Book Review – Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks

Remember how last quarter I asked if I was going to do quarterly book reviews on this blog? Welp. Here we are. At the very least these will happen throughout the rest of 2019. Though I’ll likely only do one a quarter, plus the end of the year massive book ranking post like I wrote last year.

Full disclosure for those of you who don’t know me really aside from this blog: I’m a fan of professional wrestling. While I don’t watch nearly as much anymore as I once did, I do follow along with the storylines through the internet. I’ll watch 2-3 pay-per-views a year, either via streaming or (rarely) by going out to Buffalo Wild Wings and watching them1I try to do the latter for the Royal Rumble every year, though I haven’t gotten to do that in a couple of years.. That said, there was a point where I liked wrestling a lot more than I do now.

Part of the reason for my decline in interest is because of the fact that a lot of wrestlers I loved watching aren’t wrestling anymore. While my favorite wrestler of all time, Kofi Kingston, is the current WWE champion2As of me writing this review on September 11, 2019., several of my favorite wrestlers are either no longer wrestling (Paige, CM Punk, AJ Lee, Edge, Mark Henry, Christian) or wrestle significantly less than they once did (Kane, Lita, The Undertaker). As such, while the quality of professional wrestling has gone up significantly over the past few years, I’m not as engaged it as I once was3A couple of my favorite wrestlers have also moved on to companies where there’s generally a time difference between when I have time to watch wrestling and when they’re actually wrestling. That doesn’t help matters either..

I picked up Crazy is My Superpower because I remember how ridiculously good AJ Lee’s — real name A.J. Mendez Brooks — run on the WWE main roster was in the earlier part of the 2010s. She was the first female wrestler since Lita that I felt the WWE allowed to showcase what she could do as a performer in the ring. She was a major reason I was so interested in watching wrestling when it was on TV at the time because of the intensity and emotion she played her character with on a weekly basis.

In Crazy is My Superpower, Mendez Brooks goes into her battles with mental illness, which ultimately helped shape (and allowed her to more accurately play) the character she portrayed on television. In opening up about her challenges facing bipolar disorder, it felt like Mendez Brooks went a long way to humanize those who are afflicted with the disease. I’ve had people close to me who also had bipolar disorder, but because of my lack of understanding of them, as well as of the disease itself, I felt like I often struggled to relate to them — or at the very least be there for them in a way that was helpful to them. Crazy is My Superpower helped me to understand one person’s battle with bipolar disorder in a way that shed new light on the disease for me.

Beyond that, the book is extremely funny and witty. I’ve read a decent number of books written by celebrities I like over the past two years. While some celebrities (Adam Savage and Anna Kendrick, for example) wrote decent to very good books, most celebrity books range from underwhelming (most of them) to shut the book and immediately return it to the library levels of bad (Jim Gaffigan). Crazy is My Superpower is an amazing book, comfortably ranking in my top five celebrity(ish)-written books of all-time. That list would look something like this for those curious:

  • I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
  • Crazy is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez Brooks
  • Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot by Mike Greenberg
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Crazy is My Superpower talks about some heavy topics, particularly in regards to mental illness and poverty. So be prepared for that going in. With that said, it’s easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and expect it to be near the top of my 2019 books list once I publish that in December.

Book Review – When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

Are quarterly book reviews going to become a thing on this blog? I don’t know. But for the second quarter in a row, I’m reviewing a book for the blog. In the first quarter of this year, I reviewed “10:04” by Ben Lerner. This quarter, I picked up another book that gave me mixed feelings, this one being “When the Lights Go Out” by Mary Kubica.

“When the Lights Go Out” tells the story of two women — Jessie Sloane and her mother Eden. Eden’s story is mostly told in flashbacks while Jessie’s story is present day, dealing with the experience and aftermath associated with Eden’s death from cancer. To properly understand how I feel about this book, I feel it’s best to explore it much in the way the book is written. That is, to look at Jessie’s story versus Eden’s story. Spoilers ahead.

