An Interview with Flynn Cole: A Guest Post by Mirren Hogan

Below is a character interview with Flynn Cole, from Nightmares Rise, book 1 of the Dark Shores trilogy, by Mirren Hogan and Erin Yoshikawa. I’m excited to welcome Mirren today (she did the interviewing!), and I hope you enjoy Flynn!


Today I sat down with my good friend and character Flynn Cole.

Me: Hi Flynn.

Flynn: Hello.

Me: Nice Australian accent you have there.

Flynn: Thanks, I like yours.

Me: You do sound a bit like me.

Flynn: So, you had questions?

Me: Yes. I understand you went to Hawaii on holiday?

Flynn: Not so much a holiday. It was more a working holiday.

Me: So– a holiday?

Flynn: (laughs). The point was to take some photos and then sell them. I a photographer. Okay, budding photographer.

Me: Why Hawaii?

Flynn: It’s about as far from my family as I could get. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but a guy needs a break from being asked when he’s getting a real job.

Me: So when are you?


Me: Okay, okay. So tell me about Makani,

Flynn: (grins like an idiot). She’s amazing. She’s strong, independent, funny, sexy, smart, and likes Angry Birds and Dr Who.

Me: Danger seems to follow her around. Are you okay with that?

Flynn: Well – to be honest I could do with less of that. I mean, it’s nice to have a bit of excitement, but to be followed around by vampires – sorry, manangaal – and other monsters get tiring after a while.

Me: What’s the difference between a vampire and a manangaal?

Flynn: Have you seen those guys? They don’t sparkle, and they’re not civilised. They’re more like flying gut-sucking dogs.

Me: Woah, they sound like fun. Not.

Flynn: I know, right? But we hold our own against them. Mostly. Kind of…

Me: (laughs sadistically) And then some of your family tracks you down.

Flynn: I told you not to ask about that. (turns in chair). Where’s my manager?

Me: I’m your manager. Now answer the question.

Flynn: (sighs) Fine. Yes they did, my sister, her husband and their kids.

Me: Did they get eaten by monsters?

Flynn: I wish. I mean, you’ll have to read and find out.

Me: I heard there was no Vegemite in this book. Why should I read it?

Flynn: There’s pizza. There’s also beer and bacon. And sandwiches. everyone loves those, right?

Me: I like a good sandwich. I hear Makani likes them too?

Flynn: Oh yes, she loves a sandwich.

Me: What else do we need to know about this book?

Flynn: It’s funny, and urban, and sometimes a little gross, but in all the right ways.

Me: Well there you are folks: funny, urban, has monsters and sandwiches. I guess you better read it for yourself.


Find out more, or hang out with Mirren, at these links:



Twitter: @MirrenHogan


Mailing list:

Gromer the Green — Wild Warlock of Wales: A Guest Post by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Here’s the latest in the characters series! My friend Debbie Manber Kupfer wanted to write about her Wild Welsh Warlock for you guys, and she threw in an excerpt from her new novel!

Gromer the Green – Wild Warlock of Wales

(The P.A.W.S. Saga – Argentum, Umbrae, Londinium)


“The world is full of wonders for those who can see it truly.” — Gromer the Green

Many of my characters that populate the pages of P.A.W.S. emerged from people that were close to me. Celia and Max, for example, are based on my own omama and opapa who played a huge part in my early years. Sometimes, however, a character writes himself into my world and this was the case with Gromer the Green.

I met the old warlock in the same way as Quentin did in Argentum, a strange old fellow in a long green robe filled with pockets bulging with all sorts of odd stuff that he picked up in his rambles. Some of the pockets seemed to be moving, and Gromer was muttering to himself. Quentin watched him through his hawk eyes and was drawn to the old magic maker.

He looked harmless, but Quentin knew that sometimes strong magic dwelt in unlikely places. Gromer invited Quentin into his “castle” in a rugged part of Wales. The castle was just a cave, but a more comfortable cave you would never visit. Every corner was covered in books and the air was filled with the smell of the glorious pea soup that was always bubbling on the stove.

From the beginning it is clear that Gromer is lonely. There was once a second wild warlock of Wales, Caradog, but he wandered off into Umbrae (the shadow world) many years before. So Gromer lavishes his attention on his guests. During the course of Argentum and Umbrae Gromer welcomes not just Quentin, but Max and Celia into his humble home. All find a refuge with Gromer and though they eventually leave they will forever hold a place in their heart for the warlock.

And me too. If I was asked where in my world would like to go, I would not say one of the P.A.W.S. Institutes, no my first choice would be to hang out with Gromer the Green in his cave, listen to his stories of the endangered Wizzlewoop, drink tea (from “proper tea leaves, none of those new-fangled tea bag thingies”), and share a bowl of sumptuous pea soup.

