Saturday, October 31, 2015

Where dystopias warn

Utopia never seemed quite real to me. After all, things always fall apart. And so dystopias were the worlds I loved to read about - 1984, Farenheit 451, Lord of the Flies (of course - the first one I read), Tunnel in the Sky, and Philip Dick's many terrifyingly plausible dreams... They were the books I wanted to write as well, as endless stories of the end of the world in my old notebooks attest. One day one of my teachers took me aside and said it was easy to make people cry, so I learned (at least, I tried) to make them laugh. But perhaps it's only easier to make people cry because I wanted company.

Of course, I don't only read dystopian fiction. One of my favorite authors as a child was Rosemary Sutcliffe, writing of ancient worlds every bit as ruined as 1984. I loved the lone, rejected character, the one who saw too clearly, or who didn't dare to see. Meanwhile I imagined one of the "big three" - America, Russia or Chin -, would surely push the button and destroy us all before I grew up. I planned to stand on top of a tower block (there were several near our school) where "I shall / watch the ending / watch the death descending / when we weep / do not cry / in the dying day." (I wrote songs too.)

Anyway, if you'd like to grab a coffee, just to prove the world's not dead yet, here are some great dystopian novels I read while I was away from my computer.

First is Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, a cool, deceptively gentle read about a gene-spliced instantly-gratified world and the dangers that might lie within. Enjoy with a rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee, and ponder the road our world might follow.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline offers a different take on corporate greed, setting up a WillyWonka type search for the Easter Egg in a computer game. But this game is sometimes more real than real life, and the truth behind friends' identities might test friendship to the core. Enjoy a bold dark intense five-star coffee with this one.

Next is Cast me not away by Zara Heritage, offering a haunting vision of a near-future where lives are so much devalued that anyone under four can be declared useless and euthanised, for the greater good. There's a strong anti-abortion theme underlying the story, but it's kept well within the viewpoint of the characters, never preachy, and deeply thought-provoking. Another bold, dark, five-star coffee might be needed while you read this one.

Finally, here's a book that's definitely not dystopian but it's written by an author who's penned many dystopias, and it just might help me write my own dystopian novel one day. Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin is so much more than just another book on writing. It's filled with well-annotated excerpts, memorable one-liners, and well-presented lessons and advice, and it's a book I'd love to read again and again. Keep lively, keep doing the exercises, and keep some bright lively two-star coffee to hand.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Swords, Sorcery or Heroes, with Steven Shrewsbury

Today I'm delighted to welcome Steven L Shrewsbury, author of those wonderful Gorias La Gaul stories, to my blog. I love his books and his characters, and I love that mystical tagline - Deliverance Will Come! When I heard he was going to visit me here, there was one question I simply had to ask, so here it is, with his answer. Thank you Steven, and welcome to my blog:

Steven L. Shrewsbury's Born of Swords Virtual Tour

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WHICH CAME FIRST? The sword, the sorcery or the hero?


Until a reviewer trashed me for doing so, I never realize I wrote “character driven” fiction before. Um, ya mean where the folks in the story are more important than “world building” and a game scenario that can be created from a BOOK? Yeah, guess I do.

So, yes, Gorias La Gaul, my 700 year old merc, the fighter and lover of great capacity DID appear in my mind as a character to be used in works. THEN the tales flowed as he sort of told them to me, out of sequence. Several fantasy (or S&S) ideas are always billowing in my brain, but he grabbed a few and turned them inside out. THRALL was an idea I had in pieces that mated up as the first Gorias book. OVERKILL, that takes place a bit in the time line before THRALL. It rushed out of my head like a train. BORN OF SWORDS is a mash of several ideas that held a killer punchline.

But, in the scheme of these tales about him, I find myself pondering new yarns devised just for him, not trying to shoehorn or adapt him into older concepts. I have other notions for novels that are not based on a single character, but my books usually have a strong male lead. Why? Well, I’m a guy. These things happen that way. I do intend to pen a few books about Gorias La Gaul’s daughter someday, but those concepts are in their infancy.  

