Category Archives: Fantasy

#AuthorInterview – Exile, Haffling Book 2 by @CharlesAtkinsMD #MMROMANCE

OJ He Say! Interviews Author Caleb James

OJ:

You have quite an extensive book portfolio and yet these are the only ones, I believe, that are fantasy books and have M/M romance as a major theme. Fantasy isn’t something I’d necessarily expect from a Yale University faculty member, but here I am inexplicably caught in your masterful storytelling. Can you tell us a bit about this?

CJ:

First, thank you for having me on your blog and for the props. So don’t let the Yale thing derail you. It’s where I did my psychiatric residency, and they’ve allowed me to stay on the volunteer faculty, I suspect because of the amount I publish.
Now let’s talk fantasy. I love this stuff, but I’m aware it’s not for everyone. That’s why I do these books as Caleb James and not as Charles Atkins. My novels as Charles Atkins, with the exception of a wicked parable about doctors and the drug companies entitled, Go To Hell (Argo Navis), don’t veer from reality.
But starting with Haffling (DSP Publications), I wanted to mix things up. In this trilogy I keep one foot in a gritty New York story while the other slips on the banana peel and tumbles into the upside-down world of the Sidhe.

OJ:

Having read Haffling and now Exile, it’s obvious that you’ve done some research on this topic. Is this a new interest or have you always been interested in the fey?

CJ:

I love mythology. It started when I was a child. I devoured Bullfinch’s Mythology, and would prowl my hometown library and area museums for anything and everything. It started with the Greeks and the Romans, spread to the Norse, the Egyptians, the Incas, and hasn’t stopped. In one of my Charles Atkins’ thrillers, Cadaver’s Ball (St. Martin’s Press), which is set firmly in the real world, I dove deep into Amerindian folklore and shamanistic medicine. It’s a trippy read. And in Dark Blood (DSP Publications), a creepy paranormal thriller with a gay protagonist, I used Rom folklore and a bit of the Brother’s Grimm for much of the fantasy element.
So as I thought about worlds that have not been overdone, the fey and Irish folklore seemed a rich and beautiful source to mine. All you have to do is read WB Yeats’ The Stolen Child, and you know you’re going to sob… a lot. Yeats was my inspiration for the general feel of these books, where the music of the prose is more important—to me at least—than perfect grammar. Although I advise aspiring writers to learn the rules before they break them.

OJ:

Haffling pulled more than a mild trigger for me with the schizophrenia, and yet I kept on and was handsomely rewarded for persevering with the story. I’ve heard it say that schizophrenics can tap into alternate universes? Any thoughts?

CJ:

The opening of Haffling sees sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus, his little sister, Alice, and their mother with schizophrenia. He’s a kid thrust into a miserable situation, and he’ll either figure things out or bad stuff will happen to him and Alice. I drew on my experience as a psychiatrist when I painted his world and their life. I’ve spent my career working with people with serious mental illness and substance use problems. I talked with thousands of people who hear voices that others can’t. Schizophrenia, when the science finally figures things out, will likely be a variety of brain anomalies. This is where those of us who don’t have schizophrenia need to take a step back and consider the following: Our brain is the organ through which we perceive reality. If part of that reality includes hearing voices and/or seeing things that others can’t, does that make it less real? You might not hear the clatter in my head, but don’t tell me it doesn’t exist. Which is of course what the medical community does.
As to alternative universes, I haven’t run across any, though I have met people who were convinced that their friends and families had been replaced by aliens or doubles (Capgras Syndrome). To me, psychosis is like listening to a radio tuned to a different station. In the case of Alex’s mother, Marilyn, her madness has a unique origin that factors heavily into the mythology of these books. She was broken by travelling between the human and fey worlds. The price of her passage was her mind.

OJ:

Finn Hulain. Wow! Now there’s a character I can sink my teeth into. Tell us more about him and when can we expect his story.

CJ:

Yes. Well you can’t name a character Finn Hulain in a book using Irish folklore and not suspect that there will be more. Or as my friend and editor Liz commented, it’s like naming a character Clay Golum in a book with Jewish themes—you know he’s going to get all big and Frankensteiny. Just as I pulled Liam Summer, a not-so-likeable character from book one, and cast him as the star in Exile, a book about redemption, Fire Marshal Finn Hulain, gets front stage in book three. Hound will be the third and final in this trilogy. Earlier today I sent the manuscript to the publisher.

OJ:

Where to from here? Any more M/M romance books in our future? Please say yes.

CJ:

I’ve got two books floating around in my head right now. One will feature my two female detectives, Lil and Ada. The last of their outings, Done to Death (Severn House) was a recent finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. The other will be set in the real world, and might be a medical thriller with a gay protagonist. Something cat-and-mouse and similar to Dark Blood, albeit without the Nazi-doctor, heads-in-jars stuff. And yes, the romance line matters. I just happen to like my hearts and flowers with a bit of blood.

OJ

I’d like to thank Caleb James for stopping by and chatting with us. We sincerely look forward to more of his wonderful writing.

CALEB JAMES

Caleb James is a pen name used by psychiatrist and author Charles Atkins, MD for his paranormal fiction. He lives and works in Connecticut, is a member of the Yale volunteer faculty, loves a flea market, gives a lot of workshops (including experiential writer’s trainings), and lives with his partner and too many cats.

Links:

Web site: www.charlesatkins.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/charles.atkins.37
Caleb James Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Caleb-James-536765356387453/
Twitter: @CharlesAtkinsMD
EXILE AT Amazon: Exile
EXILE at Barnes & Noble: Exile
DSP Publication link: Exile

#BookReview – Exile, Haffling Book 2 by Caleb James @CharlesAtkinsMD #MMROMANCE


Rating: 5.0 stars

BLURB

Liam Summer, with the face of an angel and the body of an underwear model, has done bad things. Raised as the whore and cat’s paw of a murderous fairy queen, his beauty has ruined many. When Queen May’s plot to unite and rule the fairy and human realms fails, Liam wakes naked and alone in a Manhattan building on fire. Unaware the blaze is arson, and he’s its intended victim, he prepares to die.

Enter ax-wielding FDNY firefighter Charlie Fitzgerald, who Liam mistakes for an ogre assassin. As Charlie rescues Liam, he realizes the handsome blond has nowhere to go. So he does what he, and his family, have always done—he helps.

As for Queen May, trapped in the body of a flame-throwing salamander, she may be down, but she’s not out. Yes, she failed the last time, but Liam, and others, will pay. She knows what must be done: possess a haffling, cross into the human world engorged with magic, and become queen and Goddess over all.

As Liam realizes the danger they all face, he discovers unexpected truths. That even the most wicked are not beyond redemption, and that love—true love—is a gift even he can receive.

EXILE – HAFFLING BOOK 2

To be honest I’m not one for fantasy usually, however after having read Dark Blood by Caleb James and then seeing that he’d gone on and written other fantasy I just had to give this a whirl, and I am so glad I did. Mr. James, AKA Charles Atkins, weaves an incredible tale of fantasy in the modern world that, for me, makes it all work wonderfully. By bringing the age old stories of the fey in to the 21st Century one can see the plausibility of such happenings. To do it as masterfully as he does? That’s an awesome talent! One bit of advice: read Haffling, the first book in this series, as Exile follows the happenings in book 1.

THE CHARACTERS

Liam Summer:

The man, who had to be about his age, in his early twenties, with matted blond hair that glinted gold from the reflected flashers on the streets and the shoots of fire that surrounded them, met Charlie’s gaze. Even in the dim light, Charlie marveled at the color of his eyes— purple. Guy’s naked in an abandoned apartment, wearing colored contacts. Stop staring at him, Charlie. “Come on. Can you stand?” Is he totally naked? Shit! He averted his eyes. Don’t be a perv… It didn’t help that, even covered in soot and sawdust, He’s perfect. Like someone out of an underwear ad, only… no underwear.

Charlie Fitzgerald:

For an instant he couldn’t recognize the tall man, but he knew those blue eyes, the dark hair matted to his scalp from the helmet Liam had originally taken to be an ogre’s head…
He’s not hurt, just filthy. His face, hands, and arms were smudged with soot, and his thick wavy hair clung matted to his scalp from the Kevlar hood of his respirator.


THE STORY

Exile, Haffling Book 2, is the story of Liam Summer, a gorgeous, blond fey whose gift is the ability to glamor others. May, Queen of The Fey, enslaves him as a youth after she kills and eats his parents and uses him as her tool to glamor others so she can eat them, as that is how she maintains her powers.

Exile picks up at the end of Haffling as Liam escapes the world of the fey, the Unsee, into the realm of humans. Even though May is being held prisoner by her sister Lizbeta she is steadily regaining her powers and re-starting her attempted conquest of the human realm. May attempts to kill Liam by sending a ball of fairy fire after him and instead ends up burning down the condo where Liam has entered the human realm. As the building is burning down Charlie Fitzgerald, a hunky, tall black Irish firefighter, rescues Liam and falls head over heels for him.

As I don’t do spoilers I’ll leave it for you to continue with this wonderfully written story of gorgeous, magical fey and hunky Irish firefighters. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

THE WRITING

Mr. James’ writing, AKA Charles Atkins, is simply, superbly flawless. This is the third book I’ve read by him and I can honestly say the experience is consistently flawless. It’s that rare ability to develop the characters and build a universe with such laser-like precision that allows the reader to totally and completely immerse him/herself in the story and go along with the ride.

