Friday, December 30, 2022

#AuthorInterview with Roger Danchik, author of Viila and the Doomsday Affair

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Roger Danchik, author of Viila and the Doomsday Affair.
FQ: I really adored this excellent, humorous, and odd quest to save the world. Where did this idea come from?
DANCHIK: The idea originally came from wondering what really happened when Moses went up to the Mount to meet God. He had to go up twice with the terrible incident of the golden calf in between. It just didn't seem right that he would be given the same thing two times in a row. So of course, I had to research it and why read the Bible when you have a wild book called Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg. These are the legends that the Bible left out, according to me and apparently Ginzberg, and are so wild that they really sparked my imagination. I've often thought that there are stranger things in our mythology and history than can be found in our imagination. Hamlet thought so too.
FQ: Do you have a particular favorite character in this wide array of interesting personalities that you have created?
DANCHIK: Well, of course I am totally in love with Viila. I wish I could meet her in a bar when I actually dressed up and shaved. She had her start in an unpublished short story about hunting monsters in the hope of finding one strong enough to kill her. She suffers the anguish of life, if there is such a thing. She is and has everything but feels she has nothing.
FQ: I know that the Book of Truths is one that is prophesied by Daniel in the Old Testament. I must admit though that I love Rabbi Kef’s version and all of the little “quotes” from his book at the beginning of some of the chapters. Do you think that Rabbi Kef’s version is one that should be written and published (hint, hint)? I bet it would be fabulous.
DANCHIK: Of course, Rabbi Kef’s version should be published. No offense to Daniel but he didn't spend years and years as a mouse captured by a demon and tortured by the original cat from the garden of Eden - that experience can change your worldview. Also, not that there's any information about it, but I'm pretty sure Daniel never slept with a demon.
FQ: I am guessing, from some of the stories and information in the novel, that there must have been some research involved. How hard was it to take the factual information about various things and turn it into something so full of humor that you then passed on to the reader?
DANCHIK: As I mentioned above I had great source material: the imaginations of hundreds of holy men trying to understand the Bible so it makes logical sense. They created wonderful stories. As a shameless writer I simply borrowed and tried to make my own. If borrowing source material offends anybody out there, please yell at Shakespeare, not me.
FQ: I cannot tell you how much I love the “About the Author” section at the end of the book (and I highly recommend it to every reader). Sounds like a pretty fun and amazing background. And I have to ask seriously - what was the best part of these adventures for you?
DANCHIK: I love being a part of any creative process. I was always aiming for a position where I could have more input and solve problems. That's why I loved touring with rock'n'roll in the early days before anybody really knew how to do it. Also, working in the movies where every day brought a new challenge and of course, there were always beautiful young people around who thought I knew something...
I have to admit that for the last few years of working in the movies I mainly walked around, told jokes and annoyed the teamsters.
It has been an amazing life and I'm surprised I'm still here but I don't necessarily recommend it.
FQ: I think it is pretty amazing to have your book compared to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a book that is in my opinion one of the best ever. How does that make you as the author feel?
DANCHIK: That comparison came from a reader and I was amazed and flattered, flattered, flattered. Did I say I was flattered? I didn't like the movie that much but I loved the books.
FQ: With a background in theater and even having written a play, do you miss that time of your life and/or do you see yourself ever returning to the theater?
DANCHIK: I've written a ton of plays, a musical (unfinished of course, thank you ADD) and except for my children's plays and a reading or two they haven't had any production. I feel like I was always a little too far out on the edge for a normal reader. I'm always astounded that any reader doesn't like my work as much as I do, how did they miss it?
I have a podcast of a play I wrote called It's Hard to Be Creative When You're Dead, which was supposed to be finished about a year or two ago and last I heard was languishing in a friend’s computer in the Midwest.
The best theater experience is performing for children. They're the best audience, talk back to you, have great believability and really enjoy the conflict.
FQ: The cover artwork for Viila and the Doomsday Affair definitely makes for an eye-catching cover. Was the creativity behind it all your idea or did you work with your publisher?
DANCHIK: The cover art is amazing. It was created through a relationship between me and the artist from Atmosphere Press. It absolutely follows my belief that if you're doing something creative go for it and don't worry about the critics.
The artists were entranced by the idea of an almost conscious, self-motivated battle beard, as am I, which is where they got the idea. I do remember after seeing the first draft of the cover, I had so many notes that I got a little yelled at by return email. But any artist always rises to the challenge and not only did they rise, they nailed it.
FQ: Can you tell us what is next for Roger Danchik? Will there be any more adventures for Viila and the group or are you heading for a different type of project?
DANCHIK: Well, someone has hinted I write a book about Rabbi Kef, his Book of Truths and his adventures, so maybe that will be next. I find it very difficult to both be a published author—which is wonderful—and then go back and be a creative person. I'm hoping to get the writing bug in my head pretty soon. Because I've always thought, if you'll excuse the double negative, that people who write cannot not write. It is a solitary, obsessive obsession and I am so pleased to have it.

#BookReview of Haunt: A Novel (Loveletting, Book 1)

Haunt: A Novel (Loveletting, Book 1)

By: Christina Maraziotis
Publisher: Existential Publishing
Publication Date: October 30, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-959776-01-7
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: December 28, 2022

Christina Maraziotis releases Haunt, Book 1 in her Loveletting Series. The incredible journey that unfolds across the pages of this epic tale is one that will linger with the reader well beyond the turning of the last page.

