Thursday, June 13, 2024

INTERVIEW WITH A. MARIPOSA (HEART of the WOLF)

 

Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview


1. Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

Maddy Donovan

Strongminded. Rebellious. Ready to run.

Maddy Donovan has been working hard and paying her own bills since she was 16 years old. She just wants to graduate and get the heck out of town. She doesn't believe in werewolves or any of that paranormal nonsense. That is, until she starts dating one. Gareth calls himself her lifemate, but can she really rely on him? The protection and stability he offers seems too good to be true. Sometimes learning to trust is the greatest adventure.

Gareth Delarosa

Car guy. Army vet. Werewolf. 

A lone Alpha wolf on the run, Gareth came to Black River with no territory and no pack. While hitchhiking through the Adirondack Mountains, he runs across a young girl hiding in a hollow tree during a rainstorm. He helps her back home, but notices something unusual about her scent. That’s when he recognizes his lifemate. 

But how’s he supposed to approach Maddy? She doesn’t know she’s a werewolf. Where is her pack? What is she doing out here all alone? Why hasn’t she Changed yet? He wants to help her, but first he has to gain her trust, and . . . well, Alpha blood runs hot. He’s a little rough around the edges.


2. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

I do believe in the paranormal and I’ve had a lot of experiences! Most recently I was staying at a little AirBnB called Whitehorse Ranch out in the Cascade Mountains. I had a very vivid dream of an old woman hanging around the farmhouse where we were staying. So on the last day of our trip, when my husband was loading up the car to leave, I took a few minutes alone in the house to greet the spirit and ask the spirit why she was hanging around. I encouraged her to leave and move on, and said some prayers for her. Five minutes later, I went to pick up the coffee pot and pour myself some coffee, and the glass pot shattered in my hands! It literally just fell apart and broke all over the floor. Maybe it was a coincidence, but I think that spirit was none too happy about my asking it to leave the farmhouse. Some people might think this kind of stuff is spooky, but I think we live in a world that’s rich in spirits, and we are surrounded by those spirits all the time. Talking and interacting with them is just another way of perceiving the world around us. And yes, my husband thinks I’m a little crazy, and that’s okay. 

3. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

“Heart of the Wolf” is my current ongoing serial novel. I’m separating it into three seasons, so you can think of this first book as Season One, and the next book will be Season Two. The story takes place in a little town called Black River, NY. I had a lot of fun researching the upstate New York area and its local history to add flavor to the book. Maddy and Gareth’s story isn’t just about finding your lifemate, it’s about the natural beauty of living in small town America.

In the world of Black River, not a lot of people know about werewolves, but they're definitely "a thing." The Grayridge Pack have come to town, and now they're stirring up all sorts of trouble for Maddy and Gareth. They're not too happy about another Alpha being on their territory, though technically Gareth was there first. It might lead to an all-out turf war!


Buy Now on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Wolf-Mariposa-ebook/dp/B0D1FKQ35J

Listen to the Audiobook Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/@blackbutterflyproductions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3sIDhvBmmQ





Heart of the Wolf
Black River Moon
Book One
A. Mariposa

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Black Butterfly
Date of Publication: 05/31/2024
ISBN: 9780999310298
ASIN: B0D1FKQ35J
Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 120,000
Cover Artist: Theresa Shreffler

Tagline: A steamy paranormal romance about forbidden first love!

Book Description: 

Maddy Donovan is trying to survive her senior year of high school. Her life is far from normal. Her stepdad is a shameless alcoholic. The power bill is due. And she has a math test tomorrow. She's living in survival mode, and she has no time to date that spicy older guy who keeps coming by the hardware store. What's his name again? Right. Gareth Delarosa. Black hair, hazel eyes, over six feet tall--guys that hot don't belong in Black River. He's been her secret crush for the last five years, but there's an age gap, and he's way off limits.

But it seems like fate has other plans. When Gareth saves her life the night of a break-in, she wakes up in his bedroom, in his bed, wearing his shirt. Her secret fantasy is staring her in the face. Oh wait, he's a werewolf? Right. Seems like her luck. True love is about to upend her world.

Welcome to a love story about crossing boundaries, taking risks, healing from trauma and learning to live on the wild side. This is not your grandma's love story! 

