Fiction Blog, Guest Posts, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

Guest Post: Fear and Loathing in My Mind by Michael Bolan

Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Michael Bolan. He’s celebrating the launch of his new novel, The Stone Bridge, the third book in his Devil’s Bible historical fantasy series. (You can read my review of the first novel, The Sons of Brabant, here. Michael talks about the power of fear and describes the literary villains that still terrify him — did your favorites make the list?


sons-of-brabantWhen I was a young child, my parents moved us from the huddled safety of a village to the remote isolation of a newly-built house in the country. During the day, life was idyllic, with acres of space to run around, the beauty of nature everywhere, was so peaceful. At night, however, darkness fell, and brought with it a silence and foreboding I had never before experienced.

I had grown used to falling asleep with a dull glow sneaking through the crack in the curtains, the streetlights standing sentinel over my bed. In the countryside, there’s no light other than the moon, and in foggy, wet old Ireland, she’s loath to put in an appearance. The darkness of the countryside is the blackest of phenomena that no city dweller could contemplate. And alone in the darkness, with hours to wait before sunrise, a child’s imagination conjures the most devilish creatures and wickedest monsters.

I was a happy child, the typical mix of shyness and confidence that only a child can be, but in the stygian gloom, I was scared. Had you asked me to elucidate my fears, I would have struggled. After all, what did I really think would happen? In fact, if I had rationally worked through the list of possible outcomes, I may have realised that there was no monster, no tarantula, nothing coming to get me at all.

As a reader, I have dabbled with many genres, but I have always had a love/ hate relationship with horror. I don’t like being scared, but I do. IYKWIM. The problem that I have with most horror is that it’s just not scary. Maybe shocking or gruesome, but nothing that would turn my blood cold like those dark nights alone in bed. Just as voicing my fears as a child would have allayed them, so too does the written word. A gory murder scene? Predictable. But the thought of deliberately harming my loved ones in a fit of rage – now that raises the hairs on my neck.

What does it for me is me. My mind. My fears.

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.
— O’Brien, 1984

Orwell had it right. Horror, and fear, is different for everyone, which makes the genre so challenging. But for me, the key to fear is to leave plenty to the reader’s imagination. It’s the not knowing that causes the heart to pump in a fight-or-flight reflex, it’s the suspense that is what we dread, not the denouement.

However, thankfully millennia of fascination with scary stories has produced some fairly bone-chilling baddies, and here are a few of my favourites:

1. Hannibal Lecter works as a villain in a way that Freddie Krueger can never manage. The sophisticated doctor of Thomas Harris’ books eats people, but is more concerned with the wine pairing that with the evil of his deeds. There’s a sense of dread in imagining what he will do next, and how directly you as a reader might be involved.

2. A Clockwork Orange has been cloaked in scandal since it was released, but it’s not the beatings or the rape or the brutal murders that make Alex scary: it’s the fact that he simply doesn’t accept that he has done anything wrong. His sense of purpose protects him from any humanising emotion. “Unfortunately there is so much original sin in us all that we find evil rather attractive. To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create.”

hidden-elements3. Shakespeare’s Iago is a twisted manipulator, whose only motive for his evil seems to be that he enjoys it. Why would he wreak such destruction on someone he once called friend? Spite, jealousy, selfishness – Iago is a creature of the basest emotions. If he can’t have something, then no-one else will.

4. Mr. Hyde is a representation of the darkness that lives in all of us. That’s why he’s scary. How far would you go, what would you do, if you were pushed far enough? If each I told myself could be housed in separate identities life would be relieved of all that was unbearable. Hyde’s actions are bad enough, but the thought that he could be us or we could be him, now that’s truly scary.

5. If Mr. Hyde is ‘us’, then O’Brien from 1984 is definitely ‘them’. We all know that Big Brother is watching us, but O’Brien embodies the fear that someone or something knows what we are thinking: our hopes and fears, the brightest and the darkest of what is within us. His cruelty to Winston is usually what attracts attention, but it’s the depth of his understanding of Winston, and his simultaneous commitment to the cause, that is truly scary. “Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or laughter. You will be hollow.”

6. A dinner-party companion once described Heathcliff as a romantic hero. After I had wiped up the food that had sprayed from my mouth and apologised for my lack of manners, I offered my humble viewpoint. That his cruelty does not stem from his love of Cathy, but rather that he’s simply a sadistic bully. His weapons of choice are not only brutal violence, but insidious mental cruelty and neglect, meticulously planned and executed on those weaker than himself.