The story opens with the introduction of character ‘Charlotte.’ She is running away and into the great wide open of the unknown west. A formidable and ominous storm pelts her and her beloved stallion, Finn, as they ride further and harder through Nephilim Cove. She is lost. She has ridden through sand dunes, canyons, underneath clouds and at times the sun scalds as much as the sandstorms suffocate. She has no family anymore. Her mother, if you could call her that, was the last semblance of family she had, " though the loss of her mother was but a relief, as though death was meant to not stir any emotions, as though her heart wasn’t taught how to break for someone yet..." Her mother warned her about the West. Disoriented, she looked to the weathered and crinkled map once more, Cougar’s Tooth. Little did Charlotte know she was about to embark upon a chaos that was merely the beginning of her newfound freedom and escape from her past.

Charlotte was on her way to Caledonia Territory and a town named Bisonhorn. Finn had been ridden hard for far too long and needed a rest. Once settled in the livery, she notices a Wanted poster. There is a $25,000 cash reward for the capture (dead or alive) of notorious gangster Mac Kinnon. Upon closer examination, she recalls an encounter with him at a bar in Boomtown. There was a bar fight, and he was thrown through the window and landed right at the foot of her horse as she rode through town. As she relays her experience to Sheriff Dorman, he doesn’t believe her. There is no way public enemy number one, Mac Kinnon, would dare show his criminal self for all the public to see. Determined to prove she knows what she saw, Charlotte convinces the Sheriff to, at the very least, see for himself. What Charlotte couldn’t possibly know at that moment in her life, this would not be the first encounter of many that would involve the likes of Mac Kinnon.

Christina Maraziotis anchors the Haunt adventure in the 19th Century era of the unforgiving Victorian West. She masterfully establishes her voice immediately on page one of this 750+ legacy read. It’s important to note the length of this novel because it could easily be scaled back by (at least) 200+ pages and still deliver a positive impact of a great read. Her characters have fine-tuned depth, and she intentionally creates each one with a signature persona: Charlotte: the adventurous woman of substance who is quite capable of facing off most challenges even if she places herself in harm’s way to do so; Finn, her beloved stallion who has a bond that cannot be severed with his faithful master; Mac Kinnon, notorious gangster and murderous cowboy who is always slightly one step ahead of the law, yet Charlotte is drawn to him. Will, the polished gentlemen of comfortable means who also has designs on Charlotte's heartstrings. The list goes on with many more colorful characters woven into the fabric of this fantastic novel. Maraziotis is visionary and her endless and astute word placement fill the pages with memorable descriptions devoted to a landscape of the West when it was still quite wild and untamed. Her innate ability to plant the seed in all of us to covet at least one moment in time to experience the magical wonder of what it was like way back when is the driving force to dive deeper into this captivating read. The bounty of phrases and descriptions make it difficult to settle on a specific passage as there are many. However, one that resonated with me was when she described Charlotte’s feeling toward character Will: "...Will’s was the tourniquet around her wounded soul. A fine layer of cloth covering it softly with the most tender fabric ever created, and yet, it was feeble enough to blow away..." I am haunted with the memory that lives on having read this historical and monumental saga. I look forward to the next book in this series!

Quill says: Haunt is an apt title for a novel that lingers with the reader as a reminder he/she has just experienced a legendary tale.

For more information on Haunt: A Novel (Loveletting, Book 1), please visit the author's website at:

#BookReview of Phoebe and Fred by Nathaniel S. Johnson

Phoebe and Fred

By: Nathaniel S. Johnson
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2022
ISBN: 978-1639885640
Reviewed by: Dianne Woodman
Review Date: December 27, 2022

Phoebe and Fred by Nathaniel S. Johnson is a delightful novella featuring two adorable basset hounds with exceptional abilities.

The bassets in Phoebe and Fred are cherished members of the Watson family. The Watsons and their adventurous hounds reside in Harmony, a quaint New England seaside village. When the bassets take the family's jaguar for a ride through the community, it raises a kerfuffle among the residents. With the hounds becoming involved in social activities and more of their unique abilities being divulged, the main topics in everyday discussions center around the bassets and the Watsons, who have acquired the reputation of being a tad on the eccentric side. Life for the bassets and the Watsons takes a scary turn when an unfortunate incident puts the lives of the basset hounds in danger. Will the bassets be rescued or ignored by the villagers?

Johnson has written an amazingly creative story that includes fun-filled and serious interactions among the characters. There is a perfect combo of compelling and memorable characters with diverse personalities, communication styles, and behavioral tendencies. The author's excellent use of sensory language paints vivid pictures in readers' minds. It makes them feel as if they are standing next to the characters and experiencing everything the characters are going through.

Readers are drawn into this basset-centric story that will keep them enthralled from the first page to the end. The author has provided readers with an effortless reading experience, with the story flowing seamlessly from start to finish. It includes music and television shows enjoyed by the bassets, poetry written by a resident, Bible verses, and methods used for teaching the basset hounds how to communicate.

Phoebe and Fred is a story not to be missed. Readers will find the novella a fascinating read about a charming community whose existence is interrupted by the adventures of two basset hounds. A mixture of positive and negative viewpoints circulates among the villagers, with opposing schools of thought on how to resolve the disruption to the village. On the flip side, there is a community-inspired camaraderie at work among the residents, even with disagreements about the best way of dealing with two intelligent and adventurous basset hounds that appear to have taken on human-like characteristics.

Quill says: A marvelously entertaining and heart-touching story that draws you into the wondrous world of clever and spunky basset hounds.

For more information on Phoebe and Fred, please visit the author's website at:

Thursday, December 29, 2022

#AuthorInterview with Güngör Buzot, author of I Was Dying...Then I Changed My Mind.

