Saturday, January 29, 2022

#Author Interview with Karina Pacific, author of Choosing Magic

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Karina Pacific, author of Choosing Magic.
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
PACIFIC: Hi! Choosing Magic is about "a fatherless girl, with a broken heart who changed her story." It is about a girl that, against painful odds, stayed curious, aware, and always believed in the good, bigger, and magical possibilities in everyone. It is about changing your life and breaking childhood cycles. It is about turning pain, sorrow, and loneliness into lessons and possibilities.
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
PACIFIC: I changed my story and broke the cycle by reading and listening about other people's lives and being guided by the wisdom angels and heroes offered me here on earth. Life can be challenging from time to time, so I wanted to chronicle my journey to root for myself and remember how I overcame adversity, such as being parentless, sexually abused, and unsupported as a child. I wanted to list the little things, the tools I used to help me, and hopefully help others in the future.
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 ?
PACIFIC: I had a fantastic writing mentor. Stella Sue Lee, PhD. She was an angel throughout the process. This is also the first book I have finished, and a year after I finished it, I realized I had written the entire book in bed. Writing a memoir is a very vulnerable act, and I think my bed allowed me to surrender myself to the story comfortably.
FQ: What was the hardest part of writing your book? That first chapter, the last paragraph, or ?
PACIFIC: Just starting. Just doing it. I was complicating the idea thinking about all the pages. A good, very blunt friend saw me nagging about the idea and said, "Karina, STOP, grab a page and write 1-10 stages in your life, the chapters of your life. And write into each chapter as you remember. After you get enough material, change the title of the chapters, shuffle them, but just start." That was the best advice because it broke down the process and it became more tangible.
FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?
PACIFIC: Yes, I want to write a children's book—three of them, as an extension of Choosing Magic. Capturing the energy, heart, and magic of a children's book is something I've always envisioned. Choosing Magic is filled with magical curiosity, a glass half full spirit and always choosing greater through three life stages in my life. In the children’s book, I can already see her moving through hardships with obnoxious positivity and gratitude, with angels and heroes on earth on each page.
FQ: Is there a genre you have not yet delved into that you would like to attempt in the future?
Author Karina Pacific
Author Karina Pacific

PACIFIC: Fiction, it seems so hard. But we can do hard things.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
PACIFIC: Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker influenced my life immensely. If they could rise and write within their own limitations, we can do anything. A Woman's Worth by Marianne Williamson. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Dr Northrup inspired me to look at my health and wellness in a more holistic inside-and-out approach I practice to this day. A Man Called Ove — I cried, what a beautiful story. All Brene Brown! A yearly read — The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. So many more!
FQ: What makes your book unique? Why should readers pick up your book over others?
PACIFIC: I'd love readers to read everything, lol, but who has all that time! Choosing Magic is a simple story about how a girl rose above pain, loneliness, abuse. It's about the journey that gave her hope in herself and others. It is about curiosity, action, sarcasm, wisdom, and obnoxious positivity. It's about how we are connected and can help each other rise with our stories! About choosing to change the past and not be defined by it.
To learn more about Choosing Magic, please visit the book's website at:

Friday, January 28, 2022

#AuthorInterview with Gideon Halpin, author of Flowers That Die

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Gideon Halpin, author of Flowers That Die.
FQ: Do you personally identify with “Sad Boy”?
HALPIN: No. I see the poems like stars in the sky and Sad Boy is the set of lines to connect them. Everybody witnesses the constellations and everybody has been Sad Boy at one time or another.
FQ: What advice would you give to someone preparing to read your work with no previous knowledge of your poetic philosophy?
HALPIN: I wouldn't give advice. It's something to be felt rather than explained.
FQ: Do you have plans for more poetry, or will you turn to prose for your next creation?
HALPIN: I think I'm done with poetry for a while. I open a notebook and just don't feel like writing anything at all. To me, that's okay. I feel like I found a voice and used it and now it's time to find something else. I might write a novel at some point, though. I've had some crazy adventures to draw from.
FQ: In your poems, Sad Boy seems to be navigating intuitively based on happenings around him – is that the way any of your poetic works developed?
HALPIN: All of the poems represent an imprint of a certain mood. If the feeling came through then I kept them, but there's a lot of writing that never left the notebook.
There is a certain underpinning of a narrative, though. Sad Boy looking for love and beauty and experiencing the throes of passion, at some point settling down and becoming a man from an outside perspective but still feeling lost, and then at the end, there's a kid in the picture. He became a father. When I wrote the collection, the character of Sad Boy wasn't really a theme. I just laid out all these printed-out poems on the floor to fit into a storyline.
FQ: What writer/poet influenced you most in the creation of this series?
HALPIN: Federico Garcia Lorca, a late Spanish poet. I like about 1 in every 10 of his works, but the ones I love have so much emotion coming from simple word construction. He can tell a ballad, but also use a few pen strokes and give you the feeling like you just lived a whole lifetime.
FQ: Considering that your author bio speaks of desperation and depression leading to versifying, how long did it take to write this work?
Author Gideon Halpin

