Author Interview: Assaph Mehr

assaphmehr

Welcome, welcome.  Tonight we’ve a traveler coming in from Australia to visit with us.  Please give a warm welcome to Assaph Mehr. Assaph, will you get us started with a little about yourself, and what started you on your writer’s journey?

  • Hiya!
    I’ve always liked to read, and grew up on classic sci-fi & fantasy as well as detectives and thrillers. I’ve also always liked history, so historical detectives has been a passion.
    I just never planned on writing anything before retirement.
    Then one night about 2 years ago, my wife complained that she had nothing left to read. So after everyone was in bed, I sat down and started to write that idea that has been kicking around in my head for a while…. and haven’t stopped till I finished the manuscript!

Sounds like you were a man on a mission.

While you were writing, did you run into many challenges you had to overcome?

  • With the first draft, not so much. With the current WIP I find I struggle to find the time… But I blame the baby that joined us in the intervening time for that
    I have the stories in my head. I enjoy exploring them as I put them down on paper (well, screen). I just wish more time to do it in.

Congratulations on the new addition. Any tips for making family life, work, and writing balance? Any one of those would be a full time (or more) job, it seems.

  • They are. When I find the leprechauns selling more hours in the day, I’ll let you know.
    Until then, it’s just a matter of finding the time – even the small windows – and plugging at it little by little.

Funny thing, that’s what I hear the most often.

Does that mean you try to write every day, or is it more like you block of parts of the weekend to write?

  • My current writing schedule is on the train ride to and from work. That’s about 45 mins uninterrupted twice a day, that I can devote to writing (unless I’m tired – in which case I read).

Well, it is bandied about that reading is the replenishment of writers. Any favorite authors you find inspirational?

  • I read whatever catches my fancy at the time. Pretty eclectic.

Then I’ll try to narrow it down some. Any indie authors who have caught your fancy?

  • Dan Buri has a great style, with gentle, soulful writing.
    Wendy Waters has a great talent at the depicting broken, slightly mad people.
    Jonathan Maas defies categorisation, with each of his books in a different genre and exploring different issues.

Oooh. A couple of new ones to look up.

A slight change in subject with a double question: Do you find the indie author world one that’s supportive? Do you have a personal set of folks who support you, beyond your family?

  • Yes! The indie community, by and large, is extremely supportive. I’ve made many new friends since publishing my book.

Friends are always good to have, and new friends even better.

Since I know you’re in Australia, I’m curious – what’s the hardest part about being an indie author for you?

  • Timezones are not too much of a problem. Most of publishing and marketing is online anyway.
    I sometimes wish I could attend conventions more often, but realistically there are a lot of geeky and bookish cons in Australia that I haven’t explored yet.
  • The “hardest part” would be very individual. Each author would have their strengths and weaknesses. Each one just need to learn to deal with them, in addition to the general learning curve of writing, publishing, marketing.
    For me this is a hobby. I write because I enjoy reading my stories. There is nothing there that’s harder than pursuing any other hobby.

Have you ever considered making it your full time career?

  • I have a 3-step plan for that:
    1) Write novel
    2) Get movie deal
    3) Buy small castle
  • I’m working on step 2 now

::Chuckles:: I like that plan.

Any snippets you can share to help bring step 2 a little closer to fruition?

  • Several.
    You can find the first few chapters of Murder In Absentia for free on Amazon and Goodreads.
    I also publish short stories with the same protagonist and world as my novels on my website: egretia.com.
    I love it when people read them (they’re short!) and let me know what they think!

    Short Stories

    A few short stories involving Felix, mostly from his past prior to Murder In Absentia. To receive notifications about new posts, short stories and news, please click the “Follow” button… egretia.com

Hmmm… I seem to remember reading one a while back. Really fun short read. Will have to go see what else you have hiding over there.

Do you have many books planned for your world, or do you write as the muse strikes?

  • I have the plots for three more books (one is the WIP) plus several short stories all ready to go. I got most of them while I was still writing my first novel, so as I keep writing I don’t expect to run out of ideas any time soon.

Are they being polite and waiting their turn?

  • In a way. Sometimes a short story will interrupt everything I’m doing, and demand to be written right there (like Girl On Fire). The novels are mostly waiting their turn, as – even though they are independent – there is a certain sequence to them.

I’d like to say you’re lucky, but I know not everyone’s muse is maddeningly insistent on all the words being poured out at once.

Since I know time’s a valuable commodity, just a couple more questions for you.

If someone wanted to keep up with you, and your progress, where would they find you?

::Chuckles:: Seeing as “all over” covers quite a bit of territory, I’ll happily take the links.

And the last question: Any final words before we wrap up?

  • I expect a lot of your reader will have an interest in writing. There is only one secret to writing a book, a secret I’ve shared with my daughter.
    The secret to writing a novel is…. <drumroll>… to write!
    No, seriously, that all it takes. Just keep writing, until you finish the manuscript. Then write some more.

I’ll have to try and keep that in mind – there’s times I know it can get hard to go any further.
Assaph, thank you so much for coming across the pond from “Down Under”. It was great having you here to visit.

  • My pleasure! Thank you for having me.

If you enjoyed the visit with Assaph, and wish to connect, I promise he won’t bite.  Use the links above, and get ready to find out more about Felix and all the antics he gets up to.  (Along with some of the foods he enjoys.)

Don’t forget to check back soon.  Next time, I’ll be talking with The Fox himself.  Until then…

Keep those pages turning.

Author Interview: Darran Handshaw

DarranHandshaw

 

Welcome everyone.  Tonight, we have Darran Handshaw, who’s come in from New York to visit with us.

Welcome Darran, will you get us started by telling us a little about yourself, and where you’re from?

  • Absolutely. I’m a new author from Long Island, New York. I write in my spare time between working full time as an R&D Engineer for an electronics company, serving as a volunteer firefighter and spending time with my wife and new son.

Congratulations on the new addition to the family. I can imagine that puts a strain on how many hours a day you have for yourself. Any tips for those trying to balance multiple long hour commitments with their writing?

