Author Lyssa Dering made me love monsters

I’ve been on a huge paranormal M/M romance kick. For those of you who don’t know, M/M refers to love stories between men. During my newfound reading frenzy, I stumbled upon Lyssa Dering, among many others. (Shout outs to Dessa Lux, KJ Charles, and Jordan Hawk).

Something about Lyssa’s work really stood out to me, though, especially her new release HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER. Her lead character, Fiend, is a monster, okay? He eats brains … and yet, I loved him. I rooted for the monster. Yes, I adored the romantic interest: innocent, beautiful Seraphim. But Fiend! How did she make me love a brain-eating murderer?

I had to pick her brain … Oh, that was a bad joke. Braaaaaaains. Seriously, I had to know more about my newest author crush, Lyssa Dering.

SDB: You’ve written love stories about vampires, demons, and now, brain-eating figments of imagination. What inspired your love for the paranormal? Any literary influences?

I first and foremost have a fascination with vampires. It all started with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ books when I was in middle school. I read In the Forests of the NightDemon in My ViewShattered Glass, etc. Most of those stories were also love stories. Plus, Atwater-Rhodes got published as a young teen, and that really inspired me to be a writer.

In high school, I became obsessed with the movie Underworld, which features vampires and werewolves. I think my love of other paranormal elements naturally evolved from there. When I was seventeen, I discovered internet roleplaying on Xanga with the help of my high school best friend, and the first group RP I joined featured characters with superpowers. RPing was a great way for me to escape up until my first year after college, and I explored all kinds of paranormal elements weaved into sex and romance that way.

SDB: Why do you write M/M romance? What’s your fave thing about two dudes in love?

I’ve been drawn to M/M pairings since I first discovered fanfiction. My first fandom was Harry Potter, and though I also shipped some M/F pairings, I was a huge Harry/Draco shipper. I’ve come to the conclusion recently, after trying to understand why I’m not as drawn to F/F pairings, that M/M allows me to escape in ways other pairings don’t.

I’m nonbinary, but I am also AFAB (assigned female at birth), so reading and writing about characters assigned male at birth allows me to escape my female body and all the societal pressures I’m under as a result of it. Of course, M/M can feature trans and nonbinary characters, as well, but though I’ve written a male-bodied genderqueer character, I’m not in a place currently where I want to explore female-to-male trans characters in my work.

SDB: Your newest book, HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER, features a very strange creature. Tell us a bit about Fiend and the idea behind his “world.”

The idea for How to Love a Monster started a few years ago while I was browsing through the Superpower Wiki, trying to get inspired. I came upon the power of Absolute Will and tried to come up with a character from there. So Wish, the creator of Fiend’s world, came first. He has the power to create or destroy anything, but I put limits on his power to make the story more interesting.

The world Wish created is called Wish City because he’s a bit of a narcissist, and it’s a city because he grew up in one, so it’s easiest for him to create what he knows, just like for most writers. As I brainstormed, I came up with Fiend, who is Wish’s childhood monster or bogeyman who slips into Wish City unbeknownst to Wish.

I originally planned an angsty love story between Wish and Fiend, but it didn’t quite work out that way. When I came back to the story after much writing practice and education about structure, I came up with Seraphim and gave Wish a different role.

SDB: Your romantic interest in MONSTER is Seraphim. He lessens the darkness with some comic asides. Do you think comedy (and/or snark) is an important part of literature? Why?

Absolutely, especially in stories of a darker nature with a lot of angst, which is what I tend to write. If the story is all angst/suffering with nothing light in it at all, it can make it not worth it for the reader. Comedy/snark makes the reading experience more pleasant and can keep the reader from discarding your book out of frustration.

SDB: Tips for writing great sex scenes?

Remember that character comes first. Everything in every story should filter through character, and sex scenes are no different. There’s nothing more boring or frustrating to me as a reader than when a sex scene could basically be taken out of one book and plopped into another and still make sense.

Also, at least for me and especially in a romance, sex scenes should strengthen the connection between the main characters (or do something else to that connection depending on the scene’s purpose and each individual story). This means it can’t just be physical but must have an emotional aspect.

SDB: What are you working on right now?

I’m in the planning stages for my next book. I don’t have anything concrete to share yet as I’m busy hunting for that special kind of inspiration that can carry a full-length novel.

SDB: If you had to create a fantasy movie cast for MONSTER, who would you cast as Fiend and Sera?

Anthony Carrigan was my inspiration for Fiend’s appearance. Carrigan plays Victor Zsasz in Gotham. He has spoken publicly about his alopecia, which contributes to his hair loss, and I was fascinated with how villainous he appears in Gotham but how adorable and lovable he looks in photos when he’s just being himself. So I’d definitely cast him as Fiend. For Sera, I’d go with Max Thieriot.

Buy your copy of HOW TO LOVE A MONSTER today by clicking HERE!

About: Lyssa Dering is an author of erotic M/M fiction. Her work is often romantic, always emotional, and features shifters, vampires, and regular old humans in whatever subgenres inspire her. She seeks to share the kind of fiction she loves to read: intense and addictive with engaging characters and situations.

Lyssa is nonbinary and demisexual and often draws upon her time in the BDSM community when writing intimate scenes. She resides in the Midwestern United States with an aggressively affectionate tabby cat. When not writing, she enjoys livetweeting about the books she’s reading and dicking around in Photoshop.

Follow Lyssa via her website or on Twitter.

Author Randi Perrin talks angels, hot dudes, and the end of an era

Author Randi Perrin and I have been through some stuff together. We have worked, played, and bashed our heads on desks together. It seems meaningful that her trilogy would come to a close so soon after my two-book Bite Somebody series. We’ve both given birth (metaphorically), but what do you do once you’ve sent your baby out into the world?

The Earthbound Angels trilogy follows a family with divine powers. Three different couples must fight three different battles while trying to live long enough to love each other. Randi might have had to deal with some emotional lashing from me as I made her promise not to kill off certain favorite characters of mine because that would be just MEAN. Now, with the release of Virtue and Honor, I’ve read all three, and I’m sad to see the angels go. These are must-read romantic adventure novels with super hot male and female leads that offer a little something for everyone.

Despite her insanely busy schedule, Randi agreed to do an interview with me. So read on and learn a bit about sex, angels, and the mysterious writers’ life.

SDB: With the release of Virtue and Honor, you’ve completed the Earthbound Angels trilogy. How do you feel? 

Relieved. A little empty. A whole lot nervous.

One, I’m relieved to have finally completed it. This final trilogy ender remained elusive for so long to me, that there were times I thought I was going to wind up leaving the angels as a duology.

