The Hooble plays Maiden

We wrap up April with this shot: Garrett James, aka “The Hooble”, aged 2, playing Powerslave by Iron Maiden. We say start ’em young, start ’em right…next week we have two new entries in the 500 dollar battle of the bands (for a preview, checkout the posts by Joe Osorio and Rick Faber on our facebook page) and upcoming interviews with novelists Tim Queeney and Leah Petersen. Thanks for the ongoing support as we continue to gain momentum…May is gonna be fun…

Garrett James, Nicko McBrain's youngest disciple

Ten Questions: R.B. Wood

This week, novelist R.B Wood is re-launching his novel The Prodigal’s Foole as an indie. We took a few minutes to catch up with him. You arrived on the scene with The Prodigal’s Foole in 2011. What was the motivation for the book?

I’ve always loved the fantastical–whether Sci-fi, pure fantasy or old comic books.  The stories that most entertain me are ones with well-fleshed out characters with all the flaws and foibles that we all have.  But the final catalyst, believe it or not, are all the stories about a “magical world” where there was always a reason “normal” people couldn’t understand or see the power.  Muggles in “Harry Potter” or the “Mist” of Rick Riordan’s stories, for example.  I wanted to explore what magic would mean in the real world– who would control it?  What would the modern age of instant communications and cellphone videos mean?  How would the dynamics change?  That theme of awakening will be throughout the series, seen from Symon Bryson’s perspective. Where, when, and how do you write?

Like many writers with ‘day jobs’ and normal lives, the answer is whenever and wherever I can.  I carry a notebook with me at all times.  I cherish the rare quiet times in my home where I can create for hours at a time. Who’s your favorite character? From where did he or she emerge? 

Symon Bryson, the main character of The Prodigal’s Foole is my absolute favorite.  He’s a hero who has absolutely no desire to be one.  Although he has a strong sense of right and wrong; Symon has no code of ethics to limit what he does to get the ‘bad guys.’ He’s a blast to write about. Tell us about the next book in the series.

The Young Practitioner takes place only a few months after The Prodigal’s Foole.  The search is on for the evil released in the first book, but the story is about characters and family and the complexities of both.  The action is ramped up as well.  There are ramifications of Symon’s actions (and what he represents to the Church) that have to be dealt with. You are notorious for plotting far, far, down the road. What comes next, when this series is done?

I have five books in The Arcana Chronicles already mapped.  I have an outline for a SciFi trilogy that I’m tinkering with and a few collaboration projects I’m working on.  Beyond that, I have an idea for a screenplay and a comic book series I’d love to get off the ground. You are active in a number of writer’s groups. Who should we be on the lookout for? 

There are a lot of writers out there who have a marvelous sense of the craft.  On the SciFi front, Leah Petersen and Steve Umstead jump to mind.  Steve just completed his first trilogy, a military-style action thriller called Gabriel’s Journey is available now.  Leah’s first book, Fighting Gravity, has just been released by Dragon Moon Press.  (Funny you should mention that, see previous post 😉 – The Eds.) And Eden Baylee is a wonderful erotica writer who’s Fall into Summer is a must-read for couples.  There are many more, quite a few of which feature on my monthly podcast, The Word Count. Who wins in fight: Babylon 5, Star Trek, Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica?  

Babylon 5.  Because I loved the series arc and Straczynski’s writing—and because the lovely Patricia Tallman– who played the red-headed Lyta Alexander on the series– sent me a wonderful note about how much she loved The Prodigal’s Foole. Still reading comic books? Which ones?

The beauty of having a sixteen-year-old son is being able to get back into comics all over again.  We are wandering through Ironman, X-men and the Amazing Spiderman back issues now.  I have a brand new copy of Watchmen and the entire run of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman waiting for him when he’s ready. And now our signature question that we plague all of our writer guests with, starting with Jim Morrow: Think of one of your favorite novels by someone else.  What is it? How does its first sentence read if you wrote it?

Wow.  Just pick one, huh?  Well let’s start when I was much younger with the stories that started my imagination churning.  I’ll pick one of my earliest influences, H. G. Well’s War of the Worlds— which I’ve probable ready two dozen times at this point.  The original first line which is arguably one of the most famous in SciFi history:

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s…”

I could never improve it, but my take on a start would be something creepy and from the perspective of the Martians:

“For millennia they watched their neighbor from their own dying world with a mixture of jealousy and anger…” Rich, great catching up with you. Where can your readers find you in the coming months? 

I’m always around online via twitter (@rbwood), Facebook and via my website.  Readers can also subscribe to my free podcast, The Word Count, which features new writers reading their own original stories based on a different theme every show.

Away from the computer, I’ll be at ReaderCON this summer as always.

It’s been a pleasure catching up with you as well.

The Prodigal’s Foole is available in Paperback and Kindle editions. It is FREE on Kindle April 20, 21 and 22 – The Eds.

Book Release: Fighting Gravity by Leah Petersen

Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. (Try Dragon voice recognition software –the Eds.)

Her first novel, Fighting Gravity is published by Dragon Moon Press.