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Diane Lunsford is talking with Güngör Buzot, author of I Was Dying...Then I Changed My Mind.
FQ: I cannot express enough what a pleasure it is to speak with you today. Thank you for the gift of sharing your insights and harrowing journey of your life. I was rocked by your desperation and your desire to be euthanized. Without too much of a spoiler, can you share that defining moment when you ‘saw the light’ and knew there was a reason you needed to continue to live?
BUZOT: Reciprocally it is a pleasure for me to answer your questions.
I was born a healthy baby. After a wrong treatment at the age of six months, diseases and surgeries followed one another. The side effects of the medications and surgeries created new diseases and exacerbated my pain. I did not want to write all of my sicknesses in my book because it would be more frustrating for readers. They are all still documented in my diaries, emails, doctor's prescriptions. The doctors in the United States, France, England, and Turkey, where I went to seek a cure, said that there was no cure for my diseases and that they could only do symptomatic treatment. I want to explain what the symptomatic treatment is: using morphine, anti-epileptics, and anti-depressants to relieve the pain. They may help for a few days, or a maximum of a few weeks, but it is necessary to increase the doses regularly. In my case, when the doses came to their maximum level, and it was not possible to increase anymore, the only solution was to get rid of my own body. As I was not the type of person to commit suicide, I started begging my children for euthanasia. At the time my daughter was 34, my son 35, and I was 61. I was using 410 mg of prescribed drugs daily and had had almost twenty surgeries. I was still suffering with so many drugs. I needed help to go out, to go to medical treatments, even to stay at home.
My children did not accept my demands for euthanasia and my daughter insisted that I go see the homeopath who helped her family. I told her that the medical science that I studied and earnestly trusted had not been able to cure me for decades and that I had also tried alternative treatment methods, such as yoga, massage, acupuncture, and a seeing a homeopath in Paris. But I did not get any results from all this. I told my daughter that I did not have the strength to go to a new healer to explain myself. That was the reason that I was refusing to try a new person. But they did not want to listen to my reasons and they took me almost by force to the homeopath. After listening to me for about two hours, Betsey said that I could live without pain and without medications. It was the LIGHT that you mentioned at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in my life someone was giving me hope to heal. With that hope I started to withdraw from my medications.
FQ: There are many references to different homeopathic care providers in your book. I was quite enamored with your first encounter with Betsey. Do you still have contact with her?
BUZOT: Betsey is my best friend today. I am still in a relationship with everyone I have mentioned in my book who accompanied me during my recovery process. Although we heal our bodies ourselves, I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who gave me hope, gave me strength, and held my hand to stay alive and helped me go through an unbelievably difficult healing process.
FQ: In line with my previous question, your story is such an inspiration on so many levels. Have you ever considered speaking engagements to educate more on the benefits of homeopathic care?
BUZOT: After I miraculously healed, I became friends with Betsey and I asked her what I could do to thank her. She asked me to write a book because she said that many patients need inspiration to heal. And so I started to write my book. It was impossible for me to remember correctly my whole life. Thus I read my diaries, my doctor's appointments, my prescriptions, my emails back then. I could not believe how much pain I had suffered. I cried a lot for that little girl, for that young woman, for the young mother, and of course for that innocent baby who came to earth to be happy. Then I got myself together and I realized that my suffering was not in vain; I had a purpose. My aim was to help people who are sick, who live in pain, who are drug addicts to get out of their vortex. While writing my book, I started helping patients at the same time. To my amazement, two of the people who contacted me were stage four cancer patients recovered after listening to my inspiring life story. Both of them were left alone by their doctors who told them there was nothing more they could do for them so they were sent home to die peacefully. They were told to spend the last days of their lives at home without medical intervention. They felt hopeless but after speaking with me they actually went on to heal. Five years later, today, they are still working, happy, and healthy.
I do not just talk to people about Homeopathy. After my recovery, I went to the workshops of Dr. Joe Dispenza and Anita Moorjani, who emphasized you are your own healer. I studied many more books by scientists who wrote about the energy of the body. In my experience, chronic sicknesses cannot be cured by the current medical paradigm, which treats only the physical body and ignores completely the energy body. The human body is energy that vibrates 570 trillion times per second. A patient can be treated on the energy level. Otherwise, patients cannot be cured by removing organs, by prescribing medications only to treat a certain organ, by giving chemotherapy and radiation, which are themselves already carcinogenic. If you look at people who have recovered from serious illnesses, they all have changed their lives. Patients cannot be cured in the same energy/consciousness which made them sick.
I am not a scientist. I am a pharmacist and I only share my story to inspire people. I do not try to treat anybody. If I healed they can also heal. In my book I advise people to educate themselves. There are multiple treatments and solutions for every sickness. They are not helpless; they are not alone.
FQ: It’s difficult for me not to go down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’ having read your book so I will temper my delivery. My husband and I have two lovely daughters who are in their 20s. I recall when they were toddlers and entered the world of pre-school, it seemed every other week they were subjected to colds, coughs, etc. We were always strong advocates of ‘letting the affliction run its course’ versus rushing to the doctor’s office for antibiotics and received more than a few judgments for not giving them a pill for every ‘sniffle.’ Knowing what you learned through your own experiences and what you learned when studying for your degree in pharmacy, how would you approach the topic of drugs vs. homeopathic approach with someone who is adamant and believes pharmaceuticals are the end-all, be-all cure?
BUZOT: Your daughters are very lucky to have parents like you, as you say ‘letting the affliction run its course.’ I am sure today they are feeling the gift of being raised like that. I applaud you as opposed to those who judged you once. We need to trust the body's ability to heal itself. I was trained as a pharmacist to believe in the power of medicines. My parents also raised me to believe in medical science without reservation. However, the body has the power to heal itself. We cannot deny this. Homeopathic remedies are usually given for a period of time, only to give a gentle impetus for the body to heal itself. However, since the pharmaceuticals suppress the symptoms, and the disease appears to have passed at that moment, they cause other more serious diseases in the long term. Everyone has experienced this either in their own life, or in their family, or among their friends.
