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A pick 'n' mix genre author. "I'm not greedy. I just like variety."

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

BTS Tours: S. Evan Townsend

Title:  Book of Death
Author: S. Evan Townsend
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Length: 266 pages
Sub-Genres: Vampires, Paranormal Entities

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They live among us. We know they are there. No government can control them; no authority can stop them. Some are evil. Some are good. All are powerful. They inhabit our myths and fairy tales. But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers? What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit? And what if some of them discovered a power that other adepts could not match.

During the turbulent 1960s, when American adept Peter Branton agrees to go to Transylvania for the CIA, he suspects it's not about ball bearings as he was told. What he finds is a plot that could kill millions of people and plunge the world into eternal tyranny and bloodshed. Branton doesn't know it, but he's about to face the adept guilds' worst nightmare: practicing necromancers with a taste for human blood.

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I'd never seen this type of meta before. At least I assumed that's what it was, as the wooden man inexorably walked toward me with a creak of moving wood, like tree branches in a heavy wind. It was raising its arms for another blow so I stepped back and shot an airbolt at it. I heard wood crack, but that didn't stop it. It swung again and its wooden fist pounded into my face, knocking me down and back on the sidewalk. Somewhere I heard screams and yells. A guy sitting on the sidewalk, his back to a storefront, muttered, "Wow, bad trip, man."

The Indian was bending over, its face expressionless except for the painted-on peace sign as it seemed to prepare for another attack. I shot fire at it, assuming old dry wood would ignite easily, and it did: the hippie dress went up in flames, and now the monster was a burning mass, still attacking me. It smacked me again with a flaming arm and I suffered from both the impact and the burns. Nearly screaming, I scrambled away on hands and knees. I don't think I'd ever been that scared. Still it came, oblivious to the fact it was on fire.

A motorcycle cop I hadn't noticed jumped off his bike, pulled his service revolver, and shot it into the Indian with six cracks of bullets being fired. It had no effect other than sending burning splinters of wood flying. The cop suddenly looked frightened, and was gripping his billy club but taking no further action.

People were screaming loudly now. I looked around, looking for an escape. If I could teleport away I might escape, but I could see no clear place to teleport to. Briefly I wondered what happened to Ernestine and if she were safe. I didn't sense the presence of another adept, but I didn't really have the ability to be quiet enough to do so. I just hoped she was okay.

The burning Indian smacked me again, hard, in the chest and I felt as if my feet left the ground as I was knocked into a car's side. I heard and felt sheet metal crumple and knew I'd hit the car hard. My vision was going gray. But I realized my shirt was on fire and that kept me from passing out; if I passed out I was probably dead. I pulled water from the air to douse the fire, but this took time and the Indian was on me again, even though it was moving very slowly.

I wondered if I'd survive until the wooden Indian had been consumed by the flames. It hit me again, knocking me to the sidewalk. There was an unpleasant smell and I realized my hair was burning. I used my bare hand to pat out the flames. This gave the Indian time to hit me again, hard. It almost felt as if I flew through the air and was slapped painfully to the sidewalk, the Indian still lumbering toward me.

In desperation I shot another airbolt at it. It must have been on the verge of falling apart because that hit blew it into flaming pieces that scattered over the street and also hit me, burning my skin or singeing my clothes. But it was no longer attacking.

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3.5 Stars

Firstly, I would just like to say that as a writer I find it a little difficult to do reviews. I understand the time and effort that is put into a book; how hard it can be. I respect everyone who has been able to write a book, and want you to know that I understand how nerve-racking reading people’s opinions on your work can be.

"The Book of Death" isn't really the type of story I would usually be interested in reading, and I believe there are two other stories in the series before this book, both of which I haven’t read. So I kinda dived into the world with this book, but I have to say that the concept is interesting in the sense that it is a different twist on the Dracula legend and well, vampires in general. 

It's descriptive and well written, but I did find myself a little confused for the first couple of chapters, but once the action kicked in and I realized how the vampire side linked in everything became a lot clearer.

The story is plot heavy with a sprinkle of light romance on the side, and the characters were interesting, but I didn’t feel any particular connection to them. I believe that is mainly because I don’t really read books that lean toward mysteries/police/government/politics and anything else that falls under those issues.

In saying that, if you are a person who likes such stories, or likes paranormal with a different twist – and I did enjoy the twist and the fact the story was set in the 60’s - then you may want to consider reading “The Book of Death” and the stories that come before it.

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Interviewing S.Evan Towsend!

EM: Welcome to My World. It is lovely to have you here today :-)

ST: It's great to be here!

Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure.  I'm a writer of novels and also do freelance writing living in a small town in Central Washington State.  After four yours in the Army as a Military Intelligence specialist, I returned to college to get a Bachelor of Forest Resources degree from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!).  After a successful but stressful 20-year career in business, I decided to pursue my first love and that was writing.  When I'm not writing I enjoy reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends.  I am in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction.  I live with my wife and have three grown sons in various stages of their own lives.

1. How long have you been writing for?

I started writing when I taught myself to type on a typewriter.  I was about twelve at the time so that's been 40 years off and on (the 60-hour-per-week day job made it tough sometimes).  I've been writing exclusively since I "changed careers" in January 2011. 

2. Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?

Pretty much.  I remember as a kid I dabbled with being a fireman or a policeman or an astronaut. But I always came back to writing.  I remember buying an Apple IIc computer in the mid-1980s because it had a wondrous new program available called a "Word Processor" (albeit without spell check).

3. What is your favourite genre to read? To write? And why?

I have a thing for old science fiction.  The bigger-than-life men, the (for the time they were written) strong, independent women, the hairy green monsters from Venus (or Alpha Centauri).  It's also interesting to see how the authors envisioned the future we are now living in (and how little they got right and what they did actually foresee).

My favourite genre to write, judging from what I have written recently (last 10 years or so) appears to be urban fantasy.  I love writing my Adept Series because they are fantasies set in the past and I try to make them historically accurate along with fantasy elements.  But before I discovered this playground I used to write exclusively science fiction. 

4. Who is your favourite author? Fave book? And why?

My favourite author is Robert Heinlein (see above about old science fiction).  Not only could he tell a tale that kept you on the edge of your seat, but he must have been a frustrated teacher because he loves to teach his reader something about the state of humanity.  (In Starship Troopers he gives up all pretence, develops a teacher character, and has him lecture for two chapters.)  My favourite book is a harder decision as there are so many great books out there.  I think about Tolkien's The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.  Or there's Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein.  Or A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows by Poul Anderson.

5. How do you get your ideas?

All sorts of places: the news, other books, T.V., movies (I don't steal but I have been known to say "they should have explored this aspect of that idea").  And sometimes ideas just come to me.  I recently had an idea for a fourth book in the Adept Series (which Book of Death is the third book),  I specifically remember it was something I read on Facebook that gave me the idea, but I don't remember what.

6. In your opinion what is the hardest part of the writing process?

Coming up with the original idea.  And an original idea.  I remember one time I had this great idea for a fantasy novel.  I was starting to flesh out the plot, come up with some characters, when I realized it was basically Shakespeare's The Tempest set in modern times (I could set it in the future but then that'd be too much like Forbidden Planet.  Maybe that's why series are so popular for writers.  You don't have to come up with a whole new world again but can explore the world you've already created.

7. In your opinion what is the best part of the writing process?

Writing action scenes is my favourite part of writing.  When the words just flow out and you have to smile because what you are writing is fun, good, and readable.  Then you go back and re-read it and realize all the typos you made and details you left out.  But while you're writing it, it is just so much fun.

8. Are you a planner or a panster?

Sorta both.  I liken it to a road trip.  I know where I am, I knew a few stops along the way, and I know where I want to end up (usually). But on the way I may take detours, something else might seem more interesting, and I could even end up in a different destination than I'd planned, but usually a wonderful and amazing place I never knew was there.