HALPIN: It took my whole life. Everything stacked on top of each other from poets my dad read to me, to rap, to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and a host of others, beautiful artwork that I'd seen, cinematography, Cormac McCarthy's books, Kanye West's Runaway film - I watched that just about every night on an iPod Nano for several months when I was 15. I had imagery and feeling from anything well-crafted and I started writing when I was 18 because one of my closest cousins had been rapping and making his own music and somehow that made it seem accessible to me. I think I found a style I liked in 2019, and most of the poems are from then to mid-2021.
FQ: What travel adventures did you call forth in writing pieces specifically focused on natural surroundings?
HALPIN: I wrote a lot when I lived in Morocco. I would wake up in a little hut in a beautiful garden and hear the ocean and the birds outside. My neighbor would usually burn dried rosemary in the morning and the smoke would waft inward. There was also a beautiful terrace that overlooked the ocean and donkeys were turned loose across the expanse. There was plenty of time for dream analysis and inner visions.
FQ: Should the ending of this volume and indeed its title be seen as a way for you, the composer, to let go of the characters and the over-arching themes?
HALPIN: The final poem, Crumpled Napkin, does serve that purpose. It's the last one I wrote, too. A few months prior, I had written the poem called Walk and it felt like the burden of writing was about to be lifted from me and I'm glad for it. I think Sad Boy can be seen as a character who sought the definition for who he was, but came to the understanding that we exist beyond the bounds of our self-image and self-knowing.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

#BookReview - Sector 10: A Prequel

Sector 10: A Prequel

By: N. Matthias Moore
Published by: Mill City Press, Inc.
Publication Date: November 1, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-6628-3054-9
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Date: January 27, 2022
I think all sci-fi fans will agree, when a book “opens” on an intelligent reptilian commander directing a starship resting on the base of a Martian mountaintop, that you have a truly impressive tale on your hands.
First came Mr. Moore’s incredible debut novel, Cloud 9. It was more than impressive, as he hit upon realistic topics, such as advances in Artificial Intelligence, virtual reality, global surveillance, iCloud and more. He also created colorful locations that drew readers into his otherworldly adventure from the very first chapter. Well…here we are again, folks. Mr. Moore has, from chapter one, created a prequel of all things to the Cloud 9 magic that offers every reader a chance at a backstory; an unforgettable chance to see how, exactly, certain things occurred before the debut came to pass.
This author’s innate ability to establish “odd” races but also make them extremely credible is presented perfectly in this sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, adventure – you name it, the guy nailed it – story. My personal favorite has to be the Grey Order when it comes to these races, simply because they are a powerful group of shapeshifters who have survived in an alternate reality since WWII ended. (They’re guards who actually orbit between the Moon and Earth. I mean…how cool is that?) I guarantee all readers that you have not read anything so riveting since you stepped upon the planet of Tatooine and met up with a boy named Luke Skywalker who was purchasing a couple of droids for the family farm.
After Cloud 9 took readers on an adventure of mammoth proportions through the lens of a virtual reality game, along comes this amazing prequel that will knock you out. We begin at the very beginning of the year 2086. Delphi Corp. is one of those companies you’d associate with Microsoft when it comes to size and scope. They are a huge technology corporation that is head-and-shoulders above the rest. As is usual with technology, however, Delphi Corp. experiences an error in their supercomputer software; they wind up stumbling, by mistake, into a reality where an ancient war is playing out between two species referred to as the Yhemlens (AKA: reptilians) and the Greys. Trouble is coming to the man who owns it all, Ellis Bartram. He is Delphi Corp.’s CEO, and by the time he realizes what the heck has happened, people all over have met their demise. And he has no way to solve or explain this tragedy.
You now have an alternate reality where species are battling each other to take over the planet, the economy is falling to shreds, and the power of radioactivity has brought about death and destruction to members of the human race. Scientists in D.C. dive into a project head-first where they intend to fix the problems that arose at the hands of Delphi Corp. when they released this horrific epidemic on the world. The knowledgeable scientific community begins working on the problem only to find themselves stumped when they discover an alternate timeline does actually exist and this “era” set on prehistoric Earth is operating in tandem with the present. And once human beings cross over into this alternate location, they are forced to find a solution to an age-old mystery; if they cannot, their world is automatically demolished.
Parallel universes, characters you get to “meet and greet” here and then go back and pick up the debut novel, Cloud 9, in order to see how the adventure continued, creatures you’ve never even thought of before coming alive on the page—the author has offered up a fantastic prequel that helps to view his first book in totally new ways. Whether you’re talking about the time when dinosaurs roamed Earth, or you’re in love with the year 2086 and all that has to offer, there is something here for absolutely everyone looking for great writing and sheer entertainment. There are few books out there that deserve “big screen” acknowledgement, but this is most definitely one of them.
Quill says: Perfect character development, new eras, new scenery, unforgettable scenes and dialogue...Mr. Moore has made sure to bring every aspect of his creative imagination to life!
For more information on Sector 10: A Prequel, please visit the author's Facebook page at

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

#FeatheredQuillBookAwards #ReviewersChoice

The first #bookawards announced in the #featheredquillbookawards - Reviewer's Choice - Each FQ #reviewer selects their favorite book from all the books they read/reviewed in the last year. All winners will be posted to our award page next week. But here's a sneak peek...