FQ: In line with my previous question, when you decided to take a different course, what sort of resistance (judgment) did you receive from those who whole-heartedly endorse all that Western Medicine has to offer?
BUZOT: Nobody judged me. On the contrary, everyone encouraged and supported me. They were sad to see that I was slowly heading towards death and how I was slowly dying with dangerous drugs. I think 61 years is long enough to try a form of treatment. When we were young my friends were making fun with my operations saying that “you get rid of your organs to be lighter on the scales.” 😅
FQ: One of the many beautiful sentiments you imparted in your story was: “...I constantly learn from life. My most important teachers were my parents...” If you had to cite one important lesson you learned from your parents and it is foundational to who you are today, what would that be and why?
BUZOT: They told me that “There are no bad people; there are people who are stacked in difficult situations and behave badly. Help them get out of the dead end.” Now, with this teaching, I try to help people no matter what. There is another very important point that I know that when people do something bad to me, it has nothing to do with me; it is their own consciousness. I continue to be nice to them and most of the time I watch the same person transform into a completely different person. I am not saying that I am kind to the extent of letting others oppress me. We can be kind to people by being an example and so they learn how we want to be treated.
FQ: There is a lot of credence to the resounding message you give weight to throughout your book toward the essence of how our bodies are ninety percent energy and what makes us tic so-to-speak isn’t visible to the naked eye. I am a strong believer in this, and in my opinion, this is a direct correlation with a strong faith base. How much of your faith assisted in your healing journey?
BUZOT: First of all, I would like to correct something so that the readers learn the truth. 99.999% of our body is energy. Our body consists of organs, tissues, cells etc. There is only energy inside our cells. The human body consists of 50 trillion cells. There is 1.4 Voltage inside each cell. Do we understand what we are capable of with this knowledge?
Betsey with her magic sentence “You can live without medications and without pain” planted seeds of hope and the healer inside me received them. We always have to be careful with what we say to each other and to ourselves. 95% of our mind is subconscious. Only five percent is conscious. Everything we hear from the outside registers in our subconscious. The last three months of pregnancy and the first seven years of age, children download whatever they see and hear from outside. This continues in adults as well. The words we hear from the outside are very effective in terms of what decisions we make and how they influence our personality. Until I was 61 years old none of my doctors told me that I could heal. Especially in recent years, they all said to use those drugs until death. Betsey is the first person who gave me not only the seeds of healing, but also the seeds that taught me to love myself. Until I was 61, I had never seen a person who loved himself or herself. That is why I was defining self-love as selfish. Whereas by loving yourself and shining your light, you become more useful to others. I have described them at length in my book. My self-love healed me.
FQ: I was fascinated with your reference to Dr. André Saine’s treatment method of Bioccular Transcerebral Iontophoresis (BTI) and the healing results this has to heal wounded soldiers suffering from the sequalae of head injuries. I work for a veteran’s charitable foundation, and we serve many warriors with Traumatic Brain Injuries. We provide a respite in a tranquil and serene environment for the warrior to decompress. I don’t want to put a negative (or political) spin on our conversation, but why do you suppose there is such a blatant push to endorse western medicine and discredit homeopathic approaches to healing?
BUZOT: Because homeopathy is not expensive and is definitely an effective method. It cannot make anyone rich. You use it for a certain period of time, then you heal completely and you do not need treatment unless a new disease begins. Also, when you use homeopathy, you are less likely to get sick because the energy helps you stay high. Sicknesses are created at low energies. I have never been so healthy, (despite my age of 70) so young, so energetic and happy. If everyone becomes like me, there will be no disease. Then how can drug companies make trillions?
FQ: In line with my previous question, if you were fully funded to start a school of medicine that focused solely on the healing processes of mind and body through energy, what would be the first thing you would do to ensure its sustainability?
BUZOT: If I were fully funded to start a school of medicine, I would definitely appoint the pioneer homeopath Dr. Andre Saine as the head director. I would teach the teachings of Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Anita Moorjani, and others who I have mentioned in my book. There are surely many more who I do not know yet. I would want people or practitioners who have a health consciousness as opposed to a disease consciousness.
With health consciousness we do not have chronic diseases; what about acute diseases? In Dr. Dispenza's workshops, we learn how to reprogram our lives. If we do not decide for ourselves how to live each day, and live our day randomly, we may have an accident. For those times, I would train emergency clinical doctors in the medical schools.
I would like to share an interesting anecdote here. Years ago, after my gallbladder surgery, I had nasopharyngeal problems. I was experiencing severe reflux; especially as I got older, the burning in my stomach became worse. After years of suffering I met Dr Saine, and he treated it in a very interesting way. “Drink two glasses of water on an empty stomach, then jump on the trampoline,” he said. I jumped inside the room because I did not have a trampoline. He told me that my stomach had moved from its normal place and raised up. When this happens, the valve on the upper part of my stomach does not close properly and the stomach acid goes up. The heavy stomach filled with water puts the stomach back down into its normal place during the jump. Such a simple and effective treatment. Plus it is free, no side effects. This is something that happened to me. I just share my own experience. I do not intend to recommend. Could I explain well why I have absolute confidence in my homeopath, Dr. Saine? This is only one of the cases. In eight years family, friends, and I had many more such experiences with him. In these eight years, I have personally witnessed many people being treated from dog bites to cancer treatment to schizophrenia with homeopathy.
FQ: Thank you again for the pleasure of reading your book and your time today. Will there be a follow-on to your story? You have so much to offer so many and, in my opinion, you have much more to share. Are you working on your next book and if so, could you share a nugget or two?
BUZOT: I thank you for being interested in my book and reading it. Thank you for your beautiful and intelligent questions. I really have more experiences to share. I do not have any plans at the moment to write another book, but I hope to start writing again one day. I would like to thank everyone and wish everybody a healthy and a happy new year, 2023.

