Book Review: The Bastard Legion #1 by Gavin G. Smith

The Bastard Legion: Book 1

Genre: Sci-fi
Pub Date: 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Length: 336 pages
Kindle Edition: £2.99

Synopsis

Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and “rehabilitated” in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Corbin, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made it her own. Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska’s own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion. Are the mercenaries just for fun and profit, or does Miska have a hidden purpose connected to her covert past?

* SPOILERS*

This is book 1 in a trilogy, and the first novel, by Gavin Smith, that I have read. Will I be buying the rest? Read on…

But first, I want to tackle the ‘problem’ of men writing women. There has been much discussion across the media platforms about the, oft hilarious, but mostly irritating; to women, way that male writers portray female characters.

There seems to be some kind of gulf between male experience of how women behave and think, and what they lay down on the pages. Surely every single one of these men cannot be singletons, can they?

For as long as novels have existed, male authors have managed to write hilariously inaccurate descriptions of female characters. Indy100 – indy100.com

There have been occasional landslides of Tweets when another male writer is ‘revealed’ to have little working knowledge of how women perceive themselves.

the latest author to scale the whole mountain of male writers who get carried away when describing women, particularly their breasts. The Guardian: ‘A nice set of curves if I do say so myself’: a Twitter lesson in how not to write women‘ – theguardian.com

And the responses range from friendly micky-taking to total outrage. ‘Why can’t men write women?’ Goes the cry. Who are these men writing for? Not me.

‘She was 40 but could have passed for a year younger with soft lipstick and some gentle mascara. Her dress clung to the curves of her bosom which was cupped by her bra that was under it, but over the breasts that were naked inside her clothes. She had a personality and eyes.” The Guardian: All cleavage and clunkiness – why can’t male authors write women? – theguardian.com

Enter (into my sphere of reading), Gavin G. Smith. As I write this, I cannot recall a single moment in The Bastard Legion where Smith portrayed his MC in derogatory terms – I think she looked in a mirror once, and ran her hands through her short hair once or twice– that’s it. So what does Miska Corbin look like? Smith hasn’t given us an abundance of description. We know she has ‘dirty blonde hair’ with shaved undercut, she’s short, and she has ‘elfin’ features. He mentions her breasts once, and that’s only because one of her ‘crew’ is staring at them when he thinks she isn’t looking, and because he is a young man, a prisoner in a previously all male environment and probably hasn’t seen a female for a long time – unlucky him that he got Miska!

For me, Miska Corbin is an example of a female MC successfully written by a male. You see, women and men feel the same things, we all get emotional, and men don’t always express anger, and conversely, not all women cry. I felt that Smith had written a human being. Of course there has to be some physical description, we, the readers want to see what the writer sees, and he uses an economy of description that allows us to visualise her very nicely, thank you, without being a complete and total douche-bag slavering over his own creation.

Corbin comes from a military family, she was a marine; as was her father and her sister, and so trained in all kinds of weaponry and combat techniques. She’s also a hacker, a good one. And finally, she has a slightly unstable personality which means that she may, or may not, decide to blow a person’s head off – literally!- depending on her mood and what occurred prior to the current encounter.

I like her. I want to be her. She is Ripley for a new generation, with a sense of humour; if a little warped, and takes no shit from anyone. She is a great tactician and even in the direst situations, is capable of keeping her cool. So what’s her weakness? you may ask. Her dad.

Gunnery Sergeant Jonathan Corbin is dead and Miska, his youngest daughter, is determined to find out how/why/who. But Corbin senior’s death hasn’t prevented him from being a prime player in the story. He is a huge influence on our MC, and in Book 1 her raison d’etre. Her relationship with her father might be deemed unhealthy, but Miska Corbin seems to have unhealthy relationships with everyone she encounters.

