Spotlight & Excerpt: Blue Haven, by Lisa King

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Blue Haven is a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world-building and use of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought provoking thrill that’s impossible to put down

By Lisa King

Blue Haven

by Lisa King

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Publisher:  The Story Plant

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1611883206; 336 pages; $26.95; E-Book, $7.49

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Indigo / IndieBound / Book Depository

Welcome to Blue Haven, the world’s most lucrative condo corporation—so exclusive that only five lucky residents live in this lush, tropical paradise, housed in a top-secret location.

Among them is twenty-five-year-old Aloe Malone, an introvert and former waitress who traded bussing tables for lengthy sleep-ins, ocean dips, Michelin-star restaurants, spectacular sunsets, and unlikely new friends—all thanks to a spurious lottery win.

Life’s good.

Damn good.

That is, until Aloe discovers a journal.

Seemingly left by a past resident named Eloise whose entries are both sad and evoking, Aloe quickly suspects there’s more to Blue Haven than meets the eye.

Her suspicions are confirmed when visions arise, gruesome hallucinations she can’t understand, followed by a strange yet familiar man lurking in places he shouldn’t. Something’s wrong. Or maybe it’s all in her head. Regardless, she vows to uncover the truth.

Except someone wants to keep her quiet, and it’s the last person she ever suspected.

Blue Haven is a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world building and use of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought-provoking thrill that’s impossible to put down.


Day One

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, Aloe Malone was sitting on a tattered couch, a distinct eagerness coursing through her veins. She shivered; her radiator was on the fritz again, sputtering from one side, cackling, rendering her tiny bachelor apartment bone-cold uncomfortable. She curled into a sweater, still freezing, slowly succumbing to the chronic, aggravating chill.

And then she laughed, her breath puffy with condensation. She’d worked her last shift at the diner, and said her meager and limited goodbyes—except the one owed to her crummy apartment.

“Sayonara, shithole,” she whispered under her breath.

Now, she squinted into the radiant sun: hot but not fierce, a tempered warmth that was perfect and satisfying. She pressed her feet into the fairy dust sand and gave her toes a wiggle. She’d never felt sand like this before: white, delicate, possibly otherworldly, like it’d been manufactured in a laboratory or harvested from another universe. Like someone had broken one million hourglasses to populate this beach.

She turned to her personal concierge, Amir.
“Is this … real sand?”

Surely, it couldn’t be.

He nodded. “Real indeed. One of the many reasons we chose this location.”

This location: a mysterious venue somewhere on planet Earth. She’d love to know the actual coordinates and considered asking (for the third time) but confidentiality was part of the deal. If you wanted to live in the world’s most lucrative beachfront community, secrecy was paramount.

Still, she dug her toes deeper into the cushy grains. What part of the world produces sand like this? Aruba? Somewhere in South Asia? The Philippines?

She stared skeptically at Amir. His natural tan and dark features were clearly exotic. And his name, Amir. Was that Arabic?

“Aloe?” He touched her arm. “Are you feeling okay? You look a bit dazed.”

Her mind floated back. “Yeah, sorry. Still a little groggy.”

“That’s a very common side effect,” he replied. “Rest assured, you’ll be back to normal in a few hours at most.”

She nodded, somewhat attuned to the aftermath of drugs slugging through her arteries. The whole “going under” aspect had been daunting: a white mask, followed by slow, deep inhalations; counting down from ten, as requested; waking somewhere new and unknown— though it made good, logical sense. How else were people supposed to fly to a top-secret paradise without discovering its whereabouts?

Besides, look at this fucking view.
The oceanfront, steps away, was a prism of blue light. Turquoise lapped at the shoreline, fading to a sumptuous cerulean. The sky was a lovely robin’s egg, swept with long, lazy clouds. Her eyes found the horizon. There was nothing in the distance, no islands, shorelines, or glimpses. Just pure, unadulterated space.

Aloe turned to the billowing palm trees swaying in her periphery.
Not an imposing number, just enough to provide a calculated amount of shade.
Unlike other beaches she’d visited, Blue Haven’s was devoid of human life; and that, was its true appeal. No sandcastles or shoddily impaled umbrellas or squawking birds begging for scraps of potato chips. Blue Haven was a stock-grade computer background that didn’t exist in real life—except it did, to her absolute astonishment.

“Paradise,” she looked at Amir and smiled. “Y’all weren’t lying.”

“We aim to please,” he replied. “Go ahead, test the water. Dip your toe in. We’ve installed top-of-the-line thermoregulators to ensure the perfect temperature. Always.”

“You’re heating … the ocean?”

“Only as required.”

“Wow,” she replied, stepping forward.

A wave drifted over her toes, warm as bathwater, and she instantly unwound. A salty gust of air filled her lungs, causing her chest to lift.

And just like that, the unshakeable sense of irresolution that’d been following her for years was suddenly gone. All that mattered was here and now—this moment.

“How’s the temperature?” Amir asked.

She returned to his side with a lightness in her step. “Perfect.”

“Excellent.” He tucked a fuchsia hibiscus behind her ear, and for
some reason this motion summoned a pang of guilt. Her stomach lurched, and the weight of her body returned.

Did she really deserve this new life?

The answer was clear and undisputed. Of course not. No cognizant, twenty-five-year-old could honestly admit otherwise. She’d simply gotten lucky.

Then again, who was she to contest the force of luck?

“Are you ready to continue with the tour?” Amir asked.

She took one last glance at the ocean, nodding. The view was dreamy, glorious, enchanting—beyond any adjective she’d ever learned. Maybe she didn’t deserve this life, but it had found her. The only choice now was acceptance.

Even if Blue Haven seemed too good to be true.




Lisa King
 is a Canadian fiction author and researcher whose work on veteran mental health has been published in numerous academic journals. She holds degrees in psychology and neuroscience, both from Western University. Aside from writing, she enjoys family outings, ample coffee, and unapologetic napping. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and wonky-eyed cat.

Her latest book is the adult science fiction/psychological thriller, Blue Haven.

You can vist her website at or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.





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Spotlight & Author Interview – Riftsiders: Unlawful Possession + Excerpt

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The story of a couple that meets at a support group for the possessed…


By Paul A. Destefano

Release Date: April 18, 2022

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Length: 292 pages

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1509241231; $16.99; E-Book, $4.99



Enrique Marin wants a quiet life after the death of his wife. Just one problem stands in the way–he’s possessed by the misanthropic English demon, Tzazin. A violent night under demonic influence accidentally leads Enrique to love, and it’s anything but quiet. Shy, autistic yoga instructor Elle thought allowing herself to be possessed by the very-not-shy sex demon Key would help her find love. She finds Enrique, but she didn’t count on coping with the anti-demon bigotry of society. Fate–and AA meetings for the possessed–brings them together, but hostile forces, demonic and human, fight to keep them apart. It might cost them everything to keep their love alive.


Enrique approached the church feeling more like a lost tourist from the Dominican Republic than someone on national watchlists. Peering up at the untended vines coating the wall, he ran a hand through his short black hair. He glanced back at the street and then followed Ebbs down the stairs to the basement side entrance.
“I don’t even think he’s a real priest,” came the familiar British tones in the back of Enrique’s mind. “He’s not wearing a collar. This is bollocks. He can’t teach you anything about controlling me you don’t already know, and I’m certainly not going to listen to some pudgy little unshaven monk or whatever he is. Don’t go in.” Enrique stopped halfway down the cracked steps and bent, turning his back to Ebbs to tie a shoe that wasn’t untied. Ebbs waited by the door, gently humming to himself. “Shut up, Taz,” Enrique said, barely above a whisper. “If you would behave in the first place, we wouldn’t have to be here.” “Still bollocks,” Taz said. Enrique stood and wiped his hands on his jeans before descending. At the base of the stairway, he stomped his work boot into the puddle that reflected a third figure only he could see pacing behind them. Ebbs fished for keys in the pocket of his beaten brown leather jacket. He unlocked a door barely held together by decades of flaking paint. It swung open smoothly and silently. Stepping aside, he extended a hand and indicated Enrique should enter before him. Enrique didn’t move. “It’s a safe place,” Ebbs said, scratching the mottled gray of his unshaven neck. Enrique had heard that before. “Sometimes, that first step through the doorway is the hardest.” Enrique looked to the source of the voice, a silhouette up the hallway that nearly reached the ceiling. “I’m Dante Serrano,” the deep calming voice continued. “I moderate the group. Father Clancy here told me you would be coming. Enrique, right?” Dante’s head nearly grazed the hanging fluorescents as he approached, extending a massive hand in greeting. Enrique nodded and stepped in, trying not to stare too obviously at Dante’s dark eyes, nearly a foot above his own. “Tell you what,” Dante said with a bright grin. “I’ll answer your questions first, make you more comfortable. Come on, follow me. The answer to your first question, seven-foot one. Second question, no, I never played pro, got some bum knees. You know everyone sees a black man a head and shoulders over them, and they think, damn, that guy shoot some hoops. What you don’t hear is how much a damn problem it can be being so tall. Sure—never need a step stool, get to help all the shorter folk reach that top shelf in the grocery store. I’m not saying there are no perks. I’m saying there’s sometimes a hidden price. Considering where you are, I’m guessing you know that all too well.” “You mean considering what I am?” Enrique said, following the giant man through a doorway. Dante turned, shaking his shaved head. “No, man, no. Who you are. You got a problem? Okay. But that does not define you. A man is a lot of things—a plumber, a mechanic, a husband, a father. But you are never less a person before that. You are always you. Good man. Bad man. That’s not my job to tell you. But you. No matter what your problem. You are a who. Never a what. Just because a taxi picks up a bad passenger, that does not make that taxi’s a bad taxi. You get me?” “Actually, you’re a pretty awful taxi,” Taz said. “I get you,” Enrique said, shrugging and looking around. He stepped into the center of the circle of empty chairs in the small room. Beyond a table of coffee and doughnuts, a young woman with long blonde hair over a tight-fitting outfit standing with her head down and her hands clasped by her waist. She pushed dark glasses farther up the bridge of her nose but didn’t speak. Enrique looked to the ceiling.The lights were no brighter where she stood, and certainly not bright enough to warrant sunglasses. “Well, hello, hello, what do we have here?” Taz said. “Perhaps this group isn’t complete bollocks after all.” “That’s Elle,” Dante said softly. “Yoga teacher. She’s one of our members. She’s on the autism spectrum and sometimes needs a little time to adjust to new people in the group. She’ll warm up to you.” “Hi, Elle,” Enrique said with a small wave. “I’m Enrique.” “The others will be by in just a few minutes,” Dante said, pouring coffee into a cardboard cup. “Just like Elle needs some time, we’d like to get to learn a bit about you. Me and our very own Father Clancy Ebbs to start. Just to, you know, get comfortable.” “Ex-Father,” Ebbs interjected. “In Coena Domini.” “Excommunicated,” Dante translated. “But still good enough for us. And still always Father to me.” “And there are two of you,” Enrique pointed out. “In case I’m more than one can handle.” Elle tilted her head in curiosity. “Can never be too careful at first encounter,” Dante said. “Coffee? It’s actually pretty good. Here, give it a try and grab a chair. Any.” Enrique pulled off his light jacket and hung it on the back of one of the folding chairs. He took the offered coffee and added a sugar cube from the table. If Dante weren’t in the room with him, he would be considered tall. Enrique sniffed the coffee, blew on it, and sat, one hand rubbing the worn knees of his jeans. “Want one?” Father Ebbs asked, helping himself to a powdered doughnut. Enrique shook his head. “You a talker or a listener?” Dante asked, leaving one empty chair between them when he sat. “Truthfully,” Enrique said, “I usually don’t shut up. But I’m not, I’m not really…” “Not comfortable talking about your passenger? I get it,” Dante said with a nod. “I don’t like it either,” Ebbs said. “You?” Enrique asked, turning to the ex-priest. “I would have thought—” “Occupational hazard,” Ebbs said. “Father Ebbs got his passenger right around when the rift opened, Dante said. “He’s an early adopter.” “No one had yet come to terms with…you know.” Ebbs brushed powdered sugar from his lips. “The whole ‘demons are coming to our world and are real’ thing. It was before anyone knew what was going on. It was an exorcism of one of the first. A little girl. I invited her in. My passenger, not the girl. She took the offer. Violastine. Viola. And, as a result, I got excommunicated from upstairs.”




Author Interview:

1. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
The book came to be while walking to the diner with my wife. We were talking about how some friends of ours met, and how so many people have strange meetup stories. We started talking about meeting people at literal meetings, and maybe finding someone at a support group isn’t the healthiest option. Then it just struck me that finding someone to date at a support group for possessed people would be a pretty big red flag. The whole concept grew from that image.
2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
Writing from a purely original concept, rather than the ghostwriting and IP writing I was used to, is a lot more fun. You’re allowed to derail your own train.
3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
How quickly it flowed. From concept to outline to draft to edit for submission was maybe two months. Mind you, this was in lockdown, so there wasn’t a lot else to do.
4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
Riftsiders is the PC word for what were commonly called demons. Unlawful Possession is a pun, working with what if possessed people were breaking the law. Each book in the series will have a twisted interpretation of a crime as the title. The second book is Riftsiders: Identity Theft. That has nothing to do with stolen credit cards, but you can start guessing.
5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
In the sequel, the character of Guidry the Technomancer, mentioned in the very ending of book one, is actually my son. He most definitely knows.
6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
Absolutely, and it was the driving force behind the character and plot design. It’s about the real world demonization of various minority groups, here literally represented as demons. Hopefully people begin to wonder why some people get treated as monsters just because they’re a bit different.
7. What is your favorite part of the book?
The strange love triangle of Enrique, Elle, and Key, the demon that possesses Elle.
8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Violastine. This is a horrible, disgusting demon inhabiting one of the protagonists, an ex-priest. I can’t go really deep into it without saying too much. Let’s just say demons don’t hold to human values or morals of what’s right or wrong, and I hope people question it in the case of this wretched creature.
9. What are your immediate future plans?
Keep the launch of book 1 active, get the edits on book 2 and work on that, and get chugging on book 3.


Paul A. DeStefano and his wife live on Long Island, NY, with a strange menagerie that includes a dog, a few cats, sugar gliders, a bearded dragon, and several grown children that have not left.

After graduating from Hofstra University with a split degree in English and Acting, he worked in the board gaming and roleplaying industry for decades, including officially licensed projects for Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. He did not win the Origins Award for Best Miniatures Rules in 2004 and has forgotten that bitter defeat. When not playing and working on games, he is sometimes found touring internationally, giving lectures on worldbuilding and character design.

Being a professional full-time blacksmith for several years made him realize how much less painful it was to go back to writing. He’s been lucky enough to hold the Top Humor Writer badge at Medium multiple times and has had his work narrated by James Cosmo (Lord Mormont from Game of Thrones) on multimillion-dollar Kickstarter projects.

It is also worth noting that having never taken any bassoon lessons, he still cannot play one.

His latest book is the urban fantasy/paranormal romance novel, RIFTSIDERS: UNLAWFUL POSSESSION.

Visit his website at or connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoodreads and Instagram.

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