Friday, October 2, 2015

The Water Seer by HMC - A Stylish, Supernatural Thriller.

The Water SeerThe Water Seer by H.M.C.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

MOUSE is a seer. She’s had a vision of a little boy’s death, and it's someone she knows and loves. But how could a champion, junior nipper drown in a calm ocean when he swims better than most adults?

When a strange woman comes to town, her allure is undeniable, but something is off. Mouse’s visions are frequent and vivid, children she works with go missing, and the past, present, and future blur together. Her new enemy is a Bruja Del Agua – Water Witch, who not only drowns her victims, but tortures them for eternity.
With the help of her dead Aunt Catalina, her best friend, Trent, and a Wiccan called Anna, Mouse must use her power and wit to defeat the most powerful Bruja she’s ever seen.

The Water Seer is a vivid tale of witchcraft and the supernatural that blends effortlessly with a modern day, Australian narrative about a young woman who is juggling two very different roles in her life.

Author Hayley Clearihan's writing is visually stimulating and satisfyingly intense. Her grasp of the action and the supernatural were, at times, pulse pounding and I found myself quite anxious to see what was going to happen next. The most effective quality of her writing however was the earthy realism Clearihan brought to her narrative. It drew me in immediately and could see myself inhabiting the places and the situations that possessed a unmistakably Australian feel.

Her characters, led by the enigmatic "Seer" Mouse are dynamic and nuanced and Clearihan gives you time to get to know them well and the space to invest yourself in them without bogging the narrative down. Given that this book was quite compact, that was something that impressed me a lot. I found the mythical elements of the story particularly fascinating and I liked the way Hayley brought specific elements of witchcraft and mythology together to create something really original.

The Water Seer is an effective supernatural thriller and a stylish addition to Hayley Clearihan's body of work.

From her home on Queensland's Gold Coast, Hayley Clearihan (HMC) balances her career as an author with teaching while raising her two children with her "motorbike-loving Viking" partner. HMC recounts that she writes for the pure pleasure of being able to express herself and to think critically about issues that are passionate to her.

HMC says - "I blog about asylum seekers, gay rights, tattooed professionals, robot dancing, baby poo, and so on … you know, the juicy stuff. I’m sometimes serious, but mostly not."

Read my recent feature "Seeing Hayley" here.


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Monday, September 21, 2015

The Game Changer - The Recipient Set For International Distribution.

Okay, so I have some news from this end that I wanted to give you about The Recipient.

The news is bad and good.

The bad news is - A little while ago, I had a long and pretty comprehensive Skype chat with my publisher which ran for, I think, about 2 hours. 

The result of this call is that we've had to make the decision to hold off releasing The Recipient on our original October 25 date and push back the release date until early next year.

Now, the reason for this - which is the good news - is that my publisher has just signed a sales and distribution deal with Independent Publisher's Group (IPG) in Chicago.

IPG is a major sales and distribution corporation who handle titles exclusively for independent publishers the States, Canada, the UK and Australia. They have distribution channels with the major bricks and mortar book sellers internationally - as well as digital distributors - and they have a proven track record in sales and marketing. 

Along with several titles slated for release by Central Avenue Publishing, they are going to be marketing and selling The Recipient on our behalf.

In short - This. Is. Huge. 

Think of it like George Lucas signing with 20th Century Fox back in the 70's to sell and distribute Star Wars around the world - although, I don't expect to ever scale the heights of George Lucas. IPG have arrangements with all the major book chains, both bricks and mortar and digital, and they have contacts with all of the major review outlets. It means that we won't have to go it completely alone - as we have done to date - trying to attract reviewers or sales channels because IPG do it all and most of the time, before breakfast. 

Central Avenue and IPG haven't formally announced it yet so I've had to keep it on the down low until they release a joint statement. However, I am able to release this news to my email subscribers in advance.

I'm bummed that The Recipient won't see a release for a while yet and I am sorry. Things were progressing pretty quickly towards our original release date but, when this opportunity came up, both myself and my publisher agreed that we could not pass on it. It is, potentially, a huge step forward for me and Central Avenue Publishing. 

I'll be continuing to share news and updates via my exclusive subscribers portal "Journey To The Recipient". Please do sign up for these updates as I'll be announcing some exciting pre-release content and competitions as we move towards the new release date. 


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Unpacking The Aftermath - Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig.

Aftermath (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.

Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.

And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting… 

I approached Chuck Wendig's Aftermath, the first post Return Of The Jedi title in the new Star Wars canon, trying to suspend as much expectation as I could. I was never a huge Expanded Universe geek. I did read some of the titles therein. Some were good but a lot were terrible so, I was one of those who treated the news of the relegation of the former Expanded Universe to Legends status with relief.

There has been a lot riding on this novel as a result. I was aware of the early reviews coming out about it and I was a little trepidatious but I chose to ignore anything Aftermath related until I could actually sit down and read it for myself.

Nana Mayes bought me Aftermath for my birthday a couple weeks ago.

Having turned the final page over the weekend, I've gotta say, this is some of the best Star Wars fiction I have read in years. The story is unexpectedly original. It was suggested to me to go into the story with a keen eye on the machinations of the fractured Empire after their defeat at Endor and, that turned out to be one of the most fascinating threads in story. How the Imperial Remnant and their command structure try to regroup is explored with a keen eye on personality and those character traits that drive ambition and a lust for power in face of defeat and I really liked that. It was bold and Wendig pulls it off easily.

I was reminded of a 'what if' scenario I remember reading about a while back where the idea was posed -"what if the command structure of Adolf Hitler's Reich escaped Germany at the conclusion of WW2 and gathered in South America a'la Boys From Brazil to plan for a strike back?"

The absence of key Star Wars characters in Aftermath turns out to be not at all disappointing (although there are some exciting hints as to what the major players are upto via the Interludes that pepper the story). The focus for Aftermath is on a rebel pilot and freedom fighter Norra Wexley who returns to the planet Akiva in the hopes of reconciling with her estranged son Temmin.

This relationship and it's command over the narrative was one that I found powerful and involving. With the addition of a turncoat Imperial Officer and a dislocated Bounty Hunter, they become a ragtag team intent on repelling the Imperial Remnant from that planet. They are an attractive team, filled with nuance and contradiction and, for the first time in a long time, they are a cast worth investing in. I really came to like these protagonists.

Wendig's style is also something completely new for a Star Wars novel. It is told in the third person/present tense and what this does is it makes the story really immediate and easy to access visually. It achieves a cinematic quality, essential to Star Wars fiction, by dropping you right into the action in way that makes you feel you're embedded in it - like a documentary film maker. It works. It totally works and I look forward to seeing more of this style from Wendig in the two sequel novels that have been slated.

Possibly my most favorite aspect of Aftermath was the inclusion of a series of Interludes throughout the story. These Interludes break up the central story and provide a glimpse into events that are occurring all across the galaxy in the wake of the Alliance triumph at the Battle of Endor and they feature characters - both familiar and unfamiliar - who react to galactic events in interesting ways. Potentially, these could have been a distracting element but I found them informative and tantalizing. I saw these as clues, hinting at what is to come for the galaxy, The Alliance and The Imperial Remnant as we approach the cinematic release of The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: Aftermath is an important title in the Star Wars canon. It is also perhaps one of the most successful titles. Aside from its engaging story, its well rounded cast and satisfying settings, Aftermath is actually a thought provoking study in war and what happens at the conclusion of a major conflict. There are real world analogies throughout the book which one could readily look up and indeed, I spent a little time afterwards doing just that.

Chuck Wendig's Aftermath is a masterful piece of Star Wars fiction.


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