7. Lady Macbeth’s descent into evil is entirely of her own making. Seeing an opportunity to advance her husband, and hence herself, she invites evil into herself, feeding on its strength to achieve her goals. Once she has crossed that threshold, nothing is off limits. She loses her mind and eventually dies, but not before half the protagonists. Come, you spirits, That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe topful, Of direst cruelty!

8. The dichotomy of Cathy Ames’ alluring presence and her ‘malformed soul’ creates a sense of loathing in Steinbeck’s East of Eden. She believes that there is only evil in the world and, like Lady Macbeth, surrenders herself to it fully. She sees the good in others, but doesn’t understand it, so she uses others’ trust to achieve her own parasitic ends. Had she been alive a century earlier, they would have burnt Cathy at the stake.

9. Devotion to a cause is a common foundation for evil, and nowhere more so than with Star Trek’s Borg Queen, leader of a vast hive of forcedly-assimilated half human, half cyborgs. Her unwavering focus on the modern-communist Borg vision and an insatiable thirst for more bodies mean that no-one cannot be bettered by joining her collective, despite their screams of protest. Couple this with graphic visuals (her head and spine being lowered into a cyborg body) and a touch of ice-cold sensuality and you have the ultimate terrifying, if slightly sexy, baddie.

10. Rounding off the Top 10 is Reinald, Duke of Brabant from the Devil’s Bible Series. Sociopathic, psychopathic, schizophrenic, soulless, Reinald is only too eager to commit acts of senseless brutality because he wanted “to do the right thing”. Not only does he kill his brother, he seeks to destroy the entire world because there is nothing of substance in his. I’ll never forget the first time I saw his eyes clearly – there were beyond dead – like a Gorgon, they sucked the life out of everything they saw.

Nowadays, as I climb into bed an older and wiser version of my young, scared self, I have a (more or less) self-assured sense of confidence that these baddies are resigned to the page and celluloid, so I sleep a little more soundly than I used to. In any case, I am assured by my wife that my snoring would scare off the most fearsome of predators, so I guess I’m safe for now.


sb-cover-webThe Stone Bridge

The Rapture continues to wreak havoc across Europe in its quest to acquire the elemental Seals, the only thing preventing the Devil’s Bible from purging the world in fire. Brought to Prague by the Fianna, the Seals’ only protection lies in the secrecy that shrouds them.

Reinald, leader of the Rapture, enlists the world’s greatest minds to free the Devil’s Bible from the depths of Prague Castle, where it has languished under lock and key for centuries. Meanwhile, the plans of the Four Horsemen unfold, wreaking havoc and misery across the entire continent.

Not content with forcing his siblings from their ancestral home, Reinald sends a vast army to harry and persecute them, forcing them to flee ever eastwards. Taking shelter with their friends, Willem, Leo and Isabella commit to one last act of bravery, making a final stand to defend the city of Prague.

As each nation commits its final resources into the conflict, all roads lead to the Stone Bridge that divides Prague, where the Sons of Brabant and their Fianna allies will face the ultimate test of their strength.


More About Michael

It took Michael Bolan over two decades of running in the corporate ratrace to realise that all he actually did was tell stories.

There was no Damascene revelation for Bolan which caused him to pen his first work of fiction, “The Sons of Brabant”. An avid reader, he simply felt that he could do as good a job as many of the authors he read and decided to put his money where his mouth was.

Living and working in many countries left him with smatterings of a dozen languages and their stories, and his love for history focused his ideas on the Thirty Years War, the most destructive conflict that the continent has ever seen.

Now living in Prague (again), Michael brings alive the twisted alleys of the 17th century and recreates the brooding darkness of a fractured Europe, where no-one was entirely sure who was fighting whom.

Michael writes while liberally soused in gin, a testament to Franz de le Boë, who was mixing oil of juniper with neat spirit while the Thirty Years War raged around him.

His website (http://www.michaelbolan.org) is a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings – along with reviews of books he finds lying around the internet.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaelbolan225
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelbolan225
LinkedIn: cz.linkedin.com/in/bolanov
Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/author/michaelbolan

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts, Musings & Bookish Things, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post: Exploring Truth in Crime Fiction by Kate Evans

Today, I’m excited to welcome back crime fiction author Kate Evans. She’s talking about using her Scarborough Mysteries series as a vehicle to explore human truths, psychology, and mental health. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, this is a fascinating take on one author’s approach to fiction! Stay tuned tomorrow, when I’ll be reviewing Kate’s latest book, The Art of Breathing.


art-of-the-imperfect-cover‘What should the novel do: be a mirror to the reader’s world, reflecting it back at her, or be a clear pane of glass, not reflecting but offering something away from the self, a vista of a bigger, wider, different world outside? The moral energy of the novel form derives from its capacity to imagine the lives of others. This empathy can be seen as the beginning of the moral sense.’ Neel Mukherjee, shortlisted for 2014 Booker Prize.

Mirror or window, I enjoy novels which are either or both. I want my reading to make me think, make me ask questions, offer me perspectives on parts of the world I am unlikely to visit.

I write the kind of novel I would like to read, which means a novel which looks askance at the world we live in.

My own experience of depression and therapy and then my training as a psychotherapeutic counsellor led me to interrogate how we in the UK (and, perhaps, more widely in Western culture) perceive mental health. I am intrigued by discussions around why we talk about physical and mental health, why are the two separated? What we mean by good and bad mental health, what is the line, the distinction? About the idea of diagnosis, are we medicalising too much what are straightforward human responses?

art-of-survival-coverThese kinds of questions underpin my three Scarborough Mysteries novels: The Art of the Imperfect (long-listed for the Crime Writers Association debut dagger); The Art of Survival; and The Art of Breathing. The series is set in Scarborough, the North Yorkshire coastal town where I live. The stories are told from the point of view of three characters: Hannah Poole; detective sergeant Theo Akande; and Aurora Harris. Hannah is training to be a counsellor, but her own rickety sense of self is sent into turmoil when her father dies and she begins to get back in touch with the memories of the childhood abuse she suffered. Theo is black and gay and a new-comer to Scarborough, trying to find his place on the town’s police force. Clever and kind, he undoubtedly has the most psychological equilibrium of the three story-tellers. Aurora Harris is neighbour and friend to Hannah; solicitor and new mum she struggles to balance these roles. Each book has a different crime which the three characters are drawn into, plus the emotional stories of Hannah, Theo and Aurora twist, interweave and develop.

Through Hannah’s narrative, in particular, I hope to give the reader a taste of depression from the inside and also the experience of a possible route towards recovery. I know that several readers found Hannah ‘too hard to like’, missing, perhaps, the point that depression leads to a self-loathing which is unutterably distressing and all-encompassing.

The Scarborough Mysteries are a result of a thirty year long journey of writing and they didn’t find their genre – crime – until I made the decision to give my novel writing the time and space to come to fruition. So why crime? It was one of those weird writing experiences when I’d been tussling with the problem of structure and one day I woke up knowing that a crime novel would offer me the scaffolding within which to construct my story. Since I’ve always enjoyed reading a lot of crime novels, it was relatively easy for me to reacquaint myself with the crafting of one and the writing began to flow. It was a good decision. Having said this, the first in the series, The Art of the Imperfect, is less like a traditionally plotted crime novel than my third, The Art of Breathing, and I did a lot more planning for this most recent book with the usual shape of a crime novel in mind.

art-of-breathing-coverIt was only after taking my decision that I began to hear writers talking about crime as a genre for exploring the way our society is today. For instance, author Val McDermid has said that, of all the genres, crime is the best at tackling current issues. In a recent Artsnight (BBC2, 22nd July 2016), she explored what she described as the ‘complex relationship between truth and fiction.’ She said she had, ‘Walked the fine line between making things up and staying real.’ And, for her, ‘The very act of imagining has been a powerful way of accessing the truth.’

In addition, I want my novels to go against what I see as a wrong-headed trend in modern day crime writing, the propensity to label the perpetrator of the crime, usually murder, as a psychopath. For me this is too easy. It also has the tendency to mark out the murderer as ‘other’, it’s too cosy, for me, for the reader to think, ‘I am not a psychopath and so I would never do anything as awful as this.’

In my stories I want to explore what measures very ordinary people might take – out of fear, jealousy, hate, love – and how it might all go horribly wrong. I do believe most people who commit crime, particularly abuse and murder, are able to justify their actions to themselves, and I am very interested in those justifications. I do think we have many potentials within us and if we ignore what may be lingering in what Carl Jung called our ‘shadow’ we do so at our peril. Firstly because we are not fully aware of all of ourselves. Secondly, we might unknowingly act from our shadow which could have disastrous consequences for ourselves and others.

In the UK, around a quarter of the population live with emotional or psychological vulnerabilities. I hope they may recognise some truth in my novels. And, maybe, those who are around them may gain an increased understanding of what mental health and resilience means.


Kate EvansAuthor Biography
Kate Evans is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her non-fiction articles have been published in (among other publications) The Guardian, The Independent, Counselling Today, Poetry News, The Journal for Applied Arts in Health and The Journal of Poetry Therapy. Her book Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment was published by Sense Publishers in April 2013. She has created two word-based installations for the arts festival Coastival, one inspired by the works and life of Edith Sitwell. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and teaches on the Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, Scarborough campus. She is trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor.

In October 2016 she will be appearing at the Beverley Literature Festival. The Art of Breathing will be launched in WH Smiths in Scarborough on the 29th October 2016.

Connect with Kate Evans
Email: kateevans@tinyonline.co.uk
Website: www.scarboroughmysteries.com
Twitter: @KateEvansAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kate.evans.author
The Art of the Imperfect: https://goo.gl/JrGat2
The Art of Survival: https://goo.gl/6RPzk5
The Art of Breathing: http://amzn.to/2fbu1g7

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

The Theme of Evil in Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French

Today, I’m excited to introduce my friend and fellow author Charles F. French. Charles is an English professor turned author, who is preparing to launch his debut horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. As you can imagine, the theme of evil features heavily throughout the novel, and that’s exactly what he’s here to discuss. Over to Charles.


maledicus-finalThe existence and nature of evil and the human response to it are central themes in my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I. This idea is one with which I have been concerned much of my life. From the first Gothic novels I read as a youngster, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, through the myriad of reading I have done during the course of my life, including works of classical literature such as William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet as well as the contemporary thrillers of John Connelly and Tana French, and the numerous novels of the master Stephen King, evil has been present in a wide variety of forms.

I am deeply concerned not only with the nature and existence of evil, both human and supernatural but also with people’s response to it when confronted by evil. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Unfortunately, it does not take much effort to search human history for occurrences of monstrous evil in the form of too many genocides.  The history of the 20th and 21st centuries is replete with these inhumane situations, and too often, the world turned its collective gaze away from these horrors, often until it was almost too late to do anything about them.

Ordinary people, as well as nations and larger collectives of persons, are also confronted with evil in their existences. When a person witnesses a terrible event, he or she must decide either to do nothing and leave the responsibility of action to others, or they chose to act directly at the potential risk of their safety or lives. They must decide either—“I don’t want to get involved,” or “I must do something.”

This moral and ethical dilemma is what the three older men who form the basis of The Investigative Paranormal Society face.

maledicusteeIn my novel, I posit evil existing in two forms. First, human evil manifests as a man who was a sadistic psychopath—a torturer, spy, pimp, and murderer—who lived during the realm of Caligula in ancient Rome. Supernatural evil also is real in my book.  In death, this man, who goes by the name of Maledicus, is seduced by a mysterious being into becoming a demon. As a new form of existence, Maledicus is able to manifest on Earth and target people for his victims. He causes mayhem, including murder, suicide, insanity, and disease.

While investigating what they believe to be a ghostly haunting, the three men who are the Investigative Paranormal Society—Roosevelt, Sam, and Jeremy—soon realize that this malicious thing that is threatening a five year old girl in their town, is far worse and more dangerous than any ghost.

They must choose either to abandon their investigation and this child or to choose to battle this demon at the risk of their sanities, their lives, and their souls. These men, along with the help of several friends, choose the path of responsibility as they confront the terrible demon Maledicus.

I hope that, in my novel, I deal effectively and thoroughly with this issue of evil and the human response to it.  Only the readers can truly make that judgement.


Thanks so much for sharing Maledicus with us, Charles! If you’d like to read Maledicus, it’s now available on Amazon. You can also learn more about Charles and his work by visiting his website at https://charlesfrenchonwordsreadingandwriting.wordpress.com. And be sure to come back to this site on Friday, when I’ll be sharing my review of Maledicus!

Author Business & Publishing, Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: Security Tips for Self-Publishing Authors by Cassie Phillips

Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest post from professional blogger Cassie Phillips. Cassie writes for Secure Thoughts, a website dedicated to helping everyday people manage their personal internet security. Here, Cassie provides her tips and tricks for securing your self-published work, as well as protecting yourself and your copyright. 

writingSecurity Tips for Self-Publishing Authors

It’s an exciting day for you. You’re ready to publish that novel you’ve been writing for months, if not years. Perhaps you’ve taken a shot at non-fiction and want to share the knowledge you’ve put together in a single tome. You may even be writing about something brand new and exciting.

You could go with some big publisher, but the costs are high, and you risk making very little money on your book as the publisher will be taking most of it. So here you are. You’ve decided to self-publish. Maybe it’s your first book, or maybe you’ve done it a few times before.

What you may not realize is how important security can be for publishing your book. It may be your idea and your hard work, but it doesn’t take much to lose that. Unsecured work can suddenly turn into a disaster as you watch your effort turn to nil (or even identity theft). Using a publisher you thought was trustworthy could leave you just as broke as having gone through a big time company.

Here are some things you should consider as you’re publishing that next book.

Protect the Devices You Work On

First and foremost, you need to be sure the PC, tablet or mobile device you’re working on is properly secured. If you’ve been doing work from a device that can access the internet (and honestly it would be stranger if you weren’t), your work is always at risk. It’s safer to work offline, but reasonably you should feel safe using any device.

Make certain you have a working anti-virus program at all times. They can be acquired for free for any platform you use, from providers such as Avast, AVG or Panda. You can pay for the extra service if you want, but I don’t feel like its necessary most of the time. These programs usually help you avoid getting a virus.

Use Malwarebytes Anti-malware to remove anything that does get through. It’s easily the best program for removing hard to eliminate viruses. It too is free, with premium features (which I usually don’t think are necessary).

Much of writing takes place on the go, so you may want to consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. It will save you trouble on public WiFi, as you’ll be able to access the internet securely with an encrypted connection. This is a paid service, but additional perks include access to geo-restricted services (such as Netflix and Hulu) anywhere and an anonymous IP address (keeps you from being tracked).

Keep Your Accounts Safe

Maybe you’ve opted to save your work online. I personally backup my data on services such as Dropbox and Google Drive in case of disaster. There are some risks to using these services, but they’re entirely avoidable.

Make sure your accounts have strong passwords containing a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. You should avoid using real words or things that could be associated with you or your work, as those are easy guesses for anyone trying to steal your work.

Most of all, use unique passwords. If you have 5 different services, it only takes one being compromised to ruin the others if you don’t have different passwords for each. There are a few different problems that can arise from stolen accounts.

Your work may be deleted or altered without you knowing. At the worst, your identity may be stolen and your hard work used to someone else’s gain. Imagine seeing the book you spent weeks on with someone else’s name on the title and no way to prove you were the proper author.

Read Contracts

When excitement sets in, the first thing you may want to do is sign here, click confirm there, and be done with it. You absolutely can’t afford to take shortcuts with your publication. Whether you’re planning to try to sell your book on Amazon, through your website, or some other seller, you need to be sure you’ve read through contracts thoroughly.

Understand who has the rights to your book in each avenue. You may find yourself buying copies of your book to sell, yet owing a royalty to the printer if you didn’t go through the contract properly. It’s easy to lose control of your book, even if you’re self-publishing.

Copyrights

There are a few things to know about your publication’s copyrights. While you do own your work by default, it’s still necessary to register your copyright and include a page in your book about it for safety purposes. It helps if someone tries to steal your work or use it to profit later because you have a legal avenue to pursue.

Just be careful you aren’t treading on anyone else’s copyrights. If you’re writing a book that focuses on non-fiction (or realistic fiction), try to avoid using brand names. A character in your book might want to be depicted as drinking an ice cold Coca-Cola, but that may be an issue if Coke decides they don’t like how you’re depicting their product.

Be sure any images you use are original and that you have permission to use any trademarked or copyrighted words. It’s better to invent a fictitious brand for your book than to deal with legal proceedings with a big corporation who decided they don’t like your book.

Don’t Get Discouraged

While there are plenty of problems you need to deal with before you can publish yourself, don’t get discouraged. Publishing is easier than it’s ever been, and if you’re taking the right steps, you can at least avoid problems on the security front.

Of course there’s no guarantee your book will be a hit. But it certainly won’t do well if it never reaches the press because you got bogged down by some hacker or lost data. Do yourself a favor; be safe, and be successful.