The precepts of sword & sorcery as simple and in the world I look at, easy to come by. The world itself won’t be the star of the piece, but it is an excellent canvas to paint on. I don’t practice the time honored tradition in fantasy of taking real history and setting it on another PLANET or WORLD just to make it LOOK like the dark ages on steroids. I usually will give it a real historical place like in my epic PHILISTINE or set in a time before the great flood where things were rather murky in terms of history.

In my opinion, characters do make a novel but the story cannot bite severely or there isn’t anything to go for. One can have a host of humorous, intriguing folks in a work, full of harsh monsters and beautiful girls (not to sound like a sexist piglet)…but if there is no plot or point, it isn’t worth crap in a handbag, as my dad used to say, and not so gently. 

Indeed, I hear of certain people who think of a creature or a wizard’s powers and want to base a yarn off those abilities. That’s fine if there’s a plot to go with it and the characters are plausible. Let your voice come through, not the results of hit dice and no life experience.

Also, if I were suggesting things to writers, READ. Read other types of fiction than fantasy or S&S. Read westerns to see how stories can be told. Read horror and yes, choke, read romance. Frankly, romance outsells most everything and something can be learned from these tales. Read nonfiction, too. I adore bios and tomes of history, but true crime is great as well. Why all this stuff? It expands one’s mind and takes a reader to different places. One will be surprised how this benefits an author in the future.

Talk to people, too. Not just on Facebook or a buddy in texts, real flesh & blood bodies that still breathe. Get outside and enjoy the world and don’t be chained to a keyboard, a phone or whatever leech takes you away from the actual world.

Fiction is escapism and I always grabbed books to escape the world at times. Offer that to a reader, a portal into another world, a place more amazing and certainly more stimulating than what the reader did at work that day. Give them a release. Give them life. Give them some happiness.


And they won’t even wonder which came first, the sword, the sorcery or the hero.

Thank you Steven, and I'm really  looking forward to escaping into more of your stories.


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About the Book: Born of Swords: Deliverance will come... But that is another story. What makes a legend but the stories told about him? Interviewing Gorias La Gaul, the biggest legend of them all, is a dream come true for young scribe Jessica. Where other girls her age would swoon beneath the steely gaze of the warrior, Jessica only has eyes for his mouth, and the tales that come from it...when he takes a break from cursing or drinking. Unfortunately for Jessica, Gorias doesn't really have time to babysit. She's found him in the midst of an annual pilgrimage of sorts, and though he agrees to let her come along, it's not without a warning: You may not like what you see and hear. Just don't come crying afterward. Whether viewing past visions with magical gemstones or jumping into the fray alongside the barbarian, Jessica's about to get firsthand accounts she won't soon forget...and discover legends are far from reality, and just as far from being pretty. You wouldn't expect a youth of love and friendship from the greatest killer to walk the Earth, would you? These are tales of some of Gorias' earliest days, back before he'd found his swords, to a time when a dragon needed killing. Tales back before his heart had hardened. Maybe. For most men, the future is not certain and the past is prologue. For a legend like Gorias La Gaul, even the past is up for debate. One thing is for certain about these tales. They will be bloody. Such is always the way for a man... Born of Swords...

Where to find it:

Amazon Print Version
http://www.amazon.com/Born-Swords-Steven-L-Shrewsbury/dp/1941706851
Kindle Version
http://www.amazon.com/Born-Swords-Steven-L-Shrewsbury-ebook/dp/B0106X81LU
Barnes and Noble Link for Born of Swords
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/born-of-swords-steven-l-shrewsbury/1122120658?ean=9781941706855

ShrewsburyAuthorPhotoBWAbout the author: 

Steven L. Shrewsbury lives, works and writes in rural Central Illinois. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s. His novels include WITHIN, PHILISTINE, OVERKILL, HELL BILLY, BLOOD & STEEL, THRALL, STRONGER THAN DEATH, HAWG, TORMENTOR and GODFORSAKEN.

He has collaborated with other writers, like Brian Keene with KING OF THE BASTARDS, Peter Welmerink in BEDLAM UNLEASHED, Nate Southard in BAD MAGICK, Maurice Broaddus in the forthcoming BLACK SON RISING and Eric S. Brown in an untitled project. He continues to search for brightness in this world, no matter where it chooses to hide.

