Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Expansion by Christoph Martin. I will be sharing a character spotlight on Max Burns who is protagonist of the novel.
In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.
Straddling the storyworlds of Panama, Washington and London, The Expansion follows British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns, whose revolutionary water-saving system wins him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested megaprojects: the expansion of the Panama Canal.
For Max it is a dream come true: not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.
Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the centre of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.
The Expansion is available now!
Who is Max Burns?
The Expansion (the first of a series) was written by a collaborative writing team: Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin.
Max Burns is a character that popped into Chris’s head one day while he was on a flight from Panama to Zürich, Switzerland.
Max is a thoroughly good guy who winds up in extraordinary circumstances, and must dig himself out of the global political vipers’ nest using every resource he has! He pretty much embodies the entire story of the expansion of the Panama Canal from the very beginning, with all its unexpected twists and turns.
Max originally came from a very rich family who had a country estate in England, but he was orphaned at age 14, so he spent many years learning to survive in the poverty-stricken housing estates of outer London. Max’s survival was in part due to the fact that he had an adult in his life who had no money at all but who loved him and believed in him 100%.
Max also developed a determined work ethic and a policy of caution over those years, and he tended to bury the fun-loving side to his personality because of the cards life dealt him, and it’s really only when he reunites with his party-loving, larger-than-life school friend, Godfredo Roco, that he starts to wonder what he’s been missing. Then, when he meets and falls in love with Karis Deen in Panama, he really becomes the fun-loving adventurer he used to be.
Max is clever, sometimes snarky, and he likes a debate for the sake of debate, so you probably wouldn’t want to get into an argument with him, especially not about something technical, because he knows his stuff!
He values transparency and honesty above all things. And this is the biggest irony! Did we mention the Defense Clandestine Service and undercover agents? And a political conspiracy?! But the interesting thing about Max is that he’s a survivor: he has lived through a lot already by the time he gets to Panama, and he’s learned he can trust that the steps he takes are the right ones for himself. And they usually are. Except suddenly, without any warning, everything starts going wrong around him, until everything he’s worked for and his whole future is at risk. And he has to muster the strength and find out if he has what it takes to fight for control of his life!
About the Author:
Christoph Martin is the writing team of Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin. Christoph Zollinger is a Swiss entrepreneur whose career spans legal, military, corporate and private enterprise. Christoph graduated with a law degree from the University of Zürich, after which time he went on to live and work in Panama in corporate and private enterprise for more than a decade. In 2012 he returned to Switzerland with his wife and children. He divides his time between his home in Zürich and a tiny Alpine village in Graubünden. Libby O’Loghlin is an Australian novelist and prize-winning short story writer who has a career in narrative media production, including film and television, as well as print and digital publishing. She has lived in the UK, USA and Malaysia, and she now lives with her family in Switzerland.
Today is my stop for the blog tour for The Chosen Path by Jason Hershey. Today I will be interviewing him!
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and currently reside in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I graduated from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas where I received my BS in Elementary Education while playing football. I have been a teacher for the last 15 years. I am currently a lead teacher at Color Our Rainbow Academy where I work with k-2nd grade children.
JRR: Did you always want to write?
I have always wrote. In elementary school I was always writing poems and short stories. Then when I got out of college, I wrote 2 screenplays, a horror type one and a coming of age one. I have always tried to put myself into other people’s shoes and write and imagine how others would feel, speak and react in certain situations. One I can remember vividly was a poem from the point of view of a Vietnam Soldier who returns home and ostracized for being a soldier. It’s that empathy that I think allows me to write characters that people identify with and want to go on a journey with.
JRR: That poem intrigues me! What inspires you to write?
I have stories that need to be told. I have this burning inside of me to captivate people and bring them with me on a journey, to help them forget about their everyday life and just get lost in the story. I went so long without writing in college and high school, that now I need to write. It’s as natural as breathing and eating.
JRR: Let’s hope you continue to get those stories out there! Now where did the idea of To Die To Live come from? Is Theo based on a particular person? You are a teacher so did your students influence your writing?
The story was something that has always been in me. Theo is based on a culmination of people I grew up with, myself and some fiction thrown in. I purposely left his features and what he looks like vague. I want the reader to envision him as they want, to personalize the story and relate to his situation. My students didn’t influence it as much as it was reflective of things I experienced and lived growing up.
