For the book lover, every season is a series of monthly celebrations. Christmas doesn’t stop on December 25th and ringing in the new year isn’t just about making resolutions to improve ourselves. Any moderately book-obsessed-word-owl will tell you that the world revolves around new releases and tbr piles. We live and breathe for the novels that have captured our hearts — and whatever book might come along next to woo us. Let me just say, with the covers I’ve seen so far, they are not playing games; these new releases are gorgeous and fierce and demand to be noticed.
Genres: Poetry, Australian & Oceanian, Subjects & Themes, Love & Erotica
by Michael Faudet
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on November 20, 2018
Winter of Summers is the fourth book of internationally bestselling poet Michael Faudet, author of Smoke & Mirrors, Bitter Sweet Love, and Dirty Pretty Things--a finalist in the Goodreads Readers Choice awards. His whimsical and sometimes erotic writing has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of people from around the world.
Michael Faudet's latest book explores the fine line between love and loss, the fragility of relationships, self-empowerment, and social commentary. Every page taking the reader to a world of conflicting emotions, where nothing is what it seems and beautiful dreams come to life. All exquisitely captured in a thought-provoking collection of poetry, prose, and short stories.
In case you missed the memo, I’ll restate this for the record: I FREAKING LOVE POETRY. Pretty much every poetry collection that comes out of Andrew McMeel makes it to me, whether by way of the library, Amazon, or gifts, but despite the abundance of poets the publisher cranks out, I pretty much clear my schedule for only two: Lang Leav and Michael Faudet. And since I always rant/rave about Leav (mostly about how everyone on the planet must read her works), I really wanted to review a collection by Faudet. So, here we are…
“1984 and Brave New World meets Narnia” in this exciting new young adult release from award-wining author Stephen Zimmer. Four main characters begin their journeys in the Faraway Saga, a tale that invites readers to explore infinite horizons![divider]
[RAVENOUS]: Tell me about Dream of the Navigator. What inspired you to write it?
[ZIMMER]: A lot of things came together to inspire Dream of the Navigator. Watching trends in society and technology, and patterns, definitely inspired the vision of the massive technates that serve as the main population centers within the world portrayed in the book. It is a fusion of dystopian and utopian elements that are used by those in power to maintain tight control over the masses through the extensive deployment of technology.
On the other side of the equation, I have a keen interest in consciousness, dreams, and things of a spiritual nature, which brings limitless possibilities to a storyline such as this where non-physical realms are explored and discovered by the principle characters.
Bringing all of this together in one story has been very enjoyable as a writer. It has given me plenty to work with and explore, which inspires even more elements as the writing progresses. I think readers are going to have a lot of fun reading it, and it will leave them with a few things to think about too.
[RAVENOUS]: What was the best and worst part writing Dream of the Navigator?
[ZIMMER]: The best part of writing this book was being able to open up some new territory for myself as an author. I’ve never been shy about trying out some new things (such as when I wrote my Harvey and Solomon Steampunk short stories) and it was great to be able to immerse into dystopian elements within the context of young adult fiction. It gets into futurism and even science fiction a little, alongside some fantastical elements. Being able to draw those kinds of things into a single mix as a writer is both challenging and a whole lot of fun.
The worst part is always making the hard decisions of what character threads to follow. There are many very interesting characters in this series, such as The Artist and Gabriel, but I wanted to keep this focused to a quartet so I made the choices to follow Jaelynn, Cayden, Salvador, and Haven and see things through their eyes. These were the right characters to follow but it would have been just as smooth of a flow to write character threads for The Artist and Gabriel.
[RAVENOUS]: Which character in the story do you most relate to?
[ZIMMER]: Oddly enough, it is not one of the 4 primary characters that I feel I relate to the most, but rather one of the supporting cast, boy named Gabriel Adamson. He is fiercely independent and has a strong sense that there is something fundamentally wrong with the society that he is living in. He’s not just being a rebellious teenager for the sake of rebellion. He is an independent thinker and is driven to learn and become better at what he does. He is not one to compromise the values that he holds strongly to heart. I am similar to him in a lot of ways and it was a great experience in writing seeing his character take root and evolve. By the time I finished this novel I had come to relate with him very well.
