Monday, 20 August 2012

Alaskan Fire and Fury Review & Interview

Ok so for my first post back I have decided to post an interview and review of two great novels and one great author! Thank you Sara King for choosing I HEART BOOKS :)



Quick Questions:
What is your favorite color?
2. What is your favorite song?
“Meet in the Middle.”
3. Who is your favorite actor?
Bruce Willis.
4. Who is your favorite actress?
I’m not positive, but I’m relatively sure it’s a chick that can kick some ass.  J

Full Questions:
1. First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an Alaskan writer who managed to sign on with a world-famous agent when I was at the mind-blowingly young age of 23, then went to the world-renowned Odyssey Writing Workshop when I was 25, only to decide to ditch traditional publishing altogether when I was 27 in favor of carving my own path in the epublishing industry.  (We Alaskans are stubborn that way.)  I’ve been writing novels since I was 11 years old, but despite all of my eye-opening successes at a young age, the publishing doors still didn’t really open to me until I took that gigantic leap of faith and began forging my own career in epublishing.  It was a big, scary step that everyone in the writing world was screaming at me not to do, but I’ve not only had success, but I’m now making a good living doing exactly what I love to do best.  I’m extremely proud of my role in forming Parasite Publications, whose very goal is to shake up the archaic publishing system and give more power to the creative talent.  Parasite strives to bring talented people (writers, artists, editors, voice actors, craftsmen) together to successfully make and sell their own work, in essence cutting the true parasites—the soulless corporations who for decades have specialized in turning people into numbers—out of the loop. 

2. Both Blaze and Kaashifah are such strong, independent heroines - would you ever consider writing a more vulnerable, weaker heroine?
That’s actually a really good idea for a writing challenge.  Lately, after 16 books under my belt, I’ve had to start giving myself little challenges here and there to keep the writing interesting.  For instance, the challenge I gave myself in Alaskan Fire was to write a romance with a short guy with a tall chick and make it believable.  (It’s tougher than it sounds!!)  In Fury, it was to write a male hero that everyone drooled over who was a poet, not a warrior.  (Again, tougher than it sounds!!)  A very feminine, vulnerable heroine would definitely qualify as a difficult book for me to write, so I’ll add that to my list.

3. Is there any of yourself in any of your characters, particularly Blaze or Kaashifah?
Oh, absolutely.  Most authors probably won’t admit it, but if they’re a good writer, every one of their characters (even the crazed psychopaths) is a facet of their own psyches.  They basically uncover that facet within themselves, take a really good look, and channel that baby onto paper.  With Blaze, I think the most outstanding part of her that mirrored myself was the farming.  I get so disgusted with what corporations are doing nowadays with people’s food—such a basic necessity common to all people, and nobody really knows about it.  With Kaashifah, it was the stubbornness and difficulty in changing.  As my manager and fiancé David will tell you, I find that (cough) challenging sometimes.

4. What are you currently working on?
My immediate current project is Book #2 of the Terms of Mercy series, tentatively titled Slave of the Dragon Lord.  It’s about a blacksmith-turned-lord who falls in love with a wild-woman.  (Think Tarzan.)  Tehe.  My more general current project is to complete 5 romances by December 31st.  Yes, I do write that fast, if the Muses are with me.  Fury was written in 5 weeks, 2 of which were editing.  To the Princess Bound was written in 13 days, though I think I put a couple weeks of editing into it.  (I was actually told by several people not to tell anyone that, but [shrug] that’s how fast I write.  Most of my novels are completed in a single month. Doesn’t affect the quality any.  And, in all truth, the faster I write, the better the final product.)  Problem is, I find summers to be highly distracting (this IS the Land of the Midnight Sun) and if my Muses are NOT with me on a project, I can sit and pound my forehead into a red smear on the keyboard for all the good it will do me.  I.e., it’s very hit-or-miss, though I’m going to try my damndest to hit my goals…

5. In the next installment of the Guardians of the First Realm Series, will you bring Blaze and Jack and Kaashifah and Aqrab together?
So far, I have three other books planned for this series (Alaskan Fang, Alaskan Fiend, Alaskan Fate) in which some familiar characters will reappear, but the majority will be new.  I was planning on giving main characters from old books cameos in newer ones until the end of the series, where they all start working together.  That’s my plan, anyway.  I DO intend to write Fury of the Fourth Realm, a stand-alone spinoff between Kaashifah and ‘Aqrab that pretty much picks up where Fury left off, when ‘Aqrab takes her back to his home realm.  That one could start off pretty…steamy.  (cough)

6. Where do you get your inspiration for all of your novels?
My Muses.  Two of them.  Over the years, the curmudgeony little creeps and I have come to an understanding.  I don’t ignore their nudges (the pompous bastards will give a grand total of two on the same subject before they get indignant and wander off) and they don’t leave me to wallow in my own incompetent self-pity, after which I don’t call them names, curse them publicly, and denounce their intellectual aptitude and clumsy auto-erotic inclinations, which won’t be followed by their hooting and shit-flinging from across the room.  It’s a working relationship.

7. Do you believe, at all, in the supernatural world that you write about?
Yes.  I have a very trusted, very sane first-reader who censors my responses to questions like this, however, and my answer got summarily censored.  (Thinks about it a minute.)  I’ll just let him yell at me later.  Soooo…  Not werewolves and vampires, per se, but I have seen stuff that science would have a really hard time explaining without simply writing it off as me being an idiot, crazy, or simply seeing glowing green swamp gas floating around the room for 5 minutes straight.  No, wait.  That was a weather balloon.  (Cough.)  I think, deep down, everyone believes in the supernatural in some form or another.  Some people just get more proof than others, and I suppose I fall into the ‘more proof’ category.

