Q&A with Jeffrey Ricker & Giveaway

The Unwanted

  • By Jeffrey Ricker
  • Editions: ebook, paperback
  • Published: March 18th 2014 by Bold Strokes Books
  • Genre: Young Adult MxM Fantasy
  • Jamie Thomas has enough trouble on his hands trying to get through junior year of high school without being pulverized by Billy Stratton, his bully and tormentor. But the mother he was always told was dead is actually alive—and she’s an Amazon! Sixteen years after she left him on his father’s doorstep, she’s back… and needs Jamie’s help. A curse has caused the ancient tribe of warrior women to give birth to nothing but boys, dooming them to extinction—until prophecy reveals that salvation lies with one of the offspring they abandoned. Putting his life on the line, Jamie must find the courage to confront the wrath of an angry god to save a society that rejected him.
    ~ Bewitching BT

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    The Unwanted Banner 450 x 169


    Excerpt from Chapter One

    ” The house was empty. No big surprise there: Dad never got home before me. When I checked my nose in the bathroom mirror, it was starting to swell up and look like someone had painted purple under my skin. I didn’t think it was broken, but no one had ever punched me in the face before, so what did I know?
    At that moment, I knew three things. I didn’t want to explain my nose to my dad when he eventually got home. I probably needed to put ice on it. And I didn’t want to go to school tomorrow.
    In the kitchen, I filled a towel with ice. As I tilted my head back and lifted the towel to my nose, a flash of white darted past the sliding glass door overlooking the backyard. Our yard was fenced, so no one should have been back there. By this point, thanks to the almost-daily antagonism from Billy, it was in my nature to see every unexpected or unexplained thing as a possible threat. It seemed foolish, but I grabbed a knife from the butcher block before I opened the door and peered out.
    I was lucky I didn’t stab myself in the foot when I dropped the knife. A white horse, its head lowered to the ground as it searched for bits of grass to its liking, ambled slowly across the yard. When it heard the knife clatter, it looked up and stared right at me, blinked its glossy black eyes—
    —and shook its wings.
    I was glad no one was around to hear me, because I screamed like a girl. My first thought—well, my second thought, right after Oh my God there’s a horse with wings in our yard—was that Billy must have given me a concussion when he hit me and knocked me down. I looked away, shook my head, and blinked a couple times.
    When I looked back, the horse was still there. It had folded up its wings and gone back to browsing the lawn.
    “Richard, is that you?”
    The voice, a woman’s, came from upstairs. It was followed by a clanking noise, like someone rattling pots and pans. I picked up the knife again and slid the door shut as quietly as possible.
    “Richard?” she called again, then, in a more threatening tone, “Is someone down there?”
    She started coming down the stairs. Pressing my back to the wall, I inched out of the kitchen and into the dining room. I watched the kitchen doorway, wondering who this woman was and how she knew my father…and what was all the clanking about? When it appeared she hadn’t followed me from the kitchen to the dining room, I turned around and prepared to make a run for the front door.
    She was standing right behind me.
    I screamed, again. Like a girl, again. (What? She scared the hell out of me.)
    She also snatched my wrist and twisted the knife out of my grasp before I remembered I was holding it. Then she put her hands on my shoulders to keep me from running headlong into her chest, which was covered in a bronze piece of armor that made her look like Xena, Warrior Princess.
    “Oh, it’s you,” she said—not in a dismissive tone, the way that sort of thing is usually said (at least to me), but more in a sense of wonder, as if I were the last person she expected to see. She put a hand under my chin, gently, which I didn’t expect since she wore a sword at her waist. “You’re so…” Her voice trailed off as she took in all of me. “Short.”
    Short? I’d never seen this woman before and she was calling me short? Admittedly, she looked taller than my dad, even, maybe by a couple inches. Before I could protest, she turned my chin left, then right, inspecting my face.
    “You’ve been in a fight, haven’t you?” She smiled, and it seemed like a smile of admiration, like being in a fight was a good thing.
    I batted her hand aside and backed away. “Who are you?”
    She frowned. “Didn’t your father tell you anything about me?”
    “Tell me what?”
    Before she could answer, the doorbell rang. In an instant, everything about her changed. Her expression hardened as she whipped around toward the door. She’d drawn her sword without my even noticing, and now she crept toward the foyer. Her steps were so light I didn’t even hear her armor clank.
    The doorbell rang again, sounding far away to me, like a dream. I started to ask her what she was doing—hadn’t she ever heard a doorbell before? Why was this clearly crazy woman in our house? And why did she know my dad? But she silenced me with a gesture.
    This time, instead of the doorbell, there was a knock.
    “Jamie?” It was Sarah. “Are you home?”
    “Who is she?” the Xena wannabe asked.
    “Who is she? Who are you?”
    She lowered her sword for a moment and looked at me as if I were asking a stupid question. “He really never told you anything about me, did he?”
    “Tell me what?”
    Her face softened, neither stony nor angry, but sad.
    “I’m your mother.” ”


    1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?

