Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Legacy: Melissa Delport

I can't describe how incredibly happy it makes me to see South African authors getting out there and making splashes in the publishing pool, and today I'm excited to introduce Melissa Delport, who's all the way from KwaZulu-Natal on our East Coast. Welcome, Melissa!

You've got exactly 30 seconds to tell someone who's never heard about you enough to make them buy your novel.


If you crossed The Hunger Games with I am Number Four, and threw in a love triangle for good measure, the result would be The Legacy. It is fast paced, action-packed, and has something for everyone.

What provided the story seed for your trilogy? Give us a little background for how the books grew from that initial spark. 

I have always been fascinated by the idea of apocalypse and how we would survive, if at all, and the concept of man’s “fight” or “flight” reflex. When there is nowhere left to run, dystopia is at its best. The Legacy came to me in a typical “light bulb” moment and I knew that I was on to something. I spent a day or two plotting the story and then I sat down to write.

What sets your books apart from other dystopian settings that seem to have become so popular of late? 

I find that most of the dystopian books I have read are along the same vein: youngsters surviving against all odds. The Legacy breaks that mould, in that the characters are adults; exceptional individuals equipped with skills that allow them to not only survive but excel. They make a conscious choice to go to war against the tyranny that has seized control, they are not unwillingly foisted into this role. That choice is key to the story. There is also the opulence of the New United States, which is a pre-war environment, with none of the desolate ruin that characterizes most dystopian fiction. The “fight” of my characters is more against political oppression than the typical turmoil of an apocalyptic catastrophe.

What do you love the most about your characters? Can you tell us more about them? What are some of the conflict points they need to resolve?

I love the Legacy characters because I have invested so much into them and I know them so well. I am currently working on the final book in the trilogy, and I’ll admit it is bittersweet. Rebecca is the fiery protagonist, a woman who will stop at nothing to achieve her goal, at great personal sacrifice. She is determined and headstrong, the ultimate weapon for the Resistance. Reed, her equal, allows me to bring in a bit of humour - he is sarcastic and brash, but remains Rebecca’s greatest asset. The conflict arises in the character Aidan, who is Rebecca’s childhood friend and sweetheart, and who doesn’t understand her obsession with defeating her enemy. All of the characters in this series have obstacles to overcome and personal conflicts that they need to resolve but, ultimately, they are all working towards a common goal, and their lives are intertwined through that fact.

What do you enjoy most about being a storyteller? What do stories mean to you? 

I love the escapism that stories offer, and being able to give that to someone else is both humbling and terrifically rewarding.

How do you approach the creative process? Can you share a little more on what goes into creating your novels? 

First, I split the wheat from the chaff. As a writer, your imagination is always in hyper-drive, but it is essential that you only focus on those projects that are, to your mind, exceptional. Once a story has taken hold, I plot a very basic outline, my main characters and a few key scenes. Subplot and secondary characters evolve as I go along. I find that if I over-think it, the story doesn’t flow. A story has a life of its own, and I like to let it take me where it wants to go.