Jessie

I’m going to get the lone thing I dislike about Jessie’s part of the story out of the way right away. “When the Lights Go Out” goes the full St. Elsewhere route4 with 85% of Jessie’s story. Jessie’s story was all in her mind — a terrifying dream induced by a combination of sleep deprivation, sleeping pills, and melatonin.

That said, what a beautifully written descent into madness Jessie’s dream sequence story was. The way Kubica wrote the hallucinations and mental tangents that come with sleep deprivation was captivating. Since the story changed points of view regularly, there would be gaps of time where I wasn’t able to read what was going on with Jessie. Whenever that was happening, I found myself desperately wanting to come back to it because of how interesting it was. How much more could Jessie take before she finally snapped? Even the chapter where she finally realizes she was actually dreaming was beautifully done, taking several pages before you’re able to realize that she’s not actually dead, rather struggling to come out of a medication-induced slumber.

The non-dream parts of Jessie’s story serve more as context than anything else. Though they’re not as interesting as the slow mental deterioration that was her dream self, they’re still useful in tying the story together. Jessie’s story feels natural and gripping, even when the reader can’t fully associate with it. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I read the book’s synopsis online.

Eden

So I’m writing an end of the year book ranking/review post, much like I did last year. In reviewing a different book I read, I talk about how difficult it can be to make a bad guy type character as a focal point of your novel, as it makes you want to root against them. It can be done well, though books that make the bad guy your main character and still tell a compelling story are few and far between.

I don’t think the intent was for Eden to be the bad guy of “When the Lights Go Out”. She is clearly meant to be a flawed character, one who only shows any sort of redemption in death. That said, it is very clear throughout the book that Eden is not a good person. She is a good mother at the expense of being a terrible human in pretty much every other facet of her life. Her obcession with motherhood bordered on maniacal. And when I say obcession, I don’t mean she really cared about her kids or had a yearning desire to be a mom. I mean she actively attempted child abduction in an effort to become a mom, only to be stopped because the child’s mom happened to catch her.

Paired against Jessie’s dive into madness, Eden’s story felt cold and cruel. While it certainly added to how much I was rooting for Jessie to find herself — much as Eden suggests for her to do — it made me want to get through the majority of Eden’s chapters even quicker. Though there is an attempt at salvaging her character over the last 4-5 chapters of the book, the damage is irreperable.

 

All in all, “When the Lights Go Out” is an interesting suspense read. If the story solely focused on Jessie horrifying mental struggles, it could have easily been a top three book I’ve read this year. If the story stayed with Eden, I likely would have given up on the book before the halfway point. As it stands, “When the Lights Go Out” will likely land somewhere on the middle of my year end list. It’s a good suspense read, but only if you can put up with half of your book focusing on a terrible person trying to be passed off as somewhat sympathetic. If you can, the story told about Jessie Sloane is something special.

Book Review – 10:04 by Ben Lerner

After a full year of the blog not having any book reviews on it, I fully planned to have a new review up on the site sometime in January or February of this year. And this post is proof of making good on that promise. This just wasn’t the book I had planned on reviewing. I’ll hope to get to that book in the not to distant future, however I’ve decided to preempt that review with one about Ben Lerner’s book “10:04” for two reasons.

  1. I have significantly more to say about “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”5The book linked in the paragraph above. than I do about “10:04”. This is partly because I wholeheartedly loved “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”, partly because I feel like the messages in that book are much more poignant in today’s society than the average book, and partly because I’m a huge fan of Hank Green. It’s also partly because I have conflicting feelings about “10:04”, which I’ll get into below.
  2. “10:04” is the first book that I’ve read in years that made me actively ask ‘what in the fuck did I just read?’ and not have it be completely in a bad way6I’ve had quite a few of the ‘what in the fuck did I just read?’ in a bad way books over the past few years. This list includes, but is not limited to, “The Red Inn” by Honore de Balzac, “Lucky Us” by Amy Bloom, and “The Iliad” by Homer..

