Saturday, October 24, 2020

#BookReview - Somebody Else's Troubles


Somebody Else's Troubles


By: J.A. English
Publisher: Zimbell House Publishing
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1-64390-114-5
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Date: October 25, 2020


J.A. English delivers a complex story that spotlights the art of reinvention in his debut novel, Somebody Else’s Troubles.


Travers Landeman is thirty-eight years old and has nothing left to keep him tied to his less than stellar life in Ohio. When he decides it’s time to abandon his present life for a newer one, the only matter he didn’t consider is the fact he would become a fugitive. In order to understand how Travers became the proverbial guy who went to the store for a gallon of milk never to be seen again is a bit more complex. He sets his plan in motion and flees to the small Caribbean Island of Mabuhay. Imagine his glee when he meets the likes of Marguerite. She’s somewhat of a patriarch on the island of Mubahay, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


The final straw that affirms Traver’s plan to escape his present life is the sudden and shocking death of his teenage nephew, Matthew. It would seem Matthew had been abused by his parish priest for many years and when the situation was too much for Matthew to handle, Uncle Travers isn’t available for his nephew’s final (and urgent) plea for help. 

The years pass and Travers is quite settled into his island lifestyle; he gets comfy with a new family. Imagine his surprise when Private Investigator Albert McNab who represents the Atlantis Fidelity Insurance Company plans to bring Travers back to Ohio. There are more than a few loose ends Travers failed to tie up and it’s time for him to atone for the sins from his past.


There are endless moments of shenanigans and characters to comprehend in J. A. English’s debut novel. While this read does not disappoint thanks to a fast-paced storyline and an abundance of adventure, there are times when the complexities of the scenes were too convoluted. Mr. English’s style was to teeter between past and present before weaving the next element into the story. This was tedious, at times, and difficult to connect the dots and continue forward with the plot. I will give Mr. English props for his writing ability; in that his characters are colorful, and the dialogue is interesting. However, the jump between past and present was fragmented, and it was often a struggle to reconnect with the story without having to backtrack and refresh first before moving forward. I’ll end with a word of caution to his audience; this book requires a fair amount of concentration in order to maintain a connection with the plot.


Quill says: Somebody Else’s Troubles sets the notion in motion that one can plan to disappear, but the past inevitably will catch up.

 

Friday, October 23, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Marc Liebman


Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Marc Liebman, author of Raider of The Scottish Coast.

FQ: Your military background is a long and diverse one, to say the least. With more than twenty years in the Navy, what were the perks (such as, the knowledge gained throughout your life) that came in handy when putting this book together?

LIEBMAN: When I was promoted from commander (lieutenant colonel in the other services except the Coast Guard) to captain (full colonel in Army, Air Force and Marine Corps), there was a step change in the how I was treated and what was expected of me. The difference was much greater than when I was promoted from lieutenant commander (major in our sister services) to commander. At the time I was selected for captain, the total strength – active and reserve – of the Navy was ~600,000 men and women. Of those, there were only 800 captains in the active and reserve Navy. That’s not even a tenth of one percent! I felt as if suddenly, I was expected to know something! Also, well before the PC world of today, as a captain, I had to be much more careful about what I said in public.

Then there was the added responsibilities. For example, as a captain, one of the more interesting projects that landed in my lap was reviewing and updating the war plans for the Commander, Seventh Fleet. Each potential enemy – the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) - had its own war plan with several plausible scenarios. The work took almost a year, the team I led had to (a) evaluate information from U.S. and Allied intelligence agencies; (b) understand the foreign policy goals set forth by the National Command Authority, i.e. the president of the U.S; (c) test the plans in war games based on the capabilities of the Marine units, ships and planes Seventh Fleet would likely have under its command; and (d) consider the limitations of logistics and supply. This was a PhD course in collecting, analyzing and synthesizing data to create viable operational strategies and tactics for each scenario. These plans had to be coordinated with our sister services as well as shared and integrated within given guidelines with our allies in the Seventh Fleet operating area. As part of this evolution, I found myself briefing general and flag officers and fielding their tough questions.

What this experience gave me was a deep understanding of our potential enemies as well as the potential situations which would cause the U.S. to be embroiled in a major conflict. Now I had insight into how our intelligence community really operates and the info they provided along with detailed knowledge of our military capabilities in areas in which I had no prior experience. So, coupled with my love of history, this background helped me include realistic geo-politics in every book of the Josh Haman series.

FQ: Your books have touched upon a variety of different wars and countries. Do you have a personal interest in one war in particular? If so, why is that? 

LIEBMAN: I do and I don’t. I don’t believe wars happen by accident. There is always a chain of events that leads to a war. If you look at history, most have underlying issues which usually economic (colonies/territory/natural resources) or religion or both.

The American Revolution is an exception because one can make a very strong argument that the war was about personal freedom to choose ones destiny versus being dictated to by a king or queen. However, right behind the desire for individual and national freedom came the desire to get out from under the yoke of intrusive taxes, rules and regulations. 

While writing Raider of the Scottish Coast, the time I spent researching the years before, during and after the American Revolution caused me to realize how much of our country’s DNA stems from that period. I have a whole new respect for our Founding Fathers and what they accomplished. When the American Revolution began, the Thirteen Colonies went to war against the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world that had the best Navy and one of the best armies. In 1775, when the shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, the thirteen Colonies had no navy or army. Our Founding Fathers and those they led persevered for eight long years. The war left the colonies economically devastated. Four years after the war, they wrote one of the most phenomenal documents in the history of the world, the U.S. Constitution. At the time, all the “talking heads” thought our democracy wouldn’t last 10 years because the “common” people couldn’t govern themselves without a king or queen.

This is a long way to get to the answer to your question. I think the period of 1775 to 1815 which encompasses four wars – the American Revolution, the Quasi War, the War Against the Barbary Pirates and the War of 1812 – is my favorite. Number two would be the Spanish American War because in the span of a few short years, the U.S. becomes a world power.

FQ: What made you decide to become a full-time writer? Is there one specific genre and or subject you have not yet written about that you wish to pursue in the future?

LIEBMAN: I’ve always wanted to be novelist, but didn’t know how. So, in the late 80s, I tried and failed miserably. Attempt number two ended in frustration in the 90s. In 2008, I tried a third time and in 2012 Big Mother 40 was published. 

