Terror Proves Thrilling Once Again


            Science fiction/fantasy author Laurence St John tackles action-adventure in his third novel in the Metatron series. In his new release, Metatron: Dagger or Mortality, he creates a young adult hero who “sustains constant action.” Superhero-in-training Metatron, 15-year-old Tyler struggles to stop the relentless animosity of a demonic figure and his accomplice.

            People today are all-too-familiar with terrorism and fake news. St John uses a similar scenario to place his protagonist in a situation as the suspect of a mass murder. A headline reads “Terror on the East Coast – Two Million Dead!” Fake or real (in the book)? St. John quickly grabs the reader’s attention, then poses the ultimate question: Can superheroes really be killed?

            Tyler believes a Superhero’s responsibility is to make the right decision, then follow it through to the end. But what if the outcome results in his death? He’s been in isolation for eight months so he could focus on completing his superhero training. Not even one day after his completion, Master Pat Tanaka urgently summons Tyler to help him.

            Kelltie, an evil girl, is threatening Tyler’s destiny of being a superhero by framing him for what will be the largest mass killings in American history. She also teams up with Black Shadow, a ruthless demonic figure with his own agenda — to use the Dagger of Mortality and kill Metatron.

            Feeling vulnerable, Tyler gets inspiration one last time from his Master instructor. He faces the Black Shadow, who seeks revenge for an unknown reason, and Tyler must render the most arduous choice of his life. He’ll save himself, save his beloved girlfriend Kendall, or save millions of helpless people and hinder Kelltie’s plan The story is set in New York, Nevada, and Massachusetts, where the action-packed adventure opens your mind’s eye.

            Author Kenna McKinnon said, “Teens and adults alike will identify with Tyler and his all-too-human angst as he executes superhero feats in a way only St. John’s hero can accomplish, with many twists and surprising turns of events in this young adult thriller.”

            St. John hails from just south of Toledo, Ohio. He’s currently working on book four and five in the Metatron Series. During the day, he works for Precision Strip, a company dealing with processing of raw material. During his off-hours he creates his novels.

            Metatron: Dagger of Mortality is published by Ogopogo Book, an Imprint of Imajin Books. For more information visit http://getbook.at/DaggerofMortality or imajinbooks.com. Reach Laurence at www.laurencestjohn.com; http://twitter.com/laurencestjohn; http://www.facebook.com/laurenceastjohn.



The Thrill of Writing About Love

By Khaled Talib, author of thrillers

In my newly released thriller, Gun Kiss, the protagonist falls in love with the co-protagonist, a common occurrence in books of all genres. As I sought reviews for the novel, I queried a book blogger who agreed to read it, but it didn’t turn out well for me. The blogger was abusive in her review of my book, highlighting nothing positive about it. In fact, she even went so far to say it wasn’t a book she would recommend to anyone. Yet she cared enough to publish the review on her blog, book cover and all. Why bother if she hated it that much?

That blogger was just one of the many reviewers I had contacted. Of course, I didn’t agree with the reviewer’s unsubstantiated comments. Like other authors, I have enjoyed my fair share of positive reviews. Gun Kiss was no exception as it also received praise from some renowned critics.

I could have responded to all her nitpicking, but I didn’t see the need because other reviewers and readers didn’t have problems with them. However, the blogger complained that “like instantly” after seeing her once. She added: “Had seen her once, when he rescued her and now he [sic] in love.”

It seemed to me the reviewer’s closer attention to my words would have revealed the depth of the story. I had explained the protagonist’s reaction when he first sees the co-protagonist, a famous Hollywood movie star, despite the circumstances in which they were both embroiled. I explained his excitement and infatuation amidst chaos, then later some reflection of thoughts when the protagonist was in a better situation.

But really, why shouldn’t a character in a book fall in love instantly? It’s not unnatural. I knew someone who fell in love with his wife in a heartbeat at university, then proposed to her after two weeks. I also know cases of men who got married within a day’s notice. Some people might surrender to love slowly, but others experience it at lightning speed. What has time got to do with the human heart?