The premise of “10:04” — an author writing about the process of writing a book — is simple enough. Much like Hollywood fetishizes over movies about Hollywood, authors love reading books about other writers and their writing processes, be they fictional or otherwise. That said, “10:04” is not so much about the author’s journey to write a single book as much as it is a journey to write four7At least four. You could make the argument it’s more than that with the different ideas he details, but there’s four solid books discussed. different stories over the course of the book. It is a beautifully relatable tale in that regard. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many story ideas that I’ve had that I’ve started, only to scrap them later for a better idea, or when I tired of writing the initial story. Lerner does a masterful job of grasping with this concept in “10:04”, as well as the many reasons why authors have mental hurdles when it comes to writing works that are intended for future publication.

The various stories detailed with in the book, however, also become its downfall to a certain extent. Though the main storyline flows linearly and coherently, when bits and pieces of the stories that the author is writing are worked into the book, it makes for a confusing read. This was even more noticeable in the audiobook version of “10:04”, where the reader of the story did not clearly delineate when the narrator was switching between telling his own story and telling a story he had written (though there was a notable exception later in the book that was done flawlessly). Instead of having a flowing, coherent read, those who choose to listen to the audiobook may experience minutes at a time where they’re confused whether or not they’re reading the main story itself or a story within a story. From what I’ve seen in a quick skim through the physical book, this is better laid out in the book itself, hence why it is a criticism on my part, though not a chief one.

“10:04” is very much a metafictional look into writing a book from the view of an author within a book. I love this style of writing, particularly when it’s done well. There are several nods to the fact that the author/narrator of this book knows that you, the reader, are consuming his current book. With that said, it’s not intrusive enough to be a distraction from the main story itself. The book has a few interesting subplots, particularly the relationship between the author and his best friend, Alex, in their quest to conceive a child through IVF8There’s a moment in this particular subplot that’s incredibly cringey. It works because the main character is portrayed as flawed and somewhat impulsive, but at the same time doesn’t work because of how much the main character seems to focus on morality in the book. Even after finishing the entire book and understanding how that scene fits into the larger context of the novel, I still don’t understand the need for its inclusion. It just adds an unnecessary reason to hate the main character to the story.. The overarching goal of the author finishing his story — or what that story would eventually become by the end of the book — is molded and changed by the various subplots within the story, which helps them flow quite naturally.

My biggest complaint about “10:04” is how frequently the main character of the story would talk smart just to sound smart. Since the main character is both an author and a professor, it goes without saying that this individual would have an extensive vocabulary and would deploy it regularly, both as the narrator of a metafictional piece and in his day-to-day interactions with other people in the book. With that said, there were several times throughout the book I was left wondering whether the main character was meant to be portrayed as a pompous intellectual or not. I don’t think this was the intent when the character was written, as evidenced by the main character’s interactions with children in the book, as well as most of his time with Alex. But there were enough times where I felt like the narrator was trying to impress someone with his verbosity that it was distracting — arguably the most distracting part of the book as a whole.

With that all said, there is something that “10:04” does better than most any book I’ve read9Definitely in recent memory, possibly ever.. The way that Lerner planted small pieces of the story at the beginning of the book and then integrated them throughout the story as it moved along was superb. From the repetition of the poem “High Flight” to discussion on the ethics (and weirdness) of eating baby octopuses at fancy restaurants10As well as several other running items., the whole book felt like it tied together beautifully because of how much every little thing discussed mattered. Some authors11Hello! will go on long tangents aside as a method to world building or moving a subplot along. Lerner did this, but he took it a step further by using these tangents to create an environment for the story where you, as the reader, could latch on to these small details spread throughout the book. They’d draw you back into whatever was going on in the story, no matter how lost you were.

Initially after ending “10:04”, I had no idea what to think of the book. I texted Megan of the book review site Soul Meets Books and said the following:

Today in books I have no idea what to think of: “10:04” by Ben Lerner. It’s the first book I’ve read in a while that made me think ‘what in the fuck did I just read?’

