Angela Slatter—Award-winning Fantasy Author

I became familiar with Angela through her short story collections, which I believe are brilliant. Then I found her on Facebook and she is super nice. So, after fangirling like crazy, I asked her for an interview, and a new favorite author of mine is on my little blog. If you love speculative fiction, fairytales (think Grimm, not Disney), and suspenseful horror, read Angela Slatter’s work, which can be find on her website, Goodreads, and Amazon (links below). She launches now Restoration, the third book in her urban fantasy series starring Verity Fassbinder.

Tell me about your writing process: schedule, environment, inspirations abstract and material, and strategies, techniques, nuances, secrets, or magic spells. How does this differ for creating a novel versus short stories?

I always need to have an image or a line or a character…sometimes I don’t know what the story is going to be, but I do have a really strong image or action in mind, so I’ll start writing from there. I don’t “push” at it, just let the words roll out and give me some idea of what might be happening with this character or in this place, or the consequences of this act. Sometimes I know exactly what will happen in the story, and I’ll just write the whole thing in a day or twoalas, that’s pretty rare!

I have a bunch of notebooks I scribble ideas into, also post-its, and occasionally cocktail napkins with rambling notations slightly smudged by whiskey. I have a desktop in the office, but I also carry the laptop around the house; sometimes I write by the pool; sometimes I sit in front of the television, ignore the program, and just write (but those are times when I kind of want “white noise”). Sometimes I write to music, but that’s generally if a project’s been inspired by song lyrics or a tune.

When I’m writing a novel, there’s a lot more planning required—I have a spreadsheet that I use to get myself to the turning points in the story. They’re always just suggestions (like the Pirates’ Code), but they give me goalposts to write towards, and they can and generally do change depending on how the story progresses. Short stories—I always just have a rough idea of a three act structure, but I don’t worry too much about that in the first draft—I just brainvomit it out, and then the editing phase is where everything gets made “pretty” and logical.

Alas, I have no magical spells, but I do have some figurines on my desk that are my guardians: one Roman centurion, an elephant, the Goddess Bast, and a faun’s head. Plus, pinned over my desk are poems and sayings that are meaningful to me, a photo of my mum and I when I was about one, and a card from my mentee…so I guess those are my objects of comfort that I like to have around when I write.

 

 

Walk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product, including publishing team and what you do to market your books as the author. What is the difference in publishing a short story collection?

Well, collections such as Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales and A Feast of Sorrows, and the new (as yet unannounced) Best Stories of Angela Slatter, have generally come together when I’ve got a body of stories that have been published only once, and I write a couple more new unpublished ones, then I approach a nice small press and see if they’re interested. So far I’ve been very lucky.

With Sourdough and Other Stories and The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, they are both mostly new stories with a couple of reprints in them. I was lucky enough to have had Tartarus Press pick up two stories for their Strange Tales anthologies, so when I finished putting Sourdough together, I approached Rosalie Parker to see if she and Ray were interested in the collection; fortunately they were! Same thing with Bitterwood, and they are waiting very patiently for the third mosaic in the series, The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales.

With The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, the publisher at Ticonderoga approached me to see if I’d like to put together a mostly reprint collection. That came out about a week after Sourdough. The other two collections that I’ve written, Midnight and Moonshine and The Female Factory with Lisa L. Hannett, came about because we had been throwing around Norse-inflicted stories for M&M and had approached Ticonderoga about publishing that collection; The Female Factory came about because the editor at Twelfth Planet Press asked if we’d contribute to her Twelve Planets mini-collection series.

Basically, because I made my name with short stories at the start of my career, and some won awards, I was in a position where publishers often approached me.

Novels are different— if you’re working with a large publishing house; it helps if you’ve got an agent to make representations on your behalf. I was fortunate that Jo Fletcher of Jo Fletcher Books had already published some of my short fiction in anthologies by Stephen Jones. She knew what I could do and was interested to see how my writing translated to longer form, and she waited patiently to find out! I’m fortunate in her as an editor, as she’s got such a broad range of experience and knowledge, so she generally gets what I’m trying to do and suggests the best ways forward.

