Monday, April 22, 2013

Dark New Orleans in Audio - Roland Yeomans

An elusive interview in a town known for the Mardi Gras, New Orleans. The advance news: Dark New Orleans fantasy by Roland Yeomans will be available as audio books this summer!

Roland agreed to meet me at his haunted jazz club, Meilori's. I wore black so I could blend in with the background of shadows. I've heard stories. . .

Here's Roland to tell his version of the interview:

The atmosphere in Meilori’s was somber tonight.  Too much death too soon does that to this club. 
Melody Gardot was singing “Your Heart Is As Black As Night” as the twin palms by my table swayed to the beat of the music, their leaves hissing through the shadows like claws through sand. 


D.G. Hudson was sitting opposite me at my table, her eyes round as she saw F. Scott Fitzgerald slowly dancing with his wife, Zelda, not two feet from us.

She cleared her throat, “Why did you decide to do audio books at this time, Roland?”

I smiled.  “Millions of eBooks on Amazon.  Two hundred thousand audio books on Audible.  Easier to stand out in the crowd in a small one.”

D.G. started as Fitzgerald winked at her as he danced by our table.  Um, why did you choose New Orleans for the location of many of your novels?”

I said, “Ever since I moved to Louisiana from Detroit, New Orleans captivated me. Since my high school class toured the city, it has captured my imagination. Spending harrowing days on its streets after Katrina with my blood van broken down in the city let me see the underbelly of the city and the terrible hopelessness and unimaginable corruption and incompetence of the rescue efforts or lack of them.

The roving gangs of drug addicts without access to their drugs. The helicopters with supplies turning away as looters shot at them in the sky. Finding an enclave that could be secured from looters, gangsters, and addicts without their fix.

D.G. shivered. “That would have been scary.”

Rites of Passage by Roland Yeomans

 I nodded.  “It was. I also saw everyday men and women become heroes against all odds. The Salvation Army won my heart as, with their own homes in ruins, the local officers attended the hurting and homeless.”

D.G. took a sip of her drink and said, "Hubs' Dad and grandparents belong to the Salvation Army in Winnipeg, something more common in the forties and fifties."

"And what happened to you after that, Roland?"
I looked off into the shadows.  “Surviving that stint, I stayed in Baton Rouge, working again as a blood courier and had access to research materials in the local B and N, where I spent a few hours after each day's work. My days off in Baton Rouge, I volunteered for church groups or individuals who needed someone familiar with the devastated streets of New Orleans.”

The Legend of Victor Standish by Roland Yeomans

Alice Wentworth giggled as Victor whispered in her ear as they danced by Melody and D.G. asked, “How is Alice Wentworth different from other paranormal characters?”

I smiled sadly, “Alice is a ghoul ... not a zombie. She has the curse of remembering each of her victims whom she has eaten. Alice was raised with Victorian sensibilities and so is appalled by what she has become.

But have you ever been starving so that your fingers, your very hands shook, that your entire stomach seemed to be a burning hollow inside you? So hungry that all you can think about is what you can eat and how fast can you eat it? Alice can only go so long without eating human flesh.

Victor's mother was instrumental in salvaging her from the ruin that her own mother ineptly voodoo cast her. She gave Alice a time of hibernation between each deep feeding so as to save her sanity.

Unlike vampires, she can go out in the daytime. Unlike vampires, her ashen face, her sunken eyes cannot be mistaken for a normal human's. She is forever apart, forever cursed to be alone ... until Victor, who sees in her a fellow outcast and the beauty residing inside her tortured heart. Since he has been living on the knife's edge all his life, Alice's curse is just a thorn to a beautiful rose.

And since he has eaten out of garbage dumps all his life, kissing the lips of a hauntingly beautiful ghoul is no stretch. And since she has been bathed in the waterfall of Eden, Alice's breath and body smell of apricots. Before then, Victor only cared that she seemed to care for him. Odors he could live with if only he was with someone he loved who loved him back.

Alice has conversed with Carl Jung, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner when they visited New Orleans. She has read widely and is highly intelligent -- no mindless shambling zombie her. Only her wit sparks -- not her body!”

D.G. nodded, saying, “I feel like I know her better now. Apricot is a better smell, I agree.”

The Bear with Two Shadows by Roland Yeomans

As Victor led Alice into the shadows, D.G. said low, “Who was your inspiration for Victor?”

I felt the darkness bleed into my chest.  “When I was six, my father abandoned me on the street in Detroit Mother called Skid Row. He did it to punish Mother for beginning divorce proceedings against him for his untreated alcoholism. I spent six terrible weeks on those streets. A derelict named Maude and her little dog, Tufts, adopted me. She had a paranoid fear of uniforms so it took me coming down with pneumonia before she could bring herself to take me to the Salvation Army.”

