Name: Losing the HateAuthor:
Not until Simon Palmer is 41 years old does he decide to tell the world of the dark secrets that molded his life. When he was 10, a trusted and respected teacher asked Simon’s parents if he could photograph their son for pictures that would be displayed at a upcoming parent-teacher’s night. The private photo shoot, however, turns dark when Simon obeys the male teacher and removes his clothing. Simon tells no one of his shameful secret that continues not only with the teacher, but leads to other inappropriate sexual encounters. The abuse is carried forward when Mr. Palmer physically and mentally abuses his wife and anyone else who tries to care about him. A life of self-loathing, fear to trust anyone, hatred for those who abused him, Simon Palmer’s life continues to catapult until he finds himself inside the dark isolated world of hardcore drugs and alcohol. Reaction:
A small book written with a heavy heart, Losing the Hate
suffers from the same grammatical pitfalls of many e-published books. I chose, however, to review the gut-level, emotional trauma that made Simon Palmer’s book haunt me. If only to read the poignant meaningful poetry that weaves in and out of Losing the Hate,
the book is well worth the experience. Simon Palmer’s words will ‘rock’ every parent’s world as they begin to question if their own children have secrets too dark, too shameful to share. There were times I questioned why Mr. Palmer’s parents didn’t realize something evil was happening to their son as they watched Simon’s personality quickly change from compliant to hateful; content to angry. In all fairness, however, as parents we are told that our children will go through stages and they will eventually grow out of it. For Simon Palmer, however, it took 30 years to confront his demons. Through prose and memoire, Mr. Palmer relays that sometimes there are ‘secrets’ so dark, so evil, they will only lead to despair and isolation. One of Simon’s Many Poems:
Silence raining down,
Lost within my thoughts,
Self destruction all around.
Lost in a bed-sit,
Demons flooding back,
Enfolded by a darkness,
Shadows cold and black.
Crying in a bed-sit,
Ashamed of what I’ve done,
A hatred for myself,
And all that I’ve become.Recommendation:
Recommended for parents and teenagers or those who have experienced the trauma of abuse. Although raw and riveting, the sexual content is not graphic or explicit. I would, however, suggest a parent read the book before suggesting it to their teenagers. My personal thoughts are that anything that encourages our youth to share what is going on in their lives is significant.Rating:
4.5 out of 5 starsBuy it:Amazon.com (eBook and Paperback)Barnes & Noble (Paperback)WHSmith (Paperback)If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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Have you ever asked someone about themselves, and then got that ‘deer in the headlights’ look as you listened? Such was the case when I met Katie Rose Guest at the Algonkian Pitch Conference in New York City. The intensity in her huge brown eyes and the way she took non-stop notes made me well aware that Ms. Guest was not at this conference passing a little time; Katie Rose was on a mission. I not only found the premise of her novel intriguing, but found Ms. Guest to be a very bright, multi-talented and enjoyable person. From her French degree, to her law degree, to an MA in writing, the knitting patterns she creates, to her career as a ski instructor, somehow I know that even on the slopes, Katie Rose would never settle for an almost perfect run.
I am pleased to introduce this talented upcoming author Katie Rose Guest to the Underground.
Kimberly: Katie, You have a law degree, a BA in French, an MA from John Hopkins in creative writing and a PHD in Rhetoric. Can you tell us a bit about why the degree in French? Did you/do you have plans for to use it? Could you explain what a PHD in Rhetoric is and if it has helped you in your writing career?
Ms. Guest: For my day job, I’m a professor of legal writing at UNC Chapel Hill School of Law.
The MA in creative writing taught me how to write a book. The law degree taught me how to read a book. And the Ph.D. in rhetoric taught me how to teach others how to write. As you might imagine, every one of these skills has helped my fiction writing.
The major in French? I love Marguerite Duras, and wanted to be able to read her in French. It’s probably crazy to select a major based on one author, but that’s what I did. But then I discovered Annie Ernaux and Francoise Sagan, and (seriously) Descartes, and all of the studying was worth it.
Kimberly: When did you begin writing your novel? A book is never finished it seems, but how long did it take you to get your novel to the point where you felt it was agent ready?
Ms. Guest: Rules of Entanglement is my second novel. I wrote my first novel during graduate school, when I needed a break from my dissertation. While I shopped that first book around to agents, I began writing Rules. Then, I realized that the first novel was just that—a first novel—and set it aside to focus on the second.
Rules of Entanglement still doesn’t seem finished and never will. But I’ve published enough stories to know that at some point you let the writing go. And now that I’m a mom, that theory makes a lot more sense.
Kimberly: What enticed you to write about a violent attack on a naïve young woman?
