Jack of all trades: Boise author Josh Gross

Interview with Boise Author, Josh Gross (Edited for space)

(August 24, 2012, Dawson Taylor Coffee – neutral territory)

 

photo from: http://ow.ly/dnPps

 When you first asked us to review it [your book] I saw that it was a collection of short stories and I never really never got into short stories just because, for me, I never thought there was enough to get into, but actually, short story writers are very talented because you have to get all of that in there, you have to get the bang of the character in the story right away—

–And you have to start over every time.

Yeah exactly, and you don’t have that many pages to get everything across to your reader and get them hooked.  So good job, I’m converted. I enjoy short stories, because it’s a nice little window–snapshot–into someone’s life without getting committed for 300 pages.

Yeah, it’s good because it’s nice and nonthreatening. You can pick up a couple when you feel like it, and you don’t feel like you’re locked into a book. It wasn’t like I had a giant ambition to pursue short stories over everything else; but—I have some completed manuscripts, or novels, it’s just that this was the material that was most publishable at the time.

So, over what time span did all of these get written?

The first big batch of them I wrote in the summer of 2004/2005 I think, because I had—or maybe it was 2005—I can’t remember—because I had this really great job as the editor of the college newspaper and it paid of the summer but we didn’t have to publish over the summer which was nice so basically I just had a free check to do nothing—which I’m not saying that’s that not something that should be amended, but I had a lot of free time to work on stuff. I initially published them as a zine (something similar to being published at Kinko’s), ran off about 100’s copies and sold those, about 120 pages, I think it had nine stories. I did all the illustrations myself—they were much cruder. And then the rest of them were sort of plunked in over time. After that there was a two year time before I moved here to Boise, and during that time I finished off a number of the stories that were in that book, finished off two novel manuscripts, full length play, two screenplays—I had a lot of free time then.

Wow, so you’re all over the place, then. I noticed that quite a few of your stories have already been published in different magazines and have won a number of awards, so is that how the collection got started? Sort of The Best Of?

Yeah, I started with more and then cut some out because they weren’t good enough. I initially was sending this to publishers but they aren’t’ that interested in short story collections from unknown authors, they want you to have a bestselling novel, first.

There’s obviously a trick to writing short fiction well; how do you make sure you’re writing a good compelling short story?

I don’t know if it’s really any different from writing a novel, it’s just—stories have a certain length that they naturally go to and the problems usually come when you try to make it shorter or longer than it needs to be. I mean, there’s nothing worse than a short story written to novel length or a novel compressed into a short story. These are just stories that ended where they naturally fell. I have stories that are longer, but these ones are just where they naturally settled. If there was room to expand them, I probably would. Some of them are only two or three pages long, but that’s the natural length of the story, but if you mutilate it by trying to stretch it out…

Yeah, there were a couple that were longer, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, these are longer compared to the other ones’ and then I started reading them and they were over like that.

Yeah, some are like novellas and others are like blips, and I like that.

Tell me more about your other projects you have.

When I moved here I had a stack of stuff this high that I’d built up when I wasn’t really doing much, and my idea was, build up a big stock of material and start going through it. I have a short novel that I’d written that my friend was going to put out on one of his publishing imprints, but for whatever reasons it ended up taking too long so he just gave it back to me, so I have that done and ready to go. I could upload that to Amazon tomorrow, but I wanted one thing at a time. And I have another novel that I need some pretty serious redrafting that’s about a rock band and I wanted to go back and record an album to go with it.

Cool, that’s actually trending, even with physical books, and also to include song lists.

Yeah, well, this would actually be recording songs as the band described them in the book; I sort of have this side project going on. There’s that and then I had a play that was put on earlier in the year at the Linen Building for a couple of days, and it was a big success and it goes with enough other plays and scripts that I’ve written that I’m also  going to compile a collection of scripts. I have one more that I want to put through the workshop process and get produced before then, and that’s probably going to be sometime next year, maybe. And then I have the one mega project which I sort of fear going back to, and that’s a memoir I wrote about my time in youth prison. And that is the first thing I ever really wrote, and it’s a “train wreck wrapped in a cluster[omitted] tied in a Celtic knot”

That’s a great little blurb for the front of the book.

But that needs a lot of reworking, but I think that it’s a great story. But it’s going to take a lot of time and emotional energy, so I wanted to get some of this other stuff first. And I’m also working on a musical puppet show that’s going go on Halloween for a couple days. It’s going to all be put on through Homegrown Theatre which is who I worked with for the play in the spring.

And the puppet show, it’s for adults, right, not for children?

Yeah, it’s called the Ritual killing of the Musical

Very promising, I’m liking that.

Yeah, well, it’s a Halloween show, so, it’s gonna be a little…and then, what else is going on? The film version of that [The Dog House] is coming out in the fall.

