Category Archives: Author Posts

Blood and Bone by Valentina Giambanco

GUEST POST: Blood and Bone by Valentina Giambanco

 Blood and Bone
by Valentina GIambanco

After two years in the Seattle Police Department, homicide detective Alice Madison has finally found a measure of peace she has never known before–a sense of belonging.

When a local burglary escalates into a gruesome murder, Madison takes charge of the investigation, only to discover that this is no ordinary killing. She finds herself tracking a serial assassin who has haunted the city for years–and whose brutality is the stuff of legend among the super-max prisons of the Pacific Northwest.

As she delves deeper into the case, Madison learns that the widow of one of the victims is being stalked–is the killer poised to strike again? As pressures mount, Madison will stop at nothing to save the next innocent victim . . . even if it means playing a killer’s endgame by presenting herself as the bait.

Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

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GUEST POST: Blood and Bone by Valentina Giambanco

Today, I’d like to thank Ms. Valentina Giambanco for taking time to talk about something I have always wondered about. I love mysteries, albeit usually with a paranormal twist, but sometimes, it’s hard to keep a series going with fresh mysteries without getting predictable or obliterating the character (eg Anita Blake). So, I asked Ms. Giambanco how she does it with her Alice Madison series.

When I started writing the first novel in the Alice Madison series – THE GIFT OF DARKNESS – the idea that one day I would have to pause and mull over the question of fresh mysteries versus character’s development would have seemed completely baffling. It is a question that can only be answered retrospectively because in my experience – more often than not – stories and characters do have a mind of their own and deeply resent it when a writer tries to shoehorn one or the other into a situation they don’t want. In short, I can see what I have done in the past but new books will pose new challenges which might need new and different solutions.

First, a question of my own: what is a fresh murder? In the history of crime writing victims have been poisoned, stabbed, shot, hanged, strangulated, variously chopped up, electrocuted, and even dropped from great heights to get the story going. I’m reasonably sure that in my stories I have not found new ways of killing people – but I also know that each death I have dealt had to feel new to grab the reader by the lapels and not let go.

Something in the murder of a character has to stay with the reader and propel the story forward: sometimes it’s in the manner of the killing, sometimes it’s about having a personal stake in the character. Sometimes it’s about simple, straightforward moral outrage – we are moral creatures after all, we want justice done and the killer caught – and sometimes it is the sinister yet satisfying notion of revenge that gives us a thrill.

Stories that end with a sense of closure are so much more soothing than the ones that leave us to contemplate the unfairness of the world. Alice Madison is a homicide detective in the Seattle Police Department and one way or the other all my stories begin with murder. She is now two years into her Homicide career and has been at least ten years in the department – the Seattle homicide detective I interviewed told me that in reality people rarely made it into the unit before they hit their forties but Madison joined the force right after college and if I squint I can just about get away with it.

When I start thinking of a new story I never start with Madison; I always start with the crime. She is at the back of my mind, of course, living her life and doing what she does, but first I need to find the crime and the villain.

How the first notion of an idea comes into being is a nebulous process. In the past I have been asked how I get my ideas and I wish the answer could be something more transparent and solid like well, I read the papers and something in the news will spark something off. The truth is that I do read the papers but every story idea I’ve ever had has come from a different place and has been triggered by odd fragments of thought coming together at the right time.

In the first Madison novel the hook that kept me interested was about having a criminal and a police officer working together to solve a murder; in the second it was about how assumptions about a crime had derailed an investigation and the bloody consequences of that assumption; in the third – BLOOD AND BONE – it’s about how the characters deal with present dangers and their own past mistakes.

Once I have a crime and a villain – I do want to have someone to root against from the start – only then Alice Madison gets involved and – in an organic way – she reacts to the situation with everything that she has and everything that she is. It is one of the nicest things about writing a series that I can play with and develop Madison’s inner life and personal life in each book. She started as a rookie eager to impress in THE GIFT OF DARKNESS and in BLOOD AND BONE she is leading the investigation in a brutal murder – everything in her personal life has shifted and progressed; with each story the reader finds out a little more of what made her who she is and why she does what she does. That’s what I consider progress.

