Monday, March 15, 2021

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Devil Whispered by Shawn Starkweather @Stark_Books @RABTBookTours



Date Published: 3/1/2021

Retired special-forces commander Jacobi Slate is drawn into a downward-spiraling vortex of fear and doubt while investigating a brutal murder committed by an old friend. As evidence mounts that someone else might be pulling strings from the shadows, Jacobi struggles to understand a developing connection to his own past, which is quickly catching up to him.

Near-future cyberpunk collides with gritty detective noir in this fast-paced thriller that shines a light on both the vast shortcomings and the noble heroism of the human condition. To unravel the mystery, Jacobi will pull on every thread while chasing leads from the squalor of the most dangerous streets to the high-tech towers of the wealthy elite on his quest to understand a truth he might not be ready to face.

Interview with Shawn Starkweather

    For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

    At the risk of sounding overly cheeky, I’m going to say start on page one. What I mean is, I hope that I’ve managed to create something somewhat unique in its nature and concept, so readers will just have to dive in to the story and explore it for what it is. Whether or not I’ve succeeded remains to be seen. The main themes of the story are memory, control, and consequence.

    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book

    I watched a video from Vice News a few years ago that inspired the main idea. I can’t give any details about it that wouldn’t spoil the mystery, but I can talk about my relationship to science fiction in general and how I came to fall in love with the Cyberpunk genre specifically.

    There is a role-playing game called Shadowrun that I spent a good deal playing as a teenager, and the world always felt familiar and comfortable. Concepts like mega-corporations and street samurai really came to life, embodying many of the ideas put to paper by William Gibson via his book Neuromancer, and many of his other works. Ridley Scott’s interpretation of Phillip K. Dick’s short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, more commonly recognized as Blade Runner, also had a massive influence on me growing up. Something about the dystopian city world and civilization seeming to be over the brink from a precipice it won’t be able to return from has always been really captivating.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    Art is a funny thing. People have so many different approaches and systems for getting things done. Mine tends to be more amorphous in nature – without form or intention until it begins to eventually define itself, a process that often feels out of my own control. Along the way, I do what I can to steer the art in the direction I feel it should be going, but I’m not sure I’m organized or intelligent enough to have a cohesive set of goals and intentions before it’s already evolved into whatever its decided it wants to be.

    All of that is a fancy way of saying that I’m pretty disorganized and tend to form the story as I go, but in this case I did do some storyboarding and planning – around when I reached the halfway point. What I really hoped to do was create something a bit unique and something that felt alive, like a movie. The scenes tend to unfold in a very cinematic way, and the story evolves similarly to something you might see in the theatre, so hopefully I accomplished that.

    Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

    To anyone that supports me and my creativity, I hold the utmost appreciation. As artists, we can only put art into the world and hope it is received well. It’s the people that are impacted by the work and spread it out into the world that really make it lasting, so we’re nothing without them.

    I hope that I’ve affected people positively and given them an experience that they value. That they promote or support me in return is really just something I can’t express enough gratitude for.

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    Simply getting to be within my creativity and let my imagination take over really affirmed for me that this is something I want to stay committed to and try to be successful at. To me, there is nothing better than putting energy and work into something and then sharing it with like-minded folks who get something great out of it.

    And, if I’m being honest, the routine was the only thing keeping me exercising regularly, so I look forward to starting on the next project.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

    So, I’m actually really interested in trying my hand at a fantasy novel next. I’m going to wait and see how much of a response The Devil Whispered generates, because I don’t want to disappoint fans if there is a strong demand for similar novels. I think crossing genres can probably be a bit jarring for people who have supported you as a writer of a particular style, so I don’t want to make a decision one way or another yet. But most of the ideas that I’m really excited about have, so far, come to me as ideas for epic fantasy.

    If the next book is a science fiction, it will almost certainly attempt to go a bit deeper than I have with this first one. I am a huge fan of concepts like time travel, alternate universes, quantum theory and things of a similar vein. I kept things pretty straight forward with my debut story, but I think readers can expect things to stray into left field a bit more with later novels.

    How long have you been writing?

    I’ve always really enjoyed writing, but I’ve only recently committed to really giving a career an honest chance. I have a great deal of story beginnings that never really made it beyond the first chapter. Finding a good routine and committing to writing at least 1,500 words per day was the secret to success for me.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Devil Whispered?

    The main character is named Jacobi Slate. He’s a retired special-forces commander who’s turned to bounty hunting to make a living. He’s not a very stereotypical soldier, though. He overthinks things, has a really big sensitive side, and tends to try and resolve things peacefully whenever possible. He’s cynical, but kind, with a good sense of humor and a lot of patience.

    There is a total badass named Terisa, Risa for short, who ends up trying to solve the mystery with him. She’s an elite programmer/hacker with the same military training as Jacobi. She does her best to keep him sensible and their relationship evolves throughout the book.

    The readers will also encounter Himari, a cybernetic samurai with a host of modifications and body augmentations. He lives by a strict code of honor, but has been cast out from his people – a cult who worship the Singularity.

    There’s a whole host of personalities in the story who each bring their magic to bringing it to life.

    If you could spend the day with one of the characters from The Devil Whispered, who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

    If there was one I’d prefer to spend the day with, it would probably be a character named Pavel. He’s a roguish Russian con-man who finds himself in a series of interesting situations. His levity and charm would make him an exceptional adventuring companion for a day and I think our sense of humor would be aligned.

About the Author

Shawn lives in Massachusetts with his wife and the handful of childhood stuffed animals that they’ve been unable to part ways with, even despite the awkward situation it occasionally puts their house guests in. He wields a coveted Associates of Liberal Arts degree from Greenfield Community college in an overly enthusiastic, flailing manner, and puts it to work writing both fantasy and science fiction stories. Using subliminal codes and hidden messaging carefully placed throughout his books, he plans to captivate the minds of his readers and insidiously manipulate them into purchasing subsequent releases.

As a novelist, musician, graphic designer, and a purveyor of fine games, Shawn is often confused about exactly who he is when he wakes up in the morning. It’s been said (by him) that perhaps he embodies all of these things so equally that a singular definition could not comprehensively impart a satisfactory description. With your support, and a sufficient demand for more novels, he secretly hopes that he’ll have no choice but to formally acknowledge the prevailing label of ‘author’ and spend the rest of his days providing a sense of wonder and adventure to everyone who helped him solidify his nebulous identity.

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