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The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

 

 

 

It is my pleasure to feature writer Jacqui Murray as she launches her newest book, The Quest for Home, Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of her Man vs. Nature Saga.

I’ve long been a fan of Murray’s as I love the way she builds worlds and inhabits them with fully realized people who lived in an historical period where they were outmatched in every physical way except one: their astonishing brain power. They are our very most ancient ancestors, and I relish her descriptions of life in this challenging era.

The following summary will give you an idea of the stakes facing these primitive people who want what we all want: Safety from enemies, shelter from the elements, food and water to sustain them, and a future for their children. But as we all know, these basic needs are neither easy to procure nor guaranteed to persist.

 

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

 

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving

behind her African homeland, leading her People on a grueling journey through

unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger,

tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her

most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with

her life.

 

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man

populated  Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing

the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man,

the one destined to obliterate any who came before.

 

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and

determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across

Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life,

prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than

the future of mankind is at stake.

 

Shari speaking here: I’m hooked, absolutely hooked by this summary. This is my kind of story, and I bet you’re also eager to read it. When you think about it, we are here because of the success of these primitive people.

 

Jacqui and I had a chance to talk about her newest book.  Gracious as always, she answered my questions with enthusiasm and knowledge. I love talking to someone who’s passionate about their craft and knows what they’re talking about.

Me: I’m always curious about the skills of primitive people.

Could primitive man build rafts as suggested in this story?

Jacqui: Yes, absolutely. They had the brainpower, and the plants and tools required were available at the time but because they were made of wood and vines—-materials that don’t preserve over time—no artifacts remain to prove this. Anthropologists speculate this would have been a basic raft made from bamboo and vine. This hypothesis was tested by building rafts using only prehistoric techniques (as Xhosa would have) and then replicating crossings such as the Straits of Gibraltar, through the islands in Indonesia, and even the passage from Indonesia to Australia.

 

Me: It must have been both terrifying and exhilarating to set off across an unknown sea with only the stars at night to guide them, and waves as big as mountains threatening them at times. Makes me grateful for airplanes with their cramped seats.

Was there really a giant upright primate like Giganto (Zvi’s friend)?

Jacqui: There was! He’s called Gigantopithecus blacki. Extinct now, he was native to Southeast Asia, China, and Indonesia where Seeker and Zvi lived originally.

 

Me: I just looked up Gigantopithecus blacki on Wikipedia. He was monstrous and fierce looking, not a creature to antagonize. I plan to get a new dog soon – that’s about my size.

What do you mean by strong and weak side?

Jacqui: Based on artifacts from 850,000 years ago (or longer), paleoscientists speculate that early man had a preference for right-handedness. That would make their right hand stronger than the left (though they didn’t identify right and left at that time). Because of this, my characters call their right the strong side and left the weak side.

 

Me: That makes perfect sense. They had the brain capacity to differentiate between the two sides of their bodies, understanding where their greater strength lay. The concepts were there but not the language to accurately express them, yet they got their point across. Really fascinating information.

 

And here, dear friends, I treat you to an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Quest for Home.

 

Chapter 1

 

Northern shore of what we now call the Mediterranean Sea

 

Pain came first, pulsing through her body like cactus spines. When she moved her head, it exploded. Flat on her back and lying as still as possible, Xhosa blindly clawed for her neck sack with the healing plants. Her shoulder screamed and she froze, gasping.

How can anything hurt that much?

She cracked one eye, slowly. The bright sun filled the sky, almost straight over her head.

And how did I sleep so long?

Fractured memories hit her—the raging storm, death, and helplessness, unconnected pieces that made no sense. Overshadowing it was a visceral sense of tragedy that made her shake so violently she hugged her chest despite the searing pain. After it passed, she pushed up on her arms and shook her head to shed the twigs and grit that clung to her long hair. Fire burned through her shoulders, up her neck and down her arms, but less than before. She ignored it.

