Saturday 28 October 2017

Guest Author Jonathan Mark of Great Britain

This week the Scribbler is pleased to have Jonathan Mark as our guest He has kindly agreed to participate in a 4Q Interview and share an excerpt with us.

Jonathan worked in the City of London for various financial institutions including the Bank of America. He lives in South West England with his wife Lin. Jonathan always wanted to be a writer but was only too aware that writing is not a lucrative career for the vast majority. Like many prospective writers he was only too ready to make excuses about why he did not write, but with the children grown up and his career coming to an end, he decided he had to take the plunge and duly signed up for an MA in Crime and Thriller writing at City University London to kick start his writing career. During the course he met many published writers who write commercial fiction and learnt a huge amount about the publishing industry and what literary agents were looking for. In order to pass the course a completed novel had to be submitted for assessment by two successful and highly respected authors. The Last Messenger was the novel submitted for the MA. It is a story which evolved from a novel collecting dust in his desk drawer for over twenty years. Literary agents advised him that there was no longer a demand for conspiracy thrillers and so with a streak of bloody minded and perhaps misguided optimism he decided to self publish The Last Messenger himself.  

See below for Jonathan’s links.

4Q: Upon visiting your website Jonathan, you mention that you had ambition to write after you retired, tell us why you felt that way and what inspired you to start.
JM: When I was a kid one of my favourite pastimes was to write stories. To do it for a living would have always been my dream job but sometimes in life, as you struggle to pay the mortgage, you need to put your dreams on hold and face the realities of life. When I retired , I could no longer make excuses because I had already provided for my income in future life. Earning money from writing is not my priority. For the first time in my life I could follow my dream without fear of the consequences. I must say that I get more pleasure from someone saying how much they like my book than getting a royalty check from Amazon. Having said that, I still believe it is important to be professional and write something that people will want to read. The MA taught me to be commercial in my approach and that was my inspiration to start. The course gave me the motivation and the deadline to complete a novel.

4Q: Tell us about “The Last Messenger”.

JM: During the Battle of Crete in 1941 an ancient scroll

is discovered by Callidora a young Cretan shepherdess who risks everything to conceal the scroll’s devastating secret from the Nazis. In 2005, Richard, an MI6 analyst, is caught up in the London bombings. A Muslim man fatally injured by the Piccadilly Line bomb hands Richard an icon. What is the connection with the scroll found on Crete? Arab terrorists want the secret revealed while the CIA, Mossad and MI6 want it destroyed.

Although the book is a conspiracy thriller in the Dan Brown mode, it has an important theme which I hope will resonate with readers. Despite all the trouble in the world caused by religious conflict there is really no need for this to exist because religious faith is universal. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all originate from the same source. They all trace their roots back to Abraham.

This theme can be summed up by what Amira says to Richard in the novel:

‘Do you think it’s possible for a man to be both Christian and Muslim at the same time?’

He was surprised by the question, but everything surprised him about Amira. ‘I don’t know whether that’s possible. I’m sorry to say I don’t believe in God.'

‘I’m not surprised you don’t,’ she replied. ‘Religion has caused so much trouble in the world but that’s because they forget that there is only one God. There is not a Muslim God, a Christian God and a Jewish God. There is only one God. Masood understood that.’

Another character in the novel is fascinated that the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mohammed to give him the Holy Koran is the same angel who appeared to Mary to tell her she was pregnant with Jesus. Indeed, both Mary and Jesus (who is known as Isa) appear in the Holy Koran and are respected. Indeed, the Nineteenth chapter of the Holy Koran is dedicated to Mary which describes the virgin birth of Jesus.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

JM: The most powerful memory I have of childhood concerns a near death experience when at the age of nine years old I was staying with my parents in a cottage by the sea. An aunt came to visit and gave me a half a crown for ice cream. It was getting late and being impetuous I was determined to spend the money immediately. There was a café down by the sea and so I set off immediately to buy the ice cream. Unfortunately, the shop was already closed and, undeterred, I climbed up a cliff to see if I could see any more shops open.

Along the coast I saw a Lighthouse flashing its light. I decided to walk to the light, not judging that it was over nine miles away . After walking some distance and the light failing rapidly I decided to turn back and remember clambering up the cliff again to avoid the sea tide which was coming in quickly and would cut me off. I was becoming more scared as I realised I'd made a big mistake trying to walk to the lighthouse. When I reached the top and clear of the approaching sea, I walked along the cliff path and came to a section where the path narrowed with thorns on one side and a sheer ninety foot drop off the cliff on the other. Panicking, I lost my footing and slipped. My feet were dangling off the edge as I grabbed hold off thorn bushes and pulled myself back onto the path. My hands were cut and I was very scared. One little boy had learned a very important lesson and lived to tell the tale. 

