S.A. Stovall on Writing,Influences, and her new release Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) (guest interview)

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Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall
DSP Publication

Cover art: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:   DSP PublicationsAmazon  

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to  have S.A. Stovall here today answering questions about Vice Enforcer, the sequel to Vice City, both highly recommended novels here at our blog.  Welcome, S.A.

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with  S.A. Stovall

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Definitely. When I was younger, I read all sorts of sci-fi and fantasy. I couldn’t get enough of them. I love anti-hero characters (moral ambiguity fascinates me) and all of that has somehow filtered into my writing.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

When I was younger, I loved Robert A. Heinlein. I hope I can write great works of science fiction like him one day. I loved his worlds, and his characters. Today I love Stephen King—not because I treasure all his books (I actually dislike quite a few) but because he has so many books that people typically like at least one. I want to be a writer who writers so prolifically that most people say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of her and like this one book…”

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why? 

Well, VICE CITY was my first published novel, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart. However, I think my favorite stories are always my science fiction ones. I don’t know what it is, but I love futuristic space settings. They’re amazing.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

 I find hard work, the desire for truth, and logic all interesting traits in an individual. Most of my characters have at least one of these (maybe all three). Typically side characters meant to cause the main character grief have none of them—those are the characters I love to hate.

Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?

 Oh, yes. I’m working on an epic fantasy novel right now. I love the book, but the middle got me stalled for a bit—sometimes with large casts of characters it’s hard to weave them all seamlessly together. I can’t wait to share it with the world now that I’ve crossed the hurdle, but it was in limbo for a long time.

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

Yeah, I did use a book to help me with a break up. Basically, the entire story has hints and tidbits to all the best parts of the relationship. The novel was a romanticized version of what a perfect relationship could be if it all worked out. It really helped me understand what went wrong, and now I’ll always have this book to remind me.

What’s the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

  The wildest scene I’ve ever imaged was a girl cutting her own heart out to replace it with the still-beating heart of an ancient god.

And yes, it did make it into the story!

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

I write to tell good stories. I love to entertain. The second reason I write, is to highlight the awesomeness of humanity. I love heroes who overcome—or villains who realize life is so much better when celebrated. Sometimes, in science fiction, I write about interesting scientific concepts, but that comes after the good story and awesome heroes.

What’s next for you as a writer?

Tons. I have a WWI fantasy coming out, an MMA romance, and a science fiction story set on a corrupt space station. So many stories—I can’t wait until they’re all released! Trust me. I’ll have plenty for everyone in the future, and hopefully everyone enjoys!

Release of VICE ENFORCER (Vice City #2)

Blurb

Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.

Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.

Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.

The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.

But he’s not going down without a fight.

About the Author

S.A. Stovall grew up in California’s central valley with a single mother and little brother. Despite no one in her family having a degree higher than a GED, she put herself through college (earning a BA in History), and then continued on to law school where she obtained her Juris Doctorate.

As a child, Stovall’s favorite novel was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. The adventure on a deserted island opened her mind to ideas and realities she had never given thought before—and it was the moment Stovall realized that story telling (specifically fiction) became her passion. Anything that told a story, be it a movie, book, video game or comic, she had to experience. Now, as a professor and author, Stovall wants to add her voice to the myriad of stories in the world, and she hopes you enjoy.

You can contact her at the following addresses.

Social Media

Twitter: @GameOverStation

Website: https://sastovallauthor.com/

Awards

Vice City Rainbow Award Winner

Reviews

“To say the characterization was good would be like saying I love reading. It’s a gross understatement… Overall, I loved every inch of it.”

– Divine Magazine

“The noir setting absolutely gripped me with stark details. As a lover of crime fiction, I highly recommend this book in what will hopefully be a very long and satisfying series.”