A shadow blocked Sun’s glare replaced by dark worried eyes that relaxed when hers caught his.

“Nightshade.” Relief washed over her and she tried to smile. Somehow, with him here, everything would work out.

Her Lead Warrior leaned forward. Dripping water pooled at her side, smelling of salt, rotten vegetation, mud, and blood.

“You are alright, Leader Xhosa,” he motioned, hands erratic. Her People communicated with a rich collection of grunts, sounds, gestures, facial expressions, and arm movements, all augmented with whistles, hoots, howls, and chirps.

“Yes,” but her answer came out low and scratchy, the beat inside her chest noisy as it tried to burst through her skin. Tears filled her eyes, not from pain but happiness that Nightshade was here, exactly where she needed him. His face, the one that brought fear to those who might attack the People and devastation to those who did, projected fear.

She cocked her head and motioned, “You?”

Deep bruises marred swaths of Nightshade’s handsome physique, as though he had been pummeled by rocks.  An angry gash pulsed at the top of his leg. His strong upper arm wept from a fresh wound, its raw redness extending up his stout neck, over his stubbled cheek, and into his thick hair. Cuts and tears shredded his hands.

“I am fine,” and he fell silent. Why would he say more? He protected the People, not whined about injuries.

When she fumbled again for her neck sack, he reached in and handed her the plant she needed, a root tipped with white bulbs. She chewed as Nightshade scanned the surroundings, never pausing anywhere long, always coming back to her.

The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky. Sweltering heat hammered down, sucking up the last of the rain that had collected in puddles on the shore. Xhosa’s protective animal skin was torn into shreds but what bothered her was she couldn’t remember how she got here.

“Nightshade, what happened?”

Her memories were a blur—terrified screams and flashes of people flying through the air, some drowning, others clinging desperately to bits of wood.

Nightshade motioned, slowly, “The storm—it hit us with a fury, the rain as heavy and fierce as a waterfall.”

A memory surfaced. Hawk, the powerful leader of the Hawk People, one arm clutching someone as the other clawed at the wet sand, dragging himself up the beach.

He was alive!

 

Now you’re begging for the rest of the story. You know what to do next. Enjoy!

 

Book and author information:

 

Title and author: The Quest for Home by Jacqui Murray

Series: Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

 

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.

 

Social Media contacts:

 

Amazon Author Page:           https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                      https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net

 

All images courtesy Jacqui Murray

 

 

 

 

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Jacqui Murray’s new book, Survival of the Fittest

 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jacqui Murray to talk about her newest book, Survival of the Fittest. It’s Book 1 in her Crossroads series, part of the Man versus Nature saga.

It’s fascinating to learn how a writer approaches the development of characters and plot. I’m also interested in what inspires a person to write as it reveals what perspective motivates their narrative of the world. She was gracious about answering my questions. You’re going to find Jacqui’s responses intriguing.

 

Me: I’ve always been captivated by wondering about early man and how this small, physically inferior creature became so highly adaptable and successful. Why did you write a book in such a tiny genre niche?

 

Jacqui: Survival of the Fittest is written in the sub-genre of historic fiction called prehistoric fiction, a time before recorded history. There aren’t a lot of readers in this genre but they are devoted! Because the only records are rocks, world building has proven difficult but Xhosa (the heroine) really didn’t give me a choice. She nagged me to tell her story from my first page twenty years ago to my final draft.

 

Me: I love that – a character who tells you to write down her story. So of course, you obeyed.

Me: I’ve believed in God since I was a very small child and had no sense of the history of my faith. The more I studied and learned, the more my ideas about God matured, but my devotion has never wavered. So I’m totally excited about Survival of the Fittest as I believe it hints at a spiritual side to man. Is that accurate? I’d love to know how you discovered this nascent aspect of spiritual belief.

 

Jacqui: Scientists have no idea when man’s spirituality started. Because 850,000 years ago (when Xhosa lived) is considered prehistory—before any sort of recorded history was possible —there’s no way to tell. Survival of the Fittest offers one speculative theory of how that could have happened.

