Interview with Award Winning Author Mike Kilroy

Mike Kilroy BRAG II

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Mike Kilroy to Layered Pages. Mike has been an award-winning journalist for more than twenty years. He first developed his love for writing when he was 8 and sculpted a story for a school projected called “The Venusians.” He has turned that passion cultivated at an early age into a successful and award-winning writing career.

His first novel, the post-apocalyptic fright-fest “Nine Meals” was recognized as one of the top indie books with several awards, including the B.R.A.G. Medallion, and reached No. 32 on the Top 100 Best Sellers list in Amazon’s Kindle store.

Kilroy currently lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Dahn, dog Fumble, two cats named Milo and Dexter and has twenty-four devices that can connect to the Internet.

Hi, Mike! It’s good to have you visiting with me again at Layered Pages! Congrats on the another B.R.A.G. Medallion! Before we talk about your book, Uncanny Valley, please tell me what you like most about writing Science Fiction?

Thank you. It’s an honor to be chosen again as a B.R.A.G. Medallion recipient. To me, there’s nothing quite like writing science fiction. I’ve dabbled in other genres, but science fiction is where my creative juices really flow. As a science-fiction writer, you have so much power. You can have your characters and the reader experience things they could never do in reality. It’s the ultimate form of escapism. And robots! Can’t forget the robots!

Do you think Science Fiction plays an important role in our society? Please explain why or why not. 

I think it does. People are always fascinated with the future as much as they are with the past. What’s the world going to be like in 20 years? Thirty years? Forty years? As science-fiction writers we can explore that and offer our own take on what’s to come. Most of the time it’s bleak, however. In Uncanny Valley, I tried to paint a future that isn’t all bleak, but not the most awesome place to be, either. I believe the future in Uncanny Valley is conceivable.

When writing science fiction, I think it is important to have elements of both fact and fiction. What are your thoughts on that and how do you blend the two? (This question might blend in with the previous one, Mike.)

I try to meld elements of fact with the fiction. I did quite a bit of research on Artificial Intelligence and robotics before I dove into Uncanny Valley. The technology that already exists is amazing. It won’t be long, I believe, before a real-life Addis is walking around. But you also have to stretch reality a bit. There’s no way around that.

Uncanny Valley BRAG

Why do you think Science fiction is so obsessed with the future rather than the present?

Because the future is yet to be written. It is full of so many possibilities and is ripe for storytelling. besides, who doesn’t want to take a swing at predicting what the world and society will be like in the future? The future is interesting.

Please tell me a little about your book, Uncanny Valley.

It’s really about three very flawed characters. One just so happens to be an android, but he may be the most human of all of them. Really, it’s about each of them wanting to find peace in a world that is losing its grasp on it because of the strain of social forces caused by a new face of android beings, who are basically slaves. It’s also an exploration of just how much can one human — or one android — take before he/she decides enough is enough.

What was the inspiration behind writing this story?

A key scene of the book came to me at 3 a.m. on night. I rolled over and typed a loose, very rough scene and then let that percolate for a while into a story. I wanted to explore the notion that these androids, who look very different and are shunned because of it, are just like humans, trying to find a place in the world. I think that’s very relatable.

Your character, Addis fascinates me. Tell me a little about him and a human trait he has.

He’s really a boy trapped in an android man’s body. When you first meet him in the book, he’s 10 and he very much acts like a 10-year-old when it comes to how he questions the world. He’s just then becoming aware of the injustices he experiences on an almost daily basis. He has a guide in Renae, a human girl who was disfigured in an accident, to be human, but she’s really a bad tutor, as the reader comes to discover. Addis is much different at the end of the book as he is at the beginning. Certain events shape him — some for the good, some for the bad. I think he’s the most interesting character in any of my novels.

If anything can be learned from your story, what would it be?

That we all have scars. Each character in the book has deep ones — not always physical — and each deals with them differently.

What are you working on next?

I just finished the second Uncanny Valley book of the trilogy. It is available now HERE

I am working on the third and final volume now. It should be out this summer or fall.
Where can readers buy your book


Readers can also visit my website to check out my other books.

Find out more about Kilroy by following him on Twitter @KilroyWasHere7, joining his Facebook fan page at KilroyAuthor7

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Mike Kilroy who is the author of, Uncanny Valley, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Uncanny Valley, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Male Protagonist-Richard Wolfdon

Barbara G

Barbara Gaskell Denvil was born in Gloucestershire, England but after living in half a dozen different European countries and cruising the Mediterranean for some years, has now moved to rural Australia.