4Q: What’s next for Jonathan Mark, the author?

JM: I've been pleased with the sales so far of my first book and am now working on Book 2 of the trilogy. It's called The Barnabas Legacy which I hope to have out early next year. I'm also writing a psychological thriller which I hope will have a wider appeal than my current books.

An Excerpt from The Last Messenger

On my website, it is possible to read the first few chapters of the book . It is also possible to download an extract via Amazon of the opening chapters so as not to repeat that, I've chosen the beginning of Chapter Eight which is the first time that Callidora is introduced at the moment when the Germans are invading.

(Copyright is held by the author and is used with permission)

Crete, Greece, May 20th 1941

It was the best time of the day. A time when out of breath from her long climb, she heard the first sound of her goats, their bells ringing across the breeze, telling her that they were in good health.

At first, she could only hear them, but as she strained her eyes, some looked back through the bushes, feasting on the wild spring harvest of the mountain. 

It was a moment, she’d never forget. In a matter of seconds her life would change. 

Without warning, a new hostile sound filled the air. An incessant droning, unnatural, mechanical, drowning the peace. Callidora had heard bombers before, attacking British ships in Suda Bay, but this was different. It was louder and more ominous. She knew what she was hearing. Today was the day when the Germans would invade her country, just as her brother Nikos had predicted.

And then she saw them, waves after wave of planes in formation, blacking out the sun. She’d seen bombers before, but nothing on this scale. These planes were not dropping bombs, but men in their hundreds, changing the sky into a myriad of mushroom shapes, like umbrellas floating to the ground. The men attached were falling helpless, parachutes swirling in the breeze while they drifted to earth. Nikos had said the invasion would come from the sea, but he was wrong.

It was coming from the air.

She ran towards her village, slipping and stumbling down the path; her long dress only suitable for slow mountain descents. Fear at what danger lay above was taking over. Stopping, she stared again at the lurid sky, scared, but also in awe at the enormity of what she was seeing.
Some of the larger planes were towing smaller planes in their wake. As she watched, they were released from the tow and began floating to earth. Over in the bay, dive bombers were attacking ships. Screaming death, they were dropping out of the sky at terrifying speeds, like birds of prey swooping on their victims. 

Approaching the village, she could see Germans in the sky getting closer. It was relentless and some were falling straight to earth, where bullets had punctured the silk of their parachutes. There were New Zealanders based near the village, she thought, so maybe they were killing the Germans. All around, she could see people coming out of houses, armed with everything they could carry. Pitch forks, scythes, sickles and knives used to cut vegetables. The church bell rang, not to summon to prayer, but to call the people to arms. There was Nikos, leading as he always did, followed by Father Manousos, carrying a rifle. As she ran towards them, she could see Nikos, armed with two large knives and carrying an ancient rifle that belonged to her grandfather. It had been hanging on the wall since she was a small child and never fired in anger. He didn't even use it to shoot birds and now Nikos intended to kill Germans. 

Thank you Jonathan for taking the time to share your thoughts on the Scribbler. For you readers that want more information of Jonathan and his novels visit these links.


As always, a special thank you to you, the visitor. Please leave a comment before you go.

In November, you can get your copy of the Wall of War. Watch here for details.


Saturday 21 October 2017

Guest Author S.C. Eston of New Brunswick

Always a treat to have a fellow New Brunswicker on the Scribbler. Time to meet Steve Eston and read an excerpt from his newest work.

Thank you Allan for extending the invitation and visiting our writing group earlier this year. It is an honour to be a guest on the South Branch Scribbler.

I am Steve C. Eston and I live in Fredericton with my wife Leigh and our son. I write speculative fiction, mainly fantasy and science-fiction. I have been writing sporadically since childhood and more seriously in the past five to six years. I invite you to visit me at and check out some of my free short stories available for download while you are there. I am always interested to hear from readers, so don’t be shy about reaching out and letting me know what you think of any of my stories.