When we meet her, she has turned pirate. She has stolen a maximum security prison barge – think of those great 19th century hulks in the Thames, then imagine it four hundred, or so, years in the future, and in space, with weapons, now you got it. There are six-thousand prisoners on board, from car thieves to gang leaders, rapists and murderers, some so dangerous that they are kept in some sort of suspended animation. How does one small female maintain control over this motley crew? Explosive collars! How frackin’ cool is that?! Smith sticks our heroine (is she though? Really?) in this high-risk situation, but needs a way to force all those men to do her bidding. Threat of instant death is a great inducement to do as one’s told. And if one’s head pops off, well then, one less mouth to feed. With the aid of her fathers hologram, mechanoid guards and VR environments, Miska begins to train her own personal army.

I find it a really interesting premise – take a bunch of violent criminals and make them into a formidable fighting force. There is potential danger from the men she now lives on board with, there is threat from the Corporation that hires her to do a dirty clean-up job, and from the unknown killer, or killers, of her father. Miska Corbin is a walking magnet for endangerment. You’re never sure who might turn on whom, how far will a bunch of mercenaries go to ensure their own heads remain firmly fixed to their necks?!

It is action packed. And I mean, all the time, action, (maybe a little too much?) even the moments when she is netrunning with her enhanced abilities. This area of the story I found less easy to follow – but I have the same problem playing Cyberpunk TTRPG. She meets a human shaped virus, has her skin flayed by gritty sand, and when Smith writes, ‘she dropped a number of heavily occulted hacks,’ I couldn’t honestly swear that I totally understood what that means.

I’ve read reviews of books that compare them to TV shows or films. I’m not sure I like this habit. Some reviews of The Bastard Legion claim it was like Suicide Squad or Killjoys crossed with The Expanse. I hated Suicide Squad, thought it was poorly written, clichéd, weak. Loved the other two. The Bastard Legion is the first ‘military in space’ story I have ever read; I’d not heard of this sub genre before. It is not poorly written, clichéd or weak. Smith’s writing is strong, it has the feel of a chunky, persistent force, prodding and driving you forwards. The prisoners aren’t just faceless men, they are nuanced; some more than others, not all bad – sort of, and in a couple of instances come across as more sane and less violent than Miska.

It’s a pretty unique idea; stealing a prison and all the prisoners in it, and turning them into a well-oiled fighting machine, and I think that’s getting harder in sci-fi writing as technology in our world continues to advance, the writers have to up their game. Smith has a great premise and compelling main character; even though she ought to be locked up herself, who has some complicated relationships going on. Not just with her dead father – she and her sister really don’t get on, why does she give more slack to the prisoner Torricone? And what’s with the angelic, technologically enhanced Ultra?

There’s a lot going for The Bastard Legion – the mercenaries as well as the book – and I will definitely be purchasing # 2.

I’m giving The Bastard Legion

4 stars

Book Review: Storm Front: The Dresden Files: Book One, by Jim Butcher

stormfront1.jpg
                  Storm Front by Jim Butcher                             

Genre: Science Fiction. Fantasy. Supernatural.
Pub Date: 2005
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 322 pages
Paperback : Local Library (£6.99)

 

“My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. I’m a wizard. I work out of an office in midtown[sic] Chicago. As far as I know, I’m the only openly practicing[sic] professional wizard in the country. You can find me in the yellow pages, under “Wizards.” Believe it or not, I’m the only one there.” Harry Dresden:Storm Front. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Storm-Front-Dresden-Files-Book/dp/0356500276

Briefest Synopsis

Dresden is hired by a woman to find her husband, Victor. She tells Harry that Victor is an amateur magician who has been acting oddly; Harry suspects he is having an affair. The same day, Harry gets a call from Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, director of the Special Investigations (SI) Unit of the Chicago Police Department; Harry occasionally works for the police department on ‘unusual’ cases. He is shown the bodies of two people, who have died by having their hearts ripped out – apparently by magic. Dresden himself quickly becomes the chief suspect for these murders.

I’m one of those people who remembers all the films I have watched, well, pretty much all of them – 99%. I also remember the books I have read. So imagine my surprise when I took this title to the library counter and was informed I had already taken this title out some years earlier. I imagined I had borrowed it with a bundle of too many to read and re-borrowed – then when I began reading it, remembered I had started it and not liked it, so gave up on it.