 

Me: I guess we will never know for certain, but you’re a deep thinker and your ideas are as likely to be close to the truth as any. I’m intrigued by your historical possibilities.

Most scientists believe Homo erectus couldn’t talk. How did Xhosa and her People communicate?

 

Jacqui: These early humans were highly intelligent for their day and possessed rich communication skills but rarely verbal. Most paleoanthropologists believe that the ‘speaking’ part of their brain wasn’t evolved enough for speech but there’s another reason: Talking is noisy as well as unnatural in nature which attracts attention. For these early humans, who were far from the alpha in the food chain, being noticed wasn’t good.

 

Instead, they communicated with gestures, facial expressions, movements, and all the body language we-all still use but rarely recognize. They talked to each other about everything necessary, just nonverbally.

Me: You present so many facets about why the development of speech was delayed while other human skills became sophisticated. What you suggest makes total sense, especially the need for silence and stealth in a predatory world.

 

In her own words, here’s a teaser about Jacqui’s book: Five tribes. One leader. A treacherous journey across three continents in search of a new home.

 

Me: Wow! A powerful bunch of numerical markers highlighting an exciting story.

 

Plot details to enchant you about Survival of the Fittest: Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands but on an escape path laid out years before by her father as a final desperate means to survival. She is joined by other homeless tribes–from Indonesia, China, South Africa, East Africa, and the Levant—all similarly forced by timeless events to find new lives. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that this enemy doesn’t want her People’s land. He wants to destroy her.

Me: I’m wildly cheering on Xhosa. I want her to overcome these perilous obstacles. I can’t wait to find out if she’s successful, and if so, how she achieves finding a safe homeland. This is the kind of story that keeps me up at night because I can’t bear to put it down. Xhosa begged Jacqui to writer her story. Jacqui wrote a book that demands to be read.

 

Book information, In a nutshell: 

Title and author: Survival of the Fittest

Series: Book 1 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Cover by: Damonza 

Available at: Kindle US Kindle UK Kindle CA Kindle AU

 

It has been my pleasure to host Jacqui Murray and to discuss her newest novel. I wish her all success with this new book.

 

All images courtesy of Jacqui Murray

 

 

 

 

Born in a Treacherous Time

I’ve been looking forward to the publication of  Born in a Treacherous Time by Jacqui Murray. Not just because she’s a good friend but also because I’ve had the privilege of reading part of the book and was captivated by it.

It’s the story of Lucy, a Homo habilis woman who struggles to survive in prehistoric Africa when volcanoes erupted without warning, animals attacked from every region, and waking each morning was not guaranteed. She faces challenges that force her to use her physical prowess as well as her mental skills, sometimes trying to convince the members of her tribe that she has solutions that may protect them.

Murray employs interesting characters living in a challenging time who face obstacles from surviving the daunting environment to grasping moral dilemmas. Her description of this prehistoric era puts the reader into the period when Earth was dangerous and beautiful, the very nebula of human development, and a moment of precipitous change.

I had a chance to talk with Jacqui about her newest book, asking questions she was generous in answering. Following is the interview.

 

Thank you, Jacqui, for agreeing to take the time to discuss your newest book, Born in a Treacherous Time .What one characteristic would you say allowed Lucy to survive in a world populated with saber-toothed cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?

 

Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Lucy had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But we did. The biggest reason: Even then, Lucy was a problem solver. She faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Lucy had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.

To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.

 

How do you differentiate Lucy (the book’s main character) from the folks who probably led to her species’ extinction?

 

Homo habilis (Lucy) was a brilliant creature, worthy of our respect and admiration, but probably too kind for the next iteration of man, Homo erectus. Lucy would rather flee than fight, didn’t kill even to eat, and didn’t create offensive weapons. As a result, her first line of defense was flight.

But, in this story, you see evolution at work. Lucy does what she must to survive, even if it ultimately means killing.

