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My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts and imagination. A simple raindrop, the smell of a trash heap, or the touch of a bee's stinger is enough to immerse me into a new story idea. My passion is writing and my inspiration is everywhere. So far, my focus has been in short stories, however I have many novels floating around in my brain. Recently I have also been handed the opportunity to review the works of others and share them with everyone that reads my blog. Feel free to find me on facebook (facebook.com/esselprattwriting) the web (EsselPratt.com)or follow me on twitter (@EsselPratt).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Author Interview: Hilary Shepard -- Shesus

Recently I had the pleasure of reading a fantastic book called Shesus, an amazing book by Hilary Shepard.  Although it is her first book, she has quickly become one of my favorite authors.  Not only could I not put the book down, but I was able to absorb myself into the words and actually feel for the characters within -- not a task that is easy to pull off for a writer.  

When I was given the opportunity to interview Hilary for my blog, I was beyond excited.  As evident below, Hilary cares deeply for Shesus and the characters that she created.  Her passion is something that I admire deeply, and look up to as a writer myself.  If she ever makes an appearance at a convention near me, I will definitely need to meet her, maybe even get her to autograph my copy of Shesus.
Now, without further adieu, I present my interview with Hilary Shepard!



Essel Pratt: Hilary, Shesus is quite possibly one of the best books I have read this year.  You can really tell that you put not only a lot of time into the story, but a lot of your own personal feelings and love as well.  What, in addition to childhood dreams, inspired you to write Shesus?
Hilary Shepard : So glad you loved my book! Although SHESUS was based on a series of re-occurring dreams I had, the story was one that came together after a series of events. A few years ago, my best friend Daryl Hannah and I started writing an environmental book together and she really opened my eyes to so many alarming facts about what could happen to this planet if we continue on this path. Then four people in my family, including me got cancer. Facing a life threatening illness really made me think about what legacy I wanted to leave, what story I wanted to tell. I began to formulate a story that would appeal to kids and grown-ups alike. Kids are our future, and it's their planet to inherit! I hoped to inspire them and to open their eyes to the ways we are poisoning our planet and ourselves. 

The final straw was when a girlfriend of mine took me to see a 90 year old psychic in Las Vegas, an ex-showgirl she had been going to for years. She told me some stuff that no one could possibly know, and then she just wouldn't stop talking about this book I was going to write that was going to be a huge inspiration to people and that was going to make a lot of money and do a lot of good for the world. I was kind of taken aback as I'd never told anyone my plans to write this book. Then she wrote down something on a tiny piece of paper and handed it to me. She said “I don't know what this word means, but this is it." I unfurled the paper and the word SHESUS was written on it. I almost fell over. That was the character from my dreams' name that I had never told anyone. I thought, “Damn it! Now I have to write this book!" I had several operations to face, and I used my time in bed to write SHESUS. 

Essel Pratt: I love that, despite the futuristic world’s dystpoic state, you began with a slice of Utopia.  In many futuristic dystopian tales, the heroes are in search of the Promised Land.  In Shesus, the heroes take an almost opposite adventure as they seek out the dystopia in order to save their Protected Land and the population.  In a sense, it made the journey seem even more important and causes the reader to feel more empathetic for Bugbee and TheRose.  Was this a conscious decision, or did the story evolve on its own?

Hilary Shepard : That's very astute of you to notice! I wanted the readers to experience how magical Eden is and what a tragedy it would be to lose the last bit of nature left on earth. I'm glad you felt that this added to the empathy the reader would feel for their quest!

Essel Pratt: One of the unique aspects of the book is the way you named the characters.  Almost everyone shares their name with someone famous from pulp culture.  How did you decide on the names, and which was your favorite?

Hilary Shepard : I really noticed our cultures's obsession with celebrity getting worse and worse, so when I imagined a future world I thought for sure people would be named after "olden-time" celebs.  I thought it would be funny to create characters that were totally opposite than their namesake's! My most favorite is the annoying hyper active lonely kid who is named Bradpitt! 

Essel Pratt: One of my favorite characters was Seven.  He is mouthy, harsh, truthful, and defiant, yet he loves TheRose and Bugbee unconditionally it seems.  What inspired him?