Recommended for readers 18+, contains spicy scenes and adult content.

Excerpt: Waking Up in Your Forbidden Crush’s House. Wearing His Shirt. You Know. Normal Things.

“Hey.”

She stiffened. Her heart gave a little flutter. She knew that voice. His deep, husky baritone was unmistakable.

Maddy looked back over her shoulder.

It was him.

Oh good lord.

He stood at the entrance to the kitchen, a towel over one shoulder.

Their eyes met.

She felt a little zap of lightning.

She swallowed. Hard.

Maddy turned around slowly to face him. She was shocked. He was her secret. Secrets were supposed to remain hidden. Not standing before her, face-to-face.

This was her first time standing so close to him outside of work, in broad daylight, without a dark moonlit forest obscuring his physique. His honey-hazel eyes glimmered beneath stern brows. His black hair, a warm tone like rich earthen humus, fell freely past his shoulders.

His massive chest made two little mountains under his white T-shirt. He was very tall and packed with muscle; she guessed him to be three or four inches over six feet.

A full sleeve of tattoos covered each arm. She had never really looked at them before. Up near his left shoulder, partly hidden by his shirt, she saw a vibrant, grinning skull in the sinister style of Dios de Los Muertos. The word LOBO in rustic Southwest font ran down his right forearm, while LOCO ran down the left. If his arms were both down, it read “lobo loco.” His right arm also carried the astrological symbol of a Scorpio, or maybe it was just a big fucking scorpion. The rest of the sleeve was too intricate for her to really appreciate at a glance.

His skin was deep tan. He wore blue jeans and steel-toed work boots. Something like car grease stained his shirt. She wondered, not for the first time, if he worked at a garage.

Maddie realized she was staring with her mouth slightly open. She shut it. She met his eyes again. She really didn't know what to say.

“You hungry?” he asked.

Then he walked back into the kitchen.

Maddy followed him with some hesitation. She felt like a stray cat who had wandered into someone’s house. He set a plate of bacon down on the kitchen table, and she pulled out a chair and sat down. Next to the bacon was a plate of scrambled eggs and two big waffles with maple syrup.

“I didn’t know what you liked,” he said, like he needed to explain why he’d served her an entire breakfast buffet. “Eat up. I’ll finish the rest.”

“Uh . . . thank you,” she mumbled.

She picked up her fork and speared one of the waffles onto her plate. The sight of so much food made her suddenly ravenous. She felt like she had burned ten-thousand calories the night before. She started shoving warm, syrup-covered waffles straight into her mouth.

He continued washing the dishes. The voice on the TV droned on. Maddy’s ears suddenly perked when she heard her name. “Now on local news, five bodies were found in the woods just outside Black River, NY . . . Police are saying animal attack . . . nearby mobilehome abandoned . . . currently searching for Madeline Donovan, a student at Black River High School. If you have any information about her whereabouts, please call . . . .”

So the police were looking for her. Wow. Color her impressed. Someone must have reported her missing. Maybe because of the gunshots. Certainly not her father. Sounded like Dean still hadn’t come home.

Another voice interrupted Maddy’s thoughts, a memory from the night before: “Rough up the guy. . . Toss his place . . . Leave a message.”

Maddy’s hands started to shake.

Her fork slipped through her clumsy fingers. It clattered to her plate. Then to the floor. It made a lot of noise.

The man turned to look at her.

“Sorry, uh . . . sorry,” she muttered.

Her hands clutched the bottom of her shirt as she tried to stop trembling.

He was still watching her. That made it worse. This isn’t normal. Nothing about this is normal. She was in his house. Her head was bandaged, and she was sitting in his boxers and a T-shirt. She felt a weird sense of vertigo. Everything was surreal.

She stared at her plate. Her cheeks were burning. She tried not to think of the unnegotiable fact that she was wearing his clothes, which meant someone must have undressed her the night before, which meant he absolutely saw her naked.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

He shut off the sink. Then he passed through the kitchen and into the living room, where he picked up the remote. He turned off the TV.

“Sorry if that bothered you,” he said.

“It’s alright,” she said.

She turned in the chair. She could see him clearly; he was only about ten feet away. She studied his face again. The light from the window cast shadows beneath his high cheekbones.

