Spotlight: Justine Laismith

Introducing Justine Laismith who has recently signed her middle grade fantasy novel set in modern day rural China called Secrets of the Great Fire Tree with RCPIt is slated for release in November of 2018 under the imprint RadiantKids. Get to know Justine Laismith as an author.



1. First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?

I first wanted to be a writer when I was seven. However, I never did well in English Language or Literature at school. This discouraged me. When it came to choosing subjects, my teacher expected me to take the Arts subjects, because “girls are better at them, while boys are better at Math and Science.” So I chose the Science options to prove a point. Nevertheless, I wrote poems and stories as and when they came to me, but these were for my eyes only. On rare occasions I shared them with a couple of close friends.

A few years later, a local boy, not many years older than me, made me cry. Afterwards, I knew I wanted to be like him. He made me cry with words on a page. Over the years, even though I pursued a Science career, the enjoyment of turning blank pages to words never left me. I channeled this into my work and wrote scientific papers on my research. After some years, I took a career break. With a break from science, the logical side of my brain took a back seat and let the creative side of my brain dominate. I started writing fiction again.

My writing inspiration comes from what I see around me, with a simple “What if?”. Then I try and answer that question.

2. What are some quirky and or unique aspects about you and your writing?

I grew up in Singapore, a country proud of its multicultural identity. This exposed me to a plethora of languages and Chinese dialects. While I call myself bilingual, I can understand, to varying degrees, Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay, French and Japanese. I am also part-Paranakan, which is a unique blend of two cultures: ethnic Chinese people who speak and practice Malay customs. When I wrote Secrets of the Great Fire Tree, I have subtly incorporated all these diversities.

3. RCP “was founded in 2016 to showcase quality fiction, diverse stories, and unexpected protagonists.” What does that mean to you?

I grew up reading books like Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. These took me to a world I never knew. I also read poorly English-translated books of Chinese stories, books highly rated in their original language but clearly lost in translation. For an English-speaking Chinese girl living in tiny Singapore in the Far-East, these reading experiences sent the message that good English books are only made up of authors and characters from traditionally Western culture. If I wanted to read books in English, I had to settle for stories I could not directly relate to. In other words, I had to read them as an outsider. At this point, I lost interest in reading.

Over the decades, globalization and immigration has resulted in several third-culture kids, never truly knowing their roots, nor knowing their mother-tongue at the same level as a native. By showcasing the stories and voices of protagonists from your conventional western worlds, RCP is filling a gap for readers seeking identifiable characters. At the same time, diverse writers can tell a story that, although is in a setting familiar to them, is not the traditional western backdrop. With good narration and an intriguing plot, they will take their readers along. In doing so, they open the readers’ eyes and break down the cultural and language barrier.

4.What do you think makes a great middle grade fantasy? How do you think your piece Secrets of the Great Fire Tree fits into or varies from that description?

I like stories that take me to a different world, but with links to our own world to make it relatable. This is why Secrets of the Great Fire Tree is set in modern day China. I decided to use superstition as a gateway to fantasy because they are deeply-rooted in many traditions. Pushing these boundaries allow me to be creative with something we practice out of habit; never questioning but no longer fearing the consequences. However, Secrets of the Great Fire Tree deviates from middle-grade fantasy because it is also, in part, a realistic fiction. Left-behind children is a reality in China, the flip-side of economic growth in the cities.

5. How has writing affected your outlook on things? Has it made you take chances or see things in a different light?

I now pay a lot of attention to my surroundings and how it makes me feel. Then I challenge myself to describe it in words. When I watch a movie or show, I don’t just take a seat and enjoy the ride. I think about what makes me root for the characters, or hate them. I also analyze how and why two personalities who started off with nothing in common come together as the story develops.

6. What are you most excited to share when it comes to Secrets of the Great Fire Tree? Ex). The world, the characters, a specific scene?

I am most excited about sharing the rural life in China. As I mentioned earlier, I see myself as a third-culture kid, who never really knew her roots. When writing this book, I carried out a lot of research and even traveled to China. China holds a quarter of the world’s population and consists of over 50 ethnic minorities. Naturally, I cannot tell everything in one story, but I hope I managed to give a flavor of this fascinating culture.

7. Finally, do you have any advice and or tips for aspiring writers out there, especially women and those writing middle grade fiction?

Writing is a journey. Enjoy it. Turning a blank page into words that tell a story is special, because you’ve created something new. Once I was told by a consultant that women don’t give themselves enough credit for their achievements. So this is especially for women writers: don’t be daunted by the fear that no one will like your work. Write what is in your heart. That passion will come out in your story and someone, somewhere out there will love it and feel glad that you wrote it.

The She-Wolf of Kanta: Thomas Farrell’s Mill by Marlena Frank

Thomas Farrell’s Mill

When Thomas Farrell inherited his father’s mill, there was only a single grinder, and it was human powered. The hard physical labor meant a high turnover rate, and the mill was anything but profitable.

After the invention of Liquid Lead, and the harnessing of werewolves to do the hard labor, Thomas not only gained a profit on his mill, he expanded it. He added grinder after grinder, in a haphazard fashion, gleefully improving on the equipment and finding ways to streamline his workforce.