  • Thanks! It is an exciting time, though it is quite busy.
  • My novel, The Engineer, is a long one – coming in at 229k words at the first draft. Since I knew it would be lengthy, the most important thing for me was to set aside regular writing time every week. At first it seems a bit overwhelming, but it is slow and steady wins the race, and I was able to get the first draft done early this year.
  • Every Tuesday after work for me is my writing day. If I miss a day, I make it up somewhere and when I’m on a roll I squeeze in more writing periods. I’d recommend that anyone who really wants to write dedicate a time block for it, even if it seems like it might take a long time. You’ll get there eventually.

I can agree with that. I’m more the every day type, but there’s times when things just won’t cooperate.

Mind if I ask what started you on your writer’s journey?

  • I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid. Never finished anything though in spite of some ambitious world building and story outlines. I also played on a lot of text-based roleplay MUSHes (multi-user shared hallucinations) where the gameplay could be described as theme-driven, collaborative fiction.
  • It was actually one of those games that I played on: Redemption MUSH, where the story behind The Engineer originated. The co-creator of that game is now my wife, and we went on some fantastic adventures there before starting our real life adventures together. So, it’s a pretty personal story for me. One of the reasons I wanted to make sure I got this one done.

The ones with quite a bit of the author in them seem to be the ones the readers devour the most.

Do you include actual experiences from real life, or focus more on concepts that emerged from the game world?

  • It’s based on the true in-game story of my character, Actaeon, and the adventures he goes on in Redemption, which is a ruined, futuristic city that is now inhabited by people that had arrived there via portal several generations prior to where the story begins. When I say it that way, it might sound a bit dull, but it ended up being quite the epic adventure for him from start to finish, so I thought it fit a novel format quite well.
  • Since I played those adventures, it was very nostalgic to write about those memories. I’m sure there’s influence in there from the real world – especially some of the engineering mindset of Actaeon. Being an engineer myself, I have a certain way that I like to approach things and that helps me flesh out Actaeon’s approach too.

::chuckles:: Makes sense. And, the concept sounds intriguing for me, at least. (Then again, I’m an old RP player too.)

Since you not only played out the concept, but you also included some of your own mindset in the story, did you hide any messages in the work for readers to find?

  • Well, hello from one RPer to another!
  • Messages? You mean Easter Eggs or more of a thematic message?

Either / or.

  • I’m sure there are a few things in there that others who played the game, and especially my wife, will read and get – hopefully be amused by.
  • As for thematic elements, I’m not one to write to a theme. In the case of The Engineer though, Actaeon’s personality drives a theme pretty heavily throughout the story, and that is one of truth and transparency. In the novel there is constant conflict driven by that theme. Actaeon wants to study the ancient artifacts, figure them out, find a way to use them and share that knowledge with others. There are many other groups in Redemption that disagree for a variety of reasons and some of them will even resort to violence.

Oh, dear. Now you’ve got me curious. Are you at a point you can share a snippet?

  • Absolutely, here is the opening scene from the book, for your enjoyment:

The Engineer eluded them for hours as he fled across the ruins, but in the end they captured him.

Surrounded, Actaeon knelt upon a large, moss-covered tile and lowered his polished recurve bow gently to the ground before him. Then he raised his hands into the air in a gesture of surrender.

“Gentlemen,” he addressed them with cheerful confidence. “It appears we have had a misunderstanding.”

Through the lenses of his goggles, Actaeon studied his three remaining pursuers as they closed in on him. The sunlight reflected off their clean shaven pates and their expressionless faces were each divided into four quadrants by a sharp, black cross. They wore boiled leather armor and carried blades fashioned from sharpened shards of debris. One carried a short bow. All of them ignored his friendly greeting.

“If there is something that you wish to discuss; a proposal perhaps? I would be more than willing to-“

Actaeon’s words were cut off abruptly as one of the cross-faced raiders lowered his bow and kicked him in the stomach, causing him to double over onto his side. The recurve bow he had set on the ground so carefully was kicked unceremoniously aside to be collected by another raider. That same raider also took the time to work Actaeon’s halberd free from the body of one of their less fortunate comrades.

“Careful with that bow, it is not designed for such abuse,” Actaeon said, earning himself another kick that knocked the wind from him. He grimaced and rolled onto his back where he could gaze up at the raider who had kicked him. He was rewarded with a faceful of sunlight instead and pulled his goggles down over his eyes to block some of the rays.

Just as the Engineer had begun to catch his breath, he was hauled to his feet by the raider that had kicked him. Actaeon took the opportunity to study his captor’s face for any insight. He found there only dull eyes, devoid of all emotion. Without words, the raider pointed north, where the ruins stretched out to disappear over the horizon in a turbulent mess of shattered structures and overgrown debris fields.

“You must mean to communicate your desire for me to walk in that direction,” Actaeon responded, as though it were up for discussion. “You would, of course, be welcome to join me heading south towards Pyramid, that is, if you would be willing to reconsider.” He was rewarded with a smack to the back of his head.

Actaeon grinned at the raider behind him, “I will take that as the implied negative that it would appear to be.” He led the way along then and the three silent raiders followed him closely, letting him choose the path northward.

Ummm, why does this sound like your character’s setting himself up for some sound abuse?

Wait, don’t answer that – don’t want you to spoil anything.  ::Shakes head in amusement::

One last question for you, now that you’ve whet our appetites. Where can we catch up with you around social media or the blog-o-sphere if we want to stay up to date?

  • Most of my updates go to my Facebook page
  • I also have an Indiegogo site for anyone who wants to pre-order a copy of The Engineer
  • My birdsongs are also on the internet: Twitter

Image may contain: outdoor and indoor

The Engineer
The Engineer, the first novel by Darran M Handshaw, follows the adventures of Actaeon Rellios in the ruined, futuristic city of Redemption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will definitely have to check into these.

Any last words before we wrap up?

  • Sure! Expect The Engineer out late this year. It’ll be available on Amazon. It has elements of science fiction, fantasy adventure, war, romance, politics, and, of course, engineering!

Sounds interesting.

Thank you for making the “long” trip over to visit. It’s been fun getting to know you, and your work a bit better.

  • Once again, thank you for having me.

 

If you enjoyed the getting to know Darran, and want to connect with him to stay up to date on his work, you can follow any of the social media links above.

Don’t forget to check back.  In a couple of days Darran will be returning with Actaeon so we can get to know The Engineer a little better before his debut.  Until then….

Keep those pages turning.

Author Interview: Angelique Anderson

Welcome everyone.  Today we have Angelique Anderson, a fun-loving, bubbly, excited author of fantasy and science fiction who’s come in from California to visit with us.  Angelique. Will you get us started with a little about yourself, and what started you on your writer’s journey?

  • Sure… I actually have been writing since I was kid.. I used it as a coping method when I was going through times of duress.

Actually some of my first works were gothic poetry. Lol

After years of chasing music, theatre … and etc.. I finally decided to pursue the one calling that had been with me since I was young.

Do you feel that exploring the other artistic outlets has helped you with your writing?

  • Without a doubt.

Those outlets helped me to learn how to physically express myself… while writing helped me to channel that into a different form.

Being comfortable with one most definitely helped with the other.

I think it takes a lot, no matter what write or how much we adore writing, it still takes being comfortable with ourselves to a certain extent to express ourselves through stories, through words.

I’ll bet. What about your writing style – has that benefited from working in other artistic media as well?

  • Definitely has benefited a lot. Essentially music, acting… they all tell stories through one form or another…

Learning to tell those stories in a way that connects with what ever audience is listening or watching is how we get better at our craft.

True. That and being authentic. Since you made mention of being comfortable with yourself, and using writing as a coping technique when you were going through rough times, I’m going to go ahead and ask: How much of you (or your own experiences) do you include in your books?

  • I don’t know if I can put a percentage on it, but I would say at least 50% of what I write is emotions I have felt, things I have experienced in one way, shape or form, or people I have come in contact with. We constantly recycle what comes into our life… watching others helps us learn how to interact… reading what others write helps us to better hone our own skills… and experiencing life helps us to write better, more authentic characters.

 

Wowsers, that’s packs quite a punch! I’ve read your Eden’s Serum, and I don’t want to think which parts you’ve encountered, or dealt with personally. With that much raw emotion, do you ever work with a mentor or other support-type individual to work through the tougher scenes?

  • Lol…. I wish I could say I had. Obviously Eden’s Serum scenes are going to be allegorical… but in Little Lost Girl: The complete series… I write about my life growing up in foster care, being unwanted by my own parents, getting moved around from Family to Family… and I do it through the eyes of a little girl named Star. I have to be honest, I cried while writing most of that book… and there were moments I had to step away, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t breathe… it was too much. I had an editor.. but no mentor to help me process the array of emotions that stemmed from childhood abuse and sexual Trauma. It was incredibly cathartic and I finished it stronger and with more healing than I had ever had. I guess that’s true about everything I write good or bad… there is always tears, but there is always healing.

::Chuckles:: Having an outlet that lets you work through your emotions is always nice. I chuckle, because I do that for bad days, or folks who get under my skin. Have you ever done that in your own work?

  • Ooooohhhh yes……. I hate to admit it but I have a whole book about a friendship that went wrong. I took it off kindle, but even though it’s a fantasy paranormal… the whole book was basically about an abusive narcissistic friend I used to have.

Uh, oh. Remind me not to get on your bad side. I wouldn’t want to wind up in something like your Serum books. Speaking of books that are out… what are you working on now? Anything interesting?

  • Well, I just finished editing and published Eden two about a month ago. Next to release is my first ever steampunk fantasy, The Dragon Lady. It releases May 1rst… and I am sooooo excited about it! I adore steampunk and implementing all the little things that make up that genre was just bliss. Gears, corsets, cogs, fantasy, science fiction… even a little history. My beta readers have said it’s some of my best work… I can only hope they are right and I have done the genre justice.

Ooo! Mind sharing a teaser, or are you saving all the teasers for “The Day”?

  • Not not all!

Let me just pull up a little slice for you.

 

::Grins and gets the fork ready.:: Something tells me I’m going to want to devour this one.

Chapter One

The dim glow from a lone gaslight revealed one flea-bitten rat scampering down the main street of Dobbinsturn Parish, his bewhiskered nose sniffing for crumbs. The rodent’s ears perked forward at a strange new sound, then he raised his head to sniff an interesting aroma wafting to him on the breeze.

Given any common sense at all, the furry little beast would have kept running, but it was his fate that landed him in the knife-sharp claws of the most glorious white dragon a rat may ever hope to see. If rats hoped for such things, that is.

The radiant white dragon spent the night soaring over the boroughs of London, his iridescent scales glowing under the gentlest cast of moonlight. The putrid stench of black death invaded his nostrils as he swooped down and grabbed the wriggling rat in his claws, tossing it into his mouth without chewing and swallowing the gamey little thing whole.

One final act of goodwill. The white dragon wasn’t sure of his end, but he felt it closing in on his sickly body. He doubted he would even have the strength to fly after this eve.

As if on cue, the surrounding atmosphere changed, he felt the presence of his dark counterpart like a fog that descended upon his beloved London. He sucked in a deep breath through his large scaly nostrils, wishing to savor this moment for all of eternity. There was no doubt he would miss the sights and smells of Earth.

His black enemy swooped down upon him, its massive horns and prismatic scales invisible to human eyes against the backdrop of night.

The black dragon pulled up short of him, its glistening scales in stark contrast with his white ones, giving a small hint at just how opposite they were. As if he was able to hear the gods speak of the end himself, his heart palpitated nervously. Once, long ago, he would have been strong enough to fight this foe, but that time had long since passed. Age and illness robbed him of the strength he once possessed.

As if in a dream, he watched the enemy dragon as it swooped to the street, attacking a staggering drunk whose only mistake was showing himself in the lamplight. He wanted to fight it. It was his job to do so, but he knew the beast would kill him before he was able to stop him, so he watched helplessly as the black monster gathered a mouthful of the man, its massive jaws closing over his body and mashing the drunk’s upper torso to juicy bits.

