Author Interview: RJ Leahy

Today is our interview day! RJ Leahy, author of the fantabulous Angel of the City, graciously took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his book! Thank you so much for your time, RJ!

portrait21) What gave you the idea for this particular dystopian future? Why one with different races sectioned off and a city that gets sacked and rebuilt so many times?

I’ve had the germ for this story ruminating in my head for many    years, specifically since the mid nineties and the breakup of    Yugoslavia following the fall of the Soviet Union.  The resulting    Bosnian war set multiple ethnic groups against one another,    sometimes block against block, and yet these very people had lived    as neighbors for generations.  It took the implementation of    something like martial law and the forced separation of these    groups, to bring about a peace.

2) The Shade, as we call the main character, makes a sudden turn around at one point and begins helping the girls, despite it putting him into danger. He doesn’t really go into details into his whys – what motivates him?

In a word, Pen.  In Pen, he sees a reflection of himself before    the death of his brother, Cole.  Cole’s death changes him from a somewhat ideological boy, to the kind of man who could become a Counselor.  Meeting Pen draws out the humanity in him, a slow process that first began when he left the Council and took up with Reed. Even he is somewhat confused by these long-dormant emotions. In agreeing to help Abby, he acknowledges that he’s really trying to save Pen, and perhaps, what remains of the person he once was.  (“I have to save Pen.  I just don’t know why.”)  Also, he is one of the few people who knows of the Council’s plan to solve the food shortage.  Perhaps he has begun to wonder if simply living for the sake of living, is any life at all.

3) The tags that are put into people – I was curious about them. How do they put the one into the brain?

The tags are very small, inserted through large-bore hypodermic needles at Angel of the Cith - RJ Leahybirth under the skin.  Only Counselors get brain tags, inserted in the same way and very, very carefully. 🙂

4) Any other works you’ve got coming out that our readers might be interested in?

I have a new novel out, FAT CHANCE, that is a completely different read from ANGEL OF THE CITY.  It is a light, humorous mystery novel set in rural New Mexico and has garnered good reviews.  I am finishing up the sequel now. Also out is a middle  grade novel, NEVERWORLD, written under the pen name, E. Racine, about a young girl’s adventure on a mystical pirate ship. I am also working on a follow-up novel to Angel of the City, untitled at present.

RJ Leahy lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where he presently practices as a
physician. His first novel, TIGRA, was published by Zumaya Publications in 1996 and was a Dream Realm Award finalist for that year. His second book, THE OBSIDIAN SEED, the follow up to TIGRA, was published three years later. His two newest works, both ebooks, came out in 2013. The first, ANGEL OF THE CITY, is a dystopian view of the future, as seen through the eyes of a brain damaged ex-policeman. The second, FAT CHANCE, is a mystery/comedy about a private investigator marooned in a small New Mexico town who finds himself the prime suspect in a missing person’s case.

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Review: Angel of the City by RJ Leahy

 

Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopian

Rating: Yay!

Man, what a long strange trip it’s been. This is how I always feel after a good dystopian. Because dystopians aren’t meant to make a reader feel good – they’re purposefully unsettling.

Angel of the Cith - RJ LeahyThis one does an excellent job with that. A little bit sci-fi, with a bit of a noir feel, we follow the main character through a corrupt city fiercely controlled by the government, who puts scanners in all of hteir citizens to keep track of them at all times. Fights are breaking out everywhere for food and basic survival. And in all of this, the Angel of the city – also known as Abby – is taken hostage by the Counselors to flush out the rebels.

The main character, who purposefully keeps his name hidden, is given the task to save her. And what goes down from there is nothing short of what typical awesomeness dystopians can have.

You have to feel for the main character, who has lived in this tightly wound society and is smart enough to find ways around rules, and yet has so little hope for a future. He doesn’t expect to live much longer, and finding a way to continue on despite all of the tragedy he experiences, wondering if he would live or not at the end, kept me reading all the way through.

The only complaint I have is that the epilogue given is so vague that I found what was an open-ending into a closed ending where I really didn’t know what happened. If there has been just a few more details and specifics so I could have understood what exactly was going on, I would have been fine, but the vagaries left me a little dissatisfied with the end because I wanted specifics.

Overall, this is a really great read, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of dystopia.

This Week’s Review: Angel of the City

Freedom breeds uncertainty; uncertainty invites chaos.

Angel of the Cith - RJ LeahyThe last city on Earth is an overcrowded, festering metropolis of segregated quarters and ancient, ethnic hatreds. It is a city on the edge of starvation, slowly succumbing to the creeping death that has choked off the rest of the world.

When the leader of a nascent resistance movement, a woman known only as, The Angel of the City, is captured by the government, a nameless, brain-damaged thief is hired to rescue her. It is a suicide mission and he knows it. But this is a job he cannot refuse.

And if he can get her out, then what? Where do you go, when there is no place to go? How can you hide in a city tearing itself apart in a wholesale ethnic cleansing? What keeps you living, when you know the terrible truth the future holds?