Devilish. He had a masculine neck, a cleft chin, a straight nose and a slightly prominent brow that gave his face a stern appearance. His lips were firm and sensual. His lashes were long and dark. His eyes were a bright, unusual hazel color. Sometimes they were green, and sometimes they were gold. She couldn’t tell if he was Native American, Mexican, Brazilian or a little bit of everything. To her, he looked like an exotic model from somewhere warm and tropical.

She felt a flutter in her stomach. It was not a shy tickle, but a steroid-enhanced butterfly striking her ribcage. She liked him so much. But . . . he was an adult, and she was only nineteen.

So, like, probably too young for him. God, she could not stop blushing.

“So what happened last night?” he asked. 


About the Author: 

A. Mariposa is penname for YA Fantasy writer, T. L. Shreffler. She writes Paranormal Romance that's steamy, spicy, a bit gritty, a little messy, and a whole lot of Happily Ever After! Her first PNR series The Wolves of Black River can be described as Shameless meets True Blood. For fans of Alpha males, shifter romance, forbidden first loves and historic small towns, this series is for you. <3








Wednesday, June 12, 2024

INTERVIEW WITH E.W. SALOKA (Dragon Masters: Silver Leaf Legacy Book 1)

Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview

 

1. Tell me a little bit about your main character in this book.

I’m going to say Dredd Domino. He’s our “rock star” dragon rider with a bad-boy attitude and the mad skills to back it up.   He lives life on his terms and doesn’t follow the pack.  Still, he has a good heart but sometimes makes bad choices.  Of course, my wife wrote him handsome and sexy with girls everywhere.  But I gave Dredd his adventurous spirit.  As co-authors, we try to compromise.

2. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

A few years back our golden Persian cat Mr. Sanders passed away. Of course, our family dearly missed him. I had an especially close bond with him. He would tap me on the back to get my attention and cry like a baby when he wanted me to come upstairs and go to bed.  In the following weeks after he was gone, I was missing my little buddy. One night I was playing a video game and looked over to the kitchen. I saw a fluffy gold tail swish by the door.  We have another cat, a smoky grey Persian. I knew it wasn’t Starla.  Then I wondered was that fluff of gold Mr. Sanders?   I remember my wife felt a calm peace fill the room when his sweet spirit whispered goodbye.   She said, “Go to Grandmom little man.” Her mother had passed away the month before and she believed Sanders’ spirit went to heaven too.

3. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

The next book in the Silver Leaf Legacy is Ever Dark. This is a continuing story from Book One- Dragon Masters and a few new characters have been added.  Book two should be released in April 2025.  My co-author wife Elaine is part of a new shared author series, Enchanted Elemental Empires. Her book Deadly Force is on pre-order and will be released in December 2024.  She’s also finishing her romantic suspense novel in between. 


Dragon Masters 
Silver Leaf Legacy 
Book One
E.W. Saloka

Genre: Fantasy romance
Publisher:  E.W. Saloka
Date of Publication:  May 29, 2024
ASIN: B0D36GY51W
Number of pages: 260
Word Count:  112,395
Cover Artist:  Blue Valley Author Services

Tagline:  Let the Games Begin 

Book Description: 

Zach was an ordinary guy living a mundane life. Attending classes, playing video games, and hanging out with his friends at Sal’s Pizza. Typical stuff for a fifteen-year-old, until one snowy night when a winged horse suddenly appeared. After that, nothing would ever be the same. Orcs, wizards, and dragons!   

Zach couldn't believe this was his new norm. Now instead of playing fantasy games, he was living one.

So, when he receives an invitation to join an elite group of Dragon Riders, things really heat up, especially when he meets two beautiful girls vying for his attention. The sweetly innocent Shanna, and Lux, an enchanting, but mysterious fae.

Zach didn't know how to ride a dragon; he couldn’t follow a manual online. No "How to Ride a Dragon in Six Easy Steps" guide. It was no wonder Dredd called him “Kid”
.
Dredd Domino, the Dragon Masters’ Champion. with an attitude and swagger to match his celebrity status. Droves of girls willing to do anything to be with their hero. But Dredd only desired an ethereal beauty who played dangerous games with the dragon rider’s heart.
 