What does the future hold for Madison? Much light and much darkness, I guess. I like her a great deal but I’m not about to make life easy for her.

What a great answer! Thank you so much to Valentina Giambanco for giving us her perspective on keeping stories in a series fresh while staying true to characters. Be sure to check out her latest in the Alice Madison series, Blood and Bone!

Zero by Morgan Dark

Zero by Morgan Dark

by Morgan Dark

A baffling robber.
A mystery hidden for years.
And an elite boarding school where no one is who they say they are.
Kyle Bradford is the envy of Drayton College, but everything takes a turn when a dangerous shadow, hidden in the darkness, starts to stalk him. From then on, his life falls apart. Unjustly accused of being the main suspect behind the robberies terrifying high society, he is forced to prove his innocence. And to do so, he has to find the real culprit: Zero, an infallible criminal who keeps his identity hidden under a silver mask. What Kyle does not know is that his enemy is keeping a secret. A secret he would sacrifice everything for.
A dizzying, heart-stopping thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Publisher: Rubiños, 1860
Publication: June 28th, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Triller
I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review
Purchase: amazon | bn | book depo | kobo
Rated: ★★★


Zero by Morgan Dark

I was approached by publisher Rubiños about this fantastic book called Zero by Morgan Dark that was just being released in English after being wildly successful in Spanish. With such a mysterious premise, and an author who is an American of Spanish heritage, I needed to give it a try. I am SO GRATEFUL I DID! Zero has got to be one of the most unique YA novels I have read in a very long time!

The start was a bit rocky. It felt cliche. All I could think was oh no, typical YA rich kid Gossip Girl type book where main character would turn into an amazing hero to stop villain Zero. I could not be more wrong. This book was so involved and well thought out, I am amazed by Morgan Dark’s foresight and planning. Once you finish Zero, you finally you realize how many small pieces fit into place, making the ending one that is extremely satisfying. It is an earned ending, and believable.

Character development may at first seem shallow, but the deeper you get into the book, the more you learn. You get hooked and want to find out more about why these characters do what they do and how I went from not really caring about Kyle, to becoming so intrigued and invested, I could not put the book down until I finished it. I want to say more about the “secondary” characters that also made an amazing impression on me, but I can’t without spoiling the entire book.

Zero by Morgan Dark is seriously a fantastic YA novel that is unlike any other on the market. If you’re looking to read something new and exciting, definitely pick it up! It is great to see an author actually respect their readers enough to give them a novel that forces them to think and piece things together, instead of simply following a typical and predictable YA trope.

A Word from Morgan Dark

I was lucky enough, thanks to the Fantastic Flying Book Club, to have the opportunity to ask Ms. Dark her thoughts on a few topics.

Roadside Reader: Originally published in Spanish, how difficult was it to maintain the integrity of the story when so many  nuances can be lost in translation. After all, there are so many phrases and words in Spanish that simply have no coherent carry-over in English.

Morgan Dark: The translation of any book is always a challenge because a translator is, in some way, like a second author who has to maintain the gist of the plot, the essence of the words you use and make it work in a language that’s different from the one it was originally written in. I’m lucky in that I know English well (my parents are Spanish, but I was born in the US), so I was able to read the translation of the book when it was done and be sure that it was right. I won’t have that luxury when it gets translated into other language, but it’s a question of trust. I like to talk to the translators of my books before they start because it helps me get to know them and get a feel for whether they’ll do [a] good translations or not.

RR: Zero is very different from most other YA novels. What struggles did you face in publishing a book so contrary to the majority of the YA market?

MD: Zero is definitely different. Actually, I think that’s one of the most remarkable aspects of the book: just how different it is from other YA books. It’s also one of its major selling points and what people have responded most positively to. It’s interesting, but I didn’t run into any problems getting the book published. In fact, when I finished the manuscript, I sent it off to my editor to read, and he called me just a few hours later to tell me he was dead set on getting published at all cost. Finally, I’d like to emphasize just how important it is to dedicate yourself heart and soul to a book you really like and not follow the trends nor the work of other authors.

RR: What were your inspirations (literal or musical) in creating Zero (the novel, not the thief)?

MD: I often listen to music when I write. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was young. I always try to pick songs that go with the scene I’m writing; it helps me get inspired. For Zero, I listened to lots of songs from Thirty Seconds to Mars, Imagine Dragons, and Rihanna because they really fit the story. By the time I’d finished the book, I knew those albums by heart! Nowadays when I h;ear one of those songs, I think of Zero and the parts of the book I wrote listening to that particular song.

I think it would be amazing to see a spotify playlist perhaps of some of the major songs that influenced the book to listen to as readers read along. Thank you so much to Ms. Morgan Dark for taking time out to speak with me. 

Zero Book Tour


Morgan Darkfacebook | @_MorganDark

Morgan Dark is one of the most original teenage literature writers. Always enveloped in suspense, as of yet no one knows her true identity. She began writing Zero after a hooded man robbed her in her New York apartment. Included amongst the stolen items was her favorite ring. Yet in exchange, she received a publishing contract for her new novel. After Zero became one of the most awaited teenage books in 2015, her ring showed up in her house again…in black envelope with no sender.


Guest Post: Ms. Lorenz Font

Guest Post: Ms. Lorenz Font

To celebrate the re-release of Hunted, and its sequel Tormented, we caught up with author Lorenz Font and asked how she manages to work with such a well-known trope while still keeping her voice and narrative unique in a market inundated with vampire fiction. Here is what she said…

Vampires are fabled creatures with legions of fans. They carry a degree of mysticism that excites the young and old alike. As a fan of these creatures, I have devoured a number of related articles and works of fiction, and I’ve always been fascinated by the lore surrounding them. One of my first exposures to vampires was Stephen King’sSalem’s Lot.  Then there were several books that cemented my love for these creatures. Their long and storied existence in our imaginations has given rise to many different and interesting concepts. A few things remain unchanged. Vampires drink blood. They have fangs. They are impulsive and foreboding creatures that lurk in the dark. This is a good starting point in creating a story about them.

With the basic foundation in place, I began developing my own spin about them. It was a no-brainer to set the series in one of the most interesting cities in the world, New York City. The challenge in this particular endeavor is creating a believable scenario and something fresh that will (hopefully) set it apart from the rest.

My series, The Gates Legacy, is written in third person. It gives me flexibility in the way I’m able to tell the story. Bouncing from one viewpoint to another, I try to engage the readers by sharing the emotions of key characters. This gives readers a chance to experience each character’s feelings and inner conflicts, thus creating a rapport right away. Multiple storylines are featured throughout the series as an introduction to the different characters who will be the focus of the next book.

Hunted, the first book of the series, began with Harrow, a human turned vampire. After his transition, he unknowingly spread a disease that ravaged the vampire community. This led the vampire authorities to hunt him down. Considering the fact that vampire lore has been written in countless ways, I was looking for a spin that would set my stories apart from what is out there already. Beyond Harrow’s disease, I included martial arts and a healthy dose of action, which I hope will also attract a male readership. Engaging the readers right off the bat is a challenge all writers face. I use a simplistic approach in my storytelling, such as by using slang in dialogue, and keeping each character as relatable as possible.

Take a look at Hunted, then Tormented, to see what I’m talking about. Any vampire aficionado will find the traditional features of their favorite creatures intact. The addition of the threat of Harrow’s disease in the center of the tale is what makes this series unique.

 Indeed, Harrow and his disease really do set this series apart from most other novels in the genre.

Be sure to check out my review of Hunted and enter the Giveaway to win a special Hunted prize pack!

Thanks again Ms Font!