Thursday, January 21, 2010

13 Questions...with Anneke van Ginn aka Nick Armbrister

1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
My old holidays to my aunties cottage in the English Lake District. Where I got into nature whilst out hiking around the lakes and mountains it was a very special time this is how my pagan religion of today was formed.

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
Yes Ii have a phobia of needles but to look at me now you wouldn't think so coz now I have 36 or so tattoos. My phobia was from bad dentists when I was a kid and them not using an anesthetic on me so I hate dentists and their needles. I don't like blood tests but I'll have them if I have to but only when forced to!
And I don't like spiders coz they crawl and look spooky! Though they're part of nature and that but I'm not a fan of them though even though I like goth stuff.

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
Good question lol I collect tattoos and have over 35 now and I've actually lost count I have ink from many good studios in the north and south of England. Tribal, nature, witches, sexy women(come on I'm a guy lol), warplanes, song words from bands I love and their names and singers like The Gathering and Agua de Annique and also Ghost Dance.
I also collect Liz Hand books from her early ones to her newer ones.
And I collect CDs by bands I love like The Gathering and old skool records by All About Eve and other 80s bands.
In my youth I used to collect model plastic airplane kits and I had over 300 of them!

4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?
Tough question! Ok I'd have a mixed kebab on nan bread with 4 types of meat on it - chicken donna, chicken shish, lamb donner and another with all the trimmings like salad, salad cream and hot sauce.

5. What is your favorite cookie?
Chocolate cookies! Lots of them.

6. Who is your favorite author?
It would be mad to say myself so I'll say two in joint top position Elizabeth Hand and Sven Hassel.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
Anne Marie Hurst of Ghost Dance and Skeletal Family a great English 1980s singer now back in music after a 20yr gap. Her music is still wicked and new sounding. I love her Stop the World record in Ghost Dance.

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?
They lol? That's more than one, actually no I don't think I did though I can't think back over 30yrs ago to when I was a kid. I guess I did but I can't think who now lol.

9. What's your favorite word?

10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
One of a grassy hillside under blue sky.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?
What I ate tonight from the Chinky Chippy lol chips, sausage and egg fried rice. I like crispy duck too.

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?
Russian/Soviet air ace Lilya Litvyak coz she's one of my heroines of all time she was a brilliant air combat pilot who inspires me no end.

13. What are you currently reading?
State of Fear by Michael Crichton and By Any Means Necessary by William E Burrows.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review: The Final War

The Final War
Anneke van Ginn
(Nick Armbrister)
Available through Amazon in paperback for $10.48 or through Lulu in paperback for $11.90

In a nutshell: If you like war-torn civilizations, alternate histories, sex, violence, bloodshed, explosions, aliens and witchcraft, then this is the book for you.

From the introduction:

"A time and town so very different from now, several key events have changed European history forever. First the civil war of 2005 – 08 is now over, which led to the break up of United Kingdom. A quarter of a million died achieving what politics never could.
The weeklong conflict with France is over. From what started as a fishing dispute led to
a localised nuclear war in which thirty million British and fifty million French perished.
The madness that irradiated half of Europe stopped.
A third key event saved the remaining innocents from the abyss. The arrival of a girl
with special powers from nowhere, a so-called Goddess of the Earth, she is called
Juniper’s Daughter…"

Thus begins a tale of a call to arms amidst the aftermath of civil and nuclear war, as penned by British author Nick Armbrister, writing as Anneke van Ginn.

The story starts at a clip and doesn't ease up - Armbrister employs prose packed with action and detail.
Our characters, Lee, Sarah, John, Gun Barrel and Red drive the story and tell the tale of their efforts as freedom fighters after the UK has been ravaged by civil war.
Into this comes the rumor of a young woman who may be able to save the war torn land, Juniper's Daughter. Who is she and where does she come from? These questions are answered in the last third of the book (lending things to a sequel quite nicely).
The first two thirds of the book deal with the freedom fighters efforts at repelling English army troops intent on preventing any more fight for freedom.
Explosions, gun fights, strategizing, bloodshed, capture and escape - it's all here.

