7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with aspiring Sci Fi author: Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi. We catch up with him to chat about his current work in progress, The Starship Apple of Discord.

1. Tell us a bit about the universe you have created.

Starship “Apple of Discord” is a space opera about the adventures of a man from Earth called Adam. He lives in the present day, and he encounters alien civilisations and technology. I describe alien worlds and species too, and the relationships between them.

2. Why “apple discord”? Are there religious connotations?

I was inspired only by Greek Mythology. You know, the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians were the some of the most elevated nations from ancient human history.

The words “Sparta” or “Caesar” or “Cleopatra” are still commonplace.
Well I found another one: “Paris”.
This is not the name of the classy capital of the France! This is a name of a true hero! Flesh and blood like me, like you.
Allow me to offer a short brief of this legend:

Zeus held a banquet. Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited. She was spiteful so she threw a golden apple into the ceremony. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera (the symbol of power and influence), Athena (the symbol of glory and wisdom), and Aphrodite (the symbol of beauty and desire).
They brought the matter before Zeus, the master of the ancient Greek’s universe.
Zeus was cunning and he declined this responsibility. He passed away to a human being, a prince named Paris. He made a choice. The aftermath was that the Trojan War started.

After I had read this legend, I understood. This was a trap!
Now, back to my book. I wanted to avenge Paris, therefore I created another hero: Adam. You will love him, I bet!

3. Why did you choose to write in English? Did you find it difficult?

Starship “Apple of Discord” has all the ingredients to become a successful book and later a movie / movie series: love, war, hope, mystery and fun. This is the reason I chose to write in English. I learned German and French when I was student. I learned English by watching movies, reading books and playing video games. My first word translated from English was “morning star”, because I played the Blizzard’s game Diablo. I thought “morning star” is the planet Venus, but it was the name of a weapon. Don’t worry about my English skills, I will ask for professional help when I publish Starship “Apple of Discord”  because my readers deserve the best.

4. Describe your ideal sandwich.

I usually don’t consume fast food, but I will use salad, tomatoes, a slice of cheese, ham or tuna for this sandwich.

5. Are there pets aboard your starship, and do they wear clothes?

There are no pets on my alien ships, only on my planets. There are only drones on board,  androids, holograms and A.I., in all shapes and sizes. An alien princess and a woman from a different species, who lives in the desert, have pets. My hero Adam has pets too. This happens on a swamp planet then on a polar planet. I will introduce more features on my space opera if the readers demand it.

6. What would you say your biggest influence was when it came to writing?

My favourite Sci-Fi book is “Roadside picnic” by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky.
My favourite Fantasy book is the Rune Swords series by multiple authors like Clayton Emery, Rose Estes, Tom Wham.
I became writer because I love the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genre. I was a consumer, I mean I read books, I watched movies and I played video games but one day I decided to create my own Sci-Fi universe.
So was born the project Starship “Apple of Discord”. I have already finished the firsts three volumes on November 11, 2017. Now I need to find a traditional publishing house.
I plan to write more volumes on it and I have other projects too.
One of these includes another Sci-Fi novel  called The Independence, which it is about space exploration and colonisation by people of our time.  Another it is called Eldorado 2.0, but I prefer to keep this a surprise.
I have already published a short Sci-Fi story on Amazon, called The Restoration (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XNPRQQLI have chosen to focus all my time and energy to develop the space opera Starship “Apple of Discord”

7. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I love both Star Trek and Star Wars. IMO Star Trek is more technical, but Star Wars is more poetical.
My favourite Star Trek heroes are: Data, Kirk, Jean Luc Picard, T’Pol, Seven of Nine, Gul Dukat, Worf, Captain Klaa and Quark.
My favorite Star Wars heroes are: Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon, Padmé Amidala, Rey but most of all I was impressed by the sacrifice of Jyn Erso.
I have all the respect and admiration for all the people who create books, movies, music and artwork. The same for the people who work in the fashion and IT industry, because what would a movie be without proper clothes, makeup or 3D effects?

And you can find him on Facebook, where he promises to talk to you and everything!