The Dragmar Wizard told Zach, that receiving an invitation to join the Valdorian Order of Elite Riders was a high honor. Only a select group of dragon riders were chosen to participate in their annual death-defying race. Refusing their request would be an insult to the Race Council and not taken lightly. Once a rider was selected, there was no turning back. Not ever.

Enter the realm of Brandiss-Dor where intrigue, steamy romances, and prophecies abound. Family bloodlines and secrets steeped in the legacy of the coveted Silver Leaf lie within. Some will lie, steal, and even kill for it.

Book One of the Silver Leaf Legacy ends on a cliffhanger.  Dragon Masters is a mash-up of cozy and epic fantasy with heart-stopping romance.  Tropes are snarky dragons, forbidden love, love triangles, and morally grey villains.

Are you ready to take flight?


Excerpt:

The Ice Wizard ground his teeth and looked away. “I’m not your hero, Mella.”

 “To me you’re heroic, not the beast you think you are. You saved me today from being kidnapped by the orcs, they were taking me to the Norbe Swamps!” She shuddered at the thought of slimy hands on her as they chained her and threw her over their riding-beast. Their putrid breath as they hovered and gloated over their captured prey.

“Daksha called me a beast, so she’s gone now. I drove her away.” His blue eyes darkened.

The pain in his voice ripped through her. With shaky breath, Mella drew close to him. She took Rianor's strong hand and held it up to her lips.  

He could feel the whisper of her soft breath; his ice-blue eyes met hers. “You should go now.”

“Is that what you want Rianor?” she gazed into his eyes; those eyes so full of darkness and passion.

Suddenly, he pulled her closer; his mouth found hers. His lips whispered against hers as he gripped her waist tightly.

She melted into him. “I never stopped loving you. All those years trapped in that lonely existence my heart yearned for you. I couldn’t tell you because you were with .. with Daksha.” Tears stung Mella’s seafoam eyes.

“No... don’t cry.” He tasted the saltiness of her falling tears as he kissed each one away. He had to hold back his Blue Ceress magic. Mella was a sweet and gentle siren, but only the Emerald Fire could match his darkness, and Daksha was the white heat the Ice Wizard craved.

“You’re thinking of her, aren’t you?” Mella pulled away. “You desire her, but do you love her?”

“I can’t feel love. I told Daksha I loved her, but she needed to hear those words. To me, love is nothing but a hollow emotion.”

Mella touched his arm gently. “But why would you do that if you knew it would hurt her?”

“I have no easy answers, do you see why I can’t be your hero?” 


About the Authors:

E.W. Saloka are writers, artists, conceptual designers, and a husband and wife team.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Brandiss-Dor. Their Silver Leaf Legacy series is the culmination of twenty years of working in the fantasy collectible industry. William began sculpting professionally several years ago with fantasy being his preferred subject.

Elaine began writing the storylines to accompany William's sculptures for his art shows and Ren Faires. Eventually, those stories grew into an outline for Dragon Masters. William is a dragon expert so she relies on his expertise to bring the dragons to life in their story. Between his fantasy and her romance their characters shine.

https://www.facebook.com/salokartworks/

https://amzn.to/3ynMUGG






Wednesday, May 29, 2024

THE BIRTH OF DEATH from THE EVORATH TRILOGY (Joseph P. Macolino]

 


The Birth of Death
The Evorath Trilogy
Book One
Joseph P Macolino

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Free Dragon Press LLC
Date of Publication: August 11, 2016
ISBN: 978-0997883800
ASIN: B01K9PRWQA
Number of pages: 377 pages

Book Description: 

Clues that lead deep beneath the surface.  Rituals to summon an ancient power. 

In a world filled with magic, can good stop a hungry evil? 

Lieutenant Artimus Atyrmirid feels unsettled. As a talented archer and head investigator for the kingdom, the pragmatic elf tries to brush aside the flaws others claim are infiltrating his picture-perfect realm. But he senses a shift when a breakthrough in a bizarre kidnapping case puts him face to face with a devilish villain.

Mage Savannah Sylvanas is on a personal quest for justice. Delighted to be assigned to the rangers’ top investigative squad, the former druid drives herself hard to impress her new leader. And she’s horrified when their venture into an abandoned dwarven mine ends with half the team’s minds corrupted by a lurking darkness.



