Talking Story

debut author

The Science of Breakable Things is a debut middle grade novel by Hawaii-born Tae Keller. It’s a great read for tweens and those young at heart. Told through Natalie’s eyes and her science journal, we see how her mother’s depression affects Natalie from her friendships and family relationships to her own self-image to how she explains the world around her.

Tae nails the transition from childhood to teenager. The friendships and conflicts ring true. One of the best parts was the magical thinking of how a rare blue orchid would cure her mother; if Natalie could just get one, everything would go back to normal. It’s a touching, endearing, and completely captivating examination of how a child centers the world on herself and how she grows to understand that not only are things not her fault, they’re also not in her power to fix.

With a very light touch, Tae also explores mixed racial heritage challenges and conflicts. Natalie is part-Korean. Generational biases are brought to the forefront as her father tries to nullify his Korean-ness as Natalie tries to embrace it through connecting with her Korean grandmother. It’s one of the smallest and most powerful ways Natalie asserts her own identity.

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller is available in hardback, paperback, and eBook. Can’t wait to read her next work.

christine_authorpic My friend and critique partner Christine Haggerty just published her debut novel with Fox Hollow Publications. Acquisitions, book 1 in the Plague Legacy, introduces Cam, a teenage orphan trying to survive in a world reshaped by a plague virus that renders people immune or mutant. When Cam’s swept up in a raid to provide more slaves for Salvation, he’ll have find ways to survive in a dog eat dog world. Readers of Legend, Lord of the Flies, Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games will find much to love in this new series.

Over a couple of Diet Cokes and email, this is what Christine told me about her newest project.

The Plague Legacy world is a rough one, Christine. Most modern comforts are gone, at least for people like Cam. Are there experiences in your life that you used to help readers understand what Cam’s life is like?

My early childhood was spent on a subsistence farm in northeastern Utah. We grew most of our own food, milked a goat, had an outhouse (I think we had indoor plumbing by the time I was in second grade), snared and skinned rabbits, and gathered and ate plants that many people would consider weeds. I imagine that if the apocalypse was due to a disease rather than a nuclear bomb, we’d be shoved back a few centuries and live like I did as a kid. That’s the life that Cam and the other orphans in the story had before they were collected and sold.

What’s the most important thing Cam needs to keep in mind in order to survive?

In the first book, Cam mostly needs to trust in himself in order to survive. He views himself as a victim, as someone who is restricted by the rules of humanity. However, the rest of his world does not necessarily play by those same rules, and Cam has to choose which to follow and which to break.

Which five books would you lug around in a backpack during an apocalypse?

Illusions by Richard Bach and four ‘how to’ survival guides.

Describe your typical writing day.

I send my kids off to school in the morning and then have about 2 ½ hours to write without interruptions before my kindergartener gets home. That’s ideal. There are always interruptions. I do best when I am in the rhythm of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to have my coffee and write for an hour before their alarms start going off. When I get stressed about a deadline (and I set word count deadlines for myself), my typical writing day can involve a lot of yelling and a lot more coffee…and chocolate chips.

Any teasers for book 2 you can share? Inquiring minds want to know!

I can say that The Plague Legacy: Assets will have arena games and fighting and a much more complex world that is an interesting mix of apocalyptic old and futuristic new. A lot more character backstories play into this book as Cam puts some puzzle pieces together in order to survive. Watch my website for scenes and artwork related to the world of Salvation.

Plague Legacy Acquisitions Book CoverThe Plague Legacy: Acquisitions is published by Fox Hollow Publications and is available through Amazon.

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When it comes to love there’s a fine line between passion and obsession, ardor and madness, ecstasy and terror. In Beatrysel Johnny Worthen takes all the shades and flavors of love from filial to sexual and whips them into a frenzied frappe of occult horror, thriller, and philosophical treatise on the nature of man, God, angels, and demons.

Did I mention it’s a love story?

One of the major themes of this novel is that the lover protects the beloved. Beatrysel is a demon created to be the personification of love and brought to this plane by Julian Cormac, a professor who has devoted himself to understanding the magick that underpins our universe. Demons, of course, have their own agendas and all the maturity of greedy children in a candy store. It’s up to Julian to banish his beloved, his child and lover, and end B’s reign of terror.

Of course, the story itself is nothing as straight forward as what I’ve described. Johnny keeps the reader guessing and on the edge of his seat as the story twists and turns. Bad things come to those who want to keep Julian on a cocktail of anti-psychotics and there’s more than one puppet master. To say more would spoil the story.

The writing is quick-paced and snappy, with imagery that not only sings, but at times does the hokey-pokey off the page. Told in omniscient present tense with several major flashbacks, I have to admit it took me a couple of chapters to get into the rhythm of the story, but once you get in the head of the characters, you’re hooked.

I loved the scene where Julian’s sister discovers her husband and a skanky musician in the middle of a tryst. What happens next is outrageous, completely cathartic, and applause-worthy—something every woman secretly wishes she’d give in and do if ever in that situation.

I’m not even going to mention the creepy coffee beans. Let’s just say it’s going to be a long time before I can walk past that section of the grocery store again.

A raw, ragged, and convoluted read, it’s not for the timid. You’ll find yourself turning lights on and checking the locks at night.

Beatrysel by Johnny Worthen is published by Omnium Gatherum and is available as a trade paperback and eBook from Amazon.

Johnny WorthenConnect with Johnny Worthen



Twitter:  @JohnnyWorthen

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