When younger she worked in many literary capacities and published numerous short stories and articles, but now writes full length novels.

Her passion for history in general and the late English medieval in particular, now forms the background for her historical fiction. She has published five  historical novels – SATIN CINNABAR which is a crime adventure actually commencing on the Bosworth battlefield, SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN which is an adventure mystery with strong romantic overtones, set in the early years of the Tudor reign, BLESSOP’S WIFE (published in Australia as THE KING’S SHADOW) which is a crime/romance set in England during 1482-3 in those turbulent years around the death of King Edward IV, THE FLAME EATER, a romantic crime novel set in 1484/5, and a time-slip novel FAIR WEATHER, a highly adventurous mystery  which is set earlier during the reign of King John.

Her new novel THE DECEPTION OF CONSEQUENCES is a Tudor mystery – adventure and will be published March 2017.

Although initially traditionally published by Simon & Schuster, Barbara then decided to change to self-publishing and is now an Indy author of fantasy as well as historical fiction and mystery.

Both fantasy and historical fiction take us into new worlds and Barbara’s books do exactly this – being multi-layered, and rich in both characterisation and atmosphere.

Barbara, who is Richard Wolfdon?

Richard Wolfdon comes from a long aristocratic line but after Bosworth his antecedents were attainted, and he no longer carries the family title. However, his family wealth, whether misbegotten or otherwise, remains and he is one of the richer gentlemen in the country. This is Tudor England, during the reign of King Henry VIII and Richard Wolfdon is a friend of the king, and an unofficial advisor. Not that Henry VIII ever makes a habit of acting as he has been advised, and he is, whatever anyone else tells him, determined to rid himself of his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Richard is also a friend to the queen, but since he has long distained high position, he does not hold sufficient power to help her. Life, as far as Richard is concerned, is tedious in the extreme. Slander, gossip, vicious rumour and conspiracy rule the court. Temper and danger are the king’s shadows. Wealthy enough to obtain anything he wants, Richard discovers that he wants nothing, except to escape the miserable monotony of court life. But he does not expect what is about to happen next.

What are His strengths?

This is a man of considerable versatility, intelligence and courage. He cares nothing for the opinions of others, and therefore remains entirely disinterested in court gossip. His position and comfortable wealth means he is above any need to conspire for royal favour, and he acts as a law unto himself. In an attempt to discover more interesting pastimes than wandering the palace corridors, he befriends an earnest young lawyer and helps in court decisions and the investigations into crimes and other mysteries

His faults?

However, Richard’s disinterest in other people’s opinions leads him into arrogance.  This arrogance also brings a sublime lack of interest in other people’s problems. His belief in the tedium of life separates him from others, and he becomes a partial recluse.

Barbara book

What is your personal opinion of him?

I am not sure I would have liked Richard Wolfdon at first acquaintance. Arrogance is not an easy fault to overlook. However, once he falls in love with the heroine, he becomes adorable and I would like very much to know him. He is prepared to do anything at all for the woman he loves, and forgives her anything and everything. His humour emerges, his kindness and warmth, and his considerable skill as a lover!

Does he ever do anything that surprises you?

Yes, because Richard is by no means predictable. He is equally capable of surprising himself. He had always been a man who dressed without show, in quiet and colourless style, and behaved with decorum and polite disinterest. And then, inspired by infatuation, he leaps walls, dresses in clothes torn and bedraggled, fights bandits and makes friends with a pirate. Indeed, this is a book where mystery is not easily uncovered, but where the main protagonist turns into a mystery himself.

Richard Wolfdon is a protagonist who has accompanied me throughout the writing of this book, become my friend, and increased my enjoyment considerably. He will make the heroine very happy, I’m sure.

Amazon Author Page

 Amazon UK


Richard Wolfdon strides into Jemima’s life, not because he has the slightest interest in her, but simply because he wishes to break up the tedious monotony of his wealthy but pointless existence. The Deception of Consequences is a crime mystery and romantic adventure with a large cast of both true historical and fictional characters. King Henry VIII is already planning the elimination of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, but other murders are also discovered, the culprit unknown. Jemima is horrified to discover that her gallant captain father is, in fact, not what he pretended to be, and that his heroic death was false, set up to save him from the retaliation of his financial backers. But there is more than that to overcome, for there is a nasty secret hidden in the attic. Tudor life buzzes and swirls, with political intrigue, threat and conspiracy. “Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s tale is Chaucer-like in its characterisations and takes the reader on a suspenseful journey during the tumultuous months leading up to the execution of Anne Boleyn. Murder, mayhem, pirates, courtly conspiracies and tragedy, humour and romance – it is all there, in a story that brings the Tudor world vividly to life.” Wendy J. Dunn, author.