Until earlier this year, I had been writing in a lone bubble, most often late in the evening or in the middle of the night. When I started writing more seriously six or seven years ago, I already knew about the fight between sleep and writing that many authors find themselves facing. After all, it is mentioned in most books on writing. 

I tried to schedule my writing sessions during daylight, but that did not quite work and I reverted to late nights and early mornings. There is satisfaction in accomplishing something during these hours that are mostly allocated to rest and recuperation. I also find that the darkness helps with getting into the story; the darkness and well selected music. Many of my stories, short and long, came from writing at these times.

Writing is a lonely endeavour and even though I had a routine that worked, I felt that something was missing. Leigh had been telling me for a while that I needed to get out there and meet other authors. This is what I set out to do in 2017.

So, in early summer, I joined a writing group. Although I had

participated to a few workshops before, this was quite different. Here was a group of generous and passionate people, authors, who met regularly to talk about writing. More importantly, here was a group of people who were willing and interested to listen to other people talk about their writing; every week! Authors can ramble on and on when talking about their craft and the challenges they are facing. Since working on a story can take quite a while, days to months to years, being on the listening side can become quite tedious and probably torturous in some cases; which may explain why my wife suggested I get out in the first place…

My writing group has been extremely welcoming and joining is one of the best decisions I made as an author. It opened my world and connected me with a group of people I am proud to call friends. For an author, having such support is invaluable.

To starting authors out there: do not wait like I did.
Reach out right away, join a group and go to events. The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick - - has been very helpful in finding a writing group and is a limitless source of useful information. I recommend joining and you never know; it may lead to a writing group who has a special guest resulting in an invitation to post on the South Branch Scribbler!

For this post, I thought I’d provide a short excerpt of my published fantasy novella The Burden of the Protector. It is a story about friendship and loyalties, told in a journal-like style by a man reflecting on his life and wondering if it is too late to make amends. The passage provided here shows the main character discovering a strange object that would complicate his life in more ways than one. This is also the passage I read at WordFeast 2017in Fredericton. I hope you enjoy it.

                                                                                * * *

Excerpt from The Burden of the Protector, by S.C.Eston
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)

The thing was immutable.

It stood exactly where I had left it. A cold rain had fallen the night before, but the curio itself was completely dry. No rivulet of moisture on it. Even the concave cavity, which should have retained some of the water, was bare.

My denial was now turning to a detached acceptance. I felt powerless, a tiny living being whose understanding of the world didn’t matter. The universe would do as it pleased.

With little worry for my well-being, I walked forward until I was a few feet from the object. It showed no symbol or engraving. The surface was perfectly plain.

From this close, the thing’s purpose became more apparent. Its orientation provided another clue. I took a few steps until I was behind it and looked forward. To my amazement, the leaves and branches of the trees opened into a tunnel. I was too short to be able to see all the way through…

Too short? Indeed, I now suspected that the object was some kind of seat and that it had been designed for creatures at least twice my height.

I should have turned around then and fled. But it was too late. By hiding the discovery, by returning a second time, I was now committed. After hearing so many stories from Vìr, here I was having my own adventure.

Without thinking, I scrambled up and sat on the cube. As I

realized where I was, I started to shake. My bow slipped out of my hand and went to rest in the dead leaves on the ground. Beads of sweat formed on the back of my neck and on my forehead. Slowly, I grabbed the edges on both sides of me, trying to stabilize myself. The surface was surprisingly warm to the touch. I had expected a metallic cold.

As I started to control my breathing again, an eerie sensation enveloped me. My body became numb. My mind, though, was fully alert. I became dizzy, but it was comforting in some bizarre way. The world around me seemed to blur and move away. Everything became distant. That was when I thought to look forward…

And there, in between leaves and branches, over the vast void of Yurita, a path opened, an imaginary tunnel of sorts. Delimited and yet going in all directions at once. Abruptly, the mountains of Ul Darak pretended to be close enough to be touched. The clarity of the visions, the range of what I was seeing… the trees so close, the leaves, one falling slowly now, detaching itself from a branch… and at the same instant, the mountains, so far, yet here, and out of the corner of my eye, a pride of mountain lions, climbing, then a deep lake, waterfalls on my right, and there, dark, an opening…

What I was experiencing was beyond belief, absurd, and way too much for my limited senses. After those few and brief spectacular sights, consciousness started to slip away from me. Then nothingness caught me and dragged me down.