THE AUTHOR

Caleb James is an author, member of the Yale volunteer faculty, practicing psychiatrist, and clinical trainer. He writes both fiction and nonfiction and has published books in multiple genres and under different names. Writing as Charles Atkins, he has been a Lambda Literary finalist. He lives in Connecticut with his partner and four cats.

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Caleb James and Dream Spinner Press for providing OJ He Say! with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Published by DSP Publications
5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886 USA
www.dsppublications.com

Exile © 2017 Caleb James.

ISBN: 978-1-63533-260-5
Digital ISBN: 978-1-63533-261-2

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Dark Blood, by Caleb James

Dark Blood
Dark Blood

Rating: 5 stars

BLURB

Handsome, brilliant, and surrounded by good friends, twenty-three-year-old medical student Miles Fox has a secret— and it’s not that he’s gay, though he harbors a crush on his straight best friend, Luke. Miles, like his grandmother, Anna, possesses the healing gift, an ability she’s made him swear never to use or divulge, lest horrible things befall those he loves. It happened to her when Nazis butchered her family.

But it all goes to hell when Miles heals a terminally ill man on a New Orleans cancer ward and wakes locked in the psych unit. Worse, news of the healing miracle spreads. For millennia its carriers have been hunted by those who would steal it. Dr. Gerald Stangl and his teenage son, Calvin, know what Miles possesses. They, like their predecessors, will stop at nothing to take it, including kidnapping, torture, and murder. As the Stangls’ noose tightens, Miles and Luke are trapped in a death match with stakes higher than they could ever imagine.

Dark Blood

I love it when a book takes me by surprise and delivers as well as this one did. Dark Blood checked off all my boxes: Contemporary M/M, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Historical, Detective Story… I mean, really? I got so into this book it’s not funny.

Such an original story line… The Holy Grail! The true meaning of the Holy Grail brought up to date, and then some, with such exquisite characters.

Read on, you won’t be able to put it down.

THE CHARACTERS

Miles Fox:

Handsome Miles Fox, born with the gift of healing and eternal life. The green eyed descendant of a long ago, almost extinct, race. A race of which we know not its origins, but that nonetheless persists. Miles has been kept in the dark about his abilities by his grandmother, Anna, for reasons of survival. As Miles becomes a man and goes to medical school, much to his grandmother’s consternation, he meets Luke Paxton, his best friend that he’s smitten with. It’s his relationship with Luke that becomes the pivotal moment of their existence.

Luke Paxton:

He looked at his best friend since starting medical school— Luke Paxton— twenty-three, born and raised in an ultraconservative Charlestown family, oldest of three, wicked sense of humor, and someone who’d apparently break a shitload of rules for a friend in trouble.

Luke, who’s fallen for his best friend, bringing out those feelings he’s long suppressed due to his upbringing and his ultra-conservative father. It’s his feelings for Miles that bring about the culmination to this wonderful story.

THE STORY

Talk about original! This book took me completely by surprise, out of left field. What an original story, and so well written, too.

Miles and his ability to heal. His grandmother, Anna, trying to protect him from those that are trying to steal this precious, ages old, ability. Luke, denying his true feelings in order to satisfy his stringent father, until he meets handsome Miles and then all bets are off. The one person who believes Miles regardless. The Stangls, father and son, descendants of a long line of seekers of the Holy Grail, finally close to achieving their goal via gruesome medical experiments of Miles’ progenitors and other hapless individuals.

What a brilliant, original story! I cannot recommend this book enough if you want to read something truly unique and exciting and completely off the same old rut.

I seriously cannot wait for the next book in this series, and there better be a next book!

THE WRITING

Flawless. Absolutely flawless. This kind of storytelling craft comes along rarely, so grab it while you can.

The story flows seamlessly, easily, allowing a total immersion into the book. Such rich developments of the characters, not just the MCs, also the secondary characters. The Stangls, father and son, so well crafted. Grandma Anna, the perfect protecting mother figure. Tomas, Miles’ great grandfather. Zosimus, Miles’ ancestor from antiquity. They’re all so well written wholly developed. What a joy to read.

THE AUTHOR

CALEB JAMES is an author, member of the Yale volunteer faculty, practicing psychiatrist, and clinical trainer. He writes both fiction and nonfiction and has published books in multiple genres and under different names. Writing as Charles Atkins, he has been a Lambda Literary finalist. He lives in Connecticut with his partner and four cats.

