Saturday, December 19, 2015

Raina Kadavil - an interview and her novel ~ The Voice of Thunder

Raina Kakavil

Raina Kadavil is a freshman at Boston University majoring in International Relations. She is the co-founder and President of Global Ambassadors Interact and the REACT News series, and has interned with UNA-USA and acted as Programming Coordinator for the 2015 Youth Assemblies at the United Nations. She is a 2015 Coca-Cola scholar and the recipient of various awards for service including “ADO’s Youth in Philanthropy Award,” the “Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award,” and the ABC’s “Summer of Service” grant. She recently published her first novel, “The Voice of Thunder,” and hopes to continue using her passions for advocacy and writing to make a difference in the world. She loves writing, Bollywood dancing, and hiking. She hopes to continue writing novels, travel the world, and someday work in the United Nations.
For more information – @raina_kadavil


Q: How would you describe yourself as a color? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious color?
A: I think I’m something like a shimmering Oreo cookie: most of my closet is full of black (black cardigans, black tank tops, black leggings, black heels), but my personality is just the opposite. I’m a huge believer in the power of positive energy to influence change in the world, so I try to keep my outlook upbeat and a smile on my face – I don’t think I’d be white, inside, but I think there’d be at least a few traces of gold. I say “shimmering” because I like to treat life like a novel: there’s no fun to it without a little bit of sporadicity…a little bit of magic.

Q: Tell me something you would like your readers (fans) to know about you.
A: I have very, very vivid dreams (complete with complex dialogue and intense imagery and scenery) that I rarely remember, but I also talk in my sleep (and have no idea whether the two are related). I first found out about my sleep-talking through some embarrassing encounters with my parents, but my college roommate informed me of it more recently, and we shared a laugh. I read up on it after that, and found that anything I say in my sleep isn’t credible enough to be held against me in a court of law, so if you ever happen to hear me – don’t take it to heart!
Q: Favorite color?
A: If I could acquire a dress woven out of the color of the universe as I see it in pictures of the galaxy, I don’t think I’d ever take it off. But to answer simply, black. I think black is so versatile: so easy and yet so powerful, comforting yet elegant. I feel like I can do anything when I’m dressed in all black (which reflects in one of my favorite characters in “The Voice of Thunder”). Everything in the world has a shade of black to it – both literally and figuratively.
Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: As a teenager, I’ll take this question and say I love it. I have friends all over the country and all over the world, and texting has allowed me to keep them very close, which means a lot to me. In the professional world, it’s made running conferences and events far easier, which communication right at the tip of our fingers. However, I will say this – perhaps my biggest pet peeve in the world is texting slang (“ur,” “u,” “thru”) and there’s no better way to get me to stop talking to you than using “your” instead of “you’re.” And there do come the times (more frequently, the older I get) when I wish we could shelf the emojis and just call, or meet up in person – there’s a meaningfulness to a whispered “I love you” or a long hug that that a yellow face with its tongue sticking out just can’t replace.


Q: When did you start writing and why?
A: I think I was born with stories precrafted in my head, because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to rip off characters from “The Boxcar Children” and “Pony Pals” and write my own little mysteries and adventures, complete with my second grade illustrations. I started writing my first fully original story in the sixth grade, and wrote and rewrote until, over the course of my sophomore year of high school, I was finally able to write “The Voice of Thunder.”

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: My inspiration comes primarily from current events and history. Writing novels is my way of funneling all of the frustrations I hold with the injustices of the world – gender inequality and class oppression and religious persecution and genocides – into pages and pages of fictional prose. I hope kids and young adults will be able to learn from my writing, and be inspired enough by these issues of fictional Asteria to care, and speak up about these issues in the real world around them.

Q: Describe your favorite heroine?
A: My biggest role model, growing up, was (and is) Hermione Granger (and, by extension, J.K. Rowling). Close friends actually called me “Hermione” as a joke. She was everything I was – nerdy-smart, bushy-haired, and most of all, obsessed with books – and she made me feel good about that. But as I grew older and grew out of my shell – grew less shy, and more outspoken – so did she. She was the first to tell me that books and brains aren’t everything; that friendship and love and the courage to be radically and proudly oneself and to use this to change the world are the most important things of all.
Q: Have your characters ever taken the story in a different direction than you had originally planned? Do you have a for instance, for us?
A: Yes – In the process of writing my first and second books, I fell in love with one of my originally minor characters so much that this character is now hindering me from progressing the love story between two of my major characters that I had originally planned! This is causing issues as I write my sequel, but I’m doing my best to work around it. The secondary character in question may even get a sequel all to themselves, from their point of view (in the long run).