Barbara Banner 1

Interview with Lou Aguilar


I have the great pleasure in interviewing Lou Aguilar today! He is the author of Jake for Mayor.

Welcome to Layered Pages, Lou! Tell me a little about yourself and how you got started in writing.

Almost everyone who adores books has at some point thought about writing one. Most realize they’re better at enjoying literature than creating it. A very few have the discipline and talent to go the distance. By age 12, I knew I had the latter, which could lead to the former. Being the son of a renowned scholar certainly helped. I read very few children’s or young adult books (although a lot of comic books), instead devouring Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, the Three Musketeers, Greek mythology and ancient history. My first short stories featured an Ancient Roman secret agent foiling plots against Augustus Caesar. These underwhelming tales are thankfully lost forever, but the habit they engendered, and my desire to excel at it, remain.

Are there any boundaries you have pushed as a writer?

I find the current outpour of dark, edgy, morally ambiguous storytelling to be monumentally boring and, worse, artificial. Even masters of the form like Thomas Harris seem to have run out of tricks, judging by the last dud in his two-thirds brilliant Hannibal Lector trilogy. Three years ago, I realized that pleasant, uplifting fare with clear-cut male heroes and, gasp, femininely real women is as radical today as Vonnegut, Heller and Kesey were to the safe literature of their day. This was the countercultural direction I chose to take, starting with a screenplay about an anti-Christian legal case, and then my first novel, Jake for Mayor. Of course once you go this route, progressively correct censorship becomes an obstacle, more in screenwriting than fiction, yet notably there as well.

What is your writing process?

Raymond Chandler advised at least four straight hours a day for the professional writer. I’m not sure if any of my books will ever equal The Big Sleep, but one should emulate the best (minus the heavy drinking). I get exercise out of the way early, so that the need for it doesn’t haunt me when I’m writing, followed by a good breakfast. The subsequent cup of coffee accompanies my revision of the previous days’ work, while I make improvements. Then I start the new stuff. Before attacking the novel, I have written an outline of the plot in present tense (what Hollywood types call a “treatment”). I’ll naturally diverge from this as the scenes and characters take on a life of their own.


How has writing impacted your life?

Becoming an appreciated author has given me the sense of fulfillment I’d sought since childhood. The verification that all my years of reading and philosophizing, and personal sacrificing, were not a solitary ego trip but the formation of an artist whose work gives readers pleasure and even intellectual stimulation. It has also introduced me to a wonderful new orbit of bright and beautiful book people. The only cost has been the absence of what I’d hoped to have by now – a family and financial security – but my life’s scale is now more balanced, and I can still make up for lost time.

What advice would you give a beginner writer?

A variation of my last answer. Know that by following your passion you’re deviating from the standard path to success. If you’re not good enough at this extraordinary craft, you’ll find out soon enough, and hopefully get back on a normal track. But even if you’re great, there’s no guarantee of success. You may instantly hit one out of the park, like my friend J Ryan Stradl with his New York Times bestseller first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, or you may wallow for years in a bleak subsistence that makes even continuing to write difficult. You must stack the odds in your favor by blueprinting great literature of the genre you intend to enter. You don’t have to imitate it, only understand what makes it click while you find your own style.

Tell me about your story, Jake for Mayor.

It’s a Mark Twainish tale about a sophisticated political elitist with no sympathy for middle America (any resemblance to a recently defeated presidential candidate is not quite coincidental) who becomes entrapped by it then gradually enchanted. His guide from one viewpoint to the other is a delightful dog, whom he initially uses for his advantage, and pays the price for it before his ultimate redemption. The book is satiric, wholesome and short. It’s inspired by the true story of tiny Erie, Colorado, where a dog actually ran for mayor and got votes. I heard it when I was living in Venice Beach as a produced screenwriter. A stunning young woman came up to me and said she was from Erie, a writer herself, and would Disney be interested in a script about the recent mayoral race there. Looking her over, I of course said yes, and that we’d have to work closely on it at all hours. We wrote the treatment, then I wrote the script, which became one of the most popular unsold screenplays in Hollywood. I’m glad it wasn’t bought because it enabled me to elevate a cute tale into my notable first novel.