Ms. Guest: Violence against women is rife even in our supposedly civilized society. When I was thirteen years old, I was raped by a twenty-four-year-old man. In some ways, that attack really shaped my younger years. With Rules of Entanglement, I wanted to explore the pool of violence that women wade through every day. I’ve written on sexual assault before, in short stories and in my first novel. Because of these earlier, more cathartic (read: self-centered) pieces, I’m now able to write about sexual violence in Rules of Entanglement without the story being all about me. The story is about Greta and Daphne, the main characters of the book, not Katie Rose.
Kimberly: Who is the main character(s) in your book and what qualities do you want to convey to your readers about them?
Katie: The premise of your story is so original and immediately engaging with Sarah growing up with her fundamentalist and separatist father and his ties to the Aryan order. What research did you do to bring depth to this story?
Peggy: Thank you. I love doing research. I spent many hours in the library digging through periodicals, reading newspaper articles and magazine stories about the Waco Siege, Ruby Ridge, and the Montana Freemen, which were incidents in the 90s where the FBI surrounded and/or invaded anti-government, fundamental religious extremist cults and groups. The up-to-the-minute reports of the drama as it unfolded helped me transform some of that reality into the story.
To learn more about the Aryan Nation I turned to the internet, because they are a secretive organization.
Katie: Is Sarah based on any true life stories you’ve uncovered in your research? How did you construct the character of Sarah?
Peggy: Yes, Sarah is based on a true story, but if I tell you the story, I’ll give away the ending. So I’ll just say Sarah’s story is based on a true story I saw on 48 Hours about two brothers, ages 8 and 10, who were found living in a fundamental religious extremist cult.
My main characters always come to me as a voice in my head. Through my extensive research I was able to flesh out Sarah’s character. It’s sort of like, I heard her voice telling me her story, which was interesting. So I asked, who is this person? Like most writers, when I create a character I use character sketches, bios, and interviews. But in the research process I always find the little hints here and there that tell me who this person really is.
Katie: I see on your website that you conducted interviews with women who had left extremist groups. What did you learn about life in these extremist cults?
As the Underground's first Middle Grade novel review, I am pleased to present Letters to Juniper. Peggy Tibbetts' gripping novel introduces us to twelve year old Sarah, raised in a secluded Idaho farm with extreme fundamentalist parents. Sarah’s letters paint a vivid picture of a world all too real for thousands of children throughout American history.
Set in rural Idaho, Sarah introduces us to her isolated world. At twelve, her circumstances couldn’t be more different than that of her peers. Sarah's mother is dead. Her father and step-mother now raise Sarah and her siblings on a farm straight out of the 1800s. There’s no electricity, no running water. Sarah’s father lives and breathes by the supreme law of Yashua. Strict adherence to these laws are required. The reader feels instant sympathy for Sarah who must write secret letters by candlelight, cook meals for her three younger brothers and, worst of all, spend days in the birthing shed during her menstrual cycle.
Then her father is arrested by Federal Agents for dealing in illegal firearms. The Feds want Sarah's father as an informant on a group of Neo-Nazis. When her father refuses, their world begins to unravel.
The story is told through a series of heart-felt, emotional letters from Sarah to her long lost friend Juniper who she vaguely remembers from her life in Florida. Though I sometime found myself longing for more depth of setting description than a letter could provide, the letters themselves touched me. We are drawn in to Sarah's world by the sympathy we feel for her plight and we are hooked through the end to find out what becomes of her.
Tibbetts does a thorough and thought-provoking job of taking us into the perilous life of a girl similar to those that were trapped at Waco or under Warren Jeff's tyrannical reign. Anyone who was drawn to those children's stories (who watched with baited breath as they surrounded the Branch Davidians or took the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints children into custody) will sympathize with Sarah. After all, she's just a twelve year old girl who glows after her first kiss and nearly dies of embarrassment when her period is mentioned in front of her boyfriend. Yet, she finds herself caught up in very adult situations that lead to very adult consequences. The ending is unexpected and masterfully done, as well.
My only critique would be that there were moments where I found some of the dialog hollow and some of the law enforcement procedures lacking depth. Those things fall to the wayside as you flip pages, longing to uncover what will become of Sarah and her family.
Suitable for mature middle-school and above for some tactful but violent scenes, I would recommend this book for inquisitive young minds and older minds as well. Though it is not necessarily historical, it helps us better understand parts of our history that have baffled many of us for decades.You can find Letters to Juniper here
You can find Peggy Tibbetts here If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
After attending the Algonkian Pitch Conference in New York City, we at the Underground felt that we had tapped into a goldmine of undiscovered talent. The writers we connected with at the conference are all working on publishing their first novels, and their stories (both personal and fictional) were inspiring. This year, we will bring their passion to life by inviting them to the Underground for interviews and guest posts, and hopefully share some of their work.
