Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: Month-long-anniversary:(My very first book review on Bookshelf Confessions) Guest Post + Author Interview Giveaway: Michael Griffo

As part of our celebration, I would like to share the books that really started this blog. 

I was a book reviewer even before the birth of Bookshelf Confessions, you can find my book reviews on Librarything for that, mostly, the books I reviewed were in e-book type. One day, I requested a book from Mr. Michael Griffo, but instead of giving me an e-book, he offered to give me print ones, even though I'm from the Philippines. I was sooo happy at that time, it's not only the first print book I received from an author himself, but it was also the very first package of books I received from outside the country ( I know that sounds silly). I received the first two books in the ARCHANGEL ACADEMY SERIES

Unnatural (Archangel Academy, #1)Unwelcome (Archangel Academy #2)

After reading the books, in order to give my review more exposure to the public, an idea hit me ( :D) it's to make a book review blog ........and that's how Bookshelf Confessions came to be. Gradually, I added the reviews on Goodreads, Barnes and NObles, Book Depository and Amazon
and then, I linked the reviews on Twitter, facebook and Google +

That's why I'm forever thankful to Mr. Griffo, for without him, Bookshelf Confessions may not even exist, or if it did, in a later date :D
You can find my review on Unnatural here and Unwelcome here

So today, let's welcome MR. MICHAEL GRIFFO, AUTHOR OF Archangel Academy and The Darkborn Legacy

Below, you'll find a guest post and an author interview.. and a giveaway off course..
So enjoy reading and check Bookshelf Confessions everyday, because everyday this October is a giveaway day!

(What inspired The Darkborn Legacy Series)
by Michael Griffo
It all started with a name – Dominy.
A few years ago I was watching an episode of an old 1970s television series called Thriller that had aired in the United Kingdom. It was an anthology series and as the title suggests each episode was a scary thriller dealing with either the supernatural, murder, or some heart-pounding mystery. Naturally, I loved every second of the series!
One episode in particular stood out for me, not so much for the plot, but for the lead character’s name. You guessed it, the name was Dominy. I instantly fell in love with it and remember thinking that I had never heard of that name before, in fact, I still don’t know if it’s a real name or was just made up by whomever wrote that episode.
Well before the first plot twist, I had written down the name in my notebook – that I always keep nearby – and for some reason wrote the word cursed’ next to it. Call it creative intuition or divine inspiration, but those two words grew into what eventually became The Darkborn Legacy.
Moonglow Sunblind
                                        The Darkborn Legacy
When I first wrote Dominy on paper, I had no idea that she would become the protagonist of my new series, I just knew that the name was more to me then, well, just a name, it was a character, a real person who was, on some level, speaking to me and asking to be born. There was nothing left for me to do, but comply.
I thought about Dominy – the name and the character – for a few months, letting the idea of her grow and allowing for my creative juices to take their time percolating. Until finally one day I sat down and started to fill in my Character Checklist, which is what I do before I start writing any book.
I would love to take credit for the Character Checklist and say that I invented it, but that would be a lie. I learned it in a playwriting class and it’s one of the best writing tools I’ve ever discovered.
Very simply, it’s a list of character traits ranging from height, weight, and hair color to more intangible qualities such as religious beliefs, future goals, and regrets. For each major character as well as some important minor ones, I answer the questions on the checklist in order to get a more specific picture of whom I’m going to write about. Some of the questions never find their way into the story, but it gives me incredible insight into the character and helps me make each person in my stories unique.
Once I started answering questions about Dominy the character became much clearer, I could see her physically, I knew what she looked like, what she sounded like, how she walked, what she liked and I was ready to build a story around her.
I fell back on the word ‘cursed’ and from there the plot grew. Dominy would fall victim to a family curse. That simple sentence was the impetus to the complicated, supernatural story that moves from MOONGLOW to SUNBLIND to STARFALL. It amazes me that those eight words I have been able to write almost twelve hundred! When I think about it, it truly boggles my mind.
What’s more, I decided to write this series in the first person, present tense, which I didn’t think would be that much different than writing a novel in the third person past tense, but it is. If you don’t believe me, try writing a few paragraphs one way and then switch. It’s like writing with your left hand after spending decades writing with your right. Luckily, I got the hang of it quickly and really enjoyed having Dominy on every page and allowing the reader to experience Dominy’s life at the same time she does. I think it’s made for a more immediate read and a more personal one as well – I think it’s hard not to start imagining that you’re Dominy, especially by the time you get into the second book.
So I guess the moral of this blog is that inspiration can come anytime and from anywhere – you just have to be ready to capture it. I’m so glad that I had a pen handy and wrote down Dominy’s name when I first heard it. If not, I might never have plunged into her world and told her story.
And I know that Dominy would have been very disappointed if her voice was never heard.

