Monday, 31 October 2011

Interview with Louis Bertrand Shalako, author of The Shape Shifters

As the year draws to a close, so too do my reviews and interviews. With only 7 remaining before I take some time off to concentrate on my own writing, I welcome on of the last authors to grace my blog for a while. Welcome, Louis!
 What inspired The Shape Shifters?

I had this idea that we are all shape-shifters. Every seven years, every cell in our body is renewed, and it is clearly our identity that persists while our body changes. Our identity changes over time as well. And yet we really can’t escape who we are, which is imprinted upon us from a very early age. Even when other people have other ideas of who we should be, our identity is something we cling to without even really being able to define it. We are born as little babies, under ten pounds in most cases, and then we grow up to be young and strong, and then we slowly collapse into ourselves in old age.

Are any of the characters based on someone real?

The characters are based on real personality types, and some of the situations have happened to real people in real life. 

What type of process to you have to get in to the writing zone?

The first thing is to have an idea. To attempt to write in this genre, it had to be some different take or slant, not just on the story, but on the genre. Once I have an idea of the major characters, the story starts to unfold. It’s a question of, ‘What would happen if?” This question doesn’t always involve plot. What is it that makes a fantasy? As a writer, how rational was the choice of having a few talking animals in the story? Most authors spend a lot of time not writing, but daydreaming and visualizing. What doesn’t really work or turn our crank doesn’t make it in. I often have scenes that I would have liked to include, but would just be a sidebar and so I don’t even write it up.

Was this an easy story to write?

This was a fairly easy book to do because I was having fun every time I sat down to write, and by the time I wrote ‘Shape-Shifters,’ I knew I could complete a book. Once you realize that, the most obvious question is, ‘How good is it going to be?” If the question is about motivation, a certain amount of competitiveness in my own character led me to work at it. This book probably took three months of writing every day. While circumstances ensure that a writer will miss a day from time to time, the project mentality takes over and we want to see how it all turns out. So the writer has much in common with the reader in that sense. Back when I had a real job, I liked completing things as much as the next guy. In construction, it’s the only way to get paid. A life of unskilled manual labour puts writing into perspective. Put in the man-hours and you got yourself a book.

Do you have any other projects in the works we can look forward to?

Yes. My new novel is detective fiction with no fantasy elements. It’s called, ‘Redemption: An Inspector Maintenon Mystery.’ It’s based on a character I created in the short story, ‘The Handbag’s Tale.’ That story was written to a length of 12,000 words so that I could submit it to a major magazine, who rejected the story. Yet the short length imposed limitations that could only be addressed in a longer story—and I like the Inspector. I plan on a December 1 release, assuming I can create a good marketing image for it.

How about previous works to keep an eye out for?

That’s a good question, because ‘Shape-Shifters’ is my only fantasy. But the parody WW I memoir ‘Heaven Is Too Far Away’ seems to be doing well for an unknown author. All of my first novels were comedies, if that’s any help. But I’m taking the novel craft more seriously now, and that’s with reader’s expectations in mind. It’s a question of how long I plan on being around.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? What are your hobbies?

I read a lot when I can. I like the outdoors and take a lot of landscape photos. In summer I cycle, swim and sit by a campfire thinking weird thoughts whenever possible.

What genre do you enjoy to read for pleasure?

I enjoy history, books on aviation, and science fiction, and oddly enough, the kind of plot-less literary fiction that takes me to a different time and place without causing any real angst. I like westerns and detective stories, and maybe not so much of the airport-type novels.

Do you have any hints or advice for aspiring writers?

Be prepared to suffer, be prepared to work, but also be prepared to succeed.  

Fantastic piece of advice there.
Louis, thank you very much for this opporunity, it's been wonderful.All the best in the future and I look forward to having you back one day soon!
Louis has been extremely generous providing 25 copies of The Shape Shifters to readers. It is also available to buy on and Barnes & Noble. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Review of The Shape-Shifters by Louis Bertrand Shalako

For anyone who knows me, I have a large soft spot for all fantasy type characters, and shape shifters are towards the top of my list of favourites. So naturally, I was quite eager to get in to this read. I was not disappointed as action began from the first word. Intrigue was weaved as scenes were set, but just enough to introduce characters, rather than give too much away. Louis laces magic in to the story with each word, even though the supernatural isn’t immediately apparent.
As each character has their story told, I must admit I got a little confused, but their tales were believable and it didn’t take long for everything to tie in together. Changes between nicknames and surnames for the four hunters made their scenes hard to keep track of at times.
There is a sweet yet dark feeling of reality to this story that keeps the pages turning. This is a book I would most assuredly read again.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sleeping Love - Released November 4 2011

Sara Curran-Ross returns with another wonderful tale, Sleeping Love. Released November 4th 2011, I will be making this my first review of 2012, and I can tell you now, I can not wait!!