After a bit of time for reflection, I think I know what in the fuck I just read. “10:04” does what it is intended to do in a great way — to provide a first person examination into the process of writing a book, along with all of the influences that go into it, all in a metafictional way. It is limited by intertwining stories within the story that make the story unnecessarily complex, as well as a narrator who inconsistently deploys complex vocabulary in such a way that can be a put off to some readers. With that said, I think I find myself more intrigued by “10:04” after reading the book than I was during my read of the book. That’s not a small feat to achieve when writing a book about the process of writing a book. “10:04” has made me think about the process to writing a book — as well as the various intricate details involved that make a book truly exceptional — more than the vast majority of books I’ve read. I don’t know that I’d recommend “10:04” to everyone. If you’re not engaged with the main point of the story, it can be hard to get invested in the characters aside from the narrator. But if you’re a writer in any capacity, I do think “10:04” is worth your time.

Ranking My 2018 Reads

It’s the end of 2018. Literally. Today is the last day of the year and I’m still cramming trying to write new content before the year ends. It’s like I’m back in high school. Except that I didn’t really cram study in high school so much as I just didn’t study. At all. Not developing study habits came back to bite me in grad school.

Wait…what was I talking about? Cramming.

So in 2018, like in 2017, I had a goal to read 12 books before the end of the year. 2018 was a borderline maniacal year for me — to the point where I’m hoping 2019 just consists of a nap for me. I miss having energy to do things. Now all my energy goes to my life, my job, or (if I’m very lucky) my writing. It’s a tiring thing. It’s why I’ve largely resorted to audiobooks over the course of this year. It’s also why I read 10 of the 12 books I read in 2018 in October or later.

I decided it made sense to do a small review post of the books I read over the course of the year. It’s been a while since I did I true book review post (if you want some of those, go check out Megan’s blog…she’s even done a full review on one of the books I read this year), and though I’m not in a position to do any of those in the near future12In terms of time spent per word written, book reviews take the most time of any post that isn’t creative fiction that I write., I did have some thoughts on the books I read. Most of them anyway. I’ve decided to rank 10 of the 12 books I read this year.

In addition to the books below, I also read “Candy Apple Butterscotch” by Rebecca MacCeile and “2666” by Roberto Bolano. I’ve chosen not to make these books part of this list. In the case of the former, I was involved heavily in the formatting process, so I don’t feel I could review it objectively in comparison to other books I read. In the case of the latter, the book was unlike anything I’ve read…to the point where I’m still not sure how I feel about it after the fact. I may come back and add it in as an edit to the post in the future, but as of writing this at the end of December 2018, it will not be mentioned.

10. The Red Inn by Honore de Balzac

The first book I read of 2018 was also the worst by a decent margin13It was a MUCH larger margin until I read the #9 entry on this list.. For a book that’s considered to be a classic novel, it was just boring. The Red Inn made The Iliad readable. It made Moby Dick seem entertaining. It was that bad. On the plus side, it was short, taking me only three days to read in spite of it putting me to sleep every night. I cannot recommend it enough if you have insomnia.

9. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

I’m generally a pretty big fan of books written by comedians, however this is one of the rare exceptions to that rule. You can always tell when someone is trying too hard to be funny, as it sounds forced and painful more than it does actually funny. Eighty percent of Dad is Fat falls into the forced and painful realm. There are a couple of entertaining moments in the book, but they’re few and far between. Having this as an audiobook made it better, as at least Gaffigan’s delivery was really good. That said, it’s one of the few books this year I actively had to put down out of frustration of reading it.

8. Hurricane Season: What Katrina Taught America by Susan Zakin

Not going to lie. I completely forgot I had read this book until near the end of the year. Huh. That’s not a good thing for a book. It was…unremarkable? Which is still better than the two entries below it on this list. But here it sits.

7. Angry Optimist: The Life and Times of Jon Stewart by Lisa Rogak

I had extremely high expectations of this book and came away completely disappointed. As someone who is a huge fan of Jon Stewart, I was hoping to come away learning something new about a man who I had idolized through much of my young adult life. That said, the book came across more like a long Wikipedia article than it did a narrative story or biography. The audiobook featured the worst narrator of an audiobook I came across this year, but even when ignoring that fact, the book was still not great. There was so much potential here, but nearly no execution that couldn’t be done as part of a research writing class.

6. Earth (The Book) by Jon Stewart

I’ve always wanted to read this book, in spite of the fact that people have given me mixed reviews. It’s a gimmicky book — written as a letter of sorts to the alien race that inevitably finds the remains of crumbled society — and fills that niche about how you would expect it would. It was funny at times, though not to the point where I found myself in constant laughter or in deep thought like I often was with The Daily Show itself when Stewart was at the helm. It’s worth the read if you like the premise of the gimmick behind the book, but not a required read if you don’t.

5. Monkey: A Journey to the West translated by David Kheridan

I completely blame Overly Sarcastic Productions for me wanting to read this book. After all, this is a thing.

The book itself was a great morning read during the time off I had from work early in the year and does tell an interesting story. As OSP shows, Journey to the West is a folktale that provided tropes that we see constantly in modern literature. If you have a child of a certain age14I’m thinking in the 8-10 range…I don’t know how old kids are when they stop getting bedtime stories read to them. I don’t remember ever getting one. And now I’ve made myself sad., it’s a great bedtime story to span over a few months.

4. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

We come to the point of the list where I started actively being invested in the books that I read. The Black Prism is a very good story with an amazing magic system. That much is for certain. It’s also a fantasy novel wrapped up in all of the trappings of the typical fantasy novel, including cringeworthy gore and murder, as well as an unshakeable male gaze that makes most women in the story objects or plot devices first and characters second. There are two exceptions to the previous statement in Karis and Liv, however even they can’t avoid occasionally being nothing more than objects of desire15At least in the case of Karis, it’s somewhat justified, as two men feuding over their love for her was debatably the spark that caused an entire war. That said, she’s also a badass bodyguard who STILL has pages devoted to how she looks when dressed up by a creepy kidnapper.. There’s three more books in this series, and I’m torn on whether or not I want to read them at this point. The main story is great. The flaws are enough that I don’t know that I care about continuing reading the series.

3. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

This was surprisingly good — though not for the reasons I expected when I started reading it. Anna Kendrick often come off as this super-relatable, funny celebrity. Scrappy Little Nobody showed that the funny is definitely still true, though I’m less sure now that I’d use relatable to describe her. That said, she tells a damn good story, which was something I didn’t know she was as good at as she clearly is. This was another one of my audiobook reads for the year, and of all of the narrators I listened to in 2018, she was by far the most engaging. Which is nothing to scoff at since Wil Fucking Wheaton is her competition.

2. What If? by Randall Munroe

Speaking of Wheaton, he was the narrator for XKCD creator Randall Munroe’s deep dive into the batshit craziest questions about science you could ever imagine. As someone who adores science and math, this was a joy to listen to, causing me to stay up far later than I had meant to more than once. Munroe’s explorations into the weird space questions he would receive were the most entertaining responses in the book, however the entire book was engaging.

1. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The single best book I’ve read since high school…possibly ever16My ten favorite books list from 2015 needs updated at this point.

I’m not exaggerating. Go read this book. It was that good. I read this entire book in one day, then re-read it again over the course of about a week. I was swept away by the book itself, losing myself in the beauty of its story (something that has only happened one other time in recent memory). There are several relatable, compelling characters in the book. Its messages about fame and the social internet are inescapable truths. Even if the dialogue feels strange at times17Though that’s admittedly because I am not a female young adult, I think., the brilliance of the story makes any concerns forgivable.

Author Interview – E. V. Jacob

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review post for the new book The Shadows by E. V. Jacob. It’s a book that’s one of my favorite books that I’ve read in 2017, as well as one that I definitely think you should pick up. If you haven’t read the review, I would encourage you to do so.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with E. V. Jacob a bit about her new book, her experience as a new author, as well as about some other authors that she sees inspiration in. The transcript of our chat is below. Responses have been edited solely for the purposes of fixing typos. For ease of reading, my questions are in bold, with the responses unbolded below each question.


