Happy release day to JERUSALEM ABLAZE by Orlando Ortega-Medina!
Thanks to Cloud Lodge Books UK for the copy and blog tour spot in exchange for my honest review!
I’m so excited to be apart of the blog tour for this book 🙂
In Jerusalem’s Old City a young priest and a dominatrix converse in the dying light; on Oregon’s windswept coast a fragile woman discovers a body washed up on the beach after a storm; and in Postwar Japan a young protégé watches his master’s corpse burn, with bitter thoughts blazing in his mind.
Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions collects thirteen eclectic works of dark fiction, taking the reader from Los Angeles to the eastern townships of Quebec, and from Tokyo to Jerusalem.
Ortega-Medina’s characters are flawed, broken individuals, trying their best to make sense of their lives as they struggle with sexuality, death, obsession, and religion. Sometimes bleak, occasionally violent, and often possessed of a dark humour, this major debut explores the imperfections of life and the unpredictability of death.
My Thoughts: 5/5 stars!
This isn’t just a beautiful cover, it contains an incredibly well-written collection of short stories with a common theme of people struggling with love, sexuality, obsessions, and the unpredictability of death. JERUSALEM ABLAZE by Orlando Ortega-Medina is a collection of 13 short stories that are filled with disturbing, dark, and taboo filled topics and characters. This will definitely be one that isn’t for everyone but the writing sucks you in.
Ortega-Medina does an incredible job pulling the reader into each story and not letting go until the end. The fact he can accomplish this with each story is captivating. We are brought all over the world into the perspectives of different people and seeing their struggles first hand. The characters are all flawed and unique in their own ways. The differences and similarities in their stories is fascinating and a great look into the emotional and mental sides of relationships.
Despite how short some of these stories were, they all kept me thinking long after I had finished them. I’ve always been a fan of short stories because I love and admire when an author can pack a punch in a short amount of time (let alone having 13 of them do that!) Ortega-Medina has the ability to transport you to all of these locations seamlessly with such great detail (from Los Angeles, Quebec, Tokyo, and Jerusalem) you feel like you’re there with these characters.
If you want dark, disturbing, thought provoking, sexual, and taboo stories all while being written in a flowing prose, then you need to pick up JERUSALEM ABLAZE. I don’t want to give away the plots for these stories so that you can fully enjoy them and become immersed.
About the Author /Author Q&A:
Ortega-Medina has a very diverse background as Judeo-Spanish via Cuba and incorporates his heritage and life experiences into this collection of 13 eclectic tales from Los Angeles to the eastern townships of Quebec, and from Tokyo to Jerusalem, all places where Ortega-Medina once lived. Orlando was born and raised in LA and studied English Literature at UCLA.
The book has been shortlisted for the prestigious Polari Prize and will be featured in a spotlight review in Foreword Reviews Magazine for this month.
Q1. We noticed your cross-cultural and multi-faith upbringing has an impact on your fiction writing. What inspires you?
A1. Yes, I was born with an excess of identity. At first, it was like having a closet crammed full of costumes and not knowing which one to wear. I think it’s fair to say that my life has been about learning which costume to wear. I clothe my characters in the hand-me-downs.
Q2. Which are your favorite stories in the collection?
A2. My favorite stories are: “Torture by Roses”, “After the Storm”, “Love at Masada”, and “Invitation to the Dominant Culture”.
Q3. Who are your favorite authors?
A3. My favorite authors are Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Jown Fowles, Anthony Burgess, Jorge Luis Borges, and Yukio Mishima.
Q4. How has your law career influenced your writing style?
A4. As a lawyer, I solve problems and strategize preventative measures for my clients. As an author, I create worlds. My author-ability to think creatively and outside the box makes me a better lawyer. My lawyer-ability to think systematically, foresee problems, and create preemption regimes, makes me a better writer. I can’t imagine one without the other. On the technical side of things, my constant review of deposition and court transcripts has helped me develop a keen sense of dialogue.
Q5. What are you working on now?
A5. I’ve just completed the first draft of a novel. It’s a three-part black comedy about star worship, a search for identity and, of course, religion. It’s set the seventies and eighties in Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Tijuana (Mexico). I’m hoping to shop it around early next year.
Q6. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A6. I like to think that agents and publishers will recognize an outstanding manuscript when it comes across their desks. That said, publishing is generally a for-profit business. So if ones manuscript doesn’t have commercial appeal, excellent as it may be, one may expect to knock on many doors before finding someone who is willing to invest in one’s manuscript. My best advise to new writers is make sure your manuscript is professionally edited and that you consider the feedback of several Beta Readers before you even dare to send it out.
If you love short stories you need to grab this one! You won’t regret it!