I am really big on character development. What are the habits of your protagonists?

At the beginning of the story, with everything going swimmingly for him, Ken Miller is a slick, cocky, superficial political operator to whom everything has come easily, including a beautiful rich fiancée. His reservoir of BS enables him to survive a first fall from grace relatively unchanged, knowing he can retreat to his previous comfort zone. But a second fateful drop begins to deconstruct him, and it takes a sweet animal and a strong beautiful woman to reconstruct him into a decent human being. Yet it’s his initial resistance to that redemption that creates more trouble for him, and almost dooms him.

What is the mood or tone your characters portrays and how does this affect the story?

This is a comedy so the mood and tone are humorous throughout. Even when Ken’s world is falling apart, he retains his sharp wit but turns it toward self-deprecation. For example, while sharing a jail cell with Jake the dog, he sees the animal get preferential treatment. “This is speciesm!” he says. “And I’m on the wrong end of it.” Clearly the second half of the statement bothers him more than the first.

What are the emotional triggers of your characters and how do they act on them?

The most blatant emotional trigger comes at the story’s climax, when everything is once again falling into place for Ken, but only due to his dishonest manipulation of trusting townspeople. The reappearance of his desirable selfish girlfriend, now willing to ride his train to success, even over friends, is like a mirror to his former soullessness, and an affront to his new better angels.

What is your current writing project?

 “Paper Tigers”, a politically incorrect, semi-autobiographical romantic comedy about two ambitious Washington Post interns (copy-aides), a cowboy conservative and a patrician feminist beauty, that answers the question, “Can chemistry trump ideology?” I’m a third of the way through, and can already promise heads will explode. Should be out in time for Christmas.

Where can readers buy your book?

The easiest way is online from Barnes & Noble. And thanks for the plug.

More About Lou Aguliar

Lou Aguilar was born in Cuba and lived there until age six, when his anti-Castro scholar father flew the family to America one step ahead of a firing squad (for his dad, not Lou). He attended the University of Maryland, where he majored in English, minored in film, and found both to be dependent on great writing. He became a journalist for The Washington Post and USA Today, then a screenwriter, and finally a novelist.

Lou has had three small movies produced, including the cult science-fiction filmElectra (33rd on Maxim‘s list of “The 50 Coolest ‘B’ Films of All Time”). He presently writes only “A” scripts and has a television legal drama and military thriller feature in development. Lou’s last short story, “The Mirror Cracked,” was published in a prestigious horror anthology, Kolchak: the Night Stalker Chronicles, which was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

Lou is single, having postponed marriage until he either made the New York Times best sellers list or won an Oscar. But that stipulation has become less binding as the bird of youth flutters away. 



Interview with Award Winning Author Liv Hadden

liv-hadden-bragI’d like to welcome Award Winning Author and Debut novelist Liv Hadden to Layered Pages today. Liv has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously. Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt. She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.” Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management. She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas. Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Thank you for chatting with me today, Liv. Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?

I was doing some reading online about reputable awards for indie novels and indieBRAG was listed in several places. When I visited the site and saw the medallion books, I knew I wanted my novel to show up there!

Tell me a little about In he Mind of Revenge and your inspiration for it.

In the Mind of Revenge is an intimate look into how monsters are born. The narrative follows an assault victim’s destructive journey to revenge, and how thin the line is between retribution and wrongdoing. I got the inspiration while I was dealing with depression in college. I had written a page about how I was feeling right before bed, which turned into a dream about the embodiment of my shame. The main character is named Shame because of that dream.


What is an example of Shame’s vulnerability?

Shame has a big weak spot for their childhood love, Cassie. Shame’s relentless pursuit of Cassie causes Shame to get into trouble and hurt other people they come to care about along the way.

How are your monsters influenced by their setting?

Shame’s transformation into a monster is a direct result of the bullying they experienced and societal norms that didn’t allow for Shame to be as Shame was. Once Shame is in Baltimore, they’re at the mercy of a city and people they don’t know, which is basically how Shame meets some good friends and enemies.

How would your characters describe you?