#AuthorInterview with Behcet Kaya, author of Murder in Buckhead

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Tripti Kandari is talking with Behcet Kaya, author of Murder in Buckhead: A Jack Ludefance Novel.
FQ: Murder in Buckhead is the fourth work in your Jack Ludefance series - out of the four, which one did you enjoy writing the most?
KAYA: Well! I enjoyed all of them but the Appellate Judge touched me more because I have been studying the violin for the past three years. Playing well has become my passion in addition to writing great novels.
FQ: Do you identify with Jack, the main character in your series?
KAYA: Yes! At times I feel I am him and he is a younger version of me.
FQ: With the characters of Rudy and Turner, a relationship is shown that develops from a mutual professional motive and compatibility. What motivated you to present this soft, barely spoken relationship between professionals?
KAYA: Turner is the first detective that Jack immediately felt a connection with and respect for. With Rudy, Jack has come to realize how much he depends on Rudy’s talent, despite the fact that Rudy has issues and is a very complex character.
FQ: From where did you get your inspiration for writing murder mystery novels?
KAYA: In my childhood I read all of Mike Hammer novels that had been translated into Turkish. In addition during my teenage years I read all of Yasar Kemal’s crime novels. I was hooked.
FQ: Readers are introduced to a slew of minor characters in Murder in Buckhead; what do you think is the most effective use of minor characters in a novel?
KAYA: The minor characters support the main character and the storyline.
FQ: What is your approach to criticism of your novels?
KAYA: It depends on whether its constructive criticism or malicious criticism. With constructive criticism my approach is use it to improve the story line. i.e. My Chadish (in Klingineese my editor) my editor and I have a fantastic working relationship. I could not ask for a better editor. As far as a few obviously malicious criticism, I try very hard not to let out cuss words.

Author Behcet Kaya

FQ: What is the most difficult aspect of developing a murder-mystery plot for you?

KAYA: So far I haven’t had any difficulties in developing any of the plots for the Jack Ludefance series. I form the crime in my mind and envision it from start to finish.
FQ: Do you plan to work on a fifth book in the Jack Ludefance series? If so, can you give our readers a sneak peek? Or, might you go in a different direction with a new series?
KAYA: I have already begun writing number five (Pleasurable Death, Indecent Exposure- title to be determined). A college professor is found asphyxiated and nude in his college office where he was a professor.
FQ: What lessons have you learned from your earlier works and how have you tried to improve on them in this sequel?
KAYA: Despite the fact that the four novels can be stand alone, I have realized that I must introduce Jack and all his details in each novel. In each of the novels Jack is presented with a moral dilemma. Developing Jack’s character to meet these moral dilemmas has become the most fascinating part.

#BookReview of Murder in Buckhead: A Jack Ludefance Novel by Behcet Kaya

Murder in Buckhead: A Jack Ludefance Novel

By: Behcet Kaya
Publication Date: July 2022
ISBN: 979-8840974131
Reviewed by: Tripti Kandari
Bechet Kaya’s book four in the Jack Ludefance series, Murder in Buckhead, follows PI Jack's all-action mysteries proceedings, resonates with the author's knotty narrative, sparkling characters, and the ever-still place of realism as to the basic human aspirations.
Buckhead, a district within Atlanta that boasts many high-end residences and businesses, is the scene of the discovery of a body. As the meticulous detective Shamir Turner assesses the circumstances of the alleged suicide of Casey Ray Olmsted, the son of the influential US Senator Bartholomew Jeremie Olmsted, he is certain of foul play (all shreds of evidence are contrary to the suicide claim). In the wake of Senator Olmsted's request not to proceed with the investigation of his son's death (since it’s a suicide), Turner has no choice but to do nothing (well, just officially...). Meanwhile, in his mid-40s, private investigator Jack Ludefance from Florida receives a phone call from Scarlet Olmsted asking him to look into the ‘real’ deed behind his son Casey's death. Blaire Olmsted, Casey's widower, issues a second exhortation, pleading with Ludefance to probe the senator (her father-in-law) who is after her life.
Amidst the seemingly well-heeled proceedings of the murder-mystery investigation, Ludefance makes some unexpected discoveries about the case that goes against his reasoning. Blaire puzzles him with her switch between slyly seductive innuendos and her innocent persona, genuinely concerned about the senator and the threats he makes (a devious diva or an innocent suspect?). Additionally, not only has Blaire become a thorn in the motive of concealing the true story behind Casey's death, but Jack has also become part of the follow-ups and death threats. In a bind, Ludefance must deal with two situations that both get in the way of the corrupt and wicked Senator, who believes in getting rid of any weeds that might stand in the way of his objectives. With Rudy, the young expert hacker, Turner, the ever-ardent detective, and many incidental characters on board, the plot follows Jack’s adventure to unravel the mysterious death of Casey – suicide or murder, or is there an entirely different angle to the case?
Through the luxury settings of Atlanta, the criminal underworld, and (not to overlook) the various eateries and human basic appetites for delicacies and meals, the author weaves an interesting tale that goes beyond a mere murder mystery riddle. All of the characters reveal their true selves in their own sexuality, backgrounds, and social positions, whether expressing natural human passion, appetite, or wrestling with their inner conflicts. Despite being a minor force behind the propagation of the murder mystery, the plot's plethora of characters, including Rudy with his subtle fatherly relationship with Jack, Cindy, Jack's sexual interest, as well as Turner and County Sheriff Lawson (aka Hiker), the ideal professionals and boon companions, provide enrichment to the plot with their unique presence and personalities.
Quill says: Murder in Buckhead is a murder mystery that rumbles with unpredictable clues across multiple locales, and a constant rhythm of expectations that surprises at every turn.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

#AuthorInterview with James W. Marquart, author of Unthinkable: Who Kills Their Grandmother?

