instructor to give Alex and his friend, Jason, the search patterns they use when looking for treasure. (They don’t search for it underwater, but the same search patterns work just fine on land, too!)
Writing Behind the Scenes
I’ve finally gotten to a point in my writing life where I write 1,000-1,500 words per day (during the week). Sometimes I write more, but if there’s a school holiday, I might not hit the goal. Thankfully, I usually get it done. I write in my office as much as I can because I’m surrounded by books and art that I love; however, my cats can open doors. So, there’s no escape. LOL. They all break into my office and surround me (we have three rescue cats). That’s usually okay, but can be somewhat distracting. I also sometimes sit in the living room and write. Before COVID, I liked to write at the café at my gym and/or at local coffee shops. I may get back to that eventually.

When beginning a new project, I start with an outline based on The Writer’s Journey. (I particularly like Christopher Vogler’s book and diagram, which is what I’ve brought into my fiction from screenwriting.) I then make notes on character arcs. I make a rough outline on how I want the characters to grow and change through the book, and then work to marry those character changes with the plot. For Ghost Hunters, I’ve created a story bible of sorts. I have an electronic file, but I also have a binder where I keep details for each book, along with research I’ve done, maps, notes, inspirational images, etc. So, for example, if I forget when an apprentice psychic is supposed to get a certain tattoo, I open my binder and find the information quickly.

I draw ideas for my writing from life-experience and images. I select settings based on places I find interesting and that I know something about. And I love weaving history into my fiction, which is why I have some alternate history going on in many of my books. Finally, even though I write fiction, I do a ton of research for each book. I like to get the details as accurate as possible. And, if I do fudge the facts for the sake of story, I want to know I’m doing it and, hopefully, do it in a fun and creative way.

In this ghostly and fast-paced adventure, twelve-year-old Alex must use his psychic gifts to speak with a pirate ghost to solve the curse of an old pirate hangout—if he fails, his best friends could be trapped there forever.

Ghosts are commonplace in this dark and exciting world, and the psychics who deal with "The Problem" are rare. Apprentice Psychic Investigator Alex and his two friends take on their first solo case to discover who’s haunting an old New Orleans pub. They battle ferocious winds, driving rain, and raging spirits to put the pirates’ curse to rest.

Ghost Hunters: Pirates’ Curse (Book 2 in the Ghost Hunters series) is filled with rich characters, spooky moments, and action-packed fun.
You can purchase Pirates' Curse at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SUSAN MCCAULEY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Pirates' Curse (Ghost Hunters #2) by Susan McCauley.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Matthew Newman Interview - Kingdom of Ink and Paper

Photo Content from Matthew Newman

Born in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, Matthew Newman grew up on fantasy. Whether it was the Harry Potter series, The Golden Compass, or any of the hundreds of books he read throughout his childhood, he was raised to believe in the impossible and the spirit of adventure. In the third grade, he was reprimanded for writing stories in Language Arts instead of paying attention, which just made him do it more. In high school, Matthew established himself as an author with the self-publication of two novels, stories that helped introduce him to the joy and excitement of publishing as a business. After graduating from Duke University with degrees in sociology, markets and management, and creative writing, Matthew returned to his roots and established Sandcrest Publishing, the indie publishing house responsible for the release of Kingdom of Ink and Paper. Matthew currently lives in New York City.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and grew up in a suburb north of the city, called Cornelius. I currently live in New York City.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
There was an opportunity to get early access to the novel, and I’ve had a number of early readers come to me and say how much they loved it, and how excited they are for the sequel. I think it’s rewarding and heartwarming to know that not only are there people out there who enjoyed the book, but there are people who are excited to read what I’ve got coming next. It feels great to know that there’s an audience out there.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
One of the interesting things about Kingdom of Ink and Paper is it’s technically not my first novel. Sure, it’s the only one that I’m actively selling on the market, but it’s the third in my repertoire. When I was in high school I published two other novels, medieval fantasy stories that centered on a fictional castle called Sandcrest Castle (which is where my publishing company, Sandcrest Publishing, got its name). I always wanted to write my own book, and when I was in fifth grade, my dad encouraged me to just try writing one down and seeing what happened. It took a few years, but I was able to self-publish my first book in ninth grade, and then its sequel my senior year of high school. The Betwixt and Between Chronicles are my focus right now, but it’s my hope to go back to my first babies and rewrite them one day (now that I’m a little older, a little wiser, and a little better at my craft).