I awakened some time later, disoriented and lying on the ground, face pushed against the damp dirt. Moving my head, I found my bow a little to the right. I grabbed it instantly and noticed as I did that I was a few feet away from the cube. Either I had gotten up, taken a few steps, and fallen, or someone had moved me. I couldn’t say. Both ideas were disturbing.

The sun was low, partly hidden behind the mountains. Hours
had evaporated. I had no recollection of the images I had seen or been shown. Those visions would return later.

As I stood, my mind was surprisingly blank. Paralysed… and yet, deep inside, a terror grew. I felt as if I had transgressed. I looked and there was no one around. But I felt spied upon. The sensation was upsetting.

I assumed I had seen something forbidden, done something unacceptable. Whoever had put the object here hadn’t meant it to be used by others, not by any of the knights, certainly not by me.

I started running. I ran as I had never run before, choosing a direction at random. Any direction was good as long as it was away from that accursed glade. As was bound to happen, I came across the path and had wit enough to turn toward the bridge. Even though I didn’t think it was possible, I ran faster. I didn’t look back and concentrated on the ground in front of me. A presence was following me. It was huge and all-encompassing. It was judging me, warning me never to return. There was no voice, but I could hear the warning, the accusation. It was inside my head, inside my bones.

On several occasions, I fell, scratched and damaged my knees; my elbows, both bleeding. Got back on my feet and ran. I dropped my bow. Didn’t stop to pick it up.

Thank you Steve for being our guest this week. We wish you continued success with your writing.

And to you the reader, thanks for stopping by. We'd love to hear from you so why don't you leave a comment below.

Coming here for more information!

Saturday 14 October 2017

Guests Sylvie Mazerolle & Jason Hamilton - Photographer & Author

Another First for the Scribbler.   

Partners in real life, Sylvie Mazerolle – photographer - and Jason Hamilton – author – are featured in a 4Q Interview.  Both have been guests on the Scribbler before but individually.  Sylvie here. Jason here

They met while working in the movie industry, Sylvie a makeup artist and Jason a lighting technician. They have a son, Dustin and now live in Dieppe, New Brunswick. They have agreed to a joint 4Q Interview.

(Photos by Sylvia are copyrighted and used with permission)

Thank you both for being our guests this week.

Sylvie, the first question is for you.

4Q: Since your visit to the Scribbler in June, youve added a new collection to your portfolio, “Colors in Motion” which is on exhibit now. Whats it all about?

This series was inspired by a string of Umbrella that were being installed just outside the office window where I work. I could see them going up one by one. Pops of color in bloom like spring flowers.  I got so excited, I knew I had to capture the energy they exuded. I grabbed my camera at lunch and started shooting.

 Instead of merely reflecting back the world around me, I wanted to show details, textures, movement and the color’s that caught my attention in the first place.   

The series is about bright vivid abstract images that resemble paintings.

This is my first solo exhibit and it hosts 12 images that are 20 x 16 print size. I hope this is the first of many more to come.


4Q: Jason recently published his latest novel, The Prince of Acadia. Please tell us about your book Jason.

The Prince of Acadia & the River of Fire is the result of a clash between a belligerent boss and a powerful urge to write a story that my son might enjoy, ha ha. The seed for the Prince of Acadia was planted just a year after Sylvie and I moved to New Brunswick. We were both starting over again and I found myself in the employ of a rather tyrannical supervisor (who’s name I altered to be the bad guy in the book. Ahh sweet revenge.) that I had to find a way to endure. I felt like I had no choice but to ‘suck it up’ and stay employed, but I couldn’t let the man’s behaviour make me crazy. I decided that, no matter how degrading the task, no matter how verbally abusive he was, I was going to kill him with kindness. I felt like Wesley in Princess Bride: “Good-night Jason, sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” At least, that’s how it seemed. But anger can be incredibly motivating.

I also had a broad concept about doing a story around a very real river in New Brunswick called the ‘Richibucto’ which, in Mi’kmaq means “River of Fire”. I would arrive about half an hour before starting work at 7 am and scribble my story, long hand, in my car before I started my shift. The more my boss yelled and screamed at my incompetence the hungrier I became to exact my revenge on the page. I suffered through John Jerryston (fictional name) for three months and in that same time I had the first draft of what would become “The River of Fire”. It was probably the quickest I’ve ever written!

It’s now the first in a series. I’m grinding through the sequel as we speak, but it seems a little harder to find the right motivation for this one, ha ha.

4Q: Did you ever wish you could make a living by being a photographer or is always going to be a hobby?