You can reach me by visiting my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ACE977 ) or my website ( http://www.thetrollbane.com/ )
I will answer to all your messages personally.
Emanuel Andrei Cosutchi,
Sci-Fi writer from European Union (Romania – land of Dracula)

Book Reviews c/o Badger

I am participating in the 12 Days of Indie book buying event, where you commit to buy one book a day from an independent author in the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I have set myself the additional challenge of reading and reviewing them all as I go… Eeek! So this is post 1 of what will probably be many. If you have read any of these I would love to know what you think. Pop a comment letting me know.

My Name Is Not Alice, by Angelika Rust

I loved this book. It is book one in the “Resident Witch” series, and sets everything up nicely and probably means I have to buy the rest of the series… It deals with some issues that could be triggering, such as sexual violence and bullying, but there is nothing explicit, and in today’s climate especially, it is important to face these things rather than hide from. What I both liked and found disturbing in equal measure in a YA book is that there was really no moral compass. The characters were real, made real mistakes and had real flaws, and there was no retribution or learning curve, just like real life. Alice, the main character, for example, chastises herself for not wanting to have sex with her boyfriend, fearing what he’ll think of her, the way a teenage girl might, but there is never the realisation that it’s her body and her choice, the thought is never addressed again.

Trouble, the main love interest is also morally dubious, and I didn’t like him, but I’m told that most women do, so, maybe that’s just me. Heh. I failed to understand the attraction, or the love.  So far this review sounds negative, and I don’t mean for it to be. It was a fast paced urban fantasy with demons, shifters, witches and more.  Well written and the scene is well set, I will definitely be going back to see what happens next.  The lack of any real moral message gave me pause, and as I read on I kept hoping that maybe there would be one at the end.  As with life, there wasn’t.  Nonetheless, a thoroughly enjoyable read and I will return to the series.

This book gets 8 out of 10, or 4 out of 5.

Pulling the Rug: A Sideways Look at Life by Jane Jago

Less of a sideways look at life, and more a smack in the face with harsh reality, this book is not for the fainthearted.  A collection of short stories and poetry, this is a quick read – I finished it in a couple of hours – but in that time I had laughed and cried. This book is so full of raw emotions.  Again, there are trigger warnings (I sure know how to pick ’em), this time child abuse, so if this is something you are sensitive to, then maybe steer clear.  At the end of that particular short story I felt very uncomfortable, and unsure how I was supposed to be feeling. It takes a very clever writer to leave you with so many questions at the end of a book.  If you are looking for something a bit different from the norm, give it a go.

I was literally unable to find anything to criticise, so it forces me to give it 10/10 or 5/5

Beast Navidad by Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez, read by Nicol Zanzarella

I was thrilled to find this audiobook free until after Christmas (I’m getting quite into audiobooks) and loved it so much that I immediately bought the next two books in the series.  It’s what we’ve all been waiting for, a buddy story with women, and kick ass women at that.  I loved the totally different take on werewolves, the sarcastic and plausible dialogue and the brilliantly drawn characters that I felt I knew almost immediately.  Nicol Zanzarella’s voice was so perfectly suited to the tone of the story that I’m sure I will hear it in my head whilst reading the next in the series, and the characters were so well differentiated that there was almost no need for the speech tags. If you’re a fan of urban fantasy (or like me, cheesy vampire, zombie or werewolf films) I cannot recommend this highly enough. It’s a totally unique take on the genre and very entertaining.

Clearly top marks, with 10/10 or 5/5

Norma Jean’s School of Witchery, Book One: Jewell, by Rose Montague

Rose Montague is back on full form with the beginning of this new series of YA stories.  We have cameos from characters from the Three J’amigos series, which fans will recognise with glee, but I don’t think you need to have read the previous series to get stuck into this one.  The skill this writer has is to draw you in from the beginning and weave action into even the most mundane encounter. I read this in two sittings, because I just didn’t want to put it down, it was so packed full of action, adventure and excitement. Of course, this is set in a school, with school children, so we have to suffer a bit of teenage angst along the way to help appeal to the YA readership, but honestly I felt it was handled well, and didn’t detract from the story or irritate me too much! (I am a grumpy old badger).  I feel it would have benefited from a final edit, to catch some typos and sort out some formatting errors, but honestly, the story was so good I forgave most of it.

