Tag Archives: Urban Fantasy

Interview with Lauren Harris (Three Questions)

(This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx“. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

I’m a big fan of Lauren Harris’ work. One need only look here and here for reviews of her previous books.

1) Your previous books involved life in a small southern town with high school students. This book seems radically different. What did you enjoy most about shifting to more adult characters and situations?

It’s funny because the characters in UNLEASH are only a year or so older than those in MAE, but their life experiences and the gravity of their respective situations are totally different. Now, I don’t hold back on cussing or euphemism in my YA, because I think most teens can handle it and often enjoy reading about characters who talk like they do. I wouldn’t say I actually held back on anything, but the stories felt different. UNLEASH is darker and grittier, and I enjoy writing longer books where I can explore the worldbuilding and magic systems more in-depth. There’s a whole lot of really cool magical history in UNLEASH that I’m super excited for readers to encounter.

2) It sounds like this book involves a small town setting as well. Horror/the paranormal and small towns have a long history. What do you think is unique about that setting that lends itself to those genres? 

I think the sense of isolation is what really lends itself to the genres. There’s a feeling that no one is around to help you. No one is around to hear you scream and, if you’re an outsider, it may be that no one will care or come investigate even if they do–not even the police. UNLEASH actually starts in Miami, but takes place in a small college town in Minnesota, where the main character is trying to hide.

3) This is the first book in a new series as I understand it. Do you plan out series arcs or does that come organically? Bonus question; in either case, do you envision these series as having a definite number (eg a trilogy) or more open ended?

I wrote UNLEASH as a standalone. As I’ve been revising, however, I realized the story could easily continue if there’s demand for it. There are a lot of events in the story that create juicy conflict for further books.

If I were to plan it as a series from the start, I would probably plan the whole thing, which is what I’ve done with my current work in progress. My strategy with UNLEASH will have to be different, but I’m okay with that. Like I said, there’s plenty of room for brand new conflict, and the story was always meant to have series potential.



Keep up with Lauren on the Words of a Feather podcast, her Patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/laurenbharris), or her website, www.laurenbharris.com

Join Lauren’s mailing list to for an exclusive excerpt and a reminder when the book is out!

Cover Reveal for Unleashed

I’m a big fan of Lauren Harris’ work. One need only look here and here for reviews of her previous books. When I found out she had a new one coming out and wanted some help spreading the word, I couldn’t raise my hand fast enough. Look for a “Three Questions With…” interview coming soon.

Here’s the cover and blurb:

A deadly price for freedom. A power she can’t control.

Helena Martin doesn’t know who she hates more, the sorcerers who fired the magic-laced bullet or the gang-lord master who used her mother as a shield. Both hunt the remnants of her pack and the only way Helena can protect them is using her newly-unleashed magic to lead the two factions away.

With a coveted book of spells as bait, she flees Miami and heads for her mother’s Minnesota hometown. There, salvation comes in the form of a dog rescue willing to take in a different kind of stray. The illusion of a peaceful life is seductive but with sorcerers and bounty hunters sniffing around every corner, Helena fights to keep her past, her pursuers, and her unstable power a secret.

Then she discovers it’s not the spell book her enemies are after, but Helena herself, and the strange power she can barely control. When her master’s bounty hunters threaten her new home, Helena realizes that protecting the people she’s grudgingly come to love leaves her with one option: join the sorcerers who killed her mother.




Lauren was raised by an impulsive furniture mover and an itinerant TV News professional in a string of homes up and down the East Coast of the United States. Eventually, settling (sort of) in Raleigh, NC, Lauren befriended a band of whimsical nerds who found themselves de-facto beta readers for her scribblings.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied English and Classics, Lauren moved to Tokyo, Japan for three years. While there, she studied Japanese, taught English, and fell in love with the hot drink section in the vending machines.

Now, Lauren balances a day-job of Cardiac Ultrasound with her passion for writing and other creative pursuits. She is the author of The Millroad Academy Exorcists novella series and an Assistant Editor at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Her narration and voice acting can be heard on Audible.com, EscapePod, and various short fiction podcasts.

Keep up with Lauren on the Words of a Feather podcast, her Patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/laurenbharris), or her website, www.laurenbharris.com

Join Lauren’s mailing list to for an exclusive excerpt and a reminder when the book is out!

Review – Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace (E-book)

EnvyofAngels_Final_hires I’ve been a casual fan of Matt Wallace’s for quite some time. His stories have been engaging and (in the case of Sundae) moving. When I read the synopsis for Envy of Angels, it piqued (I always have to Google this word) my interest. Was it a feast or a famine?