Where to find him:
Website:
https://sshrewsbury.wordpress.com/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/authorstevenshrewsbury

Find out more: Follow the Tour:

10/26 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
10/26 Man's Midnight Garden Review
10/26 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Guest Post
10/27 Azure Dwarf Review
10/28 Book in the Bag Interview
10/29 Creatives Help Board.How may I direct your call? Interview
10/30 WebbWeaver Reviews Guest Post
10/30 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
11/1 Dice Upon A Time Top-Tens List




Thursday, October 29, 2015

Would You Rather Write Short Or Long?

Today I'm delighted to welcome award-winning author and filmmaker Stephen Zimmer to my blog, as his wonderfully seasonal Hellscapes II tours the internet. Steven is the author of the Fires of Eden series, Rising Dawn Saga, and Heart of the Lion which I read and thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year (click for my review), but he's also master of Hellscapes short fiction too. So, if you've ever wanted to try your hand at writing to a different length, this post from him must surely be a  must-read. And if not, read and enjoy it anyway - learn how a writer directs and is directed by his career.

Plus, there's a great giveaway attached to this tour, so don't miss out on the details, down below!

Stephen Zimmer's Hellscapes, Volume II Virtual Tour
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Writing Long, Short, and In-Between
By Stephen Zimmer

 Hellscapes, Volume II represents my eleventh book release.  It is a collection of short stories in the horror genre, my third collection released overall.  As with any release, it represents another step forward on the writing path, especially in the area of writing short fiction.

At his stage in my career, with the release of Heart of a Lion at the beginning of the year, I have titles out that represent the very long (such as my Fires in Eden Series or Rising Dawn Saga, which are around 600 pages or greater in print), the medium (Heart of a Lion, around 250 pages) and the short (the aforementioned short-story collections).  I enjoy writing stories in each of these categories, and am drawn to continue creating in all three spheres. 

I find that each of them offers a different challenge to me as a writer.  It must first be said that no matter what the length of story, the core engine of having good, compelling characters and interesting plots applies across the board.  It doesn’t matter whether it is a short story, a novella, or an eight hundred page epic tome, you have to have characters that connect with the readers and have them in a plot that a reader finds interesting.

That being said, the three spheres offer some fun benefits of their own.

The short story challenges the writer to be very efficient and grab the reader early.  With a short story, you do not have long to connect a reader to a character, and the challenge lies in doing that as quickly as possible.  The skills developed in doing this can definitely be applied to the longer formats, but in a short story it becomes the make or break essence of whether the reader will be satisfied with the reading experience.  In a similar way, you have to get the plot unfolding in an efficient manner as well.   Get to the point, quickly, in a manner of speaking.

The longer formats, such as epic fantasy, offer a lot in the area of plot development, ensemble casts, and planting seeds.   A reader of a larger scale story is going to be a little more patient and allow you, as a writer, to set things in motion and plant seeds for later payoffs in the book or series.   Of course, this adds more intricacy and complexity to the overall work, and as a writer you have to keep a close eye on everything you are putting in place so that the story stays tight and does not become unwieldy.  But it is great fun to put a seemingly unrelated element in a book one that turns out to have a significant impact when it blooms in the third or fourth book of a series.   In these kinds of areas the longer format offers a lot of room artistically and in the depth of the story you can tell.

The longer format also gives you the ability to have a well-developed ensemble cast of principle characters.  The simple length of the story and scope of it gives room for fleshing out multiple principle characters in a way that is not possible in shorter formats, simply because you don’t have the room to develop many characters thoroughly in those kinds of stories. 

In the writing and release of Heart of a Lion, I came to experience the mid-range.  It proved to be a happy medium between short fiction and longer format fiction in terms of the plot complexity and ability to develop secondary characters.  At the same time, I found myself focusing on Rayden Valkyrie at the forefront and not developing an ensemble, so in the end I had a nice group of secondary characters established and one thoroughly developed main character.  This represented a bit of a balance between the short stories I have done and the ensemble-cast longer formats I have written. 

Each of the three offers something different and a challenge of its own and that’s why I will continue to enjoy honing my craft in all three spheres.   Creating a character that instantly grabs a reader’s attention and having a plot that unfolds quickly in a short story is very satisfying,  just as it is satisfying to see a reader have that “aha!” moment in the third volume of a series when something happens out of a seed that you planted quietly in the first book.   Heart of a Lion brought in a bit of the best of both worlds for me, in giving me room for some seed planting and depth, but also demanding a good level of efficiency in the areas of character development, plot and focus.