EXCERPT – The Legacy by Melissa Delport
Chapter 25
“We’re not going back, Tiny,” Reed’s voice comes out of the blue and I turn to him.
“Um, yes, we are, Cowboy.” I force myself to smile at him. “This is Aidan we’re talking about; I have to find him before he gets himself into real trouble.”
“He already has.” He sounds exhausted when he says this, like it is literally draining him. My father does not contradict him and I frown in confusion.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, panic starting to override my determined calm.
My dad reaches into his pocket and pulls out my cellphone.
“Sorry, Bex, I took it from your bag just after you arrived.” He slides it across the table.
I do nothing but stare at the phone for a while, I don’t know if I want to see what they are talking about.
“Rebecca,” Reed starts, but I don’t let him finish. I snatch up the phone and flip open the cover.
My hand flies to my open mouth and a stifled yelp escapes me. The photograph on the screen shows Aidan sitting in a chair, bound by his wrists and ankles. Both of his eyes are blackened and there is blood trickling from his nose.
I slam my fist down on the table, denting the metal.
“Motherfucker!” I scream, fury rising up inside me like an unleashed animal. I kick the table over and, running at the door, I kick it right off its hinges so that it slams into the passage wall.
“Becca!” My dad is beside me in an instant. “Calm down!”
I don’t acknowledge him; I put my fist into my mouth and bite down on it for a second. Then I raise my head, flip open my phone, hit dial and bring it to my ear.
“You son of a bitch!” My voice is so low it is a wonder he can hear me.
“Well, if it isn’t my errant wife.” Eric’s voice is light, but the underlying tremor reveals how angry he is.
“Where is he?” I don’t have time to play games with Eric. I ignore my father, who is frantically waving his arms trying to get my attention.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“Where is he, Eric?” I growl.
“Why would you possibly think that I would tell you that, Rebecca?” he snaps back, all pretences abandoned.
“Because I’m going to find you, Eric, one way or another, and if you make it easier for me I might just let you live.”
He laughs harshly into the phone.
“Really?” he calls my bluff.
“No, not really,” I answer. “I’ll probably kill you anyway, but if you tell me where Aidan is, I’ll do you a favour and make it quick. And slightly less painful.”
“Such fire, Rebecca! My, my, what a brilliant little actress you are. I never suspected. Not once. Not your abilities, not your betrayal, and certainly not your boyfriend.” My blood runs cold and I realise why Reed and my dad have been trying to get my attention. In reacting so emotionally I’ve played into Eric’s hands; I’ve just confirmed how important Aidan is to me.
Dammit!
He will not tell me where they are. He wants to torture me.
“I’ll see you soon, Eric,” I say slowly and clearly into the mouthpiece. “I’ll find you.” There’s an arrogant chuckle on the other end.
“Not if I find you first, love.” 

Bio:
Wife and mother of 3, Melissa Delport is the author of The Legacy Trilogy and the stand-alone self-published ebooks Rainfall and The Traveler.
She graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 2000
At the age of twenty-four Melissa started a logistics company (Transmax) from the spare room of her flat and built it up to two fully operational depots in Durban and Johannesburg. Now, 10 years later, she has sold her business in order to write full time.
Melissa lives with her husband and three children in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The Legacy (book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy) and The Legion (book 2) are available now and the final book, The Legend, will be released early 2015.
An avid reader herself, Melissa finally decided to stop ‘watching from the sidelines’ and to do what is her passion.

The Legacy at Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Kalahari, Takealot

Melissa on Twitter

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Luna's Children: Introducing MR Williamson

Today's visitor is one of my fellow Luna's Children authors, MR Williamson, who shares that his love for days past most influenced his story in the anthology.

He says: "My father, Russell Tandy Williamson, was raised in Drummonds. The river, and its 'Landings' have a great history there.

"Being a good part Native American (Eastern Shoshone), I like just about any story of American Indians.  One of the best, in my opinion, is 'Last of the Dog Men'.  If you notice this part of the opening story, the young boy (from 'The Dog Men') kicked it off pretty well."

Here's an extract from MR's story...  

Ray started the Chevy, eased off on the clutch, and the old car lurched forward. Two more gears and they were lumbering east on the Richardson Landing Road and away from the paddle wheeler. They had barely turned south on Old Drummonds Road when Gabby quickly sat up.

"Slow down a bit, Ray,” he requested as he pushed his black, horn-rimmed glasses closer to his nose. “There’s somethin’ up ahead a ways. I saw its eyes shine in the lights.”

Just as Ray pressed the bright light button on the floorboard, something darted from the scrub on the left and ran through the beams of their lights.

“Geeeze!” exclaimed Ray as he slammed on the brakes, bringing the Chevy to a sliding stop. “What the devil was that?” he added excitedly.

