Saturday, October 15, 2016

Joel Hirst-The IAN Interview

Joel D. Hirst is a writer and novelist. Author of the recently released “Lords of Misrule”, he has also written “The Lieutenant of San Porfirio” and its sequel “The Burning of San Porfirio”. He is currently working on “From the Camps”, the saga of a boy from a refugee camp in East Africa. Hirst has worked as an international aid worker for almost two decades, and has been a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Hirst is a graduate of Brandeis University. He lives in Gilbert, Arizona.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Joel D. Hirst: “Lords of Misrule” is the story of a young Tuareg boy who is brought into conflict and forced to flee his country of Mali. It is about his journey across the Sahara to become an Islamic Judge (Qadi) and jihadist, before he finds something that changes everything in the dusty libraries of Timbuktu. It is the tale of the making and unmaking of a jihadist.

IAN: Is Lords of Misrule published in print, e-book or both?

Joel D. Hirst: Both.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Lords of Misrule?

IAN: What inspired you to write the book?

Joel D. Hirst: We are in the midst of a dramatic international conversation on the issue of violent Islam, especially as terrorist attacks keep hitting the west and the Islamic State and their atrocities dominate the news cycle. There is a tendency to oversimplify issues and appeal to stereotypes or to simplistic arguments, without recognizing that Islam also has its own history and people their own motivations. Through this novel, I am telling the story of a young Tuareg boy who gets caught up in Jihad, and why. And how he finds his way out of it – and what the consequences are. The novel delves a lot into Islamic tradition, as well as Tuareg/Saharan history. Specifically, it looks at traditions of rational thought in Islam, Aristotelian philosophical traditions that were lost almost 1000 years ago and have not yet been re-discovered, and what would happen if they were. It is a hard story, but an honest one which adds my perspective to some of the ongoing debate.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Joel D. Hirst: That’s an interesting conundrum. I try to make an outline, and I usually know where my protagonist ends up at the end of the story before I write it. But when I sit down and start to write, the travails and travels and circumstances for the protagonist sort of write themselves. So I have found that I don’t do too well with a formal outline, just milestones that I want to arrive at and let the story fill itself in as I go along.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Joel D. Hirst: I use lots of magical realism in my writing. My novels series of “San Porfirio” were Latin American magical realist novels written as dictator novels. “Lords of Misrule” also has magic, this taken from Islamic and pre-Islamic Saharan traditions, which I think you’ll find both interesting but also gives flavor and color to our understanding of different societies. Besides that, “Lords of Misrule” is written in third person limited point of view. It is sweeping, and epic – and holds closely to the flavors and sights and smells of the Sahara.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Joel D. Hirst: I hope the book allows readers to reflect on the real reasons why terrorism exists, what some of the motivations could be, and what are some ways that the power of the mind is used to combat violent ideology. The book is not meant to lecture, it is instead meant to give people a look into the mind of a young man who finds himself fighting on the ‘wrong’ side and what he feels about that, and what steps he tries to take to save his soul.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?

Joel D. Hirst: More than individual books, authors. My favorite storyteller is W. Somerset Maugham; and it is from him that I learned how to story-tell (I like Moon and Sixpence; I love Of Human Bondage – although I found it immensely sad). I learned magic from Isabel Allende (not all her work I like, and her political leanings annoy me, but Eva Luna is a masterpiece). And Ayn Rand of course was pivotal in my understanding of the individual as the central character in their own story – the fight for freedom and meaning and reason (Atlas Shrugged of course, but I prefer The Fountainhead. That story is a little more honest and tries less hard to be philosophical).

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Joel D. Hirst: I would love writing to be a career. It’s a difficult time for new authors, as all writers know. Publishing houses only invest in a ‘sure thing’ and the ‘democratization’ of the publishing world, while a good thing, makes it a little hard to break through into to the general public. These are not complains, just realities. Writers have always faced challenging times to make themselves heard above the fray. This is not new. All that to say, right now I hold a day job, which I do love, but which also allows me the income and experiences to continue to write until one of my novels “makes it”.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Joel D. Hirst: I come from a family of educated folks. My father has a PH.D. and my house was always full of books. My brother is a journalist and a writer (non-fiction). So writing, as a natural result of thinking, has been something that I’ve known forever. I started writing fiction after living for 4 years in Venezuela during the apex of Hugo Chavez’s “revolution”, and saw so much there that was novel-worthy and that there was no way to express in non-fiction that I decided to tell a fictional story about what I had seen. The struggles of ordinary people to find meaning in their lives under political project that wanted all of their attention. The desires of the poor to be free from hunger, and the desires of the rich to be free from the poor. An honest story that does not really take a side, necessarily, but that shows why the ideas led to the apocalypse; all of this ended up being “The Lieutenant of San Porfirio”. I followed this up with “The Burning of San Porfirio”, which starts with the collapse of the political project and the death of “El Comandante” and follows the protagonists as they try to re-discover humanity and rebuild their lives after the revolution sputtered out. “A modern day, secular Pilgrim’s Progress” is what it has been called.