Tim (T): I’m going to start off with what might be the most obvious question — how does it feel to be a published author?

E. V. Jacob (E): It’s twofold: On the one hand, it feels like everything you want it to and more—I’m proud, excited, grateful, happy, and having a blast. But on the other hand…you’re still you at the end of the day, you know? Nothing about you, or who you are, has ultimately changed. Because the road to publishing, as any published author knows, is so long, that the changes happen over time. There’s no sudden shift; there’s long-term growth. And that’s honestly a great thing, it’s just not as immediate as I think most people would assume. At the same time, it still all feels like a whirlwind and I can’t believe that it’s already done. This simultaneously took forever and happened in the blink of an eye. It’s weird.

T: As a newly published author, what was the your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What was the most intimidating part of the process?

E: I love it all. I do these wild plotting sessions with outlines and timelines and character profiles. I pin up notecards and scatter papers all over the floor, and do that murder wall thing you see in investigations. Then I hand-write the first draft. After it’s done (and boy is it a hot mess when it’s done), I type it up and get to editing. Each and every stage is incredibly fun but also incredibly daunting in its own way. I get stuck, I get frustrated, but the whole time you love what you’re doing, and that keeps me going. But really, I think the best part—and this could just be the novelty of it—was finally getting it out there into the world, and being able to say “I am 100% done writing that book. Time for something new”.

T: From the outside looking in, you seem to be a very motivated, very driven writer. What keeps you motivated during your creative slumps?

E: I appreciate that, because I don’t usually feel like a motivated or driven writer. But what keeps me going is just how badly I want to tell these stories. I have over 70 books planned, and that can sometimes seem like an impossible task, so I am just trying to tell as many of these stories as I can in the time I have. Writing is also a great refuge, and cathartic, so often it’s as therapeutic as it is productive (and other times it’s a damn chore, but I get my friends to yell at me and demand the next chapters, and that helps me churn out words on the bad days).

T: Who are some of the author — or even some of the works — that inspired you? Do you think any of those inspirations show through in The Shadows?

E: My first love, at the ripe old age of six, was the Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate. I still have every single book and read them from time to time. They definitely influenced me. As I grew older, I read anything I could get my hands on, so figuring out exactly has been the biggest influence can be tricky. I’d be lying if I left off obvious contenders, like J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Rick Riordan, but I think every single book I’ve ever read has motivated me to write and tell my own stories. Even books I didn’t like, because I’d think, “If this can get published and have fans then my book should definitely be out there.” One I always think of is Douglas Adams—he’s so funny and absurd and I so admire the odd, casual manner in which he is completely ridiculous.

T: Let’s take some time to talk about your book now. If someone walked up to you on the street and asked you about your book, how would you explain The Shadows to them?

E: I’ve just been describing it as a young adult paranormal sci-fi as of late, but if someone wanted a more in-depth description, I’d tell them it’s about tragedy, and loss. It’s about mental health struggles, and figuring out who you are, apart from what you’ve been raised to be. It’s also about ghosts and some other entities that I don’t want to spoil, but…yeah, things get weird. That’s a phrase I use a lot when describing it, too: “Things get weird.” Which is hilarious to me, since this is arguably the tamest of all my books.

T: The Shadows is your debut piece, however it’s evident that it’s intended to be part of a longer series. Has this always been a series in your mind or did it start out as a book and become something more?

E: This is kind of tricky. See, years and years ago, there was a stand-alone novel that I discussed with my mother about a teen girl named Roz, her eccentric artist neighbor, and some dark secrets. I fiddled with this a bit, but it never fully evolved into anything. And there was another stand-along novel about Derek and Emily—two characters in this book—that was mostly an exploration of Derek’s personal struggles.

Fast-forward to about five years ago, and I’m again kicking things around with my mother, and a new idea blossoms: A series, with a more supernatural feel, taking Roz from her book, and Derek and Emily from their book, adding some other characters, throwing in some mysteries and mystical entities, and creating a series that could unfold over several books. So it almost started as two separate stand-alone books that have been combined into one longer series.