Q: What geographical locations are your favorite and why?
A: One of the earliest images in “The Voice of Thunder” – even back when I was writing the baseline story back in the sixth grade – is a beautiful, serene meadow with an enormous waterfall crashing down in its center. This location will continue to hold immense significance as the series goes on. Few people know that this meadow is based on a real place – a beautiful waterfall about an hour from home that I came across during summer camp at the Greenburg Nature Center in the summer before sixth grade. Even then, the place enchanted me – the writer part of me felt that there was something special about it: it was the kind of place where spells should be cast and prophecies should be told and ordinary men should become heroes. I visited it again this summer, six years later, right before leaving for college, and was no less enchanted.


Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: I have a few projects that I’m working on right now. Number one among them is the sequel to “The Voice of Thunder.” Because I left the first hundred pages or so that I wrote of that one at home when I left for college, and am now stuck in a rut that I can’t reference myself out of, I went back to a very old project, a love story that I began writing years ago, and keep trashing over and over. It follows the idea that everyone gets at least one great love story in their lives, whether it ends happily or not…a love story that rears its head when you least expect it and complements the rest of your life. Currently, it’s just a series of fragmented scenes (I’m not a fan of conventional love stories, so writing this is difficult at times). There’s also another story that I’m playing with that I was first inspired for when I was twelve – a story about life on Mars. With the new discovery of water on Mars, it seems that I may be facing a deadline to write and release this one before NASA actually finds life on Mars and my story loses its fantastical fascination. However, please don’t expect a release of either one of these for at least a decade or two.

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A: As I previously mentioned, I’m currently working on a sequel for “The Voice of Thunder.” It’s called “The Dying of Empires,” and will pick up on the lives of Zaara and Jay where its prequel left off: they leave Asteria to find the heir of Andromache in the world beyond. Sneak peak: they do, in fact, make it to the world beyond (our world) and I introduce a whole new host of characters who help them along the way as they undertake their wild goose chase. They learn more about one another and their pasts, and find that the people of this world have lessons to teach them that Asteria would benefit from heeding…and Zaara begins to uncover more about her strange affinity for the fifth element, spirit. Meanwhile, Asteria descends into deeper and deeper chaos, as more players join the game for power. Blythe attempts to keep King Haemon and his forces at bay, and in doing so is forced to grapple with the demons of her past.

This book likely won’t be released for a while, either: there’s still lots of editing to be done! However, the skeleton of the story has been put together, and I’d like to unleash it to the world as soon as possible.

Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: Yes, I do. Here are the links.
“The Voice of Thunder” Website:

The Story of Jay

The only light in a world of darkness was his sword.

He stalked the streets, unaware that it was well past midnight. Night, encompassing, settled against his shoulders, swathed his disheveled hair. He felt like a spider, tiny but stealthy, body and limbs wrapped in a dark cloak that blended smoothly with the blackness around him. The sword alone gleamed - blade cast of the moon's same silver sheen, hilt wrapped around a stone that shined like pooled moonlight. It was what his victim's eyes always settled upon last before it extinguished their light.

Rounding a corner, he came across just what he prowled the filthy streets in search of. A quick glance upward told him he'd arrived in the alleyway outside an ancient-looking tavern. A man, tall and sturdy, with a shock of thick hair the color of freshly sliced ginger jutting from his scalp bent over another, substantially smaller figure, cloaked in the safety of the dead end's darkness. The man's shadow loomed menacingly toward him by the light of a tiny, sputtering candle mounted into a lantern beside a disintegrating sign that read, The Oracle's Eye. But shadows, he knew, were misleading: they changed themselves by dusk and dawn, after all.

He continued to move forward, barely bothering to keep his back pressed to the crumbling brick walls at his sides; this man was distracted enough that detection was improbable. When he was within a few paces of him, the man's victim came into view. It was a girl – tiny, frail, no match for this large bull of a man. Not that it would have done her any good if she had been: she lay on the cold, filthy floor, shuddering silently, unable even to scream, eyes trained on the man's sneering face.

It took only a single motion. Before the man could even turn to register just what it was that had suddenly replaced anticipation with fear, the blade had passed cleanly through the heart - dead-on, his aim never failed - and out the other side. The light faded quickly from the man's eyes; a speedy death was more than was deserved.

He pulled the blade back out carefully, painstakingly, not wanting to cover it in any more gore than necessary. The lower quarter of it emerged dripping crimson, nevertheless. He began to bend, meaning to wipe the blade on the ground, then remembered the stone floors and silently cursed them; he despised the lack of grass, of fresh, clean, soil. Disgruntled, he shifted the sword to a better position and then turned his attention to the figure before him.