I decided to read the whole thing to figure out what had curtailed my previous outing with Harry Dresden; after all, it apparently combines many things I am interested in; crime, Private Investigators, magic, humour. It was originally recommended by a friend in the Steampunk community, so I imagined it would have elements of this genre – it doesn’t.

Storm Front is, if you can imagine it, Philip Marlowe meets Merlin. A detective story with a large helping of magic; there are echoes of Raymond Chandler as Harry Dresden pisses associates off with his smart mouth in true ‘hard-boiled detective’ mode. Even when the Wizarding version of the police; the White Council, send a Warden, in the form of Morgan; with his huge muscular stature and mighty blade, Harry can’t resist deliberately annoying the guy.

As a wizard, Harry’s good – no, not good, the best – or at least that is what he tells us – and he is the only one in the phone book! The magic is actually well managed in this tale – Butcher gives explanations in some instances of how magic works, what faeries like to eat, and how wizards get assistance (a spirit in a skull in Harry’s case), there is psychological realism in the magic, which means it doesn’t go too far into the realms of ridiculous fantasy, the emphasis is on Harry’s interior character, his motives, and circumstances which create his external actions. Also, I like that Butcher has written a wizard into the modern world, usually wizards are to be found in high fantasy and wear robes, have beards and make grand gestures (don’t they?) – Harry’s a wizard for the modern age – though I have to say – I was never quite sure whether we were in Chicago of today, or the 1940’s.

I have heard that many readers do not progress beyond this book because of the portrayal of women; victims, seductresses – but it’s Harry’s POV – and he tells us he’s a chauvinist. I have no issue with that, besides Lieutenant Karrin Murphy and Susan Rodriguez are tough women; emotionally, physically, or both. And Harry doesn’t take himself too seriously; he doesn’t always have the upper hand – he has very human foibles.

I think what irked me initially, was my perceived theft of Philip Marlowe’s ‘voice’. Marlowe is one of my favourite literary characters and I could hear him in Harry Dresden – but to a lesser, feebler, weaker degree. But hey, don’t we all write under the influence of previous creators?! So I decided to forgive Jim Butcher and just get on with enjoying the book. And I did.

There are a number of layers to the story involving magic, gangsters, Harry’s history, supernatural elements, that are woven neatly together. You may guess early who did what to whom, but the journey there is pretty cool.

Butcher has an easy reading style to his writing, but is it enough to keep me in a long-term relationship with Harry? (17 books and counting!). I honestly do not know – I might skip a couple and see if Harry manages to grow up emotionally, get a new home (he lives in a basement flat), and get a wash! Often described as urban fantasy, Storm Front is set in the modern day so wandering around the city in a long leather duster strikes one as either immature (like a mardy teenager), or posy – plus, and I know this is not important(or is it?), he is portrayed on the covers as wearing a hat, a fedora to be exact – but he doesn’t actually wear one in the story! Go figure!

I am giving Storm Front: The Dresden Files

3 stars

Little StarLittle StarLittle Star

Edit, Compile, Publish???

I am currently editing and compiling a series of my own short stories.

838-02488657
No! No more editing, I can’t take it anymore!

They were begun in 2014, when I first became involved in the world of Steampunk, and continued until 2016. Initially posted on a, now closed, blog the first story having been published in a Steampunk magazine also, I have decided to compile them all into one volume.

The stories are based on the characters that my daughter and I assumed as part of the ‘costume’ for events, gatherings and annual Asylum Festival. These events involve people from all over the country, and in the case of The Asylum Festival, the world, dressing up in faux Victorian clothing; often hybridised from various literary characters, films, Industrial mechanisms and so forth.

This is not ‘serious’ literature – and was never meant to be; more a romp through various countries and continents with varying degrees of success. Lucy Lockhart and Theodora Doppler are a pair of adventurers, aka thieves, who collect treasures ostensibly for the Royal Society in London; think Harry Flashman crossed with Indiana Jones in female form! It is pulp fiction (no, not the film), in the style of the penny dreadfulsdime novels, and short-fiction magazines of the 19th century

The issue I have is that over the course of a writing career – especially at the beginning, one’s style and skill changes and grows – the earliest pieces reflect this, and can be seen as the development of these skills.