I encourage writers of any of these formats to try their hands at one of the others, or all of them.  I think they’ll discover what I have, that each offers its own benefits and skill sets!


Thank you Stephen. I'd never really thought about the difference between long and medium-length writing. I suspect I've been growing from short to medium over time, but epics have eluded me. My fingers are itching though after reading this - you're encouraging me to try (but can you tell me how to find the time?).

So, dear readers, here is more information about the book and author... and don't miss the giveaway!

Book Synopsis for Hellscapes, Volume II: Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!

Included in the pages of Hellscapes, Volume II:

In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.

A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby. But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.

A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”. Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.

“Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life. A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.
Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.

Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness. One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.

Where to find Hellscapes, Volume II
Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Hellscapes-II-Stephen-Zimmer-ebook/dp/B0175PMV0E/
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hellscapes-volume-ii-stephen-zimmer/1122856195?ean=2940150842410


StephenZimmerAuthorPhotoAbout the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.

Where to find the author:
Website: http://www.stephenzimmer.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Where to find the tour:
10/26 Anasazi Dreams Review
10/26 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
10/26 Shells Interviews Guest Post
10/26 Sinister Scribblings Guest Post
10/26 Kentucky Geek Girl Author Interview
10/27 Pulp Reports Review
10/28 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Guest Post
10/29 Bee's Knees Reviews Review
10/29 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
10/30 L. Andrew Cooper's Horrific Scribblings Review
10/31 SwillBlog Review/Interview
11/1 I Smell Sheep Review
11/1 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top-Tens List
11/1 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post

And how to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 19, 2015

After the Fall

Falling
The gaze of a mother to child at her breast
Falling the infant that’s learning to walk
Calling and crying and learning to talk
Shifting and sighing, a mother’s gaze falls
To the child, to the child who has left.

Falling
The leaf that was green growing red on the tree
Falling the season of warm into cold
Calling and sighing the birds are grown old
All migrating, the leaf oh so gently now falls
Not so late, not too late to be free.

Falling
In bad ways, in troubles, in pain and in loss.
Falling from grace was the infant grown old
Calling for mercy the infant grown bold
Mercy denied him, a mother’s gaze falls
To the child, to the child, to the cost.

Falling after the Fall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Who Illustrated That?

My review-list led me to a cool collection of kids' books this week. Though I hadn't expected it, they were all illustrated. So I wrote my reviews, each with that nice easy title "This book by this author" and suddenly realized "This book by this author illustrated by this artist" would be more accurate. I guess as a kid, I rather liked words more than pictures - perhaps that's because so many picture books were just black and white. I remember part of my delight in moving up to the "grown-up books" section in our local library was that the lack of pictures gave more space for a story to be told. But I love to draw, and now I delight in those images I  used to skip over. I smile at pictures that remind me of books from my childhood (though now they're in color and filled with fascinating detail rather than ice-queen gray and frowns). I delight in pictures that transport me to a different culture and teach me of a world I never knew. And I laugh at pictures designed to change my mood.

So now it's time to post those reviews. I'll do my best to remember the illustrators. Coffee will help.

First is a picture book for older kids, older boys to be precise. Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert is illustrated by author. It's a very teen-boy novel with deep irreverence and a persistent fascination for bodily functions, noises, smells, etc. The illustrations are pleasingly dark. The names (Johnny Nothing, Ebenezer Dark, etc) are pleasingly descriptive. And the storyline has plenty of twists and turns - even the occasional touch of wisdom. Enjoy with a dark five-star cup of coffee.

A Cat Named Mouse by Patti Tingen illustrated by Mary Erikson Washam is a more traditional picture book, written for small children, illustrated with colorful images of cats, mice, dogs and more. The images illustrate the action beautifully, and the storyline is simple and fun, deals nicely with the problem of teasing, and reads smoothly. Enjoy with some smooth well-balanced three-star coffee.

