We spoke with author Harrison Taylor about his newest book, Those Who Hunt Wolves. His inspiration comes from movies and cinema, and after reading his thriller, we can see why.
Q. Can you tell us about your book?
A: Those Who Hunt Wolves is a techno action thriller that is about two covert agents, Shepard and Graham. Both are gunned down and left for dead by a secret organization known as 7721. The two former agents survive and exact revenge by stealing a dangerous and secret weapon from 7721 known as the Blackout.
Q When did you decide to write this story and why?
A: This Story has been on my mind for years. I started it about four years ago, however the idea first came when I wrote a script about 16 years ago about a heist gone wrong.
Q What is your favorite passage from your book?
A: I tried to give them the impression that I was scared, but let’s face it: That’s like asking a crocodile not to fucking smile, right?
Q What makes your book unputdownable?
A: The action is constant. The story and plot engage and always move forward. As I writer I believe every word has a place and that is to support moving the story forward in an exciting way. I feel this book succeeds in that sense.
Q. If your book was turned into a film/TV show, who would you tap to play the lead(s)? Why?
A: Mccray: Don Cheadle
Ashcroft: Bryan Cranston
Shepard: Alan Ritchson
Jonah: Jeremy Alan white
So, I picked these actors because aside from being amazing at their craft, I heard their voices in my head while writing this book. Crazy, I know. LOL.
Q If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
An end to this pandemic
A cure for ALS
Q. Can you tell us three fun facts about you?
A I like to skateboard
I’m a big gamer
I’m addicted to funkos
Rapid Fire Answer and Questions:
Morning person or night owl? Night owl
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Horror Movie or RomCom? ROM COMS (big time)
Beer or Wine? Trick question BOTH
Bacon or Tofu? Bacon
Find your copy of Those Who Hunt Wolves on Amazon now.
Corporate events can be incredibly dry if not handled well. Although they should have some air of professionalism to them, it’s vital that you don’t let them become long boring meetings that nobody really wants to attend. One of the best ways to spice up your event is to consider the entertainment you hire!
These are the best places to find awesome talent for your corporate event and how to figure out what type of talent you should hire!
First, Consider the Type of Talent You Need
The most important thing to know about your booked talent: is what they bring to the table. What type of corporate event is this? Is it a seminar on changes coming to the company? Is it a holiday party with drinks and fun? Consider what type of entertainment would best fit the event you’re hosting. Although musicians are a classic choice, you can also add some flare with a funny comedian or even an interesting athletic act!
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is a powerful tool when it comes to finding talent for your event. This is especially true the larger your company is. If someone knows a performer who puts on a great show, they’ll be excited to bring them up to the company: so put an email out asking for some leads on this.
Although you may have to fish through some less-than-perfect acts, it will give you the opportunity to see what’s out there and help finalize what type of act and performer you want to see.
Local Gig Sites
Gig sites are a great way to find local acts and performers that you can’t find anywhere else. These sites offer ways to contact the acts, watch clips of their performances, and read reviews from people who have hired them before. This is an awesome way to see if someone is a good match for your company’s corporate event before you even contact them.
There’s a lot of power in social media for hiring performers! Not only can you find a huge assortment of acts from all over your area, but you can also easily contact them, find videos or clips of their performances, and get to know the types of reactions they draw from their crowds. This is a powerful tool and a great way to find performers.
Attending Local Shows
One of the best ways to find awesome entertainment is to get out there and see who’s performing in your area. This could mean going to local upcoming artist concerts or attending stand-up comedy nights at local bars, but don’t be afraid to search through live shows and find someone who speaks to what your event needs! If
Every Event Deserves Something Special
Whether you’re interested in stand-up or you want a musician to rock out at your next corporate event, there are plenty of ways to find awesome performers; just get to know some of these!
Models are seen by many as peak physical perfection. But what is a “perfect?” body? Are models perfect, and what everyday women should strive to emulate? Heather Mathes, a formal model turned author gives readers her insights in maintaining a perfect weight for YOUR body. We had to know more about her new book “Paid to be Perfect”.
Can you give us the scoop about your book?