Gabby, pushing himself away from the dash, exclaimed, “I don’t believe my eyes.” Quickly opening the door, the old riverboat man got out, looked up ahead in the lights, and then back to the hogweed just right of the Chevy. “This one don’t belong to the eyes I saw, Ray. What we almost hit was a young boy, and a naked one to boot.”


Buy Full Moon Mayhem here and Stranger Worlds here.

Bio:
After retiring from ‘Ma Bell’ in the year 1999, I seriously took to the pen.  Through E-Bay and various bookstores, my novel collection, The Pragamore Chronicles, eventually reached more than eight countries.

My poetry has won the Editor’s Choice Awards from the International Library of Poetry in 1999, 2000, and 2002. View from the Easley Place, a short story, is on exhibition at Munford Library. My stories are published in such anthologies as Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells (‘Quest for the Dragon Scale-Kerlak), ParAABnormal (‘Spotter’-Sam’s Dot), Stories in the Ether (‘Shelled’-Nevermet),  ‘Unlikely Friend’ (Sam’s Dot), and ‘Apprentice’ (Sam’s Dot).

Added short story features for 2013 include, ‘Hell’s Gate’ (Seven Star Press), and ‘Phagan’s Shadow’ (WolfSinger).  Coming short stories are ‘Cry Wolf’ with Dark Oak and ‘The Ghost of Queen Anne’s Revenge’ also with Dark Oak.  On the front burners for 2014 (and working with the editors) are the novellas, ‘The Moleskin Cap’ with Terri Pray and her Under the Moon Publishing and ‘The Curse of the Monkey’s Paw’ with Tyree Campbell and his Alban Lake Publishing.

In the works are novellas, ‘In the Shadows of the White Owls (Held by Under the Moon), ‘Bedouin’, ‘The Angel of Holloway’, and ‘Ooze’.

The year 2014 promises to be a ‘One-Of-A-Kind’ for me.  It starts out with the publishing two, novellas, two large short stories, and then sours from there.
Keep reading and I’ll keep writing. . .

MR Williamson can be emailed at mwilli44@comcast.net. See pragamorechronicles.com or Imagicopter.com    

Monday, July 21, 2014

Who Are You Going To Get Rid Of? by Benjamin Dancer

Today I hand over my blog to Benjamin Dancer, author of Patriarch Run. So, a big welcome to Benjamin...

There are too many people. But who are you going to get rid of? I bet you have someone in mind. But you can’t do it, can you? Most of us wouldn’t even try.

It’s not an easy topic to discuss, getting rid of people. Which is why it’s hard to talk about overpopulation. That...and the ever-present issue of denial.

So let’s start in a safe place–with math. It doesn’t matter how low the growth rate of the human population is, if it’s growing, the population will eventually double. Ask yourself this: how many times can the number of people, 7 billion, double before it becomes a problem?

No matter what your answer to that question is there is a coming crisis.

Let’s say you pick a really small number for the growth rate of the human population: 1.14% per year. How long do you suspect it will take to double the number of people on the planet?

Answer: about sixty-one years.

And, yep, you guessed it: 1.14% is the estimated growth rate of the human population today. At the current growth rate, you’ll have 14 billion people in sixty one years.

Does anyone think 14 billion is a good number of people to have? What would it take to feed that many people? And what would be the consequence of that population be to the non-human members of the ecosystem?

Right now, there are 1 million new people added to the ecosystem every five days.

I’m a high school teacher, and as a graduation requirement each of my students conducts a long-term research project on a global issue of their choice. I’ve been teaching for seventeen years, and I’ve never seen a version of this project that didn’t have the issue we’re now discussing hidden at its root. As a matter of fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of an environmental or social issue that wasn’t a symptom of the same root problem: there are too many people.

And it’s getting worse.

It’s true that the growth rate is going down in some parts of Europe. Some people cite that fact as a dismissal of the overall problem. But it’s the overall problem that we have to face. In other words, it’s the planet-wide growth rate that matters–not a localized subset. Right now, the planet-wide growth rate is pretty low: 1.14%. And that, by any scientific measure, is a crisis for just about every species on the planet, including our own.

