Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Book review: Infringement by Benjamin Westbrook


Infringement by Benjamin Westbrook follows Declan, a special agent who finds himself in the midst of corruption and a divine plan designed at the foundation of the universe.

This isn't the first time I've read a novel depicting the end times, or the beginning of the end as this seems to be. What was different (for me at least, although I'm sure other novels have this as well) was that it played off the fears of most Americans now. The fear of "big brother" and how that will lead into the end times. How the government is corrupt and bringing in the Antichrist. It felt more like reading a conspiracy theory than a novel giving its take on the end times. I admit that I likely am not the right audience for this plot, but I'm nervous that there is an audience who actually believes that the ends times begins this way. "Oh no, our debit and credit cards have a chip! It's the mark of the beast!" I've literally heard that multiple times at my church. They refuse to use those cards.

The novel also felt quite dragged out. It could have been condensed quite a bit, especially as this is the beginning of a series. I'm hoping that all of the extra scenes and back stories will be important, but unfortunately reading this novel didn't compel me to complete the series.

The characters were okay. I found the relationship between Declan and Megan forced and rushed. I get that they had a history just before the book began, but it seemed too forced, as though the author needed a romantic thread and threw that together. I did like the way Declan came to Christ, however. I felt that it was very relatable, and is usually the story of most people: grew up being taught about God, something bad happens so they fall away, but then are re-introduced to Scripture and make their way back to Him. It's not a bad story at all, while predictable it's comfortable and as I said, many people have gone through that or are in some stage of it.

Overall, the novel plays into current events which can make it relatable to most readers. Even the God aspects of it weren't pushy and I think even non-Christians may enjoy it. But if they read it I'm afraid they'll think, from Evan and his mom's example, that all Christians subscribe to conspiracy theories. It's a hard thing to do, walking that line of prophecy and conspiracy, but I have to commend Westbrook on his attempt.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Author Interview - Andrew Joyce

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Andrew Joyce, and I live on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my dog, Danny. I left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico for a number of years. I’ve written four books, including my latest, Resolution, and a collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of my hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups (as yet unpublished).

What do you do when you're not writing?

I read books. Steinbeck, London, Baldacci, and Child are among my favorite authors.

When did your first start writing?

One morning, about six years ago, I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

I was not inspired to write Resolution . . . I was cajoled into writing it.

This is the backstory to Resolution:

My first book was a 164,000-word historical novel. And in the publishing world, anything over 80,000 words for a first-time author is heresy. Or so I was told time and time again when I approached an agent for representation. After two years of research and writing, and a year of trying to secure the services of an agent, I got angry. To be told that my efforts were meaningless was somewhat demoralizing to say the least. I mean, those rejections were coming from people who had never even read my book.

So you want an 80,000-word novel?” I said to no one in particular, unless you count my dog, because he was the only one around at the time. Consequently, I decided to show them City Slickers that I could write an 80,000-word novel!

I had just finished reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for the third time, and I started thinking about what ever happened to those boys, Tom and Huck. They must have grown up, but then what? So I sat down at my computer and banged out REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in two months, then sent out query letters to agents.

Less than a month later, the chairman of one of the biggest agencies in New York City emailed me that he loved the story. We signed a contract and it was off to the races, or so I thought. But then the real fun began: the serious editing. Seven months later, I gave birth to Huck and Tom as adults in the Old West. And just for the record, the final word count is 79,914. The book went on to reach #1 status in its category on Amazon—twice. And it won the Editors’ Choice Award for best Western of 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.

But not quite.

My agent then wanted me to write a sequel, but I had other plans. I was in the middle of editing down my first novel (that had been rejected by 1,876,324 agents . . . or so it seemed) from 164,000 words to the present 142,000. However, he was insistent about a sequel, so I started to think about it. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I tied up all the loose ends at the end of REDEMPTION, so there was no way that I could write a sequel. And that is when Molly asked me to tell her story. Molly was a minor character that we met briefly in the first chapter of REDEMPTION, and then she is not heard from again.

So I started to think about what ever happened to her. After a bit of time—and 100,000 words—we find out what did happen to Molly. It is an adventure tale where Huck Finn weaves through the periphery of a story driven by a feisty female lead. Molly Lee was my second book, which achieved #2 status on Amazon.