Tell us your latest news.
As of now, my life is all about getting Kingdom of Ink and Paper out into the world! But outside of the literary, I’ve recently gotten very into TikTok. I resisted joining for the longest time, but as far as social media goes, I’ve found it’s the easiest for me to update and the one I’m best at. I don’t have an aesthetic for Instagram. I don’t have enough one-liners for Twitter. But book-related skits? I can pull that off.

Let’s see, what else ... I’m going through a big Phoebe Bridgers phase right now. Currently binging the anime Attack on Titan. I’m in the midst of rereading Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass in preparation for the third season of HBO’s His Dark Materials.

Can you tell us when you started KINGDOM OF INK AND PAPER, how that came about?
I don’t remember exactly when I first had the idea for Kingdom of Ink and Paper. The earliest, proper example of it written down is a play I wrote the first act of when I was fourteen. But the story has been around way longer than that. I’ve always enjoyed thinking about fantasy universes, and which ones I’d like to be a part of. My parents have videos of me running around my childhood backyard, swinging long sticks and pretending I’m fighting invisible enemies, or waving a magic wand and pretending to cast spells. The obsession and desire to enter the universes of written fiction is engrained in me, and I think that just natural passion is what fueled me to finally put ink to paper, as it were. But I’ve been familiar with the story and premise for as long as I can remember.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope it’s something fun that takes their minds off whatever’s worrying them! I don’t write to produce profound words or paragraphs that readers need to read over and over again to understand. My goal is to produce a fun, easy, and enjoyable universe that lets reader have an escape, as long as the cover of the book is open. If the reader finishes the book, is happy they read it, and is looking forward to the sequel, then I’ve done my job.

What part of Will did you enjoy writing the most?
The thing I love about Will is that he really is, at his heart, a genuine person. He’s incredibly eager to learn about the world around him, and even more eager to help Tam solve Arthur’s murder. It’s not necessarily out of a desire for power or adventure, but because he knows it’s the right thing to do. It’s easy to channel heroic energy through him, even though he can be naïve and (at times) downright foolish. For me, he’s a great protagonist. He gets a feel for his magic powers quickly, though there’s plenty he still doesn’t know or understand. He’s easy to root for.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
The deuteragonist of Kingdom of Ink and Paper is a man named Tam Desmond. In Will’s world, Tam is a fictional character who comes to Will and teaches him that everything ever written down by humans comes to life a universe parallel to ours called the World of the Written, and becomes Will’s mentor and teacher. Tam is a well-meaning guy, cares about Will, but can be incredibly type-A. I think he’d benefit from a nice long chat with Dumbledore or Gandalf, some powerful mentor-figure who’s figured out how to toe the line between a wise adviser and friend without being an annoying stick in the mud. I love Tam, but come on man ... loosen up! Sure, I know I’m the reason you are the way you are, but still!

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Oh gosh, there were way too many. But I’d say the biggest was college. I started seriously writing Kingdom of Ink and Paper my senior year of high school, and when I started at Duke, it was hard. I definitely fell off the horse a little bit. What was more, every time I went back to the book, I found that I had grown up and wanted to write in a different way. My tone changed, my style changed, and the plot changed, all to reflect the growing up I did in between ages eighteen and twenty-two. By the time I graduated and started my first real adult job, the book was pretty much finished, but it still took another year to iron out some of the finer details and have it ready for editing. I guess the real answer to this question is life! Also, watching all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the matter of six months didn’t help.