Here is how the Emerging Author Series will work:
After a guest post or interview with an Emerging Author from the Algonkian Pitch Conference, we will invite you to vote to see the first chapter of the Emerging Author's novel, or a sample of their writing on the Underground. Votes will be made in the 'comments' section. In order for your vote to count, you must be signed up for daily or weekly email subscriptions
. If the Emerging Author receives ten valid votes by the next Friday, their work will be showcased on the Underground!
For those of you who want to get updates from the Underground but don’t want to clutter your inbox, we now have a Weekly Newsletter option. The Weekly Newsletter will bundle an entire week’s worth of blog posts into one easy-to-read email, and will be delivered every Saturday.
If you’re interested, you can subscribe here
James Conway was born on the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas and moved thirteen times before he was nine years old. As a Navy brat he didn’t have a lot of friends, so he read voraciously. He was influenced by The Lord of The Rings to eventually become a writer. James spent his formative years in the Chicago area where he was profoundly influenced by Blues music. He attended Ripon College where he studied English Literature, history, and made the decision to dedicate his life to writing. He is married with one son.
BRIAN: I’m pleased to welcome James Conway, author of The Vagabond King, to the Underground. James, in our correspondence you mentioned you originally got the idea for this book in college. Can you tell us a little about how Vagabond came to be?
JC: Sure Brian. I had always been toying with the idea of a coming of age novel and I had collected some notes but it was nothing really profound. Then I had something of an epiphany in history class. I was asked to write a paper on Napoleon. I was asked to pick a side: did Napoleon represent the “Great Man” theory of history or the “Wave” theory. In other words, if Napoleon had never existed would history be profoundly different or would someone else have taken his place and history would be the same as with Napoleon. I couldn’t write the paper because I saw both things as being true at the same time. It might not seem like a big deal but it was a profound moment for me. If something can be two things at the same time the implications are Earth shattering, it means that there can be no right or no wrong, no this or that etc. I started questioning everything I once believed and my psychological world evaporated around me. So, as the main character Chris is questioning the world around him, so was I.
BRIAN: I was intrigued by the strong vein of mythological references running throughout this book. Can you elaborate on why you underpinned the book, especially Magda’s character, so heavily with mythology?
JC: Because so much of the novel is internal, it exists in Chris’s head, I needed to portray a setting that would describe and illuminate the thoughts in his head. While the book certainly has a physical setting it is the psychological setting that is more important. I don’t think I could have pulled off what I needed to do had I not made reference to mythology.
One of the fundamental themes of the book is the dualistic nature of reality. This is why I have paired so many opposites together. This is why Chris (the young man) falls in love with Magda (an older woman).
After college I became familiar with the work of the great scholar Joseph Campbell. He said something to the effect that, in the 1st age of man the religious symbols came from the animal world. In the 2nd age of man they were from the agrarian world. But, in this age of man the human race itself must become the symbol. I tried to portray this in Magda’s character through the use of mythology to make her more mysterious and even divine.
As I am answering this question it occurs to me that one of my goals with the book was to portray human beings for their often overlooked greatness. This may sound over the top but we are each the physical embodiment of universal power. We truly are. Let’s face it, every parent considers their child the golden child that was born to save the world. That’s because it is true. We are each infinitely greater than we realize. But everyone seems to get worn down with the humdrum of life and ignore that aspect of themselves. I used mythology and archetype in my attempt to portray this.
BRIAN: Tell me about your love of The Blues and how it influenced your writing.
Literary fiction novels can be pretentious. Sometimes, they are dark and self-absorbed. These days, they are often just plain bad. The Vagabond King
by James Conway is none of these. This novel is the masterpiece that almost was. It is like a comet that comes close to blazing glory, but then fades short of its true potential.
Through the eyes of teenage angst, The Vagabond King
wrestles with the grandest questions of all: life, death, love, and what it all means. Vagabond
is about being emotionally and spiritually lost and how we struggle throughout our lifetimes to find our place in the universe. If The Vagabond King
sounds deep, well, it is very deep. It is not light reading by any measure.
At the core of this novel is the teenager Christopher, a child of wealth and privilege. He struggles to come to grips with his mother’s death, his emotionally distant father, and his own self-identity. Angst-ridden, brooding, self-absorbed and often irritating, he is not a likable character. He suddenly leaves home and school and, through various circumstances, comes to live with Magda, a poor waitress, and her elderly Hungarian father.
Magda, a dark beauty approaching middle age, is a waitress with a Ph.D.’s knowledge of ancient mythology. She sets the undertone for the whole book. Christopher pines and lusts for her while she fills his head with tales of ancient gods and heroes.
