Hey everybody. Welcome to the first ever House of 1000 Books author interview. Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you to Peter Hartog. He’s a Sci-Fi writer who recently released his first book called Bloodlines, and as you later find out in the interview, he is working on a second book called Pieces of Eight. He will tell you more about that in the conversation!
So with that, let’s get to it. Read on and enjoy the interview.
Topher H: Thanks for the time. I want to let you know that this is YOUR interview. If you want anything asked, feel free to write it in. If you want anything taken out, please feel free to take it out. I’m pretty easy on how we do this.
Let us start with what I like to call my series of hypothetical questions. Say, at the end of your career you had a chance to meet yourself before you began your writing career and you had a chance to tell yourself one thing about writing yourself about writing, what would it be?
Peter Hartog: Topher, thanks for the interview!
Since I’m at the beginning of my writing career, I have no idea what pitfalls lie between now and “the end”. But one thing has been clear from the get-go: you need a thick skin. Rejection is real and constant and the bane of anyone unprepared for it. If you can’t pick yourself up, you’ll never make it.
Writing, by itself, is its own reward. But for your work to be accepted, then published, that is an entirely different animal. I would remind myself to never give up, and to focus upon why I wrote Bloodlines, who inspired (and continues to inspire) me, and the boyhood dream that’s propelled me forward from the very beginning.
TH: Words have power. Some could lift a person others could destroy a person. Do you
recall an earlier time in your life where it dawned on you that language had the strength to do that?
PH: All you have to do is listen to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream”, and that’s all you need to know about the positive, uplifting power of words. It’s so easy to fall prey to the antagonistic rhetoric of politics and so-called “noble” causes. The callous disregard of some folks that have a ready-made platform or create their own for the sole purpose of vilifying anyone who isn’t “you”, who doesn’t believe in what you believe, who aspire to bring down everyone else for personal gain. Those words, that power, is abused daily, and disgusts me. I combat that with treating people as I would want to be treated, and it’s something I try to reinforce with my children, so that they can incrementally help make the world a better place.
TH: What did your family members think about your writing when you first started it? Did they approve of it or did they think it was a waste of time?
PH: My wife, my greatest cheerleader and supporter, had been on my case for 14 years to write a novel. She became so tired of me manufacturing excuses as to why I wouldn’t, that she gave up pushing me a few years ago. When I finally sat down and put virtual pen to paper, she gave me a nod and a smile, then let me be me. I’ve only been met with support and encouragement, and I’m incredibly thankful for all of it.
TH: I read your bio, and in it, I saw that you may or may not Spider-man. I googled a fact; it turns out that Spider-man senses can be dulled. If you were Spider-man and your spidey senses were your writing, what could dull your spidey senses and slow down your writing of your book?
PH: Stress and exhaustion. My day job is both rewarding and taxing. I am the sole breadwinner in our family. Therefore, my focus is upon what pays the bills first. My own needs are secondary to my wife and my two boys.
Some days, I’m worn down by it all. When that happens, my creativity dies. I have no desire to sit before a screen and delve into strange new worlds. I’d much rather curl up and shut my mind off for a bit to recharge the batteries.
However, writing is like music. It ebbs and flows, flittering at the edge of my mind’s eye to soothe and cajole, inspire and engage. When the right tune pops on the radio or my iTunes, I start feeling the jazz and my mind races with possibilities. That’s when my “Spidey Sense” tingles, and I’m ready to blaze new adventures for Detective Tom Holliday and his eclectic team of malcontents.
TH: Hot off the press! You have a new book out. Can you please tell us about the book?
PH: I do!
The story is a blend of genres, combining elements of science fiction, crime, detective and urban fantasy. Think Blade Runner meets Harry Bosch and Harry Dresden.
It’s set in Empire City, a future dystopian version of New York City, where magic and technology co-exist, parallel dimensions spawn terrible threats, and humanity endures behind massive walls of stone and spell-forged steel.
Bloodlines follows the homicide investigation of a young woman, her body completely drained of blood down to a cellular level, and two eyewitnesses jacked on the designer drug Goldjoy claiming a vampire did it. Tom “Doc” Holliday, a disgraced homicide detective, is recruited to join Special Crimes, a semi-clandestine unit of special individuals solving cases by “any means necessary”.
Holliday is no stranger to the unusual. He possesses a fickle clairvoyance that he dubbed the “Insight” which allows him to see the dark and terrible things hiding upon his world. Throughout the novel, he also battles personal demons of his own – at the start of the story, he’s seven years removed from a corruption scandal, and a stint in a substance abuse rehab center where his girlfriend also committed suicide.
Accompanying Holliday is the irreverent Deacon Kole, a former Protector from the Confederate States of Birmingham, Leyla, a shrewd hacker who also wields magic, and Besim Saranda, an interdimensional being known as a Vellan with an agenda all her own.