I think Shame would find my eternal optimism annoying, but I might get away without too much incident because of my wit; I am always happy to participate in banter. Juice Box would probably say I’m boring since I stay inside all the time and my adventures are very organized, but he would like that I laugh at all his jokes and idiosyncrasies. Anna would consider me a civilian and wouldn’t give me a second glance. Of everyone, I think Emma would like me most. I think she’d say I’m caring, funny, and ambitious.

Who are your influences?

Every story I consume, no matter the medium, influences me. Even just my friends who are great at sharing a story inspire me or get me thinking. If I’m forced to name a few recognizable characters, I’d say Stieg Larson influenced the darkness in this novel; James Patterson influences my work ethic and sense of drama; Maya Angelou keeps me motivated and authentic; J.K. Rowling keeps me dreaming and influences the way I shape my secondary characters.

What is your writing process and how much time during the day do you write?

Well, my process is in the middle of an evolution as I grow as an author. I used to just write as it came, but now I am finding adding a bit more discipline to my process will create stronger plots and more intriguing characters. That is especially true when writing a sequel since I’ve set up all these rules for myself—I need to make sure I follow them for continuity and to maintain the integrity of the story. Basically, I’m creating flexible outlines and getting a feel for the end goal instead of just discovery writing. I have my own web design business, so I don’t write every day. I’d say I write fiction at least 5-8 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less depending on my schedule. But, I create and write content every day for work; even if it’s not a novel, all writing makes you better!

Who designed your book cover?

The designer at Ebook Launch did, and I love it. Would definitely recommend them to other indie authors.

What are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a sci-fi manuscript called CROSSFADE. Then I’ll be building a detailed outline for the second installment in The Shamed series, which I am getting really excited about!

Where can readers buy your books?

Amazon, Kindle, B&N, Indie Bound, and I am excited to say Audible!

Liv Hadden’s Website

goodreads | facebook | twitter | instagram

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Liv Hadden who is the author of, IN THE MIND OF RENVEGE, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, IN THE MIND OF REVENGE, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Praise for In the Mind of Revenge


“If a cat has nine lives, Shame has 29. Liv Hadden leaves us in the dark as to whether this

character is a girl or a boy. As Shame often muses, why is gender that important? It’s

reflecting on issues like gender that makes In the Mind of Revenge more than just a rather

exciting read.” – Reader’s Favorite

“A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely

complicated.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In the Mind of Revenge tackles hot-button social issues in a way that forces the reader to rethink the

importance of what society deems as normal.” – Self-Publishing Review

“An absorbing crime story…” – Blue Ink Reviews


Full Book Description:

Mine is a tale of pain, hate, lies, murder, injustice, vengeance, and love unreturned.

It began much like yours; a hopeful innocent born to a world of endless possibilities. But my journey has rarely been paved with opportunities of light. Confronted by those who sought to eclipse what light I had found, the darkness came for me. Wrapped in its intoxicating embrace, I have risen from the dead to reclaim my dignity and the life that was taken from me. I have begun my journey into the mind of revenge. Revenge for me. Revenge for those like me. Those who are shamed.

This is a story for the shamed, by the shamed. The question is, are you ready for it?

In the Mind of Revenge, book one of The Shamed Series, takes a deep look at how monsters are born.

Set in a society that glorifies “normal” and demonizes different, this dark tale takes its readers on an emotionally wild ride of vengeance, murder, pain and desperation. Though the reader is warned by its main character, Shame, not to develop an attachment, the first person narrative combined with Shame’s uninhibited vulnerability makes it nearly impossible not to do so. Raw, vivid, honest, fast-paced and beautifully vulgar, In the Mind of Revenge is sure to have you emotionally twisted from beginning to end.

The Life of Theseus

amalia-carosella-iiI’d like to welcome Amalia Carosella to layered Pages today to talk with me about Theseus. Amalia graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too).

 Who is Theseus?

By the time we meet Theseus in HELEN OF SPARTA, he’s a well-established king and hero of Attica and Athens, a champion of Athena. His days of adventuring and raiding are behind him, and he is focused on maintaining the prosperity of his people, which in the past, he had put at risk – for example, when he made Antiope his wife and brought war with the Amazons to Athens. Naturally when he meets Helen, and she asks him for help, it puts him in conflict with his desire to keep the peace he’s worked so hard and long to build for Athens and Attica, but so does the war Helen warns him is coming if he does not help her…

What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Theseus believes in Justice and Honor – he’s known for it. And this is a strength and a weakness for him, because any appeals to him on that front are likely to force his hand. He cannot ignore a call for help, if that person has been wronged. He also loves fiercely. His friends, his children, his wives, his people. All of which can be turned into leverage to manipulate him – though because he is a hero and a king, his power to protect those that he loves prevents all but the strongest threats from becoming problematic. Mostly, this results in a very healthy respect for the gods, who have used his love for his family to humble him repeatedly. But he can be caged by his own sense of honor, too, and manipulated by it – even by his closest friends.