Novel Summary:

When Jacob Dawes is Selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he’s catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob’s own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely, and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor’s heart, but it’s no protection when he’s accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves.

The book launch party, including a reading and signing will be in Toronto, Ontario at the Ad Astra convention, Saturday April 14 at 8:30 PM. will feature our interview with Leah in May.

Kicking off in Style: Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands

It’s our first contest since we woke up from our nap – and we weren’t quite sure what the response was going to be…and then we got an email from Ron Royster, director of “Drowned Out” by Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands. Not only is the 500 dollar Battle of the Bands up and running, it is kicking off in grand style. We just hope this doesn’t scare off the competition – but then again, give Drowned Out a watch on our facebook page and you’ll probably agree that this contest is already a success. The gauntlet has been thrown down – who’s gonna pick it up? But enough lead in, the rest is all Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands:

“Out in the woods she lived, all alone. At least that’s what it felt like, never belonging to any one group and having a penchant for the oppressed. Crystal did not come from a musical family, and unlike so many children who are forced into music lessons, at age seven she practically ran away to her piano teacher’s house down the street – books in her basket – pedaling as fast as she could down the gravel road – dust flying behind.

When she was still young, a little demon told her that she shouldn’t sing, that it sounded better when she just played the piano, but she was determined to ignore the demon and sing her heart out anyway. But sometimes the influence of the demon rendered her silent and still, and her hands seemed to be void of life.

As she grew up she traveled the world, dancing with the Romani people of Spain, residing in an “anarchist” collective, working in Yellowstone, and above all else learning about other cultures and their music. It was in Greensboro, NC in 2010 that she met what would become her first Silver Hand. Diego Diaz had witnessed her previous band that took him to another time and place, and he wished to contribute his haunting and ethereal guitar sounds. It was around this time that Crystal’s hands began to grow back. She began writing her own music again, and in less than a year collaborated with the North Carolina Symphony on an arrangement of her song “Toy Hammer” for their 2010 New Year’s Eve program at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. She is constantly performing, has had two Northeast tours and has played alongside Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Larkin Grimm, Pearl and the Beard and many more.

Muses and Bones , her second album, will cast you into an otherworldly, ethereal, hauntingly familiar yet strange landscape, ranging from deranged Cirque du Soleil to burlesque European Carnival. Within Crystal’s unconventional song structures, you’ll hear her inspiration from P.J. Harvey and Björk, and a deep love for Yann Tiersen and the Gotan Project. Her lyrics and melodies portray the world as a dark and strange (and often funny) place deeply connected to fables and imagination. Stories such as “Little Match Girl” and “Skeleton Woman” convey folklore lessons that address phases in women’s lives where they need to be conscious of staying true to their intuition. Songwriting begins in many different ways, including inspiration from refrigerator magnet poetry or going to the movies alone at midnight, but is mostly a channeling process that happens late at night when the veil between reality and dreams is the thinnest. Expect the unexpected.

Crystal’s songs reflect her educational background in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology and her experiences playing and singing various styles – Mariachi, Chinese, Balinese Gamelan, Ugandan, Samba and more. She is a mad multi-tasker who jumps around on accordion, musical saw (self-taught through YouTube videos), piano, adungu (a Ugandan harp), concertina and bombo (Argentine drum) – sometimes more than one at a time! She possesses astounding vocal range and power that descends on a dime to delicate subtlety. One moment she sings, she soars – and the next… a falsetto whisper that slyly peeks behind the curtain.

Many Silver Hands have come and gone on various nontraditional instruments. These days Sandy Blocker, whom Crystal met as her African drumming teacher 11 years ago, contributes African, Middle Eastern, and South American rhythms by adding riqq, jembe and congas, alongside kick drum and cymbals. Another Silver Hand is the exquisitely tasteful Jeremy Denman from the hip-hop group Urban Sophisticates on trumpet. Crystal desires to collaborate with other artists in all areas of media and believes strongly that arts have the power to create community and heal.”

Check out Drowned Out and let us know what you think. And visit Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands at their website and on facebook. Thanks for the submission, Ron – this band rocks.

April Highlights: Opera Company of Philadelphia, R.B. Wood and a new piece by Emily Sophia would like to thank our contributors and viewers for a great first month back! April is shaping up to be an eventful month for us:

This week, look for our rolling feature on actor Chris Davis to continue – after which we have Opera Company of Philadelphia and novelist R.B. Wood, just to name a few! And the 500 dollar Battle of the Bands is now open – see the Contests page for deals.

Original 2004 webmaster (and designer of our tavern logo) Colin Develin of Wahnsinn will be taking over the look and feel of the site, so expect some big improvements.

In the meantime, we are pleased to share another mural by Emily Sophia – “Venetian Waterway.” It measures 5’X15′, is painted on a brick surface, and was commissioned by a restaurant in Raleigh. Emily Sophia was only given 1.5 days to complete it. We love the end result.

All the best and looking forward to a great April – The Eds.

Venetian Waterway by Emily Sophia Van Binsbergen