From morgues and coffee houses, to underground drug labs and a foot-chase along the dirty streets of Empire City, the story ratchets up the intrigue, action, magic and suspense for a dark and fun ride.
Man, I just get goosebumps thinking about it!
TH: What made you want to write this book?
PH: Holliday’s story needed to be told, resonating with me unlike any other story I’d ever concocted before. The words flowed easily, and the chapters just piled up.
TH: Was there a goal in mind for the book?
PH: Yes. To write a complete novel. To share Holliday’s story with whoever wanted to read it. To prove to myself that I could do it.
TH: It takes a long time to write a book, how many hours a day did you write for?
PH: There’s no consistency to my writing time. With two young boys and a full-time job, my life is very busy. What I can say is I started in July of 2016 and hit the publish button August of 2018.
TH: After you wrote your first book, got it published, how did you change your thinking about writing?
PH: There’s writing, and the business of writing. I still know very little about the business end of things. A lot of that has to do with my lack of time as well as resources. If the question is solely about writing, my answer is I love every aspect of it, from planning, to writing, revising, editing, agonizing over plot points, discussing ideas with friends, or staring off into space wondering what’s next for my cast of crazy characters.
TH: Are any of the characters in the book based on real people? If so who?
PH: Leyla, Deacon and Besim are all based upon characters three of my best friends developed for our weekly Sunday night role-playing sessions. We’ve been gaming since the late 1980s, interrupted when I moved from Massachusetts to Georgia. They moved down here a few years later, and we’ve been table-topping ever since.
As for the actual story, I developed it and Empire City, then ran it as a role-playing game for my group for about a year and a half. I changed several aspects of their characters for novelization purposes, but essentially the renditions of Leyla, Deacon and Besim are a love letter to my friends, admiring their creative skills and paying homage to them as wonderful people.
TH: Do you wish that you would have written in anybody that you know of that you could just end up taking out your frustration out on? What would you do?
PH: No. That never comes up. It’s not in my nature to write in someone like that.
TH: How long did it take for your research for your book? How did you do it?
PH: Research was ongoing. Whenever I came up against something that I needed to know more about, I popped on the internet or checked in with some friends who are experts in certain fields. For example, a college friend of mine is a successful urologist in Long Island. I consulted with him regarding dialysis to make certain the chapter involving a similar process was handled accurately. In addition, another friend who is an Episcopalian minister in Michigan assisted me with a challenging chapter late in the novel that involves the taking of a life. As an author, authenticity and accuracy are keys to a successful story. I’m very thankful I know a lot of experts!
TH: What’s next for you? What are you working on?
PH: The sequel! It’s currently entitled Pieces of Eight. I’m slogging through chapter 22 and hope to have the first draft finished by the end of this year.
TH: Is your next book a sequel to the first where both books tie together? Or are you trying to keep them separate?
PH: See above.
TH: Did you edit anything out of the book so you could use it in the second book?
PH: I have several chapter’s worth of writing that I kept in case I needed it. So far, I haven’t used any, but you just never know!
TH: Is there anything that you want to add? Anything you want your readers to know?
PH: Every writer wishes he or she could make the NY Times list. Breaking into the traditional publishing industry feels like bludgeoning your head against a wall repeatedly, then doing it more when you think you can’t take it.
The truth is, you can’t give up.
I’ll continue to query literary agents, and maybe move on to publishers. However, make no mistake: there is no shame in self-publishing
That’s not why I’m continuing my search for representation, either. I simply want to see my book in a bookstore, just like every other writer out there. I’m extremely proud of my membership in the independently published ranks. There are oodles of extremely talented, and equally unheralded indies out there. And I will continue to support them on Twitter by purchasing their work and giving them as much exposure as an indie like me can provide.
Bloodlines is an entertaining story that combines many classic tropes into what I think is a pretty damn good book. It has all the elements a reader wants – humor, emotion, action, unique characters and a story to back it all up.
Sure, I’m biased, but I think if you give it a read, you might just think the same thing.
Thank you for your time.
TH: And thank you for your time!
“We are Motorhead. And we play rock and roll.” – Lemmy Kilmister
A lot of people, when looking at Lemmy would say that he’s just a rough looking old rock star, and they may not be that far off the mark. For me though, out of all the rock and metal bands out there, Motörhead was and still is one of my favourites, and considered Lemmy one of my idols.
Late last year I had a chance to read the book called Lemmy: The Definitive Biography written by Mick Wall. I read the paperback edition which was a trade book with a whopping 320 pages. Pretty short when it comes to somebody who lived for over 69 years in my honest opinion.