[RAVENOUS]: How do you get to know your characters?
[ZIMMER]: When I am writing, I describe it as a cinematic process, in that I write what I “see” happening, very much like having a vivid daydream. When I am in that kind of zone, I am in the character’s heads too, so I have a connection with them that allows me to get to know them on a level that is not possible with my friends and even family in this world. When you are listening to their thoughts, looking through their eyes, and observing them in their world, you cannot help but get to know them extremely well.
[RAVENOUS]: Any special scenes you loved, but had to edit out?
[ZIMMER]: I did do a lot of trimming to make sure the pacing of the novel flows well, but thankfully I did not have to get rid of any significant scenes. I am glad that I did not have more than four character threads in this book as I know I would have eventually settled on 4 and it would have been hard to cut one out that featured a character like The Artist or Gabriel.
[RAVENOUS]: What is your writing kryptonite and how do you overcome it?
[ZIMMER]: Endless rewriting of a scene is one hurdle I had to learn to overcome in the earlier phases of my development as a writer. To progress in a manuscript, I learned to simply move to work on another section if I found myself bogging down in rewriting a section. In completing a book it just took time to get a sense of where the text needed to be in order for my editors to work with it. When I find myself starting to go over the same territory again and again without any major revisions, I know it is time to hand it off to the editor. If I did not do this, I could literally do infinite passes through a manuscript.
[RAVENOUS]: Where do you see your series going in the next few years?
[ZIMMER]: I estimate this story arc covering a trilogy, but I am leaving it open for a possible 4th installment, depending on a couple of subplots/developments that I’m looking to include in the storyline. I think these books would be a great foundation for cross-media projects such as film/tv and gaming, though the settings and environments would necessitate a sizable budget and high-production value to render them justice.
[RAVENOUS]: What was your writing process with Dream of the Navigator? Did you research, set aside time each day, or write whenever inspired?
[ZIMMER]: I kept to the same process that I take for all of my work, which involves morning writing sessions in a space that is set aside for writing only. The computer I use there is not connected to the internet and I do no other work on it besides writing. When it comes to research, I normally take time for that during the day or evening when I need to investigate something.
[RAVENOUS]: In 3-5 words, how would you sum up Dream of the Navigator?
[ZIMMER]: Cinematic, engaging, and thought-provoking.
[RAVENOUS]: What messages do you hope readers will take from Dream of the Navigator?
[ZIMMER]: If readers come away from reading this book with a better appreciation of keeping an open mind about the nature of the universe and the incredible possibilities out there, while also gaining a greater understanding of the value and nature of individual freedom, then I will be very happy.
[RAVENOUS]: Alright! Now for a couple fun questions….
[RAVENOUS]: If you could assign a theme song to Dream of the Navigator, what would it be?
[ZIMMER]: Rush’s “Freewill”. The exercise of free will, and environment to be able to exercise one’s free will, is paramount to this series. The classic Rush song does a great job of representing the concept of free will in music.
[RAVENOUS]: What is your favorite word?
[ZIMMER]: That is a very difficult one to answer as I have many favorites! Yet for some weird reason, I always get a chuckle out of the word “fish.” I can not explain it, but it is a word that has given me immense amusement over the years. Great to use in combination with other words to come up with ridiculous imagery too! Haha!
[RAVENOUS]: What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
[ZIMMER]: David Gemmell’’s novel Legend. This novel has a wonderful depth underlying a great heroic fantasy tale involving an aging warrior about to fight his last battle.
[RAVENOUS]: If you could name a drink (virgin or alcoholic) after Dream of the Navigator, what would call it?