There is good news from by early flailing and failing. My first attempt back in the 80s had the working title of Moscow Airlift. My second attempt in the 1990s was titled The Kuril Wedge Incident. At the time Big Mother 40 was published, I’d committed to a series of books so I listed those as the last books in the series as an afterthought. A revamped Moscow Airlift was published in 2018 and The Kurile Wedge Incident has been renamed and re-written and will be published as The Simushir Island Incident in November 2020. 

As far as genre goes, I will continue to write fiction. Most will have military, terrorism, spy type plots or like Raider of the Scottish Coast will be in the Age of Sail genre However, I have several books in my planned list of books to write that are different.

There is a non-fiction book called Gold & Silver Wings – Tales from Three Generations of Military Aviators coming probably in a few years. This is a “memiography” in that the contents are anecdotes from my father’s, my son’s, and my military flying careers. Some of the stories will make you laugh, some will bring a tear to your eyes and some, after you’ve read them, will cause you to ask, “what were they thinking?”

There are also two novels that are not military related. One is a novel about consulting which has the working title of Outsourced and the other is a story about ski racing called Hannenkam.

For more info on the books I have in development, check out this link to a page on my web site - https://marcliebman.com/josh-haman-book-series/books-in-development.

FQ: Given the state of the world as it exists today, do you have any personal worries that we are headed down the road to another war?

LIEBMAN: I do and I don’t. The People’s Republic of China is a long term competitor that wants to extend its influence globally. However, neither countries want a shooting war to erupt. What I see is economic warfare, not in terms of tariffs, but escalating in other ways. The PRC’s leaders know that if the U.S. significantly reduces the purchase of goods made in the PRC, their economy collapses. We’ve been fighting them over their theft of intellectual property from businesses and governments all over the world. They continue to refuse to honor patents and copyrights. However, based on PRC’s deception and carelessness with Covid-19, they may have set in motion events from all over the world that may adversely affect their economy. Only time will tell.

Which brings me to the two countries that I see as the most likely embroil the U.S. in a shooting war. One is North Korea, a country I can spend hours talking about. It is a dismal place to live. Economically, it is a basket case. However, we, as does the United Nations (many people forget this little fact), have a treaty which obligates us to defend South Korea if attacked by North Korea.

North Korea wants to unify the peninsula under its repressive communist regime. South Korea wants a commercial relationship in which South Korean goods flow north and people can travel freely across the DMZ. If this leads to unification under a democratic government so, be it. The South Koreans know they cannot afford to fix the economic and environmental disaster that is North Korea.

North Korea is the only communist country in which power has been passed from the father (Kim il-Sung) to the son (Kim Jong-il) to the grandson, Kim Jong-un. Everything, and I mean everything that Kim Jong-un does on a daily basis is geared to regime survival which is defined as his survival. A war could happen if Kim Jong-un, or possibly his successor, needs to placate hardliners to stay in power. More than likely, it will start with a raid or an outright attack on South Korea that kills U.S. servicemen/servicewomen. 

Since 1960, North Korea has launched attacks well over 100 times. These range from “small” shooting incidents, commando raids and torpedoing a South Korean Navy corvette. 

Another provocation could lead to miscalculation on North Korea’s part. Kim Jong-un’s threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons are just that, threats. He knows that if he starts a war, neither he nor his regime will survive. How much help he would get from the PRC or Russia is an unknown. While the PRC does not want another democracy on its border, the country sees North Korea’s antics as a way of distracting the U.S.. Intervening as it did in the Korean War may not be in the cards because it would lead to sanctions, loss of the U.S. market, seizure of investments wealthy Chinese have made in the U.S. and more. However, a power struggle within the factions in the North Korean government could lead to a civil war in which the South Koreans may decide to get involved.

Which brings to the greatest threat to the United States in terms of a “shooting” war and that is the Islamic Republic of Iran. This country is, by far and away, the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers are deployed in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Venezuela, Sudan, and other places around the world. Iran wants to be the dominant power in the Arabian Gulf. The country is ruled by religious fanatics who are committed to destroying Israel and attacking the U.S. who they call the Great Satan.

A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to every nation within a 1,500 mile radius of Tehran. The nations along the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf see the danger which is what drove the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sign peace treaties and normalize relations with Israel. More treaties with the remaining Gulf Cooperation States (Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait) will come. 

Israel and the Trump administration has been very clear that they will not tolerate a nuclear armed Iran. The current sanctions have crippled the Iranian economy. The PRC buys almost all its oil from Iran has largely ignored the sanctions and is one of Iran’s largest trading partner. As customers of Iranian oil find other long term, reliable sources, the stress on the Iranian economy will increase.

The Iranian military continues to provoke, taunt, and often attack the U.S. as well as other nations in and outside the region. The recent blatant attempt to interfere in the 2020 U.S. national election as an attempt to ensure Trump is not re-elected is just another one in a series of provocations. Iranian leaders fear Trump will continue to increase the economic pressure on Iran to end its nuclear program and stop its support or terrorism. The question is what will Iranian leaders do if they start to lose their grip on the population?

FQ: If you were given a choice to sit down at lunch with a past leader, writer, politician, etc. – who would it be and what question would you most want to ask?

LIEBMAN: That’s an easy one. Teddy Roosevelt. Few men in their lives have had as great an impact on U.S. (and the world) as he did. Think about this, he oversaw the rebirth of the U.S. Navy which at the time, helped establish the U.S. as a global power. As a young man, he wrote what is still probably the best analysis of the naval part of the War of 1812. Roosevelt pushed for the Panama Canal. He won a Nobel Peace prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. TR established our national park system and was a strong, vocal early supporter of woman’s suffrage. While president, he pushed for an amendment to the Constitution. I could keep going on and on about Theodore Roosevelt.

What would I ask him? The mind boggles to think of just one question. But I would start with why he became embroiled in the Russo-Japanese War? My next question was why was he confident that U.S. military doctors under the leadership of Dr. Walter Reed could eliminate the threat of yellow fever to the workers of the Panama Canal?

FQ: I had read in your bio that you and your lovely wife like to travel in an RV; is there a specific location that you love; and, perhaps one you are hoping to visit one day soon?