But do I publish? Of course, no actual publishing house is going to want to publish a set of stories about a philandering, thieving, amoral, (sometimes murdering), woman, set in an alternate 19th century, so it will be a self-published project – if it happens!

pulped fiction
Pulped fiction

Book Review: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
Pub Date: 9 Nov. 2017
Publisher: Hutchinson
Length: 288 pages
Hardback: £12.99

Synopsis

Abby Williams returns to the small town where she grew up. Now working as a successful environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has been tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s economic heart. Abby begins to find strange connections to a decade-old scandal involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

As Abby attempts to find out what happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations.”

Krysten Ritter, star of American TV shows such as Jessica Jones and Don’t Trust The B**** in Apartment 23, has published her début novel, Bonfire. I have to admit I had mixed emotions; unsure whether this actor, who I have been a fan of for some years, would be skilled enough to pull off a novel ( I think it was J G Ballard who said one shouldn’t not write a full length novel for a first outing). Bonfire has been described as being ‘dark, disturbing and compulsively readable’ amongst the blurb.


I found the writing to be mature, I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. Ritter keeps the writing tight and moving along at a fair pace. The protagonist, Abby Williams, is deftly portrayed, she has a strong voice and reminded me a little of a cross between the two characters Ritter has played in the aforementioned shows; intelligent, forthright and possibly a little bit sexy. Other characters are portrayed well with sparse use of adjectives, yet we get to see them clearly.

Abby has tried hard to move away from the memories of her home-town. Memories dominated by the popular girl Kaycee Mitchell, memories of her bullying, of becoming her friend, of Kaycee’s clique of hangers on, like the appalling Misha, and ultimately the illness that gripped Kaycee and the others. To Abby, there is a connection between the illnesses and Optimal Plastics and she sets out to prove it.

Bonfire is dark and compulsive reading, but the disturbing not so much for me. I found myself thinking of The Virgin Suicides (1993), Mean Girls and a little Twin Peaks. So, not hugely original or with a shocking or surprising outcome. Maybe because I am British, but I found it quite difficult to relate to many of the characters; do high school students really behave like that in USA?! And I simply could not get my head around the idea that school-age Abby wanted to be friends with such a bitch! But maybe I’m not the target audience.

Although there are a couple of close moments between the protagonist and other character, there is no reason why this cannot be read by those aged 16 years.

I’m giving Bonfire 3 stars

Little StarLittle StarLittle Star

October Book Releases

 

Each month sees the release of hundreds of new book titles. Like the movie goers who queue outside the cinema for hours on the first day of a film’s release, I know many readers like to get their copies ASAP, like NOW!

Personally, I can wait, I like to be behind the curve; what can I say. But for those who can’t wait, here’s ten books you might like this month. I know I will be having a closer look at Philip Pullman’s ‘Book of Dust’.

1. Turtles All The Way Down by John GreenExpected publication: October 10th 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers.

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate.

bloggreenbook
Turtles All The Way                          by John Green

2. Origin by Dan BrownPublished October 3rd 2017 by Doubleday Books.

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbolism and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.”

3. The Ship of The Dead by Rick RiordanPublished October 3rd 2017 by Disney-Hyperion.

Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting.

4. Without Merit by Colleen HooverPublished October 3rd 2017 by Atria Books.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a re-purposed church, newly baptised Dollar Voss.

5. All The Crooked Saints by Maggie StiefvaterExpected publication: October 10th 2017 by Scholastic Press.

Here is a thing everyone wants: A miracle.Here is a thing everyone fears:What it takes to get one.

blogsaintsbook
All The Crooked Saints                               by Maggie Stiefvater

6. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer EganPublished October 3rd 2017 by Scribner.

Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.

7. The Core by Peter V. BrettPublished October 3rd 2017 by Del Rey.

For time out of mind, bloodthirsty demons have stalked the night, culling the human race to scattered remnants dependent on half-forgotten magics to protect them. Then two heroes arose…

8. The Silver Mask by Holly BlackExpected publication: October 10th 2017 by Scholastic Press.

A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt.

9. Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. DaoExpected publication: October 10th 2017 by Philomel Books.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. 

10. The Book Of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip PullmanExpected publication: October 19th 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them, a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

blogpullmanbook
The Book Of Dust                                     by Philip Pullman

 

 

Books, Reading & Fairies…

I am one of those individuals who come up with lots of ideas and follow few of them through. I’m a ‘Scanner’, a dilettante, a jack-of-all-trades, but more on that another time.

A couple of ideas I came up with about 12 – 15 years ago were to do with sharing one’s own reading selection. I worked at a well-known book shop at the time and ran a Book Swap. So easy and free – everyone brings a book wrapped in paper, place it in a box, take another out. That’s it, but you often get something you may never have thought of purchasing, you may get exposed to a genre that previously you had avoided. The other idea never came to anything – it was to do with leaving books in public spaces; one’s own publications or some other author you really had enjoyed.

So thank goodness for Goodreads and Book Fairies!

for blog-book-book-fairy
A ‘real’ book fairy!

 

I have been a member of Goodreads for some time now, admittedly I do not share or rate or converse with others as often as I might, but yesterday this information dropped into my mailbox –

Hide a Book Day with Goodreads

When I read it, I thought, well finally someone’s doing it, because I sure as hell am too lazy!!!

The basic gist is this, You leave out one of your own books or share a favourite book from another author. It’s a way of sharing literature, and what can be better than that.
There are a couple of things you need to take part; two stickers for each book, you can get them from The Book Fairies.
Next; you hide the book in a semi-obvious spot for someone to find. But as Goodreads states, watch the weather forecast as you don’t want your book to get soggy.
Then; take a picture and share it with your fellow Goodreads members and Book Fairies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #goodreadsturns10 #hideabookday, #ibelieveinbookfairies.

for blog book fairies
‘Hiding’ a book in a rickshaw in Mumbai

I love this idea (not only because I thought of it , privately, yonks ago!), it incorporates two positive aspects of human behaviour – reading and sharing.
I know I will be keeping a lookout, though I cannot imagine anyone in my town will get involved.
I do have one quibble with the ‘event’. It is happening on a Monday, working people such as myself will possibly not have time to hide or look for books. I would have preferred it to be run on a weekend, but that’s just me.

Which book will you hide for other readers to find on September 18?

Read more at Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1012-goodreads-believes-in-book-fairies-and-you-can-too

You can find the Book Fairies at:

http://ibelieveinbookfairies.com/checkout/order-received/27117/?key=wc_order_59b26576c83d8&utm_nooverride=

See also:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/book-fairies-are-leaving-novels-all-over-mumbai-have-you-found-one-yet/story-OudJCoeu7WtRAZlmag770O.html

for blog pressed faery brian-froud-fairytale-art
Pressed Faerie by Brian Froud

 

Writing is…Hard

Writing is….Hard

Well, writing per se is not hard. However, writing well is!

It is quite easy to put pen to paper, finger tips to keys, or quill to parchment; whatever takes your fancy, I do it all the time. It does not make what I write worthy of reading, or even particularly good.

As an adult who is fairly new to the world of writing, I realise how very little I was taught at school, and probably because teachers work to a curriculum which itself is about passing exams. I am not alone in this lack of education regarding how to write. I was not, for example, taught the difference between an essay and a story, an assignment, a dissertation, or a thesis. I have had to pick these up in the later years of my life – a huge indictment on the English Education system.

Writing is not hard because I am dull-witted; I am not.

Writing is a creative activity, it demands a skill with words that, sadly, many so-called authors do not have. Word-smiths work hard at compiling and re-arranging 26 letters (in English) into a plethora of ideas, and use the same 26 letters over again for completely different themes.

Writing well is demanding.
It requires practise. It requires persistence. It requires commitment. It requires creativity. It requires honesty. Anyone can produce word vomit – it’s recognising the good bits that makes the difference.

Recently, I have been asking myself – who cares? Or, So what?