What are his habits?

As a youth, he loved to raid – this was a well-respected and expected hobby for a young man of his stature, along with training in the arts of sword, spear, chariot-driving, and war in general. But perhaps because of his power and position in his later years, his greatest habit is restraint. Theseus knows when to make use of blunt force, and when diplomacy is the stronger tool. He knows, too, when to resort to deception, and who to call upon for help when a task is beyond his personal ability to accomplish. He is a man who knows when to delegate and isn’t afraid of dissenting voices. He’s also generally always happy to help his friends and makes it a point of honor to repay them for their help and service in his own times of need.


What are the emotional triggers of Theseus and how does he act on them?

As stated above, Theseus loves fiercely. He is most sensitive to matters of betrayal and disloyalty, particularly in his romantic relationships during his later years, after the death of his son, Hippolytus and his wife, Phaedra. As a result of those losses, he is that much more protective of his remaining sons, and because of the role the gods played in the whole affair, he’s also deeply pious, in the hopes that he might prevent the loss of the children and loved ones he has left. He feels, to some degree, that he has been cursed in love – that the gods themselves do not love him, and that this makes him a danger to those he loves.

What do you find most fascinating about him?

Everything. Theseus is a bundle of contradictions – not our standard Bronze Age Hero at all. He protects the weak, including slaves, seems to honor women even as he womanizes, is credited for bringing democracy to Athens as a king, and ultimately causes his own self-destruction by helping his best friend to attempt to steal a goddess for a wife. He makes mistakes, and he repeatedly loses everything – from his father, to his wives, to his son, to his entire kingdom, but he picks himself back up and makes lemonade out of lemons over and over again – until he can’t any longer, anyway. One of the thing I love most though, might be his bromance with Pirithous. Pirithous is SUCH a pirate, he’s a typical Bronze Age raider and so irreverent. In some ways, it makes him a perfect best friend/blood brother to Theseus. Kind of an opposites attract situation. And writing them both together in HELEN OF SPARTA and in TAMER OF HORSES was so much fun!

For more information, visit her blog at She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.

Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Theseus: Source- Wikimedia Commons/Wonders of sculpture HERE

Interview with Award Winning Author Justine Avery

justine-avery-bragI’d like to welcome award winning- B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Justine Avery to Layered Pages today.  Professionally, Justine Avery first traversed the murky corporate world of writing and designing technical documents to navigate through writing countless travel stories, reviews, personal essays, and articles. She is now the multi-award-winning author of numerous short stories and novelette-length works.

Personally, she has been writing since first falling in love with reading and words themselves, always viewing everything happening around her—and in her imagination—in the form of images translated into poignant phrases and intriguing sentences. She has written under many different names in many different genres, and is finally coming “home” to write, as herself, the stories that transcend genre.

Avery has lived countless stories, takes note of the infinitely more all around, and loves and appreciates every kind. As an avid reader of all genres, both fiction and non, she knows we, as readers, may have preferences, but we’re all—just as naturally—fans of every genre… when we find the stories with real intrigue that have no bounds, that have universal appeal. Those are the stories she prefers to find… and write.

“Story’s in everything we say and do. Story’s what drives us, scares us, changes us. We live stories, imagine them, fear some of them. They’re who we are. I’m a story reader, writer, and seer. I find everything about life and in this big, wide world (and beyond) utterly fascinating. Stories should be the same. I hope you enjoy the hell out of mine.”

Thank you for chatting with me today, Justine! How did you discover indieBRAG?

Thank you for the invitation!  I discovered indieBRAG by relying on a Google search to lead me to award programs or other recognition offered for independently published books and authors—if there were any at all.   I was so glad to find there are organizations, readers, reviewers, etc. devoted to discovering, critiquing, honoring, and publicizing indie books.  And indieBRAG is and does all of these!

the-end-bragPlease tell me about your story, The End.

The End is a novelette-length psychological suspense story with a bit of mystery, drama, and adventure tied in with a techno-thriller element.  It comes to life around a particularly eerie “what if” question: What if you find you’ve actually filmed the scene of your own death—actually caught it on camera?