 Hilary Shepard : I actually found a baby in the woods when I was 5. I told my mother who thought I was pretending and I kept her it all day my room! To this day I feel I saved the babies life, although my family sees it as kidnapping! I thought it would be great for them to find and save a little baby, and as they are the innocents to the ways of the world, he could be the tech savvy one! I can't tell you how many times a toddler has schooled me on tech issues! I love humor, even in the darkest times so 7 is the comic relief! Both my daughters are very funny and wise and I wrote down all their funny sayings since they were little! 7 directly quotes them sometimes!

Essel Pratt: TheRose and Bugbee were two of the most believable characters I have seen portrayed in a book, in a long time.  Their curiosity, heroism, and “must succeed” attitude are amazing.  In fact, I often thought of my own two daughters, who are 12 and 16, while I was reading.  Did you find yourself putting portions of your childhood in their actions and thoughts? 

Hilary Shepard : I based TheRose and Bugbee on my two daughters, as well as me and my sister. My relationship with my older sister growing up was very similar- I looked up to her and she protected and loved me. My two girls are very  much the same! We all even speak the secret “sister speak" language for real , that they do in the book! We drive everyone crazy trying to understand us!

Essel Pratt:  Shesus has an underlying tone of the preservation of the Earth, and gives us a glimpse at what the world might look like if we damage our planet to the point in which it begins to fight back and we must shelter ourselves from the devastation we caused.  However, you hinted in a few spots, such as where weeds grew from the cracked road, that despite all of the pain we force on the earth, she can still heal.  How close do you feel we are to forcing ourselves into a world like you created within Shesus?  Do we still have time to reverse the devastation before we do too much damage?

Hilary Shepard : I truly believe we can reverse the damage done to our earth and ourselves, but not until everyone realizes  we're all on the same team! I hate when the media portrays people like Daryl as clueless hippie nuts! She and all her fellow Eco warriors are just trying to help everyone understand how harmful we are being to the only place we have to live! The earth is very resilient though- I spend a lot of time on the Big Island of Hawaii and you should see what manages to thrive and grow through all the black lava! I do think we will hit a breaking point very soon from which we can't return though, and I hope I'm wrong!

Essel Pratt:  As I read Shesus, I couldn’t help but think about who would play the characters in a movie based on the book.  Who would you like to see portray some of the characters?  Would some of them differ from their namesakes in the book?
Hilary Shepard : I know the characters so well and have a very clear view of who I'd like to play most of them in a movie. I picture my daughter Scarlett playing TheRose and I think Cher would be awesome as JJ! I'd love Adam Levine to be Johnnyseed and I'm open to suggestions on who'd make a great Budseed! Daryl wants to direct the movies and she and I share the same vision. I know the movie will be epic! 

Essel Pratt:  What is next in your writing career, do you have anything special planned?

Hilary Shepard : I am not writing anything until I get SHESUS to the point where it's very successful ! Promoting this book I really believe in is my first priority now!  I live and breathe my stories, so I don't want to leave my SHESUS world just yet!

Essel Pratt:  Are there any upcoming projects that you would like to share or plug?

Hilary Shepard : I just finished shooting a hilarious TV pilot starring Rosannah Arquette where I play her wise cracking friend! We got to improvise a lot and if it gets picked up I'd be in it and a write episodes too. It's kind of a female Larry David "Curb your Enthusiasm" and I had a blast! Fingers crossed you'll see it on TV next year.

Essel Pratt:  okay, I have one final question.  If you had to live out the rest of your life as either Divatox or JJ, which would you choose and why?  

Hilary Shepard : I love Divatox, the bratty evil Queen I played on the Power Rangers but I actually am a lot like JJ and ( I played the bass and sand and wrote all the songs on the album American Girls my all girl band , American Girls did in 1984) and music is still a big part if my life so JJ wins!

Essel Pratt: Thank you for taking time to answer my questions and share your thoughts, and thank you for writing such an amazing book.  Shesus became an instant favorite before I had even reached the half-way mark, I cannot recommend it enough.  

Hilary Shepard : Thank you so much for your enthusiastic love  for my book Shesus! My greatest wish is that people read it and are inspired by it. My all-time favorite book is "to Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, so when you compared me to her, I was in heaven!


