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[Author Interview] – Alistair Cross | Sleep, Savannah, Sleep

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Alistair Cross

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Alistair: I grew up in a small town in Utah where I really just didn’t fit in. As someone who was painfully introverted and not at all interested in athletics, I had trouble finding channels of self-expression and often lost myself in books, music, and movies. I discovered horror when I was about eight years old, and I suppose I fell in love with it because it was the most thrilling, exciting, and emotionally stimulating thing around me at that time. To me, horror was – and still is – the antithesis of normal and boring, and movies like Carrie and The Amityville Horror, and stories like Dracula and The Tell-Tale Heart were the first things to ever hold me down and demand my full attention.   

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Alistair: I’ve never thought of myself as anything but just a regular writer. It never occurred to me that I was a “horror writer” until other people began pointing it out to me. But I don’t think the label or the package is the important thing. The important things are the voice, the story, and above all, the characters – and as long as I can write what I want to, I don’t care if the world says I’m a Christian Neuroscience Erotic Thriller author.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Alistair: A paranormal murder mystery called Sleep, Savannah, Sleep. It’s about a recently widowed father named Jason Crandall who moves to a little town called Shadow Springs. As he and his young daughter, Amber, and rebellious teenage son, Brent, get settled in, Jason begins meeting the locals and quickly realizes that under its smooth surface, Shadow Springs is rife with scandal, secrets, and more bad blood than a battleground. After a beautiful young socialite named Savannah Sturgess goes missing, Jason’s childhood night terrors return and he begins having terrifying dreams that convince him the woman has been murdered. When her body turns up in the same place Jason predicts it will, he finds himself under suspicion and the only things that can help him prove his innocence are the macabre, otherworldly messages from the dead woman herself.

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ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Alistair: I had a lot of fun creating the characters because I had to write them knowing upfront that each of them had to be a potential murder suspect – which automatically made them a lot more interesting.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Alistair: The hardest part of this book was planting enough clues that the big reveal was believable without giving it away too soon.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Alistair: I’d like to say something really interesting, like the darkest, moistest parts of my black soul or something, but the truth is, I don’t really know. Ideas come from everywhere, all the time. Conversations with friends, movies, books, lightning bolts of inspiration while scrubbing my feet in the shower … it’s anybody’s guess where these things come from, really.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Alistair: It’s always strange when you realize that your work is being read. What I mean is, you spend so much time writing in a little room, and then, when you make that rare real-world appearance and happen upon someone who has actually read your work, it’s always a little surreal. I think that’s because I never think about anything but the story in front of me when I’m writing – and when the book’s finished, I start thinking about the next one. I never think about anyone reading it, so when I find someone who has, I’m always a bit surprised.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Alistair: My characters absolutely have agendas of their own – and if they don’t, it means I’m not listening to them. I think that when an author decides he or she is going to lay down the law and force the plot to go a certain way, they’re robbing themselves of the true magic of the story – and all the surprises along the way. Stephen King once said that plot is the last resort of bad writers – and I agree. I believe in following the characters and allowing them to show you where the story leads. When you trust them, they’ll take you places you never could have come up with on your own.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Alistair: It’s a toss-up between the beginning and the end of every book – both of which are the most exciting times for me.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Alistair: The next thing readers will see from me is Darling Girls, a collaboration with Tamara Thorne. Darling Girls is unique because it’s a follow-up of Tamara’s vampire novel Candle Bay, as well as my own novel, The Crimson Corset. Tamara and I gleefully tied our respective vampire worlds together and Darling Girls is the surprising result. It continues the Candle Bay story, and includes my vampires, Michael, Winter, and Chynna, on a trip to an eerie little tourist trap called Eternity for a vampire family reunion … with plenty of blood-spill along the way.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Alistair: The best place to find me and a list of all of my social media outlets is at my website, alistaircross.com

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Alistair: Thank you for having me!


*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

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[Author Interview] Randi Perrin – Virtue and Honor

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Randi Perrin: I’m Randi Perrin, a little quirky, a little country, a little rock-n-roll, all snark. By day, I’m a mild-mannered (oh, who am I kidding? I am not mild anything) technical writer and by night, I’m the creator of alternate realities with bad-ass female characters and smooth-as-silk guys who love them. (Sometimes I even write a bad-ass male character and the guy who loves him.)