So that brings us back to the question: who are you going to get rid of?

Dan Brown, an author you might have heard of, tackled that problem in his novel Inferno. Another author, one you just now learned about (me), tackled the issue in a different way in his novel Patriarch Run. It’s a thriller with a soul. Characters you care about. Issues that matter. It’s a coming-of-age story. A story about fathers. A story about the lengths a mother would go to for her child. In the end, it’s a story about humankind and the fate of our species.

Find out who Jack would get rid of. I promise you this: it’ll be downright entertaining.

Contact me on Facebook, and I’ll send you a copy for free. You can also buy the book at Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble.

About Benjamin Dancer:
Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson Patriarch Run, a coming-of-age story. He also writes about parenting and education.

County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novel

BenjaminDancer.com
Twitter: @BenjaminDancer1

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Terminatryx: rooted in industry

If CapeTown industrial metal band Terminatryx’s new album, Shadow, can be summed up in one word, it would be “epic”. The heavy, unrelenting guitars and rhythms are contrasted by lead singer Sonja Ruppersberg’s softer vocals, but don’t be fooled – there’s steel beneath her exterior.

And if one thing can be said, the band have had staying power since they first embarked on their sonic assault of the South African music scene since 2002. Consisting of Sonja Ruppersberg (vocals, backing vocals), Paul Blom (bass, programming, guitars, keyboards, backing vocals and production), Ronnie Belcher (drums) and Patrick Davidson (guitar), Terminatryx draws on influences such as Ministry, Fear Factory, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, among others, with a dash of thrash metal thrown in for good measure.

At times the music is true to its industrial roots, with pounding rhythms, yet at other moments (and especially with the album’s gloomily melodic title track, "Shadow"), Ruppersberg’s voice soars above the grinding guitars, eerie, ethereal and unforgettable.

Most of the band members have also been active in the local music scene for years, with Blom having been part of the metal bands VOD (Voice Of Destruction) and K.O.B.U.S!; Davidson, who is currently active with the metal band Mind Assault; and Belcher, whose new rockabilly group The Flaming Devilles is worth keeping an eye out for.

The Terminatryx sound has gained a greater dynamic range with their latest album, which was co-produced by Blom and Theo Crous (Springbok Nude Girls, K.O.B.U.S!), and picks up from where the well-received remix album left off. The broad range of lyrical themes treats the duality in the self – good versus evil; the state of the world and the individual’s inability to deal with it; hypocrisy and political correctness; and emotional despair.

Though the tone is more often than not dark, the album maintains an underlying sense of playfulness and humour, and the music itself carries through with the almost mechanical precision typical of its genre and sweeps listeners along with its energy. Instrumental interludes are suggestive of the cinematic themes that are influenced by Blom’s and Ruppersberg’s continuing involvement in their project The Makabra Ensemble.

And, remaining with the theme of film, mention must be made of Blom’s and Ruppersberg’s curatorship of annual film festivals such as the South African HorrorFest, the X Fest and Celludroid, events which are among the few in the country that cater for alternative, independent and fringe cinema.

This involvement in visual arts translates directly into how Terminatryx is presented to its fans. In addition to making music videos, such as the much-lauded video for "Virus", which featured extensive special effects, Terminatryx also creates a strong visual element through the medium of photography. These images, created by local visual artist Dr-Benway, have found their way into publications such as De Kat and Playboy.

Though Blom says he’d like to make feature films, cost and time factors have him happy to settle with music videos, and also put a lot of effort into the merchandise for sale at gigs, which all add up to create a lasting legacy in what is an essentially ephemeral industry.

He adds: “Our music is about expression. You have to be overtly commercial to tour South Africa, and ours is not music by numbers. If we had a population here to sustain alternative art full time, we could reach a wider audience. Merchandising, however, is big, and something that many artists neglect.”

