Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

A Conversation With K.M.Robinson

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When I was first introduced to K.M.Robinson she was a social media guru teaching classes on the best ways for authors to utilize online platforms, along with growing her photography portfolio. Since then she has not only become a dear friend of mine, but gone on to grow an empire of books. As she continues to grow her fanbase, her knew Aladdin retelling marks the 23rd addition to her catalogue. I had the pleasure of getting to sit down and talk with her about books, advice for aspiring authors, and all things fairy tale.

For those who aren’t familiar with you and your books. Tell us about you!

I’m K.M. Robinson, author of retellings, dystopians, sci fi, fantasy, mermaid, cyberpunk, and steampunk novels. I’m also a social media marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs to to build profitable brands through smart social media strategy, and a professional photographer. I’m super friendly on social media and have created an incredible tribe of fans that I like to traumatize with my books. They’ve actually made support groups to get through some of them. It’s pretty awesome!

Your “trademark” has become writing fairy tale retellings. What is is about this genre that keeps you writing within it?

There are so many stories to tell and so many ways to write them. I’ve already written certain characters, but I still have two/three/four more ideas for different versions of their stories with other characters involved. All I have  to do is wonder what would happen if I dropped a certain character in a different setting and suddenly we have a brand new series. It’s an incredibly wide world with so much wiggle room. I can’t get enough! I also really like learning the “true” stories of these characters; the parts history forgot to tell us or flat out lied about.

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3.) You also shoot your own photography for/design your own covers. Was this a conscious decision or happy accident? 

I was a photographer first and many of my photo series inspired my writing, so it’s always something on my list of priorities when discussing contracts with publishers. I’ve taken a lot of time to study the industry and really know what sells for covers and what doesn’t. So when other authors/publishers started asking me to design for them as well, it was a natural transition. I really love being able to do most of my own covers because I can bring my stories to life in a way others wouldn’t be able to.

You’re very active on social media especially with instagram livestreams. Do you feel that social media is a significant tool aspiring writers need to make use of?

Absolutely. Social media is the best way to marker yourself and your products as a brand/business owner. It’s something all entrepreneurs (and that’s what an author is) need to learn as early as possible: Studying the algorithms, knowing what the platforms value to make such we get as much as a reach as possible, learning how to engage with people on the platforms, and studying how to create valuable content is essential. A lot of people see it as work but it’s such a fun way to connect with people and make new fans/friends. I adore studying social media and learning how to work with it. I’ve made so many new fans and great business connections just from being friendly and chatting with people – it’s great.

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Out of the many books you’ve written, is there a particular that’s your favourite?

My debut Golden, and my second book Jaded are definitely my favourite. I’v also really fallen in love with Sugarcoated. Strong leading ladies, assassination attempts, really cute guys. I love them!

What are some of your favourite fairy tale retellings?

The very first retelling that really stuck with me was The True Stories Of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. It’s a picture book I read back in elementary school that told the story of how the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t actually bad and the little pigs were less than awesome. 

The idea that we might not actually know the true story-or the full story- really intrigued me. What if other stories were told like that? What if the villains weren’t actually villains? What if the heroes/victors lied? The “what if” questions led me to start looking for the second side to every story and really left this burning passion for me to discover more about the fairy tales I knew and loved. They’re directly responsible for me writing Golden, my Goldilocks and the Three Bears retelling. The rest is history. 

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Tell us about your new book!

Lions And Lamps is a steampunk Aladdin retelling. It pulls a lot more from the original Aladdin story (which was Chinese) rather than the version Disney did. My Aladdin lives with his mother after his father was murdered last year. His evil uncle, Kacper, is now trying to drive a wedge between Aladdin and his mother because he wants to look good in front of his sister-in-law now that his brother is dead. 

Cyra was an orphan who was taken in by the Governor seven years ago and trained to steal an airship in a competition that only he had advanced knowledge of. Last year, Cyra stole the airship and won, but this year she’s sneaking into the competition against the Governor’s wishes. 

When Aladdin and Cyra meet, sparks fly but not in a good way. There’s a lot of betrayal and back stabbing and a genie with an agenda. 

I’m so excited that its now out in the world, traumatizing my readers once more. Wait, did I say that out loud? Oops. 

All of K.M.Robinson’s books are available on E-book and from Amazon. She’s also hosting a sale of covers she’s designed for author use which is on until Tuesday 16th April and more information about that can be found here here.

K.M.Robinson can be found at:

 

Posted in adult fiction, contemporary, review

The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night – Jen Campbell

“The stopping is important. You have to wait for the heart to become desperate; wait for it to think you’ve forgotten all about it. Then – and only then – do you smother it again with love and affection.”

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Blurb: “Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.”

 *This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I have followed Jen Campbell for a while through her youtube channel where she discusses books and, while I’m not necessarily a reader of the same things as she is, her passion for fairytale, folklore and magical realism is impossible to ignore. It’s almost contagious. However, in terms of her writing I have only delved into Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops which is a small non-fiction piece.  Then I was given the opportunity to get an early copy of her new book, a collection of short stories, called The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night.

I always feel that I can never fairly judge short story collections as a whole because I’ve never come across one where I have loved every single story equally; often there are a few stories where I didn’t really understand the point being made. For that reason, I’m going to highlight the few tales that jumped out at me:

The first is a story called “Animals” which is coincidently the first in the collection and really did knock me over. I was completely hooked from the first sentence, transported into this world where the characters can buy new hearts at the click of a button. Is your heart broken?  That’s no problem. Just simply get a new one. One character gets a replacement after being unfaithful. It’s no big deal in this world. It was a very strong start to the book and hit home the important of love.

