Tag Archives: Thread and Other Stories

Book Review: ‘Thread and Other Stories’ by Eric Halpenny

Title: Thread and Other Stories

Published: 13th July 2018

Publisher: Bookbaby

Author: Eric Halpenny

Facebook: www.facebook.com/halpennyauthor

Twitter: @dragonswordbook

 

Synopsis:

Thread and Other Stories is a multi-genre collection of short stories (single author) that includes science fiction, fantasy, urban fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, and espionage. There are seven stories in the collection.

Prudence and her older brother Yannick face extreme poverty and hardship in Thread. They live day to day on the wages they earn at low paying, difficult jobs. They face hardships that seem insurmountable for two young children. Isidore, an impoverished boy trying to survive on his own, enters their lives with even greater needs than Prudence and Yannick. They integrate him into their family life even as their world begins to crumble around them. But, there is an ominous backdrop to these events as strange entities take a keen interest in the lives of the three children.

A military psychologist evaluates a Vietnam war veteran who has experienced psychological damage in Shrink. The veteran’s fellow soldiers and friends must support him as the psychologist attempts to uncover the reasons behind his trauma.

Emil, Annie, and their three children—Zona, Owen, and Abner—struggle to stay safe in a steampunk-inspired fantasy world in Chance. Abner finds himself in trouble as a powerful magical being terrorizes the family farm. Only Zona’s quick thinking along with her parents’ knowledge of magic will give them a chance against the dark sorcery of the enemy.

John and Greg, bound by friendship, embark on a journey of trial and tragedy in Conflict, a 20th Century historical fiction. They must deal with death, loss, and grief as compatriots fall in battle during this poignant snapshot of the Canadian military in World War I. John and Greg show a contrast in the ways that these soldiers adapted to the psychological effects of war.

Veera, an astrophysicist, begins to experience recurring déjà vu, the source of which she cannot determine in Oversight, a science fiction adventure. She is unknowingly set on a collision course with Misha, who challenges Veera’s perception of the world as she struggles to determine what is real and what isn’t. Misha must deal with his own psychological demons as he tries to salvage a failing mission that will either end in glory or in his own death.

Dmitry is a hardened spy in the Cold War who has no mercy for his adversary Olyesa in the espionage thriller Deception. Olyesa and Dmitry navigate their way through the murky waters of agents and double agents while simultaneously struggling against each other for survival. When their divergent plans collide, it threatens to destroy them both.

Explore a metaphysical debate in the literary short story Conversation, which is woven between each of the short stories in this collection. An unnamed protagonist and an unidentified and secretive entity discuss the metaphysical and spiritual meaning behind science and what it means to gain knowledge.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A collection of short stories. All are very different but each have a certain something to keep you intrigued to continue on to the next. Nice style of writing with this collection of shorts.

THREAD

A story connected by conscious thoughts of others perhaps? The main one itself is a trying tale of children living in poverty and having to work just to eat. The mines are for the boys and it’s cleaning for girls. They never feel hope for they can’t see a way out of the cycle they are part of. Work, eat, sleep and repeat. With the eating part sometimes being hard to come by. Yannick protects his sister Prudence but is still a child himself. A saying being you can’t look out for others, as you don’t have enough for yourselves. That’s Yannick’s way of thinking when Isidore comes into their lives. He’s younger than both of them but needs to work to stay alive too. Hardships become them and dangers of the world around them, work included, causes tragic results. Seems conscious minds might be merging to feel something new, hope might be born into their dark lives bringing some light and a connection thread to join them.

SHRINK

The perils of coming back from war and having to live with the consequences of what happened when you were there. A shrink to help the army vets before they go home but sometimes they are too far-gone to come back from the darkness. They need their crew and family to try to bring them round but is that enough?

CHANCE

Well what starts out as an everyday farmers family working life turns into something completely unexpected. Interesting twist with its’ direction and how the story evolves from there. Young minds are inquisitive ones so you should be careful to teach them to understand what’s at stake and not leave books around they might not understand. Creating a doll is one thing but this one had a mind of its own.

CONFLICT

Tales told of the Great War focusing on the Canadians fighting, all showing how and why different people would have signed up. What were they fighting for? Was it King, country, honour, family, friends or perhaps just a mixture of them all? Showing the day-to-day life of the battlefield slowly pulling them under. Two different men’s views on how they see the battle to be won. Who are the lucky ones? Those who go home physically injured, mentally injured, don’t go home at all or the ones who never got called in the first place? The letters or quotes from people who were really there mixing with the story were interesting. Gives you a little insight to what they really experienced.

OVERSIGHT

Two scientists following through with an 18-month task sending and tracking satellites – a link to the Mars project but also a new Jupiter one. Their project is failing and they know they need to go back through notes to find where they went wrong. This is where things get a little strange, as it seems they aren’t the only ones testing something, or should that be someone? Are you the tester or subject and can you tell the difference between the two? Quirky read that will have you questioning what could be out there and who or what everyone really is. Who is controlling whom? Maybe not knowing is the point.

