Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day– The inspiration behind Little Miss Evil

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Go Ahead Punk, Make My Day

The girl with the flamethrower you’re looking at? That’s Fiona Ng, the protagonist of our debut adventure/thriller LITTLE MISS EVIL, coming out in March 2015. She hurls fire, she hurls insults, and is generally someone you don’t want to mess with. She was also a TON of fun to write.

I have to admit. We love villains. Every time we watch a movie or TV shows, it’s always the villains that mesmerize us. Whenever we go back and re-watch our favorite movie, we constantly find ourselves fast-forwarding over the scenes where the hero is doing good-guy stuff to get back to the scenes where the villain is stealing the show.

The thing is, most heroes share the same traits: bravery, selflessness, and always standing up for what they believe in. But what makes a good villain is completely different from character to character. There’s no pattern. And that’s what makes them so interesting.

For example, Prince Zuko, from Avatar starts off as a single-minded assassin with an inexplicable hatred of Ang. But as you learn more about him, you realize he’s just a broken, battered kid trying to earn his Father’s love. And then you find yourself almost rooting for him, something you totally weren’t expecting.

And then there’s Elsa from Frozen. The cool (pun intended) thing about her is that she becomes the film’s villain unintentionally. She imprisons herself in an ice castle because she’s afraid of hurting anyone, so her intentions were good. But then in the process she nearly kills the entire town.

And finally, there’s our personal favorite villain—Joker from The Dark Knight. He’s so unpredictable that the entire time you’re watching him you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what he’ll do next.

Betcha weren’t expecting THESE three to show up in one place, INTERNET.

Betcha weren’t expecting THESE three to show up in one place, INTERNET.

In short, we just love a good villain.

But the other half of Fiona comes from us. They say write what you know, and a big part of our character comes from our upbringing. We’re both Asians who grew up in stereotypical Asian households. You know, the whole “Get straight A’s or get disowned thing.”

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Incidentally, we’re both engineers in real life. Yeah…

So we thought “how cool would it be to twist this Asian parent thing on its head?” What if the protagonist was Asian and already wants to be a doctor, but then the Dad wants them to be an evil super-villain instead?

From there, we created this girl who lives in a volcano, rides to school in a helicopter, and her Dad’s a cackling super-villain who wants her to take over the family business, so to speak, while she just desperately wants to be normal. This created a really wacky dynamic where the Dad is constantly trying to strap weapons onto her and she’s like “Dad! I have to go to school!!!”

But then when her Dad goes missing, she’s forced to take over her family’s evil empire, and she gets shoved into a world she’s been trying so hard to avoid. But what really shocks her is when she finds out that she’s terrifyingly good at it!

So that’s the story behind the creation of Fiona Ng, reluctant super-villain extraordinaire. Again, you can see her in LITTLE MISS EVIL, coming out in March 2015. She was so much fun to write, and we hope you love her as much as we do.

Just remember not to get on her bad side.

KBphoto(2)Bryce and Kristy are a tag-team writing duo with way too many voices in their heads. As engineers living in Toronto, they can’t be safely contained by mere cubicle walls, and therefore must spend every other waking moment writing to keep the crazy from leaking out at the office. When not writing or working, they spend their time parachuting into volcanoes and riding polar bears while tossing dynamite at rabid kangaroos. Yup, that’s right. Sometimes they can’t even believe how awesome their lives are.

You can pre-order Little Miss Evil from :Amazon, B&N, and any fine bookseller near you!

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Happy Book Birthday to The Book of Kindly Deaths, and read a free short story!

Happy Book Birthday to

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black

The Book of Kindly Deaths by Eldritch Black

The Book of Kindly Deaths!

This month’s release is The Book of Kindly Deaths,  by Eldritch Black.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THE MONSTERS IN A BOOK BECAME REAL?

When twelve-year-old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.

In defiance of her controlling mother, who has always forbidden her to read anything strange or imaginary, Eliza takes the book. As night sets in, Eliza reads one haunting story after another. And the further she journeys inside the book, the more the boundaries between our world and a shadowy land of monsters and forbidden places begin to blur.

When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare-book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him, she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather–and write an end to the nightmare she’s caught inside.

To read a new short story from The Book of Kindly Deaths,  click here.

Interested in purchasing The Book of Kindly Deaths? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM

Get to know the author by visiting his author page.