So you’re a musician too, then. Qhat do you play, or do you do everything? It’s kind of sounding like you’re a Jack of All Trades.

Um, yeah, a little bit. I was a drummer in a band here called The Ratings Battle—a loud rock and roll band. Originally called the Northend Snugglers, but we had to change it. A lot of guys don’t like that, apparently.

[Me, laughing] The Northend Snugglers.

I thought that was hysterical.

Yeah, that was awesome.

Our new guitar player just shipped out to basic training so it’s on hiatus now. I also play drums for a kid named Bridgeport. He’s an acoustic act but I’ve played with him a couple of times. I have three or four different solo projects depending on how you define them. One of them is a ukulele heavy metal cover project—

That is a very…eclectic…mix.

And then I did a EP with that, and a ukulele, accordion, bass, and drums. And then there’s a version of that that performs as a trio. And then there’s sort of indie rock one man act, and then I have a new one that’s sort of a one man DJ mixes with a guitar and a drum machine and a looping petal.

Is any of your music available in iTunes?

Lots of it

Under Josh Gross?

Um, I’ll send you some links because it’s over the place.

So, the two stories I like the most in here are The Dog House, because that was the first one I read. And the entire time I’m reading it, I’m thinking, I can’t believe this guy is doing this, he’s freaking psychotic! But I could totally see someone who’s obsessed with their new dog doing that. And then the end was just awesome. And the other one was One Friday in April.

The thing I think I really like about your stories is that they’re not all funny, there are some serious moments, but then also the fact that you have this story itself that’s about some main secret, then within that secret you have a couple other secrets going on which are very subtle. So, when you’re doing that, is it intentional, or is it just a natural development of writing the story?

I do a lot of that stuff intentionally, because you don’t want to be too heavy handed with that, you don’t want it to be too obvious, but you want the reader to figure it out on their own so that they become an active participant in the story. I don’t want to say ‘show don’t tell’ because that’s such a clichéd thing to say, but I feel like a really good story, you should feel like an active participant and sometimes that’s instilling that sense of mystery and of figuring things out for yourself. And it’s backfired a lot. A lot of the times I’ve put things in there and people are like, ‘I totally didn’t get that’.

So which do you prefer writing? Do you prefer your novel length, screenplays, short fiction?

I jump around a lot. It’s whatever I’m in the mood for. And if I get bored, I’ll move on to something else. There’s nothing there that says if you wrote novels you can’t write scripts. If you write screenplays you can’t write songs. I like writing books that are really daunting and exhausting. I like writing songs that really purge.

So are any of these derived from real life experiences?

So many.

Really?

Well, I tell people, a lot of times, my method of coming up with stories, is I get some crazy idea of something I should do and then I’ll go, ‘That’s a terrible idea, don’t do that! You’ll get arrested.’ And then I’ll go and write a story about it. Like The Dog House, for example. I adopted a dog and he was in the pound because a couple had gotten divorced and I was really angry. This was the best dog in the history of dogs and I was really angry that someone would give up a dog like this; I wanted to find them and yell at them, but I couldn’t, so they end up more like a thought experiment.

You have a lot of different points of view that a lot of people never think about, like One Friday in April, people never think about an abortion for the guy’s point of view.

No, they don’t.

And so, reading that, I was like, ‘Wow, the guy’s going through all of this too, not just the girl.’ Do you have any favorites in here? Or are they all near and dear to your heart?

Dog House is definitely one of my favorites. I feel like I’m onto something really good when I feel like I’m getting away with something, It’s almost like, good writing is like mischief and you’re thinking, ‘I can’t believe this is actually coming out!’ And I felt that way the entire time writing The Dog House, and I loved that. I just became aggressively more farcical. I do think that One Friday in April is one of the best things I’ve ever written, only because it kind of a third rail topic, and it’s especially a third rail topic because it’s never covered from that perspective, so I feel like that was an important story to write.

Then the last one, Debate is a Many Splendored Thing, is actually, probably my favorite one. The perspective for me was really fun, where so much of it was not so ‘action happens’ but compressed moments, trying to unravel. That was a lot of fun for me. I seem to have a thing for really damaged people, and I did a lot of competitive debate in college and there’s this unbelievable collection of…there are people who read that story and say, ‘Oh, that’s really interesting and cool.’ And then there are debaters who can read that story and go, ‘Oh, God, I’ve been there.’ A lot of those are little anecdotes that I took from the world of international competitive debate.

How long did you do debate for?

All of my life but officially, the last two years of college.

Are there any skills you picked up in debate that you think helped you with your writing? I mean, obviously to craft good arguments and to do a lot of research, but are there any other skills that you picked up in debate that transferred well to your writing?

I think just a clear narrative. It’s one of those things where good commutation plays across all forms. You need to have sort of proper elements in place in order to create a compelling narrative that conveys what you need to convey in a way that keeps people interested and moves around between different fields.

