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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Book Review - The Puppet Master: An MSCE Investigation by David A. Xavier

 

On November 26th, I ordered a couple of books written by two of my fellow writers and friends of mine. They arrived shortly before Christmas, as they were both self-published and print-on-demand. I started reading them once I finished the edits on my own novel. I finished reading the first of them a few days ago.


The Puppet Master: An MSCE Investigation is the first in a series of novels written by David A. Xavier. MSCE stands for Metropolitan Special Circumstance Executive, a secret agency in the UK that specializes in keeping track of people with unique abilities. Detective Sergeant Oliver Soames is a member of the Metropolitan London Police Department who, upon investigating what appears to be a murder-suicide, suddenly becomes privy to a society he never knew existed. It's a world that is both fascinating and terrifying for him, and he is thrown into it without so much as a warning.


Well, what can I say? Xavier is a very talented writer. He knows what plot twists are and how to use them. (I didn't know whodunit until about seven chapters from the end, despite my guesses.) The characters are real, and they compliment each other well. They are characters I want to get to know more in depth.


The writing switches from 1st person to 3rd person in pivotal moments, and the writing is superb in these moments. One of the 3rd person chapters is my favourite chapter in the entire book. (Chapter 28 to be precise.)


The book just recently received a very positive review from The US Review of Books, and you can read the full review here: HERE


David A. Xavier is the pen name of David Kingsmill, a gentleman who is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades. He's a musician, a playwright (he's had several shows in the Edinburgh Festival; in 2014, 2 received 5 stars), and now, a published author. He also has an excellent singing voice. I know this because he just happens to be a wonderful friend of mine. And before you say it, no, his friendship has not swayed my review of his book. His writing truly is that good!


It was interesting for me to read this book on a personal level. I met him in November 2012 when he started the novel as part of NaNoWriMo, and I remember having a few conversations with him regarding the progress of our respective projects. I am incredibly proud of him for completing the book and getting his work out there. I cannot wait to read the second in the series (a fact he is more than well aware of), and I hope to delve into the lives of some of the supporting characters.


If you'd like to pick up a copy of the book and take a look for yourself, you can get it on Kindle, in hardcover, or in paperback from any of these sites:


The Puppet Master - Amazon.com

The Puppet Master - Amazon.ca

The Puppet Master - Amazon.uk


You can also check out more of David's work and future projects via his website: Dragon Literature


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Who are my heroes? Literary Ones of all kinds

Every Friday I can be found at a central Toronto Starbucks hosting a weekly writing session with some of my fellow NaNoWriMo participants. We gather around the big table upstairs with our laptops and write, chat about writing, catch up, and dissolve into giggles at some point over the course of the evening.

 

 

During a recent session, three of us got chatting about movies and books, and how they had influenced our lives as well as the material we were writing. As writers heavily influenced by fantasy, our conversation alternated between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. One of them mentioned the fact that, for her, were it not for J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series of books, her life would have been very different. She wouldn't have met the people she had, nor would she have found her call to write. When she said this, I started thinking about my own writing, and my literary heroes.

 

I have been writing since I was a child, and found inspiration everywhere – in my environment, in my teachers, in my friends, and in my family. Certain subjects in elementary school would trigger a story idea, and away I'd go. The stories were not very good and nothing really special, but they were stories and I was writing. Then, I saw The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and things changed. I found my literary genre of choice. Fantasy. Not long after seeing the films, I began my first attempt at writing an epic fantasy. But, without a true plot and outline, it lost its steam very quickly. About five or six years later, I would be given an idea for what, at the time, was a silly story that would involve unicorns. As I ironed out the plot and the logistics of it, it began to grow to become something much bigger than itself; much bigger than me. During that conversation with two of my fellow writers, I realized that, in part, without Lord of the Rings, my own trilogy would not have been conceived. Without Peter Jackson's vision of Middle-Earth, the setting of my book wouldn't have happened. Thus, had J.R.R. Tolkien not have created the beautiful setting and characters of his many books, I wouldn't be creating my own wondrous setting and characters. I have come to realize that I owe my trilogy to Tolkien.

 

Writers are an interesting bunch of people. We are every day people with a splash (or several) of insanity. We are succubi in that we take in energy and inspiration from the world around us. We draw on each others energy, and we inspire each other. I am constantly being given ideas and inspiration whether my writer friends know it or not. With this knowledge, I am amazingly grateful that I decided to partake in NaNoWriMo back in 2012. Partaking in the writing challenge cleared the path I needed to interact with wonderful people who have become my lifeline in many ways.

 

In short, my literary heroes are many people: Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, C.S. Lewis, Stephen King... as well as the writers I associate myself with in my hometown. (I recently read a book one of them has published, and I will be posting my thoughts on it very soon.) They are my heroes in more ways than one, because without them, I wouldn't be where I am. My literary heroes, infamous or not, are the reasons I write what I do. They are the reason I write period. They have changed my life for the better. In many ways, they have saved my life by granting me access to a wondrous medium through which I can express myself. They are also the group of people I feel I can show my true self to, and that in and of itself is something truly remarkable.

 

To ALL of my literary heroes: THANK YOU!!! Each and every one of you!