Here’s a little snippet from Umbrae. In this section Max Katz (Miri’s grandfather) is meeting Gromer for the first time. He’s in his tabby cat form and has just (mostly) climbed down a mountain.

“Ooph! A puss, from the mountain no less. Pretty puss—but smelly, too? What was you doings up there?”

The man spoke in English, which was a language that Max had been taught. Still he had a strange accent that Max did not recognize. He was oddly dressed in a tattered robe covered in pockets and wore his hair long and straggly.

“I’ve always wanted a puss,” he muttered to himself. “A familiar—a magician should have a familiar, or so I’ve been told. Here puss, puss, come with me. You look hungry. Do you like pea soup? It’s almost ready. I was just gathering some more wizzlewoop.”

Wizzlewoop, thought Max, there’s that strange word again. He wondered what in the world it could be. He decided to follow the odd man. He was hungry, and pea soup sounded good.

“Of course I might have a can of sardines too, Puss! You’d like that, wouldn’t you, sardines? Silly buggers, I’ve always thought. Lock themselves in the can and leave the key outside!”

Puzzled, Max followed the man along a winding path. Every so often he would reach for something on the ground. Sometimes he would pluck a plant or pick up a rock and put it in one of his pockets. At other times he would stare at an item for a moment, and then toss it aside, grumbling. Then he would turn his head and address Max, “Come along, Puss.”

They appeared to be walking towards a solid wall of rock. Max wondered where the old man lived. He thought they would veer from their path, but they didn’t. The man stopped directly in front of the rock and pulled out a small silver wand from one of his pockets.

He didn’t appear to be very powerful for a magician, but sometimes great powers were hidden in unlikely packages.

The man recited a spell in an odd language. “Agored ar gyfer Gromer y Green a’i gath newydd.”

Then he carefully drew a doorway on the rock face. The shape shone silver, and then with a single push, the door opened.

“Welcome to the castle of Gromer the Green,” the magician said with a flourish, and Max followed him inside.


Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in the London. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a writer and a freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She is the author of the young adult fantasy series, P.A.W.S. which features a secret institute of shapeshifters hidden deep beneath the Jewel Box in Forest Park, St. Louis. In addition she has stories in several anthologies including Fauxpocalypse, Stardust,Always, Winter Wishes, and Sins of The Past. She has also published a book of puzzles, Paws 4 Logic, with her son Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

Connect with Debbie on her blogs:



Facebook Author page:

Twitter: @CiciCat42






Vanessa Ann McKenzie: A Guest Post by Reika

Today I’ve got something a little different for you. My dear friend writes fanfiction for various properties, especially games, and today’s post is about the lead character from her long-running XCOM fanfic, Taking It Back.


As a long time gamer, both tabletop and computer roleplaying, I have a lot of characters that I love. Some of them even see re-use, often from a tabletop game to computer, but sometimes from tabletop to tabletop. This is about one that went from tabletop to fanfiction based on a computer game, but oddly enough not a CRPG.

Vanessa Ann McKenzie “Van” started off as a character in a short lived CthulhuTech game. I won’t go into her history for that, except to say that she was teen from a wealthy NYC arcology that was brutalized by the Esoteric Order of Dagon. It was such a rough background that it gave my hardbitten GM pause as being almost too brutal for him, but he ultimately okayed her.

Normally characters like Van tend to not stick around in my brain for long because I have a lot of character voices clamoring for attention, but stick around she did. Every so often I’d threaten to inflict her on my GM, just to see him twitch, but also because I wanted to see what Van would be like if she was given a chance to grow.

The reasons why she stuck around in my head are that while she is a survivor of terrible things, she is still a good person who wants to save the world despite itself.

Being the cynical person that I am, that kind of character is an extreme rarity for me.

Van’s opportunity to get developed came about in a completely unexpected manner.

I was in a writing slump for a year. None of my existing projects, fanfic or original, interested me, then I played through the sci-fi turn based strategy game XCOM 2 and my Muse handed me a fully fleshed story idea.

Being stubborn in addition to cynical, my initial reaction was “you have got to be shitting me”, but the Muse insisted that it would be great.

For those unfamiliar with the XCOM series, the premise is simple: aliens invade the earth and an international coalition is formed to fight them off. The series originally started in 1994 as UFO: Enemy Unknown, had multiple sequels and spinoffs, then was rebooted as XCOM Enemy Unknown with an expansion pack called Enemy Within.  XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after Enemy Unknown where the aliens won with superior firepower, took over humanity’s fate and XCOM became a disorganized resistance movement.

With both games, the player is meant to be the Commander who leads XCOM to its ultimate fate in victory or defeat, so you don’t make a persona or avatar like you would with other games. The various characters address things to the player directly as the Commander.

