The United States of America has been crippled. Violently contained by a global military force and left without its leaders, the country has become shattered and chaotic. A decade has passed since the first strike and a new landscape has emerged where survival is more important than anything else. Who will uncover the truth behind the attack and revive this once great nation?
It certainly won’t be Cassidy and Lloyd since they couldn’t care less about that stuff. She is a young woman on a mission to honor her mother’s dying wish, which is to toss her ashes off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is an infamous serial killer she broke out of Rikers Island since hiring a bodyguard wasn’t working out. Not the perfect plan, but having an insane, oddly charming murder-junkie on your side is a plus in the Shattered States.
Bullets and swear words are going to fly as Cassidy and Lloyd travel coast to coast, facing one challenge after another . . . including Nebraska.
I read one or two sneak previews from Crossing Bedlam on Charles’ site, and learned about Lloyd and Cassidy through candid posts regarding his progress on the novel, so I was excited about the release. I was not disappointed.
The action starts immediately, and we find out exactly what kind of woman Cassidy is; the lengths she’ll go to complete her mission, and the impact a changing world has on her personality. The novel is full of the unexpected. When Cassidy decides to gather a dream team, protectors in a journey across the Shattered States, she chooses the unlikeliest of members – violent inmates. This introduction is hilarious, and again, gives the reader a telling first impression of Lloyd. He is a scary (funny) killer, with wit sharp enough to do the killing, and a tendency to break the fourth wall – a fact I particularly enjoyed.
As Lloyd and Cassidy embark on their crazy adventure, they meet a cast of memorable and certainly colourful characters along the way. The action is non stop – kidnappings, snipers with itchy trigger fingers, a few serious mind trips, and a negotiation or two – if it can happen it does.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the adventure is the friendship that builds between Lloyd and Cassidy, and the fact they balance each other out – give the other a purpose. They make great partners. Both are complex, and develop during the story. Both are hilarious in their own way, which provides comic relief in intense circumstances.
I don’t know if it has anything to do with Lloyd’s tendency to break the fourth wall, but it is so easy to imagine them living out their next adventure, travelling together and facing the next challenge. I hope we haven’t seen the last of them.
In a time of heroes, a man will take any job to provide for his family.
Ichabod Brooks has earned a reputation for taking the jobs most men and women fear to challenge. This reputation has brought him to the charred remains of a small village nestled within the hills and forest of Ralian. The ruins are a source of strange monsters that terrorize the countryside and repeatedly elude the local guards and hunters. The few brave souls who have entered the creatures’ lair have yet to come out alive or dead.
The chances of survival are slim, but that generous payment is too much for Ichabod to resist. After all, a man and his family have to eat.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ichabod Brooks and the City of Beasts. It’s a wild, magical adventure, which will leave you hungry for more. Ichabod is wise, experienced, funny, and only slightly jaded. He’s an admirable warrior, though a somewhat unconventional hero. It’s my favourite thing about him. He gets the job done, as quickly and as cleanly as possible so he can return to his family.
Ichabod doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is another thing I like about him. He knows what he’s walking into, and though the assignment takes an unexpected turn, he doesn’t let it phase him; he’s been around the block. I get the feeling few things surprise him.
The monsters are grotesque beasts, as unique as they are terrifying. Yallowitz describes these predators beautifully, bringing them to life on the page. The action scenes are thrilling too, and it helps that Ichabod has some excellent weapons at his disposal. In a village full of monsters, I’d want to be on Ichabod’s team!
Ichabod meets Morgan Jones during the adventure, an intriguing hunter I was instantly drawn to. I have a feeling their paths will cross again in the future, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Reading the story it’s clear that the world Yallowitz has created is a rich and varied place. A place I can’t wait to spend more time in.
Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.
I have an extra special treat for you today! Not only has Charles E. Yallowitz released his short story, which I introduced in this post Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts,but he also agreed to an interview. You can find a copy of Ichabod Brooks by clicking here.
Interview with Charles E. Yallowitz
Mel: Do you have any strange writing habits (like writing in a lucky pair of socks? Or using a special pen?)
Charles: Nothing really strange other than I usually need music. Silence puts me on edge because I’m so used to it being a precursor to people interrupting me. Also, the music seems to remind other people in the house that I’m working. Beyond that, the only other thing I can call a strange habit is that I reward myself with pizza after writing a first draft. If I have a really hard time with publishing something then I use the same reward. I might be getting to the point where the local pizza place knows my order by heart.
Mel: I know what you mean. I’m on first name terms with the baristas at our local coffee shop! I like the idea of having a signal, a kind of writer at work – do not disturb soundtrack! What does your writing space look like? Can we take a peek inside? Is it safe to enter!
Charles: Currently, my writing space is the den with the desktop and the TV. I have an open window with a view of the backyard . . . sort of. Normally, I’m on my laptop in my bedroom with no view and terrible back support. I might try to take over the sun room for easy drink access and a less stuffy atmosphere. As you can tell, I don’t have a specific writing space and have to work wherever I can find space and quiet.
Mel: I can relate (it’s quite often my car!). But, moving on. What book do you wish you had written?
Charles: The one I’ve yet to write. Seriously, I never really thought that because I like certain books because of the author’s style. Me being behind it would turn it into a different story, which kind of defeats the question.
Mel: That’s a really good point. Perhaps the question should be then, which books have inspired you to create similar adventures in your own unique style?
Charles: I took some from The Books of Lost Swords by Fred Saberhagen, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard, and tons of other stuff. I try to take something from everything I read, so that I learn more about the craft. Being a present tense third person author, there aren’t many books that I can connect to my style. So I feel like I’m making this up as I go along.