Visit Feathered Quill Book Reviews to learn more about these books, including reading the reviews and following the links to their Amazon pages.

#BookReview - The Demographics-Fate Hypothesis

The Demogra-Fate Hypothesis: Is Demographic Aging, as seen on Earth, the Natural Death of all Intelligent Species in the Universe?

By: Nguyen Ba Thanh
Publication Date: October 2021
ISBN: 979-8531458612
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: January 24, 2022
We humans pride ourselves on our mental and physical improvements, comparing our modern, convenient life favorably to what came before. But will these advances be enough to keep humanity from extinction, considering that disappearance of species, even stars and galaxies, seems to be the logical order of our universe? These are questions that author Nguyen Ba Thanh explores in his lively look at our basic assumptions and their inherent flaws in his new book The Demogra-Fate Hypothesis.
The irony Thanh deftly postulates is that humanity is working diligently to seal its own doomsday fate. Modern trends include producing fewer young and keeping old people alive longer, along with constant improvement of technologies to sustain and essentially spoil us. We are moving - and not all that slowly - toward a time when most people will be old, and there will no longer be younger ones to work to keep them safe and sound. Citing a plethora of statistical data, observer Thanh demonstrates that developing countries have a decreasing birthrate: in the 100 most developed countries, “birth rates have fallen below 2.1 babies per female” – while the median age has risen to 60. An example is Japan, the third largest global economy, where population trends indicate that in a hundred years, it will lose half its current population and the median age will reach an unprecedented 62. We strive to make things easier for old people - who used to be cared for by their multiple children - to stay alive through machinery and computerization, while failing to produce the young minds needed to invent, monitor, and pay for these technological blessings. And that being the case, why would ETs want to visit here? And why would we, so cozy in our increasingly convenience-filled habits, want to go to other planets? Thanh envisions a planet filled with a few oldsters whose demise will spell the end of our species.
Thanh, a highly intelligent trend analyst who has peppered this short but stimulating treatise with hilarious cartoons and some hearty small talk, leaves the reader with some open questions to ponder. Rather like a Zen master, he creates room for contemplation: Will humans last forever? If not, why not? And if they fade like so many world wanderers before them, is that such a bad thing?
The author presents the impression that he finds our demise unpreventable given the lessons of planetary history, while leaving us to consider whether, as with plagues, wars, climate change and other phenomena that we have dealt with and continue to battle, we can prevent the loss of us.
Quill says: Thanh’s well-considered thesis will doubtless have readers wishing for more rich material from this unique thinker.
For more information on The Demogra-Fate Hypothesis: Is Demographic Aging, as seen on Earth, the Natural Death of all Intelligent Species in the Universe?, please visit the book's website:

Friday, January 21, 2022

#BookReview - The Saint Next Door

The Saint Next Door
By: Dan Jason
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 2021
ISBN: 978-1639880959
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
Review Date: January 20, 2022
The Saint Next Door by Dan Jason is geared toward followers of Jesus Christ who are interested in Sainthood. The book is split into twenty chapters. At the end of each chapter, the author offers challenges for readers to undertake that will allow them to grow deeper in their relationship with God. The book provides a great deal of Jason's insight into the steps required for individuals to achieve Sainthood. The author also reiterates throughout the book how life on Earth is preparation for spending eternity with God in Heaven, the benefits of always being tuned into God, and the responsibility to others as an ambassador of Christ.
The author talks about a number of influential and well-known saints. He points out how saints are ordinary people who face challenges in their journeys of serving the Lord. The saints spoken of in the book include Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the reason she has been given a unique position among the saints. The book focuses on the accessibility of Sainthood, and how all individuals who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are called to be saints. The author explains why the journey toward Sainthood is not easy and does not happen overnight, but how it is an achievable mission for anyone willing to soldier on in tough times.
In the book, Jason emphasizes issues that he deems vital for those individuals navigating the road to Sainthood. He talks about the significance of communicating with God on a regular basis, reaching out to individuals in need regardless of their status in life, supporting and encouraging fellow believers, and showing unconditional love to others. The author also calls attention to his belief that anyone who wants to cultivate a deeper relationship with God needs to allow Jesus Christ to take the helm in their lives and lean on him for weathering the storms that crop up in life.
Every topic covered in The Saint Next Door is supported by the author's personal experiences and anecdotes of individuals who rely on God. Excerpts and verses from the Bible beautifully tie into the text. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote. The book includes a foreword and introduction written by Bishop Scharfenberger. At the end is a closing prayer, a list of references, and a personal narrative written by the author.
The Saint Next Door is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to learn about how to live a saintly life on Earth and gain a saint's reward in Heaven.
Quill says: A thoughtful and inspirational book about the process individuals must go through to become a saint.
For more information on The Saint Next Door, please visit the website:

#AuthorInterview with Iain Stewart, author of Knights of the Air, Book 1: Rage!