Do I wish I could make a living being a photographer?  Do birds fly? It’s my dream to make my living as a full time creative. Since the first day I sharpened a box of wooden coloring crayons I dreamed of being an artist.

4Q: Would you like to write full time Jason and what are you working on now?

The dream is to become a full-time writer and I’m piecing together the segments I think I’ll need in order to construct that vision. I’m working on “The Prince of Acadia &  the Lost Tribe” the follow up to “River of Fire”. When I haven’t been writing fiction, I’ve been polishing my speaking skills at various open mic stand-up comedy events in NB and PEI. (Hmmm, maybe polish is a bit generous.)

The better I get at promoting my work in whatever form it needs to take is another step further in my development as a writer. I’m having a blast, learning a lot, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the sweet spot between entertaining, inspirational and informative.   

Thank you both for taking the time to be my guests this week and making this a special feature.  

See more about Sylvie & Jason by going to these sites.

 A special thank you to You - the Reader, for visiting the Scribbler. Please leave a comment below before you go.

 Coming in November, e-book and paperback - Wall of War. Watch here for details and where you can buy YOUR copy.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Guest Julia Suzuki, British Author, Designer and Businesswoman.

An exciting week for the Scribbler to have Julia Suzuki as our featured guest: a British Author of fantasy novels, Designer and Businesswoman. Julia is known for her unique writing style; threading together adventure and suspense in magical epic settings, with plots that are topped off with beautiful messages.

She has been kind enough to answer a few questions for a 4Q Interview. See below for her website.

4Q: Thank you Julia for being our guest this week and sharing your thoughts. Your website tells us of the many things you are involved in but what inspired you to begin writing. 


JS: I have always been passionate about literature, especially fantasy, and later personal development books. I have an innate desire to learn and grow… that to me is our adventure – our personal story arc.

As a child my hobbies were the outdoors, and reading. I studied Speech and Drama with the London School of Music before hitting the business world in children’s licensing and then leisure which led me to travel the world.  It was the accumulation of my experiences that lead to my idea for the first book in the series, set in the magical land of Dragor. In fact it was a burst of inspiration that led me to actually start writing the series when the idea (as if from nowhere) popped into my head.


4Q: Please tell us about your Fantasy series.



The Land of Dragor Series

Julia Suzuki


Is a middle grade fantasy series that appeals to boys and girls and adults.

The world’s last remaining dragons and dinosaurs live secretly in hiding, while a new species – the dragsaurs – are planning total domination. Meet a dragon boy whose destiny through many trials is to destroy these savage creatures, and allow dragons and dinosaurs to live once more in harmony in his magical, bountiful homeland, Dragor… 

The books involve three distinct territories, and the main hero who is trialed to overcome his weaknesses, which involves many challenges and his nemesis is a fellow dragon who is committed to seeing him fail.

In their exclusivity, the dragons have become selective in sharing knowledge of the world beyond Dragor. They live by the legend – the most famous dragon of all times; the first to ever breathe fire; he who led dragons to triumph against the dinosaurs and secured their freedom; and who created the dragons’ power source by creating a setting of six precious FIRESTONES (opals).

The legend isn’t an exhaustive account of history, as our hero Jam discovers. Over the course of the series, he learns much to equip him in his challenges, but facts threaten to isolate him from the dragons he’s grown up with.



4Q: Can you share a childhood memory or anecdote?

JS: My memories when I first took speech and drama classes are particularly strong: walking down a long gravel, drive from the age of seven years, to greet the harsh, dramatic teacher – with her hair in a tight silver bun (and a stern welcome). But the classes were simply wonderful, joyfully learning to recite excerpts from books like The Snow Goose and Wind in The Willows, in a whimsical style with proper pronunciation. This was in preparation for the London examiners to come up to grade us. I continued until I had achieve all the grades.


4Q: What else would you like us to know about Julia Suzuki?

JS: I love to inspire and uplift others, to encourage them to believe in themselves and feel good.

My hobbies are dress design, in fact I love all things design from interiors to illustration.

I have a fifteen-year-old son who is very much a free spirit, like myself.

I grew up listening to the thrilling screeches of people enjoying theme park rides; opposite from where I lived (as a child) was a large theme park.
Thank you Julia for being our guest this week.
Discover more about this talented lady by visiting her website :

The Wall of War will be available in November/2017.  Watch the Scribbler for more information.