Mel: I think that’s a really important point; reading and learning from others. I’ve enjoyed reading your recent posts on the characters who bring Windemere to life. So my next question is about them. Who would play your favourite characters in a movie?
Charles: To be honest, I have no idea. Back when I started, I’d pick actors and actresses for the characters because it was fun to dream of that happening. A movie or TV show has really become the next rung for authors, but I’m actually more focused on the books right now. Besides, all I did in the past was go through IMDB to pick the top names for characters. Maybe it would work best with unknowns in all the roles.
Mel: It’s an interesting one isn’t it? The characters we see in our minds; whether ours or those conjured by others, rarely translate.
It’s like names, sometimes we have to go through a few before we find the right fit. How important are names in your books? Do you choose based on the sound of the name, its meaning, or some other method?
Charles: I use a baby naming book and a few ‘meaning of names’ sites to choose. At least for several of the characters. It depends on their importance to the story. Main characters get this treatment if they aren’t from an old game where a friend played them. Supporting characters tend to get a careful choosing based on their personality or role. For example, a Paladin might get a name taken out of a list of biblical warriors. Finally, very minor characters and unique names are nothing more than letters thrown around. A lot of times I’ll take a word from some packaging and rearrange it to get a name. Creates some interesting combinations.
Mel: I can imagine! Have you ever regretted a name you’ve given? Perhaps, a minor character who decided they wanted to have their day in the sun.
Charles: I’ve been lucky enough to have changed the original names that simply didn’t work. So I haven’t regretted anything yet. The closest would probably be the character of Kira Grasdon. She was a minor character with one scene and evolved into a romantic interest for Luke Callindor, which meant appearing more often. Problem was that her original name was Linny Grasdon. Horrible name, but she wasn’t supposed to come back. The romance created an ‘LL’ thing that somebody pointed out, so I searched for a new one. Kira kind of popped into my head and that’s what she’s been for a while.
Mel: Kira Grasdon is a really cool name. Though I’ll admit I like LL – it brings a certain Mr Cool J to mind!
And if I can use a tenuous link to my next question. If you had an endless budget, describe the trailer for Legends of Windemere.
Charles: I actually think this way when getting into the mindset for writing. It’s typically when listening to an orchestral version of the Legend of Zelda theme. You’re following a flying creature who is zipping around Windemere as if searching for something. You run into various characters from the books and even series that I haven’t touched on yet. For example, you see Sari dancing in a tavern, a future thief character bounding over rooftops, the vampire characters on a battlefield, and whatever else pops into my head. It usually hits a high note with Nyx and Queen Trinity having a full strength caster duel in the mountains. The force sends the flying creature spiraling away and the whole thing ends to reveal you’re following Fizzle. He lands on a branch over Luke Callindor, who is sleeping in the forest next to his dog.
Mel: Now that’s one trailer I’d love to see!
But before I get distracted by magical lands and grand adventures, let’s move on. List five adjectives to describe yourself or your writing habits.
Charles: Prolific, dedicated, anxious, creative, and wonky.
Mel: How about your next project. What can you tell us about that?
Charles: So many to choose from since I’m editing Book 8 and writing Book 11 of Legends of Windemere. Neither of those are close to going live, so I’ll talk about the one that I published today. Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts is a short story I wrote to simply have some fun and put something out between big books. It follows an adventure of Ichabod Brooks, who is a middle-aged man with a reputation for accepting dangerous odd jobs. In his words, a man has to eat and feed his family. The current job is to clear out a ruined village, which has become infested with strange creatures. It doesn’t go as planned and Ichabod finds a bigger mess than he expected. I aimed for simplicity, humor, and action with memorable characters. At least I hope they’re memorable. Feel free to check it out on Amazon.
Mel: I always appreciate good humour in an adventure novel. Is this something readers can expect from you in general? Do you like to use humour to balance all the action?
Charles: I like to use humor (you can tell I’m American here) to break tension and show a more flippant side of the characters. Since it’s an ensemble cast, cracking jokes and teasing helps reveal the growing bond between them. This feels natural to me. I also grew up reading a lot of Spider-Man comics, so battle banter turns up as a way for some heroes to throw the villains off their game.
Mel: You’ve got to love Spidey’s one liners! And it seems the humour comes naturally to you. But what about challenges? What has been your greatest challenge as a writer so far?
Charles: Hard to pick a greatest one because I always feel like I’m fighting against the tide. As far as being a published author, the biggest obstacle was accepting that I can’t please everyone with my books. I knew this would happen, but it’s a lot harder to put into practice when you have the ‘publishing’ high going. Submitting to agents and publishers got me ready for rejection. The negative reviews and angry messages over the years was something else. I’d like to think I’m better at letting it roll off my back, but there are times when one hits when my mood is already in the gutter. Nothing I can do about it.
Mel: Negative reviews are hard, and angry messages can be soul destroying. Do you have any tips on how to deal with unconstructive feedback?
Charles: I hate to use this phrase thanks to a certain movie, but my advice is to let it go. If the review struck a nerve then rant to a friend in private, take a break from the Internet, and focus on the next project. You can’t please everybody.
Mel: That is excellent advice. I find you a really supportive fellow author, and writing networks are really important. So let’s get back to the writing. I know you recently ventured into thriller writing, but are there any other genres you would love to explore?
Charles: I’ve tried poetry, gore horror, and a fairy tale/dystopia combination in the past. Right now I don’t think there’s anything else I’d jump into. The paranormal thriller was spontaneous and unexpected, so who knows what the future holds. I could end up trying my hand at a Western or High School Drama. Though I’ll always come back to fantasy where I feel the most comfortable and happiest.
Mel: Who can resist a good Western!
Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview, Charles. I had such a good time chatting with you today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.