LIEBMAN: Yes. Pensacola Beach. The sand is the color and texture of confectioner’s sugar. There’s an RV park right on the beach on the Naval Air Station!

Both of us would like to drive the Alcan Highway. We have talked to many who have and say that the trip is worth it, but is very, very hard on your RV.

For the record, we just sold the RV. 

FQ: What title is up next that readers would absolutely love to know about?

LIEBMAN: Chronologically, the next book to be released is The Simushir Island Incident which is the last book in the Josh Haman series. This novel comes out in November 2020. The bad guys are North Korean and if you want to read more before the book is published, go to - https://marcliebman.com/book/the-simushir-island-incident/. FYI, I am already getting requests for other Josh Haman to fill in the gaps. 

Next to come out is Flight of the Pawnee which will be released on January 12th, 2021. This novel is the first in a new, what I hope to be a four book series based on a character named Derek Almer. The story takes place in Texas in 2016. For more on the book, check out this page on my web site - https://marcliebman.com/derek-almer-series/.


#BookReview - Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!


Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!

By: Michael A. Brown
Illustrated by: Zoe Ranucci
Publisher: MABMA Enterprises, LLC
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1735202464
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 23, 2020

Author Michael A. Brown has been quite busy putting together a series of wonderful books to inspire, and help, both children and parents as they navigate the ups and downs of life. The latest offering in his series, Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!continues the series with a helpful book to guide parents on what to teach, and show children the wonderful opportunities that await them.

The story begins with a very young child who is being adored and cared for by her loving parents:

You gave me life. Now I am here
For who knows how many years.
You give me love by what you do.
Protect, clean, and feed me, too.

We see the little girl learn to crawl and then walk, with her parents close by to cheer her on. By the fourth page of the story, the child is a bit older and eager to learn:

More alert, I look to thee.
Mommy, Daddy, please teach me!

And this – please teach me – is the focus of this delightful book.

As the story moves along, we meet numerous families, each with one or two children. On each page we see parents helping their children do various things, from getting dressed in the morning to selecting the proper shoes. These things might seem mundane but yet, they are so important. Grocery shopping, going to work, or going for a run – these are all things we do every day. Parents might think that these common activities provide little or no opportunities for teaching, but the author points out many examples of what can be taught. Are you cooking dinner? Teach your child how to cook. At the grocery store, there are so many things you can teach your child, such as what food items to choose to live a healthy life. And don’t forget to point out what things cost! What items are a good value, or perhaps cost too much. And when you pay for that food, teach your child about money:

Dollars, pennies,
Nickels, and dimes.
Teach me money!
We’ve got the time.

Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! is the fourth book in author Michael A. Brown’s “What I Tell Myself” series. These books aim to teach children positive self-actualization by showing examples of real-life situations, and showing children how to handle each situation. In this book, the author shows both parents and children how important it is to use everyday situations and use each to advance the education of the child. While the book is a children’s book, it is also useful for parents who may be struggling with their parental responsibilities. The author drives home the point to teach your child now so that they will be equipped to handle what the future throws at them. 

This is the second book in this series that I’ve read/reviewed and I enjoyed both very much. The positive message within its pages is one that parents can, and should, share with their children. Too often parents miss opportunities to advance their children’s education and this author shows them exactly how to take advantage of everyday activities to help their children become successful and happy members of society. 

Quill says: Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me! is an excellent addition to the “What I Tell Myself” series. Both parents and children will benefit from the words of wisdom within its pages.

For more information on Mommy, Daddy Please Teach Me!, please visit the website: www.whatitellmyselffirst.com

 

#BookReview - Revelations From the Dead


Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster

By: Max Willi Fischer
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 979-8684213694
Reviewed by: Risah Salazar
Review Date: October 22, 2020

It is the year 1837 and our protagonist is Thomas Sullivan, a young man living in Connecticut. Thomas works for the Shaffers, particularly Peter Shaffer, the cabinetmaker, as an apprentice. He actually does not want to work with wood, but his father thinks this will be best for him. What Thomas really wants is to further embrace what his late mother loved and taught him - to read and learn new things. Despite being a commoner, he wishes to explore the world and make it a better place through the beautiful words printed on the pages of a book.

The life of an apprentice in Connecticut is uneventful for Thomas, but at least his master and the master's family treat him well. Jacob, one of the master's sons, is even one of his closest friends. This monotonous daily life changes when Otto Frohm enters Peter Shaffer's shop. The huge German scares the heck out of Thomas and Jacob, who were not expecting such a large and muscular man to enter the shop. But when Otto explains that he is Karl's brother, and Jacob knows that Karl is a good friend of his father, all is well. That's when Otto explains he is there looking for Peter to ask him a favor.

Looking back, what made everything scarier at the moment Otto entered the shop was the story Jacob was reading out-loud to Thomas - a story about a "Night Waster." The Night Waster is a creature who is believed to be dead but eats away his body while inside its coffin. And when nothing is left, it crawls to the bodies of its family members to continue its gruesome activity. The story of the Night Waster combined with people's fears of consumption, a chronic lung disease at that time, and Thomas' sighting of the "Flame Orb," now make his life a little more exciting. Maybe even haunting. Things are definitely about to get very interesting, and intense.

Max Willi Fischer's Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster is an historical suspense novel that also tackles a wide range of social issues. The premise is a bit common for the suspense genre, but the story's development shows its spooky and unique side. Equipped with the element of surprise, there are a lot of hair-raising and heart-pumping scenes in every chapter. Careful world-building and evocative imagery will take the readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride. The book may appear to be shallow at first but don't let this stop you from digging in. This one is unexpectedly engaging and deep. The narration uses foreign terms and sometimes even jargon and colloquialisms, but everything is explained in the footnotes.

There are, however, a few things that keep this story from being a 5-star read. The pacing tends to slow in places, particularly in the second half. It is also noticeable how some transitioning among the dialogue and change in scenes are not as seamless as they should be. There are times when there is no indication of a break when clearly there should be, and that leads to a confusing reading experience. There are also numerous typos that hamper reading enjoyment. With a re-work from an editor, these issues could easily be erased and the top-notch story that is Revelations From the Dead,would shine through.

Quill says: While there are some shortcomings, Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster remains a gripping read.

For more information on Revelations From the Dead: Chronicles of the Night Waster,please visit the author's website at: maxwilli.weebly.com

 

#BookReview - Breaking Open


Breaking Open: Free Love and Family Secrets from the Notebook of a Misfit Wife

By: Melinda Banks
Publisher: Melinda Banks
Publication Date: September 2020
ISBN: 978-1087899303
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: October 22, 2020

One woman “with a minivan” candidly shares how love heads in an erotic direction to save her marriage in Breaking Open: Free Love & Family Secrets from the Notebook of a Misfit Wife.

Melinda Banks’ early-married, late-90s lifestyle to Pierce would be considered normal; normal, defined as the husband works outside of the home and stay-at-home wife cares for the kids, running interference throughout her husband’s working-hour days. Living this way did not cut it for Melinda since their sex life slowly drifted away from what they once had pre-children. Fifteen years later and now working outside of her home, Melinda has an affair, which eventually gets Pierce and her rethinking their marriage.

After addressing her internal struggles, Melinda suggests counseling for the two of them, and the counselor comes up with a plan. It’s not until they return home that Melinda opens the proverbial can of worms. The expected hurt, mistrust—the whole nine yards—unfolds.

It’s amid hard conversations that Melinda raises the idea of open marriage—not a far-fetched concept, considering that Pierce and she had a taste of polyamory on their honeymoon. Unsurprisingly, the notion strikes a chord, and they propose their idea to the counselor, who is utterly unprepared for their turnaround response. What follows is a one-year exploration with lovers—even in a minivan.

Melinda Banks pens a fascinating read into the world of polyamory. One would think her narrative is filled with page-after-page of erotica, but it’s not. There is no doubt that sections are replete with those salacious tidbits; however, Banks takes a step further by providing her audience with a whole lot more relatable material than the fixations of a hormonally-driven housewife.

Far too often, the strain of raising a family goes in direct opposition to maintaining a healthy sex life, and all too often, partners find themselves left frustrated. Married “been there, did that” women (especially Christians) reading Breaking Open would be in denial if they refuse to acknowledge the trials and tribulations that come with being married with children. Banks does not mince words as she draws attention to emotional details of her journey, which speaks loudly to the dilemma many marriages have had and continue to face.

Banks sprinkles her first-person narration with journal entries, essays, and even some free-verse poetry and places them within short flowy chapters, divided into subsections. The balanced combination provides readers with an appealing, quick read.

Quill says: Breaking Open is a well-written read that is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and sexy all at the same time.

 

#BookReview - Raider of the Scottish Coast


Raider of The Scottish Coast

By: Marc Liebman
Publisher: Penmore Press
Publication Date: July 2020
ISBN: 978-1-950586-49-3
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 21, 2020

The subject of the American Revolution is something I truly love reading about. Perhaps it’s the state of the world in which we live today that makes me want to travel to the past; or perhaps this specific era is one I want to learn more about because it’s rarely focused upon in the fiction world. Yes, even after all this time, WWII is still the most popular. However, when it comes to this tale by the remarkable writer Marc Liebman (who I first became a fan of when I discovered his Josh Haman series), I have to say this is one of the most enthralling war stories I’ve read in a good, long time.

Told from a very personal backstory, it is the year 1775. We meet Darren Smythe, a young man from Gosport, England; and Jaco Jacinto, a young man from Charleston, South Carolina. Their paths cross when Jaco signs up to become a member of America’s Navy. His personal feelings and ideals include the fact that he wants to see his country gain independence; to become a nation that will live as one of the very few free ones in the world.

Darren's goal is to become a member of the British Navy because that has been his dream since he was a young boy. He wants a future career path that will lead him down the road of military service, where he will one day don an officer’s uniform and be up among the elite when all things are said and done. Whether it be for personal gain, a good career or a belief in freedom, both young men want to see the world and work hard, and they do. The only thing they weren’t counting on seeing is each other...constantly.

Almost as if there’s some heavenly power involved, Darren and Jaco end up being in the same place at the same time on a variety of occasions: Whether they are traveling, heading to events, fighting, or working with historical figures who include some of the grandest leaders (and some of the worst) ever known, Darren and Jaco end up building one of those relationships where even though they’re on opposite sides of the fence, they consider the other to be a friend.

Readers will “watch” this relationship thrive while it is tested every inch of the way. From the cold winds of Nova Scotia to the warm waters off the Bahamas, this duo will have to survive each and every win and loss that occurs. Because of their choices and their homelands, they should be mortal enemies; even they realize that there will be a final battle played out at some point and they will have to fight each other in order for their personal needs to be fulfilled—but they continue to feel respect for one another. For those who find themselves locked into this read (which will genuinely be anyone who picks up the book), you will feel that sense of camaraderie and caring as it was with North and South by John Jakes—that these two friends will have a future where they can actually live as ‘brothers’ in a world that has learned to forgive.

The in-depth research behind this tale was highly interesting, and the author was able to take all facts and intertwine them with some of the most creative and engaging characters I’ve seen in this genre. Life on the high seas is both exciting and frightening, and the intelligence factor of this book is sheer perfection.

Quill says: This action-packed plot will have you “setting sail” on Amazon in order to get more of this author’s fantastic books.

For more information on Raider of The Scottish Coast, please visit the author's website at: marcliebman.com

 

#BookReview - Waiting for Normal


Waiting for Normal

By: Zahra Jons
Publisher: Dreampunk Press
Publication Date: April 2020
ISBN: 978-1-938215-39-1
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 2020

Ah...high school. To me, The Breakfast Club was the ultimate way to explain this time in our lives; and, to this day, I still believe that each one of us did fall into one of the six “categories” of kids that movie focused upon. It’s a rough time, a trying time, a time to learn and fret and basically just be angry having to wait within those walls for so many years before being able to really experience life.

However...after reading this fantastic book, and that’s not an over-exaggeration, I must say that I understand high school a bit more now. I actually feel a bit guilty for my overabundance of whining during that time period, and I regret some things that I could have enjoyed but chose not to during those four years. Why is that? Because in this book I met a brave, weathered, frightened, strong, amazing girl who had it a heck of lot harder than I did.

This unforgettable plot opens readers up to the world of “Cat.” This is a teen who loathes high school, like the majority of us, but now actually wishes she could go back to hating it simply for the same reason we all did. But Cat can’t do that now. You see, Cat has a very adult problem she has to deal with; high school may have been vile, but being diagnosed with cancer is even worse.