Describe your support system—online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

My family are always there for me, whether it’s to listen to me cry, or to listen to good news. My friend Lisa L. Hannett always has the pompoms out, and my beta readers Peter M. Ball and Alan Baxter are great sounding boards. And Kathleen Jennings, my frequent illustrator, is also a terrific person to talk to as she’s very calm. My housemates and their dogs look after me, and make sure I’m fed and watered regularly, and other friends make sure I leave the house at regular intervals, so I remember how to put on trousers the right way and talk to other human beings!

 

I’ve also got a fantastic group of readers and reviewers who seem to enjoy what I do, and on the difficult days, it can really help just to find a sweet tweet about how much they’re enjoying one of my books, especially the days when I decide I’m a terrible writer and decide to sit under the desk, rocking back and forth, and eating a packet of TimTams.

 

 

 

How does your life influence your work and vice versa, and how do speculative elements drive your stories? I love your short stories’ unique connections to fairytales and Grimm-esque ambience. What draws you to the darkness?

I was at the Bendigo Writers Festival this weekend just gone and that question about darkness came up a lot! My mother used to read me fairy tales, and they were the proper old Grimm ones, so they made a lasting impression. And my father was a police officer, and he used to leave his police journals around, which had reports of murder investigations and autopsy photos in them, and as I was a voracious reader from a young age, I saw a lot of interesting things! I have always been obsessed with true crime, and reading crime novels is what I do as a “break” from my usual genres. But I read it so much I think that it bleeds through into everything I write, subtly or otherwise.

 

I’m fascinated by things that go bump in the night, things that we don’t expect and can’t explain…I guess I’m just the sort of person who’s going to take the darker path in the woods (but I am also smart enough to pack a very sharp axe)…

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

I love that I can escape from whatever is going on in the world that’s bothering me, for a while at least. It gives me a bit of respite where I can sort things out, take a breather, and work out some solutions rather than feeling panicked or pressured all the time. I love that I get to create worlds, that I am making stories other people are loving. I especially love that I get to be part of a long line of fairy talers, that I have had stories handed on to me—I will re-work them to my own tastes, and then I’ll pass them on to someone new, who will continue to pass them on and transform them. That makes me happy.

 

Connect with Angela and purchase books:

Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley meet at fat camp, quickly establishing lifelong friendships. Their weight reflects backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and unrealistic expectations, leading to self-sabotage. One friend’s tragedy spurs the others toward their authentic selves.

Higgins digs deep into the transference of emotions into weight, using journal entries for immediate empathy. Along the journey to keep their promise, the two friends follow a rocky path to become true to themselves. This story reaches beyond friendship, beyond body acceptance, exposing the body shaming culture of western society, the misogyny of determining a woman’s worth by her appearance, the invisibility of women who don’t fit the mainstream idea of what a woman should look like, and the self-fulfilling prophecy of buying into that idea. Feminism needs a huge boost in this society where a thin woman is treated better than one who is overweight—even a little bit of extra weight (according to whomever) places someone in the undesirable category; when woman starve themselves or gorge themselves, or accept society’s norms to feel inferior.

I was fortunate to receive a copy of this wonderful book from the publisher for an honest review. The pretty cover and oft sarcastically used phrase as the title belie the substance and depth of this novel. I recommend this to everyone for the insight into the damage done by social cues demanding that all women look one way. Life is hard enough without finding derision in place of compassion. Kudos to Higgins for telling what women are too ashamed to share and the hypocrisy of the fitness industry.

A Clockwork Orientation: Nihon Cyberpunk #2 by Brian Barr

The second short story in his Nihon cyberpunk series, this tale tells of cyborgs gone rogue, culminating in a massacre of human co-workers by the cyborg Mannix. Dr. Nagai and the other Ashita Institute scientists create a program to instill empathy in cyborgs through fabricated experiences of pain and fear. Mannix is too cunning, however, and he is only interested in the officer who deactivated him at the crime scene, turning this digital tall tale into a warped love story.

Brian Barr is a natural storyteller, whose characters stay with the reader. His stories don’t so much twist and turn as they flow like a river around bends and past tall trees, sometimes shady, sometimes sunny. Mannix totally owns the ending in this cyberpunk short fiction. Look for my upcoming reviews for other short stories in the Nihon cyberpunk series.