Empty because, well, my angels have been my life, my blood, sweat, and tears since November 2015. This world and these characters are so real to me, that I almost feel as if I’ve lost a friend. A piece of me. You just ended your own duology. Didn’t you feel a little bit of sadness to leave Imogene behind? God knows I’ll miss Cheryl something fierce.

SDB: Imogene goes with me everywhere, as you well know …

Nervous because, well, I’m always nervous with a new release. But this one took me places I didn’t intend to go, and I’m scared as to how it will be received. Inevitably, here comes the question: where’d you end up? In left field. Virtue and Honor is darker than the other two, the stakes are higher, the villain more diabolical and determined.

In Virtue of Death, the conflict was between the two sides of Sera. Angel and human, which will win? In Promises of Virtue, the conflict was Cheryl struggling to find her place in the world, but also an external force trying to right wrongs from the past. In Virtue and Honor, essentially all of those come into play for poor Angela. She struggles with being an angel, legacy, love, and an external force that is hell-bent on taking her down. She’s got to figure out who she is, how to love, and comprehend the legacy she didn’t ask to be a part of, in order to take on that external force. It’s a lot to handle for anyone, but especially a young and naïve twenty-one-year-old.

SDB: Did you have the whole trilogy outlined when you started, or did you make things up as you went along?

God, no. I don’t outline anything. I tried to outline Virtue of Death and Sera and Cheryl gave me the middle finger (they can’t swear, but flipping the bird is all right, apparently) and took the story in their own direction. I ran out of steam at 37,000 words and began to think it would just be a novella, and I’d need a novella about Cheryl to make them publishable length.

Luckily, I regained momentum and that wasn’t necessary. Which was really good because the original novella idea involved Cheryl being a flight attendant because she missed flying so much. Let’s be honest, can you see that happening? I mean, dear Lord, she’d get fired after her first flight. “Yeah, okay, you know how a seat belt works, right? Just stick the pointed end into the hole, much like everything else in life. Oh, oxygen, it’ll be there if you need it, cover your mouth with the thing and inhale, exhale. Not that hard, right? Okay, good. Don’t mess with the smoke detectors, that’s illegal and it’s just bad form. Look for your closest exit, but it doesn’t matter because if we’re going down you’re not going to remember where it is anyway.”

SDB: She and Imogene should hang out. Within the bounds of your trilogy, you made three couples fall in love. Do you have a favorite couple? Was one couple easier to write than the others?

Sera and Destin gave me fits, but they were the victims… I mean subjects… of my first novel. We were bound to have hiccups. Cheryl and Luc, though, they were the easy ones. Their story flew together easier and faster than the other two, despite the fact I was about halfway through it when I decided to change Luke to Luc, thereby changing his nationality and backstory. I think, however, it all turned out for the best.

SDB: Fantasy cast!!! Who would play the romantic leads: Destin, Luc, and Mason?

Destin: I’ve cast him for you before, and I stand by my original casting of Derek Theler. I can totally see perfectly-timed snark coming out of his mouth, followed by a scorching kiss. Yeah, that can happen.

Luc: I can totally see Randy Wayne pulling him off, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

SDB: Yes to this man. Yes.

Mason: He was based on Luke Bryan, so definitely him. He’s got the southern drawl and some hellacious dance moves already.

SDB: Sex scenes: easy to write or difficult? Tips for writing a good sex scene? Tips for writing a bad sex scene haha?

Sex scenes are the hardest things ever! (Pun not intended… or was it?) I am so nervous when it comes to sex scenes. Did I make it believable? Do body parts bend that way? Just where is that line between swoon-worthy and “this dude cannot be real.”

In Virtue and Honor, we’ve got two characters who come at sex from experience versus inexperience. Angela’s a virgin, so there’s going to be some awkwardness. But it’s also so damn hot to see how Mason guides her through it. He genuinely cares for her, and it shows in that moment.

SDB: Of all the men in the Earthbound Angels trilogy, who would YOU most likely end up with and why?

Me? Most likely Destin. Because of his smart-ass mouth. Takes one to know one, and to put up with one.

SDB: … Which is why we’re friends. Favorite Benedict Cumberbatch picture? Because I’m shameless and I like the pretty.

I do love slightly scruffy and floofy-haired Sherlock Ben, so I almost said this one… I mean, look at that eye crinkle. JUST LOOK AT IT!

SDB: He has a fantastic eye crinkle.

But then I ran across this one with glasses, dimples, and a mischievous little smile that just did me in. Geeky Ben, for the win. (See, and *that* is also why I’d end up with Destin.)


Buy your copies of the Earthbound Angels Trilogy by Randi Perrin!

VIRTUE OF DEATH (EARTHBOUND ANGELS BOOK ONE)

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon CAAmazon AU | Amazon UK | Nook | iTunes | Kobo

PROMISES OF VIRTUE (EARTHBOUND ANGELS BOOK TWO)

Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon US  |  Amazon CA  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon AU  |  iTunes  |  Nook  |  Kobo

 VIRTUE AND HONOR (EARTHBOUND ANGELS BOOK THREE)

Amazon  |  iTunes  |  Nook   | Kobo

STALK RANDI

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New collection The Cut Worm encompasses the things you fear

“That night it is something of joke. On TV there is a reporter standing outside with a crowd of people. The news station turns one of their giant lights into the road. One person after the other stands in front of the light. Their shadows grow and stretch the width of the street, then vanish as they move back into the darkness, all except one boy’s, fourteen year-old Myles Veech. He dances and laughs, moving in and out of the light, it making no difference. The light never changes. His silhouette never comes to life, yet he laughs. He looks … free. Nothing about Myles, his laughter, his dancing, his glee, makes you have any reason to believe that three days later he will hang himself with a guitar string, a sun lamp in the corner of the room, shining right on him, no proof of his corpse in the light.”

scary

Gulp. Yeah. Ready for more? Author Mitch James is a skilled writer with the capability to terrify you down to your toes. In his new collection, The Cut Worm, he’s not writing about vampires or werewolves. He writes about us–what would happen to us if we thought the world was ending, if we lost our shadows, if we embraced despair in the snow. Read on for a look into the talented mind of a master of pain in prose.

How’d you come up with the title?

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a literature course where we read William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell,” and in that poem, one of his proverbs is, “The cut worm forgives the plow.” That line has stuck with me, partly because I grew up in the Midwest, and at that time in my life (and earlier) I did some work on farms, and partly because that line just really made me think in a lot of different ways.

cut-wormOne way to see the world is that there is beautiful growth, development, and life all around, meaning life is good. Another is that there is beautiful growth, development, and life all around, but, in nearly every case, something must be drastically altered, maimed, or destroyed in order for that growth, development, and life to occur, yet life is still good.