Cat wants to be unique. She had a boyfriend, Jet, who she loved but most likely stayed with him at times because her dad simply didn’t like the guy one bit. She gets the lectures that all kids get from their loving (pain-in-the-butt-they-just-don’t-understand) parents on a weekly basis, as well. But when lymphoma is laid at Cat’s doorstep, those big, annoying things now seem quite small. She must get treatments and sit in the hospital for weeks. She has to step away from the one thing she’s really good at which is rowing for the crew team, and she has to listen to her mother now change their conversations from the horrible clothes she wears to finding a support group that could help Cat through this trying time. In other words, Cat has a whole new normal that she definitely didn’t deserve.

Even though her love stays by her side and tries to help, the pain of it all is something that is quite easy to see. Like a darkness that comes over you, the regular, everyday bad things in life seem to have no weight anymore. Even the sibling scenes between Cat and her sister are altered, and readers will feel that change and the sorrow that goes along with it. After all, we like being a pain to our siblings, but once illness is involved the relationship takes on a nicer tone, making it even more difficult for Cat to deal with; in a way, she feels like everyone’s demeanor has changed towards her and eyes are looking at her differently, which is the last thing she wants.

The journey Cat continues to take is filled with finding the strength needed to get through school, deal with love and breaking up while figuring out your first real relationship, getting the grades in order to pass, etc. The rules remain the same. But watching someone have to do this while also traversing the problems and absolute fear that comes from cancer, treatments, wondering what the future will bring and even if there is a future awaiting Cat, pulls at a reader’s heartstrings while they become embedded in this teenager’s life.

YA and teen reads, as I have stated before, have become a big market because the stories have been a huge success. This is one that I love because there are no witches and warlocks, magic, or vampires falling in love. This is one that’s all about reality that becomes even more real for a character named Cat who, as she did with me, will engage readers from beginning to end.

Quill says: A great read that is captivating, well-written, and dares to be different — making it a powerful success.

For more information on Waiting for Normal, please visit the publisher's website at: www.dreampunkpress.com

 

Friday, October 16, 2020

#BookReview - The Metric Clock


The Metric Clock: The Adventures of Charles, Transforming a Precocious Boy into a Young Man

By: Phillip B. Chute
Publication Date: December 2018
ISBN: 978-1-7328855-0-9
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 2020

Subtitled, “The Adventures of Charles, Transforming a Precocious Boy into a Young Man,” this amazing book is truly one no reader will ever forget. Now, yes, those who read reviewers know I am a sucker for YA/Teen books. Why? Because, quite frankly, for the past two decades this category has produced some of the finest authors and coolest reads “gifted” to people who love fantasy, adventure, and being able to get away from the “mess” and chaos that the world has to offer. This book is no exception.

Here, we head to New England (my own home turf as a youth) in the year 1946 – a time when everyone was recovering from a much different time of chaos that WWII brought down upon the world. Charles is the boy we meet and get to know well during this tale. He is nine years old and, let us just say, has that problem many of us had when it comes to trying to fit in with our peers. It’s not easy for Charles. And when it comes to family, his father is away so much for work that the young boy doesn’t have that mentor figure to help him out. The upside for Charles is Mary Anne, who happens to be his best friend. Mary is the “ear” that listens to Charlie’s hopes, fears, daydreams, etc.

The time comes when Charles is given an opportunity of sorts. His father is headed out on yet another trip, but Charles is going to come along. They head to Canada – his father’s hometown – in a rural area where he will spend time on the family farm. But Charles is not only going to have his eyes opened a bit, he’s also going to come away from the experience with a greater understanding of his own father. Learning about how his dad had to deal with being raised during The Great Depression, his respect for his father grows with the newfound knowledge.

One day, an adventure comes along for Charles when he and his cousin head out for the day to explore. Looking forward to having fun, the day turns more than a bit dark when an element of danger crops up that forces Charles to use his knowledge and his huge heart, not to mention the strength that lives inside him passed down from his father, in order to get out of a mess.

This book explores trying times, the aches and pains of growing up and fitting in, the ability to learn and understand others who you feel may have disappointed you—only to learn that they have actually battled and struggled through their own life and have their own secrets they wish not to reveal.

Mary Anne is an awesome friend and everyone should have one; she instills confidence in Charles and helps him through tough times. This is a truly beautiful “presentation,” so to speak, of a boy’s younger days that readers of all ages will relate to. Yet again, YA/Teen reads hits it out of the ballpark.

Quill says: An emotional tale perfectly balanced with adventure.

For more information on The Metric Clock, please visit the author's website at: www.phillipbchute.com

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

#AuthorInterview - Jean Reed


Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Holly Connors is talking with Roberta Reed Hamilton, daughter of Jean Reed, who is the author of Five Funny Tummy Men.

FQ: Would you tell our readers a bit about your mother’s writing career?

HAMILTON: My mother, Jean Reed and father were married in the late 1930’s. He was a lover of country living, so off they went to start life in an 80-year old farmhouse, four miles from the nearest town and one-half mile from any neighbor. As an isolated housewife and then a mother, she found gardening and going to her typewriter topped her list of stimulating ways to spend the day.

During this period she submitted articles to Redbook on housewife/hostess issues such as “How to Remember the Relishes.” She won numerous 25 or less word contests; one such prize was a ‘trip for ONE’ to Great Britain, which she declined. She wrote copy for Rochester, New York radio commercials. During the 1950’s, my parents changed directions and opened a Resume Service in Rochester and it was then that Jean wrote Resumes That Get Jobs, published by Arco and printed through eight updated editions.

Following the death of my father, she moved to Sarasota, Florida and worked for an ABC television station writing copy, running the camera and was traffic manager. A local weekly newspaper, The Pelican Press, was a career target for her and Jean became a features writer as well as being their theatre critic. Newspaper writing awards became a yearly occurrence for her. She was a prolific writer and was known for her “fair critiques” wherein she did not destroy the performer but gave suggestions for improvement if needed. She learned from Variety critics and became a stringer for Variety in Sarasota. She continued in both capacities, writing until her death at 88 years of age. While in the hospital, shortly before her death, she said to her daughter, “I will probably lose my job over this.” Her editor assured her this would not be the case.