 

We know Lucy’s species, Homo habilis, died out about the time of this story (1.8 million years ago). Is this story dystopian—meaning Lucy loses in the end?

 

Homo erectus (Lucy’s arch enemy) was a violent species of man. Their skulls were significantly thicker than Homo habilis–a sign that they got beat about the head often and survived. He routinely kills to survive, thinks nothing about that strategy, but I leave it open whether Lucy’s species ‘evolved’ into this more robust species or was replaced by them. We just don’t know.

 

I have to mention how compelling the book cover is.

 

Thank you. The artist fulfilled my hopes.

 

This excerpt is from Kirkus Reviews:

Murray’s lean prose is steeped in the characters’ brutal worldview, which lends a delightful otherness to the narration …The book’s plot is similar in key ways to other works in the genre, particularly Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear. However, Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown. Even if readers have a general sense of where the plot is going, they’ll still find the specific twists and revelations to be highly entertaining throughout.

A well-executed tale of early man.

 

I hope this article has excited you to read Jacqui Murray’s Born in a Treacherous Time.

 

Book information:

Title: Born in a Treacherous Time

Series: Book 1 in Man vs. Nature collection

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Cover by: Damonza 

Available at: Kindle US, Kindle UK, Kindle Canada

 

 

 

A Thrilling Pursuit in Twenty-four Days

Twenty-four Days is the second thriller in J. Murray’s Rowe-Delamagente series about forces combating a terrorist nuclear attack. And lest you think the potential threat of a nuclear attack could never happen, as in what fool would provoke such world-wide disaster, just remember Kim Jung-un still sits on his North Korean dictator’s throne, threatening the world with his paranoid delusions – and his nation’s nuclear weapons program.

Murray gathers a talented and sometimes unlikely crew of heroes, including a brilliant American scientist, the quirky AI (artificial intelligence robot) she built, a former Navy SEAL, and an MI 6 (British Secret Intelligence Service) special agent, each of whom contributes a unique expertise toward locating and obliterating the peril. Then there are the antagonists, beginning with terrorist Salah Al-Zahrawi. And someone has attacked American submarines with a cyber virus, making them disappear.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Murray includes an early hominid named Lucy to help resolve the crisis facing the team hunting the lost submarine as they attempt to defuse the nuclear threat. The author reaches back into the anthropological evolution of human beings to take us into the future. I enjoyed how this reminded me that all accomplishments stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Way before, in this case.

 

In Murray’s own words, here is a summary of her book:

World-renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Zeke Rowe is surprised when a friend from his SEAL past shows up in his Columbia lab and asks for help: Two submarines have been hijacked and Rowe might be the only man who can find them.

At first he refuses, fearing a return to his former life will end a sputtering romance with fellow scientist and love of his life, Kali Delamagente, but when one of his closest friends is killed by the hijackers, he changes his mind. He asks Delamagente for the use of her one-of-a-kind AI, Otto, who possesses the unique skill of being able to follow anything with a digital trail.

In a matter of hours, Otto finds one of the subs and it is neutralized.

But the second, Otto can’t locate.

Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Salah Al-Zahrawi, the world’s most dangerous terrorist and a man Rowe thought he had killed a year ago, a North Korean communications satellite America believes is a nuclear-tipped weapon, an ideologue that cares only about revenge, and the USS Bunker Hill (a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser) tasked with supervising the satellite launch.

And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.

As America teeters on the brink of destruction, Rowe finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t nuclear war but payback against the country that cost him so much.

 

It’s no surprise how pleased I was that J. Murray graciously agreed to an interview about her new book.

 

S: Can today’s science make a warship invisible?

J: If not today, in the very near future. DARPA and other scientific arms of the US Military are experimenting with approaches such as the use of metamaterials (the device used in Twenty-four Days) To hide military equipment from all sorts of waves—like sound waves and light waves. In a nutshell, here’s how they work: Rather than the sound or light waves hitting the object, they are deflected around the object and they land on what’s behind it. That means, the viewer (or in the book’s case, sonar) see what’s behind the object rather than the object. This is already effective for small objects, but is experimental for large ones like tanks and subs, and planning stages for sonar.