I’m a little interesting, I suppose, so here are some facts about me!
  • 1.) I’m a huge dog person. The first time I didn’t live with at least one dog was my freshman year of college. My parents currently have a short-leg Jack Russell terrier named Murray, who I go home and see as often as I can.
  • 2.) I went to college at Duke University, so I am an aggressively passionate Duke Basketball fan. My little sister went to UNC-Chapel Hill, so basketball season is ... tense.
  • 3.) In school I majored in sociology, so I spent my days doing pretty much the opposite of creative writing; however, I did get a minor in creative writing, though those classes were mostly spent crafting poetry.
  • 4.) I’m allergic to pitted fruit, which means I can’t have avocados or guacamole. I’ve never even tried them!
  • 5.) I collect medieval weaponry! I currently have five swords hanging on my wall, and I try to buy a new one every time some big life event happens. I’d like to have an armory of some sort in my future office.
  • 6.) I play the saxophone! Primarily alto, though I do own a soprano. I also have a piano in my apartment, though I unfortunately can’t play it particularly well.
  • 7.) My favorite movie of all time is Zootopia, though The Lion King (the original) and Arrival are both up there.
  • 8.) My favorite television show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, I recently finished binging The Good Place and Sense8, both of which I highly recommend to literally everyone who asks me for TV recommendations.
  • 9.) The book that made me want to be a writer is the novel Marlfox by Brian Jacques; however, my favorite book right now is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
  • 10.) My favorite band/artist is a three-way tie between Coldplay, Phoenix, and AJR.
  • 1.) Morrison High School, the school the main characters attend, is based on my own high school in my hometown!
  • 2.) The town, Alexandria, North Carolina, is based on Davidson, North Carolina. The name of the town was actually inspired by a classmate, who during Calculus class senior year, asked me if I could put her in the book. I actually was trying to think of a name for the town at the time, so it worked out perfectly!
  • 3.) There is only one deleted scene that didn’t make its way to publication: a conversation between the main character, Will, and the older brother of Will’s favorite author (who is murdered in the opening pages of the story). The scene actually moved to the second book, where it’s more relevant.
  • 4.) The book was originally written in the first-person present point of view; however, my editor thought it would be better if it were written in third-person omniscient, in order to give me more freedom when it came to telling the story from other characters’ points of view.
  • 5.) Will’s name changed several times throughout the editing process. He was originally named Henry, then James, and his last name switched from Williams to Wilder until I settled on Morgan. In super early drafts of the story, Will’s name was Harvey (very glad I changed that).
  • 6.) Will’s name wasn’t the only one that changed. Jaser was originally called Thomas (Tom in early drafts), and Raina was originally Maria.
  • 7.) In the earlier phases of the book, there was an entirely different villain. The role Simon plays was originally held by a character named Onat, who was a more nefarious version of Will’s beloved Familiar. The character originally was more of a pestilence to Will than anything else, and favored teaching him about the Writer’s Eye in a way of trial-by-fire. He died at the end of the novel, snuffed out by the book’s actual villain. Some of my first test readers felt he didn’t really serve a purpose (they were right), so I ended up nixing him completely.
  • 8.) During the portions of the book that aren’t imbued with magic and danger, Will has a friendly albeit competitive rivalry with a fellow band member named Dane Richardson. The relationship between Dane and Will is based heavily on a relationship I had with a friend from childhood, who played the sax and proved to be a source of competition and growth throughout pretty much my entire high school experience. Though I’d never admit it to his face, he is 100% a better sax player than I am.
  • 9.) The final climatic battle of Kingdom of Ink and Paper was written entirely to the Kingdom Hearts II video game soundtrack.
  • 10.) Kingdom of Ink and Paper’s original title was The World Only They Could See. It had that title up until very late in the editing process, when my editor suggested I explored changing it. I was up late for several weeks trying to think of a different title, but one day it just hit me in one fell swoop.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
An extended backpacking trip. I’ve gone on several 1-2 week long backpacking trips, and I always come out of them feeling extraordinarily rejuvenated. There’s something magical about being out in the woods alone, with nothing but the sounds and feeling of nature to keep you company. Not to be too granola, but it really helps put life into perspective. Plus, it’s an amazing workout and a great excuse to eat a ton of carbs.

Best date you've ever had?
Summer 2017. Random Tinder match while I was interning in NYC. We went to the Museum of Natural History, then drank a $30 mojito pitcher at a random dive bar in East Village. We then trekked 50 blocks through the city at night until we inevitably said goodbye. We didn’t end up together, but the first date was definitely one for the books.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I know this is going to be cliché, but I don’t believe in yearning for the past. I’m very happy with where I am now, and feel like I’m at the top of my game. Every moment of my life so far has led me to here, and I really love where and who I am. Though if I had to pick, I guess I’d say my second semester of my senior year of college. I already had a job lined up, my classes were easy, and I was living with my best friends. It was paradise, and I didn’t have a care in the world. And then adulthood hit.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My phone and wallet are two that I absolutely need at any given time. I also refuse to go more than five minutes outside my apartment without my headphones, because if I’m not with someone I’m always listening to music. I also try to always have a bottle of water with me, because I know the second I don’t have one with me, I’m going to feel like I’m trapped in a desert.