Connect with Brian on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and his website.

Kimberly Brock—Award-winning Author, Literacy Educator, and Founder of Tinderbox Writers Retreat

 

I met Kimberly through Bloom, the Facebook group for Tall Poppy writers and their readers. If you’re looking for reading material, this author collective has writers of many genres and styles. Since I love speculative fiction, I asked Kimberly for an interview and she graciously agreed to share a little peek into the magic that is writing. Enjoy! And join Bloom if you’d love to a part of a community of stories and supportive human beings.

 

Describe your writing process—schedule, environment, inspirations—and everything you do as an author beyond writing.

Almost always, I start with a place, because setting is so important in my writing, and a problem. I love the peculiar or unexplained. Outliers and underdogs are always my favorite characters and often a voice comes to me with a line or two of dialogue or narrative that will send me off to learn that person’s story. In fiction and in real life, I can’t stand not knowing why. I’m a bloodhound for the whole story.

In terms of my writing day, I’m not a morning person, so I usually work during the late morning and through lunch while my kids are in school. When I’m drafting a story, I can write through the day without realizing the hours have passed. I love research and I have to be careful I don’t get lost in it. I often go through many drafts of a novel before I find the real heart of what I’m trying to say and that means it takes me quite a while to complete a book. Luckily, I have an agent who encourages me to dig deep and likes being part of my process.

When I’m not writing–and trust me, I’m always writing–I spend my time with my family. I have three children–a daughter who is entering college this fall, a son who is a rising senior in high school, and a second son who is entering fifth grade. We have two dogs–a cairn terrier and a rescue dachshund. My husband and I love to cook and travel, and our favorite spots to visit are Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, and the occasional trip to the Pacific Northwest, where we lived early in our marriage. We’ve been to France a few times and lately we’ve been talking a lot about Cornwall and Wales. Maybe someday!

Walk me through the publishing process from final draft to final product, everyone involved, and what you do yourself to promote your new books.

I think my experience in publishing is pretty typical. I spent many years at work on multiple manuscripts, submitting queries to agents and entering contests. I was very lucky to sign with an agent, but I sold my first novel on my own to a small press and it was a lovely experience. My editor and I and a copy editor worked together to get the book in the best shape possible before it went to press.

After the novel was in the world, I went to work making use of all the networking I’d done over the years prior to publishing–relationships I fostered with generous book bloggers and fellow writers–and I sought out every way I could find to put the book in front of as many readers as possible. The novel won the Georgia Author of the Year award, and I went on a book tour across the southeastern US and visited as many independent bookstores as I could. They are the fairy godmothers of authors and readers!

You are a member of the Tall Poppies author collective. Tell me how that happened and about your support system online and IRL; who are your biggest cheerleaders?

A few years ago, Orly Konig invited me to lead a workshop for the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association’s first retreat. Over that weekend, I learned about the Tall Poppies from author Kathryn Craft and got excited about the group. I had lunch with Amy Impellizerri before we left the airport and I absolutely adored her, too. I was delighted when they invited me to be a part of this inspiring group of women authors. They are absolutely my support system online AND IRL!

Patti Callahan Henry and Amy Nathan have been longtime supporters and friends. Outside of Poppies, Allison Law, Joshilyn Jackson, Sally Kilpatrick, Nicki Salcedo, Heather Bell Adams, Gina Heron, Reta Hampton, Shari Smith, Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon have encouraged me so much along the way. Emily Carpenter and MJ Pullen know where all the bodies are buried. There are so many more! I know I’m leaving so many people out.

The short stories on your website evoke your Southern Gothic style; they are a wonderful introduction to your writing. How does your life influence your art—and vice versa, and how did speculative elements find their way into your storytelling?

Thanks! The short stories are like little treats for myself that I hope readers enjoy. In them, I allow myself to just play with the magical elements that I love in my favorite stories. My novels aren’t so heavy with magical elements, although they are most definitely present. I love the inexplicable.

I think my world view comes through in my writing and my choice to always force characters to examine what they think they believe and especially what they are willing to accept without concrete evidence. I like to challenge black and white ideas and I’m interested in what exists in the gray areas. I grew up and have lived most of my adult life in the South where ghosts and spirits, religion and superstition are a part of everyday conversation. I’m a very intuitive person. I think I could hardly write anything else.

What do you love most about your creativity?

Over the years, I’ve heard so many writers lament a loss of creativity in their lives. I don’t adhere to that idea. I believe that people are inherently creative by nature. Like any other natural ability, we have to be healthy in other areas of our lives in order to function at our best and creativity is no different. There are months when my creativity seems dormant, but it’s easy to know why if I look at other areas of my life–my physical or psychological health.

The most amazing thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that the answer to reviving my creativity is engaging in creativity. It’s self-healing. The more I allow myself to be freely creative, the more my physical and psychological health also improve. If I neglect my creativity, everything else goes downhill with it. It’s imperative for a full life.

I started the Tinderbox Writers Workshops, which led to an annual retreat, based on these ideas and my own experiences. Every year, writers meet on the South Carolina coast for a week of inspiration, friendship, writing and transformation. It’s one of my favorite things and truly the most rewarding part of my writing journey.

FORTUNE’S KEY. I contributed a short story to a new collection this February. The best part – all proceeds of the ebook sales for the anthology A CUP OF LOVE, go to First Book, a children’s literacy charity. ONLY $2.99! Give a little love, get a little love! And I’d love to know what you think of Phoebe and Henry!

Connect with Kimberly:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon

Bookbub

 

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain—pub date October 2, 2018

In 1965, Carly Sears becomes the physical therapist for an intriguing man who seems to know her. Five years later, as her brother-in-law, Hunter helps her find specialty medical care for her unborn baby—in the future. The events on 9/11 alter her course, causing her to make an agonizing decision regarding her daughter.

Chamberlain carefully lays out the rules for time travel and sticks to them, allowing for the anomalies not yet worked out by Hunter and his scientist mother. In her first foray into speculative fiction, this story remains pure Diane Chamberlain, with complex characters, dynamic relationships, and impossible choices. Within tension building to a near breakdown as revelations explode, Chamberlain’s characters make the right decisions for them, and the reader swoons.

After dozens of novels in the literary genre, Chamberlain ventured a bit further into historical fiction, which worked out really well for her. Now tossing in a bit of fantasy / sci-fi proves her versatility. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of the newest book by one of my favorite authors directly from the publisher #St.Martin’sPress.

Sullivan Suad—Comic Artist

 

 

I met Sullivan through a writerly Facebook friend who hires him to illustrate his stories. His work is fantastic, so I asked him for an interview. He graciously agreed, and here I can share his work with you and offer a peek behind the scenes at his artistic process.

 

 

Describe your artistic process—schedule, materials, studio, and inspirations.

Let’s start with inspiration—my inspiration comes from everything I’ve read that I’ve seen and lived. It comes from all that. The comic gave me everything, gave me my work, gave my culture, gave the taste for reading; the comic led me to like various things. Although my family did not encourage me much, the first time I won a comic, I found it fascinating. I thought, “This is what I want to do.” While other kids said they wanted to be doctors, lawyers, or football players, I said I wanted to work for Marvel drawing Spider-Man. HAHAHA!!! My studio is my bedroom. Here I work and develop everything. The materials I use are conventional—I am still learning to adapt to the use of technologies. The creative process comes when the script itself arrives; you read and begin to internalize the scenes. So I do. I imagine it and play it all on paper soon.

 

Tell me about your support system, online and in real life.

I can say that who supports me in my work, both in real life and online, is my teammate Zilson Costa. It has been a few years since we started an excellent partnership, and this has paid us good results. Our production chain begins when the client sends us the script, and it comes to me that I make only the pencil sketch. After I do the drawing, I send it to Zilson, who puts in the ink.

 

How do you obtain clients, and is all your work specific to clients?

I already have some specific clients, others are by indication. But I am always divulging my portfolio to get new jobs.

How does your life influence your art and vice versa?

I counted on the influence of several friends, also comic book fans–who were an incentive for me to gradually learn everything as a self-taught artist. The inspiration came from Marvel and DC Comics.

 

What do you love most about your creativity?

It may seem heresy on my part, but I love my profession, because it is like playing a little god. You create, give a life to a character, and lead a whole universe of possibilities—it is something incredible. I wanted to finish here and leave a positive message about all this: Never stop studying, the market is always changing and you need to update. If you do not practice every day, you will surely miss an opportunity for someone who practices every day. As for the financial part, those who work with comics can earn as well as any other professional in another area. It only depends on it, not only as a drawer, but as a person who knows how to take advantage of the opportunities; after all if you follow a career for the status of that money always, there would not be so many lawyers changing branches. The beginning is always complicated, no matter the area or profession. You will grate, you will work double, and you will receive little. But if you sneak in and keep on evolving your work, believe me—there’s never going to be a lack of opportunity and money can be interesting.

 

Connect with Sullivan

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Goodreads Author page

 

Paranormal Parasites by Nick Redfern—pub date September 8, 2018

Basically, this book attempts to warn humans that they are being farmed like cattle across planet Earth as food for energy entities, inter-dimensional and extraterrestrial, who wish to eat souls. Redfern, author of 30+ books on UFOs, Bigfoot, and cryptozoology, takes readers through the minutia of anecdotal evidence for cryptids, some timeworn, a bit somewhat newer, all of it always fun and interesting. The book begins with an explanation of supernatural energy, or orgone, as defined by Wilhelm Reich, and immediately launches into soul stealing creatures from around the world. It’s hard to tell if Redfern is writing tongue-in-cheek, or in full belief; Llewellyn is the publisher—the latter is more likely. As with inexplicably grainy (in this day and age of technology?) videos of cryptids, so the personal stories, including those of alleged personnel of mysterious / forbidden locations, such as Area 51 (according to Redfern, there’s a secret facility miles underground in New Mexico), border on requiring suspension of belief.  Silently dismissing mental illness or other more pragmatic sources, the author relays seemingly supernatural events as fact. Even with prior knowledge of the medical condition behind experiences of succubi and incubi, the chapters on these sexually demanding night creatures are disturbingly realistic. However, mythological lore is explored through the story of Lilith, who links Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity, as a relevant dark, feminine archetype. The highlight of the book is the concept of a tulpa, an entity created by focused energy of a group of people, with Slenderman being the most well known. Readers who accept spiritual entities for granted will be scared out of their wits by this book. Others who take it with a grain of salt will appreciate it for further forays into global legends, myths, and folklore. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this fascinating book from the publisher #Lewellyn through #NetGalley.

Feared by Lisa Scottoline—pub date August 14, 2018

In this continuation of the Rosato and DiNunzio series with alphabetized titles, Mary’s pregnancy weighs heavily in the story. Tables are turned on the firm when they are sued, and murder comes too close to home, with one of their own a person of interest. Unrelated to the discrimination case, religious bias seems to crack the fourth wall, as the lawyer for the firm comes across as ineffectual in his lackadaisical, eastern spirituality approach. The clue that exposes the murderer is generic and far-reaching as conclusive evidence. The writing is solid and flows, but the storyline and accoutrements fall short of Scottoline’s brilliance despite her winning formula. With Mary the lead in this book, her family makes broad appearances, which is always welcome to DiNuinzio fans. As a novel in a series, it’s worth reading for the continuity in anticipation of “G***”. I was fortunate to receive an early copy from the publisher #St.Martin’sPress through #NetGalley.

The Heart of Aleppo by Ammar Habib blog tour

 

TITLE

The Heart of Aleppo: A Story of the Syrian Civil War

AUTHOR

Ammar Habib

GENRE

Young Adult / Contemporary / Current Events

After standing for over 7,000 years, Aleppo’s ruin came overnight. Separated from his family during the night the rebels attacked the city, thirteen-year-old Zaid Kadir is lost in the middle of a war zone. Alongside his friends, he is forced to survive the dangers of a civil war he does not even fully understand. Zaid witnesses the destruction of the brutal Syrian Civil War as it grows more deadly by the day and rips his city apart. However, as he braves this destruction, as he desperately tries to survive this catastrophe, he discovers something. Zaid realizes that it is in the darkest hours when humanity’s spirit of hope burns brightest.

EXCERPT

Two days before Nabeel leaves for the last time, I find him standing at the kitchen counter with his friend, Zakariah. I don’t know his rank, but Zakariah serves directly under Nabeel in the army and only lives two miles down the road. The two of them always seem to be on leave at the same time.

Their voices are low, almost secretive, but I catch the look in Nabeel’s eye. Except back then, I didn’t recognize it.

What are you guys talking about?”

Seeing me enter and hearing my voice, they both look my way before exchanging glances. That gleam in Nabeel’s eyes disappears.

I excitedly run up to the two of them. “Tell me!”

Nabeel looks back down at me as he stops leaning against the counter. Reaching down, he ruffles my hair. “You’re too young to know about that, Zaid.”

Aww, what’s that about? I’m not part of the group now—”

My brother playfully flicks me on the forehead as he crouches down a little. “I’m sorry, buddy. Maybe next time.”

You’re always saying that.”

Zakariah laughs as he comes closer to me. He puts his hand on my shoulder. “That’s just not fair, Nabeel. You’re a horrible brother for leaving Zaid out like that.”

I see a concerned expression momentarily wash over Nabeel’s face.

However, Zakariah glances up at Nabeel and shoots him a quick wink as he continues. “Why don’t I just tell you then?”

My eyes light up. “Really! You’re the best, Zakariah.”

Coming to his knees, he puts his arm around my shoulders and leans close, acting as if he is about to tell me the world’s biggest secret. “You see, Zaid, your brother and I were having a discussion about which one of us would win in a wrestling match. We all know that I’m stronger, but he just won’t admit it.” He sighs and shakes his head as he looks back at Nabeel. “But you agree with me, don’t you, Zaid?”

I don’t hesitate to respond. “No way!”

He moves his head back in surprise. “Huh?”

Sure you’re pretty strong, but my brother would beat you!”

Zakariah is slow to reply, taken aback by the statement. “C’mon, Zaid. You do realize that I’m older than him—”

Age has nothing to do with it, Zakariah! My brother was the school’s wrestling champion. He wouldn’t lose to you.” I whip my head to look back at Nabeel. “Right, big brother?”

Nabeel is slightly smiling now.

With a chuckle, Zakariah rises back to his feet. “Alright, alright. Well, I best be off, Nabeel. We can finish our little discussion next time.”

Nabeel shakes his hand. “Give my greetings to your folks.”

I will.” Zakariah grabs my shoulder and gives it a squeeze. “See you, Zaid—no, sorry: Dr. Zaid.”

Did he really just call me that? How did he know?

Hearing Zakariah’s footsteps grow faint, I turn back to Nabeel. He opens the fridge door and rummages through it.

You told him?” I ask.

Nabeel doesn’t look my way. “I tell everyone.”

I watch him pull out a pound of chicken meat rolled up in brown paper as he turns back to me.

Aisha is visiting her parents tonight and Abbi and Ummi are having dinner with friends. So looks like it’ll just be you and me.” Nabeel shoots me a wink. “I’m going to make some shwarma for dinner. Just the way you like it: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, lots of chicken, and even more spices.” He starts setting the ingredients on the countertop. “I went by Sohail’s shop today. The mangoes he was selling were ripe, so I picked some up. We can have them for dessert. That is if we have room.”

He looks back at me with a smile, but it fades when he sees my expression.

What’s wrong, Zaid?”

I glance at the ground before replying, “I don’t think I want to be a doctor anymore.”

Why not?”

“…I don’t think I can.”

He takes a few steps towards me before crouching down to come to my eye level, urging me to continue.

Ms. Farooq said I’m not smart enough.”

She did?”

I got the lowest score in the class on the last math test. She said I’m not cut out for it.”

I didn’t realize Ms. Farooq could tell the future.”

I don’t respond.

Did you tell Abbi or Ummi?”

I shake my head.

He takes a deep breath and glances down at my feet. His eyes look like he’s weighing something, wondering if he should say it or not. When he does speak, his voice is different. It’s no longer speaking to me as his younger brother but as his friend. “You know, Zaid, Zakariah was joking about what we were talking about.”

Really?”

He nods before his gaze focuses back on me. “Not even a few weeks ago, my soldiers and I were in a bit of a… well, situation.”

What happened?”

We were in Homs. The people we were fighting—the rebels—had heavy control of some neighborhoods. We were trying to take them back. It was…”

A silence ensues as he searches for the word.

Difficult.” Nabeel pauses. “Some soldiers were pinned. The army tried an airstrike to break the rebel lines. It was a heavy bombardment that leveled entire streets. The cost was high. But we couldn’t break their lines.”

I don’t interrupt him.

Our intelligence said it was a lost cause. We were ordered to abandon the soldiers. They said we would lose more men than we would save. But even the army’s ‘intelligence’ doesn’t know everything.” He looks away. “Zakariah and I disobeyed our commanding officer. As did our men. Those soldiers that were pinned weren’t just men. They were my friends… my brothers. And I would never abandon them, even if it led to…”

For a moment, his eyes again display that same gleam, but it disappears as quickly as it came.

His gaze again meets mine. It’s firmer this time, stronger. “It doesn’t matter what people say, Zaid. It doesn’t matter what the facts say. All that matters is what you say. And, maybe more importantly, what you do.”

I hang on his words, unable to say anything.

Why do you want to be a doctor, Zaid?”

I’ve always wanted to.”

But why?”

Because… I don’t want to see people suffer. I… I want to be the one to help others. I want to save lives, make a difference and put others before myself. I want to make this world a better place. Just like the Imam always talks about.”

Nabeel smiles. “Never forget that. And never go back on your word. No matter what happens. Please never forget one thing, Zaid: I love you. No matter the circumstance—no matter if I’m so far from you that you may never see me again, know that I’m with you.” He presses his finger against my heart. “I believe in you, Zaid.”

REVIEWS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40199729-the-heart-of-aleppo

PURCHASE

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Aleppo-Story-Syrian-Civil-ebook/dp/B07D7HQ53C

NOVEL PURPOSE

I, Ammar Habib, personally believe that the Syrian Civil War is one of this generation’s greatest tragedies. With the way it is proceeding, it’ll be remembered by future generations in the same manner that we remember the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian War of the 1990s.

The motivation for writing this story was simple: I wished to bring more global attention to this crisis. Although the characters are fictitious, this novel accurately depicts the events that transpired in Aleppo during the summer of 2012. I hope that reading this will lead readers to have a greater understanding of the plight those in Syria face, as well as those in other war-torn regions. If this work helps garner more attention for those in Syria, then I will have considered this project a success.

In an over-politicized world, my wish is for this work to humanize those we call “refugees”. This book is not about the politics of the Syrian Civil War or any other conflict. Its aim is not to convince readers to support any faction or political party. Instead, this story is about the unbreakable spirit of humanity. It is about how humanity often shows its true strength during the darkest times

WRITING PLAYLIST

1. “Sadness and Sorrow”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEWF2xh5E8s&t=0s&list=LLBxVJMhFpqkREP81ev8SIwQ&index=34

2. “Sound of Hugh Glass”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1qIV3WXZFE&t=0s&list=LLBxVJMhFpqkREP81ev8SIwQ&index=31

3. “Despair”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O1RTYnzUuo&t=0s&list=LLBxVJMhFpqkREP81ev8SIwQ&index=32

4. “Man of the World”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkQLJ2KzsKA&t=0s&list=LLBxVJMhFpqkREP81ev8SIwQ&index=2

AUTHOR BIO

Ammar Habib is a bestselling and award-winning author who was born in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1993. Ammar enjoys crafting stories that are not only entertaining but will also stay with the reader for a long time. Ammar presently resides in his hometown with his family, all of whom are his biggest fans. He draws his inspiration from his family, imagination, and the world around him.

AUTHOR SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Website: www.ammarahsenhabib.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ammarahsenhabib

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmmarAHabib1 @AmmarAHabib1

Blog: www.ammarhabibblog.wordpress.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Ammar_Habib

Instagram: https://instagram.com/ammar.a.habib/ @Ammar.A.Habib