Historian Sabrina Michaels lost her memory ten years ago after waking up in a London hospital badly beaten.  When she travels to a French chateau owned by handsome wealthy businessman Raoul Valoire to research his famous ancestor, he lays claim to her as his wife.
Afraid of confronting her past, Sabrina attempts to leave the chateau but finds that her husband is more than determined to have his wife back in his arms and in his bed.  He is prepared to hold her  prisoner until she uncovers her true identity and remembers her love for him.
Sabrina embarks on a journey into her own past in the hopes of uncovering what caused her to disappear from the chateau without a trace the night of her birthday party and the man who was responsible for her attack.  She only hopes it is not the husband she is falling in love with all over again.

Nothing appeared safe or trustworthy.  Leaving would give her some control back until she could decide what to do.  Surely, Raoul would understand that.  Frantically, she headed for the door and reached out for the handle with a shaking hand when she stopped dead, hearing the cracking whip of Raoul’s reprimand across the air.

‘Sabrina.  Where are you going?’

Sabrina turned sharply tilting her chin defiantly at him.

‘You can’t stop me leaving,’ she threatened.  ‘I will call the police.’

He gave a laugh and began walking towards her.

‘It will do you no good,’ he told her softly.  ‘They know that you are home and that your memory loss may have made you unstable.  They are more than likely to advise hospital care if I can’t keep you under control than help you leave.’

He unfolded the piece of paper he held in his hand and offered it to her.

‘Your signature on our wedding certificate will prove that this is not some elaborate hoax.  You belong to me, Sabrina and I am not letting you walk out of that door again.’

She glanced at the certificate and the signature that he pointed to.  It was definitely her writing.  Blind panic filled her mind.  She didn’t know what to do.  What if Raoul had been the man who had beaten her so badly she’d lost her memory?  What if he really was the man who had put her in the hospital seven years ago?  Perhaps she had tried to leave him then and he’d become violent.  Too many questions.  She had to get out.

‘Do what the hell you want but I am still leaving and there is nothing you can do,’ she shouted wasting no more time in turning the door handle.

But to her dismay she was not to get very far.  Raoul leaned over and raised his hand above her head slamming the door shut hard.  Sabrina gave a yelp of fear and turned around to face him, finding her back pressed against the door with no means of escape.  Raoul’s dark eyes looked down at her threateningly.  He closed the distance between them, sweeping his arm around her waist when she made a gesture to duck out from under the cage of his arm.  He pushed her back against the door once more and restrained her there.

‘I am going to keep you here even if I have to tie you down.  I want to know why you walked out on my life.  We were in love.  I have spent years wondering what happened.  I never once thought you were dead.  Did you leave me for another man?  Your absence has tormented me.’ 

Raoul’s tone grew more intense with anger leaving Sabrina trembling.  ‘The police believed you were murdered and I was their main suspect.  They even dragged the lake in the grounds looking for your body.  The only thing that stopped them from charging me with your murder was the lack of a body.  I want answers and you are going to give them to me, darling wife.  So yes you will stay and yes I will make you a prisoner if I have to.’

About Sara
Sara lives in the UK, in leafy suburbia with her husband, daughter and dog.

She was training to be a Legal Executive once upon a time until she saw sense and went to university.  She graduated in 2002 with a History BA (Hons) degree after giving birth to a daughter in 1999 in the middle of it all.  Ever a glutton for punishment, Sara returned to university at the end of 2007 and in 2008 graduated again with a History MA.
Sara has been writing since her teenage years and has now made it her full time focus.  Her latest project is the Swords series, a dark victorian vampire romance saga inspired by the Tarot.  The first book, Knight Of Swords is now available from Hellfire Publishing and the second, Ace Of Swords will be available later in 2011.
Other books include The Organ Grinder and The Devil You Know. Preview chapters are available are available on the Books page above.

The Organ Grinder is a fast paced thriller.  It explores the relationship between the media and the military in Afghanistan and the sensitive subject of selling stolen human organs for transplant in the face of a worldwide shortage.