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

Joel D. Hirst: I have been blessed with wide travel. I have visited four continents and more than fifty countries; Africa, North Africa, Latin America, and Europe. I have lived for more than thirty years overseas, in some of the hardest places in the world. These travels have made me sensitive; they have made me sad. They have robbed me of my feeling of invincibility and they have made me question a lot of what I believe and was taught. But my interactions with people has given me a deep commitment to their struggles, which is something that comes out in all my writing.

IAN: Who designed the covers?

Joel D. Hirst: The artist for all my novels is Andres Rodriguez, a company called Arghoost Toons. He is Argentina and lives in the southern interior of that country.

IAN: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your book to life?

Joel D. Hirst: Lords of Misrule is my best written (according to my editors), and most challenging, novel. It took me 2 years to research and another year to write. I had to research Islamic thought, philosophy, traditions and history. I also had to learn about Tuareg and Berber history and traditions and then I had to weave those together over the backdrop of an epic Saharan tale. All of this required a lot of reading and talking to Tuaregs and Muslims from different traditions. It helped that I was living in Mali for these years, and so I had direct exposure to so much of the fabric of the novel. And then the book went to an Islamic scholar to make sure it was accurate and respectful, as well as to an Amazigh (Berber) expert to ensure that the traditions of that ancient people were respected. It was a heavy life, and I invite you to pick up a copy and immerse yourself in something foreign, yet enrapturing.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Joel D. Hirst: I have finished writing and am currently editing my 4th novel, provisionally titled “From the Camps”. It is the story of a boy’s from a refugee camp in East Africa and his hard journey to manhood, and meaning. It is a story of poverty and of violence – for too many people across Africa, it is their life’s story.

For more information about this author and his books click here > Joel D. Hirst

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Christine Meier: The IAN Interview

I was a Certified Shorthand Reporter (court stenographer) with the State of New Jersey (CSR) and a Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and a Certificate of Merit writer with the National Shorthand Reporters Association. I worked as a per diem reporter in the New York City metro area on various civil lawsuits, primarily in depositions (discovery before trial). Eventually I got my Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Christian International. I became a minister in 1999 and volunteered as an ordained minister in street ministries, soup kitchens, prison ministries, nursing home ministries, both at-risk and women’s outreaches. I’m now ordained with the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. Started Christ-Centered Ministries for Worldwide Worship, Inc., in 2002. It’s become a teaching and preaching ministry with a house church located in Pensacola, FL. We live on a working farm which keeps me way too busy, well fed, but not rich in money; although, nature is God’s elixir. I get to see things in God’s creation most folks only dream about. In that I am truly blessed.  

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Christine Meier: Have you ever wondered how our diverse nation got along to begin with and why we were able to work with one another up until the last fifty years? Let’s just state the obvious: The religious, agnostics and atheists aren’t leaving the country any time soon. 70 Years of American Captivity reveals documentary proof of a non-sectarian covenant applying to all Americans within our Federal Compact. Pursuing a non-judgmental approach, proving God is NOT judging” America, while revealing historic, scientific and documentary evidence the Federal government has broken its covenant to the citizens it swore to protect. Taking screen shots through 500 years of American history allows readers to become infused with a flavor for a very distinct American covenant, which ties religious, economic and non-sectarian goals under one umbrella of Federal awareness. Exploring solid solutions with over 900 sourced endnotes, you’ll learn how our diverse nation got along and continued to work out our differences, making it a birthplace of liberty and ingenuity. Before we trust any more tax seasons or election cycles to a Federal government in the throes of betrayal, this book reaches out to all walks of life with hope for the future.

IAN: Is 70 Years of American Captivity published in print, e-book or both?

Christine Meier: It is published in ebook, paperback and hardcover.

IAN: Where can we buy a copy of 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier70 Years of American Captivity is available at AmazonItunesBarnes& NobleKobo and Smashwords.   

