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Spotlight and review of Life After Love, by Imogen Markwell-Tweed

I’m trying something new, scary right? I’ve joined a blog tour. If all goes well I might do it again. So, things might look a little different on occasion. But the reviews are still written in the same manner, nothing is changing there. It’s just that now I get to include a lot of fun graphics and even a GIVEAWAY at the bottom. I’m super excited about that. Plus, I get to start a local-to-me author, and reading local authors is a special thrill for me. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Adam and Danny in Life After Love.

Life After Love
by Imogen Markwell-Tweed
Genre: Paranormal LGBTQ Romance

 

 

Adam and Danny are your average couple. Sure, Adam is a ghost — and then he’s not — and then he is again. And, yes, in between crafting lattes, Danny sometimes crafts spells. But other than that, they’re your typical couple — plus or minus a few grimoires. From ghostly best friends to husbands, Adam and Danny find a way to work through all of their troubles … even death.
Danny loves his new apartment, its stainless steel appliances, low crime rating, and proximity to his job that keeps him from having to take the bus. The only downside? The ghost that haunts it. When Danny reluctantly offers to share the space with Adam the Ghost, he thinks he’s signing up for an awkward roommate situation. Instead, Danny is faced with the very real possibility that Adam might be the love of his life — and that, at any moment, he might lose him forever.
**Only .99 cents!! **

Life After Love puts paid to the dictum of the “show, don’t tell.” The book is written in almost 100% tell, but it works. I mean really works. If you like Alexis Hall‘s use of feels or TJ Klune’s chanty-repetitiveness you will like Imogen Markwell-Tweed’s writing. 

Granted, it covers a lifetime in just over a hundred pages. So, it’s on the spare side. And I wasn’t surprised to learn, after reading it, that it was written in parts (maybe as a serial) before being compiled into this book. You feel it a little in the way some things are needlessly recapped. But the whole this is just so sweet (without being artificially saccharine) that it’s all forgivable. Well worth picking up.

Imogen Markwell-Tweed is a queer romance writer and editor based in St. Louis. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her dog, IMT can be found putting her media degrees to use by binge-watching trashy television. All of her stories promise queer protagonists, healthy relationships, and happily ever afters.

 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
 
IMT Goodie Bag including: 
personalized note, Life After Love limited edition button,
 bonus short story, $10 Amazon gift card, and more!

 

Review of FLUX and interview with author, Mark Faulkner

Author, Mark Faulkner, sent me a copy of his  horror novel, Flux. I love the cover and (you can’t tell from the picture) its small size. It’s diminutive in all the best ways–just the right size to slip in a bag or largish back pocket. I love books I can carry around with me. Here is the description from Goodreads, so you know the type of story we are talking about.

Iain is looking forward to the weekend when a number nineteen bus shatters his body, but broken bones are the least of his worries. In this disturbing, yet darkly funny novel, Iain’s near death experience is not a vision of exquisite godliness with light at the end of a tunnel. Instead he experiences a place of darkness and heat, inhabited by foul creatures, the sounds of suffering and a beast. During a long recovery Iain becomes plagued by nightmares and premonitions, shadowy apparitions, a magpie, and a vile old man. They all have a message, that something wants Iain and it won’t give up easily. Iain’s friends do their best to cheer him up in ways they know how, until the unexpected events of one sunny afternoon mean that he is on his own, caught up in the age old battle of good versus evil.

This is unquestioningly a horror novel. There are some scenes that are, frankly, stomach turning. Most involve Bertie and/or feces in some way, yuck (to both of them). But that’s the type of book this is and it shouldn’t be off-putting. If you pick up a horror novel, you should expect some gore and horror. You get plenty of both in Flux.

The book does drag at times. Iain spends a lot of time sobbing in bed and sitting at bus stops. But it isn’t enough to put you to sleep, and does serve to highlight the action in contrast. Plus, in Iain’s situation I think I would do the same. So maybe it’s just realism.

There are some really interesting characters here. Iain’s two best buds I loved instantly. Beer guzzling, moderately aimless lads in their early twenties who, if I was in my late sixties, I would describe as ‘good boys.’ Though less ostensibly horrific, I felt sorrier for Dave than Iain. You’ll have to read the book to know why.

This is a classic novel of light versus dark, good versus evil, sane versus insane. Possibly more the last than the first, but that’s an ontological question that I think the book forces you to address. It keeps you guessing, you’re never sure what will leap out at you (and poor Iain) next.

There are a few grammar/typo type mistakes, but not enough to be particularly distracting. I think it is well worth picking up, and if you are a particular fan of horror it’s one you won’t want to miss.
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Mark was also kind enough to swing by our digital alcove and answer a few questions.

Mark, thank you for being here. I really liked the premise of Flux. Do you remember where the idea  came from? Was there an initial spark?

I have always had loads of ideas floating around in my head! I think Flux started with me writing a paragraph about someone’s life balancing on the edge of a knife and it evolved from there.  That first paragraph is still sitting on my laptop somewhere but didn’t make the story.