First Heartbreak?
Fourth grade. I told my friend I had a crush on her, and then he told her! The nerve! She didn’t feel the same way and my classmates made fun of me.

My first real heartbreak was freshman year of college. I had recently come out, and was still trying to navigate my own sexuality and figuring out who I was. Dating shouldn’t have even been on the table. But I went on a few dates with a grad student who inevitably wasn’t looking for something serious. It was my first foray into gay dating, and threw me through a loop as I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve definitely been through worse heartbreak since, but something about the first time hits differently, you know?

What is your most memorable travel experience?
My junior year of college I was studying abroad in Glasgow, Scotland, and my group took a weekend trip to the Isle of Skye (a remote portion of the Scottish Highlands). It truly was like being in Middle-earth. To get there we had to take an hour-long ferry across this gorgeous stretch of water, with endless mountains on all sides. When we eventually hit land, we had to drive for about an hour to reach the town we were staying in, which reminded me of a medieval village, with all of the buildings made of stone. The biodiversity and just general variance in the landscapes made me feel like I was seeing multiple places over the course of the weekend, and my mind was blown. It’s at the top of my revisit list.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love with a guarantee of a heart break, easily. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. There’s a quote that reads, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Every moment you spend in love is a learning experience, even if it’s learning about what you need from a partner or what you want from your life. Being in love brings happiness, but it also brings growth, and I think that’s a really powerful thing. So, if you get your heart broken, you can grow from it. You can learn. And then, if you want, you can look back on that love with reminiscence and gratitude.

Where can readers find you?
Instagram: @MatthewNewmanAuthor
TikTok (if you’re feeling brave! I’m funny!): @MatthewNewmanAuthor
Twitter: @MNewmanBooks

Every book you’ve ever read. Every story you’ve ever heard. What if they were all true?

When high school student Will Morgan goes on a school trip to Boston, he doesn’t expect to witness a murder. But when best-selling novelist Arthur O’Neill is found dead, Will realizes there’s more to this writer’s books than just words.

After O’Neill’s death, Will receives a mysterious package: a copy of The Redstone Keep, one of O’Neill’s famous novels. Upon reading the book, Will passes out and is introduced to a man named Tam Desmond, The Redstone Keep’s protagonist. Tam explains that he is a resident of the World of the Written, a universe parallel to our own where everything ever published by humans comes to life.

Through his conversations with Tam, Will learns that something was targeting Arthur, and that same force is now after him. Armed with his new powers and a magical sword, Will sets out on a journey to solve the mysteries surrounding the murder; however, all the while, Arthur’s death may have just been the start of something much more sinister.

You can purchase Kingdom of Ink and Paper at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MATTHEW NEWMAN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Kingdom of Ink and Paper by Matthew Newman.

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Deanna Raybourn Interview - An Unexpected Peril

Photo Credit: Sigmon Taylor Photography

A sixth-generation native Texan, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history and an emphasis on Shakespearean studies. She taught high school English for three years in San Antonio before leaving education to pursue a career as a novelist. Deanna makes her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband and daughter.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
There was never a time when I didn’t know I was going to be a storyteller. I remember being extremely happy when I learned to print because I could finally get stories out of my head and onto paper. By the time I was six, I was pretending to be interviewed by Barbara Walters because I knew answering questions about myself was going to be part of my life when I grew up.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting to meet readers and hear their stories is always incredibly wonderful. They tell me about the chemo or divorce or pandemic or just crappy day that my books gave them a little escape from. As a reader, I know how important it is to be able to step out of your own life sometimes, even for just a little while. As a writer, the fact that I can do that for other people just makes me really happy.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I feel like I should say the pandemic, but the truth is, being locked down and anxious made escaping into this book an absolute joy. The hours I spent writing each day were my ticket to another world for just a little while and I think it helped keep me on track.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
When I was a child, my grandmother handed me a copy of DEATH ON THE NILE and said, “I think you’ll like this.” It was my introduction to Agatha Christie and it opened up a whole new type of reading for me. I loved kids’ mysteries—Jupiter Jones, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew—but reading about adults in a glamorous setting, picking through the psychology of murder, puzzling out the intricacies of plot, that was all entirely new. The next year, she bought me the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes which started my love for Victoriana.