The second story that grabbed hold of me and didn’t let go was “Jacob” in which a boy writes a letter to his beloved weather lady about his life and how he isn’t coping too well with the changes in his sister. It was a heart-warming, but also sad, read about identity and wanting to reach out to others.

The third story to stay with me was “Margaret And Mary And The End Of The World” which focused on religion and the importance of how you are perceived to the outside world.

The final story to stick in my mind was “Little Death” in which spirits roam the lands and are captured to be sold or kept in labs to be used in experiments to create immortality. It was beautifully haunting.

Every part of this collection was thought-provoking in its own way and each layer reveals another truth we avoid admitting to ourselves as well as others. Jen’s outside interests really shine through and cement her as a truly wonderful talent.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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Posted in fairytale retelling, review, young adult

Golden – K.M.Robinson

“Betrayal is always bad, but betrayal by someone close is so much worse.”

 

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Blurb: “The stories say that Goldilocks was a naïve girl who wandered into a house one day. Those stories were wrong. She was never naïve. It was all a perfectly executed plan to get her into the Baers’ group to destroy them.
Trained by her cousin, Lowell, and handler, Shadoe, Auluria’s mission is to destroy the Baers by getting close to the youngest brother, Dov, his brother and sister-in-law and the leaders of the Baers’ group. When she realizes Dov isn’t as evil as her cousin led her to believe, she must figure out how to play both sides or her deception will cause everyone in her world to burn.”

This is an extra special blog post this week as the book in question, Golden, has been written by a dear, dear friend of mine. (Though I feel obligated to add that this doesn’t change my review)

The story is a goldilocks retelling and follows a girl called Auluria who wakes up in the home of the Baer family with no memory of how she got there. Thanks to help of Dov, she slowly starts to fill in the gaps. She was running from someone but she still can’t remember who. As her memories continue to surface she remembers her purpose of being in this house: to make Dov Baer fall in love with her, then destroy his family.

I am an absolute sucker for political elements of books, especially in a medieval/fairytale sort of setting and Golden really delivers that. On one side you have the government ruling with an iron fist and on the other you have The Society with the Baer family in the middle. All these aspects were explained so well and alongside with the world building there was the perfect framework for a story. It didn’t fall into “info dump” territory and instead felt like the process of learning and discovering this world was authentic.

Auluria proves to be a great but equally frustrating character at times as she doesn’t feel she should just sick back in a safe space when she’s more than capable of going out and fighting.

I only have a few issues and the main one is pace: it feels like Auluria’s memory returns too quickly and it would have been nice to spend more time with Auluria exploring her surroundings and forming an even more natural relationship with Dov; the love itself once her memory comes back feels too rushed as well. This is the first book in a trilogy and it felt like it was trying to get enough groundwork in that we can speed into the next one.

But that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. I find the complexities of this world so fascinating and can only wait with bated breath until I can get my hands on the next one.

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Posted in fairytale retelling, fantasy, review, young adult

Alice Takes Back Wonderland – David D.Hammons

 

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Blurb: “After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she is going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realise that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland.”

**I was sent this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story opens with seven year old Alice running out of the courtroom after the case that takes place in the original story. As she runs to freedom, the Cheshire cat spouts his usual nonsense, this time about fairy tales and their echoes (echoes are how we know fairy tales, and the fairy tales are what really happened). For example, in the story as we know it, Alice is an English girl from the nineteenth century, in this book she is an American girl from the twenty-first century.

She returns to her world only to be told that the people she met, the adventures she had, and the world she visited are not real. She spends Christmas in a mental hospital, gets diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. One line that really broke my heart at this point was: “I told the doctors I didn’t believe ADHD was real. They told me they didn’t believe Wonderland was real.”

Ten years of therapy sessions, popping pills and re-affirming to herself that what she experienced was not real, Alice is finally (slightly) on the mend. That is, until the White Rabbit shows up in her bedroom.  Wonderland has changed and he needs her help: The Ace of Spades is now in charge and the Cheshire cat is dead. It is also later revealed that Ace send the White Rabbit through the rabbit holes and into the real world so he can collect things, because Ace wants Wonderland to be a mirror of our world.

The mad hatter wants things to return to well… as normal as they can be in Wonderland so he tells Alice that she need to seek help from other fairy tale characters to create an army to take back Wonderland. He puts Alice in a flying machine and sends her on her way.

So time for my thoughts.

Going back to what I mentioned about the mental struggles Alice faces when she returns from Wonderland; this part was so well written. To say this happened very early on in the story, you really feel for her and just want to reach through the pages, hug her and tell her that Wonderland is real. The pressure she has put on her by her mother and sister to be normal and go to university etc was just so sad to read.

However for me, this is where everything good about this book ended. The transitions between the worlds when Alice sets off on her adventures were just too jarring and felt kind of like I’d hit a brick wall. She seemed to spend way too much time in Wonderland to say there was this sense of urgency to create an army to beat Ace and the pace of the book was lost because of it.

It felt to me that a lot of the fairy tale characters were just thrown in randomly, without much thought, in order to get people buying this book for the very fact that it’s mentioned on the blurb  (in particular Peter Pan). I just felt like these types of characters were used for that reason and then left with a pretty sub-par story. Now I am all for fairy-tale retellings/reimagining’s but I feel like the idea of “echoes” was used as an excuse just to allow the author to change the fairy tales and their characters as much as they have done.

Also, I don’t know why the story needed to be americanised. It added literally nothing except obviously a location change in the real world. The only way the story would have been affected if the location had remained England and that time period was that there would have been no ADHD diagnosis and instead they would have just simply called her “mad” and shunned her.

If I wasn’t reading this because it was sent to me by a publisher and I had to give an honest review, then honestly I would have stopped reading this before the halfway point. However, it was only fair that I read the book in its entirety.

Overall, a very disappointing book.
For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

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