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with Iain Stewart, author of Knights of the Air, Book 1: Rage!
FQ: Have you traveled to or maintained any ties to East Africa; if so, has that affected this work?
STEWART: I have visited from time to time, but I don’t think those visits affected this book. The Africa I knew as a child was very different to the Africa of today, and in turn my Africa was even more different from that in 1914. But one thing is consistent—the rugged independence, and somewhat emotionally repressed characters [certainly compared to modern America.] It was a hard land and the old timers I knew in Kenya had a whiff of the Old Testament prophets about them. So, I don’t think recent visits contributed, but my upbringing there definitely did. It was, and is, a rugged and beautiful land with tough characters.
FQ: How much of Lance Fitch is really Iain Stewart?
STEWART: Very little. He is much tougher than me. I grew up surrounded by firearms and hunting but although I loved shooting at targets, I hated killing game. I did my hunting with cameras. I played rugby and adored the physicality so thought I was tough. But when I went on a British Army Camp, I realized I was out of my league when a soldier dropped a light artillery gun carriage on his finger and had a nail half ripped off, but casually ripped the rest of it off with his teeth and carried on wading through mud while holding onto more than a hundred pounds of slippery gun barrel. I would have been calling for the nearest nurse. I am not sure many people appreciate how seriously tough warriors are compared to us mortals. They are a breed apart.
But in one aspect Lance was like me, when I was a teenager and saw the world in simple black and white. It took me many years to learn nuance and empathy, and to feel comfortable that life is often shades of grey. That is very much the character arc Lance will go through over the four books.
One character role model I used for Lance was Denys Finch Hatton, a well-known name in Kenya. Finch Hatton is today best known for being Karen Blixen's lover in her autobiographical book and movie, Out of Africa. In the movie, he is played by Robert Redford. Blixen, whose portrait of him is regarded in Kenya as overly sentimental, but he is an admirable type not uncommon among frontier settlers; literary, thoughtful, idealistic and fiercely independent. For this reason, I named my hero Fitch, close but not identical to Finch.
As an aside Finch Hatton was a hobbyist pilot, who crashed and killed himself in 1931. He was a notoriously bad pilot unlike my hero. As another aside, he was also the lover of Beryl Markham, who he invited to join him on the fateful flight. She declined, and became one of the great pilots, making the first solo flight across the Atlantic from UK to America [much longer than the other way]. She was another example of the interesting people who littered Kenya, and she wrote what I consider one of the very best books about Africa and flying, the lyrical West with the Night. Hemingway said that it was a "bloody wonderful book."
The other clues to Lance's character come from the Arthurian Lancelot, the warrior knight who aspires to ideals and berates himself constantly when he inevitably falls short. Just like Lance.
The idea of a white hunter having the ideal background for a fighter pilot [called scout pilots in those days, but I use fighter pilot in the book to make it clearer for the modern reader], is based on two things. Firstly, Manfred Richthofen was obsessed with hunting long before he became an ace, and the hunting mindset served him well. He was only hunting non dangerous game, so potentially lethal African wildlife demanded a much keener study if you wanted to live. Secondly, John Buchan [of The Thirty-Nine Steps fame], has a minor character, Pieter Pienaar, who was an accomplished hunter and becomes an ace. He is only mentioned in passing in several books, but the idea took root.
FQ: Have you ever experienced the kind or degree of PTSD that Fitch goes through?
STEWART: Never, thank goodness.
Researching this area was difficult, in that during WW1 it was not understood at all; indeed it was thought cowardly to discuss or admit such things. If you even mentioned you suffered from nerves, people would look askance at you. Most of the WW1 flying autobiographies talk about things as a great game, although the more honest ones admit the strains later in the war.
I think today we understand that PTSD can come about from many sources. One is the repeated concussive effects of high explosion on the brain, which Lance suffers from his time in the infantry while under artillery fire. In WW1 that was called shellshock and was fairly common, if misunderstood. A second source is repeated exposure to hideous sights, sometimes caused by one's own deeds. I found good material on these stresses in two main areas.
The first was Heart of a Soldier by James B Stewart, a biography of Rick Rescorla. Rick was a Brit who fought in Vietnam in the American army. He loved fighting and was such a warrior that his men called him "Hard core." Lieutenant Hal Moore, the famed commander of the 7th Calvary Regiment during the Battle of La Drang, and author of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, said Rick was the best platoon commander he ever saw. But later in life, Rick suffered heavily from nightmares and flashbacks of events that had not seemed to affect him at the time. It didn’t stop him being a hero. On Sept 11 he was head of security for Morgan Stanley in the South Tower. When the planes hit, he got out all his 2700 people. Worried by the thought that there might still be stragglers in the building, he went back in minutes before the Tower collapsed...and never emerged.
The second source was from medical research on the traumas suffered by aircraft crash rescuers. Such men saw often the human body torn apart in the most brutal fashion, literally dripping guts and eyeballs on trees, and later they would find themselves reliving the hideous sights like a film on a loop. In their breakdown descriptions, they emphasized they did not just see the events, they viscerally relived them.
I used these reports to describe the effects of shellfire on the human body, as well as the mental effects. Another source on shellfire horrors was Erich Maria Remarque's remarkable book, All Quiet on the Western Front, probably the most heralded book about the realities of an infantry soldier in WW1.
Some readers have found the graphic descriptions uncomfortable. It is meant to be. I did not want the books to glorify war. I want to honour the human spirit and the acts of friendship, sacrifice and nobility that occur in war, but not war itself. Also, I needed gruesome stuff to explain how even the strongest of warriors can break down from such events, especially if repeated constantly.
FQ: Does positing and writing about an oppressive regime such as Nazi Germany and the ways it might be overthrown give you a sense of hope for current international relations?
STEWART: I do think having a sense of history helps put things in perspective. It seems to me the world heads in broadly the right direction over a prolonged period, albeit there are three steps forward and two steps back.
I was writing about WW1 and Junkerism rather than Nazis but there was a similar brutality in their approaches to realpolitik. Two things show that beyond doubt. The fact that Kaiser Wilhelm and Hitler both restored and praised the disgraced 'Hangman' Peters for his brutal killings of Africans, as described in my postscript for RAGE! In later books in my series, you will come across a real-life character called Herman Goering, who commanded JG Richthofen in 1918, and later became de facto No2 to Adolf Hitler in WW2. Goering's father was Imperial Commissioner of Germany's Southwest Africa colony in the late 1800s and was implicated in the genocide in that colony.