The Devil You Know is a sexy thriller set in Paris and not for the faint hearted!
You can let Sara know what you think of the books via the Contact page, email her at, or follow her blog at
Happy reading!
(Taken from Sara's site

Friday, 21 October 2011

Talon, Flight for Life

Gisela continues the story of Matica and Talon, ever faithful to her style and message in this, the third installment in her Talon series. So far, we have been with Matica as she rescued a condor egg from poachers, raising the condor chick she names Talon, while his parents Tamo and Tima watch in approval, and this is just in the first book. The second book sees dreams come to life as the relationship and understanding between Matica and Talon grows ever deeper. In Flight for Life, we follow the unlikely duo as poachers return and Matica continues to struggle with her self-esteem due to her disability. Her continuing acceptance from the South American Indians in the surrounding villages and cities gives her pride and reason to hold her head high, however, as they stand in awe of her relationship with the endangered condors. Some may view it as far stretched; but the beauty of hope and positivity is what makes this such a wonderful series. It is a perfect way to teach children and young adults that no matter how different we are, we can all make a difference and that whatever life throws at us, we should never let it get us down but rather take it in stride and keep our heads held high, just like Matica.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Review and Interview with Screen-Writer Josepsh Chastain

A Sinner’s Bible
Screenplay by Joseph Chastain

Although I don’t normally review screenplays, I read this as a favor and had to say something about it.
A Sinner’s Bible reads quite easily for a screenplay and Joseph sets the story up quite well. The lead role, Steve, is a young man trying to juggle school and a job to help his mother, Rachel support them both. Life isn’t easy for them with his alcoholic father living elsewhere, trying to get his own life sorted out.
Of course there’s a love interest, in the lovely, but lost Ivy. As with everything else in life, it is far from perfect. Friends who don’t understand only seem to make Steve feel worse. As he runs away to try and start a new life all his own he finds out that running solves nothing; in fact it often makes a bigger mess.
As everyone around him lives their own lives, unconcerned with how he is coping, Steve is on an emotional downward spiral. When he is admitted to hospital for self-harm and his secret comes out everyone reacts differently. Friends reject him, his mother tries to reach out and his father, barely able to take care of himself, shows no interest.
This is a tragic, gritty story that portrays a darker side of life no one likes to admit to knowing. It is well written, with a believable plot and life-like twists, some of them quite cruel. A Sinner’s Bible is a no-gloss story to make us appreciate the good in life all the more. In the footsteps of American Beauty, I look forward to seeing this on the screen. 

This week I stray from my reviews and interview screen-writer Joseph Chastain about his newest screen-play, A Sinner's Bible.
Joseph, can you please tell the readers a little bit about the plot?

The plot revolves around a troubled young man and his relationships with his concerned, yet powerless mother, his estranged father and a girl he hopes to make his girlfriend. Little does he know the objects of his affection has sexual identity issues. The main conflict however, is character vs. self as he cuts himself to relieve himself of his pain. This is a simplistic version of the plot, as there are a ton of little intricacies in the story. 

What inspired A Sinner's Bible? Is it based on a particular event or person?

Portions of the script are autobiographical. I was a self injurer for a good portion of my life. Steve (the main character) is based on me. The rest of the characters are composites of other people in my life. The minor  character of Nova is loosely based on my friend Kendra. 

What messages in particular are you trying to pass on from this?

I have several themes, but one of the most prominent is recovering from the scars of your past. Another one is about poverty and it's effect on  those that suffer from it.

Have you begun to market this, started looking for directors or producers?

I have talked to a few producers, and will be shooting a trailer for the film in the near future. 

Is there anyone in particular you would love to have working on this, be it a particular directer, producer or any actors?

I would prefer to direct the film myself. If not me I would love a director in the spirit of Gregg Araki direct.

I like the idea of Steve being played by Lou Taylor Pucci, Ivy (the girlfriend) being played by Christina Ricci, but am flexible as far as the possible budget and what actors I would be able to afford.  If I do not direct I will likely have no say in casting.

What goes in to the process of turning a screen play in to a movie?

This could be a book withing itself! Finding funding is the hardest part, and can take several years. There is also the option of selling your screenplay, which can also take a long time. Most producers do not turn "spec" scripts (scripts that are usually the writers idea) into films. Most of the time writers are hired by producers to write one of their or their partners' ideas or to rewrite an already existing script.

This isn't your first screen-play. Would you mind talking about other past and current projects?

I've written a few screenplays that are set in California's Inland Empire. Sinner's Bible is the first of what I call my "Inland Empire trilogy" also involving a script (Boomerang Kids) about a pyromaniac and Bi-polar woman (Nova from Sinner's Bible) who fall in love as the pyromaniac is planning to murder his uncle. The third in the trilogy is a Gothic love story (Joshua's Eyes) about a vampire who falls in love with a human despite this love being forbidden by vampire kind. The vampire desperately looks for a way to turn human and finds it through the creator of the universe. 

I've also written in several other genres. Another screenplay I've co-written is Called the Mexican project about a famous actor who is revealed to be an undocumented immigrant and is deported.