Ruppersberg is always touched when fans request that the band sign items after shows, and adds: “I don’t automatically think autographing a CD is a big deal, but people still like that personal touch; it’s amazing and that carries value.”

Staying on track with their current goal to add to their multifaceted offerings, Blom and Ruppersberg are planning on releasing music videos for each song off their latest album, with "Shadow" and "Gone" currently in the final production stages.

Says Ruppersberg, who directed the first video: “'Shadow' is currently the song that’s the most popular and accessible. The idea for the music video is an old-style black-and-white horror, and we used Leon Visser as the cinematographer and editor. With 'Gone', director Johnny Swanepoel came up with a gritty, gothic-style video, with a slight horror theme that was shot in the bowels of the old Castle Brewery.”

See the "Shadow" music video here.
See www.terminatryx.com.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"The Study Break" Miracle Austin – featured author



Since I'm going to be celebrating with all the Luna's Children contributors, I'll be featuring a few of the authors from the anthology on my blog over the next few weeks. Today's special guest is Miracle Austin, who penned "The Study Break".

Austin writes: "'The Study Break' was inspired by two, young college girls’ boredom one Friday night. They drove into the city to a hot club with fake IDs. They met two older frat boys and decided to hang out a little longer at the frat boys’ apartment. Their Stranger Danger buzzers were broken. Surprisingly, nothing bad happened.
"So, I started to think about what if something did go horribly wrong, not only for them, but also for other young, reckless girls driving into the city to that same club.
"The rest is the story…

Miracle Austin is employed in the social work world. She’s a new author who enjoys writing diverse, free-verse poetry with mini-stories and short stories. She’s transcending into the novella writing, as well. Horror and suspense are her favorite genres, but she’s not limited to.
She’s been writing ever since first hearing Drive by the Cars in junior high, but is a late bloomer in the publishing world. She completed her first novella, Boundless, a collection of her free-verse poems with mini-stories and short stories. Finally, she resides in Texas with her family while working on her second novella. See www.miracleaustin.com.

Purchase Stranger Worlds and Full Moon Mayhem.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Sea

There is no denying the sea’s allure—and perhaps I can be accused of taking the ocean’s appeal for granted, as I grew up in a seaside village and even now reside within walking distance of the coast.

When I was little, my mom used to tell me to watch out for the white horses in the bay. Being the imaginative child I was, I strained to see the sea horses of my dreams, with nacreous hides and foamy manes. All I saw, however, was the turbulent Atlantic with its dressing of whitecaps, and I grew quite irate.

“There aren’t any white horses!” I’d yell at her (and we’d had this argument on more than one occasion).

In hindsight I realise she must have found my stubborn denial and literal interpretation rather amusing.

I’ve always wanted there to be more to reality than what we see on its surface. What lies beneath the ocean is largely a mystery to us unless we own diving gear or can access some sort of submersible. A whole other environment exists there that is hostile to our very being, as land-walking, air-breathing mammals. Seventy percent of the planet’s surface is hostile to us, in fact.
Yet many creation myths speak of our birth in the primordial ocean and I suspect, on a deeper level, we still hear that siren call luring us back. The sea connects all things, is shaped by that which is known and transmits that which is unknown.

Often I’d go for early morning walks with my parents or grandparents, during that wonderful magic hour before the sun was properly up and the rest of the world was awake. Only at these times, with the tide out, would we discover a few of the sea’s secrets: slick, gleaming mermaid’s purses; a delicate paper nautilus, still whole; sea urchins like green buttons; and sea glass polished to smooth teardrops.

The trek fishermen would be bringing in their catch, mostly mullet and a few mackerel and the odd skate, but sometimes stranger fish, like gurnard or cat sharks.

Even now, my daily train journey follows the False Bay coastline for part of the way, and I’m privy to the ocean’s many moods. There are days when I stick my face out the window so I can breathe deeply of that salt-sweet air.

The sea finds me in my dreams; sometimes she is a benign mistress. Other times she is a destructive force. Those who love her are captivated. She flows through our veins and we can never escape her.