Over the course of many months, Christopher spends a great deal of time with Magda’s father, whom Christopher dubs the “Vagabond King.” They drink beer and listen to the Blues while the old man recalls his youth growing up under communist oppression in Hungary.
Conway brilliantly uses Magda and her father to shape Christopher’s perspective on himself and the universe. But Magda and her father are more than characters; they are reflections of universal forces symbolized in ancient mythology. (I warned you it was going to get deep). If, however, the reader takes Conway’s characters strictly on face value they will come to the same conclusion I did - they are masterfully written and purely original.
I haven’t finished a book so quickly in a long time because these characters were so intriguing. There were times I had to put the book down and simply reflect on how talented this author is. Conway’s dialogue and narration are often mind-blowing. Unfortunately, this is as close to becoming a masterpiece as this book gets. There are several noteworthy flaws that rob this novel of its true potential.
Conway often gets lost while telling this tale. First, he is overly repetitive. Vagabond
could have easily been 100 pages shorter. Also, it had more than a fair share of simple mechanical errors a good editor could have easily fixed. These flaws, however, didn’t keep The Vagabond King
out of my Top Picks.
What kept this novel out of my top picks was how often Conway departs the narrative and ceases all character voice. It’s as if the story goes on pause and Conway himself begins to ramble. It felt like I was watching a play and one of the actors quit reciting his lines and began talking directly to the audience. It slowed the book down and often left me wondering whose perspective I was currently dealing with.
Overall, however, Vagabond
is beautifully written, often brilliant, and suitable for ages sixteen and up for mild sexual content. It is because of Conway’s astonishing characters that I recommend this book to anyone interested in literary fiction. However, as currently written, I can only give The Vagabond King
85 out of 99 cents. The good news is with further editing it could be so much more.
99 Cents worth of James Conway links:James Conway's website
The Vagabond King on Amazon If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Think you’re too busy to read a novel? Think again! Sign up for a book at Every Day Novels
, and you will get a quick chapter sent to your inbox every day. Not only does Every Day Novels support emerging authors, they are pioneering a new way to publish. As publishing rapidly goes digital, the dying breed of newspaper serial novels can now be revived online. The Charles Dickens of today will climb to fame through inboxes instead of mailboxes.
Join the movement and sign up for Lifting Up Veronica by K. C. Ball
. The novel is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 23. Subscribers will receive a chapter a day for fifteen weeks, for a total of 75 chapters. The final chapter will be delivered Friday, May 4. If you aren’t sure that you want to read Lifting Up Veronica
, you can subscribe to the newsletter at Every Day Novels for free to stay updated on future novels and promotions.
The first five installments of Lifting Up Veronica
will be free to download. After that, Every Day Novels charges $5.00 for a subscription, which includes the complete ebook when the series is complete.
I think this is a brilliant concept, and I’m excited to read Lifting Up Veronica
using this new medium. I will share my opinion of the experience after the series ends.
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To qualify, you must be one of the next five people to follow these two simple steps:
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-Fill out our contact form
with the following information:
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Both offers terminate on January 22.If you enjoyed this post, you can follow AB on Facebook or Twitter. You can also subscribe to the Underground.
Lynne M. Hinkley, the author of Marina Melee, is a marine scientist who has spent a considerable amount of time in the Caribbean studying oceanography. She currently lives in South Carolina, where she teaches, writes and spends time with her family. It was a pleasure to read her book and correspond with Lynne, and I am excited to welcome her to the Underground for an interview.
AB: When did you decide to become a writer? Were you inspired to write by your travels, or have you always had stories that you wanted to put down on paper?
Lynne: You've probably heard this from dozens of other writers, but I've been writing stories since I was kid. I wrote my first complete "novels" when I was in junior high and high school. So, I've always had stories I wanted to put down on paper. But, I pursued a science career --in marine science-- instead. That gave me the opportunity to travel and gain a world of new and interesting experiences and perspectives. I spent my formative years, as a young adult, living, studying, and working in the Caribbean where I was exposed to different cultures, languages, and a whole different world from where I grew up in upstate New York. I gained a much broader perspective to write from and about.
AB: I love learning how different books are put together. Tell us about your writing method. Did you start with a story idea, a scene, a cast of characters?
Lynne: Marina Melee was mostly character driven, but even with a cast of fabulous characters running around in my head talking to me, I can't write until I know where the story is going. I'm a hard-core plotter. I have to know my beginning, end, and waypoints to get me there before I start to write. A lot of the story is already written in my head before I ever turn on the computer, then I write an outline or a timeline to follow. Parts of the story and characters may change to be more effective at getting to the ending as I go along, but the essence remains the same.
AB: Your stories were obviously inspired in part by personal experience. Sometimes I found myself wondering if you had actually witnessed some of the outlandish scenes that George experienced. Can you tell me the real story behind one of George's escapades?