Who cares if you wrote a tragedy about a lovelorn grass snake? So what if you ‘have a story inside’, do you really have to share it? What make you think anyone wants to read it? I have been guilty of producing some trite nonsense, I need to stop. And so do a lot of people.

Self criticism seems to be sorely lacking in many individuals. I blame the school system; everyone can be creative, everyone is a winner – no they can’t and no they are not. This lack of competition has created a society with a watery attitude to the arts; vapid outpourings of equally vapid individuals.

And this criticism is not only levelled at ‘young up and coming’ authors – there are many brilliant new writers – no, I have read some tosh from long established writers who seem to pump out vast quantities of barely edited text, in the infuriating belief that more is better. It is not.

Many authors have only ever produced one or two novels – would that the others had!!!!

Writing is hard for blog snoopy
Writing is hard for Snoopy…

Interview with Joshua Grant – Diabolic Shrimp

Good morning readers,

If you’ve ever wondered what a ‘diabolic shrimp’ is, you’ve come to the right place! Imagine a James Bondy villain type living in his underwater lair, directing sea creatures with his super-duper-gonna-take-over-the-world-tech; Joshua Grant is the self-proclaimed leader of shrimp – I’m kidding, really (or am I?)

Seriously though, American author Josh has created his website under the name Diabolic Shrimp and with pretty altruistic reasons. He not only wanted to create a platform for writers to support one another, but he is giving 10% of his takings from his latest book to charity; one of which is oceanic research. Not such a diabolic chap at all. I invited Josh to share something of his life and his website with you.

                    Josh’s iconic shrimp brigade

1. Tell us something about yourself Josh.

I am a caring, compassionate guy with a moderate imagination and a mild case of misadventure.  I have a huge passion for science (particularly space exploration) and for making a difference in the lives of kids.  My favorite color [sic] is blue, I absolutely hate peanut butter (not allergic, just hate it), and I hope I live to see the day we colonize Mars.

2. Do you ever find yourself ‘flailing through life’?

My walk through life has been a pretty turbulent one (hence the ‘mild case of misadventure’).  I’ve suffered some major traumas in life, truly the worst things that anyone should have to go through, but God brought me through it and has allowed me to land on my feet a wiser and better person.  I’ve also experienced some crazy things in life like surviving a major flash flood, encountering several bears, facing off with a mountain lion while ghost hunting, and weathering a vicious storm while sailing the ocean.  So…maybe flailing? 

3. What is Diabolic Shrimp and what are its origins?

Diabolic Shrimp is my author website that’s also designed to support other authors.  I personally buy a book each week from the list of authors signed on to Shrimp.  I then go on to review that book.  I also buy a book each month to give away to readers for free.

I didn’t originally intend Shrimp to be an author support site.  Shortly after I published, I realized how difficult it could be for authors to connect with readers, and just how many sites and venues out there took advantage of authors without providing much benefit.  It was here that I saw a chance to make a difference for a group of people that needed it.  I decided to step forward and create a free space that authors could come to for concrete support.  It wasn’t very successful at first (I had 6 members for about half a year) but a belief in helping others and a bit of persistence has allowed us to grow to nearly a thousand members in the past four months.  It has honestly been a wonderful experience that has allowed me to meet tons of interesting people and create a truly caring community.

4. Shrimp – why shrimp?!

Haha!  It’s kind of an awkward story actually.  My site wasn’t originally called Diabolic Shrimp.  It had another name for about six hours.  I chose that other zany name on a whim.  It was only later when I was out with my friends that they told me it sounded kind of dirty.  I was moderately mortified, ‘cause I could totally see what they were talking about!  I then quickly changed it to Diabolic Shrimp.

It’s actually my little joke.  The Diabolic stands for my diabolic plan to eventually get every single author on there and take over the world.  The Shrimp is because individually we authors are the little guys, but when we band together we make a pretty impressive swarm.  That, and shrimp are fun little creatures.

5. Would you describe yourself as an environmentalist? And do you believe that people like yourself can make a change for the positive in the world?