In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

The Goods – An urban fantasy where food takes center stage? As someone who’s worked in the food service industry in varying roles and who loves cooking and eating fabulous food, I was intrigued. This initial book in the series shows us the inside of Sin du Jour through the eyes of two excellent cooks who aren’t where they want to be professionally. The staff have to prepare incredible dishes (using a very special main ingredient) and create a wonderful party for two rival demon clans.

This story has everything I want. The characters are interesting, memorable, and as well fleshed out as you can ask for. The protagonists are interesting and strange, though the biggest protagonist may well be the clock. My personal favorite part of the story is where the crew whose job it is to procure certain specialty items goes up against… Well let’s just say I’ll never look at a chicken nugget the same way again. The conflicts, as strange as they are, have real stakes. Wallace has taken all of his many skills and written a truly fascinating and hilarious piece of fiction.

The Bads – I got nothing. I mean seriously. NOTHING.

The Verdict – If the bit in “The Goods” doesn’t hook you in, I’m not sure what can. It’s a brilliant concept, wonderfully executed. It’s one of those “I wish I had thought of it” moments. Go and buy it. I give this Five out of Five Golden Arches.

BLOG – http://www.matt-wallace.com/
TWITTER – https://twitter.com/MattFnWallace
Amazon Link – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WDVL0HQ/

Review – Shaman, Healer, Heretic (Podcast)

SHH-2012-300 Quite a while back I shouted out to the Twitterverse that I needed a new podcast novel to listen to. Shaman, Healer, Heretic by M. Terry Green came highly recommended. Did I like it? Read on.

Synopsis: Even for a techno-shaman, a kachina in the bedroom isn’t exactly part of the drill. When Olivia Lawson wakes to find one towering over her, she panics. A Hopi god visiting the real world isn’t just wrong–it’s impossible.

Or is it?

Soon Olivia learns that the kachina is the least of her worries. As she struggles to save her clients, clashes with other shamans, and fends off the attacks of real-world vigilantes, Olivia finds herself in the destructive path of a malevolent ancient force intent on leaving the spiritual realm to conquer this one.

Left with few options, Olivia is forced to defy centuries of shaman prohibitions. As she and her allies risk everything in their bid for survival, Olivia ultimately learns that the rules are there for a reason and that breaking them has a terrible cost.

Production: Solid audio all the way through. With Podiobooks that’s not surprising. This is a straight read with minimal production values.

Grade: B+

Cast: This is read by Terrry. She does an excellent job, though I must say that this is read, rather than performed. That’s okay as it’s well read. The story also helps on the rare occasion that the reading is a little on the low key side.

Grade: B-

Story: When I first started listening to this I went in blind. I don’t think I even read the above synopsis. As a result I thought that this would be a cyber-punk/Shadowrun type of story. In a way it is. The shamans in this story are able to use technology that makes working in the “multiverse” similar to the way the ‘net is portrayed in those genres of story. Whether they use technology or not, the other side and how they experience it varies from shaman to shaman.

I really enjoyed the story itself, but the characters were very well done and were perhaps stronger than the story. Not a bad thing at all. I particularly liked SK who acts as a Fixer/manager for the Shamans in his world. I’d enjoy seeing more from his perspective and perhaps even a story written completely about him. Olivia, the story’s protagonist, is likable, believable, and grows during this story. This is the first of a trilogy and I’ll be interested to see if she continues to gain depth.

There was one big thing and a couple of little things about this story that bothered me. A late reveal, where the side villains make themselves known, didn’t really work for me. Throughout the story the Big Bad, in the form of Tiamat, takes center stage. Other than a couple of scenes where we see someone working with Tiamat in the shadows, the bad guys are working entirely off stage. As a result they aren’t really very well developed. I realize that the author wanted them to be mysterious and she threw a few red herrings into the plot, but what could have been a great reveal fell flat. Part of that had to do with the brief span of time between the reveal and the conclusion of the story.

The minor problems involved two important themes that I think needed to be used more (and perhaps may in latter books). The first is the notion that shamans are treated by society at large with mistrust and in some cases hatred. I liked that and there could have been more conflict with that as its cause worked into the story. The other was the notion of old gods and old ways declining in power. This played out both with some shamans who were traditional needing to adapt and with some of the “gods” that the shamans run into in the multiverse. None of these issues detracted much from the story.

Grade: B-

Verdict: This story is a slow burn. There’s some action and no small amount of conflict, but much of the latter is interpersonal. The ‘cast runs at about eleven hours and there are times when it dragged a little. Don’t expect a rockem sockem experience and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Grade: B-