Thursday, June 18, 2015

Earth God (World Aflame #4) by Jon Messenger Blog Tour (Interview + Giveaway)

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Hey friends! Ethan here with yet another awesome blog tour stop for you guys today. Today I am showcasing the final novel to one of my favorite YA series. I review this one a few weeks ago and I am so excited to share more with you today. What are we talking about? Earth God by Jon Messenger. Today's tour will feature an exclusive interview with Messenger as well as an awesome giveaway! Here we go:

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Title:  Earth God
Series:  The World Aflame Saga #4
Author:  Jon Messenger
Published:  May 26th, 2015  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  NA Paranormal Romance
Recommended Age:  13+

THE EARTH GIVES WAY TO THE SEA,
THE SEA BOWS BEFORE THE WIND,
THE WIND FEEDS THE FLAME,
THE FLAME BURNS THE WORLD OF MAN DOWN TO THE EARTH.

The Fire Elemental has risen and its followers, the Fire Caste, have destroyed the planet. Humanity hangs on the cusp of extinction; their only hope now lies with the troubled Wind Warrior, Xander Sirocco.
Xander has absorbed the power of the Wind and Water Elementals but at great personal cost. Finding Sammy has been his anchor through the chaos around him, but now he finds himself wondering if saving her is enough.
Sammy remains a prisoner of the Fire Elemental, her mind trapped, as the dragon possesses her body. Her love for Xander keeps her going, but will her passion be enough to stop the Elemental from killing Xander once and for all?
Humanity’s last hope rests in Xander finding the Earth Elemental. Claiming the power of the Earth is the last step before he can confront the dragon holding Sammy hostage. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who knows the location of the Earth Elemental.
It’s a race against time between Xander and the dragon to claim the last of the Elemental power and bring an end to a war that’s spanned millennia.
Earth God is the exciting conclusion to the bestselling and award-winning World Aflame series.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Exclusive Interview with Jon Messenger:

1. The World Aflame series introduces the reader into the world of Elemental Fiction, where the forces of nature are honed by select individuals and the world as we know it is coming to an end. What was your inspiration for such a unique plot?

When I published Wind Warrior through Clean Teen Publishing, there was some expected criticism that, surely enough, I received. Quite a few people say parallels between its elemental castes and Avatar: The Last Airbender. The truth is, they’re absolutely right. But to understand why, you have to understand where the story began.

When CTP began, they created an anthology that would be compiled through a competition. There were four categories in which writers could compete: novella, novelette, short story, and (though the exact term eludes me) a 100-word story. The only rule was that the authors had to pick one of four pictures as inspiration. This is the one I selected:


People who have read Wind Warrior will recognize the scene, from where Xander puts Sammy in the bubble, mainly to save his own life. I wrote the original novella in only seven days, after my editor sent me the link to their competition. In that instance, I figured I was entering another anthology with no strings attached, and I used the battle between the fire caste and the other elements as the backdrop for my story. I never knew at the time that I’d be offered a publishing contract as a result, much less turn a 100-page novella into a four-book series!

Once I realized how big this was to become, I knew I had to make the story my own. It couldn’t be a cheap knockoff of Airbender; it had to be something unique, hence the elementals and all the other twists and turns the series took.

2. This series deals with some mature themes such as death, depression, and accepting responsibility, how difficult was it to write about these, very real, issues? What themes do you hope the readers take away from this series?

Tying into question 5, the tougher themes of maturity and growth in a difficult situation weren’t that difficult to create. Though a lot of people know my writing, fewer still know that I’m a US Army officer, which I’ve been for the past 13 years. When I was only 26, I deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, in charge of a 450-person medical taskforce. I had barely left the stage of my life where I thought going out to bars and drinking myself stupid sounded like a good idea, and yet here I was in charge of a hospital that spent every day trying to save lives. It was daunting and forced me to grow up a lot quicker than I would have liked. I still have high school friends who are now in their mid-thirties who haven’t yet outgrown the heavy drinking stage. 

Strip away the elemental powers and the whole, you know, apocalypse and whatnot, and the heart of this story is that sometimes you have to grow up, whether you’re ready or not. Putting away childish things…

3. If you, like Xander Sirocco, could wield the elements, which element would you choose? Why? 

I’d be a Water Warrior, hands down. I’ve always had a huge affinity for the water. The other elements always seemed heavy-handed to me. Earth is just that, unmovable objects and strength. Fire may be fluid but it’s too destructive for my taste. Wind would be a close second for me, but wind always inspired thoughts of speed and rushing about. I like the calming slowness of a river, all the while knowing that the slow-moving river can carve apart the biggest mountain.

4. From the very beginning, Xander’s story has been fast-paced and action-packed. The series has been turned on its’ head and has found our characters in a plethora of interesting situations. Traveling the globe, the gang faces new obstacles at each turn. Without being too spoilery, which book in the series has been your favorite?