An academic debate round is one person comes up, says something, someone else responds and says something else which turns everything in a completely different direction, the next person comes up and responds to that, in a way that turns everything on its head and finally brings everything to this climactic finale that leaves us saying, how do I possibly choose between these two sides? I mean, to me, that’s dramatic structure. That’s your first scene. Someone steps on stage and says, ‘I’m going to kill my wife’ and your character comes in and goes, ‘Oh, but your wife is already planning to kill you.’ And suddenly everything turns around; it’s exactly the same structure. Maybe some of the details of the conventions of how you lay it out are different, but the concepts are the same.

As long as you give good material of substance delivered in a compelling way that translates across.

So, fun questions: favorite TV show currently on the air?

I don’t actually have a TV so—

–Okay, then, of all time.

The Daily Show [with JonStewart], Battlestar Galactica (new), Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files.

(I request a high five at the mention of The X-Files, my all-time FAVORITE series )

I’m big on robots and spaceships.

Do you watch Doctor Who at all?

I don’t. I don’t watch British television.

(Then we go on to get into a geeky conversation about TV shows. If you want to hear it all, I’ll get it to you).

What is your favorite song of all time? And I will make you narrow it down to one. And it could be at this particular moment [your favorite song].

Can we come back to this one?

Yes. What’s the last book that you read?

Oh, it’s one I read for a review. It’s called, Forget About Today, it’s sort of a self-help book based of the career of Bob Dylan. I’m not going to say that it’s a great book.

Is it interesting?

It is…interesting, but a lot of it is sort of…I would never expect a self-help book off the career of Bob Dylan.

It says in the back [of your book] that you like to create trouble around Boise in your free time; so what does that include?

Oh, generally a trouble maker. I’m a little more honest than most people. It’s not malicious. I think it’s ruder to tell people you like their band when you don’t.  Read any of the comments on the stories that I write and you’ll get an idea about the kind of trouble maker, I guess.

If you could co-author a book with any author, alive or dead, who would it be and what would it be called?

Well, I have a title to a book but I haven’t figured out what the book is about yet, I’m going to have to think about this for a second. Okay, the title is, Death Rides A Pogo Stick, and I don’t know what it’s about yet, but I know with a title like that, you can’t go wrong. It would probably be Douglas Adams, John Kennedy Toole, or there’s a science fiction writer in Austin who I have identified more closely with than any other writer, ever—Bradley Denton. I picked up a book of his called Buddy Holly is Alive and Well Again in Jupiter […] I laughed, I cried. There’s no one else ever who’s written about rock and roll so eloquently. In a way that I feel is a strange and magical book.

I would say him, but I don’t want to meet him because I’m so afraid of putting people on a pedestal. I had a very bad experience with Vanilla Ice, and I never recovered, so…

I’m still struggling over this song one. [long pause] Ke$ha and her cover of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.  It’s on YouTube. It’s a very, very moving rendition. Sometimes I think my theme song is by Weird Al Yankovic, I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead.

You’d mentioned that the first short story in Secrets & Lies was made into a film, can you tell me more about that?

The Dog House was made into a film by a Boston-based filmmaker named Kimberly Rideout, who I was part of a filmmaking collective with, alongside a bunch of the crew from Coraline, in Portland before I moved here. She bought the rights for the story during the run-up to its publication, and shot it as her senior thesis for film school at Boston University. Her adapted screenplay won a $5,000 grant from the Adrienne Shelley (director of Waitress) Foundation, which was good because animal actors are absurdly expensive. It’s also a fairly prestigious award.

The film is currently being scored and color-corrected and will hopefully be hitting the festival circuit this fall. This is what the poster looks like. There’s some more info about it here.

The film adaptation is especially exciting for me because a short film I wrote, The Lost Van Gogh, made the rounds on the festival circuit last year, even won the Audience Choice Award at the Tulsa International Film Festival. So I’m hoping to keep that trend going.

Congrats, that’s awesome, and thanks so much for your time, I appreciate you coming out.

Anytime.

Whew! So, if you stuck with me, that’s a six page interview. Josh and I sat down and chatted for over half an hour that day, but he’s a funny, talented guy. If you get the opportunity, pick up some of his songs and read his book, Secrets & Lies. I’ve included some links to his work below. Enjoy!