FQ: Did your mother read to you every night when you were young? Was she fond of making up stories? Would you share a favorite memory of reading with your mother?

HAMILTON: As a child, I was encouraged to do the reading and read out loud to my parents or any unsuspecting guest that might have arrived. I was also beckoned to listen to children’s radio programs and to try to describe how the characters might look. Part of my annual birthday party festivities involved my friends and me creating characters and making up plays. She was our best audience and we ALWAYS received a good critique.

The sound of the Underwood typewriter was an everyday occurrence. I couldn’t wait to learn how to type as she would laugh and entertain herself with her creative sense of comedic writing. Her letters to everyone were always filled with embellishments of life in the country and are discussed to this day by recipients.

Our Victrola record player twirled as many children’s records as adult ones. Uncle Remus, The Whale That Wanted To Sing At the Metand others would be played at least once a week. We would read together the entire information on the record jackets about who was performing, the story behind the performance, the year of the recording and the like. I remember this time fondly as it gave me interest in the story as well as the theatrical aspect.

FQ: Five Funny Tummy Men is a unique book. Do you know how your mother came up with the idea?

HAMILTON: I really don’t know how it was conceived. My parents and friends would play tennis and spend time together afterwards. The original illustrator, Clyde Seymour was one of these friends. He and his wife were local educators and he was always ‘doodleing’ images of funny characters that they would recreate in the classroom. He came up with the original Tummy Men visuals and I would suspect this was the ‘moment’ the story was born. The visuals have been updated by Jason Fowler, an art teacher from Georgia.

Of course, eating habits are crucial to good health as is exercise. So the lessons learned in this book certainly give the reader the connection between the two. This is a creative way for a mother or caregiver to get the lesson across to a child.

FQ: When did she write the story? How long had you been hoping to publish it and what was the impetus for getting it published now?

HAMILTON: Jean Reed wrote the story in the 1940’s in collaboration with Clyde Seymour, the original illustrator. She attempted to publish the story numerous times going through the usual routine of submitting the double spaced typed story to the big publishing companies. Then the wait at the mailbox for weeks with a hopeful attitude was the norm.

The conservative responses were repetitious. “Children don’t need ‘fluff’ when reading about digestion. They need facts.” Really? Along came Dr. Seuss and the culture for appropriate children’s reading was changed. However, Jean’s writing interests had moved to other venues by then and the Tummy Men was in the file cabinet.

Following her death, I found the story and vowed to get the story published. I brought it home and it continued to sit in my file cabinet until the Covid-19 pandemic brought normal life to a halt. I discovered the Peppertree Publishing group right here in Sarasota, Fl. Being a music teacher and dealing with the audio world, the visual world loomed as a challenge, but not to fret as Peppertree came to the ‘comfort rescue.’ The story was published, first in the Caucasian edition, then the Black/Brown version and there will be an upcoming Spanish edition. The Tummy Men are versatile!!!

FQ: Are there other stories of your mother’s that you plan to publish?

HAMILTON: Jean kept most copies of her past and present writings which I found following her death. I was requested to send it all (years 1977-2004) to the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State University. I did so and they are in the “Special Collections” section for students majoring in theatre and creative writing. The collection can be used as a writing guide and for others to view and/or study as if they were officially published. This posthumous effort was an accomplishment for her that I was honored to do.

FQ: Your mother was also a theatre critic. Were you able to share her love of the theatre and attend any productions with her?

HAMILTON: My mother moved to Sarasota to be near me following my father’s death and it was an interesting ‘adult time’ between us. As a theatre/arts critic, she usually was sent two tickets to attend an event and I was her first choice to join in the adventure. As a music teacher with the Sarasota County School Board, it was absolutely wonderful for me to witness the productions while sharing time with my mother. My salary was not one that afforded me the continuous luxury of going to an event, sometimes two times a week. I learned and applied techniques and contacts that I made in my own music classroom. Suddenly I could bring in a guest artist to help with a lesson or borrow a costume from a local theatre for an in-school production. She never missed one of those productions either and would always give us a critique for the students to ingest.

She invited me to attend National Theatre Critic Association conventions with her and I was privileged to attend two, one in Oregon and one in Philadelphia. I remember one of the activities for the critics in Philadelphia was to go up Rocky’s steps where at the top was a bright marquee welcoming the critics to town. The presentations at these meetings were stimulating and motivational. She remained current with writing styles, public interest and the Associated Press Stylebook And Libel Manual, a must for professional journalists.

When celebrities came to town, she would interview them prior to their performances. She took her small tape recorder with her so as to not miss a comment. I missed most of those events as it would be during the week when I was teaching. She found questions that were of interest to the interviewees and usually the two or three of them would have some good laughs!

I realized how tough the writing gig can be when realizing she was writing two or more critiques a week and could also be writing a feature article on the building of a new performance center. Sometimes she would ask me to help write a story and HOURS later, I would have the first sentence written. Like Tom Hanks, she used a manual typewriter until the last five years of her life when I convinced her an electric one would be easier. She missed the sound of the keys striking.

FQ: Your mother wrote a popular book, Resumes That Get Jobs, which is, of course, for the adult market. Five Funny Tummy Men is quite a jump in genres from that – was writing for children a hidden passion for her?

HAMILTON: I don’t think it was a ‘hidden’ passion. She enjoyed kids and grew up in a household as one of the older of seven children. She helped take care of the younger ones and understood the mind of a child.

Jean’s mother was a church organist until her late 80’s so Jean possessed a musical talent that she passed along to me. When I was a child, she would make up songs while we were washing dishes or taking a walk. I think she was verbally and visually creative for all ages!

To learn more about Five Funny Tummy Men, please visit the publisher's website at: www.peppertreepublishing.com

Thursday, October 8, 2020

#BookReview - Rats in a Maze

Rats in a Maze

By: Peter Bailey
Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing
Publication Date: September 2020
ASIN: B08JMC8VHJ
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: October 2020

A traffic accident morphs into everything bizarre in Peter Bailey’s newest novel, Rats in a Maze.

NYPD Detective Ray Fisher and Brad Lahoti, his rookie partner, investigate what Fisher believes to be just another traffic accident. But the odd collection of items, including explosives, that they find turn the case in another direction. Before they realize what’s happening, the detectives find themselves amid a wild goose chase in their pursuit to crack the case—nabbing Jessica and Milo Sorenson, an immensely wealthy couple. In the process, the duo fall victim to what Ray believes is mind control. To test his theory, he recruits two agents to see if the same thing happens to them.