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Barbara Bamberger Scott is talking with James W. Marquart, author of Unthinkable: Who Kills Their Grandmother?
FQ: Having started your academic studies in Law Enforcement, how did you end up working as a prison guard? Was it simply a way to pay for school while you studied for your Sociology degree, or was there a burgeoning interest in the prison system?
MARQUART: I was in a class at Western Illinois University and we had to arrange a “ride along” with the local municipal police department. During the ride along at night, at around 2 am, we pulled over a weaving car on the outskirts of town, by a cornfield. It was pitch black and the officer told me to “stay in the car and if anything happens use the radio to call for help.” Nothing happened, he gave the driver a warning and returned to the car. We went back to headquarters about an hour later. As soon as I left the department to drive home, I said to myself “that was the scariest few moments I have ever experienced, and I never want to be a police officer.” I told my professor about this experience and also about my decision. He thought it was great, and stated that it was best not to do something beyond your interest.
The next semester another professor arranged a tour of the Iowa State Penitentiary. I went on the tour and became fascinated with the world behind the walls. I went to Kansas State University for my master’s degree, and I interviewed around 20 correctional officers for my thesis. I spent a Christmas break at the Kansas State Penitentiary. I was interested in why they chose this field for a career. It was fascinating. One summer, I even worked for a few months at the Missouri State Penitentiary. These early experiences fueled my interest in prison organizations.
I went on to Texas A&M University for my doctoral degree and I studied with Professor Ben Crouch who was researching prison officers in the Texas prison system. I worked on a research project with him and we toured many Texas prisons. During these tours, I was fortunate to meet an old-time warden (Billy McMillan) and he opened many doors for me.
I was able to enter and walk around and talk to whoever I wanted to at the Ellis and Eastham Units, two hardcore prison farms that confined older recidivists and malcontents (over the age 25 and had been in prison 3 or more times). I visited these prisons at every opportunity and I even rode a horse and watched the line squads working outside and saw inmates dragging long white sacks and handpicking cotton in 100+ degree heat. I grew up in the Chicago area, and the site of over 1,000 inmates picking cotton, and being barked at by guards called field bosses on horses, was a complete surprise (and shock) to me.
I really zeroed in on Eastham and spent a lot of time there talking to the older convicts in the craft shop as they handmade leather wallets, purses, belts and buckles, and saddles. They all said “if you want to understand this place, now before it changes, you need to work as an officer.” They were right.
I did just that and worked as a prison officer at Eastham, for nearly two years. This experienced fueled my interest in prisons and prisoner control, judicial intervention, the guard subculture, capital punishment, and crime in general. I completed my doctoral dissertation on prisoner control.
FQ: Your other works were books that investigated “the system,” while this newest book, Unthinkable, looks at a specific case. Why the change and is there another case that you’d like to investigate and perhaps write another book about? Was the process of writing about just one case a lot different than investigating the system as a whole?
MARQUART: It’s not so much that the new book is something different or a big change for me as it was a giant piece of luck, very serendipitous. As I said in the book, this story dropped into my lap. My wife and I bought the former home of the perpetrator. It was a complete accident and we knew nothing about the house’s prior owners or their story until we attended a Christmas party over a year after we moved in. At the party, the guests were grilling my wife about what we knew about the house. Finally she asked what was the deal with the house. The guests then told us about the former owner who murdered his grandmother in East Dundee, Illinois and that he was arrested on the front lawn of the home. We were in complete shock. Walking home from the party my wife suggested that I write a book about the crime. I did so, as she is my greatest inspiration.
For me research topics almost always developed while I was around prisoners or guards or other academics. This true crime story was different and the case involved our home and begged for investigation. The project was a welcome change of topic.
I was fascinated by the crime and the personalities in the case. This was no “ordinary” murder as it involved a family member. For me, writing a true crime story was and is very different from the traditional academic writing style. But that difference is really about having more “freedom”to write about tangents, develop characters, develop a sense of place, and add dialogue. I like the nonfiction style very much and focusing on one case was a “relief” and allowed me, the writer, to dive into the story in great detail.
I am right now conducting the background research on two new books. One is about the abduction and murder of a college coed here in North Texas. This book will involve the history roads in Texas and a serial killer. The second book I am playing with now is or will be about crime on college campuses. This latter book will examine 2-3 specific murders on or near universities. We often envision college campuses as peaceful “bubbles” where nothing happens. I aim to burst that bubble.
FQ: What was the research process like for this book? Was it hard to get written reports (from police, etc.) and what was the reaction of people you contacted about the case? Did they want to talk or brush you off?
MARQUART: The research process was filled with ups and downs. I started initially with the newspapers and then contacted the perpetrator, who willingly talked to me about the case, all while pleading his innocence. The defense attorneys failed to respond. I had a few conversations with the prosecutors. However, family members involved in the case all remained quiet and asked me not to write the book because they were and still are traumatized by the crime. Our neighbors did not want to revisit the crime as well. I understand that completely. I discuss this difficulty of getting people to talk in the book. In fact, I called a friend of the victim’s and this guy who answered the phone cussed me out and threatened to call the police if I bothered his mother again. This was an omen. Yet, it happens to authors and you have to have a thick skin and move on. Actually the phone conversation noted above fueled my curiosity even more. I never have let a “no” dissuade me from pursuing a topic.