The link to buy Secret & Lies

http://www.amazon.com/Josh-Gross/e/B008SM3DGU

The video for Josh’s ukulele/accordion project (officially being released at the 208 Video Show at Neurolux for Sept. First Thursday.)

http://youtu.be/1LfdcfBW_nw

Another ukulele video

http://youtu.be/RSqNV2DajME

The solo looping project

http://youtu.be/152ZAgiCi70

The Ratings Battle (formerly The North End Snugglers)

http://www.reverbnation.com/theratingsbattle

Bridgeport (the other band I occasionally plays drums for)

http://youtu.be/B5mbu6GTygA

Some previous bands.

http://www.tinglefinger.com/tf-002-superhellamegaepic.html

http://www.tinglefinger.com/tf-008-deadly-death-maelstrom-of-death.html

http://www.tinglefinger.com/tf-004-the-cark-ass-goat-dx.html

A standup comedy video

http://youtu.be/mp_2ehcz7pg

Fear the Darkness

Fear the Darkness (Guardians of Eternity, #9)Fear the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Fear the Darkness
Author: Alexandra Ivy
Publisher: Zebra (August 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 14201137X
ISBN-13: 978-1420111378
Pages 352

The Guardians of Eternity are trying to stop the apocalypse and with the help of Cassandra, a prophet whose sisters are mated with other Guardians and Caine, a full blooded were who is protecting Cassie and has been a pain to the Guardians in the past, they hope that they can prevent the Lord of Darkness from coming through the veil where it is being held prisoner.

The Dark Lord had been banished beyond the veil and kept there by The Phoenix (Abby) for several years, however over the past few months The Dark Lord has been trying to come through and allowing other dark creatures through as well. She created twin babies to use as a vessel for her return and has succeeded in capturing the girl child and currently looks like a young cheerleader.

As Cassie and Caine are on the run, they feel they can be more helpful on their own then with the other Guardians, as they feel the Guardians would just hamper their progress, however even as they try their best to stop The Dark Lord from finding the boy child, he is taken and reunited with his twin to become the Gemini that helps The Dark Lord become powerful enough to come through the veil.

The Guardians along with The Phoenix stand against The Dark Lord at the rift to fight to the death to prevent her from coming through. Cassie has another vision in the middle of the chaos showing that in order to win the battle they must tip the balance in their favor. She believes she knows just the person to help in that matter and sends a message to Levet, the small gargoyle who has little magic but can see through all illusions.

This is a great book that the action does not stop from start to finish. I enjoy this series and this book is a wonderful addition to the overall story arc. I have enjoyed watching Caine through several books and was very curious about Cassandra. They are a perfect match for each other and the attraction is very believable. The characters that come back in each book are a joy to see again and I am looking forward to more.

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A scary ghost story for a late night

Long Lankin

Long Lankin
Lindsey Barraclough
YA Thirller
Rating: PG-13 (for potentially scary content for some readers)
Coffee Beans: 5/5
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

Publisher’s Summary
A chilling, beautiful debut novel inspired by a haunting folk song about murder, witchcraft and revenge. Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss …When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida’s life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces’ arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years. A haunting voice in an empty room …A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard …A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church …Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries – before it is too late for Mimi. Intensely atmospheric and truly compelling, this is a stunning debut.
My Review
I’m never waiting this long to write a review for a book I love again. It was so good I thought I’d always remember about its detailed awesomeness, but I was wrong. Life intervened and I forgot most of what made this book great except for the blinding fact that it is great.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hardly ever get scared reading books. I’m more of a visual person when it comes to being scared. But Long Lankin broke that curse. I can’t even tell you how many times that book gave me goose bumps and just that all over creepy feeling. This is one of those books that I will recommend to everyone I come in contact with and it’s one that will be added to The Shelf.
The story is told from the point of view of three different people: Cora, Roger, and Aunt Ida. Each adding different pieces of the puzzle to the eerie tale of Long Lankin and the old church in the Marshes. The point of view is mostly from Cora, with Roger coming up as a close second. Aunt Ida’s voice only makes an appearance when some especially creepy revelation needs to be made. But with all of these characters, even the ones whose voices we don’t hear, the reader is given a good, round sense of who they are and what they’re like as people.
The setting is also what makes this story. 1940’s English countryside in a small town filled with small-minded people. A haunted church that’s half sunk into the marshes, ghostly children, a scary painting, doors and windows sealed shut (let me tell you, while I was reading this, all the doors and windows in our house were shut tight), a crazy aunt, witches…the list goes on.
Be prepared for this, though: It’s a long book, and a heavy book. At 450 pages, don’t expect to just breeze through it. There’s a lot of history, names, events, etc that need to be kept track of. Half the time I felt like I needed to be taking notes to keep everything straight and to make sure I got the full impact of the storytelling.
But it was worth it. I will for sure be reading this again.
Happy Reading!


The Last Single Maverick

 

Christine Rimmer

Harlequin, 2012

 

 

Publishers Summary:  Look out ladies: there’s another Traub bachelor in town! Jason “Jace” Traub is every bit as gorgeous as his sexy twin brother, but rumor has it he is even more marriage shy. There’s not a woman alive who could make this restless rancher settle down…

Yet insiders whisper that Jace has been talking wedding plans with Jocelyn Bennings, the chestnut-haired beauty who ran out on her own wedding just days ago! Could the confirmed bachelor really be hooking up with
heartbroken, headstrong Joss? Stay tuned, loyal readers, to find out if their marriage of convenience runs amuck—or if lasting passion will finally rope in the last single maverick!