9. Do you prefer to concentrate on one story, or juggle a few?

I can only write one story at a time.  And I put everything I have into that story.  I might have an idea or two rattling around my head, but I won't start typing on them until my current WIP is finished.

10. Tell us about one of the most favourable scene you have written.

In Hammer of Thor (book one of the Adept Series) there's a scene around the middle of the book.  The bad guy ends up being a woman, and she takes off into fog-enshrouded San Francisco on the back of a rukhkh (a very big black bird).  My hero, Francis Kader, jumps on a ripped up piece of carpet and chases her (flying carpet).  The first thing I had to do was the research.  I set the fog level at 450 feet above the ground.  So what buildings/structures would stick out of the fog?  There was a website that listed skyscrapers in major cities (it has since gone behind a pay firewall).  I went through every skyscraper in their San Francisco database (a lot of mouse clicking) to see if a) it was around in 1943 and b) how tall it was.  Unfortunately, the website only listed heights from ground level.  But Microsoft had a website with geographical maps with elevations contours and I would use the skyscraper's street address to find its location on that map and then estimate the ground elevation.  Add those together and I got its height over sea level.  Then I could determine if they would stick out of the fog or not or how low below the fog they were.  I did this for twelve buildings and structures (may not sound like a lot but there were fewer skyscrapers in 1943 and it was a lot of work).  That allowed me to get the scene correct.  Then I got to write about a dog fight between two wizards over the streets of San Francisco popping in and out of the fog and zooming around buildings.  I think it's perhaps the best thing I've ever written from both a research point of view and a fun-to-read point of view. 

11. Out of all the characters you have created, who is your favourite and why?

My favourite male character is Michael Vaughan, the reluctant hero of Agent of Artifice (book two in the Adept Series).  He's pretty much a cad, gambling (cheating) to make money to be able to afford his womanizing lifestyle in pre-revolution Havana, Cuba.  But then he is forced by circumstances to become the hero he never intended to be.  My favourite female character is Charlene "Charlie" Jones of my science fiction novel Rock Killer.  I have to admit to being just a bit in love with her.  I throw all sorts of horrible stuff at her and she comes out stronger, better, and more resilient. 

12. If you could meet any fictional character, who would you meet and why?

Admiral Sir Dominic Flandry of the Terran Empire Intelligence Services.  Who?  He's a character Poul Anderson wrote many books and short stories about (which I finally managed to find and read them all). Flandry, first of all, knows how to party.  But he also knows how to bring down a crime lord or stop a Mersian plot to take over a section of the Terran Empire.  He would be a blast to explore the flesh pots of Venus with.

Are you working on anything at the moment? 

My current WIP is a secret that I'm probably going to have to publish under another name.

Do you have any current release? 

My novel, Book of Death, was released September 15, 2012.  It is the third book in the Adept Series following Hammer of Thor and Agent of Artifice


They live among us.  We know they are there.  No government can control them; no authority can stop them.  Some are evil.  Some are good.  All are powerful.  They inhabit our myths and fairy tales.  But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers?  What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit?  And what if some of them discovered a power that other adepts could not match.

During the turbulent 1960s, when American adept Peter Branton agrees to go to Transylvania for the CIA, he suspects it's not about ball bearings as he was told.  What he finds is a plot that could kill millions of people and plunge the world into eternal tyranny and bloodshed.   Branton doesn't know it, but he's about to face the adept guilds' worst nightmare: practicing necromancers with a taste for human blood.

Purchase link:

Any upcoming releases?

Not yet.

Where can readers find you on the internet?

Any advice you would like to give aspiring writers?

To write. And submit. And don't get discouraged. The publishing industry is going through an upheaval. it's questionable if traditional publishers will survive (those that don't adapt, won't). It's cheaper and easier to self-publish than ever before but getting noticed is the problem. But if you want to write, then write. If you want others to read what you wrote, put it out there, either with traditional publishers, small press publishers, or self-published.

EM: Thank you so much for joining me!

ST: Thanks for having me!

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S. Evan Townsend has been called 'America's Unique Speculative Fiction Voice.' Evan is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.

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