JRR: The Chosen Path is the sequel to To Die To Live. What made you want to continue Theo’s story? Will there be another in the series?
The short answer is that Theo still has stories to tell. I never set out to create a certain amount of books. Instead, I just wanted to write a book that people liked. The fact that they continue through book two and eventually to three, is a testament to Theo and his life and the fact that so many people really connect with him. As for the last part of your question, yes there will be another. I put the first chapter in the back of The Chosen Path. It’s tentatively titled “The Purpose of Life” and will find Theo still trying to figure out his next move while also having to deal with life.
JRR: Such a tease including that first chapter at the end of The Chosen Path! I love that with books, but also hate it to as it makes you want the next book right now! Lol
What age range are your books intended for? They are YA (Young Adult) which can appeal to a wide range of ages.
I envision junior high through high school students reading this, but I have had 40 year olds tell me they connected with him and his story made them cry. I think the story itself is universal and is relatable to just about anyone.
JRR: What was your favorite book as a child, and now as an adult?
My all-time favorite book is still The Giver. I have read it at least a dozen times and it never loses its effect on me. As I’ve gotten older I’ve also come to love the other books in the series, but nothing quite beats the original.
JRR: I have actually never read The Giver. I guess I should! Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?
Lois Lowry without a doubt when I was little. Now as an adult, I love James Patterson’s “Alex Cross” series.
JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
Not really. I love the library, so I always try to find time to explore and check out the new books. I have started to read The Walking Dead graphic novels as well as more biographies and history books.
JRR: My husband and I are huge Walking Dead fans! In fact I gave him the first compendium of The Walking Dead as a wedding present. I keep meaning to pick it up to begin it. There are just too many books and never enough time!
Now, what’s the best advice you have ever received?
My dad told me a long time ago, that once work becomes a job, it was time to leave. I am grateful that I get to do two things that I absolutely love to do, teach and write. The fact that I get paid for them just makes it all the more sweeter. Too many people punch a time clock and absolutely hate what they’re doing. I have made a promise to myself to never allow that to happen to me.
JRR: You are actually very lucky to love what you do. If I could find some way to do this blog full time and get paid then I would be in Heaven!
Now, If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Roberto Clemente, Pat Tillman, and Martin Luther King Jr. They all gave more of themselves than they asked for in return and strived to make the world better for those less fortunate and looked down upon. The fact that Roberto Clemente died delivering supplies to earthquake victims speaks highly of his character and empathy for the world. Everyone knows MLK and his accomplishments. Pat Tillman is a modern day Clemente. He left the NFL and joined the military after 9/11 and said it was his duty to serve. He ended up getting killed by friendly fire in battle, but the fact that I’m an Arizona State fan and he’s one of the best to ever play there makes his story a bit more personal for me.
JRR: Good answers and reasons! If you could go anywhere in the world without worrying about time or money, where would it be?
I really want to work with more at risk youth, so if time and money were no object, I’d start a bunch of social programs and organizations to give inner city kids more choices and access to more positive male role models. I was fortunate that my parents were able to be involved in my life growing up and to lead me down the right path, but growing up in South Phoenix, there was lots of opportunity to fall off track. Sports and my parent’s constant parenting allowed me to be successful.
JRR: Are you working on anything else currently or ‘taking a break’ with this new release?
I am working on a children’s book at the moment, Harry the Hippo, as well as the third book in the Theo series.
JRR: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I am so honored and appreciative of the support and feedback from readers and bloggers alike. I hope that everyone who reads the books is able to take something personal from it and that it touches a nerve of some sort. Thank you very much for this amazing opportunity.
Thank you for your time Jason! It was great to get to know you!
Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell is a down on his luck teenager, wandering aimlessly through life with no desire or focus. When tragedy strikes, he is taken in by his aunt and uncle. Thrown into a new school with unfamiliar surroundings, he befriends the class “troublemaker”. After yet another tragedy, will Theo fall victim to life, or use the tragedy as a spark and motivation to embrace all that life has to offer?
Pre-order The Chosen Path(Out May 3rd)
From the author of the emotional “To Die To Live”, comes the next riveting chapter of one man’s search to find his purpose in life.