My Take:  Another Traub brother bites the dust in a fun romantic read. All the ingredients are present: rich handsome hero, beautiful heroine. The characters are likable and the story moves right along to the predictable ending which is why we all read and enjoy them.

However, I’ve read all the Traub books and find the same problem with each. The author’s premise that the Traub men don’t know what love is and therefore are unable to commit is not in character with the family background. A man raised in an intact family, with brothers he loves, and parents who are in love with each other and who love him is not believable when he says he doesn’t know what love is. He could be leery of it, or not ready for it, but to say “I don’t know what love is” is not in keeping with the characters of the story.  Christine Rimmer needs to find another hook that is more believable.

I liked that they began their relationship with a friendship.  It’s too bad more couples don’t realize the importance of being friends before being lovers.  It would help a lot.

The author misses chances to take dialogue to a deeper level.  After they attended church she poured her heart out to him and when she thanks him for listening, his response of “Happy to help,” missed a chance for him to reciprocate, and deepen the story.

Finally, the two main characters names, Joss and Jace, are too alike, and it was hard to keep them straight.

My Rating: I loved it.

A wonderful story about love and forgiveness

Tucker's CrossingTucker’s Crossing by Marina Adair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Tucker’s Crossing
Author: Marina Adair
Publisher: eKensington
Date: (August 16, 2012) 286 pages
ASIN: B0083JC2TW

Shelby Lynn Harris moved to Sweet Plains, a small town an hour from Austin, three years ago, after leaving her husband (Preston Van Warren) and landing on Silas Tucker’s porch. Shelby was desperate for a safe place, a place where she could regroup and since Silas was her son’s grandfather, she was hoping he would help. Silas was more than willing to help as he was sick and needed care; he gave her a job as a nurse and a place to stay.

Cody Tucker is Silas’ son and the father of Shelby Lynn’s son, Jake. He left town years ago and promised he would never return because of his father. He did not even go to his father’s funeral however after the reading of the will, he knew he had to come home as he did not want his brothers (Noah and Beau) having to come anywhere near the ranch. The will stated that someone would have to live at the ranch, and he decided he could work there while running Tucker Industries, his business in Austin.

Cody is surprised and confused to find Shelby Lynn when he walks into the house. He could not believe she was living and helping the father he hated. They had a relationship ten years ago and after they shared a night of passion the relationship disintegrated when misunderstandings and supposed friends interfered, leaving heartache behind. Shelby Lynn ended up marrying Cody’s best friend Preston and lived a miserable life until moving to Sweet Plains.

Cody is even more surprised when Shelby’s young son comes into the house; he knows right away that Jake is his since they look so much alike. He is hurt and angry with Shelby for keeping Jake from him for so many years so the beginning of a reunion starts out rocky. As Cody, Shelby Lynn and Jake try to sort out their relationship, strange things are happening on the ranch, things that are making the ranch be unprofitable.

As the story unfolds, we find out the reasons Cody hated his father and why Shelby Lynn and Jake have such a different relationship with Silas. Cody has to come to grips with the fact that his father was flawed and was truly sorry when he died. Shelby Lynn also has a past that she must deal with, and when the past threatens Jake, she protects him with everything she can and is touched when she finds that she does not have to fight alone, as Cody is there to help. I loved the small town setting; the characters are funny and quirky and made me laugh out loud. Those ladies and their competition over food are truly hilarious. A great debut and I am looking forward to reading more stories.

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Not your typical angel story

Ravyn's Fall (Heaven and Hell, #1)Ravyn’s Fall by Julie Blackstone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Heaven and Hell
YA Paranormal Romance
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Nope
Favorite Line: I feel like the other shoe jus dropped. And I can’t wait to find it. (pg 18, ebook)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review

Twitter is an amazing thing. You can follow big wigs or celebrities as easily as you can your friends, you get news and gossip first had as it happens, and free books are constantly being given away…if you know where to look. Pam threw a tweet my way that one of her authors had branched out and written a YA PR and was looking for reviewer. So, I jumped on the opportunity and emailed the author, requesting a copy. Thus, this review was born. See? Twitter’s great. Fun, info, and free books.

Even though this is Julie’s first YA book, she has several of her normal PR books under her belt which give her the experience and skill to write a good YA book. The push and pull of the relationships, the fast plot pace, and quick character development all make Ravyn’s Fall a quick read (the fact that it comes in at under 200 pages helps, too).

Zeke comes into her life, it only confuses her more, and not just because his aura is scarlet—so different from the usual gray and blacks that surround Ravyn. Even stranger than the Goldens that terrify her. It also has to do with her unexplainable raw to him. In the span of one night, an entire world is opened to her. A world of angels and demons. Of Nephilim and hell hounds. A world she belongs to and can’t turn away from. A world where everyone wants her, but not everyone wants her to live. Ravyn must navigate this new world with limited knowledge—no one seems to know the truth about her—or they’re not willing to say it. She must decide between not who’s good or evil, but between what’s right and wrong. And maybe find herself and love along the way.

Like vampires, there are MANY angel and demon books out on the market. It’s hard for an author to twist their story enough to make it stand out. But Julie did that. What stuck out for me the most was her take on the “good vs. evil” aspect. One of her characters, Zeke, put it best when he said, “[Angels & demons are] the same, we just live in different zip codes”. Just because someone’s an angel, doesn’t mean they’re good and just because they’re a demon doesn’t mean they’re bad. And it’s interesting how Julie still creates a distinct difference between the two sides.

The book is a fun, quick read (I read it in one day while camping). I was rooting for Ravyn the entire way, wanting her to find love and herself. She’s a strong female lead with a snarky best friend/sidekick. I’m eager for Ravyn’s Grace (book two in the series) to come out so I can see what happens next.

A fabulous interview with author Julie Blackstone

First comment:  Cool cover. 

Thanks!  I was so, so, happy when my designer sent it to me.  It is exactly the look and feel I wanted.

You have two names, Juliana Stone for your paranormal romances and an alter ego who calls herself Julie Blackstone and writes YA. Which do you go by the majority of the time?

Well, I’ve been published as Juliana Stone since my first book was released in 2010.  I’ve not written 7 paranormals, two futuristic novels, and I’ve got a new contemporary romance coming out next year as well.  (I love writing J) When I decided to write young adult and pursue it aggressively, I decided to utilized a second author name, simply because my adult books aren’t for teens and I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused as to what they’re buying. 

In the future I’d like to divide my time equally as I totally enjoyed the difference between the two types of books.

Okay, so you mentioned to me in an email your original “motivation” for writing Ravyn’s Fall and I laughed a bit, thinking it was perfect. Can you explain a little bit about that?

Sure! I have a daughter who reads voraciously and I was determined to write something that she could read and share with her friends.  I honestly didn’t know how much I’d enjoy it and I’m glad I tried my hand at young adult.

Besides wanting to write a book that your daughter could read, how did Ravyn’s Fall come about? Was it always something scratching at the inside of your head, or was it a deliberate project?

The idea came from one line that didn’t even make it into the book.  “I thought falling to earth would hurt.”  The idea of a girl falling from heaven came to me and then the title…the idea changed a bit from the original but once I fleshed it out, the story kind of flowed.

I noticed the name of the book is the same as your son’s band (which is way cool, btw. LOVED Heartless). Any special reason you went that route? And since they share a name, are they going to have anything to do with the books?

Well, I’m a pretty proud Mama!  My kids band stole the name.  I’ll be honest!  I’d written the book about 3 years ago and at the time I believe they were called A Million Pennies, which I thought was a cool name, but they dropped it and adopted Ravyn’s Fall and just this past spring Ravyn’s Fall made it to the top 200 on Canada’s Got Talent! So we’re kind of sharing now, but that’s okay.  I got my son to write the original music for the book trailer and I think he did an awesome job.  But, that’s about the extent of their involvement with this project.  If anyone is interested, check out their music on facebook and you can find them on twitter as well!

Two part question: I loved your spin on demons and angels—that the angels aren’t necessarily all good and the demons aren’t necessarily all bad.  Zeke puts it best when he says that they’re basically the same, they just live in different zip codes. Why did you choose to go that route? And, where does your view of angels & demons originate? How did it morph into the meld you have in this book?

I’ve always been sort of ambiguous when it comes to religion and I totally believe every single one of us has the potential to be good or bad.  I look at it almost like racism.  Creatures from the upper realm don’t understand those from below…they’re different and so they don’t like them….and vice versa.  BUT they each need the other to survive so to speak. I love this concept and use it in my adult paranormal series as well, The League of Guardians.  Different world, but basically the same idea.  WE all need each other to survive…it parallels the human world of today.  It’s just kind of sad that so many people are blind to this and sadly, I do believe that (especially in the past) religion kind of perpetuated this myth.

Poor Ravyn.  It seems that wherever she goes death and destruction follow. She even calls herself at one point a harbinger of death. Is this a key part of who she is, or is she just having a killer streak of bad luck?

A lot happens in this first book and sure, she feels like her life is sucking…she doesn’t know who she can trust and she’s afraid to trust because nothing she’s believed in has been true.  Her life has been a lie. We’ll find out more about her as the series continues, but I can tell you she’s got balls, she’s not afraid to take chances.  And, well, she does have a hellhound!