I'm proud to announce the line-up for The Sea an anthology of short speculative fiction: 
Lola and the Sea Lion by Alex Hughes; Songs of the Sea by Camille Griep; Dead Shark Dawn by Don Webb; Sirens by J.C. Piech; The Setting Sea by Patrick O’Neill; Up She Rises by S.A. Partridge; The Something in the Sea by Amy Lee Burgess; Dredge by Wayne Goodchild; Kajsa’s Curse by Steve Jones; Deeper Creatures by Andrea Jones; A Cruel, Intemperate Sea by Barry King; Canyon by Martin Rose; The Wire Bird by Simon Dewar; My Name is Legion by Diane Awerbuck; Pins and Needles by Benjamin Knox; A Drought of Tears by Rob Porteous; Salt by Toby Bennett; and Choiceless Beach by Anna Reith.

Purchase your copies at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Nook. Print will follow shortly.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Luna's Children edited by D Alan Lewis

While I’ve been writing quite a bit about magicians and vampires, I haven’t given wolves much time, but this was remedied last year when I saw a call for submissions for Luna’s Children – anthologies featuring werewolves. Now, while I’ve edited a fair amount of fiction involving wolf shifters or werewolves, (See Amy Lee Burgess’s The Wolf Within series and DC Petterson’s Lupa Bella), I’ve been itching to write them myself.


A few of my earlier (and mercifully unpublished) stories involved wolf shifters. One was a female monster hunter who had a raven companion. Oh dear dog it was… Okay, it was fun to write, but looking back now I understand why the thing never sold. The other was set in my Books of Khepera universe and told the story of the tall blond bouncer outside The Event Horizon. Yes, he’s a werewolf, and his name is Viking. (Okay that sounds fecking awful summing it up like that).

And that was the sum and total of my werewolves, until I got round to writing for this anthology. I wanted to do something different. Yes, I know we have wolves in Africa (there’s the recently described Egyptian wolf, in addition to the Ethiopian wolf) but I wanted to write about our “painted wolves” AKA the wild dog. Like their lupine brethren, the African wild dog also runs in packs, but in appearance, they are vastly different. They have large, rounded ears and magnificent mottled markings that give them their name.

In conducting my research, I struck upon the fact that the young females of the pack are driven out to find packs of their own – which provided me with the story seed, and where we join our two sisters and litter mates, who’re headed north until they cross paths with an enigmatic wanderer. What follows is my own imagining of what shifter culture would be like in Africa, and I’ll offer you a small taste here.

A small taste...
“Humans have it so easy,” Mariette said. “I sometimes wish we’d been born dull.”
I whimpered. “Don’t say that.” But my words had no force to them. I’d had the same unworthy thought. I couldn’t imagine life without the thrill of the hunt, going days after prey and running with the pack, thinking, feeling, the world alive around us in crisp detail. “But it would’ve been easier if we’d been boys.” Boys never had to leave the pack once they came of age.
Both of us had been living in denial that this day would come.
Haai! Look!” Mariette pointed as we passed a figure by the side of the road.
Some dude hitching. She slowed the car and gravel spattered against the undercarriage as we pulled to the side of the road.
“We shouldn’t be picking up hitchhikers,” I said even as she shoved the car into reverse.
“It’s like more than thirty-five fucking degrees Celsius outside, sis, the guy’s boiling. Besides, he looks like no one’s stopped to give him a lift in ages. After all, it’s not like we’ve got anything to fear.”
She had a point, and I shoved my misgivings deep where their muttering wouldn’t bother me. Mariette was older than me by five minutes. I deferred to her on most things. Yet we didn’t need to complicate our lives with someone else’s problems right now. But where the hell had the guy sprung from? Like he’d just materialised out of the heat haze on the tarmac and stepped into our reality.

Do go out and support this worthy project. I think the cover art is simply fabulous. Purchase it at Amazon: Full Moon Mayhem and Stranger Worlds.