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 We're Jeni Chappelle and Melissa Koberlein. We're on a mission to explore the world of publishing with some amazing women.

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Indie Chicks Season 3 podcast for websit

EPISODE 5, Season 2 – Review of The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach

In episode 5, Melissa welcomes Sarah Neville back to the show to review The Spider in the Laurel. Listen in...EPISODE 5 - The Spider in the Laurel.

Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! I’m your host, Melissa Koberlein. I’m an author and professor of publishing. If you’re just tuning in for the first time, let me tell you about the show. Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice. Each week, I invite a guest host to join me for a hot topic in publishing or a book review.

This week I was joined by Sarah Neville. This is Sarah's second episode this season and is likely to become a regular. She's a lot of fun. She has a Bachelor of Science in Art education, and she’s a Certified K-12 teacher. She’s a fantasy writer from Pennsylvania and an artist. She’s currently enrolled in my PUBL101 at NCC.

Welcome, Sarah...

Here is the description for The Spider in the Laurel by Michael Pogach from Amazon:

In Tomorrow's America, Belief is the New Enemy. Even a Silent Prayer can get you Black-Bagged.

In the Citizen's Republic of America, religion is outlawed. Historian Rafael Ward is a good citizen, teaching students the government approved narrative of the nation's history. But when he is tasked by Relic Enforcement Command with destroying the artifacts he cherishes, he begins to question the regime's motives and soon finds himself caught up in a secret revolution. It will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw Believer as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother's death, to help Ward break free of the government's yoke. If he's lucky, he might also prevent an apocalyptic future for which his secular world is completely unprepared.

The Spider in the Laurel questions the methods of both governmental authority and those attempting to subvert the status quo. It presents two unique visions: a new, never-before-heard fairy tale; and an alternate creation mythos inspired by Genesis and other ancient and Dark Age mythologies.

Here's Sarah's review:

Normally I don't gravitate towards dystopian novels, but I love the concept of them. I wasn't sure what to expect when reading Spider in the Laurel but I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!!!!

First, it's set in 2018 with a completely different version of America. Science has proven God and religion obsolete, and the Republic has led a complete crackdown on religious text, buildings and artifacts. The timeline of this America means that Rafael Ward has never before set foot in a church, or even celebrated Christmas. Those were things the "grandparent" generation knew of, but not the main characters.

Michael Pogach did a great job of creating meaningful plots for BOTH of the protagonist in the story. Rafael's journey hits home when you find out how and why he became an orphan. Mackenzie, the female protagonist, is driven by her faith and drive to find her father. She is a wonderful counterbalance to Rafael.

Lots of history and art references as the story moves through Paris and Europe to find religious artifacts and solve the mystery of why the Republic is seeking particular artifacts so fastidiously. Fast-paced and always being followed by the Republic, this novel moved along at a great pace and kept me on my toes.

Having studied art history and architecture in school, I felt this book did a wonderful job creating the imagery of these places and describing the artworks.

Great read. Very informative and engaging. Audiobook quality was just as good. If you enjoyed The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown and want something similar, read this book. You won't be disappointed.

Next, Sarah and I talked about the Q&A I had with author, Michael Pogach.

What inspired you to write the book?

I had been working in literary fiction short stories for a long time and wanted to try writing a novel. My first thought was to write an Indiana Jones-style adventure, but as I began researching and writing, things took a darker turn. And a more dystopian turn. I also started paying attention to movies for pacing and plot structure. So, of course, the Indiana Jones movies were a big part of that, but also the Jason Bourne movies, and even things like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Some novels that helped me pace out the storyline, as well as how to layer in world and character histories, were the DaVinci Code books, American Gods, and the Jack Reacher books. In the end, I just kept trying to finish the first draft. It took 4 years, but once I finished it, I found myself needing to finish revisions. Then getting published. Then writing a sequel. Writing novels is an addiction now.

How do you come up with ideas for your books?

I read a lot. Well, a lot for me, anyway. Since I began writing novels, I've been reading over 20 novels a year (compared to maybe 5 or 6 prior). This year, I am reading my 40th novel right now. And I draw on my teaching field and my education, both of which focus heavily on Medieval and Classical art, literature, and history. But the truth is, I get most of my ideas by talking through stuff with people, like my writers group. I come up with my best ideas through conversation.

In regards to your writing, are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm a plantser. So, basically, I outline a plot for somewhere between 5-25 chapters. Then I start writing those chapters. And somewhere along the way, I go totally off script because my best plot turns usually come during my writing. Then, I scrap that initial outline and write a new outline based on the new direction. And a few chapters later, I've gone off script there too. The process repeats until the end. Often there are landmarks I know I need to hit, so my plantsing meanders me there, but in between those landmarks, things can go waaaay off plan.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, is there a genre/type you listen to?

I tend to listen to music more often (or at least louder) during revisions than initial writing. But I don't have any pre-set plan for music. I either put on Pandora or just set my music player to play everything on shuffle. Unless I'm in a particular mood. I've listened to a lot of Volbeat during revising my current novel project. Most of what I listen to tends to the heavier side of things, but there's no definitive boundaries: Metallica, Black Sabbath, Volbeat, Flyleaf, Johnny Cash, Wolf Alice, Garbage, whatever. I tend not to hear it when I'm writing; it just melts into the background.

I finished up the episode with a Tip of the Week: Network, network, network!

Get out there and meet other authors and publishing professionals. You never know where a connection might lead!

I thanked Sarah for coming on the show. This is where you can find her:

On my next podcast, I will have none other than Michael Pogach on the show. He’s joining me to talk about audiobooks. I will also have another Tip of the Week.

Don’t forget where to find me! Find my podcast at or follow me on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on iTunes. Please rate me! You can follow me on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or or @TheIndieChicks.

So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books! Thanks for listening!


Indie Chicks out.

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