And yet another way of looking at the world is that because something must be altered, maimed, or destroyed for there to be good in life, life is actually just a really f***ed up jest.

Blake said the cut worm forgives the plow. I wonder, does it? Every time? This chapbook is full of people absorbing the damage of living, but the question remains in each case, is the sacrifice truly bearable? Do we have it in us to always forgive the plow?

Do you have a favorite story in the chapbook … or are you not allowed to say?

There’s not one story that I necessarily like more than another, but I like each for a particular reason and am satisfied with how certain approaches or techniques worked out. For example, “Snow Blind,” “What We Always Did But More,” and “Without a Shadow” are all written very differently, despite the heart of the content in each piece being quite similar. I’m happy with the brevity and power of “What We Always Did But More;” with the success of the generally scorned, second-person perspective in “Without a Shadow;” and ”Snow Blind”, while being its own story, is also in homage to Raymond Carver, and to have somebody say, “Yeah, I want to publish that,” is rewarding. In fact, the editor liked “Snow Blind” the best, which is why the chapbook cover is what it is.

What’s your daily writing routine look like?    

I’m a pretty firm believer that writing is a process that starts way before “ink” hits page, so my most important routine is to pay attention. Every person, movement, and change has a cause, and that cause is a story. At some point, though, one must put his or her ass in the chair and write, and that part of my writing routine is like clockwork.

mitchFor four to six weeks, I will write Monday through Friday, 3 AM to 5AM. Then, the next two to four weeks (it depends on how much material I have circulating), I will revise old work and send it out for publication. It’s not the amount of time I would like to spend writing and editing, but I learned early on that the people who want money from me don’t give a shit about my fiction or poetry.

Once, in lieu of a check for a water bill, I sent the water company a series of three poems. Three days later, when I flushed the toilet at 3 AM and it didn’t fill back up, I assumed they didn’t care very much for my writing. So it goes.

You’re a teacher, too. What’s harder: writing or teaching?

Teaching is more challenging. The writing part is up to me. I either do it or don’t, so writing is easy. When you’re teaching, you’re working with several people who, like everyone else, have lots of things going on in their lives, things that oftentimes overshadow your class. But I find teaching insanely rewarding and don’t see myself doing anything different for a while, unless, of course, a big publisher wants to write me fat checks for my work.

Who are your biggest literary influences and why?    

There are a few. I would say the writer whose work I’m most floored by, the writer who makes me feel it’s a waste of my time to write because my work will always pale in comparison, is Cormac McCarthy. He’s an absolute master. Period. But I also study writers, sometimes even those whose work I’m not overly fond of, so that I can understand the skills they have that make them so unique. I’ve learned the most from Raymond Carver. But sometimes as a writer it is stylistically better to tell than show, and for that I’ve been influenced pretty heavily by John Updike and especially John Cheever, neither of which are my favorite writers but are great when trying to locate and study long pieces of narration that effectively tell rather than show.

Does your wife ever get annoyed being married to a literary geek?  

I annoy her for many other reasons, but my love of books and writing is both welcomed and reciprocated by her. I think that having the right kind of partner does matter if you’re an artist. I have a wife who actually admires my drive and dedication to writing and thinking. It’s part of what she loves about me. She is by biggest supporter, hands down. She doesn’t feel like she’s playing second fiddle to my work or intellectual aspirations. But I also consider her too. For example, I write at 3 AM because she will never be awake from 3 AM to 5 AM. I try to do most of my work when we can’t be together, even if that means starting my day at an ungodly time. A little give and take on both sides goes a long way.

Why are books important?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. There are two reasons.


Check out Mitch’s short story collection, The Cut Worm, on Amazon and get your copy today by clicking HERE. You will not be disappointed!

Breath of Earth author Beth Cato talks historic San Fran earthquakes and … foxes?

breath

Author Beth Cato creates steampunk worlds of mystery and excitement, starting with her Clockwork Dagger series and now with her new book, Breath of Earth, released yesterday.

Beth has created SUCH an amazingly beautiful (and terrifying) world of earthquakes and magic in Breath of Earth. Her heroine, Ingrid, is strong and vivacious with the occasional weaknesses and romantic reveries of all young women. Cy is a delicious, Southern dreamboat as her brave sidekick. The action never stops, nor does the mystery. This book is a real thriller for fans of steampunk, adventure, tough chicks, and gorgeous writing.

Let’s sit down for a quick chat with Beth and see what she has to say about her newest steampunk duology …

Earthquakes are magical (and deadly) in Breath of Earth. What’s your personal experience with them, and why did you choose to focus on earthquakes in this book?

I’m a native Californian, so I have plenty of personal experience with earthquakes. The first and most devastating one occurred when I was three years old, in the bathtub, with the epicenter of the 6.2 quake only about 40 miles away. It pretty much obliterated the nearby city of Coalinga. My mom and grandparents used to live there, so we drove to see the devastation. Buildings had their walls sheared off and resembled dollhouses. From then on, I was fascinated by earthquakes.

A few years ago, I mulled over ideas for a new steampunk series. I realized that no one had explored the 1906 San Francisco earthquake from that angle, so I resolved to take on the challenge!

beth-headshotOver the past few years, you’ve acquired award nominations and many accolades for your Clockwork Dagger series. What has been the most surprising thing about having a dream come true?

That strangers have read my works. I’m like, “Whoa, someone other than my mom and my husband has read this?” I don’t know how long it takes to work past that stage of disbelief, but I have been a published novelist for almost two years at this point and I am still baffled by it all.

I love that Breath of Earth is a bit sexier than your previous series. What made you decide to heat things up in your newest opus?

I wanted to write about a strong woman who was very different than Octavia in my Clockwork Dagger books. Octavia is very frank about the human body because of her experience doctoring, but she is also quite proper, too. I wanted to set Ingrid apart and make her a distinct person. Along those lines, she’s a very passionate person in most every way. She has a knack for surprising me even though I’m a heavy duty outliner!

What is your favorite thing you’ve EVER written?

I have a story called “The Souls of Horses” that is set against a more steampunk American Civil War. It had the most “almosts” of any of my stories at all the major magazines. It broke my heart. I loved this story, and it was rejected at about a dozen places until it was finally accepted for Clockwork Phoenix 5. The story is the only one of my works to be called out in a starred review on Publisher’s Weekly, and even Ellen Datlow recommended it on Twitter. Vindication! Here’s hoping it can get some nice attention in the upcoming award season.

Fantasy movie cast: Who’s playing brave, snarky Ingrid and sexy, sexy Cy?

I haven’t seen a good actress to play Ingrid! For that, I blame Hollywood and its lack of diversity. For Cy, I could envision a younger Viggo Mortenson. I should also add that his appearance was inspired by Daniel on Stargate (movie and series) who was a teenage crush of mine.