And Zeke, did you have anyone in particular in mind when you wrote his character? What’s his deal anyway…I know we’d all like to believe that he truly does care for Ravyn and that in some cosmic, mixed up way, they’re destined for each other, but right now he’s so hot and cold. Is that going to change? Soon? Like, in book two???

Zeke’s already struggling with his growing feelings for Ravyn, but it’s hard for him.  She represents redemption, or what could be redemption for him.  A happy ending so to speak but at the end of book one he knows he can’t sacrifice her.  The question is, what will he do when things heat up? When his feelings grow as does the danger and the fact that his ultimate prize isn’t one he wants to claim?  I can also say Dragon might be giving him a run for his money in book 2.

As for who did I write him after….I had a picture of Steven Strait from The Covenant on my computer and uh, I’d look at it a lot!

Besides the obvious, how does writing a YA book differ from your normal books? Do you have a different process? Do you have to get into the “zone” before writing for YA when you’ve been writing your normal paranormal romances?

The process is the same for me.  I love disappearing into my words and I sit down and just write.  I don’t like any noise, no music…nothing. I sit, have some munchies on hand and write.  The cool thing about YA, is I get to focus more on that whole ‘first love’ thing and the sweetness of it.  The intensity of it.

How many books will be in the series?

There will be three books.  The second is titled, Ravyn’s Grace, the third Ravyn’s Creed (which might change).

This next question is solely of a selfish nature: How’s your progress coming on Ravyn’s Grace and when can I read it? I NEED to know what happens next!

LOL I’m glad you’re enjoying it!  I plan to have Ravyn’s Grace available for purchase in the fall. October.  I’m working on it at the same time I’m writing my second adult contemporary romance but that’s the plan right now.

What does your writing process look like in general? Are you an outliner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser?

I’m a total pantser.  I do have a clear vision of the beginning, middle and end….but everything else is organic and flows when I sit down to write.  I think that’s why I find it all so exciting…I’m finding out where these characters are going and what they’re doing as I write.  It’s a lot of fun and not for everyone but for now, for me, it works.

Do you prefer to edit on a computer screen or on paper?

I do everything on my computer.  I’ve never used paper and pen though I have a few friends who do their entire first draft on paper.  I edit as I write and subsequently, my first draft is very clean.  I usually do a once over and then send it to my critique partner.

I just wanted to comment on the fact that you wove so much mystery and “OMG, that did NOT just happen!” moments into the story, that it pulled along so well. I was disappointed when I finished it in only a day and was left with nothing else to read while camping. So, great job. Oh, and I love Joe. He’s probably my favorite supporting character.

Joe just kind of came to me and I love him dearly. I wish I had my very own personal hellhound.

And now….for some fun questions:

Where do you call home? If you could call anywhere else home, where would that be?

I live in Canada and love it here!  I suppose if I could call anywhere else home it would be New Zealand.  I fell in love with that country while watching The Lord of the Rings.

E-reader or a good old fashioned book?

If you’d have asked me that a year ago I would have said BOOK, but, I bought an e-reader last summer and I love it.  I’ve read more in the past year than in a long time and I love everything about it.

Favorite current TV show?

Okay, I have a 3-way tie between The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  All of them are shows I HAVE TO WATCH OR I’LL BE IN A REALLY BAD MOOD. And I watch all of them with a few girlfriends so it’s more of an event.  I was really into True Blood for a while, but I’m finding it meh this year.

Best YA book you’ve last read (besides your own, of course)?

I’ve read a lot of really good ones, but the ones on my keeper shelves are, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, I loved Simone Elkeles Return to Paradise and Leaving Paradise and I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments.

If you could co-write any type of book with any author (alive or dead) who would it be and what would the book be titled?

I’d co-write a book of poetry with Jim Morrison and we’d call it, On The Other Side.

Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thanks for having me, this has been fun!

A Victorian historical with a twist

Moonglow (Darkest London, #2)Moonglow by Kristen Callihan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Moonglow
Author: Kristen Callihan
Publisher: Forever (July 31, 2012) 432 pages
ISBN-10: 1455508586
ISBN-13: 978-1455508587

London 1883
Daisy Margaret Ellis (Craigmore) had been in morning for 366 days and she is done. She believes she has wasted plenty of time on a husband that she hated. She is ready to wear colors and do something infamous and mysterious, so she sets her sights on a man she does not know, but who will hopefully fulfill her needs. Unsure if she can go through with her plan she is surprised when the man is killed in front of her by a creature that looks surprisingly like a wolf. She is rescued by Ian Ranulf, who is the Marquis of Northrup, but not before she is injured by the creature.