Do you write screenplays to convey certain messages such as personal issues that are considered taboo?

Many of my screenplays deal with mental illness. Being Bi-polar myself I have a special connection to stories about the mentally ill. I also am intrigued by character studies, so I deal with personal issues in virtually all my scripts.

Alienation also is a pet theme of mine, as I feel most of the human race feels alienated at some points. 

How about future projects?

I am currently working with a very gifted composer to co-write a musical version of Joshua's Eyes. Our first two songs turned out to composed very beautifully. I also am working on a graphic novel loosely based on the Orpheus myth. I have so many ideas for screenplays I'll never be able to write them all.

Being a novelist myself I'm curious about the process of writing a screen-play. What goes in to writing a screen-play?

Although I have written some prose (Including some chapters of a novelization of A Sinner's Bible and feel they have some similar processes, screenplays are more visually based and the descriptions are more succinct. You also do not write anything in them that the audience cannot see or hear.  

Of course personal processes are all different depending on the writer. I tend to write the first scenes, the last scenes and fill in the middle. 

What made you choose screen-writing over "conventional" writing?

I am a movie fanatic. Although I also love to read novels, movies have been a big part of my life. I love acting and directing as well as writing. Screenwriting is much easier to me than other forms because I understand the mechanics of movies more than that of novels. I do intend to write at least a few novels in my life though. 

Thank you very much for your time, it was a thrill to read the screen-play and an extremely interesting interview. I sure can't wait to see this on film, and the best of luck! Or, as is said in the industry, "break a leg"!

Thank you Casey. Best of luck to you as well, and to any other aspiring writers reading this interview.

For anyone interested in being involved in any way with the production of this script, please contact me at and I shall pass your details on to Joseph himself!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Review of Knight of Swords, by Sara Curran-Ross

After weeks of waiting, I finally began on The Knight of Swords with much anticipation. Despite the range of genres I review, the paranormal will always be a personal favorite and after reading Sara’s The Devil You Know I knew I was in for a good read. I was far from disappointed.
Sara has a way with words, with the ability to weave a spell of language around me as I read. I can see the images clearly, as though a film is playing in my mind, a private viewing of the tales she tells.
I noticed one little editing error but it failed to detract from the pull of the story.
Tension is expertly built, emotions raw, action scenes vivid and extremely credible. Knight of Swords is a most enthralling start to what promises to be a wonderfully addictive literary masterpiece! So much so, I do believe that Sara challenges Anne Bishop for the spot of my personal favorite author.
Vampirism is a hot topic for books lately and Sara’s Swords series is set to rival all established series with its fantastic descriptions and storylines. With a delightful and acceptable twist to the nature of vampires along with an enjoyable, if somewhat cruel history of them in this story, Sara does well to paint an endearing picture of her race of Vampires.
A story that sings to the blood and one I drank in with a lust for words.

Monday, 3 October 2011

About the Talon Series by Gisela Sedlemayer

Nine-year-old blond Matica lives in a remote little village on a dry plateau in the Andes of Peru. She moved here with her Australian missionary and schoolteacher parents when she was five years old. Ever since she could remember she faced cruel rejection because of her growth handicap. She is trapped in a body the size of a two year old. Because of that the local Indians wouldn’t accept her into their community or allow her to play with their children. Under the watchful eyes of her parents who understand her, lonely Matica explores the plateau for entertainment.
With patience and a sense of adventure she befriended a pair of condors and named them Tamo and Tima. A strong bond and love developed between them.
Having an egg, Tamo and Tima try to fight off a couple of poachers but they succeed in stealing their egg from its ledge. Eventually Tamo drives them away but the poachers leave the egg between some boulders on the plateau. Being unable to bring it back to the ledge, Tamo and Time make it clear to Matica to take care of the egg, so she does.
Exactly on Matica’s tenth birthday, the condor fledgling ‘Talon’ hatches. The book then describes in detail how Matica helps Talon grow into the majestic bird he was meant to be.
Two months after confidently flying, the most unbelievably amazing thing happens. What Matica had dreamed of ever since she first befriended the condors, actually unfolds. That changes her life so completely that she can now see a positive side to her handicap. The Indians then fully accept the new Matica into their community.
This is the beginning of a time of incredible adventures with Talon and Matica, which is carried on in subsequent Talon books.
Now the second manuscript TALON, ON THE WING
and the third manuscript TALON, FLIEGHT FOR LIFE
is finish and professionally edited. I am looking for an publisher right now.
And now i am working on the fourth manuscript TALON, HUNTING THE HUNTER.
Hope it will be finish by the end of the year.

Read interviews and about Gisela herself by clicking here (opens new window to her site)