[ZIMMER]: Navigator Nectar, and it would be a very carefully selected and aged Bourbon that would have to be at least as good as Blanton’s. I can see myself aboard The Artist’s vessel having a good pour of this! haha
About DREAM OF THE NAVIGATOR:
Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments.
Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine. For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence.
A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore. What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience. Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga![divider]
About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas(Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).
Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.
Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.
Steampunk is an old genre that has been around since K. W. Jeter coined the phrase to describe his novel Morlock Night. Since then the genre has recognized that Jules Vern, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and the like were writing steampunk long ago. The years pass and the cog turns slowly at first until today we find that Steampunk is not only a genre but a movement. I find myself enamored with the aesthetics of this genre and love the feel of writing between the pages of history and fantasy.
Steampunk is not real history but an alternative history which gives me carte blanche in my own little world. In the Steel Roots series I have taken parts of real history and turned and twisted it into my own world. My America is carried on the backs of the poor and surrounded by a wall imprisoning the society in its lack of influence by other cultures. Of course initially America was born from immigrants but after a while they became complacent in their stifled surroundings and created a ridged culture of classes.
To do this sort of writing I first drafted the plot outline and basic story points. Then I researched history, inventions, people, slang and just about everything I could to blend into the story organically. I used real places and train routes and studied the regions so I can be accurate in my descriptions. Then I closed my eyes and became AB’Gale Steel and took on the adventure with her as it happened.
Writing in this manner I find myself more creative and free to follow the path as it comes naturally. I did not forget that I am not alone in this adventure and hid clever little pearls throughout the story for my readers. You might read something and think okay that’s nice but what does it have to do with the story? Then in the next book you find out what that little tidbit of knowledge means and why I put it there.
I discovered that trains are very useful tools especially in this series. Not only are steam engines very Steampunk but they are also a fantastic means of transportation for my characters and help move the story along. Train hopping is another useful tool in writing this series because the characters are able to meet people they probably never would have met. The trains also hide secrets of the System that the characters find out.
One of the more interesting parts of my research for Rails West was the affect a tornado has on a train. I watched several You Tube videos of people on trains when they are hit by gusts of wind or a tornado. I saw some wild videos of close calls and can only imagine how lucky the people felt when they survived the ordeal. I envisioned how one would survive such an ordeal in a steam train. I had fun writing that part of the story.
Another thing that I do which helps my writing is talk to people. I have had numerous conversations with train engineers, yard workers and the like. Though I have never met an actual Hobo, I did read an old series of books by “the famous hobo” A. No. 1. These books have amazing stories written from way back in the day and give accurate accounts of hobo life. I highly recommend them for a good read. As for my characters who are on the road to a revolution, I wish them luck and hope my readers enjoy the ride.
J L Mulvihill
Saving the world one story at a time
About the author: A California native born in Hollywood, J.L. Mulvihill has made Mississippi her home for the past seventeen years. Her debut novel was the young adult title The Lost Daughter of Easa, an engaging fantasy novel bordering on science-fiction with a dash of Steampunk, published through Dark Oak Press in 2011. The sequel to this novel is presently in the works.
Her Most recent novel, The Boxcar Baby of the Steel Roots series, was released in July 2013 through Seventh Star Press. Steel Roots is a young adult series based in the Steampunk genre and engages the reader into a train hopping heart stopping adventure across America. Book 2, Crossings released December of 2014.
She is also the co-editor of Southern Haunts; The Spirits That Walk Among Us which includes a short story of her own called Bath 10, and a fictional thriller involving a real haunted place. Her poem, The Demon of the Old Natchez Trace, debuts in Southern Haunts part 2, Devils in the Darkness.
J.L. also has several short fiction pieces in publication, is very active with the writing community, and is the events coordinator for the Mississippi Chapter of Imagicopter known as the Magnolia-Tower. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Gulf Coast Writers Association (GCWA), The Mississippi Writers Guild (MWG), as well as the Clinton Ink-Slingers Writing Group.