But Junkerism and Prussian militarism arose for a reason. It was a reaction to history rather than something buried in the German psyche. Before Frederick the Great of Prussia in the middle 1770s, the major European powers of the time, such as France and Austria, routinely marched through Prussia raping and pillaging, as was the practice among armies of the time. Stuck in the middle of the European landmass, as one of many not-so-strong German-speaking states, every army crossing Europe trampled through Prussia, often on their way to somewhere else. Not that the peasantry [the bulk of the population] noticed the distinction.
Frederick and his successors were dedicated to making sure the people of Prussia were better protected. Of course, that required a martial nationalism that culminated, a hundred years later, in a single powerful German state under the Prussian, Otto Bismarck. You can argue that the other European powers sowed what they reaped with Prussia's and Germany's rise under the Junkers. Beware of forcing your will on others, you may inspire a strong counter reaction. Politicians of today on all sides please note.
Yet now Germany is a democratic stalwart. Japan has been through a similar arc.
That is what I mean by perspective. I can't remember who said something along the lines that "evil never wins long term, it just doesn’t go away even when it is defeated." A bit like COVID really!
FQ: Do you have a favorite historical (real-life) character among the ones you depict here?
STEWART: Erwin Bohme, the man who rescued Lance from Kapitan Peters in my book. How many young men would decide to go to darkest Africa [which was still pretty dark around 1908] and walk from Switzerland to Genoa to catch a ship, casually solo climbing the Jungfrau and Matterhorn on the way? Of course, he later became one of Germany's top fliers and one of Manfred Richthofen's closest friends.
He will re-appear in the later books of the series.
FQ: Could you envision a feature-length film made from Knights of War?
STEWART: It's my hope! Sir Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings series, is a WW1 flying devotee and owns a large collection of the aircraft described in my book. He also owns a film studio in New Zealand with the expertise to digitally create the flying scenes. When the book is safely launched, I will try to persuade him...
There is a real paucity of good movies about WW1 flying. Most of them are poor, either because the technology wasn’t good enough to project the realities of war flying or because the planes used were not historically accurate. Digital technology now means the flying scenes can be shown accurately, but it needs a director who doesn’t massacre historical accuracy for a cheap Hollywood plot. By far the best WW1 movie in my opinion is The Blue Max. If you want cinematic realism in your flying scenes, it sits alone.
FQ: What historical materials were especially useful in depicting the position and role of the pilot and gunner in the planes (both German and English) of which you seem to have so much knowledge?
STEWART: WWI flying is brilliantly served in literature and art. The internet is rife with technical details for all the planes. But I wanted to show how it felt to fly and fight in these planes, and so relied more on firsthand experiences.
Take for example, the FE2b in which Lance served with Arthur as his gunner. Fredrick Libby, the American who served in the Royal Flying Corps as a volunteer before America entered the war, was one of the most successful FE2b gunners. In my book he is Rod Andrew's gunner in a Bristol Fighter, a little artistic license by me. Libby wrote a wonderful book of his wartime flying called They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. I relied on him for much of the description of the role of an FE2b gunner.
But that generation were so determined not to appear to be bullshit-artists that they were very matter of fact in their writing. I had to use my imagination a lot to provide more vivid descriptions. I am lucky in that I have flown open cockpit biplanes but for those who have not, try sticking your head and arm out of the car window while doing 100 mph [when you can safely and legally do so!] and imagine what it is like to be standing in that gale, in a plane made of wood and fabric, thousands of feet high, protected from the blast of wind only by a knee high wooden frame and a strip of canvas as your safety harness. It would make your pulse race, I guarantee.
Remember also that our generation is used to flying at high altitudes and high speeds, but back in 1916 very, very few people had ever experienced anything remotely close to 100 mph or being higher than a two-story house. What was it like for them?
Where, for certain aircraft, I could not find a first-hand WWI source, I relied on first-hand accounts of pilots that had flown restored planes or replicas. The most entertaining of these is Flying the Old Planes by Frank Tallman. Apart from being the so-called "King of the stunt pilots" in the 1970s, Frank possibly flew more hours in WW1 planes, both German and Allied, than any other active pilot of his time. He was also gifted with a wonderful turn of phrase, describing one plane as flying "like a nervous hummingbird," and another as being "as pleasurable to fly as sitting in a bathtub full of bees while dressed in a bathing suit."
FQ: What writer(s) most influenced your composition of Lance’s story?
STEWART: In terms of using history and fictional characters and events closely melded together, my main inspirations were George Macdonald Fraser in his Flashman series—the adventures of a Victorian rogue, and Bernard Cornwell in his Sharpe Series, mainly about a rugged, reluctant hero during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s.
Their stories are creatively imagined, their action exciting, their prose true to period and sometimes lyrical, and their history impeccable. Military historical fiction doesn’t get any better in my opinion.
FQ: Would you give our readers a sneak book into book 2 of your series?
STEWART: Here Is an excerpt from Knights of the Air, Book 2: Fire!
Lance could not, would not, allow Pa to die alone.
He thrust open the throttle before he could change his mind. The engine bellowed and the plane rolled forward, reluctant through the weight of the wet grass. A dim figure ran from Arthur's office, arms waving in the signal to cut the engine. Yellow light from the windows glistened off the puddles. Lance ignored the running man. Arthur had never specifically banned flying this morning, just assumed that no-one would be mad enough.
The SE5 accelerated. Buildings blurred beyond the fire of his exhausts. His goggles streaked with water. He pulled them up and squinted as shotgun pellets of rain stung his exposed cheeks.
The poplar trees raced towards him, towering taller with every second. The tailskid lifted. A gentle pullback of the stick to lift off. Nothing. The SE5 roared onwards, refusing to unstick as the sodden grass sucked at the tyres. A puff of the cheeks, a deep breath, and a prayer, and he eased back harder on the stick. The wheels unstuck. Thank you, God!
Lance held her nose down, gathering speed to clear the trees. His belly sucked in as he gauged pace and distance in the gloom. His nerve cracked and he yanked back on the controls. Branches reached for him, thrusting their black claws against the bruised sky. A gust flung him upwards and the plane rocketed over the trees into the wild squalls.
His heart hammered, but the hardest part was still to come.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

#BookReview - Motherhood by Siam Vakili

By: Siamak Vakili
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: February 25, 2022
ISBN: 978-1639881895
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 19, 2022
Siamak Vakili delivers his take on the topic of ‘motherhood’ in his debut novel titled Motherhood.
Dr. Mitra Shahverdi is a young physician living in the southwest city of Shiraz, Iran. On the eve of the new year, she is having a fitful night. She had been tossing and turning and losing the battle with sleep. Fortunately, if sleep would not happen, she had the next seven days as holiday in connection with the new year; plenty of time to catch up on sleep.
Finally, just as Mitra is about to drift off, there is a sudden noise. Whatever fell in her apartment caused a noticeable shake and the notion of sleep was gone for good. Mitra decides to investigate. What she discovers is beyond comprehension as to what she is supposed to do with her discovery.
Mitra was not prepared to find a young boy crouched and cowering naked and in the corner of her bathtub. He was five or six years old and Mitra could not grasp the concept of how he even got into her home; let alone her bathtub. She contacted the authorities, and a lieutenant was dispatched to her home. Mitra’s frustrations began to rise when it was abundantly clear the lieutenant didn’t assume the same sense of urgency as she did. His attitude was she would need to care for the young boy until after Nowruz (The Persian New Year) and perhaps then, a solution would present itself as far as next steps. The one elephant in the room that seemed to persist, but was not getting any attention, however, was Mitra didn’t have children...didn’t want children...and wasn’t sure why the lieutenant simply couldn’t remove this child from her home at once. As time unfolds, it is interesting to experience the emotions and challenges both navigate to arrive at their respective end destinations.
This was an interesting read in that Mr. Vakili sets a tone from the onset of how adamant his character, Dr. Shahverdi, is against the responsibility of motherhood. There is a mysterious and sublime way Mr. Vakili lays the plot to keep his audience engaged from the onset in that one isn’t certain if this is a fantasy or a reality. This is a very quick read, and the author does an admirable job of keeping the mystery alive as to what the outcome will be. One word of caution I would suggest to the author, however, is to be sure to edit thoroughly before delivering the final copy. In fairness, I was given an advance copy to read, but did notice quite a few errors, including on more than a few occasions the author refers to Dr. Shahverdi as ‘he’ versus ‘she.’
Quill says: Motherhood is a great depiction of how things may not be what they seem, and it truly is difficult to escape from who we truly are.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