Now I was finished with Huck Finn for good. Now I could go back to my first novel and resume the editing process.

But not quite.

It was then that Huck and Molly ganged up on me and demanded that I resolve their lives once and for all. It seems that I had left them hanging—so to speak. Hence, RESOLUTION: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure.

The three books are standalones and are not part of a series. They can be read in any order. RESOLUTION is available as an eBook and in print.

There you have it. Perhaps now Huck and Molly will leave me alone long enough so that I can get some editing done on my first novel.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

That is a very good question. It’s also a hard question to answer, but I reckon the passage below should suffice as one of my favorites. As to why, I would have to say because it defines what I was trying to convey in the novel—the struggle of my protagonist with nefarious men, nature, and wild animals to name just a few of his adversaries.
• • • • •
The alpha wonders why the two-legs have now bunched together. No matter, they will watch, they will be ready, and when the time is right, they will feed on the meat from their bones.

It is time to move closer to the two-legs, though it is not yet time for the attack. They must be cautious. He remembers—from long ago—the sticks the two-legs use to kill. His mother was killed by one. The sticks bark loudly and blood spouts from a wolf-brother or a wolf-sister, then they are no more. He will keep his family safe. They will not strike until the two-legs are struggling in the snow or separated from one another, making themselves easy for the kill.

No matter the wolves’ hunger, they will wait . . . it is their way.

The two-legs have their ways and the wolves have theirs. Before very long, they will tear at the flesh of the two-legs; their warm blood will drip from the wolves’ jaws—before very long, their hunger will have fled their wolf-bodies and they will lie in the snow with full bellies.
• • • • •
Huck went back to the fire, bringing Bright with him, and sat down on his heels. With one hand, he held onto his Winchester, the stock resting in the snow, the barrel pointing to the sky. With the other, he held onto Bright’s collar. He did not want the dog to start anything that he could not finish. He did not say anything. He was thinking. Jass stopped stirring the mush and Molly looked up from what she was doing. They looked at each other, then back at Huck.

Molly asked, “Did you change your mind about hunting?”

Slowly, Huck came out of his reverie and looked at Molly and then at Jass. Turning back to Molly, he said, “Get John fed and get ready to move out.” To Jass, he said, “Hurry up with that mush. We gotta be going.”

“What’s the matter, Huck?” asked Jass.

“We have company. There are four or five wolves up there, back on the rise, that seem to have an extraordinary interest in us. Don’t worry, we’ll be all right. We just have to keep moving, but from now on, we stay together. If they don’t follow us, we’ll be fine.”

Both Molly and Jass looked up to the rise and saw nothing. “I don’t see any wolves,” said Molly.

“Me either,” interjected Jass.

Huck hurriedly stood up and turned to where they were looking. They were right, the wolves were gone. He was about to sigh in relief when Bright growled again and he saw a dark speck moving in the snow, then another, and another. The wolves had come down off the rise and were coming their way.

“Feed John,” ordered Huck. “It may be a while before we can stop again.” He did not have to explain. Molly and Jass had also seen the wolves.
• • • • •
They move to within a hundred yards of the two-legs and spread out in a half circle. If they had been a larger family, they would have completely surrounded their prey. Now is the time to observe their weaknesses and look for opportunities to mount an attack.

The pup knows his place, but being young, he wants to show off some. He’s behind the adults, running back and forth, when all of a sudden he darts past the line the adults have set. He’ll show them what a great hunter he is. As he runs past one of the females, she turns and nips him on his right haunch. He yelps, and with a painful whine, runs back to where he should have been. It was his mother who had put an end to his foolishness. The alpha male observes the interplay between mother and pup and remembers back to when he was a pup and his mother had kept him in line in a similar manner. But that was before she was killed by the two-legs.

What is best writing advice you can give?

Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. When one reads stuff like the passage below, one cannot help but become a better writer.
"The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide.”—John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about the book?

I would like to say that I wrote Resolution in one sitting and everything in it is my pure genius. But that would be a lie. I have an editor that puts order to my chaos.

One last thing: Everything in Resolution is historically correct. I spend as much time on research as I do writing—sometimes more.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Just this: Thank you for having me over. It’s been a real pleasure.

You can find Andrew Joyces' Latest novel, "Resolution; Huck Finn's Greatest Adventure." here:

and his website: