Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Andrew Michael Hurley on "The Loney" Best Debut Horror Novel - Costa Book Awards 2016

Andrew Michael Hurley talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his latest book, The Loney, a horror novel praised by Stephen King.

“It’s really the landscape that came to me first.” ~Andrew Michael Hurley on writing The Loney, a horror novel

Andrew worked as a librarian and as a teacher of English literature and creative writing. He has been writing all his life, and wanted to write for a living, and had written several short stories prior to writing horror novel, The Loney, which earned him a *Costa Book Award. He mentioned it took him years to write the book. Andrew also remarked that writing his first novel was a big challenge compared to writing short stories, and he admitted that one of the reasons why he wrote the novel was just to see if he could do it. The main conflict that he sees in the book is the clash between Christianity and paganism, and he also notes that he also included the similarities between these two spiritual beliefs as well.

Andrew noted that it was the landscape that helped inspire the book, and it was set on the northwestern coast of England. The area is a lonely place to be in, and Andrew remarks that one could spend twenty minutes traveling by car and still find oneself in an area without people. Andrew wanted to instill the sense of the presence of the place when he visited it prior to writing the book, and he also mentioned that he also wanted to write about faith, given that the northwestern coast of England has a sizable Roman Catholic community and that Andrew, himself, was raised in that faith as a child.

Andrew admits that the final book wasn’t what he originally wanted to write, as his style is organic, in that he allows the characters and the events to grow, and the darkness and the horror of the book thus grew as he wrote the book. Growing the book organically is, for him, part of the thrill of writing, and Andrew notes that he has always been a fan of horror and ghost stories, which, he says, are also based on landscape. Where the characters are concerned, these grew out of the writing, and he attempted to make these characters well-rounded, just like they were real people whom one would meet while walking down the street.

One of the challenges facing Andrew, while he wrote the book, was finding the time to actually write it, as his schedule was busy. He also was challenged where keeping the entire story unified was concerned, as this was a larger undertaking than the short stories he had previously done. While he couldn’t think of the easiest thing where writing the book was concerned, he did say that developing the characters was enjoyable. To those who want to know what happened, Andrew says that he won’t reveal it, as he believes that open-ended stories are the best kind of horror stories, as these stay with the reader for a long time. Andrew remarks that writing the book has allowed him to explore faith and to remember the feelings associated with being a part of a church, as well as to explore his relationship with the landscape.

Andrew is presently finishing off his next novel, which is set on the moorlands, and touches on how the landscape shapes local human culture, and is considering writing a nonfiction book on the relationship between landscape and people. To would-be authors, Andrew suggests that they trust in their own voices and to just keep at it and persevere.

*The Costa Books Award is the premiere book award in Great Britain, and to be given this award is thus a great honor. For Andrew, winning Best Debut Novel and Book of the Year Awards in 2016 might have been gratifying, but it also felt strange and surreal as well.

Purchase on Amazon: The Loney, a horror novel by Andrew Michael Hurley, Costa Book Awards Winner for Best Debut Novel and Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Ron Cooper on The Gospel of The Twin (Novel) What if Jesus Had a Twin?

Ron Cooper talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his latest book, The Gospel of the Twin.

I think there’s a great deal people, Christians or otherwise, who can learn from studying early Christian history. ~Ron Cooper

Ron didn’t really get interested in Jesus and Christianity until, ironically enough, he “left religion” while in college, after which he looked at these subjects from a more objective, rather than religiously subjective, viewpoint. He had thought of becoming a poet, and went on to get postgraduate degrees in philosophy from various universities. He had some ideas for novels over the years, and finally produced his first novel in 2007. He hasn’t stopped writing novels since then, as The Gospel of the Twin is his third novel and he presently has a fourth one on the way.

Ron had been fascinated with Jewish history and early Christian history, and points out that there were many different groups, rather than the single, homogeneous religion that is presently represented by the Roman Catholic church. Ron believes, based on his research, that many Christians have a “watered down” version of what Jesus was trying to do, pointing out that the socio-political context of Roman occupation, Jewish resistance to acknowledging the polytheistic Roman religions and poverty provide a clearer context in which Jesus worked his ministry. According to Ron, by the time Jesus was born, the Romans had occupied the land for around seven decades or so. Taxation was heavy, at around fifty percent, and young people could be press-ganged to serve in the Roman army, sold into slavery or, alternatively, join a bandit group that roamed the land and preyed on Roman units and upper-class Jews, and this created an atmosphere of fear. The Jewish leadership was seen by the average Jew as collaborators to the Roman occupation.

Ron notes that, while the present-day view of Jesus’ message is that of securing salvation after death, Jesus most likely was thinking about preserving Jewish heritage without going into hiding or becoming bandits or succumbing to the other pressures that the Jews were then facing. Ron also notes that Jesus most likely made no distinctions between his spiritual message and his temporal one.

Where the historical Jesus himself is concerned, Ron points out that there is little by way of information that reveal who he was, particularly since the gospels weren’t written by historians but written, decades after the fact, by people who wanted to deliver a particular message. There are very few non-Biblical sources, and based on all of these, the facts that can be gleaned about the historical Jesus was that he was born into poverty, probably in Nazareth. He grew up in the more rural areas of Palestine, and as the Roman city of Cephalus was being constructed at the time, he probably went with his father, Joseph, to help out in construction work. The Greek sources that tell what Joseph did describe him essentially as an unskilled laborer, and he most probably did masonry more than he did carpentry. Archaeological evidence revealed that there were people from several different cultures who went to Cephalus, and this would have contributed to Jesus having a more cosmopolitan outlook than he might otherwise have gotten. He was also most likely to have been executed by Pontius Pilate, who historically governed the area from 26 - 36 CE. The historical Jesus was also most likely opposed to violence.

Where Jesus’ work was concerned, Ron remarks that, central to this was egalitarianism, wherein everybody was equal, regardless of situation. The most destitute (according to the Greek word used to describe some of Jesus’ followers) and lepers (who were outcasts in the time period) were as welcome as tax collectors (who were hated by the average Jew because these were seen as Roman tattletales and thus traitors to the Jews), with men and women interacting freely together (which wasn’t done at that time). His ministry would have been influenced by the need to get people to think of salvation when those same people would be wondering where their next meal would come from. Ron notes that it’s likely that Jesus didn’t have everything figured out, and that he most likely created things on the fly, on occasion. Ron also notes that, for around two decades after his death, a small movement was maintained by his close associates in Jerusalem, a movement that didn’t explode until Paul entered the scene.

Where Jesus’ family is concerned, Ron notes that the New Testament names four brothers, and that his family was most likely Nazarenes. Ron also remarks that the Gospel of Thomas, which came out at around the same time as the New Testament gospels, was claimed to be written by Judas Didymos Thomas, with “Didymos” being the Greek word for “twin” and “Thomas” being the Aramaic word for “twin” and Judas being the name of one of Jesus’ brothers in the New Testament, and this attribution was what made certain early Christians believe that Jesus had a twin brother. Ron remarks that there was a certain amount of secrecy noted in that Gospel, and that this aura of secrecy could have played a part in piquing other people’s curiosity about Jesus’ message.

For his part, Ron wrote The Gospel of the Twin from the point of view of Thomas, Jesus’ supposed twin brother, to tell the story of how Thomas struggled to reconcile what he knew of Jesus against what others said Jesus was, and to reconcile, as well, the enigma that was his twin brother. Ron’s own challenge was getting in the mindset of a first-century peasant, which is far removed from the modern lifestyle.

Ron Cooper’s website for his book, The Gospel of the Twin, is and the book can also be found on the Bancroft Press website.

Purchase on Amazon: The Gospel of the Twin, by Ron Cooper

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Randy Long on Using 7 Steps to Your Family Business Legacy

Randy Long talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his latest book, The BraveHeart Exit: 7 Steps to Your Family Business Legacy.

Run the business as though you wanna exit at any time. Always be ready for your exit. ~Randy Long

Randy is a certified financial planner and is a lawyer, has practiced business law and estate planning for over twenty-five years, and has been certified as an exit planner for the past five years or so. He started his career as a financial planner, then went to law school to learn about estate planning, after which he has worked with family businesses. One of his earlier cases was with a family member who had a heart attack and died, but since Randy had helped create a proper exit plan, that family member’s family has been able to live off of the proceeds of such planning for twenty years. His company’s mission is to help business owners prepare for a successful exit from their business, to strengthen the family along the way, and to live their legacy. The BraveHeart Exit was written in support of this mission, to act as a road map for when they finally leave their business. Randy notes that around fifty percent of all present business owners will exit their businesses in the next five years, and seventy percent within ten, and that there aren’t that many people qualified to help them, hence his reason for writing it - that, and the urging of his family relatives who wanted Randy to share his experience with those who would need it.