"Ms. Cato, I answer your call."

“Ms. Cato, I answer your call.”

What’s it really like being a published writer? Give us the honest truth, good and bad.

It’s exciting, humbling, and depressing all at once. I have actual FANS, and not just the kind attached to my ceiling. My publisher is fantastic and my publicist is magical. On the flip side: I have had signing events where all of one person shows up. I still get tons of rejections on my stories and poems. Writing and editing and waiting for feedback is the same as ever: utterly terrifying. My cat pees on the carpet.

Is Breath of Earth a duology? Trilogy? Do you know exactly where the series is headed and where it will end up? No spoilers haha …

It is a two book deal, but I think I’ll need three books to wrap up the arc. That means Breath of Earth needs to sell well so I can write another book! The second book is written and I’m awaiting edits; I have ideas about the major events for book three and where I want action to take place, but I am still reading through a lot of research material. As for an evil hint: foxes are excellent predators.

fox

“I … GOTCHA!”

If you could hand Breath of Earth to anyone, alive or dead, and have them read it, who would it be?

Well, when it comes to selling books and expanding readership, there is really only one person who wields that god-like power: Oprah. So yep. I’m going with Oprah.


I gave Breath of Earth five big, shining stars on Goodreads, so pick up your copy today by heading HERE. Learn more about Beth (and get some amazing recipes) by visiting her website, http://www.bethcato.com/.

Randi Perrin’s Virtue of Death will make you fall in love with angels … and a man named Destin

virtueOut today is author Randi Perrin’s debut, Virtue of Death. Sera is an angel of death and owner/operator of a pastry shop. Destin is a bad boy food critic who just happens to trash Sera’s shop in his review … and then, make her fall desperately in love with him. Virtue of Death is filled with tension, laughter, and sex. Sera’s struggle to live her life as an angel while trying to accept her humanity and affection for Destin is a difficult battle, considering Destin is a freaking dreamboat.

I was impressed not only with Perrin’s plot but with her sense of humor and descriptions, whether they be beautiful or horrible (especially where demons were involved). This is such a brilliant take on angels among us that proves love is the ultimate equalizer, divine being or not. I decided to pick Randi’s brain about her new book, because I’m always fascinated by what makes other authors tick. Here’s what she had to say …

Sara: Of all the paranormal creatures out there, why’d you go with angels?

Randi: Angels were a complete accident. In fact, writing paranormal was a complete accident.

Virtue of Death was a NaNoWriMo project, and it was originally plotted to be a contemporary. About three days into NaNo, I was lying in bed awake, thinking about unique character attributes to give Sera and decided she would totally have a full-back angel wing tattoo. My husband climbed into bed and I sat straight up and went, “Hey, what if she actually was an angel?”

My husband, who has the amazing ability to fall asleep the second his head hits the pillow was only half-coherent, and, compounded by the fact he had no idea what I was talking about, said, “Okay, sure, whatever you want to do.” I’ve been eating, breathing, sleeping, and writing angels ever since.

But as far as the others creatures, I am friends with so many authors who have the other paranormals covered. I don’t dare want to step on their toes. Besides, let’s be honest, there’s no way I could do vampires as well as you do.

S: Yes, you could. You can do anything, my dear. But back to the interview … Destin is a dreamboat. What is it that makes him so dang sexy? Who would play him in the film?

R: Oh, Destin. One of my biggest turn-ons in life is a man who can, and will, use correct grammar. Destin sort of builds on that, and he has an amazing way with words. He is a walking thesaurus, and I love it. An early scene that I adore is when Sera calls him persistent and he corrects her.

I’ve had a hard time fan-casting him, actually. No one I ever found really spoke to me. There’s a guy on my Virtue of Death Pinterest board that is swoon-worthy and very Destin. BUT… I don’t know if that pretty boy could act his way out of a paper bag. So, I’ll give you two (and no, it’s not lost on me how much they look alike).

Pinterest dude:

pin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real actor: Derek Theler

actor

 

 

 

 

 

 

S: Would you rather be an angel of death or angel of mercy? Why?

R: Death. (Does this really surprise you?) I don’t forget things. There are many people in my life that I would absolutely love to be the last thing they see, to get the last word in a way in which they have no recourse.

Plus, I’ve always had a morbid curiosity. When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher would start a story and then she’d go around the room and each of us would add one sentence to the story. She skipped me. She actually skipped me, and I was appalled. Surprise, surprise, I called her on it. She said, “No, because you’re just going to kill the main character.” I thought about the perfect sentence I had prepared and dropped my shoulders in defeat. She was right. I was. To be fair, though, in the same sentence I was going to bring him back as a ghost so the story could continue.

So, in true nah-nah, boo-boo fashion, twenty years later, I wrote a book about an angel of death. Mwahahaha. Old habits die hard, I guess.

S: That is so awesomely evil. I think I love you. No, I KNOW I love you. Virtue of Death is a trilogy, right? Can you give us any teasers about upcoming books?

R: Yep, that’s the plan, anyway. The second book is about Cheryl and picks up the day after Virtue of Death leaves off.

I’m not really too far into the third one right now, so I can’t really give you too much about it. I try to be a plotter, but, the fact is, I’ve haven’t had a character yet who looked at my plot and said, “Yeah, I’m good with that, make it so.” So I can’t tell you anything because I guarantee the final won’t be like anything I’ve got in my head right now. The character whose story gets told has changed three different times … but I think I’m finally set on that. And no, I’m not telling who it is.

S: If you had to choose ONE SONG to represent VOD, what song would it be?

R: This is going to make me sound like such a sap and a total girl, but “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion. Virtue of Death is, after all, a romance, so of course it’s a sappy song. Truthfully, if you look at the lyrics, there are just a few lines in that song that are so Sera and Destin.

S: What’s the best thing about being a writer? What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

R: When I’ve had a bad day at work, I can go home and write. It’s what I use to unwind. In that world, I get to create things. If there’s a person in my life who is ticking me off, you guessed it, they make it into my story and I find a way to torture them. Because. I. Can. It’s a total power trip and it’s awesome. (And now the whole angel of death answer above makes more sense, right?)

The worst? The debilitating self-doubt. Honestly, everyone is their own worst critic, but I take the whole thing to a whole new level. I have turned self-deprecating humor into an art form in and of itself. Just ask my friends who have dubbed themselves the Optimist Calvary, because I absolutely cannot think positively about anything I write. I’m convinced everything is horrible and threaten to toss it out the window. In fact, if it weren’t for one beta in particular, Virtue of Death never would have seen the light of day.

S: Who’s your biggest literary influence?

R: You are, duh.