Pretty cool.

 

S: I’d day that’s way more than cool – it’s astonishing to think we are on the brink of such a scientific breakthrough.

Is the technology described in the book really possible?

J: Absolutely. It takes real laws of physics—science in general—and extrapolates intelligently on those to what could be if there was time and money. It follows the model of what is commonly referred to as Star Trek Science. But in the case of Twenty-four Days science, you don’t have to wait centuries. It’ll probably be around in a matter of decades. You can say you read about it first in Twenty-four Days.

 

S: I’m going to remember that. Is this a romantic thriller?

J: Maybe. There is a budding romance in it.

 

S: That sounds compelling. How did you choose this topic?

J: I actually didn’t choose it—it chose me. My daughter worked as an officer on the Bunker Hill, but it didn’t start there. That just gave me the nautical tie-in. I really can’t say how the rest of it developed. It just did, over time. Sigh.

 

S: Did you encounter anything unexpected either when doing research or writing this book?

J: I did. I was surprised how often if I dug deep enough, I found synergies between the plot and reality. For example, I needed a way to for a third-world nation like North Korea to defeat one of America’s premier warships. By digging, I came up with one. Pretty cool.

 

S:  Can we look forward to another book in this vein, with these characters?

J: Yes! I’m working on book three. I’ll probably move from the Fleet to the backwoods and feature more of Otto, but that could completely change when I start doing more research. Plots have a way of unveiling themselves despite my best of plans.

 

S: I know what they say about plans. What’s on the horizon for the rest of your writing career?

J: I hope to publish a book a year, to build my portfolio. Right now, I’m working on a spin-off of To Hunt a Sub featuring Lucy, the ancient human. The working title is Born in a Treacherous Time. I hope to publish that next summer which will give me two years to prepare book three of the Rowe-Delamagente series.

 

S: I’m very pleased to hear this, as you know how fond I am of the character, Lucy. Anything else we should know about?

J: Besides fiction, I continue to work on my non-fiction books*. I have over a hundred out, but they do require constant attention to be sure they remain current.

 

S: Thank you for this interview, Jacqui. It was so interesting to discover what inspires your writing and to pick your brain about the advances in science and technology. What sounds like science fiction is coming true, and that’s just incredible.

J: You’re welcome, Shari.

 

Twenty-four Days by J. Murray is a terrific book, that I can promise you. Fast paced, exhilarating, and engaging, this is a book to keep you turning pages and make you proud of what’s right and good in the world.

 

*J. Murray is the brain and brawn behind Structured Learning which is the premier provider of technology books and eBooks to the education community.

 

Book information:

Title and author: Twenty-four Days by J. Murray

Genre: Thriller, military thriller

Cover by: Paper and Sage Design 

Available at: Kindle US, Kindle UK, Kindle Canada

 

 

Cover image courtesy: Paper and Sage Design

 

Dark Wine at Midnight – A Book to Keep You Up All Night

Dark Wine at Midnight by Jenna Barwin will keep you up all night – reading, not hiding under the bed in fright. It’s Book I of A Hill Vampire Novel, and I can’t wait till Book II is available.

Murderous attacks on prominent vampires unsettle everyone who must adhere to the rigid rules of living on the Hill of Sierra Escondida. We meet Cerissa Patel, a medical scientist from New York and member of the mysterious Lux, and Henry Bautista, a successful vineyard owner on the Hill. A host of other vampires compete to attract the attention of the intelligent and beautiful Patel, some for love, or friendship, or business prospects – or to ban her from their protected enclave.

Pursuit by two of the town’s most eligible vampire bachelors complicates things. Has Cerissa been sent to spy on the residents, to kill them, or only to open the research lab she claims is her goal? Is the danger to her or because of her? And just what is the research she wants to pursue?