D.G. slowly shook her head. “That's terrible, Roland, when parents use their kids as bargaining tools. I never got along with my dad, who wanted a son first, and a stubborn little daughter arrived. But mothers save the day. Now I understand more about some of your characters.”

I smiled sadly, “I wish I could tell you I was just like Victor -- but I wasn't. I wanted to be though! As the idea of THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH occured to me from remembering my times on Skid Row, I thought what a teenage Robert Downey, Jr. would be like on those rough streets. I smiled wide at the thought of a teenaged Tony Stark surviving like Ulysses on mean city streets ... and so Victor Standish was born.

Paladin of HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL was the inspiration for Samuel McCord, a haunted man with a past, a classical education, and deadly fighting skills. I just made him a supernatural Paladin! So the Lone Ranger was not my model for Sam. As Sam was the Merlin for Victor, I knew he needed a Merlin himself, so Elu, the Apache diyi, was born as well. So Merlin, not Tonto, was Elu's stepping stone!”

D.G. murmured, “I like the role models you've picked for Victor and for Sam. I like Paladin, he was smart and had a cultured manner.”

She stiffened as Samuel tipped his Stetson to her as he led Meilori to the dance floor.  “This club gives me the shivers, Roland.”

“You should be here when DayStar visits,” I replied.

(Thanks, Roland. Now where's that cab?)


Have you considered having some of your writing available in audio format? Do you know Roland's blog? Don't forget to check out his other titles.

Please share in the comments if you know Roland, read his books, or if you like the paranormal element in your reading.


References:  Roland's Blog, Writing in the Crosshairs  Roland's blogpost about audio book format


Monday, April 15, 2013

Oryx and Crake - A Book Review

The Maddaddam Trilogy begins with this story. . . Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake Cover, Margaret Atwood, 2009

In a near future Earth, self-sustaining walled compounds satisfy the residents' needs and provide a control environment for creating and testing new strains. These compounds employ the most brilliant minds they can attract. Secrets of genetic manipulation are guarded from the other compounds, all competing for the same market. Only the few are protected, those who live within the walls. Outside these compounds are the pleeblands, where everyone else lives.

When Crake, Jimmy and Oryx first meet as teens in the compounds, they play computer games as a form of mental jousting. Most of the games require advanced skills. Jimmy's on the low end of those ratings.

Before the change, Jimmy and Oryx were lovers; but she also believed in Crake's vision of a world at peace and wouldn't desert him. A triangle forms, a situation that seems destined to create trouble for the three friends. Crake keeps his game name, as does Oryx throughout the book. Jimmy later becomes known as Snowman.

After the change, Snowman lives in the trees, like a jungle creature. It's necessary to avoid the altered species which now roam freely.  One incident causes the change and leaves him in charge of a special experiment, one of Crake's secret projects.

In this apocolyptic tale, Margaret Atwood weaves an intricate pattern and introduces us to Jimmy's world, a changed Earth. This story continues with the next title in the series, The Year of the Flood.

All book review posts are collected under the tab at the top of the blog.


Have you read Oryx and Crake or any other books by Margaret Atwood? Have you read The Year of the Flood (the next in this series)?
Please share in the comments and thanks for dropping by.



Publisher:  This edition with cover above, Vintage Canada, a division of Random House Canada, 2009. - Margaret Atwood


Monday, April 1, 2013

F. Scott Fitzgerald - This Side of Paradise

In a time when class distinction determined how you would marry . . . comes a story about a young man at one of the Ivy League schools, Princeton.

This Side of Paradise cover, by F.S. Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise

Fitzgerald started writing about the adventures of Armory Blaine at Princeton at approximately the same time he enlisted, in 1917. He attended Princeton between 1913-1916. The war ended before he could embark for Europe. While at Princeton, he gained membership in one of the better clubs, and wrote articles for the campus paper.

Armory Blaine, the main character in This Side of Paradise, partipates with reckless abandon in his college years at Princeton. Poetry readings, drama productions, and drunken escapades into nearby towns kept him busy. During this time, women were becoming more bold - kissing, smoking and ignoring the rules of their Victorian mothers.

This Side of Paradise, Library book, pub. UK

For those who like poetry, Fitzgerald has included many verses. There is a great chronology of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life in the front of the book. This Side of Paradise was published on March 26, 1920. The first printing sold out. A few days later, Scott Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre in New York on April 3, 1920.

Two other titles by Fitzgerald are The Great Gatsby, and Tender is the Night.  Summary: I preferred Tender is the Night.


Have you read any of Fitzgerald's books? Does the time period, late '1800s - early 1900s', interest you?
Please share in the comments and thanks for visiting.


References:  F. Scott Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise