Author Archives

J. T. "Grocs"

Love writing, gaming, movies and reading fiction. Also like playing golf. Happily married and live in Queensland. My wife and I live with Chad (the dog), and Shadow (the cat), whom we are both slaves to.

Final design proof complete for Wolf and the Crow

Firstly, sorry for being a bit quiet on the blog. Real life and work has been a bit crazy the last couple of weeks.

I’m happy to announce that the final design proof of my first novel, Wolf and the Crow, has been submitted to Ocean Reeve Publishing. The printing and ebook phase is going to be shortly underway.

I was hoping for a July release, but it is more likely to be early August. I’m very impressed with the professionalism shown by Ocean, Jason and the rest of the team.

This has been a long time coming, and I’m pretty damn excited at the debut novel not being far away now.

I’ll soon be able to hold the real book in my hands.

First Chapter of Wolf and the Crow available via Aussie Speculative Fiction

My first novel, Wolf and the Crow, is getting closer to being published. Aussie Speculative Fiction have kindly included the first chapter in their online anthology. Definitely worth a read to see all the amazing Aussie talent coming out in different fantasy genres.

The first chapter is found at the very end of First Chapters Fantasy, and you can download it for free on Kindle and other readers here via bookfunnel.

Get a taste of my new novel by reading the first chapter in this anthology.

Design proof complete

After a week and a half of reading my own book aloud the design proof is complete. I am so glad my publisher advised me to read aloud, because I picked up a lot of corrections, due to the fact some of the sentences just weren’t as good as they could be.

Wolf and the Crow is now getting much closer to being fully realised. It has been sent back to Ocean Reeve Publishing and they will work on the corrections before sending me the final proof to review.

Then it is out – so we are still tracking for a July release. So stoked and looking forward to you all reading the first book of The Ebonsheare Chronicles.

Does Reading Fantasy Help you Escape?

We’ve always heard that reading a good book takes you far away, and forgive the cliché but doing so lights the fire in your imagination.

I am a voracious reader. During my school days I generally got on well with most, though as kids are sometimes apt to be, I ran into the odd bully as well. As a kid growing up in the early 80’s and like many others my love of fantasy grew when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons. For the D&D fans out there it was the original D&D 2nd edition that I bought (and still own).

One of the best series of books I read growing up. It was great finding the covers I remember so fondly as an image.

D&D unlocked my imagination and really increased my appetite for fantasy novels, and also as a means of escape from the usual kids wanting to bully just because they could. Growing up in primary school I hadn’t really come across this level of relentless teasing and Machiavellian practical jokes to try and make my life miserable.

An example of one of these practical jokes would be my tormentor grabbing a large urine sample jar from biology class and slightly opening the lid before putting it in my pencil case. For a kid trying to find his way in the world, opening that pencil case with others sitting next to you with a ‘WTF man!’ like face doesn’t instil the greatest confidence.

Don’t have my original set from the 80s, but because I was feeling quite nostalgic a few years ago I found all of them 2nd hand and bought them again.

Being much older now, I think I learned a lot during those interesting years of high school. I distinctly remember always falling back on novels and reading about how the hero started at humble beginnings, dealing with their own nemesis (bully or otherwise) before emerging triumphant. I know that without fantasy novels in those school days my imagination wouldn’t have soared. I also indirectly found an inner strength and a way to cope while going through those sometimes tumultuous years of growing up.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at school overall and meet some life long friends, but reading and relating to characters in fantasy novels always helped, and indeed formed a lot of the ideals I hold today; like mutual respect, fairness, generosity and just being good to others.

Look over your past at what you read; fantasy or otherwise. Did a good novel or series help you get through the trials of growing up?

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

VAMPYR – Review

Apart from the soon to be released “Wolf and the Crow” novel, I also write for a gaming and geek culture blog called The Late Night Session. My Xbox gamer tag is “Grocs” and I do enjoy a bit of gaming to relax.

Back in the second half of 2018 a narrative driven RPG game came out called Vampyr. I was curious at the time of release, but because I had so many other games still to finish, I held off on a day one purchase.

Fast forward to the first half of 2019 and I was pleasantly surprised to see Vampyr had made its way to Xbox Game Pass. With this fantastic addition to the game subscription setvice I started playing it. While not perfect, it is a really good game and has a fantastic story.

Unlike other games in the genre, the melee and ranged weapons are excellent. Each creature and human has their own strengths and weaknesses, which you develop your abilities and weapons around.

At the simplest level, Vampyr is a 3rd person action RPG that places you in the 1918, during World War 1. You play Dr. Jonathan Reid, a brilliant physician who is world renowned for his cutting edge blood transfusion research. What transpires very early on in the game is that you are bitten by a creature of the night and subsequently are reborn as a vampire.

The story telling aspect of this game is exceptional. As you grow in your new found powers as a young Ekon (the more civilised name and what vampires call each other) you discover a lot of people in various districts of London. Most of the game is set at night, as you don’t really venture out in the day due to obvious reasons. Conversations and building trust with the local population is very important for a number of reasons.

The cut scenes during each of the chapters are well done.

This is where the game truly gets interesting. It has an amazing game mechanic where can elect to feed on the blood of these innocent citizens (calling some innocent is a bit of a stretch) and you will collect a lot of XP by doing so. This XP can be used to develop your vampire like powers, but the district suffers as a result. In London in 1918 The Spanish Flu was a plague of massive proportions and as Jonathan, you can either try and help the citizens by making various medicines, or you can simply drain them of blood and get quite powerful as a vampire.

Jonathon Reid is a very well crafted character. The time period is also excellent.

This is one of the things that makes the game so interesting. If you take the easy way to build up your character, you effectively become a bad guy of sorts, preying on all the civilians. If you elect to try and help the citizens (I did this for most part) it takes you longer to level up and gain XP because you are getting XP by doing other things, like helping the people. You really develop a connection with all of these fleshed out characters. The right and wrong answers in the conversation dialogue is not that clear cut, and there is no manual save option. If you make a mistake, you’ll have to live with your decision for the rest of the play through.

The graphics are quite good, though not as cutting edge as you might be use to. They do set the sombre Gothic tone for a plague ravaged London very well. The sound is suitably gruesome and foreboding. I think the different vampire powers, combined with traditional weapons that you can upgrade (via gathering the appropriate materials) are all excellent.

I think my complete play through took between 20-30 hours and it only became a touch repetitive towards the end. Remember, I played the “good” vampire, which meant levelling up took more time. The only slight let downs for me was that the same monsters re-spawned when you revisited an area in the same chapter, and there is no fast travel. There is plenty to explore, and it is worth your time collecting materials and samples to improve your crafting, but it did slow it down just a touch more than necessary.

Despite these minor drawbacks I really enjoyed this game and look forward to a sequel. Even though a sequel hasn’t been formerly announced I think there is a strong chance of one coming because Vampyr did actually sell quite well.

Check it out – I think Vampyr is a good solid action rpg, with an excellent art style. The game is well worth your time and available on multiple gaming platforms.

What is your gaming platform of choice and what sort of games do you like to play? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Reviewed on the Xbox One X. Stock images used.