The book was a genuinely fantastic biography of Lemmy Kilmister and not about Motörhead that much, although the band was mentioned in it several times. It has a lot of excellent stories in it from his childhood all the way up to his death.
What I positively enjoyed about the book is that the stories were the accounts from Lemmy himself put together from a series of interviews over the years with Mick Wall.
It was surpassing to read stuff about his earlier bands like the Rockin’ Vicas where he wore a dog collar on stage to Hawkwind. There were loads of insights about the bands’ dynamics and history.
There were some mind blowing facts. For instance, when Lemmy died, by taking a look at him you wouldn’t know he was a millionaire, would you?
If you read the book and paid attention, you would get a pretty good understanding of the way Lemmy thought and what his values were. Let me share them.
Being alone is ok. In the book, Lemmy explains how he was an only child and how it affected his outlook on life.
Be yourself. If you take a look at Lemmy’s living conditions, the way he talked, and the way he looked. He didn’t care. In the book, it pointed out many views of what he thought of things when it came to being himself.
Don’t be afraid to think out loud. Lemmy pretty much said what he wanted throughout the book. After all, it was his book.
F### those who would first f### you.
Be kind. In the book, the author and Lemmy showed that he was genuinely a kind person.
Follow your calling in life. That’s precisely what he did. No matter how rough it got, he kept on playing rock and roll.
Keep your word. The internet is the death of civilization. In the book, there is a big explanation of why he thought this. I found that is sounded like somebody who didn’t want to brace technology.
This book is definitely for Lemmy and Motorhead fans. He truly lived an exciting life, although it seemed pretty stressful and hard at the time. You will be impressed with the number of facts from every aspect of his life were in the book. A great read. If you are a fan, buy the book.
Quote “Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.” – Lemmy Kilmister
Interested in reading this amazing biography about the legendary Lemmy? Pick up your own copy here, Lemmy: The Definitive Biography.
Welcome to Paradise! Paradise I said! Where it’s blue skies! Clear waters! The peace and quiet of solitude! Zen and happiness at it’s best!
Isn’t it amazing how a good getaway is mind relaxing? How a trip into Paradise does a person some good. Not to mention your marriage after you tremendously messed up. Breath in, breath out.
Everything you ever wanted in a getaway and Jackson R. Thomas brings all those aspects of paradise alive with a nasty twist! Maybe an ugly twist is an understatement?
So, what precisely is this book about? A man by the name of Darren and his wife Vanis are having a difficult time with their marriage. (No, I’m not going to say what the issue is, that would be a spoiler, my friends!) Feeling like a dirtbag and realizing this Darren hears a radio commercial on a getaway to Paradise, Maine. Sounding too good to be true!
He picks up the phone and easy as that, he and his wife are off for the getaway of their lives!
When I started to read this book, I read the warnings. I said what? Warnings for a book? The text said, “For mature audiences only.” I thought to myself. Ok, I’m old, I can read this. Next came, “This is a splatterpunk novel.” What’s splatterpunk? This is my first voyage into the world of the splattering punks? (Is that even a real thing?) Finally, it said, “There will be carnage, blood, and scenes you may not be able to handle.” Ah, that’s easy.
I read the prologue, and it was like a scene out of a Friday the 13th movie. Sliced and
dice and everything nice! I blinked, and my anticipation grew. I was liking where this was going. Thank goodness I didn’t put the book down, the rest of the story just got better.
But once chapter one started, it was back to an ordinary story. Then into chapter two
everything seemed somewhat typical for a book that dealt with a dysfunctional marriage. So I thought then, that was it, and the rest of the story was going to be a beautiful time in paradise!
But, guess what? I was wrong. You see, Jackson is a great storyteller and does an exceptional job of relaxing you into The feeling of paradise, and just when you get comfortable, Darren and Vanis are all having a good time, he introduces The Watcher on you in chapter 3! Who’s The Watcher? That’s not for me to say, but I’m pretty sure he’s the head of the welcoming committee in Paradise. Believe me? I wouldn’t, it’s a horror book remember?
So my thoughts about the book.
I never read a splatterpunk book before. So this book was a treat for being my first time. Mr. Thomas does a magnificent job making the reader feel uncomfortable in more scenes than one. I tried to tell my wife about the storyline, and she told me to shut my mouth, and that was that. It was way out of her comfort zone apparently. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it again. I didn’t mention it to her anymore, but I kept on reading. I so wanted to share what was happening in the book, but she couldn’t handle it!
Why did I keep on reading? I am a huge horror fan and kept on reading like a champ.
I’ve already talked about the plot, that the book is a horror fan’s dream, and this novel isn’t for the squeamish. I haven’t talked about the characters.