Fun fact: Both Roz and Derek’s original stories will be told over the course of this series, so very little was lost; just assimilated and reworked. I’m excited to still get to share those concepts in this bigger framework, because I loved them both, but they needed the rest of the story to shine.

T: Are there any characters in The Shadows that you like or feel more attached to than others? Any reason why?

E: I mentioned Derek having come from a previous story, and he is actually the character I’ve had the longest out of all others in this series, so he’s rather dear to me. His role in book one is smaller, but that’s mostly due to his reserved nature. He’ll feature more in coming books, and I hope others will come to care about him like I do. Ford is also special, mostly because he’s so easy to write it’s almost like he’s writing himself. I never have to sit there and think about what he’s going to say or do, he just does it. It’s great fun, and he brings out sides of the other characters I like. Roz, I relate to in more ways than I realized I would, and in fact I didn’t see it until the book was almost published.

T: Going into the book as a reader, I knew there was going to be a good bit of paranormal and supernatural content in the book. That said, the detail you went into with the ghost hunting and the paranormal shows was more than I expected. Was there a lot of research that you put into this book — be it in the paranormal realm or otherwise? If so, what was the strangest thing you found yourself researching as you were writing this book?

E: So much research. I mentioned my mother helping out before, and I should say: She loves to research, so I’d recruit her help and she’d find some amazing stuff. Also, I have an affinity for physics and scientific study, so I always liked the idea of explaining the paranormal in logical terms. A lot of research went into “ghosts from a scientific standpoint” (which I’m sure isn’t surprising to anyone who’s read the book), and I built from there. I need to know how things work in order to write them, even if it never makes it into the book, so when I wrote my first ever ghost story—a short story requested by a friend back in 2012—I found myself puzzling over the physics of ghosts. I spent way too much time thinking about how it all worked. So it’s been building for quite some time now, and I’m likely going to continue adding to my eclectic knowledge.

T: Being from Southern Nevada, how much research did you have to do into the setting for the story and how much came from memory?

E: I was born and raised in Las Vegas, so almost all of it was from memory, though I did use the book as an excuse to “research” locations a few times. I’ve been going to Red Rock Canyon all my life, and I actually lived up on Mount Charleston (just outside of Echo, the area mentioned in the book) when I was a teenager. Most of the restaurants and other locations I mentioned are real, or are based on real spots around town that I like to visit. I actually went up to the mountains and hiked around, deciding exactly where I wanted the final scenes of the book to take place. It was a lot of fun, getting to use my hometown as a backdrop to a story, especially when so many of my other projects take place in different countries, time periods, or even on different planets.

T: You’re working on the second book in the Dark Sentinels series now. There’s a nice, albeit short, excerpt that appears at the end of The Shadows as to what’s going to happen in the second book. Anything else you can share about the next book in the series?

E: Some questions will be answered, more questions will be posed, and Rosalind (and her friends!) are going to find themselves dragged even deeper into this mess. Relationships will be strained, and Roz will have to work very hard to keep up with her new abilities. I’m trying not to give anything major away, but things get a lot more intense as the series progresses, and it happens pretty rapidly. Book one, as you know, was a lot of set-up; books two and beyond won’t be slowed down by setting the stage—full speed ahead into the weird.

T: What new, upcoming, or little-known authors would you recommend to others to read?

E: One person who’s writing I love and was fortunate enough to get to read before it was published is Ryan Dalton. He’s the author of the Time Shift Trilogy, which anyone who loves sci-fi and time travel should absolutely check out. Another, with a completely different style, is Abigail Johnson. She writes these complex, deep real-world stories about people taking the raw hand they were dealt and turning that into something magnificent. And she, as a person, is hugely inspiring. I also know that there’s a book coming out Fall 2018 by Candice Montgomery, Home & Away, which I think a lot of people are going to love. And me, of course. I have a lot of projects in the works—some solo, some collaborative, all awesome.


If you haven’t already, go pick up The Shadows by clicking on any of the links below. Additionally, you can learn more about E. V. Jacob by going to her website or by following her on Twitter.

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