This book is about the reader finding “their perfect” around nutrition, fitness and wellness. I share everything that has worked for me based on my decades-long modeling career in an effort for the reader to find what works for them.
It’s not necessarily about losing weight and it’s not at all about being skinny. It’s about maintaining consistency of your natural size while thoroughly enjoying what’s on your plate. And It’s about finding that place in your body that feels just right, where you have the most energy and have an overall feeling of well-being rather than struggling to reach an arbitrary number on a scale. It’s about having an appreciation for where you are as well as a road map to help you to get wherever you’d like to be.
And my book is an all-encompassing approach to wellness because in addition to nutrition it’s also about moving your body in a healthy way that feels good as well as creating mindful habits that help the reader to navigate through their days while experimenting and exploring their own path to their individual, unique perfect.
What inspired you to write this story?
“How have you maintained your measurements within a 1/4″ for decades?” is the question I’ve gotten the most over the years from people who find out I’ve maintained my body size within a quarter of an inch plus or minus over the years. I answer that with absolutely everything I eat, and everything I do, and have done for years without going hungry and getting pleasure from what I consume.
I believe we’re designed to get pleasure from what we eat rather than feel stressed or guilty because food consumption is a natural, normal function of the body. And too many people that I’ve known personally, as well as that I see all across social media platforms, don’t seem to understand that or know how to go about feeling good about their food choices without guilt or stress. I’m therefore inspired by the ability to share with anyone who wants to learn more about healthy living. In addition this book is my pay-it-forward for the amazing modeling career I’ve had throughout the years.
What is your favorite excerpt from your book?
“To achieve consistency your measurements and weight will not be absolutely exact from day to day. There is a range on the scale of a little bit bigger and a little bit smaller that we all vacillate between as absolute exact weights and measurements are not humanly possible. The point is to eliminate the extremes as well as to find pleasure in the one thing you will do every day you’re on this beautiful earth: eat.
“Consistency is only one part of the story. True contentment and happiness will never be found in a number on a scale. Though having the knowledge to naturally create this consistency is freedom–freedom to NOT obsess about your weight so that you have time to focus on all the best that life has in store for you. If that’s your goal, you’re in the right place.”
Why should those looking for a healthier lifestyle choose your book?
Because they can learn how to eat whatever they want, whatever they want while maintaining their consistent size throughout decades of a well-lived life. And because by learning to do so they will gain pleasure and happiness around their food choices rather than feelings of guilt or stress. And because even though they are reading about someone that was paid to keep her body measurements on spec within a quarter of an inch under contract, keeping your body from vacillating between extreme highs and lows can be achieved and maintained by anyone who is at their natural size. And because this book is for everyone looking for a healthy lifestyle, at any size, and at any age.
What is something you learned while writing this book?
Writing this in my late 40’s and early 50’s was amazing because I learned so much! The main lesson was that writing a book is just the beginning. To learn all about editing, publishing, promoting, etc at this age felt like I went back to college and reinforced the idea I’ve always had that life is a lifelong learning process. And even in our 50’s, some of us are just getting started!
If you had 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
Greece is my happy place so I’d be there on a beach.
I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge about the world so I would travel to places I’ve never been on “vacation” breaks from my day-to-day of laying on a beach in Greece.
The ability to be present in the moment always rather than the rushed/stressed/over-scheduled/over-analytical mindset I try to release daily. (As if I’d have any difficulty with this wish if the first two wishes were granted.)
The first three are wishes for myself but if I were granted a wish for the world it would be that we could all learn to appreciate and honor our differences. John Lennon said it best – “Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
If you could give your book to anyone to read, who would you give it to?
My mom. She left the earth several years ago so she can’t read it but she would have loved it.
I would also give it to anyone who struggles with their relationship to their food choices, or their size, or to anyone who is struggling to see the perfection in themselves. Though none of us are perfect in the strictest sense of the word, the dichotomy exists that innately we are already perfect because we exist. Our bodies heal wounds perfectly without us thinking about it. We breathe and our hearts beat without effort. And we are naturally designed to be a size that is perfect for our bodies. My job with this book is to help the reader find that place that is perfect for them in an effort for the reader to see the perfection in themselves as easily as they do in others.
