Angels and demons with unexpected twists, Adam and Eve, and some surprising information about a certain apple… Those are just background elements for today’s guest, debut novelist Astrid V. Tallaksen. I wanted to know so many things about her writing, background, and where she got those great glasses.
Debut author Astrid V. Tallaksen grew up with a heart for stories of creatures and places outside of this world. Her love of reading quickly became a love of writing. She spent several years creating content and helping writers to improve their craft on the online world of Althanas, a creative writing workshop in the guise of a roleplaying forum. A self-avowed nerd, Astrid loves science fiction, comic books, and eighties fantasy movies in the vein of The Princess Bride and Labyrinth. Her geekiness extends to annual volunteer work at the massive sci-fi convention known as Dragon*con every year in Atlanta, Georgia. In the odd times that she’s not immersed in geekdom or writing, Astrid loves to sing karaoke, crochet, and spend time with her family and pets.
1. What was your first car? Mitsubishi Mighty Max – a tiny little truck with a LOT of get up and go. I used to race against sports cars in it and win.
3. Worst movie ever? Hell’s Kitchen – it’s a terrible horrible Angelina Jolie movie
4. Who would you most like to sit next to on an airplane? Tom Hiddleston – especially if we can join the Mile High Club…
5. Best guilty pleasure ever? Powdered sugar, cream filled donuts. Yummmmmmmmm
6. Who would play you in the movie? That’s a tough one… maybe Claire Danes?
7. What is the one thing you can’t live without? Internet!!!! What would I do without wifi?
8. As a child (or now!), what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a vet for wild animals. It would still be an awesome job but there really aren’t any opportunities for that where I live.
9. Are the names of the characters in your novels significant? Somewhat. All the fallen angels have Old Testament Biblical names. And then the angels are based on angels in the Kabbalah or in other cultural mythologies – abilities are important
BlurbThe world is a pretty straightforward place. Even for medium Sara Stone things seem pretty simple, aside from the whole talking to spirits bit. But when the spirits get too hard to handle and Sara ends up admitted to a mental hospital, the world starts to seem a lot less straightforward. First her family disappears, including her four year old son. Then she gets the sneaking suspicion that not only are the staff at the mental hospital somehow connected, but they also have no intention of ever letting her leave the hospital. Everything changes when Sara has her first visitor in three months. Daniel is handsome, friendly, and a complete stranger. When he promises to spring her from the hospital and swears that everything she’s experienced is completely real, Sara has no choice but to believe him. But once she reaches a run-down Victorian house in the tiny Alabama town her rescuer calls home, the last thing she expects to discover is that every memory she has is a lie. Daniel reveals a world filled with angels, demons, and an impending war humans know nothing about. Sara wants to ignore her role in the whole mess – all that matters is solving the mystery of where her son has gone. But the forces of Heaven, Hell, and the Heart have other plans for her. Can she find her child before the world comes crashing down?
- Book Title: At Death’s Door (Freefall Book 1)
- Author: Astrid V. Tallaksen
- Genre: Urban fantasy
- Length: 232 pages
- Release Date: August 17, 2014
Contact Links For Astrid
My Review: 5 out of 5 stars for Astrid V. Tallaksen’s At Death’s Door
How hard is it to write a review that doesn’t include spoilers? Well, if the book in question is a straightforward romance, it’s a piece of cake. If it’s a typical mystery with clues and a final sherlockian reveal, it’s still fairly doable. But if it’s the incredible roller coaster twists and huh-I-did-NOT-see-that-one-coming turns of Astrid V. Tallaksen’s debut novel At Death’s Door, then all I can say is that it’s nearly impossible. But I’m a professional. I have a university degree in literature, buckets of experience, the gall to make up words like sherlockian, boundless optimism… and no earthly clue how to do it. That, however, has never stopped me before. So what I’m going to do is replace everything I shouldn’t tell you with the letters SA (Spoiler Alert**). (**No, don’t bother clicking on the SA. You think this is some kind of techie online gaming system where you can click on the acronym and see what it’s hiding? Oh, please. Remember the part where I have a literature degree?).[Does a few stretches and breathing exercises. Right. Here goes.]
What if you a) remember a family that nobody else can find, b) have a four-year-old son that everyone says doesn’t exist, and oh yeah—c) could talk to dead people? (Not that you would want to because all they ever do is yammer on with messages their living relatives don’t want to hear, or bend your ear about some impending apocalypse, but still…) And what if d) you had already been in the mental hospital for over three months? And of course, that doesn’t count the part where you’d tried—several times—to commit suicide and it just doesn’t work? You might start to think that maybe everyone else is right and you actually are crazy.
Sara Stone has just reached that point when she receives her first visitor since becoming an inpatient on a psych ward. Daniel is handsome, sympathetic, friendly, familiar with her and her background—and a complete stranger. But he seems to know her, and to be working on a plan to get her out. With no other options and a desperate need to find her son, Sara puts all of her trust in Daniel.
And, despite a last-minute standoff that turns bloody when the doctor and staff turn out to be SA, it seems to work. Daniel rescues Sara and takes her to his house. Once he gets there, though, he seems strangely reluctant to fill her in on SA. But finally, he reveals that the reason she can see dead people and other spirits who are really SAs, is that he and she are actually SA themselves. In fact, Sara is the SA-ist of all SAs. So then… Nope, this just isn’t working.
Okay, let’s try this. I would give At Death’s Door a very solid five out of five stars. Every few pages, something else amazing happens. There is heartbreak, heroism, humor, romance, and adventure. There is deception on a biblical scale (literally), and eons of backstory. People do bad stuff for good reasons, good stuff by accident, and weird stuff that eventually (mostly) gets explained.
And when a story takes thousands of years to develop, you can bet that it might not finish in one book. But even though there are many unexplained details (such as what happened to her son’s father? And his sort-of father? And his other father?), this story arc has an unexpectedly satisfying resolution, while at the same time making it very clear that we will all need to stalk Ms. Tallaksen until she produces that next volume.
(And maybe some of you need to read this wonderful book, so we can talk about the most amazing SA of all. I can’t wait.)*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
At Death’s Door Excerpt
They always say don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. It makes sense, it’s logical. There’s no way your knife will be faster than a bullet, and you have to get very close for it to be effective unless you’re good at throwing said knife. Roxanne’s didn’t look like it would be very easy to throw. She broke tradition though and leaped forward at Daniel slashing twice across his chest and leaving crimson stripes in her wake. Why the hell hadn’t he shot her yet? I felt frozen, watching over my shoulder as they just stared at each other, kind of swaying back and forth as though deciding who attacked next. It seemed like a no-brainer. He needed to shoot her, sooner rather than later, then turn and figure out what to do with Sasha. I tried to see how deep the knife wound was, but all I could tell was that his entrails weren’t falling on the floor. That was something at least. There had to be some reason he wasn’t shooting her, but I couldn’t for the life of me fathom what that reason might be.
For this week’s Lie-dar, please choose how you think Astrid would have finished the statement—”Something my readers might not know about me is…”
- I used to live at an animal rescue shelter
- My great grandmother was a member of the suffragette movement in the US.
- My husband and I restore old cars.
For a chance to win a copy of At Death’s Door, please add your guess about the correct answer to the Comments section below.
CONTEST UPDATES: Congratulations to last week’s winners
- Phil, The Regular Guy NYC wins a copy of Demon Stones by Michael Drakich
- Jessie at Behind the Willows wins the two-volume set of L.T. Kelly’s Falling series