I want to thank Hilary for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions.  If you have not had the chance to read Shesus, please click the link below and purchase your copy today!




Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Zombiepalooza Radio: Resurrection



I have had the opportunity to spend some time with Jackie Chin, of Zombiepalooza Radio.  Not only is she a great host, but she is a great person overall.  She cares about her guests and her listeners more than most radio hosts out there.  So, when I saw that her show needed a little help, I had no choice but to share it.

If you have a moment, please feel free to check out her gofundme campaign, you can click the picture above, and consider helping her out.

"Hello to all you zombophiles, and others!
I'm Jackie Chin, the Creator and Host of Zombiepalooza Radio; probably one of the most unique radio programs on or off the internet. Although most of the material is zombie themed the actual content is about the authors, actors, musicians, artists and the entire spectrum of entertainment venues this encompasses. I'm pretty certain most of you know this so I'm going to turn things over to our Executive Producer.


**********************************************************************

My name is K R Chin, better known as Storm to most of you; I'm the Executive Producer of Zombiepalooza Radio. This means that most of the time I stay behind the scenes while Jackie, our beloved Host and Producer/Director, handles the tasks associated with scouting for and recruiting the guests, in addition to running the show itself.

It's become rather more complicated lately

You see, we carry the entire costs of the show ourselves and my regular job simply doesn't pay enough to take care of it. I did have a couple of outside sources of revenue but those have fallen by the wayside. Although one of them did say that if business picks up again they'd put me back on contract in a moment. Which brings us to why this page has been put up.

Right now, corporate sponsorships are hard to come by, and the few which have, have wanted a hand on the helm. This would mean that Jackie would have to take control of the show from the AUDIENCE, you kind folks, and put it into the hands of someone who's motives are unknown to us .... and perhaps not in the best interests of the AUDIENCE.

Jackie won't have anything to do with selling you folks out because YOU are the reason for the show's popularity.

So now we're forced to do something we never imagined we'd have to do .... as with public radio and television, in order for Jackie to maintain her neutrality and responsiveness to the AUDIENCE we need to ask for your help. We need donations to keep it running for the next year and for Jackie to be able to make it to the venues she's been asked to carry the show to for live broadcasts. She'd also like to begin having contests with the ability to supply the prizes on a more timely basis rather than having the winners wait until we can get the prize out to them.

Using rough estimates, we figure that the average cost per month, for the show is probably right around 400.00 per month. Four thousand eight hundred dollars per year; quite a low figure for ANY radio show. Averaging out the cost between the lowest and highest cost for transportation, a nice hotel room (she doesn't crave extravagant but she'd like to avoid the NoTell Motel with Norman for the night clerk) food, shipping of her equipment and local transportation it came out to about two thousand for the two large shows she's been asked to this year.

Could we use more for the show?
Absolutely


But what we're hoping will happen, is that a corporate sponsor will take notice, AGREE with Jackie's terms and step forward to help with the production.


We're not currently planning on stopping production but it certainly is a possibility.


So please, take a look and see if there's anything you can do to help, later on, after I've had the chance to finalize a few things, I'll be posting a list of incentives for those who are able to make a donation ... so keep your eyes on this page."



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Evil Jester Presents: The Wait is Over!


Since the initial announcement, I have been anxiously awaiting the debut of "Evil Jester Presents" the debut comic from Evil Jester Comics.  Although the wait was long, the team over at Grant-Day Media has kept their fans up to date on the progress while keeping the excitement fresh in our minds.  All until the below post was updated all over Facebook:


"THE WAIT IS OVER. Evil Jester Comics is proud to present our first full color, gorgeously illustrated comic book! Featuring terrifying tales by an ALL-STAR LINE UP, including New York Times Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, International Bestselling author William F. Nolan, Bestselling author Jack Ketchum, and Bram Stoker Award Winning author Joe McKinney. With beautiful artwork by Marvel/DC/Dark Horse artists including Richard P. Clark, Felix Ruiz, Beni Lobel and more. Officially on sale at our website: http://www.eviljestercomics.com/! Find out why Evil Jester Presents is one of the most talked about indie horror comics of the year."