Rapid Fire Answer and Questions:
Hiking or Biking?
Both?! I’ll say biking if I have to pick.
Tea or Coffee?
Again both! (Decaf for both.)
Crazy night out or cozy night in?
Mostly cozy night in, although I love an occasional night out! So both 🙂
Netflix Binge or Staying up late to finish a good book?
I’m bad at this game. Both, but I would say a really good book usually keeps me up even later than Nexflix!
Online shopping or trip to the mall?
In keeping with the theme, both! I shop online more but I love browsing through stores. Bottom line – I like all of the above depending on my mood 😉
Want to pick up a copy of Paid to Be Perfect by Heather Mathes? You can find it here on Amazon.
Are you thinking about planning a spring break adventure for you and your friends or family? There are many different ways you can have a fun and successful spring break trip. Whether you’re looking for a week of rest and relaxation or a non-stop action-packed vacation, here are eight great ideas to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.
1- Plan an Unforgettable Road Trip
There’s something about hitting the open road with a car full of friends and great music that makes road trips so popular among spring breakers of all ages. Whether you plan on driving through route 66 or you’re setting out to visit a national park, an epic road trip could be just what you need to recharge this month.
2- Hit the Beach for Fun in the Sand and Surf
Could you use a little fun in the sun this month? Consider a relaxing trip to your local beach. Renting a condo, relaxing in the warm sun, and feeling the cool ocean breeze on your skin is invigorating and delightful.
3- Go on an Ultimate Food Lover’s Tour
Do you love exploring new cuisine and interesting flavors? Create a list of interesting restaurants and food trucks you’ve always wanted to try and go on the ultimate food lover’s tour. Bring a friend or two along and enjoy discovering new favorite restaurants and dishes.
4- Enjoy the Adrenaline of River Rafting
River rafting is one of the most exciting ways to experience the power of nature. River rafting can be tailored to your personal skill level, and is kid-friendly too! Consult a local river rafting guide and get ready for the experience of a lifetime.
5- Take Your Spring Break Abroad
Have you always wanted to explore a different country but never had the time to do it? Spring break is the perfect opportunity to hop on a plane and discover everything the world has to offer. Many airlines offer great deals during spring break that can help make your trip more affordable. Check out youth hostels for even more efficient ways to save on lodging, meals, and more.
6- Consider a “Staycation”
Sometimes the best spring breaks are spent closer to home. If you’ve been overworked and stressed out lately, a staycation may be just what you need this spring break. Plan an at-home spa day, catch up on your favorite tv shows, and enjoy the process of cooking a gourmet meal for yourself. Staycations are a great way to unwind after a particularly busy month, and they’re less expensive too!
7- Explore a Theme Park
While going to a theme park may seem like the stereotypical spring break experience, it’s a great way to feel like a kid again. Roller coasters, park snacks, and entertaining theme park parades can put a smile on anyone’s face. Be sure to check for special student or military discounts before purchasing park tickets.
8- Go Camping in the Wilderness
We spend so much of our lives typing away in drab office buildings, why not reconnect with nature and get back to basics? Rent a cabin or pitch a tent in your local state park. Unplug and spend some time basking in the sights and sounds of the forest. You’ll feel instantly recharged and gain a newfound appreciation for the beautiful world around you.
There is a reason why historical romance can never lose its charm. Be it movies, Netflix series, or in this case, novels, it lives on. Author Clyve Rose explores the magic of romance from the good ol’ days that entices her and millions of readers into believing in happily-ever-afters.
What inspires you to write?
People inspire me to write – every day, every feeling. I am deeply interested in the varied ways different people move through the world, causing life, love, tears, and joy. People leave large imprints on each other, and within themselves. This is powerful and often heroic.
Let’s talk love, why write love stories, specifically historical romances?
I write love stories for many reasons. It began when my own marriage failed I suppose, and I sought to create happy endings where I could. At the time, these were necessarily on paper. In terms of historical fiction, I have always been a history buff. I also find the history of how human beings relate to one another (or don’t), endlessly fascinating. I believe the reason people still fall in love with Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennet is because, after all this time, communication between lovers is still something we flawed creatures stumble our way awkwardly and sometimes disastrously.