For me this is an 8/10 or 4/5.


Well Done Alabama! A Poem by Jane Jago

A statesman of orange complexion

Tried to stick his thumb in an election

The state of Alabama

Hit him with a hammer

And made a more clever selection


To see the complete list of Jane Jago’s books go to:  author.to/janejago


Monday Mystery Mime

It’s Monday again, and that means Feathers and Toast performs a mime for you to guess, silently, in your head. Even though we have a comments box, right there, at the bottom of the page… Is it the maths that puts you off? We need that to stop the many and varied viagra comments… The mystery mime will never be anything related to viagra, if you were wondering…

Anyway… last week’s mime was a flickering festive candle nobody got it outright but Shurie Southcott guessed close enough as did Hadie Mansfield, so you see? Just have a guess, you never know. Then, post it in the comments. Or don’t, whatever, it’s not like we care.

So, your clue for this week is “very seasonal”.



Although you won’t be hungry after these disturbing flashes into the news…

The Boner Collector

OK, so it’s a pun, because of… well… you get it…

During a raid on the residence of a 54 year old mortician worker in Houston, Texas, FBI agents uncovered an unusual stash of contraband.  The home contained 3178 embalmed human penises… peni… penis’… The penis hoarder, as the interns have been calling him, must have been removing the organs from cadavers for many years to accumulate such a collection, and we are wondering whether The Guinness Book of records would be interested. If this story has tipped your interest then you can read the whole disturbing account on…. World News Daily Report

A Ghost of a Chance

A woman in Bristol, who claims to have been having sexual relations with ghosts for over ten years is now looking for a ghost husband to start a ghost family.

According to The Bristol Post the 27 year old spiritual guidance counsellor has been with 20 ghosts in the 10 years since she left her fiance for one. She is now looking for a nice ghost to settle down with so she can have a phantom pregnancy… we aren’t sure anyone’s had the heart to tell her that that’s not what it means…

And in Boob News…

Christmas boobs are a new craze to be sweeping Manchester. It is now the fashion, apparently, to cut a hole in your favourite Christmas jumper, pop your boob out, give it a red nose, some eyes and antlers and call it Rudolf. No, really.  This new trend in Christmas fashion is not exactly warm, but hey, if people are enjoying themselves. Just need to be careful not to take someone’s eye out when the frost hits.

You can read more in Lovin’ Manchester and because it is so special, we have even embedded a picture below…


7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions are with the co-author of Alternative History series Dying to be Roman, E.M. Swift Hook. It is a detective series with a difference, and takes place in a reality where the Romans never left. Sound interesting?

1. How much research did you need to do on Roman history, and where did you start?

I was fortunate in not having to do too much basic research as I have studied Roman history and culture in the pa

st and knowing Jane is a secret Latin scholar helped!. But the one area I did research in depth was the life and times and reforms of Emperor Diocletian as it was his reign we take as the ‘pivot point’ of our alternate history – it’s point of divergence from the act
ual timeline. In reality, Diocletian’s reforms did indeed prop-up a faltering Roman Empire in the west for over a century.  The Dai and Julia books assume that Diocletian was far more radical and effective in his reforms and it was this which enabled the Roman Empire to endure and expand.

2. What is it about Roman times that most appealed to you?

 I suspect it is because I have read loads of Roman setting whodunits, by people such as Lindsey Davis, Stephen Saylor, Rosemary Rowe, Ruth Downie and Assaph Mehr. It is a genre I have always enjoyed and I’m sure those authors and their books have all influenced my approach and style with Dai and Julia.

3. Would you be a citizen or a Celt?

Tough call. The Roman world in a modern era as Jane and I have created it is very harsh and much as my romantic soul would want to align with the underdog Brits, if I had to live in that world I’d take all the advantages of privilege.  It could literally be a matter of life and death.