Honestly, if you want to get to know me, read my books. All of my characters have a little bit of me in them. Some more than others, but they all have a little piece of my personality in there somewhere. But no, I’m not telling you which character’s quirks are mine and which aren’t. Where’s the fun in that?

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Randi Perrin: When haven’t I been writing is the more apt question. Whenever life throws a curveball at me, I cope by writing and always have. But, if I had to pinpoint a moment, I really got my start when my second-grade teacher put me on the newspaper staff (an honor that was not normally allowed until the third grade). I’ve been writing ever since. A friend and I wrote a mystery book in the fifth grade, which my brother illustrated for us and my stepdad bound. (I sent it to someone and never saw it again. Sigh.) I was first published nationally when I was thirteen in a poetry anthology. I was on the newspaper staff off and on throughout school, and then I got a degree in journalism, and worked at a newspaper for a while. I’ve interviewed a poet laureate, Miss Kentucky, Junior Miss Kentucky, civil war re-enactors, movie directors, and everything in between.

The non-fiction that I get paid to write wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to write fiction, too. I’m kind of like Ariel: You want thingamapublications? I got 20. But who cares? No big deal. I want more.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Randi Perrin: My most recent release is called Virtue and Honor. It’s the third book in the Earthbound Angels trilogy. (ATAI reviewed the first in the series, Virtue of Death, when I submitted it to the 2016 Romance novel contest.) All of the characters you loved from the first two books are back in this one, along with a few new ones. Each book is a standalone, but do build upon each one, so there weren’t really a whole lot of loose ends to tie up, but I did it anyway. Loose ends you didn’t know were loose ends (heck, I didn’t even know were loose ends until I got deep into it) get tidied up.

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ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Randi Perrin: It’s a release. When someone at work drives me nuts, I go home and write it out. The person doesn’t necessarily make it into the story, but the act of pounding on my keyboard relaxes me (my husband says he swears keys are going to come flying off my laptop because I’m such a loud and aggressive typer—I say he’s just jealous). Plus, when I’m writing, I’m able to completely forget the things around me for a little while, and be in a completely different world. When I wrote Virtue of Death, I was able to escape back home to Virginia Beach. Or Promises of Virtue, I was back in Paris, enjoying the sites and the food. Or Virtue and Honor, running up the steps at the Art Institute of Chicago toward the Impressionist wing. I get to be somewhere else. I get to be somebody else. The trials in my daily life are gone, albeit temporarily. It’s freeing.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Randi Perrin: Navigating the business. Doing the right marketing. Finding the right audience. Hunting down the reviews. Doing the right signings. Ordering the best swag. There’s so much that can go wrong, and so many people out there who are trying to scam authors, that it’s inundating. Writing the novel is the easy part (and writing a book is not easy, by any stretch, but in the grand scheme, it’s the easy part). Then you have to deal with rejections, rewrites, marketing, reviews. It’s a lot, and there’s so much that can go wrong along the way.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Randi Perrin: There’s no telling. I will admit that more plot ideas come out of the shower than anywhere else. My best friend bought me one of those notepads with waterproof pages, and it’s gotten a lot of use. (The girl didn’t earn the title ‘best friend’ for nothing.) There’s nothing worse than coming up with a great idea as I’m falling asleep but not writing it down. I think, “It’s so awesome, there’s no way I can forget it.” The next morning—poof!—like Keyser Söze, it’s gone.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Randi Perrin: I have no process. Every book is different. In fact, there are times I may not even start in the right place. One thing is for sure, I’ve never written a full-length novel (or novella) in order. I write as the scenes come to me, and then stitch them together at the end. Which often involves drastic cosmetic surgery to make it fit and be pretty where it ends up. For example: in Virtue and Honor, the antagonist wasn’t the antagonist in the first draft. It wasn’t until the second draft that I changed up who it was entirely, which involved several heavy rewrites and finessing to make it work.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Randi Perrin: Yup. I stopped using outlines after my characters gave my outline the middle finger, shoved it off the table, and went, “So, what here’s what we’re going to do instead.” It’s their story, not mine, so I tend to listen to them. (And now I sound equal parts horrifying and crazy.)

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Randi Perrin: It’s really hard to pick just one. It’s a cop out answer, I know, but there are so many parts that are special for so many different reasons. However, I will say, there’s a scene in Virtue and Honor that involves two cars, a garage, and a rainstorm. This happened in real life, and after it did, my friend goes, “that needs to be in your next book.”