“Don’t do this!” The pearl white dragon called out, a tear squeezing from one wrinkled eye as he watched the blood of the man drip over the chin of his evil opposite. His dark counterpart only chuckled to himself before he dropped what was left of the stranger’s body to the ground, making a squelching sound as it hit the cobblestones. The sight of it would make anyone squeamish, including the pure-hearted dragon, unable to stop the senseless slaughter.

The angry black beast flew towards him, eyes flashing crimson with hatred.

“Why must you take an innocent life?” The white dragon tried to reason, but his enemy merely opened his jaws wide, spewing a blast of fire in his direction. Too sick and too old to dodge the flames, he didn’t even try to avoid the inevitable impact but instead allowed the fire to engulf him from horn to tail.  His glorious body plummeted to the ground, hitting the road with crushing force, extinguishing most of the flames with the impact.

As the victor his enemy chuckled to himself and flew out of sight, a small pocket watch device hanging on a chain around the white dragon’s neck flipped open. A tiny, magical, bronze dragon with cloaking ability crawled out and dusted himself off. He scanned the area, worried that wakeful eyes may have heard the one-sided battle and been drawn to investigate. Seeing that the large white dragon was on fire, he blew a gust of wind from his tiny lips strong enough to create a small hurricane.

Once the fire was extinguished, the little bronze beast set about trying to heal his injured friend, but it was too late. The heartbeat grew weaker until it ceased altogether. As his friend breathed his last, a soft glow of blue essence rose from the body, like a tiny dancing flame, and shot through the night toward its human host. Meanwhile, the lifeless dragon body had disappeared altogether.

The tiny bronze dragon grew larger and flew after the blue light until it entered a small dwelling in a rundown neighborhood. The tiny dancing flame came to rest on an aging man, who lay still as stone on a bed. When the flame entered the man’s body, his chest heaved with a deep breath, but it was his final one. The tiny dragon sat on the edge of the bed, his scaly clawed hand resting on the wrinkled human one. His deep emerald eyes were wet with tears.

Goodbye, dear friend, you have served the gods well.

He then returned to his place inside the pocket watch device and willed the device to be magically transported back to its hiding place until it was time to be revealed once more.

“Father, are you alright?” Wylie Petford had grown used to hearing her father call for her in the early morning, the absence of his voice sent her heart reeling. No, no! Please, not yet!

Wylie rushed to his room, fear taking precedence over rational thought. The past few weeks were hard on him as he clung tenuously to life. Heaven only knew how long the herbal treatments would continue working if they were working at all.  She felt his forehead, which was damp with sweat and used a rag to dab it dry.

Nicholas Petford did not stir beneath her touch, and she assumed for the moment that he was sleeping peacefully until she realized there was something unnatural about his stillness.

“Father… Father are you well?” Panic setting in, she began fervently pressing his chest. The rise and fall that should be occurring naturally as he breathed in and out was absent.

“Father, please, wake up!” She slapped his face lightly, several times in rapid succession, willing that he would wake and get cross with her for doing such a thing. When there was no response, and even his cheek felt cold to her touch, she realized that her worst fears had been realized.

She gently stroked his whiskered cheek, her heart screaming silently at his cold, still form. Any minute now he would awaken, and ask for fresh biscuits and jam as he did every morning, but she knew there was no use fighting it.

He had been sick for such a long time, and Dr. Antony Flack’s medicine was more effective than promised. It had kept her father alive for much longer than most patients. She would have to thank him personally for the miracle provided through his tinctures.

             A million thoughts assaulted Wylie’s mind as she cried. There was no doubt about the difficulty of the past few months. The continuous need for medications for her father and loss of wages had taken their toll. Though it was no doubt better than the alternative which was now a reality. She would have to find the strength to ask her employer to take time away from work to lay her father to rest.

Her employer, very gracious until now, would surely understand that even the poor grieve their dead.

She did not expect kindness, but she indeed hoped for it. She lay on the cold stone floor, her face buried in her arms as the tears fell until she finally drifted off to sleep.

As one life left Earth and ascended into heaven, another being was rising into the night sky in glorious form. Its wingspan as long as three men laid from head to toe. It opened its magnificent jaws, and an inferno of fire and sulfurous smells blazed forth like a volcano giving birth. Though it was the dead of night, the dark shadow that now took to the skies was not unseen by the local pet population. Afar off, the lowing of cattle could be heard as they milled about frantically, afraid for their lives.

Hours before…

            Near the border of upper Dobbinsturn and Kinnemore, a newly purchased and renovated tavern was alive with raucous laughter and cheers from its new inhabitants and patrons. In a rather unusual move, the tavern had been named after its financier, Lord Jameston Ukridge, rather than its owner. Ukridge Tavern was an establishment that the owner, Dorian Gilligan, hoped would be passed down for generations.

The elaborate interior boasted of its owner’s airship travels, with strong stone beams and rustic archways reminiscent of the stone chapels in France and Germany. A former first mate and a man with excellent taste, Dorian made sure the Ukridge tavern represented the life he once lived.

Between the elegant stone archways, the walls held a vast array of art and design; glorious pieces collected during Dorian’s airship travels around the world with his friend and captain, Daggert Kingsley. The floor had been expertly laid with the richest of mahogany wood, and the glasses that slid across the freshly polished wood counter were full to the brim of the best homemade ale the patrons from Dobbinsturn and Kinnemore had ever tasted.

Definitely going to want to read this one.  Who did your cover? It’s lovely.

  • Which cover are you referring to?

I’ve had a few, lol

Any, or all. Are they done by the same artist?

They’re all lovely, by the way.

  • I have had a total of four different artists for this cover.

My last cover was lovely, bronze and elegant, but I wanted something unique.

Wow, that’s quite a handful. Any you want to give a special shout out to?

 

  • I think my artist captured it. Yes, a huge, huge thank you to Joaquin Nunez.. who is such a gifted artist. He really brought my MC Wylie Petford, to life.

And of course a thank you to Johannus Steger, for the promo work, and finishing touches.

I agree – all the steampunk elements, and a bit of mystery about what’s gong on.   That’d be a hard toss up for me to decide between – those are both lovely covers.