What do you think of Bridgerton on Netflix?
I truly think it’s wonderful. I love period pieces taken to screen. Anything with lace and corsets always makes me smile. The adaptation is clever and very well done. The clothes alone would be enough for me, but the entire production is gorgeous to watch.
What’s your favorite story you’ve written and why?
My favorite story is the sequel to Always a Princess, which is due out in 2022. I truly think it’s my best work to date. Growing the characters up over so long a timeframe gave me a lot of room to work.
If there is a movie adaptation of Always a Princess, who do you think would be perfect for the lead roles?
Hmm…Bradley James would look smashing in a red coat as Wil. I’d like a Roma actress to play Syeira. Someone like Salma Hayek – there are hundreds of talented Romani actresses in England and I’d love to see one in the role.
Is there a book you read over and over? Or what is your go-to book to recommend to friends?
Austen’s Persuasion is my comfort read. I love the language Austen uses in her last, and arguably best, work.
Any ritual like a specific scented candle, preferred writing place, or drink that you kept through writing?
Green tea and focus music. I use instrumental soundscapes to assist my focus. I also need a blank wall in front of me – no windows. I am neurodivergent and I need to hold focus to write.
Are you ready for our rapid-fire questions? Let’s go.
Morning person or a night owl
Oh, night owl
Inspirations in the shower or on your walks
When I run, actually.
Classical or Jazz music
Classical for writing. Jazz for wine and chillouts.
Movie night at home or dining out with friends
This is hugely variable – depends on my moods and where I’m at in my writing process.
Your favorite writer of all time
Excellent question – this also varies because the authors I clung to when I was younger do not have the same effect on me now. I do still love sinking into Ondaatje’s In The Skin of a Lion and Austen’s Persuasion. I also love detective novels so Agatha Christie for plotting and Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher for characterization. I like to read fantasy as well and enjoyed the translation of Andrek Sapkowski’s The Witcher novels. Honestly though, the book I re-read the most is Homer’s Iliad. The language is lovely.
What’s your latest binge-watch obsession?
The Irregulars on Netflix and I’m about to dive into Season 2 of The Witcher. I’ll also be on the lookout for Season 2 of Sweet Magnolias. Season 1 ended on a cliffhanger and I am on tenterhooks to know what comes next – laos, I am a total sucker for romantic dramas.
What if we told you that an award-winning chef can help you make his finger-licking Italian recipes in your kitchen? “A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn” by David Ruggerio is all you need to recreate the magic and make each meal extra special. Here’s a candid chat with the renowned chef and author where he spills the beans about his latest cookbook and more.
What was the purpose of writing A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn?
It was for a few reasons; first and foremost, I wanted to return to my roots and share with my grandchildren and future generations a taste of what it was to grow up in Brooklyn in a very different era. My generation was still recognizable to my parents and my grandparents–we have now entered a period that is extremely different than my childhood. My time was colorful and raw, a period when the family got together often to share great food, long-tenured traditions, and pass on our culture. Lastly, at a time when the Italian culture is under assault in this country, I wanted to stand tall and express my pride for being Italian.
Who is your inspiration?
The women of my family. I was orphaned when I was five, witnessing my pregnant mother’s death. I went to live with my grandmother and my great-grandmother. These were women who hailed from Sant’Angelo Dei Lombardi, a storied village outside of Naples. They epitomized being Italian in Brooklyn. Like Brooklyn itself, they were extraordinarily resilient while sharing their heritage, customs, and of course the food. At our kitchen table, fresh pasta was made, homegrown vegetables were preserved, and stories were told. From that table, I understood what it was to be Italian.
Will beginners find recipes they can cook from A Tomato Grows in Brooklyn?
These recipes are straightforward, home-grown dishes that any person who wants to experience the Italian American cuisine can enjoy and get a taste of what it was like in the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
What’s your favorite recipe from the book? What makes it unique?
“Pasta’ Ncasciata,” which is a “Baked Pasta with Eggplant with Caciocavallo.”