I said, “Challenge accepted.”

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Randi Perrin: I’m happy with where the angels wound up, so I’m going to step out of the paranormal/fantasy romance world for a bit and work on some contemporaries. I have a romantic comedy that I’m rewriting (for the fourth time—because sometimes that’s what it takes; if this book ever happens it will truly be the tale of the little novel that could) and I also have a women’s fiction rolling around in this head of mine. Then, who knows where my muse will take me.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Randi Perrin: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randiperrinwrites
Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/389424504774060/
Website: http://randiperrin.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/RandiPerrin
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RandiPerrin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/randiperrinwrites
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RandiPerrin
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/randiperrin
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/randi-perrin

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Randi Perrin: Thank you for having me. Come and find me on social media, engage me, ask questions, post pics of hot guys.


*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

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A Tear for Eternity.com – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Virginia Alison

Virginia Alison’s A Tear For Eternity.com is a comedic, romantic novel surrounding an attractive female erotic author in her fifties. Divorced and single, Mia has, for the past six years, participated in a romantic and sexual relationship -all online with Kip, a man she’s never met. In between trying to tidy up her yard that her grumpy older neighbor nags her about and writing her next chapter, she allows her mind to wonder through fantasies, toys with her online relationship and occasionally engages in face-to-face dating and pleasurable experiences. Her ultimate dream is to meet Kip in person, but whether or not that will ever come to fruition seems to hang tauntingly in the ether just as their chat box messages.

A Tear For Eternity.com is not a typical romance novel. On a number of levels that’s a positive, but there are drawbacks, too. Alison mentions a large cast of characters as she runs through some of Mia’s memories of her online and offline escapades with the male persuasion. Yet, none of these characters are fleshed out. There was potential in the neighbor’s adult grandson, but he turned out to just be a super sexy diversion and readers are left to wonder who he really is. Clearly, the whole of the story focuses primarily on Mia, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, some readers may enjoy knowing more about the other characters.

With snippets of steamy sex scenes, those who enjoy erotic stories that aren’t over-the-top will most likely enjoy Virginia Alison’s A Tear For Eternity.com. She offers a number of those steamy scenes mixed in with her almost poetic writing style. Women, especially those in their middle years, will enjoy settling in with Mia and exploring her somewhat lonely, but sexy tale. As the question of what will happen between Mia and Kip hangs in the balance Virginia Alison gives readers a choice and a chance to control the character’s. In the end, it’s up to the reader. Therefore, Alison’s A Tear For Eternity.com will entertain until the very end.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Korpes File – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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J.I. Rogers

In J.I. Rogers’ The Korpes File, Nash Korpes is an outcast in a dystopian world. He’s considered a “throwback” of his Tyran ancestors. Only a handful of the people in his life are accepting of him let alone trust him or show him respect. His unique looks and quick-to-anger temperment push others even further from him. His brilliant mind helps uncover deep, dark corruption, but his tendency to take a stand against wrong doing often puts him in the path of trouble.

There are an exceptional number of characters in The Korpes File. With that and the complex names of said characters and various places, following the story can be challenging at times. In fact, in the early stages of the book, there seems to be some confusion as to what is happening. It could’ve been explained a bit more clearly. As fascinating and intriguing as the story is it will take some effort and patience on the reader’s part to comprehend and follow The Korpes File.

Though Roger’s nearly overpacked The Korpes File with characters those characters are deep, multi-dimensional personalities. Rogers has a way of writing that feeds the characters’ feelings right into the heart and mind of the reader. It’s an intricate and page-turning tale with numerous substories. The Korpes File is very well-written, and the elaborate plot structure and cast of characters adds so much to the story that it turned into an exceptionally intrigiuing tale. The sci-fi piece is plainly at the core of the story, but J.I. Rogers fluidly incorporated levels of racism, love and corruption into the storyline as well. The Korpes File is sure to be a hit with sci-fi fans. Job well done!

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Falcon of Imenotash – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Holly Bargo

In Holly Bargo’s The Falcon of Imenotash, Emperor Giroch of the Harudin Empire tasks the provincial Queen of Imenotash, Aridis, with producing an heir so that she can keep her reign over her lands. Edan, Captain of the Palace Guard, is her chosen candidate. However, their cordial arrangement soon blossoms into genuine passion, a relationship that the Emperor is displeased with. The Emperor does what he can to dissolve the union and dampen their spirits, but Aridis and Edan have a secret that could bring his entire reign to a brutal end.