DECEPTION

Spy masters at extracting information out of people. The top of a very select few that needs to stay hidden. Dmitry is one of them and believes he is the one always in control. He gets his pleasure out of tormenting others whether for work or fun. There seems to be no difference for him. He might think he is the one controlling the game but is he the one being played in a complex game of spy vs. spy. Cards are about to fall in a different way and he might not like where they land.

CONVERSATION

A need to have someone to talk to, but are they really there or just in your head? They say they will wait until you are ready to talk. Let’s hope it’s true. For someone to help do you need to be face to face or can they help you from afar? This story is broken up and interlinked between all the others. It gives the impression of time passing between the one who wants to talk but isn’t really ready to as they keep putting up barriers (I must meet you and you’re wrong) and the one who is willing to wait for however long until they are. A philosophical conversation with someone or something – do you really need to see them to talk?

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Reading Challenges, Reading Nook Blog Posts, Science Fiction

Author Interview: ‘Thread and Other Stories’ by Eric Halpenny

About the Book:

Thread and Other Stories is a multi-genre collection of short stories (single author) that includes science fiction, fantasy, urban fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, and espionage. There are seven stories in the collection.

Prudence and her older brother Yannick face extreme poverty and hardship in Thread. They live day to day on the wages they earn at low paying, difficult jobs. They face hardships that seem insurmountable for two young children. Isidore, an impoverished boy trying to survive on his own, enters their lives with even greater needs than Prudence and Yannick. They integrate him into their family life even as their world begins to crumble around them. But, there is an ominous backdrop to these events as strange entities take a keen interest in the lives of the three children.
A military psychologist evaluates a Vietnam war veteran who has experienced psychological damage in Shrink. The veteran’s fellow soldiers and friends must support him as the psychologist attempts to uncover the reasons behind his trauma.
Emil, Annie, and their three children—Zona, Owen, and Abner—struggle to stay safe in a steampunk-inspired fantasy world in Chance. Abner finds himself in trouble as a powerful magical being terrorizes the family farm. Only Zona’s quick thinking along with her parents’ knowledge of magic will give them a chance against the dark sorcery of the enemy.
John and Greg, bound by friendship, embark on a journey of trial and tragedy in Conflict, a 20th Century historical fiction. They must deal with death, loss, and grief as compatriots fall in battle during this poignant snapshot of the Canadian military in World War I. John and Greg show a contrast in the ways that these soldiers adapted to the psychological effects of war.
Veera, an astrophysicist, begins to experience recurring déjà vu, the source of which she cannot determine in Oversight, a science fiction adventure. She is unknowingly set on a collision course with Misha, who challenges Veera’s perception of the world as she struggles to determine what is real and what isn’t. Misha must deal with his own psychological demons as he tries to salvage a failing mission that will either end in glory or in his own death.

Dmitry is a hardened spy in the Cold War who has no mercy for his adversary Olyesa in the espionage thriller Deception. Olyesa and Dmitry navigate their way through the murky waters of agents and double agents while simultaneously struggling against each other for survival. When their divergent plans collide, it threatens to destroy them both.

Explore a metaphysical debate in the literary short story Conversation, which is woven between each of the short stories in this collection. An unnamed protagonist and an unidentified and secretive entity discuss the metaphysical and spiritual meaning behind science and what it means to gain knowledge.

 

Add to Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

My name is Eric Halpenny, I am a licensed chemical engineer, and I specialize in environmental systems and manage the catalysts used for air emissions control at a power plant in Northern California. In my spare professional time, I help develop the national chemical engineering licensing exam. I have been married for 13 years and I have three children ranging from 7 to 12 years old. Everything I do is really for them. I recently published my first book, Thread and Other Stories, which is a collection of short stories.

I don’t really remember a specific point in life where I started writing, but in the end, I think I will always say that it was reading that got me into writing. I have been an avid reader for all my life—as far back as my memory serves. I remember writing stories in third grade that were assigned by my teacher. My first story that really got me motivated to write more was a comic book style story I wrote about astronaut food that takes over a space shuttle. I still have that one in a box somewhere. I started writing a novel that same year, again as part of an assignment in school. I didn’t finish it (still in progress—in fact it’s what I’m hoping to publish next), but that particular book is what led me to believe that I could really do this. Since then I’ve written a lot of short stories, poems, and have started about six novels, with one close to completion.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I almost always write in the evenings between 9:00 pm and midnight. I work full-time, I have three kids, and lots to do most of the rest of the day just keeping up with the family and other obligations. Occasionally I find times on a weekend when I can spend an hour or two writing, but not often. A lot of my “idea time” comes when I’m driving around or other quiet moments when I can escape the noise of life. I use Evernote as soon as I can to keep track of what I come up with, because otherwise I end up with a lot of great ideas that I can’t remember.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

This is a tough question. I think my ideas come from a melding of all the things I have read and thought about in the past and then, they kind of spill out through my own lens of interpretation. Most of the time I really can’t pinpoint where an idea came from specifically, other than that it came to my mind and turned into a story. I suspect these ideas come from my subconscious that has worked on something that I thought was interesting or notable but that I don’t consciously remember. Sometimes, I come up with ideas based on things I have seen in the news or something like that, or from wondering about “what if this was a certain way” or “what would a person that was like this do?”