The plan goes awry, and Ray and Brad end up suspended from their jobs for a month. Ray and Brad, now weaponless and marked men, go into hiding, running from one place to the next once they realize they are being followed. Just when they think they’re safe, all hell breaks loose. Oddly, coming to Ray’s rescue is Jessica Sorenson. Jessica divulges an unusual tale to explain her fugitive stance. The problem is that Jessica is not the only one on the run since agencies consider Ray to be a murderer and are on the lookout for him. While Ray is clueless as to what to do next, Jessica has a plan. What unfolds is nothing but bizarre.

British author Peter Bailey pens an eccentric story in his third book, the first with Moonshine Publishing. Ray Fisher and Brad Lahoti fit the stereotypical descriptions of an offbeat pair, continually struggling to work as a team. While principal character Ray reflects a hardened, old-school, noir detective, Brad’s supporting role follows in the opposite direction; he’s gay and highly tech-savvy. What binds them together are their dysfunctional backgrounds—Ray’s crumbled marriage and Brad’s estrangement from his family.

Bailey keeps his chapters short and entertaining, filling pages with detailed background descriptions and imagery heavily laced with hilarious metaphors, hyperboles, and similes. Amid a small stereotypical cast, Bailey incorporates scenes that befit TV police program plots—at least initially. But just when you think you can see where the story heads, Bailey shifts things around to the point that there’s absolutely no second-guessing.

Any hope for anticipation gets thrown out toward the latter half of the plot when Ray's life morphs into the unexpected and the story turns into all things dystopian with a downright Twilight Zone feel to it; the story, shifting from mystery to thriller/horror. How it fits in the broader scheme of things is anyone’s guess as Bailey leaves that section open to his readers’ imagination.

Quill says: Riveting from beginning to end, Rats in a Maze is a one-of-a-kind noir read.

For more information on Rats in a Maze, please visit the author's website at: peter-bailey-books.com

 

Monday, October 5, 2020

#AuthorInterview with Motaz H. Matar


Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Motaz H. Matar, author of The Pigeon Whisperer.

FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book.

MATAR: I am Motaz H. Matar. I’m originally a filmmaker, a movie director. I’m a university teacher as well. I’m always curious about discovering new things and exploring new ideas and storylines. I’ve started making short films 10+ years ago and I was always interested in finding different mediums and platforms to tell my stories. Three years ago, I decided to write my first book The 28 Mansions of the Moon, a story of the Sufi-mystic Ibn Arabi. My life has never been the same since then.

FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?

MATAR: I always felt that writing is a place where I could express myself. Since I was young, it was always a place I would run to. It was always a place larger than reality and bigger than the mundane and bigger than life. Writing has always been the go-to place. It was always: the place.

FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.

MATAR: My book is about a Syrian refugee and a pigeon breeder, Dabbour, who flees the war in his hometown to try to find a new home for himself in Germany, but things don’t go as he expects. One day in a Berlin train station, Dabbour sees a wayward, injured pigeon on the railway tracks; without thinking he jumps to save it, causing chaos and almost getting himself killed. For this, he is arrested by the police - and he realizes how much he misses home and his birds. Dabbour uses his talents as a "pigeon whisperer" to steal stray pigeons and train them to transport drugs. Dabbour sinks further and further into the world of crime and drug-smuggling, jeopardizing his residency status in Germany. Dabbour is forced to choose between his loyalty to his new "family" - the drug ring - and doing the right thing. 

FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?

MATAR: I was in Germany at that time where I was doing my MA in Serial storytelling. I was waiting for the train to come, looking at the pigeons and I asked my wife: “Do you know that pigeon whisperers are treated like outcasts in their own countries? That their testimony in court is not accepted?” Then I started making the connection between a refugee and a pigeon whisperer. I found them to be the same in many ways: outcasts, underdogs and introverts. I felt the significance of this story not only on a universal level but also on a personal level where I felt in so many ways I was talking about myself: living the experience of losing home and traveling the world looking for a meaning of home somewhere out there.

FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ...?

MATAR: I always love to create a pattern and a routine where I sit and write everyday but sometimes life comes in the way and I can’t lock dedicated hours for writing. Writing is an excruciating mental process. It’s heavy. Intense but it’s an organic process. If I sit one day to write for two minutes, then I would consider that a win. If I sit and write two pages or 10, I take that as a win too. I think a lot of writers fail to commit to writing because they set bigger goals for themselves. They aim high and when they can’t meet those goals they become too harsh on themselves and their writing as well, they become critical.

FQ: What was the hardest part of writing your book? That first chapter, the last paragraph, or ...?

MATAR: The hardest part of writing this book was about finding authenticity. I wanted to tell a story that is authentic and realistic. I wanted to tell the details right. To show the life of refugees in Germany, to tap into my memory and into my visual library, to tell the truth as I am seeing it. The hardest part is always about telling the truth or at least some part of it. 

FQ: The genre of your book is General Fiction. Why this genre? Is it your favorite to read? Did you think it would be the most challenging?

MATAR: I always aim to focus on the story and the characters allowing the characters to discover their own journeys and find their own way.

FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?

MATAR: The Pigeon Whisperer is my third self-published book. I wrote a story about the Sufi mystic mystic Ibn Arabi called The 28 Mansions of the Moon where I talked about spirituality and romance and mysticism. My second book was called Tunnel Twelve a story set between Berlin and Palestine that talks about walls, wars, and human connections. What will my next book be about? What genre? I think I’ll let the story decide that.

FQ: Is there a genre you have not yet delved into that you would like to attempt in the future?

MATAR: I would like to blend stories and delve into mixes of genres. Maybe magical surrealism? Magical mysticism? Are these genres? I’m not sure to be honest.

FQ: Who are your favorite authors and why?

MATAR: I read a lot. I love reading. Reading changed my life and it still does every single day. I read all kinds of books. I read fiction and non-fiction. I read for Hemingway, for Elif-Shafak and for Khalil Gibran. I read poetry and articles and literature. I think I prefer to pick my favorite topics based on the story or the content not just based on the author. Any author who succeeds to move me emotionally and tell me a good story: then he or she is my favorite author. 