Whispers of the Wolf by Pauline Ts’o illustrated by Rosemary Lonewolf is a deceptively simply story about a boy and his dog. But the boy lives in a lovingly imagined, well-researched and gorgeously illustrated Pueblo Indian world of 500 years ago. The dog is a wolf. And lonely child and dog will grow together to take their places in society. The illustrations fit the story beautifully, including minimal but beautifully chosen details that fill out to make the world real. Enjoy with some rich elegant four-star coffee.

Princess Rosie’s Rainbow by Bette Killion illustrated by Kim Jacobs has the feel of a good old-fashioned fairytale while being wholly new and intriguing. The illustrations are filled with fascinating detail to keep any child occupied for hours. The story's fun. And the bonus science lesson is a really cool touch. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

And now to return to reading and writing... I hope to post a review of Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft soon - a great book for writers!




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sometimes I just don't want to "Help myself"

"Mom, will you help me with my homework?"
"In a minute. Try helping yourself a bit first."
Mom continues to cook dinner. Child turns pages back to read the instructions.

"Mom, may I have more potatoes?"
"Of course. Here. Help yourself."
Mom offers the ladle and child piles more food onto plate. Some falls on the floor.

"Mom, I didn't mean it. I couldn't help it." Guilty looks.
"You'll have to learn to help it," Mom replies.

And, "Mom, why won't God change me into a good little girl?"
"God helps those who help themselves."

Last week's reading included lots of self-help books. Some tried to offer a ladle so I could help myself to happiness. Others promised to hold the plate, so I wouldn't spill my problems on the floor. Still others offered a place where I could find help. And all together... well, I'd offer you coffee, but you'll have to find your own brew while I just offer book reviews instead.

Since we're relaxing over caffeine, let's start with Relax More, Try Less, The Easy Path To Abundance by Neville Goddard and Tim Grimes. Goddard's book has a Bible-as-metaphor spirituality, but Grimes offers excerpts with a more secular aim. There's plenty of sensible wisdom in the pages, but exhortations to just imagine what we need remind me awkwardly of religion's "Just have faith and you'll receive." Still, the injunction to relax is well-argued and well-received. Read this short volume with some mild crisp one-star coffee, and relax.

Maximum Mental Health by Aleks G. Srbinoski aims to improve motivation, mood, means and mastery in readers who are of normal to moderately depressed mental health. It's a very user-friendly, easy-reading book, heavy on reminders that the author offers hypnosis tapes etc., but with plenty of sensible down-to-earth advice. Enjoy with some more mild crisp one-star coffee.

Continuing the theme of happiness, Lucky Go Happy, Make Happiness Happen by Paul Van Der Merwe, is easily my favorite of these three. A book of pleasingly humorous animal fables, with a touch of science and plenty of wise advice, it's smooth enjoyable reading and my only complaint is I'm not sure happiness really is the goal of all my actions. Still, this one's well worth reading. Enjoy with a three-star, well-balanced, smooth-flavored brew.

Signs in Life by Deanna Nowadnick offers a Christian approach to happiness, comparing life-signs to road-signs and God-signs. The author's nicely conversational tone feels like sitting in a bookstore discussing, well, life. And the author's life lessons are relevant to all. Never preachy, offering advice from many sources, and well-tended with personal questions for the reader, it's one to enjoy with some more well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee.

Finally, there's Devotions for Moms by Heather Bixler and Christina Fox, a self-help, faith-help book for busy mothers with well-arranged topics (healing, feeling burned out, life seems pointless, etc) and well-placed links allowing e-readers to navigate simply and surely. With honest, open opinions, wise advice, prayer and practical suggestions, these devotions almost read like phone calls with a friend. Pour the coffee first, another full-flavored three-star brew.

So now I'll help myself to some lunch, wonder where the time's going, and dearly wish someone would help me download an extra few hours a day. But perhaps the memory of these books will help me slow down (and achieve more?). The wisest advice might be to spend a moment or two in prayer as well. What about you?


Friday, October 2, 2015

Novels for All Seasons?

One novel of the future, one that crosses the future with the present day, and one that's firmly set in the present and the past--these were my reading joys of the last week, and I loved all three of them. So, working my way forward through time, here are brief reviews of three must-reads. Find some coffee and enjoy.