I adore this recipe. This was brought to Brooklyn by Sicilians. It is traditionally made with annelli pasta, or ‘little rings,’ dressed in a meaty tomato ragu made with spare ribs (It can be made with beef, pork, or even sausage). My grandmother added tiny meatballs to the ragu with the spareribs-though I thought it a bit much for the recipe. It is emblematic of what made Italian American cuisine in Brooklyn so special—that Sicilians lived next door to Neapolitans, who lived next door to Calabrian’s, who lived next door to Abruzzese. Over years, they shared recipes and they progressively melted together to create our own cuisine.
Do you grow your own vegetables in your backyard in Brooklyn? What’s your tip for the readers?
I grow nearly all the vegetables that we eat during the year. My garden is alive and producing twelve months out of the year, with not only the holy trinity-tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants- but also figs, apples, pears, blueberries, lettuce, escarole, cardoons, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions, potatoes, and of course, garlic! My tip was best expressed by my great-grandmother, Antoinette Quagliarello Pesce. She taught me that we don’t grow vegetables, we grow soil. By enriching the soil with many long-held traditions and tricks developed by the Southern Italians, that marvelous land made extraordinarily tasty produce that fed us throughout the seasons.
You’ve won so much recognition for your work. What do you enjoy writing the most, horror or cookbooks?
I love them both and do them both nearly every day. I work till late into the night, and during those dark, late hours, my imagination wanders into dark, scary places that make writing horror quite easy. During the glorious days, wandering in my garden or hand making cavatelli pasta on a wooden board, or making pizza in my backyard brick oven with my grandchildren, my heart burns Italian, writing about food is easy and consoling.
What has been the highlight of your cooking career? What about your writing career?
My professional career was spent in glorious French kitchens. There are two highlights in my career. The first was as a teen finding myself at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountain, where I found an elf-like chef, Michel Guerard who taught me how to spell magic. He was the greatest chef of the twentieth century who changed me as a person. The second, was when the famed fashion designer put me in charge of his restaurant; Maxim’s, and I garnered three stars.
Time for our rapid-fire round. Here are your questions:
Pasta or pizza
Pasta! I can eat it every day
Cooking or writing
I was created to cook!
Jazz or classical music
Come on, I was raised in Brooklyn during the 70s! Disco!
Patio or Candlelight dinner
Outdoors on my patio, with my family
What’s your favorite cheese?
Pecorino Romano, I can put it on everything!
One dish you love
Linguini with Clams
One restaurant you frequent
I adore Di Fara’s in Brooklyn when Dominick, an old friend and the owner, is cooking. The best pizza in America
Taking parenting and writing to the next level is the “Project Adventure” series’ author, David Konrad. David is the author of adventure books for middle-graders and anyone who’s a kid at heart. His books are loved and adored by children worldwide. But how does he manage to juggle these hats and make time to enjoy an active outdoorsy lifestyle with his sons? Let’s find out.
Why did you decide you wanted to write children’s adventure books?
Because these type of books is what made me fall in love with reading and books in the first place. Besides, I started writing when my twin boys were 5 years old, so I hoped they would appreciate the stories and the adventure.
It looks like you draw inspiration from the expeditions you go on with your kids. What has been your favorite adventure together?
Being a stay home dad with twin boys is an adventure on its own. The three of us used to fly a lot together, ever since they were 3 years old, so that always made for some interesting adventures… Also, we always love to take a boat out on the Adriatic Sea to find cool and remote places.
What are the strengths of each member of the Project Adventure kid-detective agency?
Ethan is a go-getter. He’s very curious, and that, paired with never endless energy, often gets him into trouble.
Matt is a thinker. He’s quiet and doesn’t talk much, but he’s always alert and acts as balance for Ethan,
Lisa is the glue that makes the trio tick. She’s a brilliant organizer, very pragmatic and able.
Although it sounds like choosing your favorite child, we’d like to know which of the four books from the “Project Adventure” series is your favorite and why?
I would have to say the “Heart of the Island”. It was not just the first book of the series, but also my first book ever! As much as I like my other books, this one will always have a special place in my heart.
What’s one of the most heartwarming messages you’ve received from your little fans?
A mother once emailed me to tell me her daughter is completely hooked on my books, and can’t wait for the next one. That was after she’d read books 1 and 2, so safe to say she continued being a fan of mine… J
Growing up, what were some of your favorite books?