The Falcon of Imenotash certainly wastes no time with exposition; rather, it jumps right into the meat and action of the story. Though a refreshing approach, perhaps it isn’t always effective. Some scenes and characters could have been developed a bit more thoroughly than they are. However, this rushed pacing doesn’t necessarily hinder the story; there are still plenty of details and development to help the reader follow along as the The Falcon of Imenotash progresses.

A most unique fantasy, The Falcon of Imenotash rejects the common tropes of the fantasy genre; instead, it is a creative, distinctive, incredibly memorable work that incorporates everything from strict politics to mystical shapeshifting. It is exceptionally well-written, whether the scene is a battle, an act of lovemaking, or one of cruelty and abuse. Holly Bargo’s strong, tactful, and descriptive writing leaves the reader wanting more, chapter after chapter and long after the book is finished. The Falcon of Imenotash is a spectacular novel, captivating from beginning to end, and a most fulfilling read for anyone searching for a great fantasy novel that isn’t just the same old fluff.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Phoenix (Book 1 of The Paradon) – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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Daccari Buchelli

Phoenix is the first installment of Daccari Buchelli’s Peradon series, a fantasy which takes place in the fictional, segregated land of Peradon. After an ominous prophecy leads to a failed, yet brutal assassination attempt, Princess Violetta of the Fire Realm is left devastated and haunted by what could have been. Emperor Ryore of the neighboring Frost Realm falls in love with the fiery princess, but his love is not as pure as he might want her to believe. Meanwhile, there are dangerous forces at work around the two conflicted rulers, threatening to send all of Peradon spiraling into unspeakable tragedy.

Phoenix has a lot of promise as a fantasy novel, yet still misses the mark a bit in some important areas. Perhaps due to the provided map of the fictional land of Peradon seeming entirely unrealistic, the land itself doesn’t seem as fully fleshed out and immersive as it could be. There are too many characters all at once, making some seem wooden and forced and only serving to confuse the reader as to who is who. There were also many scenes in Phoenix that were too drawn out, and others that blatantly contradicted earlier details of the story (a minor instance of this occurred in the beginning, when a character was described as having “golden curls,” then later as having hair that was a “coppery shade”).

Despite these mishaps, Phoenix remains a unique and inspired fantasy novel, largely because of its complexity. Daccari Buchelli has blended fantasy, magic, romance, politics, and conspiracy into Phoenix, making it a definite page-turner. In some ways, Phoenix almost resembles a combination of the A Song of Ice and Fire series and Avatar: The Last Airbender, while still maintaining its own unique style and voice. Phoenix could certainly benefit from some revision, but is a promising beginning to the Peradon series nonetheless.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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You Dear, Sweet Man – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Thomas Neviaser

In Thomas Neviaser’s You Dear, Sweet Man, blue-collar worker Bobby Fastow notices an unusual ad on the subway on his way to work. Featuring a beautiful woman and a spread of health-conscious food, there’s nothing particularly unusual about it – or so Bobby thinks. As the days go on, though, he becomes more and more obsessed with the ad. He begins to believe that the woman in the ad can see him and interact with him, but is it real or only a fantasy in his head?

You Dear, Sweet Man is a unique fiction book, but sometimes, it’s so unique that it borders on strange. The plot is confusing at first, as is the revolving door of characters who each seem to need their own chapter to narrate. There’s also a bit of a discrepancy in the book’s pacing; some chapters are suspenseful and exciting, others have a rambling narrative that doesn’t seem to make sense, and still others are almost downright boring. You Dear, Sweet Man captivates with a short, suspenseful opening chapter, then takes quite a while to become that interesting again, which doesn’t seem like an effective method.

However, what makes You Dear, Sweet Man so powerful is its great use of suspense – and over something as ordinary as a subway ad. Turning an everyday, throwaway object like a subway ad into something terrifying, creepy, and suspenseful is a fascinating premise, and one that Thomas Neviaser executes brilliantly. As the story unravels, it’s impossible not to keep reading to find out more about the mysterious woman in the ad. You Dear, Sweet Man is a rollercoaster ride of a read, but a particularly intriguing one that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next story Thomas Neviaser has up his sleeve.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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How to Get Your Dog to Eat – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Mary DiTosto

Mary DiTosto’s How to Get Your Dog to Eat is a comprehensive guide for dog owners struggling to get their picky little eaters to finish their food. Frustrated with the generic solutions to her own dog’s finicky eating habits, DiTosto did her own research and found a multitude of easy, helpful information. She shares them, along with real-life examples of how she utilized the techniques herself, in this invaluable guidebook for all pet parents.