The Rise of Yezurkstal
The Evorath Trilogy
Book Two
Joseph P Macolino

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Free Dragon Press LLC
Date of Publication: July 11, 2023
ISBN: 978-0997883824
ASIN: B0C6JRCBV4
Number of pages: 394 pages

Book Description: 

A year ago, he was forced to retreat. Now he’s back for revenge. Will the people of Evorath be able to stand against his terrifying new power?

Yezurkstal is more determined than ever to reshape the forest of Erathal in his image. He’s done hiding and ready to lead the dark elves to build a new empire in Erathal. His plan is guaranteed to succeed after he creates a spell to lure unsuspecting humans into his army.

Evorath's heroes are once again called upon to fight. With new allies joining the cause, they unite to stand against the rising evil. But as Yezurkstal's power increases, time is running out, and the challenge is greater than ever before.

Will Yezurkstal and his undead army prevail over the heroes of Evorath or has he finally met his match?

The Rise of Yezurkstal is the thrilling second novel in the Evorath epic high fantasy series. If you enjoy reading about characters everyone loves to hate, mythical creatures, and fantasy worlds, you'll love Joseph P Macolino's epic fantasy adventure.



The Battle for Erathal
The Evorath Trilogy
Book Three
Joseph P Macolino

Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Free Dragon Press LLC
Date of Publication: February 20, 2024
ISBN: 978-0-9978838-4-8
ASIN: B0CNHHS4FH
Number of pages: 319 pages

Book Description: 

He just wanted to enjoy this time of peace. But when a familiar evil is unleashed upon the forest of Erathal, will anyone be safe?

Enjoying the time without strife, Irontail works to spread peace and unity throughout the forest of Erathal. Organizing the first ever Festival of Gratitude, he finally feels he is fulfilling his calling as the leader of his centaur village. But his plans are once again hijacked when a familiar villain escapes from imprisonment.

The felite warrior, Tel’ Shira, joins Irontail and the other heroes of Erathal as they plan their counter-offensive. But even her gift of foresight is not enough to prepare her for the upcoming battle against this malevolent foe.

With the future of Erathal on the line, will anyone survive to tell the tale?

The Battle for Erathal is the thrilling conclusion to the Evorath epic fantasy trilogy. 

If you like expansive world-building, heart-pounding battle scenes, and heroic ensembles, you won’t want to miss Joseph P Macolino’s epic fantasy adventure.



About the Author: 

Joseph Macolino has a passion for nature, philosophy, and all things fantasy. An unwavering Christian and self-declared anarchist, he dreams of a future human society where people can truly cooperate and voluntarily exchange ideas, goods, and services. When he’s not writing Evorath, he’s likely outside gardening, spending time watching a show with his family, or reading a book on philosophy.

Considering himself a lifelong student of humanity, Joseph enjoys meeting new people and being exposed to new perspectives. He believes each person’s unique gifts can help contribute to stronger communities and hopes his work encourages others to embrace their gifts. Find out more about him at his website.

https://evorath.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/Evorath

https://www.instagram.com/evorath/   






Wednesday, May 22, 2024

INTERVIEW WITH M. LASZLO (On the Threshold)

 



We were lucky to have a few minutes to ask M. Laszlo our three fave questions. Here are the answers:

Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview


1. Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

The main character is named Fingal, and he’s a fine Scotsman who runs a respectable hotel—which is actually a proper Scottish castle. The problem is he’s not content to live the life of a hotel manager. What he really wants to do is resolve the riddle of the universe. Seriously! He wants to know once and for all what are the origins of the universe, what is the meaning of life, and what exactly is the purpose of humankind and/or civilization. He reasons that he can stumble upon the answer if he can only release a projection and/or personification of his innate knowledge—which is to say that body of knowledge that Plato always believed to be housed in the deepest recesses of a person’s psyche. Anyway, despite all that, Fingal is more or less relatable. He loves cats. He worries about harming others with his experiments. Perhaps most important of all, he knows right from wrong and doesn’t hate anyone. In that sense, he’s a right and proper Scotsman.  

2. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

Of course, I believe. My most awesome experience with the paranormal and/or spiritual world happened to me in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. At the time, I was living at the Citadel Youth Hostel then run by one Auni Moustapha Atara of Ramallah. One night we had a really big winter storm, and in the morning the whole of the city was carpeted in glistening, beautiful snow. So, I walked outside to look things over—and almost immediately a hummingbird darted over toward me. At that point, every instinct told me to  stick with it and to follow it. And the hummingbird guided me down the street and then this way and that through the Arab market. Finally, we reached the staircase leading up to the mosque and the Dome of the Rock (the Temple Mount as it were.) Because there was no one around, it seemed okay to ascend the stairs. Then, not a moment or two later, the hummingbird simply vanished. The winged creature did not fly this way or that or take shelter somewhere specific. Rather, the hummingbird vanished—and I found myself totally alone up there. All these years later, I’d like to think the hummingbird vanished into some heavenly realm. Why not? A person has the right to believe.

3. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

At present, nothing commands my time and attention quite like my coming-of-age manuscript—which I hope to release in 2025. Given all the content editing and such, it’s got to be my best work to date. More importantly, it’s a tale that almost any reader can find relatable. The reason why readers love the coming-of-age genre probably follows from the fact that we all go through big changes in our teenage  and young-adult years. What makes my work a bit different is that I focus in on the kinds of problems (mental-health issues) that often crop up at that time in a young person’s life. The tension is exacerbated by the fact that my tale takes place in the WW-I era—specifically in Egypt and Sinai at a difficult time when the British Empire ruled over those lands, much to the chagrin of the Egyptian people. 

On the Threshold
M. Laszlo

Genre: SciFi, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Publisher: Awesome Independent Authors Publishing
Date of Publication: February 2024
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1922329584
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1922329585
Number of pages: 342
Word Count: Approximately 90,000 words
Cover Artist: Rose Newland

Tagline: Obsessed with solving the riddle of the universe,  Scotsman Fingal T. Smyth conducts an occult-science experiment during which he unleashes a projection of his innate knowledge. 

Book Description: 

Obsessed with solving the riddle of the universe, a Scotsman named Fingal T. Smyth conducts an occult-science experiment during which he unleashes a projection of his innate knowledge. 

Fingal aimed to interrogate this avatar to learn what it knows, but unfortunately, he forgot how violent the animal impulses that reside in the deepest recesses of the unconscious mind can be. The avatar appears as a burning man who seeks to manipulate innocent and unsuspecting people into immolating themselves. 

With little hope of returning the fiery figure into his being, Fingal must capture his nemesis before it destroys the world.

Amazon     BN



Excerpt:

Autumn, 1907: late one morning, some kind of torrid, invisible beast seemed to wrap itself all around Fingal T. Smyth’s body. Each one of his toes twitching fiercely, he exited the castle and scanned the distant, Scottish Highlands. Go back where you came from. As the entity wrapped itself tighter all about his person, Fingal blinked back his tears. I’m melting, I am. Aye, it’s the heat of fusion.

Gradually, the beast’s heartbeat became audible—each pulsation. At the same time, too, the illusory heat of transformation emitted an odor as of oven-roasted peppercorns dissolving in a cup of burnt coffee.

Over by the gatehouse, Fräulein Wunderwaffe appeared—the little German girl wearing a plain-sewn robe and square-crown bowler. In that moment, she no longer seemed to be a sickly child of seven years: her inscrutable expression resembled that of a wise, indifferent cat.
Perhaps even some kind of lioness. Fingal cringed, and he recalled a fragment of conversation from three weeks earlier.

“She suffers from a most unnatural pathology, an anguished, maniacal obsession with cats,”

Doktor Hubertus Pflug had explained. “Ever since the poor girl was a baby, she has always regarded it her fate to one day metamorphose into a glorious panther, for she believes herself to be ein Gestaltwandler. Do you know this word? It means shapeshifter and refers to someone who possesses the power to take the form of anything in nature.”

The heat radiated up and down Fingal’s spine now, and his thoughts turned back to the present. Aye, it’s a change of phase. I’m melting into a chemical compound. Despite all, he greeted the girl and willed himself to flash a grin.

Fräulein Wunderwaffe did not return the smile. Hand on heart, the little girl drew a bit closer.