I read the trial transcript and pieced the story together like a puzzle. Once you get rolling or build momentum, at least for me, the writing process goes fairly quickly.
FQ: True crime stories are huge right now, just look at all the television shows (Snapped, Dateline: Secrets Uncovered, True Conviction, etc.). Why the fascination? What draws readers/viewers to these stories?
MARQUART: People are fascinated with “all things involving crime” because they want to know the million dollar question of “why did they do it?” However, the advent of forensic technology to help solve crimes has really escalated the public’s fascination and appetite with crime and how officials investigate and solve crimes. In a sense, members of the public like to play crime scene investigator and peel back the crime, find the perpetrator, ascertain the all-important motive, try the case in court, and assess punishment. There is a lot of drama and human emotions in crime.
FQ: Will your book be offered as a focus for workshops or gatherings within your academic/professional realm?
MARQUART: I am a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS). Their annual meeting is in March 2023 and I will be moderating a roundtable discussion about true crime. We will of course be discussing my book. I wrote the book with the general public in mind; however, the book is well-suited to be a supplemental book for a variety of college criminal justice courses.
My wife and I are planning book signing events at local bookstores, and even one in our house.
FQ: Do you have a favorite legal personality – judge, witness, etc. - among the ones you depict in your book?
MARQUART: I like Joe Kenda, the police detective, and his interesting delivery and perspective on crime scene investigation of murder cases. His shows clearly illustrate the complexity of these cases, and the detective’s methodical step by step research. Each case is unique and the viewer can watch and understand how the “onion” peels. I tried to do this in Unthinkable.
My “go-to” books are In Cold Blood, which really launched the true crime industry. My wife bought me a nice clean copy of Capote’s masterpiece last year and the pages are now worn. It’s a beautiful book, and I love how he developed a sense of “place” in the story. The second masterpiece, in my view, that I read and study is Helter Skelter by Vince Bugliosi who was the lead prosecutor in the Manson case. I love the dialogue and interplay between the characters, especially the Manson-Bugliosi exchanges. Those interactions illustrate how dangerous and manipulative criminals can be, so authors need to be forewarned when confronting felons. Finally, I admire Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field, a tragic but true story written by a former police officer. Wambaugh’s ability to tell a story, using his street smarts, serves as a role model to me and my aspirations.
These three books shaped my interest in true crime and involved sensational crimes. Most important, the authors got “close” to the criminals—a closeness that affected the authors. These three books will always guide my writing and research.
FQ: Does positing and writing about the inner workings of the investigative/judicial process give you a sense of hope?
MARQUART: Studying the inner workings of the system does give me hope in the sense that solving crimes is at its basic level a human endeavor. It takes long work hours, dead ends, skill, and a degree of luck to solve a crime and obtain a conviction. New forensic tools are always being deployed. While important, these new tools will not replace old-fashioned “knocking on doors” and interviewing long lists of witnesses. I stand in awe of the investigators and other public safety actors who do this for a living. They are dedicated people who want to help the victims. After writing my book I am hopeful that their work and dedication will never fade away.
FQ: Did you find the composition of these true events to resemble in some ways the construction of a mystery novel?
MARQUART: In the beginning of this book project, I faced a real mystery in trying to understand why and how the perpetrator decided to murder his grandmother. I tried to place myself in his position and wondered why this happened. The whole process was like a mystery novel, something Alfred Hitchcock would produce.
FQ: Tell us about the Netflix series, I Am a Killer, that you appear in. What was that like? Is it available for viewing now?
MARQUART: In my academic research role, I conducted extensive inquiry on the death penalty in Texas, a very active state in executing capital murderers. As a result of this research, I was fortunate to testify in over 30 capital murder cases in Texas, Colorado, and even one Federal death penalty case. One of my cases involved Deryl Madison, who was convicted of capital murder in the late 1980s for killing an elderly Houston woman. Madison knew the victim and he killed for drug money. I testified for the defense on the topic of future dangerousness, as I had conducted some unique research on this critical issue in Texas capital murder cases.
The Netflix people did a story of Madison’s case. It’s part of the I am a Killer series, and my episode is called “It’s Not Me.” The episode appeared on television late August 2022. The film crew came to our house in Frisco, Texas and spent an entire day interviewing me about my role and testimony in the Madison case. In my humble opinion, the I am a Killer series is the finest true crime depiction in the media today.
It was a wonderful experience and I was overwhelmed by the creativity of the film crew. I am very proud of my participation in this wonderful series.
FQ: You served as President of The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. I suspect a lot of our readers have never heard of this organization. Would you tell us a little about it - its purpose, focus, etc.?
MARQUART: The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) is an international association that was established in 1963. It’s been around now for sixty years and the Academy fosters professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice. The beauty is that its members are a mixture of practitioners and educators and students. As a university professor, it’s good to to rub elbows with practitioners. Most important, ACJS promotes criminal justice education, research, and policy analysis within the discipline of criminal justice. There is an annual meeting where members present papers on their latest research on all things criminal justice—from crime, to police behavior, to court room practices, and corrections and reoffending. Your readers should check it out.
True crime is a hot topic within ACJS and there are now courses on the topic as well. I am hoping to teach one next fall semester. I served as President, an elected position, in 2010. I am most proud of my service to ACJS, it’s an organization filled with wonderful people and colleagues.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