    2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
    I don’t remember exactly how, but I think I was thinking about that 1980s movie My Stepmother Is An Alien and the phrase “my stepmother is an Amazon” popped into my head. I took off the “step” and started thinking about what that story would be like. That, and as a kid I was a massive Wonder Woman fan. I still am, actually.

    3. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
    I don’t think writer’s block exists. I didn’t come to that conclusion overnight. In fact, it didn’t happen until maybe years after I’d started writing, and followed a multi-year period when I said I had writer’s block. What I really had was a combination of two factors: laziness and fear. I disciplined myself out of the former. As for the latter, I think I just decided to say “screw it” and not take the risk of rejection so seriously.

    4. Your all time favorite book?
    The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I could reread that book every year.

    5. What made you pick that one above all others?
    The writing is beautiful, the story is classic, and it’s short. It probably also has to do with the fact that I read it for the first time in tenth grade and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a writer.

    6. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
    My first novel, Detours, took me eight years to write, from initial inspiration to the last edited proof.

    7. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
    That’s a good question. I don’t know that it has. It kind of goes back to a conversation I had with my mother maybe ten or so years ago. I was in my mid-thirties and thought I had changed a lot from who I was as a teenager. I asked her point blank, “Do you think I’ve changed?” She said something like, “Not really. I don’t think people change so much as they become the person they are.” That seems pretty true to me. I think I’ve just become more myself. Being a writer has always been part of that.

    8. Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
    Sure, lots of times, although now I can’t seem to remember any of them in particular. (Thank heavens for a poor memory.) Luckily, I’m both stubborn and persistent, so I keep going.

    9. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
    I’m currently finishing an MFA in creative writing at the University of British Columbia, so my day involves a lot of revising my thesis (which is a novel). I’m also the contest manager for a literary magazine, which involves juggling things, herding cats, and stressing a lot. I cope by running, going to the gym, and climbing. I also read. A lot.

    10. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
    Do not engage. Really, what is the point? People have their opinions, and there’s little margin in trying to convince them otherwise.

    11. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
    When I wrote it, I envisioned it as a stand-alone work, but (and this may surprise people once they get to the end) I do have an idea for a sequel. That said, I hesitate to call it a series.

    12. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
    That aforementioned thesis, once it’s finished and revised to within an inch of its life, hopefully will see the light of day. Fingers crossed!

    Fun facts:

    1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
    Chris Hemsworth in a towel right in front of me.
    2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
    A blank book. And a pencil. Make that several pencils. And a sharpener.
    3. Name your favorite fruit.
    4. Coffee or tea?
    5. Favorite season?
    6. How about fav time of 24 hours?
    Early morning, first cup of coffee, feeling like I’m the only person awake in the world.
    7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?
    I was a Cub Scout but after I got to the Webelo level I decided that wasn’t for me.
    8. Favorite food for breakfast?
    Oatmeal. Yes, I’m very boring.
    9. Latest book you’ve bought and read?
    The latest book I bought was The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai, but I’m currently reading Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien.
    10. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
    Oh lord, the can of worms this opens. I’m a terrible, terrible collector—by which I mean I’ve probably tried to collect everything. At one point I had a ridiculous number of Star Trek toys, all of which I’d bought as a grown adult. There were also some Star Wars and Doctor Who things thrown in for good measure. The amount of plastic in my house that made buzzing sounds and had flashing lights was absurd. I have no idea why I collected these things, apart from my love of science fiction and the fact that I think toys these days are so much cooler than the ones I had when I was a kid. Once I began running out of room for all these things, I slowly divested myself of them through the help of eBay. I kept two toy starship Enterprises (1701-A and 1701-D) and have a few other things in the closet that I still need to get rid of.
    Oh, and I have a toy phaser. It still makes me happy to point and shoot it at people.
    11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
    12. Drama or comedy?
    Dramedy. Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. (Name that film!)
    13. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
    “And that, Marjorie, just so you will know, and your children will someday know, is the night the lights went out in Georgia!”
    14. Cats or dogs?
    I have a hard time imagining life without both. (At the moment, I have neither cats nor dogs, but my partner has a miniature dachshund who is completely adorable. I foresee a cat in my future though.)
    15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
    More like dinner in front of the TV watching whatever’s on DVR or Netflix!


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    The Unwanted by Jeffrey 


    The Unwanted

    by Jeffrey Ricker

    Giveaway ends April 16, 2014.

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    About the Author & Links:

    Jeffrey Ricker’s first novel, Detours, was published in 2011 by Bold Strokes Books. His second novel, The Unwanted, will be published by Bold Strokes in 2014. His writing has appeared in the anthologies Paws and Reflect, Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction, Blood Sacraments, Men of the Mean Streets, Speaking Out, Raising Hell, The Dirty Diner, Night Shadows: Queer Horror, and others. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he is pursuing an MFA at the University of British Columbia.

    Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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