Tell us about AN UNEXPECTED PERIL (Veronica Speedwell #6)!
This sixth Veronica Speedwell adventure picks up after book five ends, in January of 1889. As a member of the exclusive Curiosity Club, Veronica is setting up an exhibition honoring the memory of one of their members, a mountaineer killed during her latest expedition. It’s Stoker who first realizes that the climber’s death may not have been accidental after all and they soon become caught up in an investigation that involves a princess and her entourage…

Which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book 1 and in what way have they changed?
Veronica is very much always herself, but she is slowly, quite slowly, letting herself come to trust and depend upon Stoker—who is very probably the most dependable character I’ve ever written. He is a rock, but Veronica is not good at vulnerability so she has resisted engaging in a true partnership and runs away from commitment like her petticoats were on fire. Stoker is less rude and abrasive than he used to be. We see more of his softer side now, less of the loner who pushes everyone away. They are making each other better; it’s just taking a lot of time!

  • 1. Every bit of the fictitious country of the Alpenwald had to be invented, so there is folklore, history, geography, flora, fauna, and even court dress that is wholly my creation.
  • 2. The mountaineer Alice Baker-Greene is based on two Victorian climbers, rivals named Anne Smith Peck and Fanny Bullock Workman who both carried suffragist banners to the tops of mountains.
  • 3. The weather event described in the book—a cold snap that brought snow to southern England—actually happened in January of 1889.
  • 4. The shade of blue referred to in the book as Alpenwalder blue is based on Powderham blue, the color of the staircase hall at Powderham Castle, the seat of the Earls of Devon. (It’s also the color of the cover.)
  • 5. Stoker’s pockets are always a collection of miscellany, and in this book, we discover that he always carries small bits of rope to practice knots—a holdover from his days in the navy.
  • 6. The pastry chef, Julian d’Orlande, was named with the blessing of Orlando Jones, the actor who is the physical model for the character.
  • 7. Stoker has never celebrated a birthday that we have seen in the course of the six books. (Maybe in book 7?)
  • 8. The Curiosity Club—known formally as the Hippolyta Club—is an organization for exceptional women, scholars, explorers, artists, musicians, and other notables. It is based on the gentlemen’s clubs which enjoyed their heyday in Victorian times and still exist in one form or another in London.
  • 9. This is the first book in which neither Stoker nor Veronica acquires a pet. (Although there is temporary ownership of a cat.)
  • 10. Veronica’s character was inspired by Margaret Fountaine, a globe-trotting lepidopterist who took a number of lovers and generally had a very good time.
Meet the Characters
Veronica Speedwell is 26 and a semi-legitimate and unrecognized member of the British royal family. She is a lepidopterist by trade, something that keeps her out of society, and she is perfectly happy to keep it that way. Her sidekick and best friend with benefits is Stoker, aka The Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, an aristocratic black sheep, natural historian, and former naval surgeon. They are working together to establish a museum for their benefactor, but the going is slow and they have a bad habit of stumbling over dead bodies while engaging in an ongoing battle of wits and wills. Their chemistry is electric.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I love creative play and it’s vital for my process, so I always create a playlist and post a collage of photos on the wall next to my desk for inspiration. I also always begin a book on the first of a month. If there is a particular angle for a book—raising butterflies, growing herbs, throwing knives—I will usually dabble a little just to get a feel for what my characters are doing. (I don’t recommend raising butterflies, by the way. Their excrement is called frass and it smells dreadful. But throwing knives is fun.)

A princess is missing, and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club—an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women—Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela's chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves—and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.

Having noted Veronica's resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica's own family—the royalty who has never claimed her.

You can purchase An Unexpected Peril at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEANNA RAYBOURN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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|Podcast| 200 - Jennifer Brody & Jules Rivera

Jules Rivera: Photo Content Jules Rivera 

Jennifer Brody is the award-winning author of The 13th Continuum. Her debut novel sold in a 3- book deal and is being packaged into a television show. Her book is a Gold Medal Winner from the Independent Publisher‘s Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. Return of the Continuums and The United Continuums complete her epic trilogy. Translation rights have sold in multiple territories, most notably Russia and China. She lives and writes in LA, where she’s hard at work on her next book.