– The Novel Approach Reviews

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Holding on to a life worth living can be hard when the nightmares of the past come knocking.
Eight months ago, Nicholas Pierce, ex-mob enforcer, faked his death and assumed a new identity to escape sadistic mob boss Jeremy Vice. With no contacts outside the underworld, Pierce finds work with a washed-up PI. It’s an easy enough gig—until investigating a human trafficking ring drags him back to his old stomping grounds.Miles Devonport, Pierce’s partner, is top of his class at the police academy while single-handedly holding his family together. But when one lieutenant questions Pierce’s past and his involvement in the investigation, Miles must put his future on the line to keep Pierce’s secrets.The situation becomes dire when it’s discovered the traffickers have connections to the Vice family. The lives of everyone Pierce cares about are in danger—not least of all his own, if Jeremy Vice learns he’s back from the dead. Pierce and Miles face a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels—one that will gladly destroy them to keep operating. As Pierce uses every dirty trick he learned from organized crime to protect the new life he’s building, he realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he might never escape his past.But he’s not going down without a fight.If you love noir, if you’re in love with hard men with even harder outlooks with little hope for a future, let alone love.  You know the ones I mean,  they’ve survived somehow the worst that life has thrown out them, they expect to see more.  They’ve been made so incredibly tough by their pasts, that the walls they have erected, inside and out might as well be titanium.  Except for the cracks they allow for certain people and in certain circumstances.  Take that man, put him in stories that fit him beautifully because they are dark and gritty.  The criminals are rank,  the corruption is deep and often elusive .  But hope can come from the most surprising places.  So can love.I fell in love with Pierce back in Vice City (Vice City, #1), a stunning introduction to the man and his lover,Miles Devonport.  Now in the equally intense, incredible sequel, Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) ,  S.A. Stovall picks up shortly after the first one leaves off.  Supposedly mob enforcer Nicholas Pierce has  “died” and PI in training Percy Adams (much to Pierce’s dismay at the name) is alive and well and living with Miles in a rundown house in suburbia, along with visits from Miles’  brother and sister.  And it’s going exactly as well as you might expect.

Especially Pierce’s attempts to garden and talk to seedlings while dealing with Mile’s sullen siblings who clearly think that “Percy” is pulling their brother under.

Then everything goes further to hell while on a dubious PI training run with the older investigator who is running the program.  Stovall thrusts the reader and her characters immediately into a powerful action packed, fast paced scene because Shelby, the lead PI hasn’t been exactly straight with his trainees. And because Pierce isn’t who he seems to be (a naive PI in training),  knows the setup for what it is and figures out what’s coming, well…Pierce is both ready to flee and shoot depending upon the situation.

By now the reader’s skin is tingling, the hair’s slightly raised because the writing is so damn good that our apprehension levels are off the charts along with Pierce’s.  It stays that way through revelations about human trafficking, the reemergence of the Vice family and the mob, the threats to the new identity Pierce and Miles have established for him as well as keeping him safely dead in the eyes of the Vice family.  This is an intense, gritty story.  If it has its humorous moments, and it does, they too, border on the dry, wry, and the dark.  Consider the perspective and it makes sense.

Even the romance falls under the same lines.  No hearts and flowers here.  No, its more like that radish that refuses to die in Pierce’s garden.  It lives no matter what.  They have each other’s back…no matter what.  The sex is rough, the need for each other is there although Pierce might not always acknowledge it.  And while Miles would like a change in the sexual dynamics, something that Pierce’s past won’t allow, its a topic that  comes up.

There is so much here.  Wyatt, Mile’s supervisor  who is definitely in the closet. Shelby, the PI with the past.  The Vice family. Mile’s and his family.  Oh, yes and the Timo family that lives next door.  Everything gets pulled together in one magnificent tapestry that twists and turns, stuns and pulls at your heart.  And when it ends, you want not only another story but to reread the books one and two all over again.

This is a wowzer of a series. Vice Enforcer (Vice City #2) by S.A. Stovall is everything I could want in a sequel or even a standalone.  I highly recommend it and Vice City.  Both are must reads!

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  What a great cover.  Perfect for this story and series.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 259 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by DSP Publications
Original TitleVice Enforcer
ASINB078JQJNF8
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesVice City #2

Review: Continental Divide (Separate Ways #1) by Laura Harner and Lisa Worrall

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Continental Divide coverBumped to Missing Persons after an argument with his Captain months prior over a case he solved,  Phoenix PD Det. Remy Remington knew he was onto something big when he discovered that his latest missing persons report for a young boy was just one of 6 young men to have disappeared in the Phoenix area recently.  Although the boys had been reported as runaways, the details and timing of the disappearances made Remy’s cop instincts twinge and not in a good way.  Not trusting his Captain after past events, Remy starts to dig deeper on his own into accounts of missing boys elsewhere in the nation and comes to the attention of  an international squad already deep into the same investigation.  One phone call later and Remy finds himself on the way to London and a case that will change his life forever.