Thank you Cassie for reaching out to me and helping the indie author community learn more about this important topic! If anyone has any questions for Cassie, please leave them in the comments or contact me, and I can put you in touch with her.

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts, Musings & Bookish Things

Guest Post: Bourbon ‘n’ Books by Sandy

Hello everyone! Today, I’m excited to bring you a fun guest post from Sandy, canine companion of a fellow author, in response to my Classic Literature and Wine Pairings post. You can check out her blog HERE. Without further ado, take it away, Sandy!


I loved your post connecting wine and your favorite reads. When I asked the Geezer, my human, for his selections, he said, “Sandy, I’m not a wine connoisseur. I’m more just a sewer. I’ll give connecting bourbon to books a try. I know more about them.” Here’s his list giving the book, author, booze, and bottler. Yep, they’re all real.

bourbon glassBattle Cry by Leon Uris and Semper Fi Corn Whiskey (Ascendant Spirits)

How could you not select this bourbon to sip while reading this tale about Marines in WWII. Hell, I can see High-Pockets holding an aluminum cupful in a fox hole.

Deliverance by James Dickey and Midnight Moon Moonshine (Piedmont Distillers)

Crank up Earl Scruggs’ recording of “Dueling Banjos,” pour the booze from the bottle into a clay jug, tip it up, and turn the pages of a book that ended more than one person’s desire to canoe and camp in the mountains.

The Help by Kathyrn Stockett and Jack Daniels (Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

Quality bourbon for a quality book. Besides, this is the brand of bourbon I can see Skeeter drinking, sitting in a New York City apartment, wishing she was back in Mississippi.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and Mattingly & Moore (Heaven Hill Distillery)

Mattingly and Moore sounds like a London accounting house where this psychological thriller is set. With all the twists, turns, complications, and betrayals a few doubles will keep you relaxed.

City of Thieves by Daniel Benioff and Old Grand-Dad (Jim Beam Distillery)

This bourbon has been around a long time just like the protagonist chronicled in this tale of the misery that was the siege of Leningrad. It’s the fictionalized story of the author’s knife-fighting grand-dad. Three shots recommended, it has some tough emotional reading in it.

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and Rebel Yell (Heaven Hill Distillery)

One of my favorite books and bourbons. How more appropriate than drinking a glass of Rebel Yell when listening for the fading echo of a sound that provided the framework for this great novel’s time and place.

A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean and Wild Turkey (Wild Turkey Distillery)

Smooth to the point of perfection. The book or the bourbon? Both! If you’ve not read Norman Maclean’s writing, do it. He defines the art!

barrelGone With The Wind by Margret Mitchell and Southern Comfort (Southern Comfort Company)

Well shut my mouth and call me Rhett. Visualize Scarlet sitting on Tara’s front porch pourin’ and a pourin’ and a pourin’ till, well, this smooth tastin’ bourbon is a good medicine for a guilty conscience and a sleeping pill.

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and Old Rip Van Winkle (Buffalo Trace Distillery)

Like Twain’s prose this whiskey flows smoothly but has a kick you can’t ignore. Besides, I love the brand Name … it sounds so literary.

Scandalous Behavior by Stuart Woods and Fighting Cock (Heaven Hill Distillery)

Ahhhhhh … the hero wants a peaceful rest in the English hinterlands. However, relations with the neighbors create a situation closer to converting him into this bourbon’s brand name. With neighbors like he has, a pint of the product in the morning and evening is recommended.

Message in a Bottle, The Choice, etc. by Nicholas Sparks and Four Roses (Four Roses Distillery)

Nickolas Sparks! You read his books and they all have two things in common. Their similarities produce déjà vu. And you fall in love with each one of them. Drinking Four Roses is the same, you never quite get enough.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd and Cougar, MGP Indiana /or/ Firefly Moonshine (Firefly Distillery)

This family tale wound around a woman’s mid-life crisis and fling takes place on the Carolinas coast. That’s where Firefly Moonshine is made and I couldn’t resist mentioning Cougar Bourbon even though it’s only sold in Australia and New Zealand. Cougar is so appropriate to describe the books heroine.


Once again, thank you to Sandy and her author for providing these great bourbon and book pairing recommendations! And remember, if you’d ever like to provide a guest post, all you have to do is send a request via my Contact page.