Author Interview: Lyra Shanti

Interview Purple

Hi folks, welcome to another Book Squirrel Author Interview! Today we chat with Lyra Shanti,  author of the brilliant space epic series Shiva XIV and a number of other incredible works. 

Hi, Lyra. 

Hi, Squirrel.

I confess, I’m a little star-struck. 

Oh, you sweet thing!

Right, where was I? Ah yes. Here we go! What inspired you to write?

Where to start? So many things inspire me! Great films, books, plays/musicals, music, anime/manga, poetry, laughter, sex, love,  rain, moonlight, the ocean, tall ancient trees, mountains, lakes, and so much more!

Truthfully, everything affects me.  I’ve been writing poetry, plays, and songs since I was a child of seven, but I didn’t start seriously writing stories till I was in my late 30s. I always wanted to try novel writing, but was terrified I wouldn’t be good enough. Then, one day, I felt the urge to try. I stared at the blank white screen and suddenly envisioned an infant, held up at an altar by a priest. It was Shiva XIV I saw, but I didn’t know it yet. Slowly, the story came to me, and the rest is history.

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

I’ve read a few good ones, though I haven’t had a ton of time to read (spending most of my time writing and editing!) But I loved Sweet Vengeance by Aliya DalRae. Can’t wait to read book 2, Sweet Discovery! It’s such a fun, sexy paranormal series!

Oh, I’ve read those! They’re great!  What are you working on writing now?

Lyra Shanti Shiva XIV 4 The River Of Time

I just finished book 4 in my sci-fi series, Shiva XIV: The River of Time. Yay! I’ll be promoting that for a while, but my next book will be The Artist, a complete departure from sci-fi and fantasy.

It’s a story about a man named Apollo Antonius Vidali, an artist fighting his madness in search of true love. It will be a cross between historical romance and erotic freeform poetry! I can’t wait to get that done by next year. I think my fans will be totally surprised, and that’s exciting!

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?

I have a strange aversion to whistling. Not so much when a person does it on key and it’s a song they know well… but when it’s meandering and slightly off key. I can’t explain why, I just hate it so much. I’ve yet to write that into a book… I may at some point. Maybe if I were to write a thriller or murder mystery. I could see a murderer whistling right after he’s killed someone. Terrifying!

What movie can you watch over and over again?

Lord of the Rings. All of them…The extended versions. Not even kidding! Lol

I would also repeatedly watch Close Encounters, Back to the Future (all 3), Titanic, The Wizard of Oz, The Muppet Movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course, the original Star Wars movies.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Basically what I am. 🙂 From the time I was 7, I wanted to be a songwriter… and playwright. I never envisioned myself as a novelist. That’s new, but feels right!

Sometimes you just have to run with what life brings you, eh?

Absolutely right!

What’s your favourite season? Why?

Winter… especially in S Florida. There really aren’t weather changes here, like, at all… so winter is the only time it isn’t hot and humid. I love cooler weather! I love sweaters and snow and holidays!

Autumn is a close second. If I were living where I grew up (in Bellingham, Washington), there would be beautifully warm colors in the trees and a crisp, cool breeze in the air. It would be heaven! Plus, Halloween!

Who are your three greatest literary inspirations?

Growing up, I loved Alice in Wonderland. I think Lewis Carroll had a bigger influence on my already wacky brain than I realized. Then, Shakespeare plays made my heart and mind swoon! And of course, I loved Tolkien and J.K Rowling. But my biggest influence and inspiration would be Hermann Hesse. Books like Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Narcissus and Goldmund had a huge impact on me as a young adult, and as a writer. His stories were full of philosophical “East meets West” ideas, but also romantic relationships with flawed characters I deeply related to. I have to say, without his writing I would never have been a writer myself. His stuff was poetic and brilliant!

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?

It’s hard work. A lot harder than some might realize… all the writing, editing, promoting, and worry over if anyone will like the story.

Ultimately, though, it’s worth all the pain. At the end of the day, I get to see my worlds born into a virtual reality where it will live on forever. And I can say I did it my way… like Sinatra. 😉

Name two things in life that you wish were easier.

Editing books! And a second thing? Hmm… Driving a car in the city. Driving itself doesn’t scare me, but other people in their cars do! They’re nuts!