Jules Rivera is a Latinx artist who has worked as an illustrator, colorist, animator, and writer, prompting SyFy Wire to call her “a multi-talented force in indie comics.” She is the creator of a weekly autobiographical cartoon strip, Love, Joolz, and feminist sci-fi epic, Valkyrie Squadron, which are both being packaged into graphic novels. Additionally, she worked on the graphic novels Barbie Starlight Adventure and Barbie Video Game Hero for Mattel. She also creates sci-fi designs for TV and film and teaches storyboarding at the college level. She lives and works in LA when she’s not surfing on the weekends.

JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast   JBN Podcast
Praise for 200

“200 is a wild, sexy, twisted, and darkly entertaining trip into the future and deep into the human psyche. Brava for the kickass team of writer Jennifer Brody and artist Jules Rivera. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Black Panther: Doomwar

Who wants to live forever if you have to do it alone?
It’s Eva Thorne’s 200th birthday. 

But it’s not a celebration, more like a funeral. Eva lives in a world where the cure for aging and illness has been discovered and administered to every person on Earth. Only, there’s one big hitch. It turns out that very few people can handle immortality. So on their two hundredth birthday, they have to take a test. If they pass, they get to live forever. But if they fail, they must be euthanized. 

Eva's not an optimist. Ever since the Escorts took her husband Owen away for his test and he never came back, she’s been chainsmoking cigarettes (they can’t kill her after all), binge drinking, and waiting for the Escorts to get it over with already. 

But on the way to her testing room, Eva glimpses a staffer who resembles her husband. 

Suddenly, she has a reason to live. The problem? Owen doesn't remember her. With the Escorts hunting her down, Eva must now find a way for him to remember their life together or lose him forever to his new immortal existence.
jbnlatestinterviews, jbnmediainteriews, jbnpodcast, jbnfilms

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

E.J. Beaton Interview - The Councillor

Photo Content from E J. Beaton 

E J. Beaton is the author of the fantasy novel The Councillor, to be published by DAW Books on March 2, 2021. She has previously published a poetry collection, Unbroken Circle (Melbourne Poets Union), and has been shortlisted for the ACU Prize for Poetry and the Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize. She studied literature and writing at university, and her PhD thesis included analysis of Machiavellian politics in Shakespearean drama and fantasy literature. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Where were you born and where do you call home?
I’m Australian and I live in Melbourne, a city known for its arts and culture. To be surrounded by art galleries, theatres, and music venues is a true joy, and one I’m constantly grateful for. Melbourne is also the home of laneway dining, inconveniently capricious weather, and Australian football.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s been deeply rewarding to read (and watch) early reviews from readers and hear the reasons why they enjoyed THE COUNCILLOR. Hearing that someone felt connected to the main character Lysande and her struggles, that they enjoyed the representation of sexuality, that they loved the prose, or that they related to other characters… it means an enormous amount. I’m an avid reader myself and I know how much it can mean when you connect personally with a book. There is no greater reward than knowing that a reader loved my work and found something in it to hold on to.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Several elements fed into my inspiration and swirled together to create the book. The world-building drew upon both my travels and my reading – I’d experienced some incredible places and landscapes, especially in Europe and Asia, but reading Renaissance histories and literature also inspired me.

I studied Shakespearean drama, and found that Shakespeare’s plays helped me to think about character motivation and the rendering of human psychology. I also drew upon my own experiences, and upon what I’d like to see that I hadn’t yet found in a book – I wrote the kind of story I wanted to read, where a scholarly woman could be the main character in a political drama.

Tell us your latest news.
THE COUNCILLOR is getting an Australian hardback release! It comes out in the USA and Canada on March 2. Now, it will also hit Australian bookshelves on May 18.

Can you tell us when you started THE COUNCILLOR, how that came about?
I began writing the novel when I was at a low point in my life, and the main character’s health struggles partly represent my health struggles at the time. I didn’t write that aspect immediately; I developed more confidence later to write about those overlapping mental and physical health struggles. In the beginning, the symbolic and epic elements of fantasy appealed to me as a way of metaphorically representing my struggle. Fighting a queen with dangerous powers seemed a bit like my own fight to push back harmful thoughts and behaviours.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Given the very diverse reasons that people read books, I know that readers will prioritise and enjoy different things. I think that there’s a beauty in how unique the reading experience is: ten people could read the same book, and each of them could find a different thing to like.