I don’t know if it was necessarily one of the books that I can label as my favorite, but I loved the growth and storyline of Sean and Jessica. Most paranormal/supernatural books that I’ve read have some interesting supporting characters, but they quickly fall to the wayside in lieu of the main characters coming to terms with their new-found powers. I think of the Twilight series, for an example. Bella had human friends when the story begins but they are so unimportant as the real story evolves. In World Aflame, I wanted the normal humans – Sean and Jessica – to stay in the forefront. Those two play an important role throughout the series, whether it’s keeping Xander grounded despite his new powers or, in some cases, taking a much more hands-on approach to saving the planet.

That, and I loved those two characters. They were my concentrated smarminess; a literary roll-up of all the friends I had in college, who never took anything seriously. Writing Sean and Jessica was a blast and, in some cases, I think I put way more into their storyline than I did the main story!

5. Can you tell us a little about your writing process? What, if any, research went into crafting Xander’s story? What inspiration for the story were you able to draw from your own life? 

I already talked about my military background and about how it sculpted some of the story. I also grew up around the world, having been born in London before moving to Thailand and Japan. My experiences made me want to take the story to a global scale.

However, despite being born in London, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t become really good friends with Google Earth. When I was writing about London, I had the street view open on my computer. When I describe the Underground entrance, that’s really what it looks like. The library in Central America is a legitimate library; the blue exterior really is what the outside of the library looks like. I wanted to make sure that there was a level of realism to the story, so that someone reading the story internationally knew that the places I described were truly places they could visit.

6. Today’s current YA/NA market has a very small male author population. What have been some of the highlights of writing as a male author in the genre? As a male reader and blogger, I have seen firsthand the lack of male representation in our corner of the literary world. What is your take? What advice do you have for male readers or potential male authors? (I can tell you in my year of blogging, I’ve only worked with four male authors previously!) 

Being a male author in a market dominated by females has been interesting. Unfortunately, aside from incredible readers like yourself who seek out the male authors, I haven’t always had positive experiences.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending UtopYA, which was a phenomenal convention and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Unfortunately, that experience was also marred by the fact that their website at the time (it has since been changed), made it clear that I didn’t qualify to speak on panels because it was focused on the female authors of YA. It was a point of contention that actually led to another CTP author foregoing the trip, which I thought was a great disappointment.

I also follow a Facebook group who, every Thursday, does something called “confessions”. It was just this past Thursday that I saw a confession that said that they wouldn’t read anything by male authors, not because they’re bad books, but just a personal preference. They went on to say that they enjoyed the Indie world so much because male authors were such a minority.

It pains me to hear things like that because I pour my heart and soul into my writing. I’ve written numerous female lead characters, because I think both points of view are important in storytelling. To be dismissed because of my gender is more than a little insulting.

Luckily, those voices seem to be a minority. I’ve connected with some amazing fans and made incredible internet friends (some of whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person) because of my writing. My goal is to write the best possible story that I can produce and know that there are people out there that respect and appreciate the work I do.

7. What can we expect next from the mind of Jon Messenger? Is this really the end of Xander and the gang?

I’ve been working on a new steampunk/mystery series called Magic & Machinery, which follows an Inquisitor in the world on the brink of its industrial revolution, as he hunts down reports of magical monsters. The first three books in that series have been written, but I’m taking a brief break from it to work on another project.

Some long-time friends of mine are producing a pen and paper roll playing game based off a very intricate world they devised. They approached me and asked if I would be interested in writing some stories that highlights historical characters in their world and I couldn’t say no. These will be self-published, some of my first works apart from CTP in the past few years, but I’m excited about this venture. Keep your eyes out for The Island of the Lost Kings, which should be published early next year! And also keep your eyes out for the World of Kaldesi, which I think fans of pen and paper RPGs will love!

I never say never to characters I love. This is definitely the end of their true story arch, but the end of the book definitely leaves it open for more in this world. When I created the World Aflame series, I outlined the continuation series as well, so someday, I'm sure we'll revisit what's left of the world after the Fire Caste and see how our favorite characters are managing.
  

Thank you so much again for allowing me to be part of this incredible tour. This series has quickly turned into a favorite of mine!

Thanks so much for giving me this chance. You’ve been incredibly supportive of my work and I’m truly honored to have you participating in this blog tour.

*****


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About the Author:
Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Major in the Medical Service Corps. Jon wrote his first science fiction trilogy in 2008 and has since written and published over 10 novels.  The scope of his writing has expanded beyond science fiction to include the New Adult and Steampunk genres.  His books have become Amazon bestsellers, been translated into foreign languages, and have won numerous awards both for content and covers.


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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • A bookmark swag pack, winner’s choice of any Clean Teen Publishing eBook, and a $15 Amazon gift card.
Giveaway is International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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You guys get all of that? In case you still want more, head over and check out my 5-star review for Earth God by clicking here. Leave your thoughts below! Be sure to enter that giveaway! Special thanks to Jon for answering all my interview questions and to the team at Juniper Grove Book Solutions for allowing me to participate. I owe Jon a lot, it was thanks to him that I even found my bookish home with the folks at Clean Teen/Crimson Tree Publishing! Thanks so much for stopping by! Until next time, Happy Reading!

-Ethan

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