Wait! Nuts are good!

Okay. I guess you could say they drive me crazy!  *makes Fozzie Bear face* Get it?! Wakka wakka!

Moving right along…

Ah, I see what you did there!

*laughter*

So tell us, where can readers find your books?

My books are all on my Amazon page and my website at www lyrashanti.com.  

Awesome! Where can readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for being here today, Lyra! You’re incredible! 

Awww, thanks! You’re pretty special too, Book Squirrel!

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Book Review: ‘Fateful Attraction’ by Lucretia Stanhope

The third book in the series, this sequel to ‘Blessedly Bound‘ and ‘Burning Captivation‘ takes the central character Gwen and the reader on another emotional roller coaster of danger and discovery as she seeks answers and justice, which are equally difficult to find. There are plenty of heart-in-your-throat moments as the story unfolds, especially as the distinctions between good, bad and sheer, unrepressed evil become clearer.

As with the previous books in the series, the central mystery and some of Gwen’s questions are solved, but other challenges and quests remain for future books. There is nothing repetitive or boring about this story or this series of books. The story just keeps on developing and building with each new phase.

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Golden Acorns

Yet again, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Lucretia Stanhope’s work. It’s another Golden Acorn from me.

Book Review: Burning Captivation by Lucretia Stanhope

A couple of weeks ago I read and reviewed ‘Blessedly Bound‘ by Lucretia Stanhope. ‘Burning Captivation’ is the sequel, the second in Stanhope’s Elemental Witch Trials series.

Lucretia Stanhope EWT 2 Burning Captivation

Equally as enchanting as the first book in the series. this sequel to Blessedly Bound sees Gwen’s life take a turn in a direction that neither the reader nor she expected. A mystery that Gwen must solve becomes increasingly complicated by developments in her own life that spiral beyond her control. Still discovering the extent of her own power and what it means for her life, she is thrust into a world plagued by intrigue, political machination and vain ambition.

Stanhope’s supporting characters are complex and multi-dimensional, making them a challenge for both Gwen and the reader to figure out. The delicious way in which she blurs the lines between good and bad, friend and foe, adds layers of intrigue to the story and engages the reader deeply in the story.

As with the first book in the series, the central mystery is solved, but other questions remain in its wake.  The reader is left with the suggestion that something big is about to happen in the next book, but also with the knowledge that it could be something that might just complicate Gwen’s life futher before things improve for her again.

For anyone who hasn’t read Blessedly Bound, this story could stand alone quite effectively. But then – why only read one great book when you can read two? Golden Acorns

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a Golden Acorn from Book Squirrel for this great book.

Both ‘Blessedly Bound’ and ‘Burning Captivation’ are available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ by Eric Tanafon

Every now and then, as a reader, I experience an incredible moment of revelation when I take in an expression or image of something that is so powerful, it takes my breath away.

No sooner had I started reading ‘Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head’ than I had to stop and experience the moment. I had just read an extraordinarily beautiful sentence: “The forest clearing was a web of moonlight and shadows.”

What perfect imagery!  It is simple and direct, but powerfully evocative at the same time.

In that moment, I was there. I had been transported to that forest clearing and drawn into the world of the story, even before I knew anything else about it.

This is the magic a writer works when wielding the wand that is their pen.

Eric Tanafon Robin Hood Wolf's Head

Tanafon continues to cast these spells with magnificent imagery throughout this book. As tales are told and the various storylines develop, the author provides the reader with a feast of sensory morsels that both satisfy and delight the reader.

At times, such images can be consumed at speed. Others, like this one, demand more thoughtful digestion to fully appreciate the skill in Tanafon’s craft:

“The autumn day had dawned softly, with light mists gathered around the sun like a veil. In the late morning the forest was still sweet and moist, haunted by the ghosts of decaying leaves.”

As a writer, I lost count of the times I read a sentence or two and thought to myself, “I wish I had written that!”

Tanafon’s genius in reinventing the story of Robin Hood as a paranormal adventure is equally as enchanting as his writing. The stories of Robin Hood, his band of followers and of their enemies are interwoven, not as a braid but as a rich tapestry. Thus the old stories are retold, stripping back the gloss of legend and hero worship and offering the reader a far more thought-provoking and deeply engaging retelling of the famous tales.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s not just a fantastic read: this is literature absolutely worthy of the top shelf.