In London, Inspector Jamie Mainwaring is looking at the cases of 6 young men who have disappeared in the London area in recent weeks and immediately he knows something is terribly wrong.  As he starts to research the disappearances of young men in other areas, his computer searches send out a signal to a special branch of Interpol and soon Jamie finds himself assigned to Interpol who needs Jamie’s name as Lord Mainwaring as much as they do his skill as an inspector who spotted the pattern.

Remy and Jamie must find a way to work together even as their personalities and social status serve to drive them apart…at least at first.  The men find their attraction to each other growing stronger as their case gets larger and more evil in scope.  Soon it’s a race against time to recover the boys and solve the case, before the criminals and the boys disappear from England.  When it all comes down to culture and cowboys, can the two mesh their approaches and put aside their feelings to catch the criminals and bring the boys safely home?

I was introduced to Laura Harner through the Pulp Friction group and loved her Triple Threat series .  So I was really looking forward to the Separate Ways series and I have not been disappointed.  Continental Divide,written with Lisa Worrall, marks the start of a tumultuous relationship between American Remy Remington and British Lord Jamie Mainwarring (that’s Mannering to us in the US).  And how diametrically opposite these two characters are.  Remy, the Phoenix PD Detective,  is all brash cowboy in outlook and approach.  He likes working alone as his dark past has taught him little about trust and working with others.  Only his high solve rate and intelligence have kept him on the force to date and that’s about to change.  Remy is quite the dark character and this case only makes things worse, from old nightmares reappearing to being a “fish out of water” after landing in London with a partner he underestimates from the start.  Remy is someone people are afraid of at first meeting and later afraid for when they get to know him, an absolutely wonderful characterization.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jamie Tristen Mainwarring, forty-second Earl of Fordham, and to his mother’s dismay and disapproval, an Inspector at Scotland Yard.  Under constant pressure by his high-powered and influential mother, Lady Mainwarring, to marry, settle down and run the estate, Jamie has persisted in going his own way.  That includes being out about his sexuality and becoming an Inspector.   Cultured, intelligent, and loyal, Jamie goes out of his way to avoid conflict with his mother while still trying to be his own man away in London, a balancing act he is not always successful at.  He’s also very pretty and that combined with all his other titles and characteristics lead Remy to underestimate him and his skills as a police officer.  It might take the reader a little longer to relate to Jamie given his social status and attitude towards his overbearing mother.  But once the reader accepts Jamie, then the man works his way into the reader’s affections never to leave.

It’s that clash of cultures and backgrounds that ignites first an attraction and then love that is so realistic, so believable that it hurts. It is so easy to see how that rough, gruff American cowboy with his boots and well worn jeans  manages to attract the urbane and civilized Lord Jamie.  Jamie has never met someone like Remy before and the authors show us how completely Jamie is unseated by someone outside his social range who never “fawns” over him as others normally do.  Of course, the flip side to all this is Remy with a background of child abuse so dark and so horrific that you almost bleed for the man the more his pain filled past is revealed.

Tying the men together is a case so chilling, so appalling that you will feel a bit nauseated as the case unfurls.  I think one of the things that makes this case so dreadful are the recent articles on sexual slavery world wide that are appearing in the media.  Harner and Worrall get it right. The authors steadily increase the anxiety and dread the readers are feeling as more details about the boys situation come to light and the race to rescue them unfolds across a London background.  Another element I appreciated, while hating the authenticity of it, is that the authors understand and chronicle the reality that nothing will ever be the same for the rescued boys. That those boys that were found are profoundly damaged and will require long term psychological and emotional help if they are to even make a semblance of recovery.  Too often I have seen this aspect of abuse glossed over and I was happy to see this issue treated so responsibly.

Now about that romance.  Yes, there is one, a romance as complex and intense as the men themselves.  It is also one that can’t last, at least at the moment.  That is just not realistic considering each man’s responsibilities and continent of residence. Note that the series is called Separate Ways and is four books long and that will tell you volumes about what is in store for Remy and Jamie.  This is a love that has a long path to travel before the men can be together or at least I am assuming that ending.  We won’t know for sure until Spring of 2014 when the final story in the series is released.   Is it worth the journey you will take with them?  Absolutely!  These men are going to tear you apart, make you bawl gallons of tears, shock you and make you laugh as well as shout in anger.  I have done all that and more and still find myself breathless in anticipation for that last story.

The only reason this story did not rate a 5 rating is because I know what’s coming.  Harner is taking this series to  even greater heights with Oceans Apart and Moving Mountains.  Trust me, it just gets better and better, deepening in complexity while changing and widening the relationships of Jamie and Remy as their saga continues.  So consider Continental Divide a solid, compelling foundation for the suspense and gripping stories to come.  I highly recommend this book, this series and these terrific authors who told it so well.  Follow me over to the next in the series, Oceans Apart (Separate Ways #2). You won’t be sorry, shocked, angered even, but not even remotely sorry!