Randy notes that the best time for a business owner to start planning for his exit is five to seven years prior to that actual date, as a hurried exit could result in some missed opportunities. He also notes that business owners usually don’t know what a saleable business is, as third-party buyers look at a business differently from the way business owners do. The most important part of building a self-managing company is building a good business team that enables the business owner to work on the business, rather than in it. A management team results in a business that is worth more money than one without one, and enables a business to grow faster.

Where percentages are concerned, twenty-four percent of all businesses are sold to the business owner’s children, who would have the potential advantage of growing up in an environment where the business is part of their lives; around thirty-nine percent to the business employees and the remainder to third parties. Randy notes that the nature of the business can also be a factor with whomever inherits it, with farmers being more likely to transfer their businesses over to their own children than not. Some businesses are actually more of a job than a business, such as businesses based around a professional like a dentist or a lawyer, and for these kinds of businesses the leverage isn’t as great as compared to those businesses with management teams.

The exit process starts with three questions that need to be answered: who the business owner wants to transition his business to, when does the business owner want to transition the business and how much does the business owner need from that transition in order to be financially successful during one’s retirement. The next step is to look at the owner’s self-worth and the value of the business. A market appraisal is then done on the business, after-tax-from-sale monies are also calculated, and any gap between what the owner wants and what the business is worth is then estimated. From there, necessary steps can be taken to address that gap, such as creating a management team and growing consistent revenue streams, to enable the business owner to get what he needs by the time he transitions out.

An exit planner, according to Randy, helps a business owner exit his business in a way where the business owner’s own, particular individual objectives are met. He mentioned that one business owner was happy to get three million dollars to retire on, while another got two hundred million dollars. Randy also noted that durability needs to be built into the business, where durability refers to contingency plans to minimize risks should the business owner or others involved pass on prior to the implementation of the exit plan. Among the examples he gave was that of the pop artist Prince, who had no exit plan, which means that his estate’s succession would take years to settle and that the IRS will be the main beneficiary of his death.

Randy Long’s website for his book, The BraveHeart Exit: 7 Steps to Your Family Business Legacy, is

Purchase on Amazon: The Braveheart Exit: 7 Steps to Your Family Business Legacy by Randy Long

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Brendan Jones on The Alaskan Laundry, A Novel about Life in Alaska and a Woman's Personal Journey

Brendan Jones talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, The Alaskan Laundry.

I don’t think you can write well about something unless you’re surprised by it. ~Brendan Jones

Brendan Jones. Photo by James Poulson
Colorado-born Brendan’s parents were both journalists. He actually grew up in Philadelphia, and at the age of nineteen he transferred to Alaska, where he worked within the fishing industry and where he continually returned to. He started the book in 2005 by creating several different characters and weeding them until only its present female protagonist, Tara Marconi, was the “last one standing.” Brendan got involved with various matters over the years to support himself such as setting up and running his own construction company, as well as writing out blogs and writing for various publications, so it was only around 2013, when he got involved in Stanford’s Stegner program, that he got serious about finishing the book, which was finally completed and published in 2016.

Brendan describes the book as a real “hero’s journey,” with Tara figuring out what home means to her, describing the theme as nostos, which he mentions is a theme of Ulysses and which he describes as a fascination with homecoming and as the root word of “nostalgia.” He remarked that his mother inspired the essence of Tara Marconi’s character, and his experiences with boxing in his youth and his working in the Alaskan fishing industry came into play in the book. Brendan remarked that the scenes where Tara was working on a crab boat were some of the easiest scenes to write, and he also noted that one of the surprises he learned was that there were actually some female fishermen working on crab boats.

Brendan remarks that Alaska is the kind of environment where one’s character really gets brought out, and he also admitted some of his experiences also worked their way into the book. He remarked that writing the book enabled him to get clear on what home meant for him, commenting that home is where one is raised and where the traditions that mean something are present, as well as a community where everyone looks out for each other, regardless of where they originally came from. Brendan is presently working on another novel as well as writing out pieces on what life is like, living on a World War II era tugboat with his wife. He remarks that people should be more present to the world around them, for people aren’t separate from it, and to be aware of the present concerns with its present state.

Brendan Jones’s websites for his book, The Alaskan Laundry, is and

Purchase from Amazon: The Alaskan Laundry, a novel by Brendan Jones