While I somewhat liked Enemy Unknown/Within, it didn’t really excite me. XCOM 2 was a very different beast, especially with the story and the major NPCs.

So when I gave in to the Muse’s ridiculous idea of a romance set in XCOM 2 between the Commander and Central Officer John Bradford (second in command to the Commander) I tried to figure out the Commander. That’s when Van gave me a mental smack upside the head. So I had my Commander.

Fortunately that included a revised background, because there was no way I was using the original.  She was still a survivor who wanted to save the world. Only in this case she grew up in the slums of Newark, New Jersey, lost both parents and older brother to drugs, alcohol and crime at the age of 12. From there she bounced around in foster care until she was old enough to fend for herself. All that saved her from a similarly gruesome fate as her familiar is the fact she’s smart and perceptive.

Her fascination with history came about from her desire to understand how people do what they do, but had no interest in psychology. Her interest in sci-fi came about from the rare family outing to see the movie Independence Day in the theaters. Even at eleven years old she knew most of it was bunk, but thought it was an interesting idea, one that she thought over from time to time as the years went by.

When Van entered college she chose to go for a history degree with a focus on the effects of technologically superior cultures on those with more primitive tech. That eventually lead to her now infamous (to her at least) thesis during her Master’s program about possible scenarios for aliens invading the earth and likely reactions to those scenarios. That brought her to the attention of the fledgling XCOM coalition that had been formed as a just in case contingency to the very idea of an alien invasion. When she completed her Master’s, she was given a job offer at Foresight Laboratories to come up with simulations for the military to deal with. Within a few months that position evolved to running and solving simulations cooked up by other people.

It ultimately proved to be on the job training when a few years later a real alien invasion started, XCOM became activated and Van was made the Commander.

Unfortunately, they were betrayed by the very countries they were trying to protect, XCOM HQ fell to the aliens, Van was taken prisoner and the alien controlled ADVENT government began to reshape humanity.

Twenty years later, Van was rescued by the remnants of XCOM and now she’s faced with rebuilding XCOM, uniting the disparate forces of the Resistance and bring down ADVENT for an earth she doesn’t recognize anymore and for a humanity that she doesn’t feel a part.

Van is probably one of the most human characters that I’ve come up with. She’s far from perfect, and started off as a person who really only had her brains going for her to eventually becoming someone who can kick ass (my typical RPG characters start off enormously capable at the ver least, the rapidly become grotesque) She’s wounded and scarred, but tries not to let that dominate her life. When she loves, it’s a quietly intense thing. When she makes a promise, she finds a way of fulfilling it. Even if it ends up horribly delayed. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit either. After all, she once kicked a general out of her vase when he made the mistake of trying to countermand her orders.

Thus, this is how the story Taking It Back came to be and I was finally able to give Van her chance to grow and shine.

I will still threaten to inflict her on my GM though. Just because. 😉

If you’re interested in reading the story, you can check it out at


Talking About Doctor Maniac: A Guest Post by S.J. Delos

Here’s my good friend S.J. Delos to talk about his supervillain character, Doctor Maniac!


They say people root for the heroes. But we all know that, sometimes not so secretly in fact, we find ourselves more interested in the bad guy. From Darth Vader to Doctor Evil. How did they become what they are? What sort of diabolical scheme will they come up with next?

I would like to bring into the spotlight my own fictional bad guy, Doctor Maniac. In my books, the good Doctor is the super-villain working behind the scenes. He is considered by the general population of the world to be the most evil and dangerous man on the planet. If given a choice between running into the Devil or running into Doctor Maniac, most people would pick the former.

However, thing I enjoy most about the creation of this character isn’t the fact that he is a megalomaniacal genius with hundreds of murders under his belt. Nor is it his hubris, of which he has spades. Instead, it is his twisted infatuation with the series’ protagonist, Kayo. He calls it love, and it might be in some weird, disturbing fashion inside his head. However, Kayo considers it to be an uncomfortable situation that never seems to actually go away. Doctor Maniac becomes that ex we all have had at one time or another. One that just can’t get past the fact the relationship is over and move on.

In a reversal of the usual comic villain trope, Doctor Maniac is not prone to engaging in a useless monologue with his opponents. He also most certainly does not design elaborate traps that can be foiled with some ingenuity and dental floss. When it comes to dispatching those in his way, he will have them killed and not lose a moment’s peace over the decision.

However, despite the magnitude of the betrayal (in his eyes) by Kayo, he cannot bring himself to actually harm her. Even in Some Kind of Hero, his actions are far less severe than they could have been.