Books in the Separate Ways series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Continental Divide (Separate Ways #1) written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall
Oceans Apart (Separate Ways #2) written by Laura Harner
Moving Mountains (Separate Ways #3) written by Laura Harner
Untitled Fourth Book coming in April 2014

Book Details:

ebook, 225 pages
Published March 9th 2012 by Hot Corner Press (first published 2012)
original title Continental Divide
ISBN13 9781937252120
edition language English
series Separate Ways

Review: Burden by Annmarie McKenna

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Burden coverIt’s Detective Keegan Monroe’s first day off after a long undercover assignment and all he wants to do is relax and enjoy his coffee.  But his day is shattered when a  man dives in front of him throwing them both to the ground.  Then a gunshot goes past them as a murder attempt fails.  The man laying on top of him is stuttering that he couldn’t let him kill Keegan.  Suspicious of his savior, Keegan takes the man into custody for questioning.  But at the precinct some astonishing facts are revealed. The suspect is a former I.A . police detective.

Detective Brennan McGuire has been struggling to adjust to the brain damage he incurred when his car went over a cliff during an investigation.  Along with stuttering and the massive physical scarring caused by the accident, Brennan also has long and short term memory problems which make it almost impossible to cope with the requirements of every day life.  Brennan can’t remember the accident or much else about his life as a police officer.  But something sparked in the depths of his traumatized memory when he saw someone aiming a gun at the man at the table and he reacted.

During the investigation into the shooting, Keegan and Brennan find themselves falling first into bed and then into a relationship.  But their romance triggers Brennan’s repressed memories of his accident with startling results.  Now Keegan and Brennan find themselves with not one mystery but two to solve and some very determined people who want to make sure that Brennan never remember.  Can Keegan and Brennan find love while keeping each other alive?

I think Annmarie McKenna has the makings of a terrific story here but several issues, including the ending, leave it at that – just the ingredients and nothing more.  I loved the idea of a brain injured detective whose traumatized brain holds the key to his injury and much more.  It’s a great plot tactic because it pulls in those readers who love the hurt/comfort element while upping the tension and anticipation in the story for the moment when the character remembers the past and pulls it all together in a satisfying denouement.   And it works for most of the story. Right up until the author throws it all away.

Detective Brennan McGuire’s life’s a mess.  He can barely remember the social niceties that get people through the day, let alone  pay for a cup of coffee. As created by McKenna, he is an object of sympathy and engages our affections immediately.  I liked her treatment of his brain trauma.  He is still touchy and snarky even if he can’t remember the simplest thing like a pepperoni pizza or to shake the hand offered to him.   His is a beautifully layered portrait of a man coping with brain trauma and not always succeeding.

Keegan Monroe is a somewhat less effective character.  As a detective who immediately gets sexually involved with a suspect, and a brain damaged suspect at that, Keegan appears to have a less than solid grasp on police ethics, not to mention the appearances of taking advantage of someone in recovery.  I got that the sparks flew between them.  McKenna does a more than credible job making us believe the men can’t keep their hands off each other.  But the facts about their relationship and Brennan’s physical and mental state kept me from throughly investing myself in their affair.

The author does a good job in plotting out the mystery for the readers.  She slowly gears up the anxiety over the safety of the men as more and more facts about  Brennan are revealed. But all the suspense and anticipation is demolished in an ending that is rushed and incomplete in terms of motives and facts.  I was, in fact, astonished when I came to the end.  All that build up and the reader gets nothing for their time and effort spent on this story.  It pretty much just stops with no real explanation, no satisfactory reveal of  all the criminals, and certainly no resolution to the relationship of a detective and a still brain damaged individual.

And that is a shame because this book could have been so much more.  With a longer, more fully developed ending and perhaps even an epilogue, this could have been one of my “must read” recommendations.  But as it is, I will say that if you are a fan of Annmarie McKenna, then pick this up.  But if you are looking for romance, a terrific mystery and an ending that will leave you satisfied, then head elsewhere.

Cover by Angela Waters.  This is just a generic cover that has nothing really to do with the story.  Grade C for effort.

Book Details:

ebook, 117 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 1619218291 (ISBN13: 9781619218291)
edition language English