One last question for you. If someone wanted to keep up with all the projects you have going – where can they find you?

  • All over the place!!! LOL.

Just kidding, let me grab my best links for you!

::Chuckles:: Thanks. Not sure “all over” would work for a link.

  • ha ha ha ha!! Darn!

I know. It’d make it so much easier, wouldn’t it?

OK, that was an extra question. Going to add one more. Any last words before we wrapup?

  • No, I am just super thankful for the opportunity to share my heart and passion with anyone willing to listen. So thank you so very much for having me! You are simply wonderful!!!!

Very welcome. Thank you so much for stopping by.

  • It was my pleasure!

I warned you, everyone that Angelique was a bubbly vivacious person, right?  If you want to get to know her better, click on any (some, or all) of her links above.  She’ll be more than happy to say “hi”.  And, if you follow, there’s a good chance you’ll even get to meet her in person, since she’s started going out to conventions.

 

Don’t forget to come visit again soon.  Next time, we’ll be talking with Quincy – one of the characters from Angelique’s Dragon Lady.  (Available for preorder until May 1, 2017.  After that it’ll be available for immediate purchase.)

Author Interview: Philip Kessler

Philipp J. Kessler

 

Welcome back everyone.  Tonight, we’ll be talking with Philipp Kessler from Nebraska who has been kind enough to stop by and visit with us.  He is another sci-fi author I’ve met through the wonderful Facebook group SciFi Roundtable.  Philipp will you get us started with a little about yourself and where you are from?

  • I was born in small town Colorado, my family lived on a cattle ranch owned by my granddad. I’m the youngest of seven kids, five boys two girls. My brother closest in age to me and I were often left to our own devices for entertainment. So we spent a lot of time outdoors, using our imaginations. We moved to small town Nebraska when I was seven. A real treat that was! An indoor bathroom and cable! I’ve been in Nebraska pretty much ever since. I’m 39 now, even after living in Lincoln since I was 14 I still miss the country life. The hustle and bustle can be draining. So I escape into books and my own writing.

Sounds wonderful. I miss the countryside myself. When you started writing, did any of your childhood games ever make it into print?

  • Not yet. I’m working on a sci-fi novel, among other things. I watched a lot of Star Trek, Buck Rogers, and Doctor Who as a kid. We had an old hay baler that my brother and I would pretend was our Viper from Battlestar Galactica. Something like that might make into this story. Mostly my love for the outdoors has been creeping into things. Having acquired allergies as I got older I’ve had to limit my outdoor activities.

Ouch. That’s never fun.

Did you start writing then, when you started being forced to remain indoors more often?

  • I got into computers rather young (for the time). My brother had discovered RPGs and the joys of dial-up modeming. He introduced me to both when I was 8 or 9 and things took off from there. I’ve always enjoyed telling stories and both those avenues gave me a way to tell my stories differently. I don’t have much of my scribbles from then, we lost a lot of stuff due to flooding. I think it was in 5th grade that I was first told that my writing was good. My first book is dedicated in part to that teacher.

Hats off to the teacher that helped inspire you to keep writing. Too many are discouraged from pursuing the dream.

Did those early experiences create a favorite part of the writing process for you?

  • If I had to pick a favorite part of the writing process I’d have to say it is seeing the words on the screen. I don’t do long hand writing, arthritis and horrible handwriting don’t allow for that. Seeing the words and knowing that I made that, that is a very satisfying feeling.
  • Usually when I write I just let the words flow and see where they take me. I’ve got scads of notebooks from before the arthritis kicked in that I go through sometimes and see what they inspire in me today. I used to keep a journal, that is probably where I really first started telling my good stories. Where only I could see them.

::Nods:: I’ve heard of others who journaled first. Gives writers a chance to practice telling stories in print where they don’t have to worry about being judged.

Since you say you enjoy letting the story unfold on its own, would it be safe to say you are a “panster”-type author, or do you do some planning and/or research before you get started?

  • I’m a hybrid. Depends on what I am writing. I research a lot before and while I am writing. I sketch characters out and have an idea of their backgrounds, motivations, and where I’d like to see them go with the story. After all of that, I let them have the reins.
  • One of the novels I am working on is an historical fiction. I have to be accurate where I can with the actual events, but I can have as much fun as I and my characters want with the rest. It also includes a lot of psychology, so there is that research as well.
  • Now, when I am doing nonfiction I generally use an outline and plan it out as much as I can. Especially long pieces. Much of my nonfiction are short essays or articles that have been published on blogs or in anthologies. I am currently working on a book that will probably take me through a lot of research, outlining, and personal experience.

My hat comes off to you. I’ve tried the general outline idea – it didn’t work.

Since you said historical, I’m going to guess outside your nonfiction work, you focus on fantasy? (If not, how do you mix historical with sci-fi?)

  • My Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings series is magical realism. I also write erotica with a fantasy bent, urban thriller leaning towards horror, and the occasional short in high fantasy. The sci-fi is something different for me. My first attempt was way back in middle school, I was home schooled for a short time and my mother assigned a writing project to me. I’d been reading a lot of Star Trek novels at the time. She assigned me the task of writing a story in the ST universe. It wasn’t very good.
  • In my current effort I have computer magicians. Combining science with magic. There are nonhumans who have supernatural abilities or characteristics. It is relatively easy for me to combine my love of sci-fi with my love of fantasy. After all, yesterday’s magic is today’s science.

Very true. And that does strike at the heart of the “science fiction or fantasy” debate.

Do you have any authors who’ve influenced you over the years one way or the other?

  • Piers Anthony was probably my first love when it comes to fantasy. His Xanth books are still a favorite of mine. He also has some really good sci-fi and sci-fi meets fantasy books. His Firefly novel was an influence on me as a teen. Before then I’d not read a book that combined horror with science fiction. Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley have influenced my writing some. I’ve taken inspiration from many current authors who have shown to me that “yes I can!” Alex Bledsoe and M.R. Sellars come to mind for that. They both have taken magic and the supernatural and put them into a modern setting. Not truly magical realism, but good reads! Bledsoe uses his Appalachian childhood in his books while Sellars combines his own Pagan beliefs with modern crime thrillers.