S:
jack

 

 

 

 

R: I’ve always been a huge fan of Poe. I love the darkness with which he writes, it’s just so damn intriguing. I also love the fact that he can write the most amazing poetry, but then turn around and blow your mind with a short story. He was just so multi-faceted. I started out writing poetry, and then branched to fiction, so I kind of like to think that, in my own twisted way, I’m emulating that path. I’m nowhere near as good as he was, but, I’m also not an alcoholic and crazy either.

S: Who’s your biggest celebrity crush?

R: Oh, well, that’s really not hard. I’m such a huge Keith Urban fan, it’s not even funny. I think that man is sex on a stick and I even have a piece with a Keith-inspired character (that’s getting a massive overhaul, so you’ll just have to wait).

I’m also totally in love with Colin O’Donoghue, the guy who plays Hook on Once Upon a Time. I like them with accents, what can I say? (For more, with pictures:, click HERE.)

S: Hardest thing to write: comedy, tragedy, or sex? Why?

R: Hands down, it’s the sex. I still fear I didn’t do it right. There’s just such a stigma there. You want to avoid purple prose. You have to make sure you do things that are physically possible. Do you remove socks or not? I’m huge on not using bad euphemisms, so language is an issue. (You will never see me use the word “member.” If you read something of mine that uses that word, I’ve been kidnapped and am signaling for help). You have to make the sex is true to the character and advances the plot. It’s a lot to keep in mind. Plus, there’s a line to tread—too vanilla and you look like a complete wuss and it might as well have happened off-screen; too kinky and you wander into erotica territory (and there’s nothing wrong with writing erotica) but that may turn people off … so yeah, there’s so much more, I think, at play when you’re writing a sex scene.

I toyed with making Virtue of Death sweet and having the sex happen off-screen, but in the end, I decided it needed to be there. The symbolism of these characters opening up to each other despite what’s going on around them or in their heads is extremely important to their relationship. They faced their fears head on, so dammit, I did too. All in the name of literature.

R: You didn’t ask, but I’m going to throw this information out there anyway …

In September, I’ve actually got two more releases. The Unintentional—North American Edition friends-to-lovers anthology from Hot Tree Publishing will be out on September 10 and will include my short story “Just What I Need.”  Then on September 27, also from Hot Tree Publishing, I’ll be releasing a M/M contemporary romance novella, Wreck You.


What are you waiting for? BUY THE BOOK HERE.

Stalker links:
www.randiperrin.com
www.facebook.com/randiperrinwrites
www.twitter.com/RandiPerrin
www.goodreads.com/RandiPerrin
www.pinterest.com/RandiPerrin
Publisher’s author page: http://www.hottreepublishing.com/#!randi-perrin/c1q6d

About Randi Perrin:

Randi_Perrin_Author_Photo

Randi has spent her entire life writing in one form or another. In fact, if she wasn’t writing, she’d likely go completely and utterly insane. Her husband has learned to recognize when the voices are talking in her head and she needs some quality time with an empty Word file (the key to a successful marriage with a writer). She lives with her husband, daughter, and four-legged children—all of which think they are people too. A pop-culture junkie, she has been known to have entire conversations in movie quotes and/or song lyrics.

The Tiffany McDaniel Interview: “I’m drawn to the crash, not the landing”

As you may have noticed in my book review Tuesday (read it HERE), I’m kind of obsessed with new book release, The Summer That Melted Everything. As soon as I finished the book, I online stalked the author, Tiffany McDaniel, because I HAD to speak with her. I would have searched the whole world to talk to Tiffany. Luckily, all it took was an email (although, since we both live in Ohio, we have agreed that one day we will meet up for whiskey). So. Meet Tiffany.

What inspired you to write this book?

The Summer that Melted Everything began its life as a title.  It was one of those Ohio summer evenings that I just felt like I was melting. When beginning a new novel, I do always start with the title, with no real plan for what the story is going to be.  Once I have the title, I write the first line always.  Together the title and the first line determine the entire course of the story for me.  In this case, not planning on writing about the devil, the first line really determined I would.  I never do an outline or synopsis so the story is always created that moment I’m sitting in front of the computer.  For me it’s not so much as being inspired by a particular thing outside of the story, but really just allowing the story to naturally flow without being forced into a specific direction. And once the foundation of the story is built, I’m inspired by the characters themselves. To do right by them and really let their voices be heard.

The story is really very sad. As a writer, did you ever want to stop and turn away from the world you created?

I’ve always said I’m drawn to the crash, not the landing. I want to explore the wreckage, the broken fragments, the things that were once whole and are now scattered upon the ground. I never have that urge to stop or turn away because to me these moments that test us emotionally are moments we’re closest to the truth of our own infinite selves. The novel does deal with heavy issues, as all my writing does.

tiffIt’s important to write about these heavy issues but usually when a female author does it, she’s often told she’s too dark and shouldn’t go there, as I have often been told during my writing journey. But when a man writes something that digs into the deep interior, he’s merely being brilliant or a daring risk-taker. The answer here has suddenly turned into a discussion of gender and where we fit in contemporary literary fiction as female authors. So I’ll conclude by saying yes, the novel is at times sad. But I truly believe it’s the hard things in life that define our souls in enormous and even magical ways, because sadness is not just tears on the face and tissues on the floor. It’s being reminded to be present in our lives, to be appreciative of what it means to value each day and those we love in it.

What’s your religious background? How do you think your background (religious or otherwise) affected SUMMER?

I think sometimes that discussion of the author’s religious background can lead readers in a direction the novel itself is better equipped to do. I tend to avoid personal questions, so I won’t go into all that but just say that I tried to find in the novel a balance between traditional religion and rogue religion. Furthermore, exploring singular belief but also that shared belief of who the devil is and who we are in relation to not just our own beliefs, but belief as a whole on that greater scale which pivots in the clouds with the stardust and all the things we cannot see by physical eye.

Is the devil really just other people?

I think this is a great question readers themselves will ask after reading the novel. And after having read the novel, readers will really be able to answer this. I don’t want to give any spoilers away at this point, so I’ll just redirect the answer by saying you learn very early on in the novel that the devil we’re dealing with in this story is not the stereotypical devil found in the biblical narrative. Gone is the beastly appearance of horns and serpent scales and all that we’ve grown accustomed to in thinking about the devil. As I say in the novel, “Sometimes it’s the flower’s turn to own the name.” And in this town of wildflowers, the fields are not left in want.

Who’s your favorite character in SUMMER?

I don’t know if I’d say my favorite character all around. But one of my favorite characters to write was Grand who is Fielding’s brother. Though Grand’s personal battle is specific to him, his struggle for true self and identity is universal. I think also because we see Grand through Fielding’s eyes, we fall in love with Grand just as Fielding has. Grand is the older brother we all want to have. That heroic, selfless human being, who in the end proves himself in more ways than one. If Grand is anything, he is a billion blurry lights become a galaxy of clear illumination, and how can a character like that not be someone to hold dear.