Forgiving Mariela Camacho by A. J. Sidransky follows on from the author's earlier novel, Forgiving Maximo Rothmann (click on the link for my review). It's a wonderful standalone novel of separations and connections, commitment and forgiveness, and the complexities of history and identity. An apparent suicide might turn out to be murder, an independent woman might find her freedom curtailed, and an honest cop might have to break a few rules to find the solution. Ranging from the Dominican Republic, through Europe, and all the way to Washington Heights Manhattan, the story paints a haunting immigrant experience, so wonderfully relevant to today. Enjoy with some rich, elegant, complex four-star coffee. They're both wonderful books.

Next is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a novel that beautifully combines contemporary literature with science fiction, building a wonderfully interconnected world of pre and post-apocalypse where values, loves and promises change, but humanity clings on and remains the same. Chapters interweave past and present with tiny links like mysteries or fireflies gleaming and it all comes together in a novel that's both wide-ranging and tightly woven with never a spare word or phrase. Enjoy with some more rich, elegant four-star coffee.

Then there's The Extinction Game by Gary Gibson. The first scenes had me hooked as the protagonist fought for his lonely existence. Hints of mystery intrigued. Then, suddenly, everything's different. A larger story takes the stage and takes a little longer to get going, but it's worth persevering. It's a cool mystery, inviting interesting questions about identity, relationships and existence. Enjoy with some bold, dark intense five-star coffee.

I read some non-fiction last week too. But reading, writing and reviewing have taken back burner to compiling, editing and formatting our Writers' Mill Journal (an anthology of works from our local writers' gruop). So has housework, and it's calling me. Soon it will grow spider-legs and begin to call even louder, so the next batch of reviews will have to wait. Enjoy your coffee while I work!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

What is the Immigrant Experience?

Today I'm delighted to welcome author A.J. Sidransky back to my blog. Some time ago I read and enjoyed his novel, Forgiving Maximo Rothmann (click for my review). As an immigrant myself, I found the uncertainties and sense of un-belonging in this novel truly resonated. Add a wonderful storyline with evocative dialog and descriptions and a wealth of amazing historical, geographic and social detail, and you'll see why readers of any background can be transported to a different world-view and experience.




Now I'm delighted to have just read the author's next book, Forgiving Mariela Camacho (I'll post reviews soon!). Here is A.J. Sidransky to tell us where this second novel comes from. Welcome A.J. and over to you.



When I began writing Forgiving Mariela Camacho I was drawn to a theme that I felt I had left only partially examined in Forgiving Maximo Rothman, the theme of the immigrant experience and the search for identity.  I had originally planned a fourth story line for ‘Maximo’ that examined the Dominican immigrant experience in the United States.  That story line ended up on the proverbial “cutting room floor,” for the sake of shortening the novel.  Forgiving Mariela Camacho picks up some of those threads in the back-story of Pete Gonzalvez, the novel’s protaganist.

Completely unexpectedly, I find that my book is about to be released at a time when the issue of immigration has stepped to the forefront of our national political debate.  I will spare you my personal opinions, as they would be inappropriate in this forum.  I will tell you though what I have learned.

In studying the experience of immigration for books, in which immigrants moved from Nazi occupied Europe to the Dominican Republic, from the Soviet Union to the United States and from the Dominican Republic to the United States, coupled with my own experiences growing up among immigrants in an immigrant household and my close relationships with many Dominican immigrants in Washington Heights, I can tell you that all immigrant experiences are essentially the same.  Economic and political forces drive immigration.  The names, the language, the foods and where you go to pray changes but essentially all immigrant experiences mirror each other.  Immigrants seek a better life for themselves and their families.  At the same time the longing for the home they left never subsides.

Regardless of your political inclinations, I hope you will read my book with this theme in mind and an open heart to the experiences of those who have lived the joy and the sadness of immigration.  We are all from someplace else.  Connecting to those who are arriving now may help us to understand better the experiences of our own ancestors.

I hope people will read them too--vivid depictions, great characters, wonderful locations and stories. Thank you so much Mr. Sidransky. I love both books, especially for the way they read as complete stories in themselves, each as multiple stories in one novel, and as a smoothly connected series together.

Find the author at:

Twitter: @AJSidransky
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ajsidranskybooks
Website: http://ajsidransky.com/