4. Describe a Roman sandwich – did the Romans have sandwiches?

Romans would eat open sandwiches, usually for prandium (lunch) when they would often have cold meats and such from the previous day on bread. There is a weird Roman link with sandwiches through – the first recorded use of the word to describe a sandwich was by Edward Gibbon – who wrote the classic book ‘The Rise and fall of the Roman Empire’ – in his personal journal in 1762!

5. Where do you stand on pet couture? Would you dress up a chicken?

I have to say I am not big on the idea of dressing up pets – unless they need it for warmth in the winter, of course. In my opinion, chickens are perfectly beautiful as they are and need no added extras at all. I am one of those people who find it all a bit cringeworthy to see little pugs, chihuahuas or boston terriers done up in dresses or peering out unhappily from under silly bonnets. I love animals and feel it is demeaning to treat them like dress-up dolls.

6. Are there going to be any more books in the series? What’s next?

Oh yes! Jane and I have already got plans for the next two novellas in the works and I suspect we might well have enough written to bring out the second omnibus next year. However, the next outing for Dai and Julia after this first omnibus is in the upcoming Inklings anthology ‘Alternate Earths 2’ which should be out in the next month.It features a short story set right after the events of ‘Dying to Be Roman’ and is aptly named ‘Dying to Alter History’.

7. What advice would you give to people wanting to write alternative history?

To be honest I am not sure I am at all qualified to do so. I suspect most who write alternate history begin by asking ‘What if this happened instead of that at this specific point in history?’ so they begin with knowing their point of divergence from regular events. Jane and I started with the idea of writing modern Roman rule in Britain and then sought an appropriate pivot point which could explain how that might have happened. But I guess my advice would be two-fold – read some alternate history of the kind you want to write first and then read up on the time around your chosen point of divergence so you can be sure to give a secure and believable reason for why your world is as it is.
And you can find E.M. Swift Hook all over the web:

Monday Mystery Mime

Every week our friends at Feathers and Toast perform a mystery mime for you to guess. If you guess correctly you have the opportunity to have the mime of your choice performed. That would involve you making the effort to have a guess though, so… *shrugs*.

And the answer to last week’s mime was credit card being used. Richard Goldman, Deva Palmier and Joe Prainitis got it right, so well done to them.

The clue for this week is something you have inside during the festive season. We’re guessing at pervy uncle, but see what you make of it…


7 Questions

Today’s 7 Questions is with the multi-talented Alicia Rose.  She has had multiple careers, from yoga teacher to life coach, and her most recent endeavour sees her narrating audio books, including Badger’s vampire adventure!

1. You have had a diverse career, what would you say your favourite job has been?

I have to say that my favourite job so far has been that of ‘Press Photographer’ when I was 21 until the age of about 25 I held a Press Pass and got to photograph some of the biggest names in showbiz and the music scene in the early 90’s … I was present at the opening of Planet Hollywood in Leicester Square which was such a buzz – the three big boys, Arnie, Bruce and Stallone and their Hollywood mates. I was at The Prince’s Trust ‘Party in the Park’ for two years running, up there in the press pit photographing the likes of Elton John, David Gray, Destiny’s Child, Luther Vandross, Tom Jones (I even threw a pair of knickers at him and nearly got myself thrown out!) …. I photographed Alexander O’Neal and Dina Carroll, Madness, Jamiroquai and so many others and have fantastic memories of it all. I got to go on weekenders with the Police, Fire and Ambulance teams including Underwater Police on the Thames, Riot Police Training, 24 hour casualty and then all sorts of Community Events and Fundraisers and Local News and Reviews.  It was a busy, exciting and fun time in life.

2. What is it about a vampire series that particularly appealed to you?

I’m more than half way through my life and to date haven’t really had much of an interest in Vampires at all, but somehow, reading your small script that was to be part of the audition I submitted, tweaked my curiosity and I really liked the fact there seemed to be an undercurrent swirling around the characters, a darkness which intrigued me, perhaps this is my doorway into a new realm and the start of a Vamp attraction.