What do you hope people get out of your debut?

That family is more than a house structure and the people inside are more than the titles we give them like father, mother, son, brother.  We should always strive to know and understand each other and that goes for the community as a whole as well. Just because someone is called devil doesn’t mean they are the devil.  It’s up to us to figure it out for ourselves and to know peace and harmony never lie at the end of those paths paved with hate and paved with the type of red surface others have had to bleed to make.

summerWhat’s next for you? 

While The Summer that Melted Everything is my first published novel, it’s not the first novel I’ve written. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen years old. I didn’t get a publishing deal until I was twenty-nine. Some authors publish much sooner than that, others take longer still. What’s true in most cases is that the road to publication is oftentimes a very long, difficult journey. It’s full of rejection, and even still with a novel coming out, you face rejection with subsequent novels and their publication. It’s never easy, but what’s next for me is to just continue writing. The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is titled, When Lions Stood as Men. It’s a novel I really hold dear as the subject matter demands that. It’s about a brother and sister and their guilt of surviving the Holocaust. But more than that it’s a story about this brother and sister surviving each other and surviving a love that both defines and determines the course of their entire lives. Sometimes we think the lions in our lives are standing, but really that’s only because we are crawling at their feet, and this novel, while complex in its layers and emotions, is universal in its theme of what it means to stand after tragedy.

The Summer that Melted Everything is the novel to introduce my writing style to readers, but When Lions Stood as Men is the novel that’s going to solidify my style and genre as a writer. It’s a novel I’ve put a great deal of work and love into and I can’t wait for these characters and their stories to be heard. That’s what it all boils down to. Hoping readers hear and find me. Readers have all the power. They’re the ones who give writers like me a career because they buy the book and read it. And that’s all I hope. That folks read what I’ve written and in the end close the book and say, “Hey, that’s a pretty good story. I’m really glad I read it.”

(If you haven’t already ordered your copy of The Summer That Melted Everything, do it soon. It’ll change your life. Click HERE.)

How’d you like to spend A Night in with Audrey Hepburn?

24862545I admit: when I finished Lucy Holliday’s A Night in with Audrey Hepburn, I almost went berserk, at the time unaware that this was the first in a three-book series. I calmed down (some) when Lucy’s publicist informed me I would soon have the sequel in my impatient hands … but that still meant I had to wait, like, a whole month. When you love a series, a month HURTS, okay? And I do love the Libby Lomax Series.

Libby is a failed actress who likes submerging herself in the pretend world of classic films, especially those featuring the beautiful, charming Ms. Audrey Hepburn. After a serious fudge up at work, Libby is prepared to sob her sorrows into her new, ugly, vintage couch until Audrey (yes, THAT Audrey) shows up and starts giving her advice about fashion, love, and what life is all about.

A Night in with Audrey Hepburn is hilarious and cheeky. Libby is the perfect mix of hysterical, level-headed, and lovable, as is Audrey, of course. However, as Libby’s life spins out of control, can even the famed Ms. Hepburn show her the way back to sane? Then again, how sane is it to spend time with a dead Hollywood icon? Well.

As I prepare to delve into book two (A Night in with Marilyn Monroe), meet author Lucy Holliday, a gift to the literary world and my world, as well.

What’s so magical about Audrey Hepburn anyway?

What’s NOT magical about Audrey Hepburn? Seriously, when I was first thinking about this slightly nuts idea about a magical sofa and Hollywood icons, Audrey Hepburn was the first, and most obvious, inhabitant of the sofa that sprang to mind. I don’t know if it’s her real life, which she herself always seemed to regard as magical (surviving the Nazis and then becoming a world-famous movie star) or the magic she displays on screen… A bit of both, perhaps? The more I read and wrote about her, the more “magical” she became, somehow. And even though I’ve always found her beauty to be quite magical, it’s actually more than that. She kind of exuded something more than “mere” beauty. Star quality? Kindness? Humanity? Magic…?

Do you have any personal experience as an actress?

Lucy, pulling her best Audrey pose.

Lucy, pulling her best Audrey pose.

I do indeed have a very little personal experience as an actress. I was a fully-committed stars-in-my-eyes thespian while I was at school (and I have a horrible feeling my daughter is headed the same way…) and then I had big ambitions to become a West End star of musicals. Only problem, I was nowhere NEAR good enough. Fortunately I realised this myself before having to make anybody else break the news to me. Oh, and I am in fact an extra, a bit like Libby Lomax, in one episode of a very well-known British sitcom called One Foot In The Grave. It was about 20 years ago and the main thing I remember is how exciting the on-location catering bus was. Perhaps that’s where Olly came from…

You are SO GOOD at humor. What are some tips for writing funny?

Tips for writing funny… er… that’s very, very difficult to say! Don’t try too hard to be funny. And yet, conversely, work really hard at actually crafting the jokes when you’ve got a sniff of them. But… yeah. Don’t try too hard. When I try too hard, it all goes horribly (and I mean HORRIBLY) wrong.

Libby hooks up with a serious celebrity hunk. Who’s your celebrity crush, and why?

Mmmm Daniel Craig mmmm.

Mmmm Daniel Craig mmmm.

Who ISN’T my celebrity crush? (insert blush emoji here…) I’m always partial to a bit of Daniel Craig, because… well, I’m alive. I have a sort of secret (not so secret now) and guilty crush on Christian Bale, because clearly I must have a Thing for intense men who look good in Batman costumes. Oddly, given these other two, I have a very soft spot for Eddie Redmayne, whom I once bumped into in Selfridges (and he apologised to ME) so in his case, I think the perfect manners and charm must do it. Hm, this all sounds too Brit-centric… I kind of love Matt Damon, too. I can imagine he and I would get on very well together. In fact, I once bumped into HIM (star encounters aren’t usually my thing, by the way) on the back staircase of a hotel in Cambridge, England. I was sleep-deprived and looked like a wild woman having just had a non-sleeping baby three months earlier. He was lovely, and smiled gorgeously at me, and said he was lost… obviously, if I HADN’T looked like a wild woman, this encounter would have ended quite differently. I mean, I feel sure of it. Right?

This is the first in a three book series. The second one will feature Marilyn Monroe. How are you choosing your Hollywood icons? Can we get a teaser about book three’s featured guest?

The first two icons were chosen very easily indeed… like I say, Audrey just “came” to me, and Marilyn was a pretty close second. They’re just the two really obvious ones, when you’re thinking about true Hollywood icons, and fascinating women that other women can really relate to. As for the third… a BIG teaser… also a 50s star, another VERY iconic look, a muse of Alfred Hitchcock, and the inspiration for a famous Hermes bag… amongst other things!