I’d say I’m an environmentalist to a degree.  I believe all people have a responsibility to leave the world better than when they came into it.  That applies to everything, environmentally, relationally, or otherwise.  I know for certain I can make a positive difference in the world and will continually encourage others to do so.

6. Your latest publication, Pandora, is about a space leisure cruise ship that picks up the apparent survivor of an accident. Would it be right to describe it as sci-fi horror?

I sort of had a hard time classifying Pandora.  I wanted to have a new take on the classic ‘ghost ship’ trope, but also capture all the actiony thrill of the 90s horror films I used to watch as a kid, and then couple all that with a deep moral heart.  So it’s really more of a Sci-Fi Thriller packed with strange creatures similar to films like Aliens or The Thing, with an emotional twist.

32587144
Pandora by Joshua Grant

7. Are there any authors that influence your writing, who are they and why?

Several authors have made a big impact on me over the years.  I always have to give a shout out to JRR Tolkien.  The Fellowship of the Ring film came out when I was a freshman in high school and I became a huge Lord of the Rings fan.  I read all the books (yes, even some of the Middle Earth histories), and that’s what really sparked my writing career.  Then Lois Lowry’s works like The Giver and Number the Stars really taught me the power that books have to inspire emotions.

I came upon the Horror genre only a few years ago.  S.D. Perry really blew me away with her fast paced, heart pounding novels.   I then got onto the Dean Koontz train.  Ultimately, I strive to make my writing a blend of these two masters.

8. What genre do you enjoy reading? And do you have a favourite book?

Oddly enough, Young Adult Fantasy is pretty much my favorite thing in the world to read.  Basically anything Rick Riordan writes works for me (shout out to The Lightning Thief).

The_Lightning_Thief-1
The watery theme continues…

9. You’re a teacher I believe, what subject do you teach and do you ever bring your experience into the classroom or vice-versa?

I used to be an elementary teacher, so I taught all subjects.  These days I just guest teach in both elementary and middle school.  I also work with middle and high schoolers at church (more on the emotional side of things).  I truly love getting to share my experience with the kiddos.  It was always a goal of mine to use my writing to inspire the younger generation.  I actually struggled with writing growing up so it’s empowering to show kids who also struggle that they can make it.  The only downfall is that parents keep showing up and saying ‘hey, I bought your book for my kid!’  I’m always a little mortified when I have to explain that it’s more for adults and watch them give me weird looks!  I guess it’s more motivation to finish Silly Tales from Albanon!                                                    (AP: You have said it, and now it is public Josh, it’s got to be done!)

10. When working on a book, do you have a special place you like to write, i:e: a garden shed, a room with a view, an underwater lair?!!

Ooo, an underwater lair would be awesome!  Oddly enough, my brain only likes to write at the kitchen table.  I can’t seem to write anywhere else.  Maybe I’m just hungry for more stories?  (I know, cringe)                                                           (AP: well there goes my image of a watery lair with the high-tech-gadgety-thing going on!!)

11. Who or what has been your biggest influence to date?

I’ve had a few major influences in my life.  My parents are the hardest working, kindest people I know.  I dedicated my book to them for their endless care and selflessness.  The kids I work with always inspire me to be a better, more creative person.  God is a huge influence in making me the functional, altruistic person I am today.  And on the business front, Elon Musk is a major role model.  He likes to help others and is constantly pushing the envelope.

12. If you could tell your 11 year old self anything, what would you say?

I would probably tell myself some lottery numbers. J  But aside from that, I’d tell my 11 year old self that he’s a worthwhile, good person with a heart that has more love and endurance in it than even he knows.

13. And finally – if you could be any sea creature, what would you be and why?!

I would be a…drumroll…actually, not a shrimp.  They get eaten by literally everything!  I’d either be an otter or a squid.  Otters are super cute and squid are some of the coolest animals ever.  Hmmm, maybe I should have called it Diabolic Otter…

otter-zoo
Sea otters take over the world?!

Thanks for the interview Josh, and good luck with your secret-domination-world-takeover, ahem, with your writers site.

You can find Josh at:

https://diabolicshrimp.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6179696.Joshua_Grant