3. What is one invaluable piece of life coaching advice that you would give to anyone?

A vital piece of coaching advice I would give anyone is to have Courage. To make a firm and true commitment to yourself that you are going to succeed through all life’s obstacles and challenges by having a courageous and continual perseverance. To understand you can summon strength and create optimism by being self-aware, appreciating your limits; accepting them and in turn drawing wisdom and inspiration from them.  Your reactions to life’s challenges can then have freewill to change and with self-empowerment you can emerge triumphant in all future actions resulting in a positive outcome.

4. Where do you stand on the topic of pet couture?

Pet Couture – okay, this is unique and I’m on the fence here in the sense that I personally wouldn’t want to dress my pet dog, pig, horse up because I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to nature and the animal kingdom. However, I do understand the couture part of it can be an extension of the owner’s personality. For instance, I have a showbiz friend who loves dressing up and thus he dresses his dog in the most amazing outfits too, and his dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel loves it, you can see his love for it, he gets excited about dressing up. So I think if it is not harming the animal and there is genuine heartfelt communication between owner and pet, then let the couture continue. All that said; I have been known to put a hat or two on my dogs!  I love hats and have a pretty big collection of them.  I once put a Santa hat on my little Lhasa Apso and he hated it. I took a photo and he grimaced at the camera – it is the best ‘bah humbug’ Christmas picture I have the pleasure to own!

5. Who is the most interesting person you have worked with, and who would you most like to work with in the future?

The most interesting person I’ve ever worked with, hmmmm this is a tough question but to give as honest answer as I can it would have to be ‘Joan’.  Joan was my Yoga teacher for about four years and it was this woman, who was in her sixties at the time (some 25 years ago) who opened a doorway for me to explore the true infinite potential of being human. To begin a journey of understanding, getting in tune with ‘self’ and the immeasurable possibilities that abound. I continue to practice Yoga to this day and can say with genuine ever-present experience, it is the only indisputable thing I have had in my life for the past 25 years. It saved me, released me, and helped me find freedom again and again and again.  I lost touch with Joan many years ago when I moved away but I always feel a connection with her because of the interesting life path she so gently and wisely guided me onto.

6. What do you like most about recording audio books?

The best thing I like about recording audio books is learning new things. Uncovering new realms. Topics which my life has not yet touched upon. I’ve had an eye-opening life already but getting into Audio book narration and recording has increased that infinitely and pro-actively. There truly is no end to the inestimable possibilities of life, living and learning. For example, I have become educated about the views on Sex within the LDS community and the knowledge I found in that book was genuinely inspiring.  I’ve found out about the ‘Furry’ community and just how massive it is in America and how people connect with Mother Nature in their own very unique way. I’ve gained knowledge about the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims in Victorian London and it was a true thrill (and tear jerker) to act out these women’s desperate lives.  I’ve read harrowing accounts of one particular woman who was devastatingly abused during her childhood at the hands of the Church and recording the book had me extraordinarily spellbound and indeed gobsmacked at what some adult men and women in charge of minors got away with – the book ‘Trust No-One’ is as heart wrenching as it is mind boggling in respect of Child Abuse in the UK.  I’ve learned about the disgraceful manipulation of the Richard Nixon’s 1971 ‘War on Drugs’ in the USA and how this has morphed into a modern day slavery project together with the illegal motion of state funded prisons being built and then sold to the private sector with no money being returned to the common people who paid into it – there is huge injustice behind the whole facade. So many of these books are written by excellent and well educated writers and as yet have not ceased to amaze and teach me.  Second to this learning curve is the opportunity to ‘act’ out the ‘voices’ and ‘characters’ which abound in the audio book arena.  It is a challenge and a joy to produce these books and I really look forward to continuing along this new Vampire path to which you have welcomed me.

7. What’s next for you? What should we be looking out for?

What’s next for me, ah well, I still have many careers to be had I’m sure, I’ll continue to teach Yoga, be a musician, an artist and a photographer but best watch out for when I become a comedienne, I believe laughter is one of the best feelings a human being can experience and amongst the sore points of life, I rather enjoy making people laugh.

You can find Alicia in various places about the web:

And Lineage: A Beginning is out now on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. To celebrate the release, Newsnibbles is giving away 5 copies from the Audible.com site. If you would like one simply pop a comment below telling us so! First 5 comments get a download code!