How is Trevor influenced by his setting?

Trevor’s a “weekend warrior.”  His choice extreme sport is freeride mountain biking.  He spots a line, makes his own path, cuts across the canyonlands of southern Utah.  It’s his much-needed escape from the monotony of corporate life.  In the great outdoors—risking his life, using his learned skills and his own fitness—he temporarily frees himself from the suffocating chokehold of an unfulfilling life.

What are some emotional triggers for Trevor and how does he act on them?

Trevor’s biggest emotional trigger is feeling stifled, caged in, as situations and events in his life are not what he really wants them to be: his job, his marriage, his first child on the way, being confronted with his own mortality in the midst of it all.  He’s constantly striving to juggle his personal needs with his commitments.  And, being a naturally caring individual—often thinking of others before himself—his quest is all the more challenging.

What was your inspiration for this story?

I love a great “what if” question, and many, if not all, of my stories have begun just that simply.  The question popped into mind one day: “what if someone’s death was actually caught on camera—if they had the opportunity to witness their own death?”  A “what if” instantly leads to more questions, the answers being the story: how would the character feel, what would they think, could it actually happen and what would cause it, would they think it was then guaranteed to happen or would they try to fight it, to change fate?  The characters, their own stories and motivations, the mysterious circumstances, all unfold from there.

Will you share an imagery of what Trevor captures on video?

To not spoil the read, I’ll set the scene a bit.  Trevor always wears a helmet-mounted GoPro video camera when he goes for a ride.  He captures every jump, slide, and swerve, all from his point of view.  As The End begins, Trevor sets out on just another Saturday ride as the sun comes up over the canyon.  The reader rides along with him, through every thrill and a spectacular jump.  Only later, does Trevor take a moment to casually play back the footage, relive every exciting moment amid the beautiful setting, and find the video ends in a completely different way than he remembers.

What are the challenges of writing a thriller?

There are many!  A thriller is intensely fun to write as it’s just as thrilling for the writer, in the moment, as it is to read.  But that’s also part of the challenge: to get the pace right, to build up the tension, to make the moments that are most intense, frightening, and urgent for the character to feel the same for the reader—and to try not to give away the ending!  And hopefully, none of the little realizations along the way.

How long did it take you to write this story and what was your process?

Great question.  I keep a record of my daily writing—what I’m working on, how many words written—just to find how my writing habit evolves, and it’s great to recognize when I reach some achievement, such as the most words written in a single month.  There’s also a nice little phone app, Wordly, for keeping track of writing time, goals, rate, etc. for different projects.  So, apparently, The End was written over 13 days, in about 22 hours, but there were many gaps between writing sessions.  I really struggled with the beginning, with creating a character whose hobby was not one of my own.  There were many additional hours spent researching mountain biking itself: the gear, the lingo, the specially designed bike, the entire experience of it.  Luckily, the setting of southern Utah was one I’ve visited and explored myself!

Where can readers buy your book?

The End is available at all Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, iBooks, Smashwords, etc.  My personal site links directly to the book at all retailers:

What are you currently working on?

Another great question!  …because I’m personally so excited about the answer.  I’m currently writing my first novel-length work, a huge idea in the speculative fiction genre.  I’m fighting to finish the first draft by the holidays.  Currently, the novel is over 110,000 words, which will be edited down in revisions—guaranteed.

Please share what you love most about telling a story.

The best question of all!  Hands down, I love the discovery most of all.  Sure, the “magic” of storytelling—how a simple notion, single character, or very tiny idea turns into an entire tale—is terribly fun and a thing to behold; but I love going on an adventure myself, as author.  I love laying down one sentence that leads to another, then another, the whole story unfolding as I type, discovered in the moment by me, and hopefully, just as exciting for the reader-to-be.  What we can’t or wouldn’t or just won’t get around to experiencing in “real life,” we get to experience, learn, and discover as writers.  It’s a never-ending adventure.

Be sure to check out The Life—and Art—of Writing: Justine Avery Interviews Film Director Devon Avery, here!

Justine Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and writers, explorers and imaginers. You can find her at, on @Justine_Avery… and between the lines of that new book you’ve been reading.