Website: charlesatkins.com
Blog: calebjamesblog.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Caleb-James-536765356387453

Published by DSP PUBLICATIONS
5032 Capital Circle SW, Suite 2, PMB# 27
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886 USA
www.dsppublications.com

Dark Blood © 2016 Caleb James.
Cover Art © 2016 Alan M. Clark. www.alanmclark.com
Cover Design © 2016 Paul Richmond. http://www.paulrichmondstudio.com

ISBN: 978-1-63476-839-9
Digital ISBN: 978-1-63476-840-5
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016901426 P
ublished June 2016 v. 1.0
Printed in the United States of America

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Where There’s A Will (Panopolis #3), by Cari Z

Where There's A Will
Where There’s A Will
Rating: 4.5 stars

BLURB

Being a Hero in Panopolis means living the high life: parties, money, influence, even reality television. And I’m one of the most powerful Heroes in the city. I have plenty of fans, a manager who looks out for me (after himself), and a job that pays the bills. I should be enjoying myself.

Unfortunately, the downside of my superpower means I can’t touch anyone, which tends to put a damper on things. I probably don’t deserve all those perks anyway, since I’m working in secret with two of Panopolis’s biggest Villains to undermine GenCorp— my main sponsor and the company that controls what gets through my force field.

I obviously don’t trust my corporate overseers, but they’ve hired a new scientist who actually seems interested in helping me. Dr. Mansourian might have the answers to all my questions— not to mention a starring role in most of my dreams— but he’s hiding something big. If I let him have what he wants, I might not live to regret it.

Then again, the way things are going in Panopolis these days, I might not live either way.

Where There’s A Will

I had already read the two previous Panopolis universe books by Cari Z and, truth be told, it’s such a wonderful universe. Creating this universe populated with Heroes and Villains was, I felt, one of those strokes of literary lightning that hit every once in a while, and the way she carries it out? Yeah, good stuff!

We finally get some good answers. Lots of good answers to the questions started in the two previous books: GenCorp, Freight Train, Mr. Fabulous, Morpho Girl, the City of Panopolis, and most interestingly of all SuperTruther!

THE CHARACTERS

Craig Haney, A.K.A. Freight Train:

Craig Haney wasn’t an exciting guy. I’d been a fairly average kid, raised by my grandmother after my parents were killed during a battle between Earthquake and Sky King. I’d grown into a fairly average man who wasn’t smart enough to make it through college, so I’d gone into the police academy instead. I’d been a decent cop, but that was all I’d been. Then came the accident, and shortly after that, Freight Train was born.

Ari Mansourian:

I almost did a double take. I hadn’t even noticed the man standing there, and I definitely had reason to. …his suit had reasserted itself, as had the gray shirt he wore, and a tie that just barely kept him from being completely monochrome thanks to a faint white pinstripe running through the fabric. His blue eyes seemed bigger when I stood a few feet from him, accentuated by those thick black frames. I couldn’t make myself look away.

THE STORY

This is a phenomenal universe that Cari Z created. If you like the whole super hero story line, and a lot of us seem to considering movie box office proceeds, then this is fantastic! She’s created a complete universe where the Heroes and Villains co-exist with the rest of us in modern day, 21st Century America, complete with product placements, sponsorship, marketing collaterals, agents, and action figures. If you haven’t read the first two Panopolis books, I urge you to read them first as they all flow in sequence. This is the third, and hopefully not the final, episode in the series and all of the secondary characters come back, along with the previous main characters now in supporting roles.

In Where There’s a Will we get answers to the questions from the first two books and get the story of Craig Haney, Freight Train, and the guy he falls head over heels for, Dr. Ari Mansourian. We get to see how The Mad Bombardier, Raul, and Mastermind, Edward Dinges (Freight Train’s previous love interest) are getting along and what they’re up to. Sorry, no spoilers as Bombardier and Mastermind play an important part of this story. We get to re-visit the infamous Abattoir prison and the evil Dr. Steuben, and we finally get a glimpse into just who SuperTruther is!

THE WRITING

Groovy stuff here, boys and girls. This is super hero story-telling at its finest, with the traditional super hero story arc and surprising plot twists. The story flows smoothly, no hiccups or rough sentence structures. Solid, good editing and beta/proof reading, no typos. You can just sit back and immerse yourself in a great story, buckle up and enjoy the ride. One of the hallmarks I’ve found with publishing houses such as Riptide and a few others. If you want to escape and enjoy a good book, this is it.

THE DISCLAIMER

I would like to thank Cari Z and Riptide Publishing with providing OJ He Say! with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

THE AUTHOR

Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She likes edged weapons, prefers books to television shows, and goes weak at the knees for interesting men and exciting explosions (but not at exactly the same time— that would be so messy).

Where There’s a Will
Copyright © 2016 by Cari Z
Cover art: L.C. Chase
Editor: Carole-Ann Galloway
Layout: L.C. Chase

Riptide Publishing
PO Box 6652
Hillsborough, NJ 08844

ISBN: 978-1-62649-405-3
First edition May, 2016