Barwin’s intelligence shows in her authentic rendering of blackjack, wine making, horseback riding, vampires, business politics, and a complex plot that never wanders off track. It leaves plenty of suspects about who might hold a grudge big enough to kill, and who is a spy or a loyal friend. One of the most rewarding aspects of the book is the characterization of every person – each is believable and has depth, no matter how much or little their presence in the book. The story is paced just right as Barwin lingers over some scenes and plows through others, leaving the reader breathless at every turn. Did I mention the sexy romance? Oh yeah, that too.

Vampire stories aren’t something I usually seek out but I do look for excellent writing, a compelling story line, and characters who are interesting and unique. Dark Wine fulfilled all my hopes for a story that would keep me engaged, and it did that with aplomb and sparkles. Barwin is a talented writer who tops out on all the markers that identify really good writing.

If you like fantasy romance, you’ll love this book.

That’s what I wrote for my review of Barwin’s book on the Amazon site. As a writer, I’m interested in finding out about the journey of other writers, both in creating and marketing their stories. So you’ll appreciate my excitement when I had a chance to interview the author.

May I now introduce you to Jenna Barwin.

S: Jenna, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

J: Thanks for asking, Shari. I’m very happy to talk with you about my writing.

S: What’s the “elevator pitch” for Dark Wine at Midnight?

J: Dark Wine at Midnight, the first book in my urban fantasy Hill Vampire series, is equal parts mystery, political intrigue, and love story. It’s also a little bit Dr. Frankenstein meets Shark Tank, but with vampire entrepreneurs.

Here’s the elevator pitch: A research scientist is forced by her people to spy on the vampires she’s trying to help. One of those vampires is an expert winemaker with eyes the color of dark bourbon—and just as intoxicating. To succeed, she must convince him to trust her, despite the dark secrets each carries, and the mutual attraction they can’t resist.

S: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

J: Escaping into the fantasy and watching the story unfold. I particularly enjoyed discovering the chemistry between the lovers, Henry and Cerissa, and learning who they are as people.

S: Escaping into fantasy sounds like a fun adventure. What inspired you to write about vampires?

J: I’ve always been fascinated by vampires. I read Dracula as a young teen, and watched all the horror movies. And something in me wanted the vampire, the tragic hero, to get the girl.

I’m also fascinated by what the vampire represents in society. I saw Dracula as the clash between modern science and superstition. But over one family dinner, I listened to a relative argue that the 19th century vampire tale represented the Englishman’s fear of losing his “women” to Eastern European immigrants.

The more you dig, the more there is to see. In some ways, I think the vampire story parallels substance addiction—the vampire is addicted to drinking a substance that, by drinking it, hurts the one he/she loves.

S: Addiction is a very interesting metaphor I’d never considered before in relationship to vampires, but I see your point. It makes the theme of your book a current topic, something on everyone’s mind, as many of us confront addiction in the people we love or in ourselves.

J: There are so many interesting themes to play with when it comes to vampires. I enjoyed flipping some of them around. For example, I got tired of reading about white European vampires. The vampire community in Dark Wine at Midnight is multicultural, with residents from places like Mexico and Kenya. They are immigrants who came to California, and made their home here.

S: Are you married to a vampire?

J: LOL, no, I’m happily married to a mortal. Although he’ll tell you he’s a superhuman ninja.

S: OK, I didn’t really think so, but you probably wouldn’t admit if you were. So tell me one quirky thing about your writing process.

J: I see the movie in my head before I write a scene. I’ll hear the characters speaking, and see them move in their environment. Because of that, my first draft reads like a movie script. Then I have to go back and ask myself, what is the point-of-view character thinking about? What are they feeling? And I have to try to show that, too.

S: By the way, the book cover is gorgeous.

J: Why, thank you. I’m glad you like it.

S: Aside from vampires, what inspires your writing?