He could see her properly now; the whites of her eyes gleamed in the darkness. Why, she must have been even younger than he. A waitress at the tavern, he supposed, by the apron tied around her waist. She was trembling, the poor thing, quaking as if the earth would swallow her up. She kept looking toward the man he'd just slain - now lying motionless across the pathway beside them - then to his blade, and back to his face with an expression of pure terror. She feared him, too, he supposed. He couldn't help but smile at the raw irony in that, and, hoping that the smile touched his eyes, held out a hand to her, the hand that was free of the sword. She wouldn’t move; the shaking picked up pace. Shrugging, he withdrew his hand and took a slow step backward, then another, cautiously, as he might with an injured animal. She still didn't move. After a few backward paces, he simply turned on his heel and left the alley, sword hanging at his side, the man's vile blood still clinging to its blade like a sinister sort of scarlet dew.

No companionship. No thanks. No problems. That was how he liked it. He didn't do this for the tearful gratitude.

He knew these streets better than he knew himself, he reflected as he strode aimlessly down the path. Far better, in fact. He'd taken this, the title of justice's unnamed grim reaper, up when all else had failed him. He'd felt as if his life were leading to nowhere, so rather than sit back and ride that train to failure crowned by boredom, he'd left, hoping to deviate that path from nowhere to somewhere. Where this was taking him, he had no clue; at least he knew he was doing good, and if not good, at least it was justice, though what they called justice, he knew, wasn't always "good."

He'd learned early on that he was special - no, that he was different. And being different, that he was better off alone. Yes, all he needed was the blade, his guardian, and the moon, his shepherd. He followed it through the darkest recesses of the night, and it took him to wherever it was that he was needed. He always found, somehow, what was necessary for him to survive, because he was one of those people. The people who always seemed to survive, and survive against odds that vied tirelessly against them.

The attack came from nowhere. The first rays of dawn were just beginning to infiltrate his coveted darkness when a blade crept toward his sword, and in the process of twisting to face his attacker, the sword was thrown from his hand. Rolling sideways, he ducked out of the way of the shadow that was throwing itself at him and plunged forward to catch his sword, plucking it perfectly from the air by its moonstone hilt. Falling back into position, he faced his mystery opponent, narrowing his eyes, bracing himself. Someone clearly knew what they were doing.

The two circled one another for a moment before he went in once more on the offensive. His opponent parried easily and he was thrown off balance. Halfway through tumbling backward, he fell onto one knee and righted himself once more. But before he could so much as take another breath, he found himself staggered backward with a blade at his throat.

"Who are you?" he rasped, his own sword thrown uselessly to the ground. He'd been in worse situations, and he'd made it out of them…but there was something about this person, this night-like assailant, that screamed fatality.

The attacker didn’t speak, or make any move to remove the scarf that covered everything but the eyes. Startling eyes, they were, he thought, as he was forced to stare into them - a black so deep they seemed to encapsulate the night itself. Instead, the person raised a wrist, and with a quick flourish, let a thin piece of black cloth tied around it fall to the ground. Previously concealed by it, and now open for him to see, was a strange mark on his attacker's wrist:

"That…that mark…"

Almost as if entranced, his arms fell limp. He knew that mark.

Words, from a voice long lost, echoed in his mind: "This mark is your safety. Stay alive…stay true to yourself. I love you, Jay. Remember that."

As he let his guard down, the assailant dropped the weapon held to his throat and reached up to remove the black cloth from the rest of the face. To his surprise, the attacker was not a man, as he'd expected, but a woman - a jarringly lovely woman with skin the color of mahogany. What astonished him most were the strands of black ink that wound from her jaw and across the right side of her face into the tattoo of a dragon breathing fire across her eye.

"Who are you?" he asked, immediately set back on the offensive, shocked that he'd been attacked and bested by someone so feminine.

"I've seen what you do," the woman said, "and I've seen what you can do."

"You followed me."

The words came out hollow, and as a statement, not a question.

She smirked.

"I am many peoples' shadow. Tonight, I have been yours."

He simply gaped at her.

"You've brought a degree of justice to a world where justice is nearly a myth. Why?"

He shook his head. Her voice was like the trees - strong and sturdy, pragmatic…but there was inherent compassion in them when she spoke of justice.

"What is your name?"

Again, he shook his head. If there was one thing he knew, it was that he didn’t answer such questions, even in defeat…even faced with death.

She chuckled; it was a musical sound, like bells. Too pretty to be associated with this lethal panther of a woman. How long had it been since he'd last heard a woman's laugh?