I hope that the characters will seem fully human and that Lysande’s reflections on knowledge and power will offer some food for thought. Since writing style is a big factor in why I enjoy a novel, I hope that readers will also enjoy the way I write.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Lysande?
I’ve learned that characterisation is not a matter of once-off insight, but a process of layering and building and thinking. I had the basis for Lysande at first, but I added more to her as I continued editing and writing.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to introduce my character Cassia to Caterina Sforza, one of the most remarkable female leaders of Renaissance Italy, who features in several histories and novels. Cassia has a lot of experience and has seen off her enemies, and while she’s got fighting skill and a fair bit of swagger, she’s also a shrewd thinker. Caterina also carved out an extraordinary life and was known for her daring and clever feats – she once rode out to take over a Roman fort while heavily pregnant, and used it to hold the cardinals to ransom in negotiations. She also navigated the politics of shifting alliances in the face of interference from France and Spain.

I think Cassia and Caterina would have a good conversation – assuming they didn’t draw swords on each other.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
My brother died shortly after I had finished the draft of the novel. He was a huge supporter of my work and my closest friend. Not only was dealing with his death hard, but my family had many practical arrangements to deal with immediately, as he died in another country. Although it was very difficult to keep going, I motivated myself by trying to live up to what he wanted for me: to get the book published, and to share the story. Every time I sit down to write, I try to make him proud.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
If you have the freedom and time to do so, embark on a creative endeavour and express yourself.

I once heard the novelist Richard Flanagan say that the act of creation comes from love, and I think that summarises the benefit of creation very well. In expressing yourself, you’re giving something to the world – you’re not tearing something apart, but building something. You might also discover something about yourself, others, and the world, along the way. There’s so much rich and rare beauty that comes from creativity.

Which incident in your life totally changed the way you think today?
Doubtlessly, my brother’s death changed my thinking. Reflecting on his life, on the positive impact he had on others, on his big-picture thinking, and on the kind and thoughtful way he encouraged friends, colleagues, and strangers, I’m reminded of what matters the most: kindness, wisdom, and the effort to make positive change.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
There are so many moments as a writer that have uplifted me, and given me the hope to uplift others. Just the act of writing forges powerful memories, and I do that almost every day.

One recent memory comes to mind, though. At the beginning of last year, I came out as bisexual, and submitted a poem to an LGBTQ+ journal. Like many bisexual people, I worried that I was “not queer enough” for the community. Not only was the poem accepted, but the magazine’s editor nominated me for a Pushcart Prize. It was a marvellous moment, not only because I felt accepted and validated, but because I realised that I can contribute to the queer literary tradition and help others like me to feel seen.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
There are too many to pick one. Many stand out for their sheer beauty, especially when I was able to linger in the moment and savour it.

I worked in Cambodia for a little while, and I had the opportunity to visit the temples at Siem Reap several times. Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat was an experience I’ll never forget. But my favourite temple experience was wandering around Ta Prohm, a masterpiece of integrated nature and architecture. Tree roots drape over the walls; butterflies flit from hollows in the stone; pocked walls reveal places where gems might once have nestled. Even the walk to Ta Prohm is atmospheric, vibrating with the sounds and rhythms of the jungle. It feels like magic permeates the very air and slips between root and rock, leading you on.

This Machiavellian fantasy follows a scholar's quest to choose the next ruler of her kingdom amidst lies, conspiracy, and assassination.

When the death of Iron Queen Sarelin Brey fractures the realm of Elira, Lysande Prior, the palace scholar and the queen’s closest friend, is appointed Councillor. Publically, Lysande must choose the next monarch from amongst the city-rulers vying for the throne. Privately, she seeks to discover which ruler murdered the queen, suspecting the use of magic.

Resourceful, analytical, and quiet, Lysande appears to embody the motto she was raised with: everything in its place. Yet while she hides her drug addiction from her new associates, she cannot hide her growing interest in power. She becomes locked in a game of strategy with the city-rulers – especially the erudite prince Luca Fontaine, who seems to shift between ally and rival.

Further from home, an old enemy is stirring: the magic-wielding White Queen is on the move again, and her alliance with a traitor among the royal milieu poses a danger not just to the peace of the realm, but to the survival of everything that Lysande cares about.

In a world where the low-born keep their heads down, Lysande must learn to fight an enemy who wears many guises… even as she wages her own battle between ambition and restraint.

You can purchase The Councillor at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you E.J. BEATON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Councillor by E.J. Beaton.

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