Thelonious “Theo” Mitchell, now a college freshman, is eager to put the death of his friend, Draven, behind him. Devoting himself to school and sports, he meets Sabrinna, a beautiful co-ed who sweeps him off his feet. Untrusting and hidden behind a wall, he allows himself to fall for her.
Will he find his soulmate and someone who can restore his faith and trust in people? Or will she leave him reeling and continuing his search for a purpose in life?
Today I am the final stop in a blog tour for Accidental Damage by Alice May. Today I will be interviewing her!
Jessica’s Reading Room(JRR): What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
I remember my father reading ‘Swallows and Amazons’ by Arthur Ransome to me, at a very early age. My siblings and I would snuggle up together by the fire and Dad would read aloud. We always begged for ‘just one more chapter please!’
JRR: That sounds like great family time! Who is your favorite literary character?
My favourite literary character is Lessa in Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Dragonflight’ because she’s cool and there are dragons. I can’t say anything else without spoilers, but let’s just say I really love dragons. I stumbled across this book at the age of 18. I had a lot of time to kill waiting for someone one day and had the choice between a bookcase full of medical text books and one novel. Not surprisingly I picked the novel and haven’t looked back. I’ve since read every single book Anne McCaffrey has written and there isn’t one that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend.
JRR: Dragons! I will have to look into that book! Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?
War and Peace by Tolstoy. This is a novel that is regarded as a central work of world literature. I rather think I should have found time to read it. It’s on my to-be-read pile honest!
JRR: Good luck with that one. It seems like not many have read it. If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
I would take ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy – omnibus edition. Or is that cheating? It would certainly keep me going.
JRR: That’s not cheating, I promise! 😉 What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Katie Fforde’s new release ‘A Secret Garden’ and I am enjoying it very much. It’s a warm hearted, enjoyable read with a bit of romance thrown in.
JRR: Who would be at your dream dinner party (alive, dead or fictional)?
I would love to hold a dinner party for Katie Fforde, Trisha Ashley, Anne McCaffrey, J.K. Rowling, H. T. King and Kate Fenton. All are authors whose books have kept me going through the years and I would enjoy cooking up a feast for them to say thank you!
JRR: Great answers! What’s the best advice you have ever received?
‘Never ever give up!’ My parents have been instrumental in encouraging me to pick myself up and dust myself off after every setback in life. They are right. Anything is possible, you just sometimes have to believe in yourself, grow a thick skin and get on with it.
JRR: That is great advice! Yay for mom and dad! What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
“Do a French A-level. You’ll be really good at it!” Hmmmm – I passed, but only just!!!
JRR: Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?
Soppiness alert! My Beloved Husband is my hero. Just because!
JRR: Awww! Where are you happiest?
I am happiest walking along the beach, whatever the weather, listening to the waves and just ‘being’.
JRR: Peaceful as long as there are not many people there! Who would you like to star in the film of your life?
Victoria Wood. She was such a talented lady. I have thoroughly enjoyed all her work, especially her poignant portrayal of Ella Last in ‘Housewife 49’.
JRR: Describe your best ever holiday.
Surfing (I really mean body boarding but I like to pretend I can surf) in Cornwall with my husband and kids. A whole day on the beach followed by chips and a pint of cold lager (lemonade for the kids of course) in the evening is my idea of heaven. Maybe I will take a learn-to-surf course one of these days.
JRR: That sounds like a good time! If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
If I could be invisible for a day I would probably sleep if, I am being completely honest. As a busy working mother, I spend my life running from one spinning plate / disaster issue to another. If I was invisible no one would see me just relaxing. Could I be deaf to all the people grumbling that I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing too, please?
JRR: Sure! If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
My perfect day would involve sunshine and good coffee. Probably cake as well! I don’t have terribly high maintenance needs.
JRR: Cake! Can I join you?
**Thank you for your time Alice! I had fun getting to know you! **
Buy Accidental Damage Now!
If you think the normal school run on a Monday is entertaining you should try doing it from a tent in your back garden surrounded by the jumbled up contents of your entire home. It is vastly more diverting.
Our heroine has survived the sudden collapse of her home – or has she?
Certain events two and a half years ago led her to deliberately destroy an important piece of herself, hiding away all remaining evidence that it ever existed. What happens when she decides to go looking for it?
Does she really deserve to be whole again?
Inspired by a true story, this is an account of one woman’s secret guilt and her journey in search of forgiveness![Top]