Then, as the hot, animalistic presence undulated all across Fingal’s body, the little girl’s eyes grew wide. Until the little girl’s expression turned to that of a vacant stare.

A moment later, her feet pointed inwards, she removed her hat and undid her long, flaxen hair.

Again, he cringed. “If you’ve noticed something, ignore all. This hasn’t got anything to do with you.” A third time, he cringed.

A most ethereal, lyrical, incomprehensible hiss commenced then: from the other end of the winding, decorative-brick driveway, each clay block shining the color of blue Welsh stone, a sleek Siamese cat with a coat of chocolate-spotted ivory had just appeared. And now the creature raced toward his shadow.

As he looked into the animal’s big, searching, blue eyes, the chocolate Siamese studied the off-center tip of his nose. Then the animal turned away, as if to compare the peculiarity with that of some disembodied visage hovering in the distance.

Out upon the loch, meanwhile, a miraculous rogue wave suddenly arose—and now the swell crashed against the pebbly strand.

Not a moment later, a cool flame crawled across Fingal’s throat. The strange fire rattled, too—not unlike the sound of fallen juniper leaves caught up in the current and dancing against the surface of a stone walkway.

Crivens. By now, the alien, pulsating presence held him so tight that he could barely breathe.

Before long, he fell to the earth, and as the dreamlike flame continued to move across his throat, he rolled all about—until the illusory sensation of cool warmth wriggled and twisted and dropped into his neck dimple.

He crawled over to the little girl and grabbed her ankle. “Get on up to your physician’s room, eh?

Please. Go on and wake Doktor Pflug and tell him what’s happened.”



About the Author:

M. Laszlo is the pseudonym of an extreme recluse who lives in Bath, Ohio. Rumor holds that he derived his pen name from the character of Victor Laszlo in the classic film Casablanca. 









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Friday, May 10, 2024

INTERVIEW: THE CRYSTALINE CRUCIBLE (Adam Rowan)


The Crystalline Crucible
Adam Rowan

Genre: New Adult 
Publisher: Spinning Monkey Press
Date of Publication:  May 14, 2024
ISBN: 9798985769562
ASIN: B0CXYM3R8B
Word Count: 90000 

Tagline: Treasure comes in many forms

Book Description: 

Maxwell Jacobs, a neurodivergent 21-year-old with a passion for knights, Tetris and cheese sandwiches, harbours an audacious dream-to become the greatest treasure hunter in England. 

His chance comes with The Crystalline Crucible, a treasure-hunting contest promising untold wealth and answers to the world's biggest secrets. However, Max's mission gets off to a rocky start when he's arrested for breaking into a museum in search of a clue. His fear of leaving his hometown, Stapleford, his cynical best friend, Rosie Shaw, and his clumsy, awkward nature only serve to complicate things further. Overall, his prospects seem dim. 

That is, until Max crosses paths with Khalil Ahmed, a former criminal seeking redemption and quick cash. Despite their differences, their shared desperation draws them into The Crystalline Crucible. Together, they'll decipher cryptic clues and embark on an epic nationwide adventure, with high stakes and a singular goal: to find treasure!

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CHAPTER 1: THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH THIEF

In the seven-decade-long existence of the Nottingham Natural History Museum, no break-in had ever occurred until five a.m. on one fateful Saturday. The trespasser’s name was Maxwell Oscar Jacobs, a local retail worker. In his spare time, he enjoyed playing Tetris, doing crossword puzzles, and—his preferred pastime—a spot of treasure hunting.

With a stone he’d found on the pavement, Max had smashed the museum’s back window and climbed into it by balancing on a rubbish bin. Shortly thereafter, he padded warily through the geology exhibit surrounded by models of Earth, not enjoying the experience in the slightest. Surveillance cameras mounted above on the wall scanned him, but he dearly hoped the authorities hadn’t been dispatched to arrest him. They shouldn’t be. After all, he hadn’t poured chocolate milk on the power box outside for nothing.