IAN: What inspired you to write 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier: I had an experience with the Lord one day and what He told me compelled me to research and write this book.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Christine Meier: Well, I start writing and then chapter titles and outlines, which become chapters sort of “arrive” on the scene.

IAN: How long did it take to write 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier: It took between three and a half to almost four years to research and write.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Christine Meier: I suppose I do, but it may not be as obvious as one reads. As I write, I answer questions I feel I would ask or readers would ask. It’s not really that obvious, but I do find myself writing as Zechariah did in the Old Testament. I like to put what I’m writing down for awhile and then pick it back up again. If it speaks to me after not working on it for some time, then I know it will bless those who read it.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Christine Meier: It was based on the statement the Lord gave me, but the subtitle was a work in progress with my publishing house (awesome folks).

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier: The reality of how close we are to losing our country, and how far we have gone down the rabbit hole in lies we have been told; but more importantly, how easy it is to get us back on track, economically, spiritually and socially.

IAN: How much of the book is realistic?

Christine Meier: All of the book is from factual and actual history. In other words, it really happened. It is non-fiction.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Christine Meier: Some of the experiences related in the book are mine; some are shared through actual historic accounts and some are related through historical writings and other literature.

IAN: Did you have to travel much concerning research or for other aspects of 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier: I have traveled to four continents for the church books I have written and I have traveled for this one as well. Of course, I would travel anywhere to share this book and my other ones.

IAN: Who designed the cover?

Christine Meier: The cover design was a joint effort between the publishing house and myself. I love what those guys did with the ideas.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing 70 Years of American Captivity?

Christine Meier: I had to make absolutely sure what I wrote was actual and factual history. That means I had to make sure what I wrote had original sourced beginnings. My writing in the past has been in biblical study. Fortunately, original sources are also crucial in that genre. This was quite different as revealing American history— and American history that is not widely known nor studied in most colleges.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing 70 Years of American Captivity and what was it?

Christine Meier: I learned a tremendous amount of American history, early American thought and psychology as it related to the formation of our governing compact. I also developed a deep appreciation for how different our country truly is in its birth, formation and governing documents. I learned so much that today’s press, colleges and media are not telling Americans.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Christine Meier: I have a prophetic study book and a gifts of the Bible book in the pipeline next.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sentinels of Tzurac Screenplay is an Award Winner

by James Raven

I have just been informed that the adapted screenplay for my first book in the Sentinels of Tzurac Trilogy has been given the Silver Winner Award from International Independent Film Awards in the 2016 Summer category.

I am very grateful and also excited at the prospect of being recognised among the film industry and am looking forward with anticipation at the possibility of my trilogy being made into a film or three. I am currently arranging a screenplay to be written for my second book "Zarkwin's Revenge" in the trilogy. When my third book Retaliation which is reaching final proof reading becomes published I will also be adapting this to a feature screenplay as well.

Sentinels of Tzurac

The discovery of a valuable energy source that can change the future of all civilizations in the universe is about to fall into the wrong hands…
Earth’s natural resources are running out and the planet is dying, suffocating under the weight of humankind’s greed. Intergalactic mining companies search distant planets for badly needed replacement resources and Kyron, a recent engineering graduate, gains a prominent position with mining corporation MERIC. When an explosion involving a strange blue rock known as Xytrinium stops their operation on Terra Iota cold, MERIC owner Samuel Jensen sends Kyron to investigate. But someone has other ideas about a resource so powerful it could destroy entire worlds.

Kyron narrowly escapes an attempt on his life on his trip to Terra Iota and the motive of the culprit is as simple as it is diabolical: he is determined to exert complete power over the entire world and he needs Xytrinium to do it. Caught in the middle, Kyron now finds himself in a war with a man who seems to hold all the cards, but when a murder, an ancient gold ring, and his father’s hidden past reveal startling truths, Kyron will risk everything to save Earth— and the life of the woman he loves.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Charles E Yallowitz: The IAN Interview

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is the 10th volume of my Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series, which sees that the heroes have been forced to split up.  The story focuses on Timoran Wrath, an honorable and wise barbarian who has been a constant source of stability for his friends.  To continue their journey, the champions must travel to Timoran’s homeland of Stonehelm and gain entry into the Snow Tiger Tribe’s holy land.  There’s just one big problem:

Timoran is an exile and returning home means he must stand trial for his sins that could lead to his execution.   Unwilling to do more harm to his people, he is ready to accept judgement and die for his crimes, which puts the champion prophecy at risk.  Lucky for Timoran, Luke, Nyx, and Dariana have their suspicions that something is not right in Stonehelm and refuse to let their friend die without a fight.