 

 

D.M. Cunningham, finding inspiration in a traffic jam

For writers, inspiration usually comes from a store in Los Angeles. You can buy it at a place called the Writer’s Store. They sell it in this nice tiny box…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, that’s not really where it comes from. But if you did believe me, I’ve got this car for sale that travels to the future and back. I’ll give you a good deal.

 

 

niles_final_tAll kidding aside. My first book, Niles Wormwart: Accidental Villain, came from everyday inspiration. It also happens to take place in the very city I live. Like several other millions of people in the city of angels I sit in traffic daily and poke along at the break-neck speed of 15mph (if I’m lucky). A lot of people do their makeup, eat their breakfast, and make phone calls. I have even seen a woman curl her hair and get dressed behind the wheel. Because I prefer to gets dressed before I leave the house, I use my time in the car to brainstorm.

But let’s back up a bit.

I was searching for a kid lit writer’s group to join. I needed that shot of inspiration and other like-minded folk to read and share material with. I eventually found them at an agent writer meet up at a local bookstore. We shared a laugh that the agent had no idea who Nikola Tesla was and why I was talking about him in my book for children. I was horrified that the agent didn’t know who Telsa was, but that’s how us nerdy types react when others don’t know all the cool things we do. All you nerds are shaking your heads right now because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

All that driving and thinking and meeting with a writer’s group spawned a story of a kid who was sent to a villain camp on accident. It started as a short chapter. Not a very good one, I might add. It had some funny moments, but that was it. How was I going to turn this chapter into a full book? Of course, many times in my life I have gravitated toward stories that everyone else in the Universe seems to be thinking about as well. The only comfort we have as writers is that we might have the same ideas – but none of us are going to tell that story the same way. The writer’s group challenged me, I kept working on the chapter and they kept giving me notes. Eventually I had to set out like Skywalker and face the challenge on my own. I could have written that chapter a million times over. You just have to know when to move on in your writing and that’s what I set out to do.

My love for 80s movies and comic books started to blend and ignite a larger kernel of story. I could actually hear Niles talking and see him doing things that I thought were funny. He wasn’t just a person but a personality. He had quirks that were coming to life each time I sat at the computer to write. I rarely outline (sometimes this is a huge detriment as I have learned in my writing career) and I let the story go. For me, I almost channel the story spirit and it just goes through my fingers. Yeah, okay, that sounds a bit corny. But that’s kinda how it works for me. I’m one of those writers that vomits out the first draft and then I go back and clean it up. Sometimes I go back and throw out gobs of writing. The whole point is to let inspiration awaken. Don’t put a governor on it, no brakes, hit the gas, downhill on roller skates… I think you get the point.

So there I was. Niles erupted.

Part Ferris Bueller,

part Bruce Wayne,

and part me. A half a dozen messy drafts later I had something. And the rest they say, is history… let’s save the road to publishing for another day.

Right now. I’m still sitting in traffic. Niles is just months away from his book birthday and I’m wondering if he will find his way into the world.

Will he be able to pull in some of those reluctant readers?

Will he inspire?

I hope so.

Pre-order the book on Amazon, B&N, BAM or any local retailer near you!

D.M. Cunningham is a film and television writer, director and producer who has worked with several of Hollywood’s top production companies such as Disney, MTV, NBC, History Channel, Cartoon Network, and Lionsgate. His short stories can be found in STORIES FOR CHILDREN, UNDERNEATH THE JUNIPER TREE, AND CROW TOES QUARTERLY. He is a writer and columnist for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine where he interviews the top talent in the horror and science fiction industries.

D.M. Cunningham’s Spencer Hill Middle Grade Books: Niles Wormwort, Accidental Villain

Visit The author online : Website,Facebook, Instagram, follow on Twitter: @LiteraryAsylum

 

 

Author Ray Ballantyne spotlighted in the Statesman Journal

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Ray doing what he does best, telling stories.

The Last Child of Hamelin by Ray Ballantyne

The Last Child of Hamelin by Ray Ballantyne

 

Our author, Ray Ballantyne, recently launched his book The Last Child of Hamelin to a fabulous crowd at A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village. Not only did he read a chapter from his newly published book, but he also told a story that inspired him to write it. You can hear him tell this story and read about Ray’s journey to publication online.

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Ray signs a book for a local fan.