Sounds like I’ve got a couple of new authors to investigate from that list, not to mention a few of my old “friends” as well.

Now that we’ve looked at the past, I’m going to turn our attention to the future. What are you working on right now?

  • If you are adding authors to your list, might I suggest one more? Sarah Buhrman. Her Runespell series is proving to be an excellent example of magical realism. 🙂
  • What am I working on right now? I’ve got five fiction documents open on my desktop at the moment. A gay male erotica involving bikers and faeries, a dark urban thriller with a computer geek, a bloody skull, and a jaded detective; a short story that tells a modern take on the story of Sekhmet the lion-headed goddess of Egypt, chapter two of my sci-fi novel (a chapter-a-month perk on Patreon); and volume two of Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings. Not open are two metaphysical nonfictions dealing with Pagan spirituality, the historical fiction I mentioned earlier, and … I think that’s about it. I’m sure there is more, though. lol. Yeah, I work on a lot all at once.

How on earth do you keep that all straight?? I get lost if I’ve got more than 2 at a time. (Shorts don’t count – those are a start-to-finish in one sitting type thing.)

  • When it comes to the fiction the characters will take turns. Mostly. Sometimes more than one group of characters want me to work on them at the same time. That can be a headache. And my moods shift throughout the day. Sandra and Elaine, two of my MCs from Dark of the Moon, have been talking to me a lot the last week or so. Ever since their first story came out. They want to get more of their story out there. They’ve even let one of the antagonists take over the last two days for a little while. The Captain of the Pinnacle knows when a mission needs to be focused on and keeps his crew in line for me. The bloody skull and the computer geek have been sitting patiently in the backroom for a while, but the skull is starting to scream at me. That’s just some of it.
  • Sounds crazy, right? Well, most of us authors are a little crazy (or a lot!). The nonfiction stuff is there for when I need a break from all those voices. I can sit back and write what I know when working on nonfiction. If I come across something that needs more research I’ll go explore and get lost for a while. It all comes back to the writing though. I do it for the love of it. Sales help, of course.

Doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. I’ll just quietly take my hat off and watch as you perform the amazing juggling act that you’re doing to work on so many different projects at once. I’m also going to peek over your shoulder, and see if you there’s anything you want to share? A snippet, teaser, excerpt?

  • How about something from Backfire, the first volume of Dark of the Moon, New Beginnings?

That works.

Sandra opened the window a crack to let a bit of fresh air into the room. The incense smoke swirled in the breeze as it was sucked out the window. As the air cleared she blinked the smoke from her own eyes.

“Well that sucked,” she muttered under her breath. “Back to square one.” She pushed her hair away from her forehead, brushing the sweat away from her brow.

She looked about the now smoke free room and sighed. Picking up the athame she began to put her ritual and spell tools away. Sandra put each tool into its place in the box she pulled out from under the altar table. The wand, the incense burner, and the athame each had a special compartment in the ornately carved oak box. As she put the pentacle plate and the bowl into their pouches she gazed into her own reflection in the blade of the boline.

The curved blade, shaped like a crescent, was affixed to a piece of deer antler. The antler was hand carved with delicate Celtic knot work and the blade itself had been hand forged by her grandfather. Her eyes were captured in the blade’s surface, reflecting back her own frustration at the failed spell. Her hand shook a little and she broke her own personal staring match.

“Oh, stop it!” she admonished herself. “No sense in crying over spilt milk.”

She tucked the boline away into its pouch and picked up the simple silver chalice she preferred to use for her personal workings. Her gaze went to her reflection in the curved metal and she paused. What she saw in that reflection was different from the narrow bladed reflection of the boline. She could see more than just her eyes. She could see the frown of her lips and the smudge of soot on her nose where she had touched her face after snuffing out the candles with her dampened fingertips. The smudge made her grin a little and as she watched her lips twist in the curve of the chalice she couldn’t help but giggle at the image. The giggle soon turned into a laugh.

She took up a small terry towel and wiped out the chalice before placing it into the box as well. All the while laughing to herself.

“Hmm. Wonder what I did wrong this time.” She shook her head and made sure that she had placed all the tools in the box before closing it and putting it back under the altar. “Too much sandalwood in the incense? Or what is it the wrong color for the candles?” She wrinkled her brow with thought and picked up the remains of the failed spell materials. A bit of burnt twine, blackened parchment, and a small cracked quartz. She brushed it all into her hand and got up from the pillow on the floor.

As she left the small room she used for rituals, spell work, and meditation it was as if she walked from one world into another. Her bearing and attitude changed as soon as she stepped over the threshold. She hurried off to the kitchen and dumped the remains of the spell materials into the trash before washing her hands at the sink. She wiped the smudge from her nose with the dampened towel and filled a glass with water from the tap.

Her phone made a beep. Picking it up she saw that her best friend Elaine was texting her.

U AVAIL?

YES. WHAT UP?

WEIRDNESS AROUND HERE. WAT U DID?

WAT U MEAN?

THINGS WEIRD HERE. SAW U IN CORNER OF EYE & THINGS WENT WEIRD.

??? SAW ME?

YES. IN CORNER OF EYE. WEIRD!

VOICE?!

Sandra’s phone rang in reply to her last text. “What do you mean you saw me? I’ve been here all afternoon.”

“I saw you out of the corner of my eye. I did. And then everything started to go weird.”

“What do you mean weird?”

“The light in the bathroom blew as I saw you out of the corner of my eye. It was like catching a glimpse of you in the mirror and then boom! The light bulb blew. Scared the shit of me, I tell you!”

“Wow, I imagine. You said things went weird. More than just the blown bulb?”

“Oh, yeah! A lot more. I ran out of the bathroom, scared the shit of me. Almost literally. The lights were flickering in the whole apartment. What did you do?!”

“I, uh…” she hesitated. Elaine knew she was a witch, but trying to explain magick to her was not always easy. “I just tried to cast a spell. It didn’t work.”

“Didn’t work? Elaine asked. “What on Earth were you trying to do?” Her tone of voice was enough to convince Sandra that she wasn’t going to have to explain much about magick. At least not just yet.