If this delay is not bad enough, the chaos elf army is on the march and the only way for them to return home is if their leader can claim Nyx’s head and raze Stonehelm to the ground.

IAN: Is Tribe of the Snow Tiger published in print, e-book or both?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  E-Book

IAN: Where can we go to buy Tribe of the Snow Tiger?

Charles E. Yallowitz:

IAN: Do you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  I’m a big planner when it comes to my stories because I want to make sure I lead up to certain plot and character evolution points.  So, I make outlines that break the chapters down into sections and use character bios to know where I want to go with them.  Do any of these plans stay intact when I start writing?  Not really, which means there is a ‘winging’ aspect of the first draft that makes sure the story flows naturally.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Yes and it’s Present Tense Third Person.  *ducks barrage of rotting vegetables* It isn’t really a common or popular style, but it’s what I feel most comfortable writing in.  This came about in high school because I was always switching tenses in my stories.  A teacher sat me down to help me realize where I was going wrong and break the habits.  This involved choosing one tense to stick with and I happened to pick Present Tense, which nobody told me was odd until I published my first book in 2013.  Honestly, this works best for my stories because I see them as visual scenes in my head.  This is why I use a lot of action and dialogue, especially since flashbacks and info dumps don’t work very well in Present Tense.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Be even better if they’re excited for the next volume.  I write to entertain and draw out the proper emotions for the scenes.  So, I’m happy if a reader laughs at the jokes, tears up at the sad parts, and is on the edge of their seat during the action.  For me, one of the best things to hear from a reader is who their favorite character is or if a scene really stuck with them.

IAN: How much of the series is realistic?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  I write fantasy, so there is a lot of magic and monsters along with flashy fight scenes.  The realism comes about from how the characters react to events.  For example, I have no problem having a character cry when something makes them sad instead of them remaining the ‘stoic hero’.  Beyond that, the story is realistic within the rules of the world.  Writing fantasy requires that you make some basic laws and stick to them because consistency is key to world building.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Fellow indie authors and bloggers.  Starting a blog was the best thing I did for my writing because it helped me connect with people in the same situation.  Unlike family and friends, these are people that have a full understanding of what I’m trying to do.

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  If you’re asking if I’m a full-time author then yes.  Beyond that, it’s a rather complicated answer because ‘career’ sounds very sterile to me.  Writing is a path that I take a sense of accomplishment from and enjoy every day.  I guess I would say it’s the dream job more than a career.  Again, this is because the word has typically been used in a rather dull, just-earn-a-paycheck towards me by those that consider writing nothing more than a hobby.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  I loved writing and telling stories when I as 7, but my skills in other subjects were falling.  So, I always had a mild interest in telling stories that was kept to daydreaming and a few school projects until I turned 15.  My desire to be a zoologist died when I realized I would have to work with blood.  Around this time, I read a fantasy series called ‘The Books of Lost Swords’ by Fred Saberhagen.  Something about the world and how it came to life in my head made me want to do the same thing.  I spent a lot of my free time in high school designing my first fantasy world and the stories that would go along with them.  This ended up becoming Pre-Cataclysm Windemere instead of the main world.

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Only in my head.  Being a fantasy author, I don’t have any places to go to since the stories don’t take place on Earth.  Yet, I do try to make the environments realistic and work off my own experiences from the few trips I’ve taken.

IAN: Who designed the covers?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Jason Pedersen who is a tattoo artist out of Arizona.  He’s been doing the Legends of Windemere covers since the beginning.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your books?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Since this is the 10th volume, the hardest part is to keep the characters evolving and make sure there is consistency with the previous books.  I have to keep a lot of notes to avoid creating any incongruities in Windemere, which readers seem to pick out really quickly.  This can be a reused monster that looks and acts differently with no explanation, characters forgetting previous learned information, location descriptions not matching up, and a lot of other traps that I would fall into if I simply wrote without thinking of what came beforehand.  Recently, I began going through the new outlines and making a file of any information that I would need to include from previous volumes.  This really helps with the monsters and locations.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Charles E. Yallowitz:  Have fun with your stories and listen to your gut.  If you feel like something isn’t going to work for the book then step back and think.  You might only have a partial idea that will evolve with a little more focus.  This goes for promoting your book too.  It’s good to step out of your comfort zone, but you need to make sure the promo is right for you.  People can tell when an author is uncomfortable, but might not mistake discomfort for not having faith in the product.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Well, I just finished a paranormal thriller that I’m going to post bit by bit on my blog in October.  Not really my genre, so I’m not confident enough to publish it.  Still, it makes for a fun series to do for a month.  Beyond that, I’m editing Legends of Windemere: Charms of the Feykin, which will be the 11th volume of the series.  This covers what happened to the other group of champions, who were left on a cliffhanger in the last book.  Those who survive Tribe of the Snow Tiger must go on a rescue mission to the southern jungles, but they are going to be surprised by what they find.  Their friends will not be the same people they remember and a new enemy will come closer to tearing the entire group apart than any other adversary.  One of my favorite parts about this story is that it brings closure and focus to many of the relationships that have been brewing for a while.

Steven Gossington: The IAN Interview

Steven Gossington is an emergency room physician (medical school - Baylor College of Medicine; residency - Georgetown University Hospital) with over 30 years of patient care experience. For 11 years, he was an academic professor in emergency medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, and he published 20 book chapters and medical articles of original research. His enjoyment of mystery and suspense fiction and his love of writing led to his first novel Fractured Eden, a psychological suspense story in which he draws upon his extensive experience with mentally ill emergency room patients. He can be contacted at

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

S. Gossington: In Fractured Eden, a doctor loses everything and attempts to reconstruct his career in a town filled with addiction and mental illness. Dr. Aaron Rovsing, Family Practice Physician, is fired from his medical practice in Connecticut because of alleged incompetence. After he flees from that nightmare and starts over in a strange town in East Texas, Aaron discovers that things are not as they first appear, and soon he must combat the deranged and addicted minds of the townspeople, some of whom test the doctor’s own sanity. Events take an even deadlier turn when he finds himself the next chosen victim of a serial killer who plans to add the doctor to his collection of notable skeletons. Aaron is aided by unlikely allies, who are themselves afflicted with mental illness or, in some cases, don’t even seem real. In this town of insanity and with a serial killer waiting to strike, how can Aaron, who is ill-equipped to deal with these bizarre challenges, manage to stay sane . . . and alive?

IAN: Is Fractured Eden published in print, e-book or both?

S. Gossington: Fractured Eden is available in paperback and e-book formats.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Fractured Eden?

S. Gossington:  and

IAN: Did you use an outline or did you just wing the first draft?

S. Gossington: I did not use an outline. I started with my main character getting into a world of trouble and then having to deal with his sudden change of fortune. The story seemed to unfold as my protagonist met and interacted with other characters (allies and enemies) and as he reacted to various challenges and obstacles along his journey.

IAN: How long did it take to write the book?

S. Gossington: It took one year for me to complete the first draft and another six months for the revision process, which I completed with the help and advice of two literary experts: a developmental editor and a copy editor.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

S. Gossington: As the story developed, some of the characters took on paranormal (angelic or demonic) characteristics, and an underlying theme emerged in a “good vs. evil” battle. The setting for the story is a small town in southeast Texas next to the Big Thicket - a strange forest possessed of a spooky history. The Big Thicket is an evil place (the serial killer roamed in there) but had the potential, if good defeated evil, to become a beautiful place - like the Garden of Eden. When the doctor first arrived, he found the town to be troubled, fractured - thus the title Fractured Eden.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Fractured Eden?

S. Gossington: No matter how dire the situation and no matter the eventual outcome, an ember of hope exists in everyone - hope that can elevate you above your circumstances and make you the hero of your own story.

IAN: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

S. Gossington: The mentally ill characters and the ER encounters in the story are based on patients that I have examined and treated in the past.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

S. Gossington: My first writing was medically related: book chapters and medical journal articles. I discovered that I enjoyed the craft of writing, even more so if someone else enjoyed reading what I wrote!

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing Fractured Eden?

S. Gossington: The most difficult step was the revision process, which included applying fiction-writing techniques, such as “tension on every page” and “cut out the boring stuff,” and assuring that every sentence - every word - is what I wanted to say.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

S. Gossington: I’ve been attempting to write fiction for years - I’ve read instructional books about writing and I’ve attended numerous workshops. I think what finally got me to the next level (at least, I think I’m at that next level!) was working with quality editors who gave me specific advice pertinent to my needs and to my particular style of writing.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

S. Gossington: My next book, to be published in winter 2016-17, is a murder mystery, which I plan to develop into a series.