I always loved this book about King Arthur and the knights of the round table, but I’d forgotten who the author was. But I still remember it clearly. And I loved Karl May’s Wild West stories, Winnetou and such.
What is your number 1 parenting tip for adventurous kids?
Pack light, but don’t go anywhere without water, snacks, and band-aids.
Let’s do a quick round of rapid-fire questions. Ready?
Hikes or Swimming
Games or Movie night
Laundry or Dishes?
Both. I’m a stay home dad, after all.
Coffee or Tea
Coffee during the day, tea in the evening. But coffee, if I have to pick one.
Our African Unconscious by Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum uncovers all aspects of our human evolution. It sheds light on how the arts, sciences, philosophy, and religious roots originated in Africa. Author Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP is an award-winning psychologist and former director of the behavioral medicine program at the University of Massachusetts Health Services. If you want to learn more about Dr. Edward and his fascinating work in the field, here’s your chance.
Hi Dr. Edward, how do we all share a common origin? How do we all come from Africa?
I sought to create a modern medically and scientifically sound understanding of our unity as a species that was also a complete vision absolutely undergirded by the great spiritual traditions of both East, West, and Africa. Thus a good deal of anthropology, m medical genetics, ancient history, and the living history of religions.
Why did you decide to write Our African Unconscious: The Black Origins of Mysticism and Psychology?
It was a natural evolution from an earlier book called DARK LIGHT CONSCIOUSNESS: Melanin, Serpent Power and the Luminous Matrix of Reality. It dealt, as a clinical psychologist, with the effect of this deep hidden bodily and spiritual energy better known in classical literature and practices of meditation and yoga.
What’s the best way to truly appreciate our shared consciousness and identity as a species?
A meditative discipline you are drawn to plus a deep love for another person beyond what you can explain to yourself.
What are your thoughts on the varied different ethnicities that exist? How can we thrive in today’s world?
This is a complex question. However, as a species at war with itself, we have come to the point in our development as a species on this volatile planet of vast changes and rapid changes that we either learn to love each other despite our difference or we die !! It is that simple and uncomfortably true.
Would you say one of the predictions made by George Washington is yet to come?
Yes, 2 of them have already occurred. He predicted the American civil war and a great civil confrontation yet to come involving Africa and the notion that ‘all men are brethren”. Is that not where we are today in the USA?
Could you share one fascinating piece of information that you came across during your research for the book?
Yes. That America’s first war over slavery was not our civil war but about ‘white slavery,’ the war with the Barbary Coast pirates of north Africa that far arose soon after the founding of the republic. They were raiding ships at sea and stealing white women to sell to the harems of the sultans.
How do quantum mechanics, string theory, and relative physics weave into the book?
They are all part of the emerging new paradigm in science that takes us past Einstein.
Could you answer some of these rapid-fire questions for your readers?
The most peaceful place for you…
On the deck at home on a warm summer afternoon or in my meditation setting in the early morning at home.
A book that made a significant impact on you
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramansa Yogananda and also The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard De Chardin
Dusk or dawn
Both actually, but perhaps dusk most
Jazz or country music
Jazz but I also like classic country music by the greats like John Denver
Podcasts or documentaries
What’s your next project?
I am also a published poet with an equal number of texts in psychology/psychiatry as in poetry: I am finishing up a long poem that is 7,777 words in length titled “If I Trusted Poetry Completely”
Tell us one thing about yourself that we likely don’t know
Award-winning YA author, Laurel Anne Hill returns with her latest historical fantasy, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits,1846. Needless to say, it’s going to be an unforgettable adventure you don’t want to miss out on. Laurel explores her family history and finds a fantasy-filled story of a brave sixteen-year-old, Catalina. Read more about her experience and your soon-to-be-favorite book, A Plague of Flies.
Hi Laurel, you released your latest historical fantasy last month, A Plague of Flies: Revolt of the Spirits, 1846. Could you tell us about it?