Unfortunately, it takes a little bit for How to Get Your Dog to Eat to get to those helpful tips. A lot of the beginning of the book is devoted to explaining why pet owners should read it and what a “picky eater” is – all self-explanatory and bordering on redundant. Skipping to the bare bones of the book and getting right to the information the readers really want – and need – to know might have been a better approach. However, once readers get past the slightly awkward beginning and the book delves into the good stuff, it’s all great from there on out.

What really makes How to Get Your Dog to Eat a necessity for all pet owners is how thorough and descriptive it is. Mary DiTosto truly explores every possibility for why a dog might not be eating and what exactly can be done to solve it. Then, DiTosto provides dozens of fun, creative ways to get a pup to chow down again, like trust exercises and fun games to keep dogs engaged and interested in meal time. Paired with side stories of her own experiences with a picky dog and adorable pictures of said dog, this is truly a charming and engaging book. How to Get Your Dog to Eat explores every avenue, giving all pet owners an invaluable resource to help them understand their dogs and the importance of a happy, healthy diet.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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A Tale of a Rough Diamond – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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P.J. Mann

In P. J. Mann’s A Tale of a Rough Diamond, Stephen is a troubled teenager who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. His older brother, Roger, has always been jealous of Stephen, pulling strings to turn their family against his younger brother. Left to rot in jail for his crimes, Stephen makes a few unlikely allies. A true underdog, Stephen must find the courage within himself to make the best of his circumstances and do all he can to survive.

Although it has an excellent premise, there are many areas in A Tale of a Rough Diamond that could benefit from some revision and improvement. A lot of the dialogue seems wooden and unrealistic, and many of the characters are not as well-fleshed out as they could be. There are many seemingly rambling tangents that distract from the story and constant shifts in time, point of view, etc. that can make the story confusing in places. Other scenes are just written a bit oddly. A Tale of a Rough Diamond is also in dire need of extensive editing; the plethora of errors in this book hinder its overall potential.

Despite this, A Tale of a Rough Diamond has a ton of potential. P. J. Mann’s dark and unique style of writing is captivating and the plot itself is intriguing and suspenseful. A great tale of an underdog, there are many aspects of this story that are incredibly thoughtful and relatable. Full of deceit, tragedy, and thrilling twists, this book can really keep readers on the edge of their seats. A Tale of a Rough Diamond is a bit of a rough diamond itself; it has all the potential to be a stunning literary experience, but just needs a bit of polishing to achieve that.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Fire in the Dawn – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Justin Fike

Fire in the Dawn is the first book in Justin Fike’s fantasy trilogy, The Twin Skies. As the story begins, Kyren is a prince in disguise, pretending to be a peasant to protect himself after the downfall of his entire family. Then, something terrible happens that forces Kyren out of hiding and into action. Kyren must rediscover who he is and unite his people to save them all from a most tragic demise.

Perhaps the biggest downfall (if you could even call it a downfall) of Fire in the Dawn is its complexity. Even with the helpful glossary of terms in the beginning of the book, it can be difficult to follow along with this fantasy world and its rich lore. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as fantasy novels should be this intricate and detailed, readers should be warned that this isn’t exactly an easy read. It requires a lot of attention and care to detail, much like what was obviously needed to write a great story like this in the first place.

What sets Fire in the Dawn apart from other fantasy novels, though, is Justin Fike’s excellent writing. Fike has managed to create a world and characters that are exotic and fascinating, while still maintaining a level of believability that most fantasy authors can only hope of achieving. Fire in the Dawn is an exciting, creative, fascinating beginning to a fantasy series that is likely to be reminiscent of literary greats like A Song of Ice and Fire and The Lord of the Rings. From Fire in the Dawn alone, it’s overwhelmingly clear that there’s an abundance of promise and potential for The Twin Skies trilogy – promise and potential that Justin Fike certainly has as a fantasy writer.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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