An important realization for authors in order to reach readers is that the story must sound believable. It must sound authentic. To do that, all writers know that they must control their imagination while infusing information or facts that sound realistic, albeit in the realm of fiction. While writing Gun Kiss, I didn’t stray from the lessons I’ve learned. I did no wrong in creating scenes where the protagonist expressed his love for the co-protagonist. In fact, I wrote those scenes reinforced by fact.

ABOUT GUN KISS: A Hollywood movie star is abducted by an obsessed drug lord. With the help of a reluctant army friend, Blake Deco, a former US soldier, mounts a daring rescue across the border. What he doesn’t expect is to have feelings for the actress—or that a killer is hunting them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former magazine journalist and public relations practitioner, Khaled lives in Singapore. His journalism stint included a three-year stay in Egypt. The author is a member of the International Thriller Writers. Gun Kiss is his third novel.

Official Website: www.khaledtalibthriller.com

Amazon: http://getbook.at/GunKiss

(Also available on Kindle Unlimited)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/khaled.talib/

(This piece is based on an article that originally appeared in Marie Lavender’s I Love Romance Blog, https://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com)

Is cross-genre writing like cross-dressing? Yes! The benefits and attraction of cross-genre writing for readers and writers


dystopia manThe trouble with categories for books? Like categories of humans, as soon as you slap a label on a book, you limit it. People tend to avoid it unless it’s a genre they read. Of course many books, like people, don’t fit neatly into a pigeonhole. A major category, and one that some readers are uncomfortable with, even avoid, is literary. They assume the language will challenge them, the plot won’t flow.

You deny yourself a great deal of reading pleasure if you avoid literary work. On the flip side, you deny yourself a great deal of reading pleasure if you avoid genre work because you approach it with preconceptions. I’ve found some of my favorite novels are cross-genre, frequently sci fi or speculative with literary. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an example.

You increase your reading pleasure when you sample cross-genre writing, a hybrid of themes and elements from two or more genres. Often stimulating, it presents opportunities for creativity in writing as well as discussions among readers.

A new-ish, genre-leaping novel is Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. This 2014 work shouldered its way into notice via a list of awards as long as my arm, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, 10 Best Books of the Year by the Washinton Post and others.

At this point, dystopian novels are as common as situational comedies on television. For many of us, our vision of the future looms grim, which might account for the popularity of the genre. I still enjoy a number of them, but a book has to possess outstanding writing for me to rave on about it.

This one succeeded not because it was more violent, bloody, action-packed, sexy, or even original. Mandel’s writing style appeals to me. She juggles numerous characters, leaps back and forth in time, switches voices, and encourages speculation from her readers about what has happened and might occur. No space aliens, nothing outside the realm of possibility. A new virus spreads rapidly over the world, killing 99% of the population. The remainders group together in new ways, intent on sheer survival, most of those the book follows eventually tied together in some manner. Mandel’s language is clear yet evocative; her control over her material, stunning. I ended the novel depressed over the world it created but in awe of the journey.

Readers and writers thrive on outstanding writing. It can be traditional or innovative in approach, of a genre or genre-crossed. Don’t miss this one.

What Is Real and What Is Not? Hallucinations, Creativity, and Lives Well-Lived

I rarely read nonfictioschizophrenia-awareness-hallucination-260-70641n, believing that fiction exposes the truths about life and humans better than a scientific approach. One book I inhaled recently, though, was Hallucinations, by neurologist Oliver Sacks. While the book is fascinating on its own, illustrating the phenomenon evidently can be experienced by nearly anyone and caused by birth, injury, drugs, disease, or insomnia, I was especially intrigued by its use in writing and other creative endeavors.

When I took college philosophy and psychology classes, students continually debated the definition and reality of, well, reality. For example, how do I know that the color blue I perceive is the same color blue that you do. In short, how do we know what is real and what is not? Certainly this question slops over into religious faith. Of all the ideas of an afterlife, how can we be sure of heaven, ancestral spirits, Nirvana, or seventy-two virgins?