#AuthorInterview with Gabriel F.W. Koch, author of Paradox Effect

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kimberly Trix Lee is talking with Gabriel F.W. Koch, author of Paradox Effect: Time Travel and Purified DNA Merge to Halt the Collapse of Human Existence.
FQ: Time travel novels are a popular, but difficult, topic to attempt. What drew you to the genre?
KOCH: History is human activity indelibly etched into time. The only way to alter the result would be to travel back in time. It is a rather thrilling idea, tinkering with ancient lives. And the multiple paradox possibilities are both breathtaking and staggering. The smallest change might have the largest effect on the future.
FQ: The story switches from 1954, to 2254 and 2755. How/why did you choose these three times?
KOCH: Post World War II in America was a celebration of an incredible victory and ripe with limitless opportunities. Industries created and recreated by the war thrived and expanded rapidly. For the first time in history advertising, through radio and the newly available TV strode into every life except the most rural areas. Sales of what before the war was unnecessary, skyrocketed.
Then more than ever before human activity began to seriously damage the environment.
People moved around so much after the war, and as a direct result of the war that no one was disturbed by the sudden appearance of new people.
It is actually a fascinating decade. I don’t think any before or since compare. So I anchored the plot there.
As for 2254 and 2755...well first I believe time travel is possible but the science complex and elusive. Because of that I decided we might need centuries before time travel would happen. In 2254 time travel is a well-regulated means of attempting minor alterations of the past to heal the future. Three hundred years later, the effects of what I think of as the human self-destruct gene has driven the numbers of natural born humans to around five thousand.
FQ: At the end of the story, Dannia was given a choice. I know it was intentionally left open but, without any spoilers, what can you tell us regarding what she chose to do in the end?
KOCH: The choices were return to the distant future or live in the past with her new family. The future became a serious unknown due to the paradox. The past challenging, but hopeful.
FQ: Are the Blaylocks genetically engineered humans from an even further timeline beyond 2755?
KOCH: Yes. They were engineered in a special laboratory designed by a woman named Blaylock, no first name. The Blaylock sisters run the time travel program enacted in the twenty-seventh century. There are males, brothers whose assignments are more like messengers to the past. They cannot alter anything.
The sisters have the power and knowledge to manipulate their Gate system even to the point of creating locality Gates to move instantly from place to place in a given time without leaving that time. The do not share this knowledge.
Author Gabriel F.W. Koch
FQ: When the first wave of consequences of Dannia's pregnancy occurred in 2254, we learn that there were thousands of people missing and that new people appeared out of nowhere. Can you explain this?
KOCH: When Dannia’s paradox awakened with the birth of her son consequences unanticipated occurred. New science is not exact so those who sent her back gambled honestly. They believed her mission would succeed, but what they attempted had never been tried before to any degree.
As the paradox slowly traveled up (to the future) the timeline beginning in 1954 collateral damage was worse than predicted in Buckwalder’s time 2254.
The Blaylock sisters, engineered without the emotions that would cause you or me to be aghast, stunned, horrified strove only to save future humanity. Their comp systems predicted it. In a way they gambled too but with a level of foreknowledge only possible for them.
Since nature abhors a vacuum, new children were born from new relationships. When a person disappears the knowledge of their previous existence does too. It may be a tricky balance but I believe it would work that way.
For the first few decades, change would be barely noticed. Then it would accelerate as the paradox progressed.
FQ: I’m so curious...who was the other lady in the photo that Dannia saw from that file that 989-9 intentionally left for her to see?
Author Gabriel F.W. Koch