FQ: Which do you find easier, starting a story, or writing the conclusion?

MATAR: It’s always harder to start the story because you are attempting to set the tone and trying to find your own voice and the voice of the characters. The conclusion is easier to find once I figured out the heart of the story. The middle of the story is always the hardest to write because it’s where all the twists and turns happen and the action takes place.

FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?

MATAR: I would like to have dinner with the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. He inspired me a lot with his words. He also saved my life. At a time when I was young and saw little hope, Nizar’s writings gave me the spark to carry on, finding my own voice and believing in myself to have the courage to write. 

FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?

MATAR: My all-time favorite book is The Baron in the Trees by Italo calvino. It’s a wonderful book about living in your own terms and challenging the status quo. It’s a story about challenging the norms and believing in the life that you choose for yourself. We live in a world where we care so much about what people tell us and how we should live our lives and how we shouldn’t. This book tells you to choose your own path.

FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved?

MATAR: When I started writing more and believed in my own voice. I felt that I always get the most out of my writing is when I don’t do it for a bigger purpose. When I don’t write to succeed, or to get published or to please anyone or to make money. I think the only way I have evolved as writer is when I continued to write, just for the sake of writing and the joy of it.

FQ: How do you approach a new story and when you set pen to paper, is there a specific process you follow (or do you just write and let your story take the lead to where it must go)?

MATAR: A lot of the stories I write are pre-planned. I create full outlines that show me the direction of where the story is going. I know where the story is going to start and how it’s going to end. I always learned to trust that the characters in the story will lead the way.

FQ: If you were to teach a class on the art of writing, what is the one item you would be sure to share with your students and how would you inspire them to get started?

MATAR: I always tell my students to trust in their own voice and not to be afraid of failure. I always tell them to keep moving forward and to explore their creative outlets. Creativity doesn’t just come. You have to ask for it. Creativity is about movement and action: you have to go for it.

FQ: Where did the idea for your story come from?

MATAR: It came from a visual image I had kept with me since childhood, the image of the birds flying at sunset over the rooftops of the old-roman buildings. Years later when I was standing at the edge of the train’s platform in Germany, I could recall that image so clearly and a poem I wrote then about the relationship between cities and love called “she-city”. I was looking at that exact scene and I remembered my life’s story and the reason I had started to seek a new life in the west where freedoms are vast, dissent and diversity is encouraged. 

FQ: Did your family & friends encourage you to write your book?

MATAR: I was always lucky to have support groups of family and friends whom I would always read for what I have written whether that was poetry or prose. Having a support group is crucial for a writer’s life. You don’t need a critic or someone who would destroy your faith in yourself when you write something. That’s the last thing we need as writers, especially if you are getting started. There are enough “energy vampires” in the world. 

FQ: Did the story change as you wrote the book?

MATAR: I started developing The Pigeon Whisperer in Germany as a TV show. It was my master’s thesis project in MA in Serial storytelling. I had a plan and a direction for where the story was going when I started writing it as a novel. A lot of the elements remained the same such as the character’s and the plot. The ending changed or I should say it was discovered as I was writing the novel because I wasn’t clear about where the main character was heading to in his journey.

FQ: Was the plot worked out completely before you started or did it evolve as you wrote?

MATAR: I had a full outline for the story before I started writing the novel. I had the first episode written as a screenplay which became the first two chapters of the book. I should stay that the story evolved so much when I started writing it as a novel, it became a different animal but at its core remained the same.

FQ: Tell us about the protagonist in your story.

MATAR: Dabbour is a Syrian refugee, an introvert, and a pigeon lover and breeder. He was forced to leave his home country to flee the war and the dangers that his birds faced. He is a pigeon fancier and a lover of life. Throughout the story he learns to appreciate the meaning of good human relationships and to open up to the world while still loving his birds.

FQ: Are any of the characters based on real people you know? If so, how closely does your character mimic the real person?

MATAR: Most of the character’s were somehow people I had come across in my real life like Mr. Saleh whom I had met as an owner of Syrian Pizzeria in Berlin one day while visiting Germany. 

FQ: If a character(s) is based on a real person, what made you decide to do that? Did you tell that person he/she is a character in your story and if so, what was their reaction?

MATAR: When I met the Pizzeria owner. We talked about the Arab world and the western world and life. When I started writing the story, I thought of him as Mr. Saleh. That’s the first thing that came to my mind. Life prepares us to write the character’s in our stories. A writer must to keep an open eye to details.

FQ: The “bad guy/gal” in your book - was he/she fun to create and how difficult was it to write those scenes where he/she plays a central role?

MATAR: I think bad characters are always fun to write in stories, not from a moral perspective for sure, but it’s always interesting to approach the other point of view. It’s like you are having a debate with yourself or having a conversation with your inner-conscious about what is right or wrong, good or bad. 

FQ: Tell us about your favorite character and why that person is your favorite.

MATAR: My favorite is Mr. Saleh. He represents the guide and the moral figure. He’s the father and the voice in our heads that leads us to the right path – yet we always find a way to neglect that voice.

FQ: Tell us about the fans favorite character. Were you surprised at the response to this character? Why do you think readers respond to this character?

MATAR: I think readers can identify with Mr. Saleh because we’ve all had mentors in our lives and people who taught us things. Teachers who react in ways we don’t understand at first, and later on in life we have an experience and it hits us – we recall a lesson that our teacher or mentor or father or mother taught us, then everything starts to make sense.

FQ: What was the most difficult scene to write and why?

MATAR: The most difficult scene was a scene when one of the character’s dies in the story. I will not spoil the story for the readers. Writing that scene brought me to tears.

FQ: Was it important to you to have a plot that would keep readers guessing about the outcome?

MATAR: It was important to keep the audience guessing if the main character will find home again or not. If he will go back home or find a way to belong in a foreign land.

FQ: How did you approach the need to keep readers engaged and tuned in to keep turning those pages?

MATAR: I always try to write events that keep the story moving forward. Probably that’s why my books are short (30,000 -40,000 words). I imagine that if I enjoy writing the story then my readers would enjoy reading an action-packed story as well where the events move forward.

To learn more about The Pigeon Whisperer, please visit the author's website at: www.motazhmatar.com