Review: Act of Pardon

Rating: Yay

Genre: Historical Romance

I don’t often get a Historical Romance in my review bin and when I do it’s a special treat because this is by far my favorite genre to read. It’s also a genre I’m super critical of because I want the ultimate experience.

Sookoo provides a good blend of action, romance, and sensuality which created a great environment for a Historical tale. Also, the environs aren’t England based and instead we find our hero and heroine navigating the Caribbean, Spanish settlements, and exotic ports for this story. I enjoyed being transported to somewhere outside of Europe and found the book easy to become immersed in. Sookoo also does a fine job of portraying a pirates life and the challenges of living by a different moral code then can be found in civilian life.

As to character development both hero, heroine, and a group of pirate secondary characters are completely three dimensional, with well established motivations, goals, and ultimately sweet, sweet conflict. Sarah is definitely a conundrum because she has to come to terms with killing, even though she was raised by a preacher and missionary. How do you justify violence and death when being taught there are better ways to solve problems? For Sarah it’s a matter of finding a way to accept our hero, Captain Adrian Westerbrooke, even if he kills men who attack his ship and whips those who don’t follow his orders. For me this is some pretty deep and tough conflict, and the resolution isn’t easy or cut and dry- just the way I like it.

One word of caution there is a violence, death of a child, and a minor moment where our heroine encounters a cat o’nine. If you’re not one to enjoy a bit of action or capable of reading a few painful, yet tastefully handled, moments this may be a book you should avoid.

 

Finally, my only challenge with this story was the formatting in the eBook. The Kindle version has some grievous formatting errors and I believe I missed multiple pages of the story because of it. Luckily, I was still able to follow the story with the pages present and I hope the author is able to revise the uploaded version in the near future.

 

This Week’s Read: Act of Pardon

act of pardonRetribution and sorrow can bring redemption and salvation if you look hard enough.

The year is 1814 and piracy is drawing to an end in the Caribbean yet Sarah Covington, a disenchanted missionary’s daughter, has a plan to kill the pirate who murdered her father and fiancé. When the assassination attempt goes horribly wrong, she’s taken aboard the Lady Catherine as prisoner. Though she’s forced to embrace a life of degradation and subservience by the very pirate she tried to kill, he stirs passions she never knew she harbored.

Adrian Westerbrooke captains the Lady Catherine but not by choice. Officially a privateer under England’s protection, he has his own agenda and will take down targets for the highest bidder. The only problem is the beautifully flawed Sarah. He’ll try everything in his power to break her spirit and make her bow before his. At sea, his word is law, no matter how much she intrigues his mind and inflames his body.

Yet Sarah possesses a stubbornness that matches his own, on deck and in the bedroom, and a battle of wills begins. As trust grows, so does their desire–whether they can survive the threats at sea while working through their differences is up to faith… and perhaps love.

Grab your copy of Act of Pardon at:

Amazon

ARe

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Author Interview: Joseph Finley

Author PhotoToday, I’m so, so excited to have Joseph Finley in the hot seat. After reading Enoch’s Device, I had a few questions about our brave Irish monks and the story that befell them. So here it is, one mostly Irish person to another. Enjoy!

About the Author: 

Joseph Finley is a writer of historical fantasy fiction. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, daughter, and two rescue dogs. He also posts regularly at Fresh-scraped Vellum (fresh-scrapedvellum.blogspot.com), a blog devoted to historical and fantasy fiction. God saw fit to make him Irish, at least in part, so he comes honestly by his fondness for the Irish and their medieval monks. Enoch’s Device is his debut novel.

I have a strong fascination with Celtic and Irish lore, and this book filled me to the brim with everything I love in mythology, with a healthy dose of apocalyptic craziness to top it all off. How did you tie all of it together?

First off, thanks for the wonderful opportunity to appear on your blog, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the novel! As for your question, it all started with the Book of Enoch, which talks about rogue angels and their giant offspring wreaking mayhem on earth before the biblical flood. From there I began to realize how similar this story was to other mythologies, which led to a theory (the one Thomas poses in the novel) about a universal origin of myth. What if all the various mythologies—Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, etc.—stemmed from the same source? It turns out that Irish and Celtic myths have similarities to Enochian myth, as well as other mythologies, so it all just fell into place. As for the apocalyptic angle, the Book of Enoch contains its own End of Days prophecy, which dovetails with the book of Revelation. Add in apocalyptic stories from other mythologies, such as the Norse myth of Ragnarok, and it all just came together like one big puzzle.

I have to admit—I adored Donall and Ciaran (mostly Donall because…well…he’s amazing). What was behind the decision for them to be monks? Was this something you came up with initially or something that came to be as you developed and researched your idea?