In short, we can’t. Scientists may have ways to measure, probe, evaluate, but absolute certainty is beyond even them. Throughout Hallucinations, Sacks reiterates the complexity of the causes of hallucinations. The impacts, however, are complex and enthralling. All our five senses can be affected. Because we interpret external sensations for our internal view of life, hallucinations can be a metaphor for all of humanity’s misinterpretations of one another and our values.

War is a prime example. No, let’s take social media as an example. Every simpleton with access to the Internet and the media delivered by it feels perfectly free to state his opinion on every matter under the sun, as rudely as he wishes. While I may believe that Trump’s opinions about immigration deserve no consideration, lots of earnest individuals seem to disagree with me.

Who’s to say who is right and who is wrong? We are able to respond only for ourselves, although we may believe otherwise. If I apply this theorem to writing, I open myself and my work to an infinity of possibilities. Alice in Wonderland, Hunger Games, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Catch-22, every work of fiction is predicated on “what if?” Frequently fantasy and imagination play a big role in creation.

Hallucinations approximate this condition. (I have difficulty distinguishing among hallucination, delusion, and illusion. All seem to be individual responses to what’s out there in the physical world, or reality, as it could be termed. So I’ll just use ‘hallucinations.”) Sacks may not have intended his volume to be a workbook for writers, but that’s one interesting application.

Even more interesting, writing is a way to share our realities. Here are some quotes from famous people that seem true to me, perhaps even real.

  • All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. Leonardo Da Vinci

  • There is no truth. There is only perception. Gustave Flaubert

  • We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. Anais Nin

Sadly, Dr. Sacks passed away recently. He left a legacy of his books, insights and thoughts. Sample them at http://www.oliversacks.com/ and http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/oliver-sacks/all/1

The persistence and perversity of synchronicity: how two apparently unrelated books enhance one another and enlighten the reader

sisyphus-2Wow! I think my reading’s affected my vocabulary. But since that’s one of the fun things resulting from challenging books, I won’t complain. I’ll just define the words below.

Recently I picked up two well reputed books. “Travels with Charley: in search of America,” by John Steinbeck, a creative nonfictional account of his cross-country trip, celebrates its fifty-second anniversary this year. “The Dog Stars,” by Peter Heller, a science fiction novel published last year, recounts the story of one of the few survivors of mysterious world-wide devastation.

Strange to me, as I made my way through both volumes, I was struck by their similarities. Both have a man as main narrator, a dog as companion, travel as integral to the plot, and lots of wonderful descriptions of nature—both worldly and our own species. Meetings with strangers (some evil), questions about humanity’s impacts on the environment, insights on human behavior cram the pages.

As I read, at times I had to remind myself which book I held in front of me. No, the pleasant meal John Steinbeck described wasn’t one for survivor Hig to savor. The excitement of a small child at Hig’s visit to his homestead didn’t include Steinbeck as a guest.

Somehow, though, going through the scenes of one book made the plot of the other more vivid, pertinent to what’s going on in the world around me. Fifty-plus years between the creation of each seemed as nothing. The authors seemed to be brothers under the skin. This doesn’t happen, by the way, with television, stage, Internet, or most films. Reading is unique in its ability to entertain and challenge and offer discernments, all simultaneously.

Through chance I picked up two books that enhanced the contents of the other. This happens to me all the time. Psychologist Carl Yung called this “synchronicity,” meaningful coincidences in time that have similar significance and relationship, including those in the mind and the physical world. He theorized perhaps a causal relationship existed.

That I don’t believe. However, another term may describe my situation. “Apophenia,” the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena comes close. As I read about this term, it was coupled with “mental disorder,” and also “creativity.” Hmmm. I know which one I’d pick.

Whatever the occurrence might be labeled, I’m glad it exists. Even more elated I discovered these two books at about the same time. Each gave me more to think about with the other.

  • Synchronicity: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
  • Persistence: firm continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition; the continued or prolonged existence of something.
  • Perversity: a deliberate desire to behave in an unreasonable or unacceptable way; quality of being contrary to accepted standards or practice.