Do you have a favorite picture of Audrey? If so, which is it?

audrey

The legend: Ms. Audrey Hepburn.

I had this image in my head a lot as I was writing. I think it shows the “real” Audrey, goofy and adorable, and how many of us could still look THIS beautiful when pulling THAT face…?


To buy this amazing book RIGHT THIS SECOND, head to Amazon. To keep up with all things Lucy Holliday, follow her on Twitter!

The Doldrums is perfect for Harry Potter fans and beyond

Nicholas Gannon: an author in his natural environment.

Nicholas Gannon: Author in his natural environment.

I love advance review copies. For a book nerd, receiving one on my porch is like Christmas every day. Sometimes, the book is just another Fifty Shades wannabe. Then, one comes along that makes you hit the ceiling and shout, “EVERYONE IN THE WORLD MUST READ THIS!” That’s how I feel about The Doldrums.

As someone who still mourns the death of the Harry Potter series, I’m always looking for books that give me that same feeling: like I’m a little kid and the world is full of magic. Although The Doldrums does not have magic, it certainly feels magical.

Three lonely children embark on a series of adventures filled with danger, laughs, and a bit of sorrow. From page one, I was hooked and utterly thrilled when I noticed the little “Book One” addendum on the cover, because that means there’s more coming.

In The Doldrums, meet Archer, who lives in the family mansion surrounded by taxidermy exotic mammals, but whose mother (due to the loss of his grandparents on an iceberg) won’t let him near anything exciting. There’s the boy next door, Oliver, who’s scared of life because his cat ate cement (long story). Finally, Adélaïde, the French girl with a wooden leg (supposedly eaten by a crocodile). When Archer decides to find his grandparents–who he’s certain are still alive–his friends go along, but of course, nothing comes easily, especially where icebergs are concerned.

I had the lucky chance to interview author and illustrator Nicholas Gannon about his quirky opus, and here’s what he had to say.

What inspired you to write THE DOLDRUMS?

doldrumsI didn’t set out to write a book, actually. It was sort of an accident. After graduating art school in NYC in 2008, I found myself working a construction job in upstate New York. It was there that I first sketched Archer on a two-by-four. He was the first character I’d drawn that truly resonated with me so I went on sketching him. (Now, his original drawings are all stuck in the walls of a home in upstate New York.) Adélaïde began as a sketch of a girl with knee-high socks but one of the socks didn’t look quite right so I turned it into a wooden leg.

I rented a top floor bedroom of a brownstone belonging to a renowned family. The bedroom had a balcony overlooking secret gardens and it was there that I began writing a small, fictional newspaper called The Doldrums Press to play around with writing and the ideas I had for Archer and Adélaïde. (I’d never written anything before.) Oliver grew out of that newspaper and the newspaper itself grew into the book. I’m still surprised by the whole thing.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Archer, Oliver, and Adélaïde are equal to me. Each one gives me a chance to do things I would miss if they weren’t in the story. Even Mrs. Murkley is loved. I will say I’d like to have Oliver hanging around my apartment.

What are some adventures you’d like to take … but haven’t yet?

I tend to be more of a coffee and cigarettes and staring out the window kind of person. But I do enjoy traveling and have done quite a bit of it. High on my “next list” is to visit Mongolia and see the Dukha with their reindeer.

THE DOLDRUMS is Book One. What’s next for the series?

That’s difficult to say without giving away some big question marks in book one. I can say the trio is still together and going strong and there’s snow—lots of snow. (It’s a long story.)

Who are your major influences, whether they be literary, film-related, or otherwise?

There are a great many. In terms of prose: P.G. Wodehouse, Hemingway, Vonnegut, Dahl, and Lewis.

World building: Dickens, Balzac, and Garcia Marquez.

I’m also a huge fan of film with the framing of shots in old movies like Lawrence of Arabia and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Rear Window. The vignette storytelling of Tarantino influenced me as did the color palate of Jean Pierre Jeunet. I also love Dutch and Flemish painters of the 1600s.

But more than books or films or Dutch painters from the 1600s, I’d say music has the greatest impact on me. I played trumpet up until eighth grade and had fantasies about Julliard. I played in a brass ensemble, and we performed with members of the New York Philharmonic and also did a Christmas concert at the White House. I don’t play anymore, but it stayed with me. It’s very similar to writing. I listen to a lot of contemporary classical music and soundtracks.

What do you hope readers learn from THE DOLDRUMS, child and adult alike?

I’m mostly just interested in books as escapism, but I think it’s impossible to write something and not have a theme arise. In book one of The Doldrums, the major theme became: who you are versus who you want to be. Each of the main characters faces this question in their own way. And the result is three children who come together with the intention of running from their lives who end up running for their lives. Ultimately, that’s probably the message. It’s not what you do or how you do it but who you do it with.

About the Author: Nicholas Gannon studied illustration at Parson School for Design and held a number of odd jobs before becoming a full-time author. He now resides in Brooklyn. For more, visit his website: http://nicholasjgannon.com/.

To buy The Doldrums, head to Amazon. (Really, like, right now.)

Picture association with Clockwork Crown author Beth Cato

ClockworkCrown_331x500

Today … that’s right, TODAY … the much-anticipated sequel to Beth Cato’s Clockwork Dagger is available for purchase all the world over. Because I’m, like, important and stuff, I already read the sequel, Clockwork Crown, months ago, and I’m not exaggerating when I say you should buy your copy now.

Just for fun, I decided to pick Beth’s brain in the weirdest way possible: PICTURE ASSOCIATION! I sent her pictures; she sent me the first thing that popped into her head. Most of the images relate to Clockwork Crown, so enjoy this little visual tease and join the Cato Club today!

Tobias Sheck / Flickr

Tobias Sheck / Flickr

“What a moody, grim scene. It makes me think of the city of Mercia within my world of The Clockwork Dagger. It’s a massive sprawl of skyscrapers and factories, and no plants survive there. People suffer all kinds of respiratory illnesses and cancers. I could see this being a rare stand of woods downwind.”
Gremlin

Inti / Flickr

“AHHH. Scary 1980s gremlin! I never liked those movies when I was a kid. They were too creepy. I did want to channel some of those monstrous elements in my version of gremlins, though. My books show them as beings both cute and hideous. Plus, my gremlins can get wet AND be fed after midnight. Preferably, some cheese.”

Herbs

Sonny Abesamis / Flickr

“Herbs remind me of my heroine, Octavia. She needs particular blessed herbs to be able to call on magic to heal her patients. Gardening and herbs are her happiness.”

