Interview with J.M. Lanham, author of the sci-fi thriller The R.E.M. Effect.

Today we caught up with J.M. Lanham to talk about his latest book, Costa Rica and of course elephant rides! Check out the interview below:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today! Can you tell me a little about your latest book? The R.E.M. Effect is a hard science-fiction thriller set in the near future. It’s 2021, and our protagonist has landed a job at one of the most successful drug companies in the world, Asteria Pharmaceuticals. Asteria is the first drug company to develop a gene-modifying sleeping pill using antisense therapy (a real technology currently in the early stages of development). The sleeping pill, Ocula, blocks the genes responsible for insomnia, creating the perfect eight-hour sleep cycle—in most patients. While the results of the clinical trials look promising at first glance, nefarious forces inside Asteria soon realize a handful of clinical trial participants are experiencing some pretty uncanny side effects; side effects that quickly turn the worlds of everyone involved (and a few who aren’t) upside down.

What inspired this story?

The inspiration for The R.E.M. Effect originated from the stories I grew up reading. The first full-length novel I ever read was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I was in second or third grade at the time, and I’ve been hooked on hard science fiction ever since. Although a lot of different authors have inspired me to take a crack at writing fiction, I wanted to pay homage to the man who got me hooked on contemporary literature by writing a story based on science fact—in this case, a very new and promising type of gene therapy called antisense. Of course, there are other elements within the story that could probably be attributed to other influences like Philip K. Dick or Stephen King, but Crichton set the groundwork for this novel in my adolescent mind over twenty years ago.

Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

A little bit of both. The idea behind the self-help guru Donny Ford came from this guy (we won’t name names) I used to see on late-night infomercials back in the 90s. He was a modern-day snake oil salesman, putting on a slick show while basically selling common sense. I wanted to explore what makes a person like that tick, and what might happen if that someone had some frightening experiences after taking a new drug. That being said, I also had fun interjecting a little bit about myself in Ford. I had a “job” right after high school selling kitchen knives, and I thought that sounded like something a motivational speaker might have done in his teenager years, so I threw it in. Other characters like Paul Freeman, Alex Freeman and Claire Connor suffer from migraines, just like me. But for the most part, they are mainly the result of long walks, a little brainstorming and a lot of coffee.

What is your favorite part of the book?

It’s hard to pick just one, but the Costa Rica scenes are right up there. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are a few big reveals there that shed a lot of light on what’s causing these strange things to happen with a handful of patients who were exposed to Ocula. I also enjoyed writing the Costa Rica scenes the most. It’s where the action really picks up, and it’s quite a rollercoaster ride from there, so it’s definitely one of my favorites.

Does your book have a lesson or moral?

I think readers will take several lessons away from the book by the time the curtain is called, but I’m not going to give away anything here. 😉

Fair enough! Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

The exciting part about The R.E.M. Effect (for me, anyway) is that it’s only the beginning. While the book certainly stands on its own, there is plenty of room left for sequels. I currently have plans to write a trilogy around these characters, with everything already outlined, down to the final scene. And, it’s a story I really think sci-fi thriller fans are going to like. I’m halfway through the second novel, with plans to release it spring of 2017. If all goes well, I’ll have the trilogy wrapped up and published by the end of the coming year. Wish me luck!

Thanks for your time today J.M. Lanham! It’s been great to get to know you a bit better. Our final question is a bit of fun: You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

Charge $10 for elephant rides, of course! (Although I would be willing to substitute cold hard cash for lawn services during the summer months.)

The R.E.M. Effect is available at Amazon now, and is only .99c until December 21st, so get your copy now!

Interview with Indie Author of Dead Ends, Ken Newman

Recently staff from TheBookWormReview.com caught up with Ken Newman to have a chat about his latest book Dead Ends (and some other stuff too!).

Keep reading to find out more including how to score yourself a free copy!

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?

 Dead Ends is a science fiction adventure. Think Battlestar Galactica meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Commander Jabal Shann of the Azurean Sky Navy, sets out alone on a year-long voyage aboard a vast, decommissioned warship, The Blossoming Flower. Although no one on his world thinks it is possible, Jabal is building a revolutionary device that would allow a spacecraft to travel light-years instantaneously. The Blossoming Flower was built to be the deadliest battleship in space, however the official proclamation is that the five-mile-long vessel was a failed experiment and a disgrace. Rumors, spread by Sky Sailors who sailed her, said she was cursed and called her The Devil’s Barge. Nonetheless Jabal discovers the Flower was far from the failure the military said she was, a fact his government would kill to keep quiet.