In 1846 Alta California, Catalina Delgado daydreams about her future: roping cattle, marrying Angelo Ortega, and raising children. But now, invaders from the United States—the Bear Flaggers—have declared war against Mexico, her country. Bear Flaggers have imprisoned one close friend of her family and murdered others. What fate might befall her parents, grandfather, and younger brothers? And what about her best friend, a Costanoan servant girl? How can Catalina, only sixteen, help protect all those she loves?
The spirits provide Catalina with answers, but not the ones she wants. Plus she fears the strange spirit man who rides a black Andalusian stallion through the sky. For the sake of all she holds dear, Catalina must risk her reputation as a chaste young woman, her future with Angelo, her life, and her very soul. When hopes and dreams clash with cold reality, Catalina finds the fortitude to accomplish what only she can do.
Why did you choose to write about 1846 Alta California?
At the time I made the choice, I still believed my paternal great-grandmother, Hipólita, had lived there during the 1840s. I thought my Mexican family had lost their land to the United States as a result of the Bear Flag Rebellion in 1846. Then I discovered they’d not come to California until the late 1850s or early 1860s. Once in California, they’d been taken advantage of in some other manner, possibly by one of the US railroads.
What is the one thing about Catalina Delgado that your readers are instantly going to fall in love with?
Catalina, a young mestiza, has ideas of her own about her personal future, including who she wants to marry. Without sisters, she competes with her four younger brothers for approval. She is not afraid to ride astride (instead of sidesaddle) and can rope longhorns almost as well as her father’s vaqueros do. Regardless, Catalina remains closer to being a sixteen-year-old woman of her time than to becoming some bigger-than-life kick-ass heroine. She wishes to honor members of her family—even when she doesn’t agree with them—and her Catholic faith. Yet she finds herself questioning aspects of both her faith and her family.
What can you share about the Spirit Man that your potential readers don’t know yet?
Spirit Man is a complicated being, far more than just a scary character. He has taken the shape of others in the past, and presumably, will do so in the future. Spirit Man has the capacity to serve as a loyal friend or become a terrifying opponent.
Is there a heart-warming review or comment you received for A Plague of Flies that you’d like to share with us?
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2021: In her second YA novel that’s set in a magical-realist 19th-century California, Hill gives readers a wonderfully imaginative, unsettling view of events leading up to the 1849 gold rush. Many narratives emphasize the excitement of this time and California’s newfound wealth, population growth, and influence, but this book foreshadows the disasters—starvation, slaughter, dispossession—inflicted on Indigenous people. It’s a theme that could become heavy-handed, but Catalina’s passionate teenage energy gives propulsion to the dramatic plot.
At what point during the research of A Plague of Flies did you have the sequence of the story plotted?
Not until I finished the first draft, over ten years after starting my project. Please understand, however, that the hiatus between finishing the first half of draft number one and starting the second half amounted to five of those ten years. I wrote the second half of the initial draft in three months.
What do you enjoy writing the most – historical fantasy or science fiction? Why?
Historical fantasy. I love to delve into the history of a setting, and fantasy gives me a fair amount of freedom in world-building. Besides, I worked most of my adult life in the field of science or science technology. Although I write occasional science fiction or science horror stories, doing fantasy returns me to a special place I loved as a child.
Rapid Fire time. Answer the following questions with the first thing that comes to your mind.
A preferred writing snack:
Morning: Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer. Evening: A glass of wine.
What was the last soundtrack you heard?
The opera, “Mefistofele” (by Boito), with Luciano Pavarotti singing the role of Faust. “Mefistofele” is my go-to inspiration when I need “big sound” to deal with one hell of a challenge.
Countryside or the beach:
These days, the countryside. For most of my life, the beach.
Tea or coffee:
Coffee with caramel-flavored creamer.
Kittens or puppies:
Puppies. I love kittens, but cats interfere with my ability to breathe. (Ah-choo!)
If you’re a parent or teacher of middle graders, you’d know how challenging it is to get them to read. Equally difficult is finding books that can entertain and inspire kids to grow into empathetic human beings. We met with an author who writes stories that kids love reading to not only have fun but to learn from. Dames Handsome is a father, teacher, and excellent author of the most-loved book series, the Fairy Knights. Here’s Dame’s story in his own words.
Hi Dames, how does one come up with such a cool name as Dames Handsome?