Armbrister injects his tale with bits of humor - either coming out of the mouths of his characters or as an aside to the reader and it works every time.
The characters are well-drawn and their dialogue is easy and never forced.
All the guns and ammo are lovingly detailed - this writer knows his armaments!
The story barrels headlong, with details snowballing on top of one another, driving the story to it's conclusion.

Armbrister has explored the Cold War and the effect it has on his writing shows through in this effort quite clearly, proving with this entry he deserves a larger audience.

As I read, it struck me that this cries out to be made into a film - I see it along the lines of The Road Warrior or Doomsday.
The mix here of an alternate history, alien intervention, blood and witchcraft firmly seats this in a section any reader of genre fiction can appreciate. I had a good time reading this.

For more information on Nick Armbrister, (aka Anneke van Ginn) please go to:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13 Questions...with CA Milson


1. Name one thing you miss about being a child.
The one thing I would miss about being a child is how simple things were. We tend to see things a lot different when we are children; running and playing without a care in the world. The imagination was a lot richer back then too :-) I personally think we have the whole life thing backwards. I think we should die first, and get that out of the way. Then we immediately go to a nursing home until they kick us out because we're too young to be there. Then, we get a gold watch and go to work, then we go to college, then we go to school. Then we leave school because we are too young to be there, and we live the remaining days running and playing with no responsibilities :-) Nice huh!

2. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?
Off the top of my head I cannot think of any. Except maybe bugs. Nasty little creatures they are, especially cockroaches. Not the ones you get in the States, but the nasty flying ones you see in Aussie. Absolute disgusting! :-) Nothing worse than having roaches in your house. Some parts of Australia are notorious for them, no matter how clean your house it. That and spiders! Give me a scorpion or a snake anyday thanks :-)

3. Are you a collector of anything and if so, what?
Movies. I like to amass as many movies as I can. I am a film nut at heart. There is nothing I like to do more in my down-time than watching a movie. I have hundreds of movies in storage and several hundred on my computer :-) (Yes, I have a beast of a computer that I just refer to as "beast") :-)

4. You're about the walk the Green Mile - what do you have for your last meal?
That is a good question. Never really thought about it that much, but at first thought I will almost quote Jack Nicholson's character Melvin Udall from "As Good As it Gets": 3 eggs overeasy, 8 strips of bacon, short stack, fries, cornbread with gravy, and a huge cuppachino :-) (Hey, well I did say almost quote him) :-)

5. What is your favorite cookie?
Without a doubt, one of the best would be Tim Tams :-) Until you have dipped a Tim-Tam into a cup of hot chocolate, you haven't lived :-)

6. Who is your favorite author?
Stephen King.

7. What musical artist are you currently into?
I don't have a favorite singer but I do like a variety of music. What appeals to me more is the beat. There are some songs that are good, but there are also a lot of music that quite frankly gives me a headache.

8. Have you ever had an imaginary friend? If so, who are they?
I don't think I have had an imaginary friend since I was a child. Of course, when I was a child I used to hang out with Batgirl.. Oh my, now I am stepping well into the past. Now who was it that played Batgirl in the 1960's Batman show?

9. What's your favorite word?
Any word that comes out of my mouth which sounds long and impressive :-)

10. What is your current desktop wallpaper?
A rocky cliff overlooking the ocean and there is a lighthouse in the background.

11. You're at a Chinese buffet - what goes on your plate?
Easy. Dim sims, spring rolls, steamed pork buns, won tons, special fried rice, sweet & sour pork, sweet & sour chicken, beef in black bean sauce.. All on one plate :-)

12. What person now deceased would you most want to spend some time with and why?
I think for this one I have a list somewhere. Ab Lincoln would be in the top 5; Ronny Reagan naturally for being one of the most influencial leaders of the 21st century; Michael Jackson because of how he changed and redefined the music industry; Vlad the Impaler, strictly for research reasons for one of my upcoming books; The Apostle Paul for inspirational reasons; and there are no doubt some others in there. Of course, my list does change from time to time, depending on the way my own life makes a series of stops and unexpected turns.