Ian Ranulf was at one time, attracted to Daisy’s sister Miranda and tried to turn her against Archer before they were married. Ian and Archer were good friends at one time until Ian’s father died and blame was laid on Archer who had brought Ian’s father into a secret society called the West Moon Club. The club was obsessed with immortality and when Ian’s father wanted to leave the group a demon named Victoria tried to burn him alive and scarred him badly, making him weak and unable to lead his clan. Ian comes from a family of werewolves or Lycan and should have lead his clan however he had left the clan years before when his wife and son died. Ian let his younger brother Conell take over, however many in the supernatural world are unhappy with Ian’s decision.

Daisy is what is considered a “nose”, a person with exceptional smelling abilities and knowing her husband would never provide for her after his death, started working with a perfumer to make a future for herself. She developed a signature perfume however someone took the recipe and sold it to other men to purchase for their ladies. This seems to be the connecting piece between the women who are being targeted by the crazed beast around London. Ian notices that the beast (who he knows is a werewolf) has the smell of sickness about him and that could be why he has let the wolf side take over his body.

The Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals (SOS) has a duty to be kept informed of all supernatural beings and their activities. The SOS, along with most supernaturals want Ian in control of his clan, he is the true alpha and they do not believe his brother Conall is a good choice and his right hand man Lyle has made some suspicious choices.

As Ian and Daisy investigate the murders, they seek help from others in the SOS and visit a man named Lucien who is a GIM, ghost in the machine, an individual that has chosen to live forever after taking over another body. GIM’s are the spies of the supernatural world. Ian ends up employing a GIM to spy on Conell to find out if he is hiding the werewolf in order to frame Ian.
The story is steady and fast paced with wonderful suspense as it comes to a roller coaster ending when they try to find who is behind the attacks, who is hiding the sick werewolf and why the werewolf is attacking these women. The conclusion is surprising and fascinating as they search for answers. As Ian and Daisy fall in love they must find the courage to fight one more conflict to find true happiness.

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A Heartwarming story about family and love

Carolina Home (Dare Island, #1)Carolina Home by Virginia Kantra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Carolina Home
Author: Virginia Kantra
Publisher: Berkley (July 3, 2012)
304 pages
ISBN-10: 0425250938
ISBN-13: 978-0425250938

Family is the central theme of this wonderful story. Matt Fletcher’s family has lived on Dare Island for several generations raising families and living off the land. He is busy running his own fishing business and raising his teenage son, Joshua, with a little help from his parents who run an Inn on the island. Allison Carter is the new teacher on the island and just happens to have Matt’s son in her class. She likes to meet all the parents of her students; especially those students that she feels need a little extra attention. It is not that Joshua is a bad kid; just that she feels he can do so much more than what she has seen so far.

Despite what others think, Allison believes she has finally found a place to put down roots. She escaped her overbearing parents who have more money than sense and has lived in several different places until she found this place. Since she has been here she has loved the fact that she feels like she belongs here.

Causing more family drama, Matt’s brother, Luke, comes home from Afghanistan with his daughter in tow, a daughter (Taylor) who is now 10 that no one knew about until her mother recently died. Luke gets her settled with his family and leaves again for Afghanistan leaving a frightened young girl who is unsure of the Fletcher family and who is quieter than she should be as she is holding on to some difficult secrets.

A wonderful family drama surrounds the romance between Matt and Allison as Matt meets Allison’s family and Allison gets to know Matt’s family. Matt’s hesitancy becomes apparent as they struggle to form a relationship as he does not believe Allison is here to stay. Matt has always felt responsible, not only of his parents and his son Joshua but now he has the addition of a niece his brother left behind. The family all comes together when Matt’s mom Tess is in an accident, strengthening the bond they have and making room for Allison and Taylor in their tight knit family.

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Calling Idaho authors

Do we have news for you!  Book Addicts has been so popular that the paper has agreed to give us two columns a month.  Beginning in September, our column will print the first and third Sundays in the Life section. And to show our appreciation to all our readers, we are devoting the first Sunday column each month exclusively to Idaho authors.

 Idaho has many gifted writers. We’ve been inundated with so many of your books that we realized to do your talent justice; we needed a column just for you. This means if you were born in Idaho, were raised in Idaho, or went to college in Idaho, we’re interested in profiling your book. On the other hand, if you great-aunt had a farm in Emmett you visited once a year, I’m afraid you’re out for this column. But don’t write us off, send your book anyway and it may make it in the second monthly column or onto our blog.

As you know, Book Addicts is devoted to fun reads.  Books you can simply kick back and enjoy. But we will make exceptions for our Idaho column. If you wrote a book in any genre and would like us to consider it, go ahead and send it.  We are so interested in highlighting Idaho authors we’ll expand our platform just for you.

The easiest way is to have your publicist or publisher email us an epub file to BookaddictsIDS@gmail.com.  If you wish to send a hard copy, mail it to: Book Addicts, c/o Idaho Statesman, PO Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.