Jackson put you right into the thick of things when introducing characters and letting you know what they are all about. They were really well created and well thought through. Not at all two-dimensional. You got a pretty good feeling about who was naughty or nice, evil or angelic, and trustworthy and untrustful. I like that with characters when you can really feel what they are all about.
The supporting characters were just as good as the main characters, especially the little Mary.
By now, you can tell how I liked the book. I thought it was great! Overall I really enjoyed it. All blood and guts put aside, it was an entertaining read.
My recommendation. Take the warning at the beginning into consideration. The book is brutal. It’s scary, has a lot of blood, and copulation (trying to keep it clean) in it. If you are a splatterpunk or horror fan, you can’t go wrong this book. It is skillfully written and designed to disturb you in more ways than one.
Well done Mr. Jackson, well done!
I have to give thumbs up to Sylvain Neuvel for writing such an astonishing novel. It is the first installment in his series called The Themis Files. I haven’t had a chance to read the other parts of the trilogy, but I am one hundred percent certain that I am going to.
The story originates with a little girl by the name of Rose Franklin. Who at the time is 11 years old. Her parents are throwing her a birthday party where they have invited a bunch of other kids. Although Rose welcomes the effort her parents had made, she can’t get the thoughts of her brand new bike out of her head. A brand new bike that her father purchased her for her birthday today.
She goes through the motions of opening her presents, blowing out candles, and smiling. She can’t shake the thought of her bike out of her head and how much she wants to ride it. Eventually, she decides to sneak out of the party and go out for a ride on her new bike. She pedals as fast as she can and heads up to the end of the road where the woods are.
She spends some time there, and when it starts to get dark, she decides to make her way back home. Not paying attention she eventually falls in a perfectly square hole in the ground.
Rose sees that the walls of the hole are glowing and she runs her hands over them as she lays there. Unknown to Rose she is not on the ground but in the palm of a large metal hand.
The rest of the story is broken up by chapters in the form of interviews. The interviews
are discussions between a mystery man and a group of people that form up a secret team that work on the cracking the mystery of the giant’s hand. This team is head by none other but Rose Franklin herself! I found that this was an excellent way of breaking up the story.
The way the interviews are done helps pull out information about the story, the past of the characters, and their current feelings about their lives, others on the team, and most importantly the project. There is no way you don’t know one character is hurting inside, another who isn’t sad inside, or one is in love.
The book itself was a perfect size for me. It took me around a week to read. Just like I like it. Just long enough so I don’t get bored with the story.
If there were anything that I would change about this book, it would probably be that I would write in some chapters that were not in the form of interviews. I’m pretty sure that would defeat the format the author was trying to make of building the whole story out of discussions.
Now to sum this up. I found this book fresh, a new idea of what ifs, and easy to read. If I had to recommend this book to a specific type of person, I would have to say that I would recommend it to somebody who likes that feels real with just the right amount of Sify in it.
I got to ask you, what if your name was
something amazing like Earl? What if you liked and took pride in
your job? What if you worked with a new guy who gave you the
Unfortunately and unlucky for you, your mother didn’t give you the blessing of calling you Earl, and you probably hate your job like the majority of the population. Although you probably do work with a creep, chances are his name isn’t Julian.
On the other hand, today is your lucky day! Jamie Stewart has given you a tale with all of that! This story is about an impressive kid named Earl who took great pride in his job. Pretty much the best on the block. You know, the type of guy who is the manager’s pet! That’s is until he has to train a new trainee. This new guy, well there’s something wrong with him. What do you ask? Well, that will be giving away the story now, wouldn’t it?
So without getting into the plot of this story let me tell you what I liked and didn’t like about it.
First off I liked it because it was a short read. I usually read novels that are a lot bigger. Make sense seeing that this is a short story. So reading this was a real treat for me. Second, the author did a great job of telling the story. There was a great intro that quickly got down to business.
The most remembered thing, for me at
least, is how the description of the job brought back feelings of
when I worked in retail. The thankless managers that fed you the
lines of how good of a job you were doing just so you would do more
work. It made me feel dirty, and not in a good way. It brought back
memories of those thankless retail days. The days when you went to
work with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. That’s what made
the feeling of the book so great. Mission accomplished by the
author, intentionally or unintentionally.
With that out of the way. Here’s the bad. I didn’t really find anything that stood out as being bad in the story. I did find a few words that I thought were spelling mistakes and it got me flipping out a bit. Realize was written as realise. After Mr. Google explained it, it all depends on your location. I felt a bit stupid about that, but I’m happy that I got it figured out. It makes me feel a lot better about the story.
Now to wrap this all up. I would suggest this story for the reader who wants a quick read that wants to have the feeling of oh no. I found the story pretty suspenseful considering the length of it. If I had to describe the stories style, I would say it would have to be the feeling of Stephen King telling you about the time when he worked in retail.