Another thing that I enjoy about writing this character is the mystery surrounding him. While Doctor Maniac is connected in some manner to the chief villain in each book, he himself is not the orchestrator of the danger that Kayo faces. He actually helps her, in his own strange way, though you have to wonder what exactly is going on in his mind.

One of the things I would like to point out is that the reader only gets to see what Doctor Maniac is like from Kayo’s perspective. And it’s a perspective skewed by the fact that while she is trying to show the world she can be a hero, Kayo can’t stop thinking about all the things she did at his request when they were together. Kayo wants to believe that the only reason why she was a bad girl for so long was because was young and in love with the charismatic Doctor.

Until now, I’ve been content to leave Doctor Maniac as a character whose true motivations and history are as much as mystery to Kayo as they are to the reader. Interestingly enough, more than one person has read So Not a Hero and told me afterwards that they found Doctor Maniac to be one of the more interesting characters in the book. I have to agree, though I hope that doesn’t mean that the other, more prominent, characters were not enjoyable.

I’ve decided that Doctor Maniac will be more visible in the third book, Just Like a Hero. I think it is time for the reader to know just what it is that makes this man, who can strike fear into hearts with just the mention of his name, tick. I want people to know what really transpired between a young, pre-hero Kayo and the man who controlled her life for so many years.

I think everyone’s going to be fairly well surprised.


S.J. Delos is a self-proclaimed “average geek” living in Greensboro, North Carolina with his long-suffering wife, Kim and their two sons, Connor and Cameron. When not making up stories and writing them down, he spends his time reading comic books, playing Skyrim, and watching Doctor Who.

You can find him, or his books, at any of these fine links:

Kaden the Dragon: A Guest Post by Maya Starling

Please welcome my new friend Maya, here to tell us about her beautiful dragon!


“She was the girl who longed for the freedom of the dragon, and he was the dragon who longed to be a man.”

 One of the main characters in book one of the Dragons Awaken Trilogy, Dragon’s Treasure, is, of course, a dragon. The whole idea for the book was born with him.

I feel sorry for dragons. They are mostly featured as evil creatures—monsters really—or as creatures the “chosen one” gets to ride, or even just as a bit part in a plain dragon-shifter romance. That, or I have been reading the wrong books. Mind you, there are excellent exceptions, but only a few in the whole sea of literature featuring dragons.

As a gamer and lover of all things geek and fantasy, it was a given that there would be a dragon featured in my story. Kaden’s appearance was inspired by the artwork of Ben Wotten’s Blue Dragon.

Kaden is a magnificent dragon, with dark blue, silky scales, and a golden underside. Dark charcoal horns and amber-colored eyes grace his body. He has a scar over his left eye, cutting through his brow.

I wanted to give my dragon a different kind of story. Why does the knight always have to save the maiden from the dragon? Why wouldn’t she prefer the dragon to the monster that is the knight? Why not switch roles, give a twist to that old trope and maybe sprinkle it with some Beauty and the Beast elements?

Those were the main questions that started Kaden’s story. And, don’t worry, the main question for the second book was: Why wouldn’t the maiden save herself?

I like playing with tropes and stereotypes, trying to write the “what if” and “why not” stories.

That is how Kaden was thought-born. Since I’m a pantser when it comes to writing, I let Kaden tell me his history throughout both books.

Once a human, Kaden was cursed to be a dragon with a penchant to permanently borrow and hoard other’s possessions. In his cave, you can find anything from gold and jewelry to crates filled with pants, half torn wagons, and even a chimney.

He once “borrowed” a horse, but it didn’t turn out well, as much as he enjoyed finally having some company. He wasn’t cruel of heart, so he let the horse escape.

He learned not to “borrow” stuff from old women—nay, hags! They are tenacious and will beat you with a cane for your attempt, no matter how big and deadly you are.

Being a dragon wasn’t all about the drawbacks. He saved a young girl’s life once from a fire. Lucky for him, fire does him no harm.

And he would never tire of flying. It was exhilarating. He will never forget when he first spread his wings and took flight, as awkward as it was—and drunken-looking. The view, the freedom… the vastness of the sky above and the earth below… the experience entranced him.

But, as the years passed, he tired of the loneliness. He missed the human connection, affection, and even touch. The rare encounters with humans ended up with Kaden defending his life against wanderlusting adventurers and trying to save their lives, too. He had to take some, though. And their spilt blood will forever lay heavy on his soul.

Depressed and weary, he secluded himself on a mountain, in a dreary cave, away from the people, and away from life.

Until, one day, a young woman chased by wolves stumbled into his cave.

She was the one to turn his destiny around. She was the one to bring light to his darkness, and she was the one that brought him the salvation of death and rebirth.


Follow Maya at these links, or purchase her books: * Twitter * Facebook

Dragon’s Treasure (book 1)

Dragon’s Prize (book 2)