 

 

 

 

 

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The woman in the green shirt was a school secretary at Campus Elementary in Monmouth, a school my Ray taught at 40 years ago. The reason she remembered him was that he was so kind and appreciative of the office staff. She recognized his picture in The Statesman article last week and wanted to be there!

 

 

Congratulations to Darby Karchut!

Gideon'sSPearfinalcoverflat (2)Congratulations to our author Darby Karchut!

Her novel, Gideon’s Spear, sequel to Finn Finnegan, just took home a 2014 International Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Award  in the Children-Preteen category. We are so proud of you!

To check out Darby’s story behind the story of Finn and his adventures click here.

And don’t forget to check out the third book in the series, The Hound at the Gate.houndatthegate-web

 

The Story behind the Story: Our author Darby Karchut and the inspiration behind the Adventures of Finn MacCullen

Authors are thieves. We pinch ideas from whatever source we can, and certainly, without remorse. Except we call it inspiration. Influenced by. A variation on a theme. Sure. Okay. I’ll go with that. For, in truth, there really is nothing new under the sun. (I totally pilfered that.)

 

While it is quite obvious that the Adventures of Finn MacCullen series is based on Celtic mythology, some readers may also notice how much of the hero’s journey is reflected in the books as well. Like so many writers, especially writers of fantasy, I have been influenced by Joseph Campbell’s pivotal work, The Hero’s Journey. It was the part where the hero meets up with his mentor, and who travels alongside, teaching and instructing his young protégé, that has always fired my imagination. Obi-Wan Kenobi and young Luke Skywalker; Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter; Ranger Halt and Will; Gandalf and just about everyone in the Fellowship are all great examples.

 

 

I decided in my Adventures of Finn MacCullen series to focus on young Finn’s apprenticeship under the tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. You see, I have often thought that this was such an important phase in the hero’s journey; the relationship that will shape so much of the protagonist’s personality. Which was a blast to write, as I could explore not only Finn’s coming-of-age, but also the developing “father/son” relationship between the two.

 

Taking the basic concept of the hero’s journey, I overlaid some of the characters and stories from Celtic mythology, a culture I have long been fascinated with. That fascination was fueled by a trip to Ireland in 2011. What follows is a brief listing that I have included in the Author’s Notes in the back of each book:

 

Finnegan MacCullen: My protagonist is based loosely on the Irish legend of Finn McCool or Fionn mac Cumhail. This story cycle, called The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn mac Cumhail, follows the adventures of Finn as he grows from boy to legendary warrior.

 

Lir: The warrior-father from The Children of Lir story cycle. All I really took from that cycle was the name Lir. However, Gideon’s name is a nod to the legendary Welsh figure Gwydion. That character was a warrior, but also a bit of a trickster. I took that trait and gave Gideon a sarcastic bent.

 

Mac Roth: A friend and strong right arm to one of the early kings of Ireland. A fitting name for Gideon’s old friend and avuncular figure to Finn.

 

Scáthach: A formidable warrior and instructor of the young heroes. She trained many a famous figure from Celtic mythology, including the legendary warrior, Cúchulainne. “Cu-Chulainne,” by the way, means “The Hound of Culain.” He is often referred to as the Achilles of Celtic mythology.

 

Rath: A fortified ringfort. Ruins of raths can still be found scattered throughout Ireland. And, yes, is another word for Ruler or King.

 

warp spasm: This, too is a part of Celtic lore. This battle frenzy gave warriors extra strength and speed and helped them ignore injuries until after the conflict.

 

torc: A neck ring made from strands of metal twisted together. Most are open-ended at the front and were worn as a sign of nobility and high social status. Many examples of these have been found in European Bronze Age graves and burial sites.

 

deadnettle: A plant used as a curative tea amongst various peoples in northern Europe and the British isles.

 

Amandán: Mythical Irish and Scottish figures which are said to reside in fairy mounds. They are feared because it is believed their touch (called the fairy stroke or poc sidhe) is said to cause paralysis or death.

 

The Song of the Tuatha De Danaan: The words that open all the books, and that are recited throughout, are a portion of the famous early Irish “Song of Amergin.” This translation is from the article “Echoes of Antiquity in the Early Irish ‘Song of Amergin’” by Lloyd D. Graham, 2010.

Learn more about Darby by visiting her author page.