Buy Michael Griffo's books here: amazon | B&N | TBD | 

The Darkborn Legacy
Moonglow (The Darkborn Legacy, #1)Sunblind (The Darkborn Legacy, #2)
On Saturdays, I like to...
Since I work full-time, if I’m working on a project Saturdays are usually the day that I write.  I’ll get up at six a.m. and write until I finish a chapter.  I don’t have the luxury of time to just write a few pages and call it a day and since I’m not a nightowl I find it hard for me to write when I get home from work.
When I’m not writing, I like to spend Saturdays being active and/or doing something outside.  Writing can be a sedentary and solitary endeavor, so as often as I can I like to take a yoga class, go bike riding, and depending upon the weather either skiing or ice-skating or spending the day at the beach.
I’ve also inherited the shopping bug from my mother so I love to explore antique stores for hours on end.  I don’t have to buy anything, I just enjoy looking at old treasures.  Sometimes I get really great inspiration from walking the aisles of an antique store!
On Sundays, I like to...
Most Sundays I like to relax and unwind before the start of another week.  I often like to cook meals for the week ahead – I am not at all what you’d call a gourmet, but a guy has to eat! 
I don’t have set plans for the weekends, but because the world has become such a busy place and everyone is usually flying on all cylinders, I try to carve in some do-nothing time and just read a book or enjoy a good cup of tea while flipping through a magazine and listening to some records.  I’ve actually amassed a really great vinyl record collection and if you’ve never heard music on vinyl, do yourself a favor and try and listen to it, it’s really a different sound from CDs or downloaded music that you listen to on your computer.
I'd like to travel to...
Lately, I’ve had a great desire to visit Italy.  I’m half-Italian, Sicilian to be exact, but I’ve never had a burning passion to travel to where my ancestors lived.  But I guess as you get older you reflect on your family history and grow more interested in your heritage.  So Sicily and the other major parts of Italy – Rome, Florence, Milan – are at the top of my list.

And for some reason, I really want to visit Scandinavia – Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.  

I love the winter and I guess it can’t get much colder than Scandinavia!  But my real passion started when I read Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg.  Not only did I love Høeg’s writing, but I was enthralled by his depiction of Denmark and Greenland.  I just fell in love with that part of the world without ever having visited and I’ve been thinking about traveling there ever since.  I hope to make it happen one day very soon!

Smilla's Sense of Snow
What are your current projects?
I just finished writing STARFALL, the third book in The Darkborn Legacy, in fact, I submitted the manuscript to my editor this week!  Since it’s the culmination of Dominy’s story – she’s the protagonist of all three books – completing this novel was bittersweet.  I knew I had to have a definite ending, I couldn’t write a cliffhanger or leave the storyline dangling, so I was prepared to bring Dominy’s story – and in many ways her life – to an end.  However, it was much harder to say good-bye to Dominy and her friends than I thought it would be. 
I think the reason for that is that I wrote these books in the first person so I wrote every page of all three novels – which amounts to almost 1,200 pages! – in Dominy’s voice.  That means she was inside my head the entire time and after writing three books over the course of two and a half years, I really became quite fond of her and found it hard to let her go.  But every parent has to let their children go at some point, right?!
My hope is that readers will find every page of Dominy’s story – not just its conclusion – exciting and come to love her as much as I do.
If you had to describe yourself using three words, it would be… 
Disciplined, grateful, happy.
When people look at me, they would never guess that I____________
I am a total science fiction geek!  And I’m talking old school.  I have read or watched on TV most everything science fiction related: Planet of the Apes, Brave New World, 1984, Space: 1999, Man From Atlantis, Logan’s Run, and even some lesser known gems like Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, and C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.  I’ve also read a lot written by Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury. 
Recently, I read Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle for the first time and found it so interesting, not because it differs from the classic movie, but because it was written by a French writer.  It was so refreshing to read a novel about a subject I thought I knew everything about and be surprised because it had a French slant instead of an American one.  Just a few weeks ago I ought the Logan’s Run trilogy on eBay – Logan’s Run, Logan’s World and Logan’s Search.  I’m looking forward to reading them and seeing what surprises lurk on the pages of these novels as well.