Unbeknownst to Jabal, a pair of immensely powerful beings, called Deverow, have saved Jabal from terminal cancer and declares Jabal a “Dead End,” or a being without a future—the perfect pawn for their plan to stop an alien incursion into our universe. The Deverow use Jabal, along with a handful of other Dead Ends—an alien police officer, a vengeful spirit, a homeless man from Tennessee and a Hollywood ‘scream queen,’ who must somehow stop an alien civilization before they blaze a path of destruction across the galaxy.

What is your favorite part of the book?

The interaction between Jabal and Cerin Boss. Jabal is a noble man, but is blinded by his own iron clad personal code of honor and a black and white sense of right and wrong. Cerin, on the other hand has a warped sense of ethics, but a clearer view of the people they serve as well as a more pragmatic opinion of life in general. I think they play off each other very well.

What inspired this story?

I had a germ of an idea about a man trapped aboard a haunted spacecraft. That night I had a vivid dream that I was aboard a gigantic, thoroughly haunted starship. I was running through a vast maze of corridors trying to elude an invisible terror. I woke up, wrote forty pages and Dead Ends was born.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

All my novels have some tenuous link and some characters crossover from book to book. In Dead Ends Will Carlson is presumed dead, yet in reality is off on the other side of the galaxy fighting evil. In my first book the Paladin, it is the hometown memorial service for Will that is central to the story plot.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

To date I have eleven books in various stages of development. They range from fantasy and science fiction to horror.

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

I am always plotting the story I am working on at the time. Honestly, I am a menace in traffic!

What has your experience been like as an Indie Author? Bruises, Highlights, and lessons?

Writing is subjective and not everyone is going to appreciate what you write. One will love it while another gleefully rips it to shreds. It has taught me that a thick skin along with being a professional is essential. In my ignorance, I made sloppy mistakes in my first book, but I learned my lesson and that is behind me. I strive to put out the very best polished work I can. Knowing that, I can take brutal criticism with a smile.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I get bashed for the occasional ‘colorful’ word or phrase used. A writer once said that an author cannot be responsible for the things his characters say. I know it sounds silly, but it is true. You have to let your characters speak their minds. It isn’t a reflection on my personal views or ideas, but it is true to the character. Many times their views are not politically correct or language Sunday School approved, but I cannot let someone else’s morals or politics dictate what I write. I have to be true to the integrity of my characters.

Do you write every single day?

Yes. I absolutely love it and if I never publish another book I would write for the sheer joy it brings. Years ago time was a premium, I would, without hesitation, get up at 4 AM to write. For three years it was the best time of the day!

What’s more important: characters or plot?

As much as I love a strong plot, I have to say characters. Real, flesh and blood characters that the readers feel strongly about is the key. Many times I have read books with paper thin plots, but I was captivated by the richness of their characters.

Finally, You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

Buy a large shovel and learn to love it.

Thanks Ken! It has been great to catch up with you and learn about your newest book.

To learn more about Ken Newman, have a look at his website newkman.net.

Dead Ends is available on Amazon, and other major retailers!

Ken is giving away a free digital copy of his new book to the first 3 readers who get in touch.
Simply email us on bookworm@thebookwormreview.com to get your copy, and remember first in best dressed!

 

The Strangers We Know by R.M. Mulkey

I love it when a story gives a great description and you can actually picture the scene and this is precisely what Mulkey has managed well in this book, for example: “Rylee took great pleasure in the way it felt unlocking the heavy oak door to her studio that was her gallery, workshop and home, Rylee’s Treasures. Whiskey potting barrels sat on the sidewalk at either side of the entrance. Each barrel overfilled with rosemary and peonies. Wisteria crawled across the walls of the brick building, purple flowers framing the dark threshold and large windows.”

Realistic emotions. Fast Paced Action and suspense. The Strangers We Know had it all and then some. The story itself was faced paced and intriguing with a great plot and all the elements I expect from a mystery/thriller novel and I think this is part of the reason I really enjoyed it.

The story follows the characters Rylee Whitmore and Jared Wolfe and is told from both perspectives. Sometimes this can come across as a bit condescending, but in this case it’s not. It’s a crucial and interesting way to keep the mystery.

I felt this book was well worth the read. It’s got well developed characters, an excellent plot, it’s edited superbly and has an excellent air of mystery and suspense right until the end. I love mysteries, and if you do to, I would highly recommend this one.

To read more about the book you can visit R. M. Mulkey’s website here, or you could just trust me and buy The Strangers We Know on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 4/5