Only something happened shortly after he built the sixth grinder. Some say Thomas had a mental breakdown after witnessing one of his human workers be mauled. Others said he fell from the scaffolding that crisscrossed the grinders. Regardless, shortly after the grinder was finished, all talks of expansion abruptly stopped.

The Mill is now a well-known feature of Kanta, with its tall smokestacks and regular influx of trappers for supplies and trade. Behind it’s castle-like walls and guarded entrances, grinders churn all day and all night.


Military Wife Pens Young Adult Fantasy Debut Surrounding the God of War and His Sacrificial Bride


LOUISVILLE, KY (July 11, 2017) • What would it feel like to be sacrificed to gods you didn’t believe in? Amber R. Duell may not know what lies beyond death, but she does explore a vivid mythological world engulfed in a modern war in her newly released young adult fantasy novel, Fragile Chaos.

Amber points to the story of a 500-year-old Incan girl found mummified on a volcano as inspiration for her story. “Did she think she would ascend to some special place?” Amber mused and gave birth to the story of Cassia Stavros and Theodoric trapped in a delicate balance between feuding immortals.

Fragile Chaos is a relentless tale of revenge, inner turmoil, and budding romance reminiscent of the legend of Persephone and Hades. Amber’s story sweeps across national borders and realms as the God of War and his sacrificial bride fight to end the mortal war.

Fragile Chaos is a “…great book for anybody who loves the myth of Cupid and Psyche…I loved the…mashup of modernity with the mythological,” Abby Reed explains, author of When Planets Fall.

About Amber R. Duell

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany and Maine as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

For more information, visit

About Radiant Crown Publishing

Established in 2016 Radiant Crown Publishing is an independent publisher of dark, diverse, and subversive speculative fiction. Antiheroes and characters whose stories are pushed to the margins are welcome here.

For more information, visit

Hex Gunslinger: A Weird Western Anthology

Announcing Radiant Crown Publishing’s upcoming anthology of weird western tall tales in the Subterranean Series, Hex Gunslinger!


January 1st, 2018- March 1st, 2018

Anything submitted outside of this window will be deleted unread.


ISBN-10: Coming Soon

ISBN-13: Coming Soon

Hex Gunslinger is an upcoming anthology of speculative, mysterious, and romantic weird western tall tales! Framed as an unearthed secret library years after the civil war, each story should hold the ethos of western expansion beginning in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, and ending around the 1850s not necessarily restricted to a North American audience. Do not take manifest destiny as a mantra to live by. Shape a world with all the magic and mystery of the frontier without letting the ugliness of conquest be consumed with fantastic whimsy. We want wide open plains where violence ruled, underground movements brewing with tension, and the Wild Wild West in all it’s beauty and madness. Bring us your stories marking the age of the gold rush, injustice, genocide, mass immigration, transcontinental railroads, vigilante justice, telegraphs, outlaws, gunslingers, slick talkers, setting suns, and the impending civil war that would rip a nation apart. Deadline March 1st, 2018 11:59 EST.


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  • Non-exclusive archival rights as long as the website(s) hosting the work are online
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  • First world electronic and print rights in English with exclusivity for 8 months from the date of publication

Please query if anything listed is of concern. Here is a good explanation of what this entails.


SHORT STORIES: 1000 to 7,499 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.

NOVELETTE: 7,500 to 17,499 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.

NOVELLA: 17,500 to 40,000 words. Paid $0.01USD per word.

SPOTLIGHT SHORT STORY: 1000 to 1500 words. One story involving a person of color serving as an officer of the law (officially or unofficially) as a central element of the plot. Paid $0.02USD or $0.03USD per word.

All payments made through PayPal. Please note that these are not professional rates. Fiction can only be resold as a reprint after publication. Decide if you want to take this payment scheme or submit to another market.


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  • Fanfiction of any kind
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  • Pushing the boundaries of genre and form
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  • The subject line should read HEXGUNSLINGER: CATEGORY : TITLE (WORD COUNT) ex). HEXGUNSLINGER: SHORT STORIES: Super Story (1001)
  • A short cover letter is required. Please include your legal name, pen name (if relevant), contact information, recent publications/awards (if any), and a bio of 50-150 words. Interview questions will be sent to accepted authors. A photo of you is required if accepted as well


  • Submissions should be attached in the email as a .rtf, .doc or .docx
  • Shunn’s manuscript style for fiction required (double-spaced, 12 pt standard font, page numbers, etc.)


  • Reprints encouraged!
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Currently around two months after submitting. Do not query before then. We do not send out notification We will try to answer all submissions with an acceptance or rejection letter.


Any personal information collected (including but not limited to your name, address, email, social media links, and pen name) is held in strict confidence and not shared with anyone else unless compelled by law or in the event threats are leveled against the staff.

If a third party contacts RCP interested in an author’s or artist’s work, the author/artist will be contacted first to ask permission to share details.


By sending us your work you understand and agree that:

  • You are the original creator and copyright holder of the work submitted;
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If you are under the age of 18, your parent or guardian will sign your contract and accept your payment on your behalf. Finally, if accepted here and then republished, you are required to add the title of this anthology as your previous place of publication.






LAST UPDATED: August 20, 2017