#AuthorInterview with I.D.G. Curry, author of Shogun of the Heavens: The Fall of Immortals

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Katie Specht is talking with I.D.G. Curry, author of Shogun Of The Heavens: The Fall Of Immortals, Book One.

FQ: Can you share a bit about how you came up with the inspiration for your story, The Fall of Immortals, Shogun of the Heavens, Book One?

CURRY: You mention a dream...That is correct. It was in 2012 and I was in a dark and challenging place in my life. I was in the middle of a transition to the U.S. and I had lost my grandmother without getting the chance to see her for the last time and also a romantic relationship that was very dear to me at the time. So one night I had a dream about the dark nature of a betrayed man falling to earth in three pieces. Then a superior presence dispatched the individuals that knew him best to either bring him back alive peacefully or dead if necessary. Over the years I compounded the story from there.

The Acolytes of Dawn are the expressions of the individuals sent in the dream and their personalities are based off of the people in my life who were in the dream.

FQ: The sheer number of gods that you write about in this book is staggering. How extensive is your background on Greco-Roman gods? Was there a lot of research to do before you began writing?

CURRY: The Greco-Roman gods are what I would say was my introduction into myths and mythology. It started when I was a kid and I saw my favorite Disney cartoon, Hercules. I was fascinated with them from that point and gradually learned more about them as I was exposed to their stories and artworks. As far as the research, it is safe to say that I have done a lot, however it didn’t feel like it to me.

To me I was learning and absorbing the knowledge about characters that we, as a species, have idolized over dozens of centuries. Learning how civilizations were formed around the god they worshipped, and then seeing correlations between each pantheon’s era of power. It motivated me to get to know them personally through their art and worshippers. I did the same with each pantheon included in the story.

FQ: The title of your book suggests that this is going to be a series. What can you share about what you have planned for the future books in this series?

CURRY: Absolutely. When I laid the story out on my “War Table,” I originally planned for three books to tell the entire story. Though as I continue to watch the story unfold, it has the potential for even more. Book One is the foundation and tone setter for the series and, like a first book, each page will draw you to the next page and so on.

FQ: On your website, you have a “Gallery” page with a couple of drawings that are quite intriguing. Would you tell our readers about those (Magnus and Xara) and if we can expect to find additional artwork on your site in the future? (It’s very cool!)

CURRY: It is honestly my favorite page. I was very excited to do it because what I want to do is bring my readers into the world of Shogun of the Heavens and that is a way I can formally introduce the readers to the characters and watch them evolve as they progress through the story. Xara is Xauldin’s incarnation and left hand agent. She is a man-eating combatant character who is well equipped to achieve the tasks given to her throughout the story. She became known as The Huntress not from the battlefield but the amount of men that were rumored to be lured into her jaws. Beautiful as she is, Xara is a vicious predator and completely devoted to the War Marshall.

Magnus is a former slave and an exiled prince from another continent. His species is called Kungan. They are a humanoid race of gorillas that formed a city and society which also had an integrated human population that descended from the worshippers of the Kungan people. Magnus is the Legionaire to be recruited by the League of Pagulane and one of the few who faced Xauldin in battle and lived to talk about it. Xauldin, who is the main character, sees the potential in Magnus which the readers get to see, each time he takes the stage.

There will most certainly be more artwork to come, especially for each book that comes out. Currently I am giving the profiles for each character; I’m looking forward to the capturing of iconic moments in the story as well. Coming Soon!

FQ: When you began working on this series, did you have the entire story developed in your mind or has it come to you gradually as you have been writing it?

CURRY: Both, I would say. As I mentioned earlier, I laid the story out and first had to organize where I wanted to go, needed to start, and stop on the way there. Sewing the web of characters and plot together has been the most enjoyable part because it unveils itself as I move from point to point, like seeing a vision of the story in pieces and then I have to find my way to the next point.

FQ: In the synopsis of the book, you reference “one fallen immortal.” This is in contrast to the title which references more than one immortal. Did you have just one god, or immortal, in mind when titling the book or more than one?

CURRY: When titling the book there were more than one immortal. When I use the phrase immortal, it is to reference the Eythropians because they are not gods exactly, because gods cannot thrive without worshippers. It also allows me to distinguish immortals from gods and display the plane in between them. Now, to shine a light on the contrast: there are a total of twelve Eythropians/Immortals that fall to earth in total but the story is focused primarily on one. The others all play a role in the main character’s life as can be seen in Chapter Twelve: Days of Joy Past. This is where you will see the influence that the main character’s other self has in their lives and that has motivated each Acolyte, either as a competitor or a lover.

FQ: The name of the series, Shogun of the Heavens, is rather unique. Can you share the meaning behind it?

CURRY: That will reveal itself much later in the story. But to explain it somewhat, it corresponds to a level of ruling. In our history there are titles that symbolize that this person wields the highest authority in our land. However, how they gained it and where their authority resides also plays a part in their title. For instance if I had named him “Pharaoh,” one would think of Egypt, like how “President” is commonly associated with the U.S. government, or “Khan” to the Mongols. The title Shogun speaks not to what the main character is but what he will accomplish.

It was actually not my first choice; with the dream came the title Gods Grave, which was meant to be. Though that was already taken so I did some brainstorming and decided to give it an iconic name for an iconic story, one never brought to life in this manner before.

FQ: What is the most important thing you hope readers will take away with them after reading this book and/or the entire Shogun of the Heavens series?

CURRY: There are many characters in the story that were worshipped as creators of the world and the universe. Throughout the story you are going to see barriers between contradicting religious practices but you will also see their commonalities. Historically we have gone to war over something as simple as religion and still can. We tend to overlook what they have in common and more importantly what each religion means to the person who follows that creed.

Many of us argue over who must be right and who must be wrong when in truth, it’s only a cycle of who is on top in the current era. Some practices are older than others but just because they’re older doesn’t make them any more right than what is new.

The same with good and evil: we first look to judge who to condemn first, so that we can identify who we choose to be our hero. I aimed to make a story that does not distinguish hero and villain. Who you may think is the villain may show great charity and contribution while who you believe is the hero may act dishonorably or against your beliefs.