J: Relationships. I think relationships change people. They call us to be our best selves, to have insight into who we are, and why we do what we do.

In addition to relationships, I get some of my most creative spurts after long hours spent applying analytical and logic skills to a task. Too much left brain work will cause my right brain to jump up and down and scream “Let me out! I wanna play, I wanna play.”

S: Do you have any favorite books about writing?

J: It’s a toss-up. Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story is at the top of my list, but Debra Dixon’s GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict follows as a close second. At this year’s California Dreamin’ Conference, both authors gave presentations on writing, and I was taking notes as fast as I could type.

S: What’s next on your writing agenda?

J: Dark Wine at Sunrise is book 2 in the Hill Vampire series, and I’m currently editing it.

S: I’m happy to know that as I’m looking forward to reading the next book soon. Where can we find your current book?

J: Dark Wine at Midnight is currently free in Kindle Unlimited. The eBook and paperback are also available for purchase on Amazon. Here is the link:

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Wine-Midnight-Vampire-Novel-ebook/dp/B06XTKJRHZ/

S: Where can we find out more about you and what you write?

J: For the latest news and special offers, sign up to be a VIP Reader at: https://jennabarwin.com/jenna-barwins-newsletter/

Or find me on social media and join the conversation:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennabarwin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JennaBarwin (@JennaBarwin)

Instagram: jennabarwin

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jennabarwin/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jenna-Barwin/e/B06XV6TMG9/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16632097.Jenna_Barwin

 

S: Thanks for the information, Jenna. I wish you well on your writing career.

 

My dear Ink Flare Readers, I hope you find this interview illuminating, and I bet you’ll love Barwin’s book.

 

 

Cover image courtesy: Author

 

 

 

 

Interview with Author J. Murray

This is the cover of To Hunt a Sub, the newly released thriller by J. Murray.

 

thas-cover-large

I’m excited by the drama of the clouds and the sight of the submarine as it powers across the ocean. Even more, I’m intrigued by the synopsis of the book:

 

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes in brawn, another brains, and the third is all geek–but they’re all America has to stop this enemy who would destroy everything they believe in. But this trio has a secret weapon: the wisdom of a formidable female who died two million years ago. 

 

An unlikely team is America’s only chance.

                                                                             

It’s a book I won’t be able to put down.  Current, well researched, edge-of-your-seat exciting, the kind of book to keep me up all night.

 

I had the opportunity to interview J. Murray to ask about the process of writing the book, a topic that always fascinates me.

 

Me:  How do you blend a 1.8 million-year-old character into a modern thriller?

 

Murray:  That’s a fair question. To Hunt a Sub is the story of 21st-century terrorists who threaten to destroy America’s subs by infecting them with a revolutionary virus. The nation’s best experts are stumped and call on an unusual team for help–a washed-up SEAL-turned-professor, a feisty grad student, and an artificial intelligence named Otto.

 

First, let me say it wasn’t my original plan to include Lucy, a long-dead 1.8 million-year-old hominid female. Her story (Lucy: Story of Man) won’t be out for a few years. But Lucy kept popping into To Hunt a Sub‘s plot until I could no longer ignore her: This ancient female faced down a world of volcanic eruptions, Sabertooth tigers, and bull-sized proto-wolves, her only weapons being dull teeth, flimsy claws, and thin hairless skin. How she did this was the answer to my modern-day characters’ problems as they struggled to defeat a well-equipped, militarized, and fervent terrorist.

 

Me: That’s an amazing concept – the solution to one of your books was found in the premise of another – serendipity at its most creative. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything similar from another author.

 

Thank you for taking the time for this interview.

 

Murray: Thanks for the chance to talk about my book.

 

Me: The pleasure is mine. I wish you the best in all your writing pursuits.

 

You can purchase J. Murray’s new book at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K7VSPBW#navbar

 

Below is the link to Jacqui’s blog. Pop on over and say hello to her.

 WordDreams

 

 

Cover image courtesy: J. Murray