"What does 'freedom' mean to you?" she asked, then.

Freedom…the word rolled off his mind's tongue, leaving sparks. The word intrigued him.

She bent to retrieve his sword and began to hand it back to him, but caught sight of the blood, now beginning to form a rusty red crust upon the normally resplendent metal. She paused. Taking the piece of cloth she'd shaken from her wrist, she wiped the blade clean, and then proceeded to hand it back to him. Then, though she had to reach up because of her diminutive height - he wondered vaguely why he hadn't noticed it before - she placed a hand on his shoulder and steered him toward the path, urging him to walk with her. As if he had a choice in the matter.

The sparrows counted the hours with song: when the sun's golden crown had begun to peek above the horizon, she was nodding and outstretching her hand to shake his. If anyone had been watching closely, they would have caught sight of imprints of twin stars of five prongs each, moving in conformity, imprinted upon the wrists, marking the formation of a bond.

He left after that, wandering back until the pavement gave way to grass. There, he dropped down at the base of an old elm and, thrusting the blade of his sword, the weapon he was tied to, into the ground beside him, leaned himself back against the tree’s thick, rough trunk and settled in for the day. He'd wait there until the sun sank again, and dusk came once more to greet him with its bloody, bonfire fingers, signaling that night, in all its dark, cloaking glory and refuge, was to be born again.

I’m happy you could join me on Books and Banter.  I hope you had fun.

A reminder to the reader ~ before you leave be sure to take a look at the 
Come back and visit again.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Katie McKnight ~ an interview and her novel ~ Destroyed By Lies

Katie McKnight

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Katie McKnight lives on Long Island with her husband, three sons, two rescue dogs and a few turtles. She successfully completed writing programs through Piedmont Community College and Queens College. Her writing achievements include a television interview on "The Writer's Dream", a spot on a Top Ten Best Seller's List and two nominations for Best of Long Island under the category of Author.

Katie offers writing programs for school-aged kids; she teaches drama and works as a dog trainer. She also volunteers at a local Animal Shelter. When she is not spending time with family and friends (human and furry), she is working on her next novel.

Drop by Katie's Facebook page or her website to chat.


Q: Tell me one thing about each of the four seasons you like. It can be anything.
A: Winter = Christmas! I love the kindness between people during this time of year.
     Spring = Warmth. Ready to shed the winter clothing.
     Summer = No school. Kicking back and spending time with family and friends.
     Fall = The colors, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the slight chill in the air.

Q: Tell me something you would like your readers (fans) to know about you.
A: I love animals. If I could, I would surround myself with them. In addition to training dogs, I find homes for animals and volunteer at a shelter (in some capacity).

Q: Bedtime, relaxing so you can sleep sounds. Is your preference, white noise, TV, soft music, ocean waves, forest or meadow sounds, babbling brook, or something else?
A: I would love to listen to a babbling brook, rain or a thunderstorm, but sounds disturb my sleep. I have restless legs. The condition kicks in whenever I am awoken from sleep.

Q: Have you ever been too embarrassed to promote any certain titles to friends or family?
A: Yes. I worked on a project with a fellow writer. I thought the storyline was great and enjoyed incorporating my characters into her story. The problem: She is an erotic author. My mother would be horrified if she read the story. Since my mother promotes my writing to everyone she meets, I did not promote the work. Could you imagine her promoting the book to her church friends? Sadly, I believe it caused a rift in my friendship with the author.

Q: Favorite color?
A: Purple is my all-time-favorite color. I outlined a tattoo in purple. If I could, I would color myself that color.


Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: My first book, Secrets Revealed, came to me in a dream.  Actually, in the dream a woman visited her new in laws and they were mean to her.  The story continued to haunt me until I came up with a plot for these characters and wrote a book.  Destroyed by Lies came from a newspaper article I read over ten years ago.  Again, the story stayed with me until I created my own characters and situation.

Q: How did you come to write your genera of choice?
A:  To be honest, the genre came to me.  I want to write a mystery, yet suspense and romance keep flowing from my brain.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a book?
A: Editing and promoting. Writing the story is the easy part.

Q: Generally speaking, is your work based on real life experience? If it's not would you want it to be?
A:  Thankfully no.  I would never want to face the problems Tara Steffen faces in Destroyed by Lies.  Her whole entire life unravels before her eyes.  


Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: I am promoting my new novel, Destroyed by Lies.  The e-book originally published in June 2015.  Two months after the release date, my publisher closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy.  After I received the rights back, I  re-released it in early November.  The paperback will release early 2016.

Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A: I spend too much time on Facebook.  While I am looking around, I enjoy chatting with readers and other authors.  You can find me at
You can find my website at

Q: Are you currently participating in a blog tour? If you are let’s tell everyone where you’re going to be so they can catch up with you again.
A: My virtual tour begins on December 7 and runs through December 17. 

1. December 7
Boom Baby Reviews

2. December 8th
CD Yess Writes

December 9th
My Guilty Obsession

4. December 10th
Teatime and Books

5. December 11th
Sunshine Book Promos

6. December 14th
Kelly Smith Reviews
7. December 15th
Around the World in Books

8. December 17th
Books and Banter

To see what took place at my previous stops ~ just click on the url and it will take you there.


Tara’s marriage began to deteriorate soon after it began. As her fifth wedding anniversary arrives, Tara is determined to fix the damage and rekindle the love affair.

Brad could not wait for his military deployment to end so he and his fiancĂ© could begin their lives together. His future plans crumbled the afternoon he found his fiancĂ© in the arms of another man.  Unwilling to risk further heartache, Brad abandons his dreams of starting a family and focuses his energy on his career.  

Elizabeth struggled with infertility for years.  Her obsession with having a child almost cost her the love of her life. After a brief separation and personal heartbreak, Elizabeth is ready to start anew.

Tom has made a lifetime of bad decisions. After years of dishonesty, he’s prepared to clean up his past and move forward with the woman he loves.
A late-night accident yanks all four characters out of their comfortable lives and into a world of secrets, lies and heartbreak. Will the deceit destroy their happiness? Will any of the relationships survive?


Laura waved Tara and Charlotte past the scene in the waiting room and led them into the elevator. The three women did not speak until they arrived to the administrative wing.

“Come on in,” she said.

Laura’s office contained an oblong glass desk covered with folders and computer equipment.

Nestled in the corner of the room were a dark, wooden table and chairs. Tara and Charlotte each took a seat at the table while Laura relocated a large, silk floral arrangement from the center of the table to the floor.

She removed a legal pad from her desk drawer and joined the two women at the table. “Mrs. Steffen,” she looked at Charlotte. “How are you related to Thomas Steffen?”

“I’m his mother.”

“Do you have your driver’s license with you?”

“Sure.” Charlotte opened her purse and dug through her wallet. “Here it is.” She handed it to Laura.

“What is your relationship with Thomas Steffen?” She asked Tara.

“I’m his wife.” She removed her driver’s license from her wallet and slid it to Laura.

The women sat in silence for several minutes while Laura copied information to the legal pad.

“Do you require this information for insurance reasons?” Tara asked. “My husband’s boss is in the waiting room. He can provide medical insurance details.”

Laura folded her hands on top of the legal pad and stared at Tara and Charlotte. “Three people came to the Intensive Care Unit claiming to be Tom’s family members.”

“What?” Charlotte and Tara responded in unison.

Laura nodded. “Rest assured your husband is safe. A guard is stationed outside his door and the people are banned from visiting.”

A line formed between Tara’s brow. “This is crazy.”

“I have never experienced this type of situation and wanted to take safety precautions.” She slid the driver’s licenses back to the two women. “I apologize for the inconvenience.”

“I’m glad you are on top of this matter,” Charlotte said. “Why would someone do such a thing?”

“The man who confronted you on the way to your office, is he…”

“I can’t provide the identity.” Laura interrupted.

“Some whack-job is trying to gain access to my husband. What if he approaches me or Charlotte outside the hospital? We could be in danger.”

“I will permit you to park in the doctor’s parking lot and assign security guards to escort you to your car each night.” She bit her lip. “If your gut warns you to keep away from the man we encountered in the waiting room, go with it.”

Tara nodded.

“One more thing you should know,” Laura told them. “The man’s wife offered to submit to a paternity test. Considering Tom is an adult, her request is ridiculous. Should she pursue this matter with the courts, we’re obligated to comply.” Laura waved her hand. “Not that I expect her to take the matter to court.”

Tara sighed. “We won’t have a problem getting into ICU for visiting hours tomorrow, will we?”

Laura shook her head. “No. I requested you stop by my office tonight, so you won’t have a problem tomorrow.”

Tara stood up and shook Laura’s hand. “Thank you.”

“I don’t know what to think,” she told Charlotte on the way back to the ICU waiting room. “This whole situation is crazy.”

Charlotte stopped and turned to face her daughter-in-law. Her eyes sagged and her mouth hung slack. “I have something to tell you.”

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A reminder to the reader ~ before you leave be sure to take a look at the