13. What are you currently reading? A collection of poems by two very talented writers who should take the next step :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review: The Chosen - Rise of the Darkness

The Chosen - Rise of the Darkness
CA Milson
Available through Amazon in hardcover for $21.03 or in paperback for $15.96

In a nutshell: if you like stories where battles are waged between man and forces of the darker regions, then this book is for you.

CA Milson has crafted a well-paced story of man versus demonic forces, both intent on winning the day.

Our main characters are all paranormalists of some stripe, some really into the game and others with motives less than pure.

It all starts when Alex attends a seminar where fellow paranormal investigators are going to speak. We are introduced to Usher, a Cherokee Indian who has a gift for sensing the supernatural and Drake Winters, the All-American Boy who has taken to paranormal research.
Another personality in the paranormal world is discussed in the seminar, one Jamiesonn, who back in the 1700s established a cult and literally indulged in human sacrifice and all manner of atrocities until local townspeople where he lived put him to death in a variety of ways - yes, you read that right, ways...he pulled a Rasputin and just wouldn't die and ended up literally disappearing before the crowds eyes...dead or not? You decide.
During the discussion at the seminar, it is posited that Jamiesonn survived and is merely biding his time to come back and take up his evil ways.
Drake declares he will be the one to send Jamiesonn to another plane of existence, but Alex doesn't believe he can.

Drake and Alex form an uneasy alliance, neither one really trusting the other, and set out to find Jamiesonn and stop him. Before they can, an apparition appears and warns them off - and then the fun starts.

Demonic forces begin to run rampant...visions are seen and heard, death prevails, people are taken over by demons...blood runs.
Yet there is another force at work here in the form of a scroll that was found in some Mayan ruins which tells of the destruction of the greatest civilizations in history. The scroll contains the name of The One who will end the strife and preserve mankind.

It is from this point that Milson takes us on a frenetic ride of demons running amuck, forces of good opposing forces of evil, and Alex's journey into the midst of this maelstrom.

Ultimately this is a story of good versus evil, playing out their epic battles in the midst of mankind who is usually woefully inept at handling a crisis like this.
Milson pens a story revealing how we as humans are sometimes asked to do some things we don't think we can do to go towards the greater good.

My only complaint is there were a few set pieces in the book where I would have liked to see more detail. Don't get me wrong, you get enough to know what's happening, but I could see some places where Milson could have stood to add a little meat to his stew.

Milson says Stephen King is an inspiration and I have to admit there were times when I did notice the writing did bring to mind the style of a younger SK.

Take note - the story will continue in Bloodline of Darkness.
For more information on the sequel visit:
For more information on CA Milson, visit:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Coming soon to this blog

Good evening constant reader.

The purpose of The Written Universe is, primarily, to expose new authors to you the reader.

However, seeing as how this is my blog and I can review whatever I please, we're going to take that fabled left turn at Albuquerque.

In the coming weeks I intend to review a series of books, the Irene Adler mysteries by accomplished author Carole Nelson Douglas.
In 1990, Ms Douglas published her first Irene tale, Good Night Mr Holmes. It was my pleasure then, when the book came out, to host an author signing for Carole for this title. I read it and was completely enchanted with it.
After that came Good Morning, Irene, (1990, aka The Adventuress), Irene At Large, (1992, aka A Soul of Steel), and Irene's Last Waltz (1994, aka Another Scandal in Bohemia).
There followed 4 more Irene books, Chapel Noir (2001), Castle Rouge (2002), Femme Fatale (2003) and Spider Dance (2004).

What is so special about these books?
For starters, they're good, really good - Irene Adler as written by Carole Nelson Douglas is a strong, resourceful female character, one you can't help but enjoy.
Now that there is a major motion picture currently in theatres, Sherlock Holmes, and said film features the character of Irene Adler, I wanted to throw attention to Carole's books, and let you the reader know Irene has been given a different life in these books and deserves to be discovered.

I will go on record here and and state that I have not read the last 4 books in the series. However, that will be rectified as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I intend to re-read the first 4 books, and review them 2 at a time over a period of weeks.