Logan's Run Logan's World Logan's Search
Logan (5 books)
What are 3 things you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?
Well, I try not to leave the house without my sense of humor!  I find that to be an incredibly useful survival tactic.  I also rarely leave my house without a pen and notebook because I never know when an idea for a story is going to hit me or when I’m going to find the solution to a nagging problem I’m having with a particular chapter.  I know I can type into the Notes section of my iphone, but I really love jotting notes down on paper, it becomes much more tangible to me.  It’s a bit hard to explain, but it’s just part of the process of writing for me.
And finally I never, ever leave my house without Chapstick!  I am addicted to the stuff.  Seriously, on the rare occasions that I find that I did forget to put Chapstick in my pants pocket (always on the right side, never the left!) I go to the drug store and buy another one. 
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
No one has ever asked me why I started writing.  I find that so surprising because I think the answer is that most people just consider me a writer.  Although I’ve written my entire life, it’s only recently that I’ve found some success – and I don’t mean monetary – I simply mean that I’ve broken down the barrier and gotten published.  Ask any writer and they’ll tell you that getting your first book published is a difficult and daunting task.
I also think that most people are focused on the here and now, they want to know about a specific book, either its contents, meaning plot and character, or your writing style and what exactly goes into writing a book.  But no one has ever asked me why I’m a writer.  So I guess I’ll ask myself!
The short answer is that I’ve always been a creative spirit.  When I was younger that meant being the entertainer, the comedian, and the center of attention.  I was a bundle of raw energy that couldn’t be held down or contained.  As a result, I was always involved in theatre and spent several years pursuing a career as an actor.  I found a modicum of success, but was hardly able to pay my rent!  I was also not very happy.  I knew I needed to unleash my creativity, but I realized that acting was not the best format for me.  After a while I realized that writing was.
As I said, I had always written whether it be stories or plays, but it was always more of a hobby, never something I delved into with passion and determination and discipline.  That changed when I was in my late 20s and I realized I wasn’t cut out to be an actor, but rather a writer.  It was the best decision I ever made.
And if you were to interview me instead, what would you ask? :D
I would actually love to know from you and all your readers what you think of my characters.  Do you find them to be realistic?  Do you root for them?  Do you think that they make believable choices and react realistically even in the face of outrageous supernatural circumstances?  The reason is that, for me, character is everything.  You can have the most boring story – or a story with no real plot at all – but if you’ve created fascinating characters, readers will go along for the ride.  They won’t be bored and, quite possibly, they’ll be moved. 
So let me know what you think of the people I’ve made up, I’d love to hear it!

 Wow, that's a whole lot of questions, but I guess, it can be answered in my review of Unnatural here and Unwelcome here. And I'd also like to thank you for sending me the first two books (sounds familiar) in The Darkborn Legacy, I can't wait to read and review it. You too guys, check for my review here soon :D

But overall, I guess you have very interesting and unique characters, like each of them have a backstory and has their own personality and that's very vital in every book. Readers like characters that doesn't just act because they have to, we appreciate it when we were surprised of what a character had done given the right reasons of course. 

I guess, it would be better to ask the Bookshelfconfessioners too, so what do you think guys?
Before we ending this short interview, I’d love to ask you to say something for the readers of Bookshelf Confessions and I would also like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking time to answer these questions.
That’s very sweet of you to thank me, but I’m indebted to you.
I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old – a very long time ago!  For most of my life I wrote for myself and a few select friends who I would ask to read my work.  The act of writing – the physical and emotion process – has always been wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy it and have always known that in some way or another I would write for the rest of my life.  In addition, the reactions from my friends – whether it was positive or negative – about my writing was inspiring because I learned how to listen to constructive criticism and by listening to their comments I believe I’ve been able to become a better writer.
When I was lucky enough to get published, I was of course thrilled at the accomplishment since it was never really something I ever thought I would achieve.  However, I underestimated how humbling it would be to know that my work and my words have touched so many lives.  It’s an amazing feeling.  The response I’ve gotten to my books, my characters, and storylines, has been uplifting and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who’s read one of my books and sent me a note to say that they enjoyed the experience.  As I said, even without an audience I would continue to write, it’s simply something that I have to do, but getting feedback and encouragement and kind words from strangers makes the process even that more gratifying. 
I hope this blog is recognized in some small way to be a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s picked up one of my books.

Thank you so much Mr. Griffo, for joining our blog's anniversary and for making this event possible! Thank you!

About the author

Michael GriffoMichael Griffo was born, raised, and has since relocated to New Jersey. He is an award-winning playwright and all of his plays have been produced throughout the country and in London. Two of his plays -- CLOUDY and 5G/10B -- have been published in Smith & Kraus's Best 10 Minute Plays for 2 Actors: 2005 and CLOUDY is licensed by Playscripts, Inc.

His first novel, BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS, was written under a pseudoymn, Michael Salvatore (which is actually the author's middle name) and is a hilarious piece of gay fiction that is best described as Sex & The City meets Will & Grace. He has also written a novella published in REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS, a gay Christmas anthology.

UNNATURAL, written under the author's real name, is the first book of the Archangel Academy series that also include UNWELCOME and UNAFRAID. UNNATURAL is a young adult novel that explores the relationship of two young outcasts who meet at an all boy's boarding school in north western England. Set against a backdrop of vampires and the supernatural, it is a coming of age story that young and old alike will be able to relate to.
Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Since My very first book blog review happened in 2011, I'm offering three lucky winners to have 3 mobi/kindle copies each from 

Best Books of 2011: The Top 100 (Amazon)

some of the books are:

11/22/63 1Q84 Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)Before I Go To Sleep: A Novel

The Art of Fielding: A NovelA Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book FiveThe Paris Wife: A NovelDelirium: The Special Edition

Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's BerlinSteve Jobs

The Night Circus BossypantsReady Player OneGo the F**k to Sleep


to see the full list, click here

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Bookshelf Confessions
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  1. I loved this post! I don't think I'd heard of this author or his book before, I added them to my TBR! So awesome!

    1. Thanks Julia, you should definitely check his books :D

  2. I didn't heard of this author before, but the books looks awesome!

  3. Fun post! And I'm definitely going to check out these books. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  4. I haven't heard of these books before (the ones by Michael Griffo). I'll have to check them out! Thanks for the giveaway! :D


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