“I was trying to bring you peace,” she replied flatly.

“You call this peace?” her tone was almost accusatory.

“No. I said the spell failed. Nothing seemed to happen on my end.” Sandra was grasping for an explanation in her own mind. She cast a spell for peace in Elaine’s life and nothing seemed to happen.

“Girl! Something happened here on my end!” Elaine’s voice rose in pitch a notch and her volume was increasing. “What the hell were you doing!?”

“I did what I always do. I made my Circle, laid out my tools and worked the spell. Other than a lot of choking incense smoke, nothing happened. Nothing,” she was really at a loss here. She couldn’t fathom that a simple spell for something positive would cause anything to go wrong, let alone on the other side of town.

“Okay. Let’s take a breath.” She could hear her friend take a deep breath and exhale loudly over the cell’s speaker. Instinctively she did the same thing. “Now, tell me exactly what you did.”

“But you don’t believe in magick.”

::chuckles:: Oh, that definitely looks interesting. (Then again, after discovering another author who writes magical realism, I’ve been hooked.)

You said you’re working on the second book in this series?

  • Yes. Waterfall takes place three months later. Elaine has moved in with Sandra out of convenience (and no spoilers). I’d tell you more, but that would be a spoiler! lol Read volume one and you will get more of an idea. I can say this, I’ve got 24 more stories planned for this series. Waterfall should be out by May 1, 2017.

Wow. I thought I was ambitious with a 10 book series! Need to start saving pennies for this one, you’ve definitely got me curious!

Last question for you: Where can folks find you for the latest news and teasers on your work?

  • Like I said, I’m a little (or a lot) crazy. I won’t tell you my timeline for releasing each volume then. 😉
  • I’ve got a page on Facebook where I post at least once a day. Either a teaser or an update on what is going on. I’ve also got a Patreon where I release a chapter-a-month for my $1 and above patrons out of the sci-fi novel I am working on. And of course I have author pages on Amazon (US Amazon) and Goodreads. RevKess is one of the voices of Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel. I am the host of Musica Pagani, co-host of Pagan-Musings and Pagan Weekly News. I am also one of the hosts of Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM and Lavender Hill on KZUM.

With all you’re juggling, it’s probably safer this way.

Philipp, thank you for stopping bye today. It’s been fun getting a chance to sit down and talk with you.

Any final words before we wrap up?

  • Thank you! I’ve enjoyed our chat.
  • Last words…Buy my stuff! Of course. But seriously, if you feel the desire to write. Do it! Even if it is only for yourself. Tell the stories that are inside of you. Who knows, you might just have a bestseller hidden inside you.

I’ll agree with that.

 

If you’ve enjoyed the interview, and want to keep up with everything Philipp is doing – please feel free to follow him on any of his social media links above.  And, don’t forget to come back.  Philipp said he’ll be returning with one of the characters from Waterfall for another chat in a few days.

Author Interview: George Fernandez

Image may contain: 1 person, mountain, sunglasses, beard, outdoor and nature

Welcome back everyone for our next author interview.  Today, P. T. Logos has made the quick trip up from Florida to visit with us.  George, I’m going to turn the floor over to you so you can introduce yourself.

 

  • Alrighty…I’m married with one son (6 y/o). I’m a psychiatric Social Worker by day. I love anything and everything having to do with tech and futurism….I guess that gives you some info

It sure does, and invites the next question.

Do you ever use writing as a way to vent off a bad day (or your own method of therapy?)

  • hmmm….well, I think when I write poetry, that’s definitely true. that’s something I enjoy writing also. Writing SciFi feels much more like a creative process. I was / am a musician and it feels similar when it’s coming out.

Do you have any favorite activities you do before/during your writing sessions?

  • lol….I’m so busy these days! I wish I had time to squeeze something in before / during. I try to squeeze my writing into my routine anywhere I can. I do find that I need to pull away mentally from the writing in intervals. Otherwise I start getting obsessive and nit picky about things that probably don’t mean much in the end

I can sympathize with that. Do you work with an editor when you’re finished with the draft, or do you do most of the editing yourself?

  • I do most of the editing myself. I do have an ARC team consisting of about 8 to 10 pretty reliable people. I also have one friend in Ohio who has an INCREDIBLE eye. I’ve been sending her my work and she always sees things others don’t. It’s so valuable to have someone like that!

Definitely. What about your cover art? Do you work on that yourself, or collaborate with someone else?

  • that I collaborate. I’ve found a couple of people on Fiverr who do a pretty good job. I generally search for cover art I like–something that relates in some way to the story. Then I hand it over to the designer and I may specify some additional details. I’m not the most visually artistic person.I know what I like to see, I’m just not very good at translating that with my hands onto paper, etc.

::Chuckles:: I can sympathize with that. Getting the pictures from your mind to the page is a challenge, whether the painting’s done with words or colors.

Do you have any authors you find educational or inspirational (other than writer craft books, that is)?

  • You mean like influences?

::Nods:: Yes, sir.

  • I love Charles Stross–especially Accelerando. I also read all of Frank herbert’s Dune series. I enjoy Iain M Banks for space opera, and Peter Hamilton is an animal…lol
    There’s also influence from movies….I remember watching the Time Machine when I was a kid…the OLD one. Watched it like a hundred times. The matrix too

::Chuckles:: The Matrix is a treasure trove of ideas, most definitely.

Are there any inspirations outside of the entertainment media? (Like from a work setting, or something from your own past.)

  • oh yes….I’ve worked with many struggling from addiction and in my younger years I had my own demons to battle. One of the topics I touch on in my work is addiction to Virtual Reality worlds. I like the idea of falling so in love with the virtual, that the character never wants to return to reality. How do you treat these people? And how does the society deal with it? That’s one of the topics about which I enjoy writing. I also have characters who undergo treatments in VR–some against their will. It brings up interesting conflicts and questions–especially ethical ones

I’ll bet! Sounds really interesting, to be honest.

Do you have a snippet you can share, or a teaser?