From my students! Here in Korea teachers are addressed by their last name and then the word teacher. My actual last name sounds a lot like Handsome so they started to call me Handsome Teacher. And then the Dames part is an old high school nickname so when it came to me making my pen name I found that really it had already been made and it was just waiting for me to pull out and dust off to be made official.
Why did you decide to write children’s books?
I didn’t haha. All of this started when I sat down with my wife and son to play a role-playing game that I’d made. It was an awesome time and afterward, I realized that I wanted to remember it all forever. So I wrote it all down. And then after it was down I decided to make a story out of it for my son. I adjusted this and that to make it into a real kids’ story. One that I also torqued to teach him a lesson, as all good kids stories do. I read it to him and he loved it. Then it sat on my computer for months. I shared it with some people here and there and they loved it as well. So, finally, I decided that I should “make it real” and publish it. And so it all began.
How did Fairy Knights come to life?
When I asked my friend Warwick, who teaches people how to be Kindergarten Teachers, to read it and how much it would cost me for him to make a cover for me. He read it and got back to me and asked if he could make pictures for the inside as well. I really can’t imagine the series without him. Our partnership really makes these books snap and I’m so happy to be working together.
What are the unique “superpowers” each of the Fairy Knights possess?
I’ll start with everyone’s favorite, Hamster Rick. He’s a hamster pet that my son named after one of his teddy animals. But rather than being all fat and round like most hamsters, he is super strong and he is incredibly chiseled. A handsome hunk of hamster.
The viewpoint of the series so far has come from Ching Goo and his school’s specialty is changing shapes. Depending on how much Magic Mana he uses, he can become about anything he can imagine. And he has a few more magic tricks up his sleeve as well. He can make himself travel very quickly, he can become super strong, he can make people believe that he is famous, and he can be very lucky. He has to be careful, though, because all of those spells cost mana and if he runs out he can’t cast any more magic for the rest of the day.
And of course, we have Oma Bell, the responsible voice of reason. She is an arcane spellcaster which means she can do powerful spells if given enough time to cast them. But more often she uses her fairy dust to create small but immediate magical effects. She can fly and she also has a mean right hook so you don’t want to mess with her. She has some more spells as well that are more specialized. Her super-smart spell makes her twice as intelligent and she can use magic to become about the cutest kid you’ve ever seen or talked to.
How have Ching Goo, Oma Bell, and Hamster Rick grown from one book to another?
At the very start of the series, Ching and Oma were just besties who liked to hang out, and Rick was Ching’s familiar, an animal pet that bonds with their owner to become something very special. But by the time the fourth book has come, we see that Rick has become a full-fledged hero in his own right and is even enrolled at Boogie Elementary School. Oma and Ching have gone through a lot together and Ching has become more mature, responsible, and kind. He has overcome the fear of being no-good, the complexities of jealousy in friendship, and he has more realistic expectations of himself and his friends. He is no longer quite so silly and headstrong. And Oma has let herself loosen up a bit. She has learned that while her ideas and plans may be brilliant, they are always better as a team. It is actually a lot of fun to chart out their lives as they go from book to book, and yet a little sad at the same time because they grow alongside my son, and each little success and every little bit of maturation means he himself is getting that much older and wiser, and that much less of my little baby boy.
Could you share one heart-warming comment you received from a reader recently?
A father told me that his daughter was all excited about the series and kept talking about how she was going to be super good so she could level up and be a hero. That really made me laugh and smile.
What is the one lesson you’d like your little readers to learn from the Fairy Knights books?
That it is okay and natural to feel anxious, scared, and not as good as the others. And that everyone else feels that same sense of doubt and unworthiness. It is a natural part of growing up and it is okay to feel it and to talk to people about it.
Rapid Fire time! Answer the following questions with the first thing that comes to your mind.
Morning person or night owl
Kindle or audiobook
Panda or koala
A preferred writing snack
Your favorite movie of all times
Do you still have your favorite book from childhood?
I don’t but that’s because it wore through!
Warwick has told me that the next one needs to be something special and different. So we are working on an anthology of 5 stories told by different characters within the series. But that won’t be out until at least January due to the Holidays.