Kiss

The Prophet / Flickr

“Everything about this pictures screams TENSION. It’s ragged breaths and sweat and need. This is what I hope I’m evoking with Octavia and Alonzo. It’s a steampunk society and the gender dynamics are very Edwardian. I don’t depict any sex or raunchiness–heck, I’ve had reports from multiple 11-year-olds who loved The Clockwork Dagger–but the passion is there. The need is there. They may not be able to act on it, but when they eventually do? Oh yeah. Fireworks.”
Steampunk

Davide D’Amico / Flickr

“Gadgetry! This is one of the funnest things about writing steampunk. It’s an age of invention and whimsy. A lot of the action in my first book takes place on an airship. It’s not a fancy vessel but there’s still an air of sophistication about it.”
Tree

subflux / Flickr

“This pictures smells. Do you smell it, too? There’s the rankness of rotting leaves and drenched bark. Octavia worships a world tree known as the Lady. The Tree is the source of Octavia’s magic, her peace, her hope. You don’t often see a positive lead character of faith in fantasy novels, but Octavia definitely bucks that trend.”
White-Dress

Vanessa Porter / Flickr

“Octavia wears an enchanted white dress and apron that stay clean no matter the muck or blood. The magic absorbs the filth and uses it like energy. I really like the simplicity of the gown in this picture. It’s closer to my vision of her dress than the one on the first book cover; they needed to make the steampunk genre stronger as a selling point, and a World War I-style nurse outfit wouldn’t have evoked that. It all makes sense.”
Sad-Skeleton

University of Liverpool / Flickr

“Ah, bodies and bones. This actually puts me in mind of a certain character in Clockwork Crown that I can’t even mention because it’s such a big spoiler. Read the book and I bet you’ll think of the same person when you look at this image again!”
Just-for-Fun
“This cat makes me think of gremlins again–my gremlins! My main gremlin is Leaf, and he’s based a lot on my cat Palom. The frenzied antics, the mews, the demand for attention … those were all signature Palom. He succumbed to cancer a few years ago, and I pay tribute to him in the acknowledgments for Clockwork Crown. Here’s for you, furball!”
To buy your copy of Clockwork Crown, head to Amazon immediately. You’re gonna love it!

ATTENTION: Help raise money for Damian’s 19,000 mile bike ride to support mental health

563959_3476957849843_1064909525_n
I was once thrown into the Salt River by a guy named Damian. I forgave this because he is a cool dude with good taste in movies. Then, I heard he was doing something REALLY COOL that did not involve throwing women into rivers.

Damian will be embarking on a one-year, 19,000-mile bike trip from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, all the way to the bottom of the world: Ushuaia, Argentina. He will be doing this solo ride to help raise public awareness of the benefits that regular exercise offers to those battling mental illness. He will raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, specifically their “Hearts and Minds” campaign.

As a diagnosed depressive, how could I not get behind this project? Damian already has two amazing sponsors: Caledonia Spirits and Hero Apicus Nutrition. They’ve been a huge help, but he still needs more funding to make this trip happen.

To donate, head to Damian’s GoFundMe site. For more about this super cool dude and his mission to support mental health awareness, read on …

An H and Five Ws with NAMI Advocate Damian Reusch

How did you come up with the idea for this solo bike adventure?

I wanted to undertake what I considered to be a transformative journey, one that would compare with the “Great American” adventures that used to fill novels and dime store magazines, before advancements in technology seemingly shrank the world to a more user-friendly size.

I have always felt, as the world I live in became more and more connected, a sense of increasing disconnection. I have longed for an experience that will allow me to rediscover the awe I knew as a child, the wonder and fascination I only knew from the books I read and a life I imagined. I have grown tired of living inwardly, with the incessant concern for professional and personal growth … I wanted to live outwardly for a bit, to have focus on a goal outside my personal narrative and perhaps in the process bring back some measure of connection through its fulfillment.

I decided to choose a charity that I felt a connection with and endeavor to begin a journey that people could identify with, and be excited by. People love a story, and though there are fewer today, they especially love adventure stories. I thought that would be an interesting way to try to rekindle people’s spirit of fascination with the world at large, while at the same time raise money for an important and often overlooked cause. The Pan American Highway is the world’s longest motorable road… so why not ditch the car and bike it?

What is your inspiration?

1925082_10201560427799717_1763726457_nMy greatest inspiration is the world as a whole. I remember a few years ago, I was in Austin visiting some friends. They took me to an overlook that was situated over a river next to a roadway. I imagine most people climb up there for a view of a sunset, or the rolling hills, or the slowly crawling river below … but I couldn’t take my eyes off the road and the cars driving on it.

I had been thinking a lot about the idea of a personal narrative, how we are all the stars of our own story, and how constrictive that mentality can be. I began to imagine a sort of story board, drawn like a circuit with lines extending out of each passenger. Each line led to a box, each box splintered into another possibility, and each possibility splintered to another and so on … constantly changing with each passing second, constantly evolving, fracturing, and expanding outward.

That is the world I wish to see, so I see it. An explosion of stories, intertwining and unraveling at every moment, most of it unobserved potential. My narrative became less interesting knowing all that potential was out there waiting for a catalyst to bring so much to fruition.

A trip like this will most likely not bring any measure of “traditional” success, but it will drop me in the center of that stew of unrealized story lines.

What do you hope to achieve?

I hope to have an incredible journey, to experience the world in its most raw form, to meet incredible people and for a moment experience their story. I hope to raise money for a great cause that benefits people who in their own way may feel as lost or disconnected as myself.

Where are you most excited to go?

Ushuaia, Argentina. That will mean I have completed the journey successfully.

When did you realize you had you own mental health issues?

I realized at a very young age. It manifested itself as a reaction to the profound disappointment I had in the people around me, in their inability to see the long view, the larger picture. I became frustrated at first, slowly mired in anger, then boom. I was diagnosed with what is called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. I have never been medicated. I have always found that all of my frustration can be mitigated through an active lifestyle. At times I am obsessively active; at times I struggle. But I am lucky in that I know what I need to maintain a positive balance. That is why I relate so well to the NAMI “Hearts and Minds” Campaign.

Why is mental health so important?

Throughout history, mental illness has been treated like possession or witchcraft, rather than like an illness, which is why it still carries the stigma it does today. The brain is an organ, but it is an organ we lack critical understanding of. That lack of understanding can lead to confusion and eventual disassociation rather than acceptance and healing. We are a thousand steps behind where we should be with regard to the treatment of mental illness, and we are there because of the lack of an open dialogue. The first step is to drive awareness. Mental health should be no more taboo than an infection or a genetic disorder.

I am so, so proud of Damian’s mission. It’s time we all supported him and mental health awareness. Head to GoFundMe right now and become part of the solution. Thank you!