Category Archives: Author Interviews

Interviews of Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors

Author Interview: Jeanette O’Hagen

Author JeanetteO’Hagen’s tales of Nardva span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic, others include space stations and cyborgs. She has published over forty stories and poems. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, my name is Jeanette O’Hagan, Born in Australia, I spent part of my childhood in Africa. Over the years I worked as a doctor and lectured in theology, ethics and history, and am now a writer. I live in Brisbane with my husband, two children (15 & 21) and two cats. I love traveling, painting, reading, learning and catching up with friends and family.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began telling myself stories about characters in an imaginary world at the age of eight. I made maps, drawings, genealogies, alphabets etc but didn’t consider writing down the stories until a family friend challenged me to do so when I was fourteen.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

In my late teens to early twenties, when I wrote my first novel and a few short stories, but life took on a different turn and it wasn’t until about eight years ago that I dusted off my old novel, enrolled in a Masters of Arts (writing) and started writing again, that I took it seriously.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I (just) released Rasel’s Song (26 April 2021),the second book in the Akrad’s Legacy series and I’ve wasted no time in pulling out the drafts on the next book, Lumi’s Allegiance (due for release later in 2021).

What inspired you to write this book?

Rasel’s Song continues the narrative arc in Akrad’s Children, in the Akrad’s Legacy series (though each norel has its own arc). I was inspired to write the series as a prequel to my original unpublished novel, Adelphi (now Finding Elene), to tell the backstory of the previous generation behind that novel, in particular Mannok, Rasel, Ista and Dinnis.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My style is immersive, descriptive, a mixture of action, character and world-building with a strong sense of place.. Some have called it lyrical.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Rasel is a shapeshifter and an intruder on Tamrin society. Her people are semi-nomadic, following the ‘songlines’ in the country. For them, a person or creature’s nature and characters as an expression of a song. While she does sing, Rasel’s Song is also a reference to her character, motivation and story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

For me, the story comes first and I rarely start with a theme or message. However, themes do emerge as I write. Akrad’s Children had a strong focus on betrayal, forgiveness and revenge. In Rasel’s Song themes of love, duty and the nature of freedom.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?


Though I do draw on my own experiences and that of others as I write, I haven’t based the story on actual people or actual events.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you
find inspiring?


So many great authors. Early influences were C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien – though other authors such as Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin, Ann McCaffrey, Julian May, Peter Beagle have given me a strong love for fantasy and science-fiction. They inspire because of the richness of their imaginative worlds, their understanding of character, their ability to find a thread of hope even in the darkest times, and their willingness to persist with their writing.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

So hard to choose one. The writers I’ve just mentioned have shaped my own writing. Other writers in writing groups and critique groups, as well as my editors, have also been invaluable in challenging and encouraging me as a writer.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I must confess, I designed the cover of Rasel’s Song and, in fact, all but one of my books. While I have no formal artistic training, I love drawing and painting for as long as I can remember and it’s just something I wanted to do for my own books.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up, keep learning and always be prepared to take on constructive feedback.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Enjoy. Enjoy the world, the characters, the story. And, if you loved the book, review the book and recommend it to others you think will enjoy it.


Jeanette O’Hagan
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Author Interview: Sybrina Durant

Author Sybrina Durant is an author because she writes. She feels compelled to do so. She is also an entrepreneur because Indy publishing required it. I think she is a quick learner! Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

I am Sybrina Durant – unicorn author and entrepreneur. I also have a full time job at an engineering company where I describe my primary role as “bringing order to chaos”. That’s what document controllers do through gathering, organizing and cataloguing information.

Doing that for thirty plus years helped me understand the concept of doing the same things in my book related activities, whether it is researching, outlining my stories, or setting up my unicorn book and gift store. Yes, that’s right. . . one of the ways I promote my book, Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale, is by promoting every unicorn book by every other author that I could find on the internet. Considering all of the age categories, that’s well over one thousand books featuring unicorns!

When and why did you begin writing?

I started trying to write science fiction and fantasy after I had read a couple of hundred science fiction and fantasy books – several of them novels featuring unicorns. By the time I was in my early 30’s, the works of those other authors had so inspired me that I was sure I could come up with a tale of my own. I was particularly fascinated with the idea of unicorns with magical powers but I wanted mine to be different from all the others I’d read about. I decided mine would be metal-horned unicorns with magical powers based on the science of their particular metals. I got to work researching metals and finally came up with a group of unicorns whose hides and manes were derivatives of the colors the metals produced under different conditions such as heat. Nearly all of them were named for the name of their metal in other languages. Their magical powers were inspired by their names or properties of their metals.

A couple of examples are Style, the steel-horned unicorn, who is the tribe’s magical “mane-do” stylist; and Tinam, the tin-horned unicorn, who can magically preserve food in tins of different shapes and sizes. In those two examples, Style is an Old English word for steel and Tinam is a Germanic word for tin.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I considered myself a writer when I didn’t even really know what being a writer meant. I was pretty naïve in the beginning of my writing days. Now, even after writing several books and receiving lots of positive reviews, I’m still never completely happy with what I’ve written.

Luckily, beta readers and editors have saved the day for me many times. I recommend every potential author out there to utilize their services if serious about the idea of selling books to the public. Otherwise, be prepared for some cruel criticism.

Back to your question, I’m not sure I’ll ever really consider myself successful as an author. There are so many amazing writers in the world who will never achieve financial success or worldwide recognition. That is a shame because a there are so many great stories being told. The struggle to get eyes on your book is intense as there are literally over five thousand books published and offered to the public for sale each and every day in the United States alone. If you write it, you have to be willing to market it, too. With all of the competition, most of us will have to learn to be content to work within our own little sphere of influence. That sphere will only have any hope of continuing to expand outward by your overwhelming commitment to marketing.

Can you share a little more about your current book with us?

Journey To Osm – The Blue Unicorn’s Tale is the full length novel version of The Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm, a middle grade picture book. In that one, each two page chapter is followed by a glorious double-spread illustration by Dasguptarts. That “chapter book” contains over 160 pages total. I was never happy with the text constraints of that version of the book so I expanded it to an 85,000 word clean-read YA novel.

The Blue Unicorn is one of twelve remaining members of the Tribe of the Metal Horn. It took a couple of centuries for Magh, the evil sorcerer of MarBryn, to slaughter hundreds of stranded space-faring unicorns who were visiting MarBryn. Why did Magh do it? To steal the unicorn’s magic, of course. Why didn’t the unicorns just travel away from the evil sorcerer? Well, you’ll find the answer to that question in the book. Of the remaining twelve unicorns, only Blue was born with no metal and no magic. Strangely, it was prophesied that he would become the saviour of the tribe. With little to no hope left, it will be up to the plain blue unicorn to figure out how to fulfill the prophecy that promises he will take the metal-horned unicorns back to the safety of their home planet, Unimaise.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Yes, it is somewhat lyrical and a little whimsical with some silly comedic moments plus quite a bit of action, adventure and drama. I use a lot of word play. . .turning ordinary words into flights of fancy. My unicorns think and act like people. Readers, who are grounded in reality, will have to seriously suspend some of their beliefs when they learn of some of the things they are capable of.

How did you come up with the title of this book? I was always enamored with the Wizard of Oz. I wanted the word Osm to evoke flashes of fond memories in potential readers. On a side note, the word, Osm, is taken from a metal that many don’t know about called Osmium. That shiny, bluish-white metal is the densest metal in the world – twice as dense as lead. It is also one of the rarest metals. It’s not the most expensive but as of today it is valued at $1,645.00 for 1 troy ounce. That’s right up there next to the price of gold!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

First, that you can’t always just a book by its cover. And last, don’t let anything stop you from trying to achieve your goals. Keep consistently at it. You will find yourself learning and calling up new strengths every day. Never give up.

What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?

Piers Anthony’s writings most influenced my desire to try to write a book. He wrote about magical unicorns and he is known as a master of “punmanship”. I absolutely loved the way he took ordinary words and terms and flipped them into something completely different and unique. Here’s one – Ladies: Are you looking for a new pair of shoes? Just pluck one from a Ladyslipper tree. His books contain thousands of examples of this type of word play. All the normal people in his novels were known as the Mundanes. Hmmm…I wonder if that’s where JK Rowling came up with the idea of calling magicless people Muggles? She has publicly admitted to being influenced by lots of authors but he is not one that I could confirm. By the way, I call all of the actual people in my novel (those with magic and those without) Two-leggers. But I never call them people.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you enjoy reading about the metal-horned unicorns from Unimaise. It took me thirty years to come up with a story that I wanted to actually share with others.

Sybrina Durant
League City, Texas

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Journey To Osm- The Blue Unicorn’s Tale

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Author Interview: Maurice X Alvarez

Author Maurice X Alvarez writes what he loves to read. He tries to make his stories much more fun that the real world. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, there. My name is Maurice, and I live in New Jersey with my wonderful wife, author Ande Li, two great kids, a dog and a parakeet. I grew up in NYC, and still consider myself a New Yorker at heart.
I’m an avid cyclist, finding the activity and the exploring of new places cathartic after a long week of work.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was around ten years old. I was fortunate to have family that encouraged my writing, including a cousin whose feedback proved invaluable at that early age.

I’m often asked about “when” I began writing, but seldom “why”. I was inspired by films like Star Wars, The Monster Club and Xanadu. They made me dream things I’d never dreamed before, and opened my mind to the kinds of places I wanted to explore and people to learn more about.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

There’s nothing more convincing than that first time you hold a printed copy of your book in your hands. That was January of 2011 for me. But I’d suspected I was a writer long before that, probably in high school when I found myself writing a number of sequels to a short story I’d written in 8th grade. One of them required me to do some research on travel to Africa and diamond mining. That’s when things got real.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

“Return to Averia” is the first book of a trilogy called “The Trouble With Thieves”. It falls under portal fiction, a subgenre of sci-fi/fantasy I learned about recently.

It’s a lighthearted story of a thief from a distant world and two young women from Earth who are drawn into the adventure of their lives as they hunt down a borderline sociopath with delusions of grandeur. How’s that for a one-liner?

What inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration came from a drawing my wife created one day. As I sat there admiring the drawing, a friend happened to peer over my shoulder and mused, “I wonder what the story is behind that!” I’ll never forget those words. He made me realize that I wondered what the story was too! Within a few hours, I had the character names, the epilogue and a basic plot.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve heared others refer to my writing style as “seat of my pants”. I know some authors create outlines and have other elaborate methods for their writing. And perhaps some of that goes on in my head, but I definitely don’t engage in anything so formal. My characters lead the way most of the time, and they get themselves in and out of situations, often to my surprise.

Aside from that, I write the way books I have enjoyed are written: easy to read and focused on characters that change and grow from their experiences.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Each book in the trilogy contains the name of a planet within that book. “Return to Averia” is actually the second time one of the characters goes to that planet. The backstory of their first trip to Averia became so rich that it evolved into a forthcoming prequel story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say it is to look past small issues and just enjoy life. Like us, the characters each start out with a personal struggle that they bring to their relationships with each other and with others. The adventure in “Return to Averia” begins putting things into perspective for them. And that growth progesses throughout the trilogy.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

There are so many! Issac Asimov, Larry Niven, Stephen Donaldson, Jack Chalker, Edgar Rice Burroughs… the list goes on. Their characterizations and worldbuilding skills were true inspirations. And with authors like ERB and Doc Smith, it’s more about the whimsical nature of the stories; you can just zip through them, losing yourself completely but without feeling like you’ve read a deep work of literature.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustration?

The original artwork on which the cover is based was my wife’s doing. There’s a pencil-version of that image which I converted into a 3D graphic for use as the cover. I’ve always been partial to the pulp paperback book covers of the ’60s and ’70, and this was my attempt to mimic their style. Though I did change the title about a year ago when books two and three were released, in order to get a consistent look across the series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Two things:

Prepare yourself to receive a lot of feedback. Some will be good and some bad; that’s just the way it is. But you will have to learn how to deal with it. Just don’t let it get you down. Read it, ignore it for a day or two and let your chemistry settle down, then read it again and see what you think of it then.

Whether you’re new at it, or it’s old hat, you can always learn something from other writers. This is especially true for us, the self-published. Ours is an ever-evolving world, and it helps to stay on top of the latest trends.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Whether it’s my book or someone else’s, have fun reading!


Maurice X. Alvarez
Florham Park, NJ

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Cover Artist: Ande Li
Publisher: Room 808 Press

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Author Interview: Lee Garratt

I originally know Author Lee Garratt from speculative poetry, but he is also a novelist! When I asked him how he might describe himself as an author, he replied: “Regularly entertains delusions of grandeur.” Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Hi there. My name is Lee Garratt. I am 49 years old and, after rather a varied career history, I am currently teaching High School English in the English Midlands. I have a 10 year old son, Alfred.

When and why did you begin writing?

As a serious thing after a marriage break up 7 years ago. I suddenly had more time to myself and I thought it was either now or never. Writing was always something I was going to do – it was time to either get busy or to drop that dream.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That’s an interesting question. It is something of a sliding scale isn’t it? When I first started writing I went to a local poetry club. There, the first thing I wanted to do was to write poems that would stand up against the others and get good feedback. Once I had achieved that, I set myself a goal of getting one of my poems or stories published. And when that happened, when I finally saw my name in print, it was, as every writer knows, a very exciting moment! Since then, I have been lucky enough to have more things published and even, more recently, whole books of my own.

Whether I consider myself a writer though, or ‘just’ a teacher who writes in the evenings is a moot point. I think, until I could quit the day job, I would feel a little bit of a fraud giving myself such a grand title! To be a writer, to actually be one, is really quite something.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Certainly. It is, I would say, a YA fantasy novella It is set in a land (a future Earth?) where society has, to a large extent, broken down. Culture only barely clings on in an almost mythical faraway place, SeaCity. The protagonist, Alfred, grows up in a dysfunctional, barely alive, settlement stranded in a dystopian waste. Events conspire to send Alfred on a dangerous journey to Seacity.

What inspired you to write this book?

I think the genesis of it was just the image of a place; a barren wasteland where people barely cling on after some unspecified cataclysmic event. The place itself captured my imagination and I started from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Ooh. That’s interesting. I think my ‘natural’ writing style is a kind of rational exposition similar to, in my mind at least, John Wyndham. I think it probably seems a little ‘old fashioned’ to some these days.

I play around with different voices though. I recently wrote a story in a more fevered Irvine Welsh kind of manner (or that was my intention). I’ve tried imitating a Stanislaw Lem voice (very difficult). It is fun to play around with these things.

The settling on a ‘style’ is an interesting thing actually. You read the vast majority of authors and they certainly do this. It’s surprising actually, how many of them settle on a single ‘voice’. Perhaps that is a good thing – perhaps most of us have one true authorial voice that, if we are lucky enough to discover, would be best advised to stick to. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder whether, given the sheer infinite amount of forms a story can take, many authors aren’t just settling for safety?

How did you come up with the title of this book?

It took a little while to get there actually. Indeed, I had another title in mind, ‘Dirt’, until very late in the day. When myself and the publisher decided on the cover image it was only then that I decided on ‘Remains’.
I like the process on deciding on a title – when you hit on the right one it just fits somehow.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Hmm. I think I am a little obsessed with the randomness of life. And how often things, actually, aren’t ‘meant to be’. So, if there is a message, it is perhaps something of how the world is a big place that couldn’t care less about you as an individual – even if you do happen to be a fictional character in a book!

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?

I’ve not thought about that, Directly no. But the protagonist is called after my son so there might be something there.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

Great question. I was something of a ‘bum’ in my 20s and 30s. So, for me, Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Mark Twain, Hemingway (and Tolkien too with his hobbits setting forth on journeys from the shire) have a lot to answer for!

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

As in all time, alive or dead?
I think I would probably choose Ursula K Le Guin. As well as being a truly wonderful writer of genius she always strikes me as a woman of wisdom and kindness. I love Hemingway but I’m not sure how good a mentor he would be. I imagine we might fall out after a big boozy night!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The first thing you write, try and make it incredibly, undeniably brilliant. You will then, in one fell swoop, have got yourself a publisher, an agent and lots of money, so can spend the rest of your life writing rather than having to bother yourself with all the boring stuff the rest of us have to.


Lee Garratt
Belper, Derbyshire, UK

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Publisher: Dimensionfold Publishing

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Author Interview: Taya DeVere

Author Taya is a Finnish-American author, equestrian, and a psychology enthusiastic, writing dystopian sci-fi. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Moi! Hello! My name is Teija DeVere (my author name is Taya DeVere). I was born in Sweden, grew up in Finland, moved away to England in my early 20’s, and continued to travel the world by moving to the states. I meant to stay in Vermont for a year, then hop on a plane again and go find another equestrian job in Spain. But when I happened to meet my partner-in-everything, Chris, on a wintery road trip to Portland, Maine… well, change of plans. Six weeks later, we got married. Over the next seven years, I lived and worked in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and California, until I dragged Chris and our zoo across the Atlantic to live in my home town Kaarina, Finland.

But all that aside, you are what you do, right? Therefore, I’m a ferocious writer. A curious digital marketer. A kind and soft-hearted equestrian. A dog owner who prefers bunnies over puppies (and therefore our house is filled with both). A person who believes that every single one of us is worth a third chance in life.

I devour stories about unlikely friendships. Get my craziest story ideas while lying in a hundred-degree sauna. Add green olives and ketchup in everything, and never miss a chance to tell a bad joke.

When and why did you begin writing?

Where? Durham, Maine. Just like Stephen King, though I didn’t know that at the time. When? I think it was around the summer of 2015. Why? After years of writing an expat blog to friends and family back home, (mostly about little things I found intriguing about living in the states, like coin laundries, French toast bagels, and how people often have popcorn for lunch), I decided to write something in English instead of Finnish. I wrote about the beautifully terrifying equestrian world and submitted my story to a magazine, got accepted, got addicted. I wrote articles and short stories for a long time, until one of the stories grew legs and ended up spreading into a novel. I’ve been hooked on writing books ever since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Back when I was fifteen, my boyfriend waited in my room while I was having dinner with my parents. When I walked in – my belly full of green olives and ketchup – he was reading a five-page essay I had written about The Lord of the Rings. I was embarrassed he had read the paper; it was just something I whipped out because the due date was tomorrow. I’ll never forget the genuine surprise on his face when he said, “Teija, this is great writing. Like, really great.” It still took me years to accept that I was better than average in something, but that essay was the first time I considered it to be true.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The world as we know it is crumbling down. Things like the government, housing, jobs, food, inter-personal touch and conversation now cease to exist. You have to run and hide. But where?

That’s the random thought that started my dystopian sci-fi series “UNCHIPPED.” Though the main character of the story, Kaarina, is not based on me, her torn sneakers took her exactly where mine would; hiding under a slightly moldy horse blanket at a remote horse barn in the Finnish woods.

At the moment, I’m writing book 15/20, and I’m starting to experience separation anxiety from the Unchipped universe as the story is slowly closing to its end.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cultural differences. I thought of my life in Finland and how different it is from my life in the USA. I played around with the two nations switching places; in my head, I relocated all Americans to live in Finland and vice versa. This initial idea didn’t make it to the book but molded into an unlikely friendship between a quiet Finnish outcast girl, a witty and fun Californian guy, and their newly found connection through a brain chip implantation gone wrong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s what I’m told, yes. Though my books are thoroughly edited and stripped of any “Finnglish” before publishing, my editors sometimes have a hard time deleting some of the “Teija-ism’s” in the books. Apparently, some Finnish thoughts and sayings are quite amusing in English. The last Teija-ism I recall was me calling sweatpants “college pants.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Good question! I don’t remember the thought process exactly, but I do remember it being a sunny summer day. I was drinking ice tea on the back porch. Our bunnies jumped around with cheer and the dog was basking in the sun. While genuinely enjoying the moment, my mind somehow jumped into things like Armageddon, social issues, and telepathic connections. Then, a moldy barn. Then, a questionable government with a desperate need to control and save humanity. I guess the name, Unchipped, was an afterthought of the story idea.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. Many. But I think more than anything, I wanted to challenge the reader’s conception of what it means for someone to be good or bad. How our need for ultimatums and simplicity can make us victims of confirmation bias.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the characters are a mix of people I know. A lot of the events and “themes” in the books are based on challenging moments and eras in my life. None of these times are good or bad; all of them are important pieces of the (slightly damaged) puzzle that I am today.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last started my love for dystopian sci-fi. Her sense of humor is beyond intelligent. Her stories have an uncanny way of processing complex social dilemmas, psyche, and humanity in a thrilling but easy-to-gasp way.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

Funny, but now that I think about it… I consider my editors to be my mentors. Especially the development editing process teaches me so much. And not just about story structure or language, but about life itself. I really lucked out finding my team. Knowing that someone will give you honest feedback and gently guide you to make the story flow better helps me become a less cautious writer. Brave, with a hint of insanity. That’s the on-going goal.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Deranged Doctor Design (DDD) designed all my Unchipped covers. I believe it was Chris who initially found their website and then showed me a few sci-fi covers that I found to be superb.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Know your genre tropes and what the market demands, but only write stories that truly inspire you. Book research is the key; I find that my best stories are about things that I want to read and then write about, almost obsessively.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ve had so many moments of despair while reading through the same draft for the eleventh time, and wondering if the story’s message will come through or not. When publishing a new book, I feel vulnerable beyond belief. But the feedback I’ve gotten for my stories has been overwhelmingly positive and helpful. At this point (still under a year since Book 1 came out), I remember most reviews I’ve gotten by heart. Thank you for helping me be better, but most of all, thank you for being a reader!


Taya DeVere
Kaarina, Finland

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UNCHIPPED: KAARINA

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: DVM Press

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