With names such as Jack Ketchum, William F. Nolan, and Joe McKinney, not only will the debut issue surely become a sought after collector's item, but also the start of a new error in horror comics.  We have seen the Golden Age,the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Atomic Era, and the Modern Age take the comic book industry by storm.  Not since the Silver Age have we seen the emergence of fantastical horror stories overtake the colorful pages of our favorite comics. In this new Crimson Age, Evil Jester Presents is sure to bring horror comics back to their reign where they will once again send shivers down the spines of those that dare flip through the pages under the dark blankets by the light of an LED flashlight.

To those that brave the fiends within the pages, be warned about the Evil Jester.  His handshake may be firm, his gaze may seem sincere, but within that hollow skull resides the power to take you on an unforgettable journey through his horrific world, where the dead live and the living die.  But don't let that scare you, just take along your favorite melee weapon and don't forget to double tap.  I am sure you will be fine! 



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: "Shesus" by Hilary Shepard

I am a sucker for dystopian adventures.  I don't know why, but there is something romantic about the treacherous journey to find an impossible slice of utopia. 

"Shesus", from the first glimpse, seemed to be exactly what I love in a dystopian story.  However, I soon found that I was wrong, in a good way.  What I found was that "Shesus" takes us on a different sort of Journey.  In fact, what we have is actually a utopian world surrounded by dystopia. Too often we are shown the devastation or government control, without seeing the beauty until the end.  That is where "Shesus" is different.

How can that be, you ask?

Simply put, the earth is in a constant state of repair.  It is the humans that are unintentionally forcing dystopia upon the Mother Earth.   In "Shesus" we are introduced to the last remnants of natural earth, within the Protected Forrest.  Those that still believe in the planet's healing powers, and strive to protect her from evil corporations that seek to control her embrace, are a limited force among those that have surrendered to living within the protected malls of the technological world. In this Young Adult novel, we are introduced to TheRose and Bugbee, two young intellectuals with a mission to save their protected land and share their utopia with the world.

"TheRose, 15, lives in isolation in the last protected forest of The Americas with her mother Mooma and 9 year old sister, Bugbee. When their mom vanishes, the girls are forced to venture into a world poisoned by ‘The Big Sick.’ Following the secret map encoded in Mooma’s beaded necklace, TheRose and Bugbee must navigate the strange mall dwellings that the last vestiges of mankind are forced to live in order to survive—intent on solving the mystery of their mother’s disappearance. In the process, they discover the real story behind their father’s death, who the legendary enigmatic character Shesus really is and why they are all being relentlessly pursued by the sinister and all—powerful Govercorp, as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance."

"Shesus" is filled with multi-layered  characters, each unique in their own ways.  Set in the year 2315, the futuristic tale is filled with so much nostalgia, that even those with a dislike for futuristic tales will enjoy the story within the pages.  Characters such as Janisjoplin (JJ), Johnyseed, Johnlennon, Darylhannah, and many more, reflect the celebrities after which they are named in glimpsing familiarity, yet bring forth their own uniqueness to draw you into their story.

Of all the characters, my absolute favorite has to be Seven.  A genetically engineered baby, his poise and intellect, coupled with his innocent banter, inserts a slice of comedic relief, yet a strong sense of empathy for the journey he shares with Bugbee and TheRose. 

While the obvious undertone of the book is one of Earthly preservation and caution for what might occur if we do not treat the planet with more respect, it is also a tale of togetherness, family, and the importance of new friends.  Hilary Shepard has done what many writers can only dream of.  She has formed her reoccurring dreams into a masterpiece, dare I say an instant classic, that is sure to resonate for generations to come. This is a tale that I, as a 36 year old man, enjoy immensely as it tugged at my heart at times, and reminded me of the imaginary journeys I took as a young child.  This is a tale that my youngest daughter, twelve years of age, has become exited to begin reading as I shared with her the beautiful characters within.  This is a tale that I will proudly display on my bookshelf alongside other inspiring authors such as Harper Lee, William Golding, Clive Barker, Charles Day, Peter Giglio, Shannon Michaels, and many more.

This is a book that I highly recommend to any lover of fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure.  Unlike other popular books of similar themes, such as "the Hunger Games" and "the Host", "Shesus" gives us an astounding glimpse at the positive side of a dystopian world, allowing us to glimpse the beauty before the distress and how the journey unfolds.