8. What was the hardest part of writing Alaskan Fire and Alaskan Fury?
The hardest part of Alaskan Fire was picking it up again after I dropped it years ago.  The funny (and sad) story was that I was so excited about Fire when I first started it that I sent it to my agent to read it before I’d gotten through the first draft.  The agent told me that she didn’t really see a market for it because it wasn’t like other books.  All my enthusiasm went POOF and I would have abandoned the project forever were it not for the heroic efforts of my fiancé, David, and my awesome editor, Stephen.  Thanks, guys.

9. What are you currently reading?
It’s one of those World’s Mysteries books.  I find them highly entertaining and extremely fertile ground for story material.

10. What advice would you give to young, aspiring authors?
Wow.  Okay.  1)  Your First Book Will Suck.  Write your first book—coo over it, pet it, boast about it to your friends, maybe get its first page framed on your wall—then shove it under your bed and write your next one.  I swear to you, regardless of how awesome you feel it is, three books down the road, you’re going to gag over it every time you look at it.  Practice is key to honing your craft, and with every book, you will get better.  Around book #5 is where you’ll REALLY start to impress yourself and others. 
2)  Ignore Other Aspiring Writers.  Something I’ve noticed about the critiques other aspiring authors will give is that 1) they are very long, 2) they quote lots and lots of rules that they read from a book, 3) they’re incredibly nitpicky, 4) they’re usually wrong.  If you were to strip the famous name off any successful genre book out there, slap an unknown name on it, and offer up a segment of it to a group of aspiring writers, they’re going to give you an itemized list of 1000 different things that are wrong with it.  The bottom line is that a good story doesn’t necessarily play by the rules.  In fact, most of them don’t.  Rules don’t mean jack shit if the reader enjoys the book.  That is the important thing.  The number of adverbs or the placement of nouns or the overuse of dialogue tags means absolutely nothing if the readers like the book.  That’s what most aspiring authors don’t understand when they do all their studying of books on writing and drown themselves in rules in order to come up with the perfect equation to a bestselling book:  There is no equation.  If there were, publishing companies long ago would have made a computer program to plug in names, situations, events, and locations and BOOM, churn out bestsellers by the hundreds because, gee, what’s better at following the rules than a computer?  In all honesty, your absolute best resource as a new writer is a diehard reader.  Someone honest, intelligent, and well-read who can tell you if they liked something or not, and what made them feel that way.  That’s all you really need to know.
3)  Don’t Let Outsiders See Your Unfinished Manuscript.  I can’t stress this one enough.  Writers are sensitive beasties.  We have to be, to write good books.  Unfortunately, sometimes ‘emo’ doesn’t come close to describing the psycho-emotional convolutions we go through in writing a novel.  Often, we are our own worst critics, and, upon receiving negative feedback halfway through a book, instead of struggling through to finish that (suddenly awful) manuscript, we’ll just ditch it and start something else.  To counter this tendency, keep a stable of like 4 people that you know enjoy your work and who understand that negativity and sarcasm, at this point, is not allowed.  Show your manuscript to them as you write the novel, basically using them for praise and to keep your enthusiasm up.  Wait to show it to the critical eyes until after it’s finished because, once it’s finished, you won’t have the opportunity to drop it like a hot rock because someone, somewhere, said that they thought that the third word in paragraph 13 on page 67 wasn’t clever enough.
Oh, and keep your chin up.  Writing isn’t something where you suddenly have an editor yank your unfinished manuscript out of the dusty pile on her desk, read the first two pages, raise her head to the sky and shout, “GENIUS!!” and then throw you a $200,000 check and visit you in person to bask in your glow of your intellect and ask you where you’d been all their life.  Disappointment and rejection are unfortunately part of the business, and it is those gluttons for punishment who keep coming back again and again who end up making it in the writing world.  Just keep trying.  Don’t give up.  You’ll get there.

Now it's time for my review!


Rating: ♥♥♥♥ for both! :)

     First of all, a huge thank you to author Sara King for contacting me a few months ago about two books for review. If she hadn't, I probably never would have known they existed - which would have been a shame becuase I would have missed out on some seriously awesome books!

     In short, I loved both Alaskan Fire and Alaskan Fury. I loved everything about them - the action, the passion, the humour, the gore - it all came togeher to form two perfect novels that I would definitely read again.

     Not only did both novels have great plots, they also had some amazing characters to support the plots. The four main characters - Blaze and Jack (Alaskan Fire), and Kaashifah and 'Aqrab (Alaskan Fury) - were written beautifully! They all had such different, unique, amazing personalities! One minute I was dying from laughter, the next I was crying with sympathy!

    Blaze and Kaashifah were perfect heroines in my opinion. They were both strong, independant, sarcastic, and passionate about what they loved and believed in. When they wanted something, they put everything they had into getting it no matter what people thought (particularly Blaze). I found both of their roles absolutely enthralling. I was never bored while reading thier scenes - quite the opposite actually. I was usually grinning like a fool and occassionally bursting into random bouts of laughter that had people on the subway slowly inching away from me.... haha :P

     And then there was Jack and 'Aqrab. Although they were two very different characters, I found that deep down they were actually quite similar. Both were super tough, strong and protective but underneath, they were really sweet and caring! I loved both of their parts in their respective novels. Both were great characters like the women, and I really hope to see the four come together in a novel soon!

     Overall, Alaskan Fire and Alaskan Fury were exciting reads that left me wanting more! I couldn't wait to read the second installment after  had read the first, and now that I've read both, I can't wait to read the third! Keep up the awesome work Sara!!

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