Flux is a battle of biblical proportions for Iain, but is it actually a biblically based text? Would you consider it to be a religious novel?

No, not at all.  I think I’d be strung up if I said it was!  However, religion does offer a lot of interesting concepts to draw inspiration from.  Weirdly, the main character in the next one is a monk.

My favorite characters where Dave and Gary. They’re everything women often want to kick lads for being, but they try so hard to do right by their buddy. How did you develop their characters?

I had fun with these.  They are an amalgamation of parts of several good friends and myself.  I tried to capture the essence of normal chap, including all the smelly bits.

Who is your favourite character and why?

Dirty Bertie.  For me, he represents chaos, anarchy and disorder but also free will…and he’s totally gross.

Good v. Evil, by Curua

There aren’t a lot of grey characters in this book. Good and Evil occupy fairly defined camps. Is there a character you would have trouble placing in one or the other?

Iain, because he’s caught up in the middle of it all.  Also his friends, Dave and Gary because they’re just normal blokes, with a mix of good and not so good in them, like all of us I guess.

Do you consider Flux to have a happy ending?

No.  I did however try to convey a glimmer of hope because I didn’t want to leave the reader feeling depressed.

I would have liked to see a little more of Tim and Dr. Goodman. What do you think their role in the book as?

Bit characters, sorry.  I have their whole life stories in my head, and I edited out a lot of their scenes because I wanted to keep with the main story.  Dr Goodman is the ambitious go getter but completely lacking in any spirituality.  I almost got rid of her completely but thought she was an integral part of the story.  Tim’s been worn down over the years and is starting to question his faith.  I left him in because I like him.  He’s also an interesting character for Iain to turn to.

I understand this is your first novel, what’s next? Any new project you want to tell us about?

I’m part way through drafting a dark fantasy, which is taking some interesting turns but might take quite a while.  I’m hoping to have it finished later in the year. There are also a couple of novella’s I have plotted but they’ll have to wait.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

For many years I wanted to be a musician and still play in a band, however, it wasn’t to be.  I’ve always daydreamed a lot though, and on occasion over the years have begun to write something down and then thrown it away.  Then, when I met my partner she encouraged me to persevere.  I wrote a book for practice, just to see if I could.  I loved it but to be fair it was a bit rubbish, but I took the things I learned and set out to write something better, armed with the knowledge I could actually finish a novel.  I’m hoping the next one will be better again.  I learn well by trial and error so each time I write something new, I ask myself how I can improve.

How do you come up with such horrific scenes? Do you have a method?

tar pit bubbling

No method.  Inside my mind can be a pretty chaotic place and all kinds of stuff bubbles to the surface.  I thought it happened to everyone but after publishing Flux I’m not so sure.

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to start out as a novelist. What were/are you in your other life?

I do work but I don’t like to think about it. Writing for me is a way to break up the monotony of the daily grind, to allow my imagination free reign even if I can’t be doing what I want to do because of the working day.

What does your writing day look like?

I have to cram it in when I can.  I don’t have a schedule but try to do as much as I can whilst juggling work and life in general.  It can be frustrating because I write better early in the morning but start work at 7.  I try to set a very modest word count each day but often miss it.  I tend to have a lot of notes jotted down in a messy notebook though to type up when I get the chance.

Is there an author you take particular inspiration from?

Without wanting to sound pretentious, I get inspiration from almost everything I read with possibly the exception of Bram Stoker.  I’m currently struggling through Dracula.

When I was writing my first book, I read the Painted Man by Peter V Brett.  It blew me away and I told myself, I want to be that good.  That helped to push me. I also recently re-read the Fog by James Herbert and thought, Shite, I write a bit like him.  So, I guess I’ll say him too because I’ve read a lot of his books, but mainly in my youth.  I think something must have rubbed off.

If I could write as well as either of the above, I’d be a very happy man.

Can I just say, thank you for having me.
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Thanks for being here Mark. I really did enjoy the book and look forward to your take on a monk.

Interview with Helen Smith, author of Alison Wonderland + Review

 Alison WonderlandI was sent a copy of Alison Wonderland, by Helen Smith to read. I’m uncertain how to categorize this novel. Surreal or ‘weird’ fiction is probably closest to accurate. To start us off, here is the description:

After her husband leaves her for another woman, twentysomething Londoner Alison Temple impulsively applies for a job at the very P.I. firm she hired to trap her philandering ex. She hopes it will be the change of scene she so desperately needs to move on with her shattered life. At the all-female Fitzgerald’s Bureau of Investigation, she spends her days tracking lost objects and her nights shadowing unfaithful husbands. But no matter what the case, none of her clients can compare to the fascinating characters in her personal life. There’s her boss, the estimable and tidy Mrs. Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison’s eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbour; and—last but not least—her psychic postman. Her relationships with them all become entangled when she joins Taron for a road trip to the seaside and stumbles into a misadventure of epic proportions! Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, this humorous literary novel introduces a memorable heroine struggling with the everyday complexities of modern life.
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