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

For short stories, I usually just start with an idea for some part of the story or for a character or a scene and start writing it. Then the rest flows and fills in until the whole thing takes enough shape that I can start to fit it into what I feel like it should say. For long stories, I have an outline and a plan developed ahead of time (which changes occasionally as I go along) and I stick with that mostly. These sometimes start with a flash of inspiration that ends up four or five pages long, but then I go back and decide where this cool scene or character that I just thought of comes from and will end up as. Occasionally, even when I plan, a new character pops up that I didn’t expect, or one of my characters does something that I didn’t realize they would do. Then I have to adapt to them.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

My first book Thread and Other Stories is a mixed bag, each short story written in a different genre. I did that for a couple of reasons, one being that I love many different styles, and another being that the ideas I had required certain elements that are unique to each of the styles.

In Thread and Other Stories, Thread is an urban/contemporary story, Chance is fantasy (with some steampunk influence, but just a little), Conflict is historical fiction, Oversight is science fiction, Deception is an espionage thriller, and Shrink is a psychological story. I tried to link these varied genres with a common theme—I don’t know if I succeeded, but I’m interested in what the readers find.

The novel I am working on now is “regular” fantasy with magic and dragons and so on, and is the novel I started as an eight year old. I also have science fiction and several literary fiction books in various stages of incompleteness. I guess I write what I like to read, which is mostly everything.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

I don’t know if I can really answer this question. First of all, I don’t know that many actors. Second, there are so many characters in a short story collection, that you might tire of reading about them. I’ll just choose one story, Deception, which is an espionage thriller set during the Cold War in the Soviet Union. My favorite character in the story is Olyesa and she would be played by Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Dmitry would be played by Michael Emerson (Lost), Syomin would be Ed Harris (like in Enemy at the Gate), Maxim would be played by James Purefoy (A Knight’s Tale), and Yura would be played by Tom Hardy (Inception). Full disclosure: my wife picked all of these except for Tom Hardy; I really and truly know almost nothing about celebrities.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I read a lot, although less than I used to—time is just too much of a limited commodity to spend it all reading, although that would be pretty cool to do. I spend most of my available book time reading to my kids, which is fun, but it limits a little bit what I get to explore. Classic literature is usually my preferred material when I can read on my own and my favorite classic authors are Victor Hugo, Charlotte Brontë, and Leo Tolstoy (among others). For more modern writers, in sci fi I like Timothy Zahn, and in fantasy (probably because of my children) I read a lot of Brandon Mull.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I’m in the middle of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (with my 7-year old), Vango: A Prince Without a Kingdom (with my 12-year old), The Princess Bride (on my own; I’ve always wanted to read it since I loved the movie so much), and Another Space in Time (on my own, supporting another indie author).

9: What is your favourite book and why?

Les Misérables is my favorite and if you look at my twitter or read my blog, it becomes kind of apparent. I love it because it covers the range of human existence through the lives of characters that are real (I know it’s fiction). What I mean by “real” is believable: they have legitimate and relatable characteristics—I can see Hugo’s characters in myself and in people around me. If any of us were put in their situations, I feel we would behave similarly. Most importantly, the themes from Hugo’s writing are powerful, relevant, and timeless.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I don’t think I’m qualified to give any advice at this point in my writing career, which has lasted for about four weeks. But I guess the one thing I do know is that it’s hard to do, and there came a point when I just had to decide that I was going to do this no matter what. Whatever obstacle I faced, whatever uncertainty lay before me, I was going to publish my book.

Maybe I am alone, I think I am not, but the most foreboding obstacle was my own fear that what I had written was no good. I had to put that fear aside and keep going. And now that I have done it, I can see it was the only way. It is so easy to not write and think about writing instead. It is easy to think that what I wrote was terrible and no one would want to read it. And if I had done that, nothing would be written. But I also knew, amidst my fear of failure, that I had something to say and there were people that would want to read it, and so I kept going until I was finished.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Facebook is a great place to find me (www.facebook.com/halpennyauthor) and get links to my website. I am also on twitter (@dragonswordbook). I’m not very well known, so if you send me a message I will almost certainly respond—it’s not like I’m flooded with email or anything. My website has comment options for my blog posts and a forum where you can post your own thoughts about my writing or maybe just your own philosophy of life. Anyone is welcome over there, and I will definitely respond.

About the Author:

Eric Halpenny is a seemingly normal engineer by day, but a fiction author by night. He hasn’t quit his day job. His preferred subject matter concerns life, existence, choice, spirituality, God, science, philosophy, and the nature of reality–all in the guise of entertaining stories. He started writing novels at the age of eight, but waited to publish until thirty-eight. He is often inspired in the middle of the night or while driving home from work. He lives in Northern California with his wife and three children. He loves inspiring quotations, and one of his favorites is from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: “To learn to read is to light a fire.” He would love to know that his writing lit the fire of reading, introspection, and hope in others.

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interview, Reading Nook Blog Posts