Available on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘The Rite Of Wands’ by Mackenzie Flohr

Mackenzie Flohr has created a beautiful world of magical kingdoms in which ambition and conspiracy work to undermine the rightful order and overthrow the rule of the rightful king.

The story is populated by beautifully complex characters, among whom Mierta McKinnon and Orlynd O’Brien take the lead roles. Very few of the characters are transparent at all, so the story keeps on developing interest and intrigue as it progresses. The very fact that Mierta is so complicated and driven a character draws the reader into his thoughts and aspirations, and engages one deeply in the events of the story as they unfold.

It would be too simplistic to say that this is a story of a battle between good and evil. It may be so, but there are nuances and shades of truth and revelation, and of injustice and vindication, that obscure some elements of the characters and of the story so that the reader is never really able to foresee or predict what is yet to come. In this story, the only thing that is sure is that anything could happen. 
The story finished at a logical point of resolution, although I really didn’t want it to. A number of questions, both incidental and central to the story, remain to be answered in future books. I’m very keen for the next book!

All in all, this is shaping up to be the series I have been waiting for since I finished reading Harry Potter the seventh time over. It’s not more of the same – the world, the characters and the problems they face are very different, but The Rite Of Wands does capture the imagination in the same fantastic, magical way.

The Rite Of Wands is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

Book Review: The Dragon Warrior Of Kri by Lyra Shanti

Lyra Shanti Dragon Warrior of Kri

An enthralling tale of self-discovery and destiny.

Set in the complex and dynamic world of Shanti’s Shiva XIV series, The Dragon Warrior of Kri is a powerful short story that explores part of the early life of Meddhi, whom we meet as an older man in the Shiva XIV novels.

It’s a thought-provoking storyline enriched by beautifully written sensory detail and powerful undercurrents of love, self-discovery and rising to meet the challenges of one’s destiny.

The characters are vivid and engaging, each one portrayed as complex, highly individual, and conflicted both by their own flaws and by others’ expectations of them. This makes them highly relatable, and keeps the reader hoping that their favorite will prevail.

Shanti is a master of world building and story telling. Her writing draws the reader into this world and envelopes them in the drama and crisis points of the story so effectively that it’s hard to put the book down.

Although it is a short story that fully complements the Shiva XIV series, it works perfectly well as a standalone story.

New readers should consider themselves warned, though: this book will leave them wanting more. Thankfully, Shanti’s novels and other stories set in the same world are able to provide exactly that.

The Dragon Warrior of Kri is available on Amazon.

Read the Book Squirrel’s author spotlight on Lyra Shanti.

Book Review: Sweet Discovery by Aliya DalRae

Having thoroughly enjoyed Sweet Vengeance, the first book in Aliya DalRae‘s Jessica Sweet mysteries, and Bittersweet, the back story of Malcom, I was keen to read Sweet Discovery.

Aliya DalRae Sweet Discovery

Not until I started reading did I realise how ironic the title is – many more questions than discoveries were arising in the most fascinating and heart-stopping ways. Absolutely, 110% intrigued, I had to keep on reading to find the answers to my own questions and theories, as well as Jessica’s.

This book is a fast-paced roller coaster of emotions, complete with loop-the-loops and tilt-a-whirls of mystery, secrets, horror, and intense personal conflicts for a number of key characters.

It’s a mark of a great writer that a story can take you on the journey not just of the main characters and the key plot, but also of the other characters through sub-plots that weave seamlessly with the main story. Characters I disliked intensely in the first book became more likeable not only through the development of their personality and actions, but also through gaining a greater understanding of their motivations and histories. Other characters that I quite liked in the first book underwent an almost opposite kind of transition. Once again, DalRae reminds us through this fabulous book that no matter how confident we might be that we’re right about people or situations, or even that we know something for sure, things aren’t always what they seem.

If you’re looking for delicious paranormal mystery adventure laced with more than a dash of hot sauce and romance, look no further. DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are the books for you.

Now, I’m waiting with bated breath for the next in the series. I’m definitely hungry for the next course.

Aliya DalRae’s Jessica Sweet mysteries are all available on Amazon.

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