Justine’s website

A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Justine Avery who is the author of, The End, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The End, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.M. Aucoin

jmaucoin-author-photo-1-bragI’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree J.M. Aucoin to Layered Pages today to talk with me about his book, Honor Among Thieves. J.M. Aucoin is the product of when a five-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s ‘Zorro’ grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with ‘The Three Musketeers.’

When not writing, J.M. Aucoin practices historical fencing and covers the Boston Bruins for the award-winning blog, Days of Y’Orr. He lives in Heraldwolf’s Stone with his fiancee Kate and their dire-beagle, Rex.

Hi, Justin! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats o the B.R.A.G. Medallion! What is the premise of your story?

Thanks, Stephanie!

Honor Among Thieves is a historical adventure novel set in the early 1600s, during the Henri IV’s reign in France. We follow Darion Delerue, a former soldier turned highwayman, who has only two things of value in life—the hope in his heart and the steel at his side. After a heist on a royal ambassador goes wrong, he’s is thrown into a political plot to undermine the crown, pitting his old life as an honorable soldier against his new life as a thief and bandit. His actions could send France back into civil war.

There’s plenty of swordplay for folks who love a little action and adventure, but wrapped in real historical events for those who want to learn some history in the process.

honore-among-thieves-bragWhy Historical Fiction and how did you chose you setting and period?

I’ve been a fan of swashbucklers since I was a little kid. Every week I’d watch reruns of Guy William’s Zorro on Disney. I also fell in love with Disney’s The Three Musketeers as a child. Both stories captivated me. The idea that you could right wrongs and fight injustice with little more than a sharp blade and your wits was a powerful message that resonated with me as a kid – and has followed me into my adulthood.

I chose the early 17th Century France as an homage to Alexander Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. But since he took a sizable portion of France’s 17th Century historical events, I decided to turn back the clock to a time before the Mousquetaires du Roi were formed. By 1609, the French Wars of Religion had come to a close and France was on the rebound. It was a transitional time, free of war but with the threat of it around every corner. It seemed like an untouched setting and era, and a fun playground to work in.

Tell me a little about Darion Delerue strengths and weaknesses?

Sure. Darion is a complicated fellow – like most of us, I’d imagine. He’s an exceptional swordsman. Prudent and courageous, and with a relatively strong moral compass despite his life as a highwayman.

But he’s also stubborn and proud, and a bit raw around the edges when it comes to more diplomatic measures. He’s lived a rough life and it shows in his demeanor, but deep down he wants to evolve into something greater than he is – he’s just not sure if he’s capable of it.

What is an example of political intrigue in your story?

In 1609, Spain was struggling with its war with the United Providences, and France was working hard on an alliance with Dutch against Spain. In a desperate effort to keep the alliance from happening, they sent an ambassador to France to secure a double marriage between the two countries. Of course, Henri IV’s goal in life was to humble the Spanish Hapsburgs, so you can imagine how well that went.

So readers will get to see the interactions between Henri IV and Don Pedro de Toledo. But next to that is a fictional plot line that twists and wraps itself around some of these historical events. And not to give too much away, but an old enemy of Henry IV rears its head because of it all.

How much research went in to writing your story?

A decent amount, but finding good resources was actually difficult. I was surprised to find so little information at my local library (*shakes fist at Boston Public Library*), so I had to get creative. I found some nice (albeit older) research books online via Google Books that were free to download.

I must’ve spent a year and a half or so just researching to give myself a base level of knowledge of the times. I still research while I write, mostly detail stuff to give the story that authentic feel, but I feel pretty comfortable to power ahead as need be.

Who designed your book cover?

A good friend of mine – Graham Sternberg. We know each other via our love for practicing historical swordsmanship. Just so happens that he’s a professional artist. So I tapped him to be the artist for the Hope & Steel series. It was a lot of fun to work with him on the cover – collaborating ideas and seeing it come to life. The book cover creation process is one of my favorite parts of self-publishing.

Where can readers buy your book?

Like 99.9% of self-publishers, you can find Honor Among Thieves on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback. For people who hate to give their cash to Amazon, they can buy an autograph copy via my Facebook store for the same price.

What are you working on next?

I’m about half way through the sequel to Honor Among Thieves (currently untitled). I’m also plotting some short fantasy adventures, too. Always seems to be more ideas than there is time to work on. Can I buy a few extra hours in the day? I’d really love to write all the things.

Thank you, Justin!

Thank you!

Justin’s social media links





A message from indieBRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview J.M. Aucoin who is the author of, Honore Among Thieves, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Honor Among Thieves, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.