Max was twenty-one years old, rather tall with stick insect limbs. Bright blond hair and a poorly cut fringe topped his head. He wore a grey Cookie Monster hoodie, straight-legged jeans, Mickey Mouse socks and a cheap, halfbroken children’s watch with coloured numbers. He also wore blue trainers with the shoelaces undone and carried a Tony the Tiger rucksack in which to store the mammoth tusk he was after. To top it all, he had a scabbard that held a broadsword called Fleshrender, Max’s favourite possession.

Pacing along, he thought passingly that he should have dressed the part more and put on a ski mask. His heart pounded as he passed by the dinosaur exhibit, unease assailing him. It was too late to go home at this point. He just had to find the mammoth tusk before daylight.

He gathered himself, drew his sword and focused on not tripping while he navigated through the dark, winding corridors. Even the smallest of noises made him jump—broadsword at the ready—as he crept through the empty halls.

With the lights off, the museum was practically a haunted house. While he tiptoed into the zoology section, glimmering rays of moonlight streamed in through the windows, falling gently over him. Shadowed model animals lined the walls, felt rabbits and plastic spiders sitting on table displays. A frightening bear stood with its paws raised and its sharp jaws wide open as if
ready to pounce on him at a moment’s notice. Max’s eyes widened, but within seconds he discerned to his relief it was just taxidermy.

At last, the mammoth appeared behind a red security barrier not far away. With every muscle tensed, he gazed in awe at its gigantic figure. But his jaw dropped as he realised, despite how carefully he had planned this mission, he’d forgotten one crucial part: how to extract the mammoth tusk out of the skeleton. It looked like it’d been screwed in tightly. Should’ve
brought a screwdriver. Oh, bother.

Pushing his shoulders back, he sheathed his weapon, strode right up to
the mammoth and peered at the display label. It read:

This woolly mammoth skeleton was discovered in 1925 by a team of esteemed archaeologists in rural Devon. It was the first almost entirely preserved specimen ever uncovered in England. It is a relic of priceless historical value. DO NOT TOUCH.

Deciding to disobey and wrest the tusk out, Max stepped over the maroon rope that encircled the mammoth and wrapped his hands around it. Like Arthur pulling the sword from the stone, there was nothing else to do but pull really, really hard.

After counting down from three, he tugged the mammoth tusk towards him with all his might. It took a few tries, but finally the tusk separated from the woolly mammoth skeleton with a nasty crack, and he fell on his backside.

Yet before he could rejoice, he heard the sound of a creak.

A door opened across the room.

“PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK! LAY DOWN ON THE GROUND!”

Max turned around and scrambled to his feet, mouth wide open. Police with intimidating weapons emerged out of nowhere, swarming him. He gaped at the approaching horde before looking back down at the tusk. This couldn’t be happening.

The thought crossed his mind to run. But what was the point? There were too many police. He was toast!

He dropped the mammoth tusk on the floor and unsheathed his sword.

“Listen, this is all a b-big misunderstanding,” he stuttered.

“NO MISUNDERSTANDING!” a second officer yelled, a woman in a navy tunic with a bulletproof vest. She inched over to him. “HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK NOW!”

Max stared at the police, aghast. They think I’m a criminal. How ridiculous. I’m just an innocent treasure hunter!

“Let me e-explain. It’s v-very, very important for you to let me eexplain,” Max stammered.

He pointed his sword at them threateningly, before spotting a paunchy man who held what looked like a laser pointer and was aiming it at him.

Max swung the sword around as a warning. “Please. If you’d just give me a second to clear this up, I’m sure that—arghhh!”

His words cut out with a bloodcurdling scream. Electricity surged through his body. The red dot he’d seen on his chest hadn’t been from a laser pointer at all, but a taser. Limbs spasming, Max fell onto the floor and crumpled into a ball as the police closed in on him.

About the Author: 

Author Adam Rowan’s passion for writing began in childhood, although he admits his early attempts were far from perfect. After a hiatus during his teenage years, Adam rediscovered his love for writing in his early twenties and has been dedicated to improving his craft ever since. In 2022, MotherButterfly Books published Adam's first novel. His second book, The Crystalline Crucible, is published by Spinning Monkey Press and is inspired by his experiences growing up in England. When he's not immersed in the world of writing, Adam is an electronic musician and avid film fan. With the support of his family, Adam continues to pursue his writing dreams, understanding that patience is key in the journey of creating a book. 



Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3w3uH0d