They were always monks. Since the mystery in “Enoch’s Device” involves a lot of history—and old and arcane books—I needed educated characters who could read both Latin and Greek. Back in the tenth century, the most educated and well-read folks were likely to be monks, since all that many of them did was copy old books all day long. Couple this with the religious/end times plotline, and monks seemed like the natural choice for Ciaran and Donall.

Speaking of research, what was the most surprising thing you found while digging into history and folklore?

On the folklore side, it was really the connection that the Four Hallows of Ireland had with other myths and legends. The four hallows, which consisted of a sword, a stone, a spear (or staff), and a cauldron, are the same four objects that make up the minor arcana in the Tarot, and which relate to the four elements: air, earth, fire, and water. This is true across a number of mythologies, and I never knew this until I began the research for “Enoch’s Device.” On the history side, I was really surprised at how vastly more sophisticated Moorish society was compared to Christian Europe in terms of medicine, mathematics, architecture, and literacy. It was truly an astounding gap. And the fact that the caliph’s library in Cordoba contained more books than probably all of France at the time was mindboggling.

Do you have a favorite Irish myth?

Undoubtedly, it’s the story of the Tuatha De Danann and their battle with the Formorians. The Tuatha De Danann were almost Avengers-like heroes. Whether they were Fae or the old Irish gods, they were armed with four sacred, magical weapons (the four hallows) and fought for the fate of Ireland against giant-like enemies whose leader was called Balor of the Evil Eye. Their tale is a lot like the great stories from Norse mythology with Thor, Loki, Odin and the like. So naturally, I made the Tuatha De Danann and their four hallows part of the mythology of “Enoch’s Device.”

I know there’s a sequel. TELL ME ALL OF IT NOW. Or at least give our lovely people at home an idea of what happens in book 2 and any other plans you have for the future.

Without spoiling the end of the first book, Ciaran and his friends still have parts of the prophecy to fulfill, the next of which is a mysterious journey that begins and ends with sacrifice. I won’t give away the journey’s purpose—since that’s part of the central mystery in the next book—but it will take them to a bunch of interesting locations including Stonehenge and elsewhere in England, which was being ravaged by Vikings back then (Vikings are always fun!), as well as to medieval Rome, which holds more than a few secrets in its ancient ruins. There’s a bigger connection to the book of Revelation in the sequel, and even more at stake for Ciaran, Alais, and the people they care about. There will even be a third book before it’s all over, but right now, I’m still working on book two and am really enjoying how the story’s unfolding.

EnochDevice-1400x2240Enoch’s Device is available at:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-ebook/dp/B00ARPYW02/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-Joseph-Finley/dp/0988410826/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377

Review: Enoch’s Device – Cate’s Take

Genre: Religious thriller

Rating: YAY

When the Franks come to Ireland in search of a heretic, Brother Ciaran is thrown into a world of magic, Fae, and apocalyptic prophecies. Alongside his father-figure-slash-mentor Donall mac Taidg, he works to solve the riddles of Enoch’s Device, riddles which span over thousands of years and nearly every myth known to man. From the Nephilim of Judeo-Christianity to the Fae of Irish lore, the mythos of this book follows historical events as well as incorporating each of the world’s major religions. And it does it so well.

Any time a book attempts to unify the multiple mythologies of the world, it can go one of two ways: 1) It becomes a far-reaching mess of conjecture and grasping at straws, or 2) it manages to succeed in some parts, but not all because of the scope of the book. Somehow Finley connects the dots in a way that really made me wonder if the myths he incorporates truly have the same starting point.

The writing is beautifully fluid and transports the reader to the book’s various Dark Ages locations—Ireland; Cordoba, Spain; Paris; Selles-Sur-Cher in Central France, just to name a few. With Finley’s well-crafted characters, we journey through so many different locales and meet such interesting people.

There’s a definite good-vs.-evil vibe through this book, and in some instances, you don’t know entirely who’s playing on which side. A few times, I thought I had it pegged just to be proven wrong. There are a lot of twists and turns, several unexpected (and gruesome) deaths, and a lot of ground to cover. All in all, a refreshing twist on the religious thriller, and one that will have you turning pages from cover to cover as fast as you can.

Also, Donall is awesome.

There are a few places toward the middle of the book where I got lost and had to reread a few times, and a couple of times toward the end, I wasn’t sure of who was whom, so you may want to watch out for that. Also, there is a fair bit of surprising violence, and also a rape (which does have a purpose). If these things make you squelchy, you may want to steer away from this one.

Otherwise, GO GET THIS BOOK IMMEDIATELY.

Good for fans of: mythology, religious thrillers like The Da Vinci Code, Irish monks being badass, apocalyptic prophecy, and magic.

Enoch’s Device is available at:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-ebook/dp/B00ARPYW02/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Paperback (Amazon): http://www.amazon.com/Enochs-Device-Joseph-Finley/dp/0988410826/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Paperback (Barnes & Noble): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enochs-device-joseph-finley/1114021182?ean=9780988410824&isbn=2940016140377

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