KOCH: The photo from the file left by 989-9 for Dannia to find was of Dannia’s mentor. The woman, who encouraged and finally convinced Dannia to join the Blaylock team.
FQ: The story was written from an omniscient narrator point of view. Would you tell our readers why this was your chosen POV?
KOCH: I chose omniscient POV because to do otherwise would’ve had me, and readers juggling POVs. Likely too much to keep track of and therefore either slow the reader and or create some frustration. (Anne Mc Caffery, author of Dragonriders of Pern and more, recommended that writers should write in a way that readers do not need to pause to understand something so the storyline flows smoothly. No distractions.)
It also gives a writer a bit more freedom to keep the storyline flowing without hesitation. There are writers, some quite famous, who switch POVs in a paragraph. I find that when they do I pause to switch characters.
FQ: I see that your most recent novel, No Escaping the Storm, has time travel elements too. Would you tell us a bit about this novel, as well as your military experience and how that helped you bring believability to the story?
KOCH: No Escaping the Storm gave me the opportunity to play with the idea of genetic manipulation through combining alien DNA with human DNA. In this story aliens from the future, their planet dying, travel to earth and using an aerial spray dumped over the nation with the largest and best equipped military begin conquering earth.
Only by accident did the CDC stumble upon a virus that counteracted and killed the invaders surrogates.
Not all humans with affected DNA die, which left a small number of super humans. They gathered together a new army and navy and attempted to invade the Norwest Territory.
My combat experience taught me about what I was willing to do to survive and accomplish my mission. It also showed me that I was willing, albeit without forethought, to put myself in harms way to help us succeed.
And of course, defined my limitations on how much collateral damage I was willing to accept. Not much.
With Harold and Willy, I was able to show the aftereffects of severe combat. PTSD can devastate and drive some vets into seclusion like Harold in the wilderness of the Norwest Territory, or Willy into the wilderness of a damage psyche.
FQ: Are you currently working on your next book? If so, would you give our readers a peek into the story?
KOCH: Currently I am writing a sequel to Paradox Effect tentatively tilted Paradox Helix. The following is an excerpt.
Chapter One
James Vandeventer adjusted the uncomfortable three button grey single-breasted suit he knew would help him blend in once he arrived. His era shoes were 3D fabricated French Shriner black wingtips. He wore a narrow red tie and white shirt. All of what he had on would help him step into life in 1964.
At least he hoped it would. His accent and grammar usage might be problem since he could not locate an accurate rendition in any of the recorded files from that time-period.
He had spent days searching through implant protocols as carefully as possible. He did not want his activities discovered by the frequent system wide scans run through the electronic network where return travelers downloaded from their implants and stored the data collected on from their travels.
Which included details not even the traveler was aware of while living in the part of ancient history their assignment sent them to.
He had chosen April 21st, a Tuesday. For him that day and month everything ended. For others it was the month everything began anew. The end of the horrors of past humanity’s misdeeds and misadventures.
April was the month that triggered the paradox that eliminated his entire family. Killed his wife, two sons, and three daughters. Before then he’d been one of the fortunate.
The clouds of pollution had not sterilized him or his wife. The clouds of red-orange sterilizing the unfortunate caught in its noxious rain, fallout sifting the atmosphere as it cycled the globe.
Of course many people were born without the ability to procreate due to contamination to their forebears. Birth defects were rampant and often deadly.
Before the change time began no one including the best-trained science and tech teams could prevent the steady demise of humanity for the past ten generations. In his time the group known as the five thousand could conceive healthy offspring. His wife Rachel a beautiful woman with blonde hair and vivid hazel eyes was able to conceive.
They’d been praised for the number of children they had. He knew given a few more years they would help rescue their dying species. His five children were tested. The results showed the three girls and two boys were healthy in every way. That alone was considered a miracle.
Then the woman Dannia Weston assigned to make a simple tech alteration to lessen air pollution in 1954 became pregnant. The infant’s father was natural born in the mid-twentieth century.
When her child was born the birth created, for James, a devastating paradox. He felt that it might wipe out humanity given enough time. It definitely obliterated his family life.
His wife and children disappeared as if they never existed while they prepared the evening meal.
The kids were doing educational assignments. All was normal one minute then the scene around him quaver. Everything except he began blinking and then suddenly he stood alone in the middle of a field of wildflowers. His family, his life was gone. His home and possessions were gone too.
He admitted thinking back that the flowers were unexpectedly beautiful, smelled amazing, but that was not enough for him.
What he never understood was why he remembered his wife and children and the place they lived, their shared history. A psych-bot informed him that the memories if real, were stored in his neuro-net, which he was given as a traveler. And that given enough time, they would fade and he would forget that past.

But James did not want to forget. So he recorded and stored on his personal cloud every memory, every detail about his family and their lives, their wonderful lives. That way he could always recall their love, joy, and lives in detail.
As the memories did start to fade his fear and frustration grew exponentially. He then created a plan to stop Dannia Foxlena Weston’s success.
The radical part of his plan included killing her and the boy outright. And to do it before the strength of the paradox they created took hold of the entire future. Therefore, he chose 1964 as the best year to end it all.
At the time Dannia gave birth, Vandeventer had felt outraged that General Buckwalder did nothing to stop it. Allowing the child to be born violated several laws of time travel written to protect the future from just such a paradox.
And if the general hadn’t acted no one else in authority had the power to override him.
Now James stood a meter from the solidifying time portal. He watched it connect his time and world to a place called New York City in the year 1964. Ten years to the day after Dannia Weston’s paradox killed his entire family.
He checked the medium size packet he carried in a leather briefcase, his fingers searching for and then brushing the items inside. This will end the boy’s life. That will trigger the paradox to reverse. My life will return to normal, my wife and children will again live with me.
He actually regretted the need, but could no longer stand the acute draining pain of loss.
The time portal connected. As he stepped forward to enter, he heard noise behind him. People shouting for him to stop, someone threatened to stun him.
He heard them getting closer, heard the sound of a laser pistol charging and dove head first into the glowing circle. A laser beam followed him, but was above him. He heard its hissing, singe the air and knew he’d survive.
Seconds later, he dropped two meters onto a wet grassy field in a place named Central Park, rolling down a slight decline. The laser beam hit the side of a statue of an ancient and long forgotten solider riding, he knew from his detailed research, a horse. An animal trained to carry people, an animal extinct for more than a century in his time.
The portal closed with a sound like a hawk’s cry. He knew the identity of the bird. Taught him in a class he attended years earlier. While he was young and restless and believed he’d be an affective traveler. There was the expected flash of blue light and he knew he was through and safe.