  • Well, one of my fav characters is named Razier–he appears in my second collection of short stories entitled “Warnings from the Future, Series 2.” He prob meets the criteria of a full blown psychopath. He lives as a dealer smuggling and selling a new type of drug which actually gives the user the choice of feeling any emotion they want. He himself is addicted as well. He lives in a gritty and violent city–cyberpunk to the max. He believes he has it made in his little corner of hell. That is until someone shows up and begins to show him that perhaps everything he thinks is real is not….
    the drug is extracted from bodies through harvesting of organs….there’s no gore in the story. But disturbing images are alluded to. His trying to give up the life….but you know how that usually goes
    The story is told in first person, from his perspective, which I really like. taking on that role

Sadly, I do. Though, this definitely sounds intriguing!

Since this is a collection of short stories, do you focus on those only, or do you have something longer in the works?

  • i do. Two of the stories appearing the aforementioned collection (Razier being one of them) are both ideas I want to expand on. One of the stories is called “2121” and the other is of course “Razier.” 2121 is more of a space opera but it has cyberpunk elements. The city of Cirlos appears in both. There’s another story in my first collection (“Warnings from the Future, Series 1”) which also takes place in Cirlos. that one involves a young woman who’s job it is to rescue people who are trapped in corrupt VR programs. They’ve been under so long, that they’ve forgotten they’re in at all. She’s a programmer who enters and pulls them out. I like her character as well and I believe she’ll be making an appearance in 2121. So, to answer you question, I believe the short stories are elements which I can put together to create a larger universe. Themes repeat and locations link some of the stories together.

Nice. I’ve seen some of my favorite authors do that, and it’s always interesting to see how the story expands.

  • I’ve gotten positive feedback from readers on both 2121 and Razier (especially Razier) so I decided to focus on those two. That’s a good perk to putting a few short stories out there and getting feedback. It gives me an idea of what stories are most connecting with the reader

When your stories are nice enough to cooperate that way. ::grins:: I’m a touch jealous, actually.

  • don’t be too jealous….lol. I’m still taking baby steps (that’s how it feels anyway)

The jealousy is because I don’t get the short version of my stories first.  I get the all or nothing treatment.

However, I don’t want to keep you here too long.  I know you’ve got obligations you need to fulfill, so I’ll skip ahead to asking where folks can connect with you on social media if they want to follow your journey further.

  • Twitter
    FB page
    Amazon
  • on my FB page, I actually have all of “2121” posted, one piece a day. For anyone interested you can read it there.

I’m definitely going to have to go check that out.

One last question, since you’ve got a couple of books out already, where do you have them listed?

  • so, for right now I’m on Amazon and goodreads. I signed up for KDP select which is of course a double-edged sword. I AM planning on releasing “Razier” as a stand-alone short story on Amazon and EVERYWHERE else…lol. I also have a paperback available on Amazon which combines both Series 1 and Series 2. I’m hoping to have Razier just list for free everywhere. Then, I will include my mailing list sign up link within.
  • If you check out any of my work–anyone reading this…sign up for my mailing list. I promise not to spam or give your email to anyone else

George, thank you so much for stopping by today.  It has been a pleasure to get to visit with a fellow Knight of the SciFi Round Table.

If you enjoyed the interview, don’t forget to come back in a couple of days.  George will be returning with (character) for another visit.  Until then, keep those pages turning.

Author Interview: Julian Green

Welcome everyone.  A quick notice, before our guest arrives this evening.

The pukah are finally back on track, and have agreed to keep their distractions to a minimum (we’ll see how long that lasts.)  As such, I’m finally able to come back and visit with everyone who’s held on during the scheduling breakdown a bit more.  I’d like to than all of you for your patience.

::Hears the knock at the door::

Ah!  I believe our guest has arrived.  I’d like to introduce you to Julian, a wonderful fellow I met over on Facebook in one of the best groups I’ve come across (the SciFi Roundtable).  Julian, do you mind getting things started by telling us a little about yourself?

 

  • Sure – Hi I’m Julian St Aubyn Green, and I’m an author from Australia who likes to write science fantasy novels. For a while I struggled with my genre and just said it was Spec Fiction.As for age, I’m old enough to know better, wrong side of forty, take your pick.  As far as any other info, if you’re curious you can visit my website I’ll try and preserve my International man of mystery vibe

 

::chuckles:: I bet that provides a lot of experience to draw from when you’re writing then. Or do your stories take on a life of their own?

  • I’m a huge planner. Very logical, and then I start writing and the character come along and kick sand in my teeth. They want to do their own thing a lot of the time.I’m still looking for the support group for that.

If I hear of one, I promise to point you at it. It’s always interesting when the characters take off, and drag you along.

What started you on your author’s journey?

  • Well I worked in finance for many years, but always been a bit geeky. Dungeons and dragons and tabletop RPG’s sort of thing, but got bored playing in other people’s worlds. Along came family, and that sort of squeezed the time I had to get a group of friends around a table. So I moved online with my gaming into Play by Post games.
  • Anyway, working in finance I got a fairly unique view of 9/11. And on the 10 year anniversay, this idea snuck into my head and wouldn’t go away.
    So I built a game out of the idea, and while the game died, the idea’s, about Freedom and Control. About hope and the choices that we make…those idea’s stuck around.
    And were going to drive me insane if I didn’t write them down

Another gamer-turned-author? I keep running into those. I thought we were a rare breed.

  • Yup – we like stories

::Looks away innocently:: For some reason that sounds too eerily familiar.

When the stories started getting impatient, did you have one that was more demanding than the others, or did you have to “pick straws” for which one to write first?

  • Oh, definitely no need to pick straws. It was this story idea that grabbed me by the brain and wouldn’t let go. I’ve tried to write a number of times in my life. I guess what I really needed was just a really gripping story.  Of course Ideas still happen as a story evolves

True that! Do you ever find it hard not to get lured down another rabbit hole while you’re working on one of your projects, or are you one of the lucky ones that can work on several at once?

  • I do lot’s of projects, but I like to vary them so they stay fresh. So right now it’s gardening, learning about PR and marketing, A couple of arty type things as I’m going to conventions. As for writing, I tend to stay working on the word mountain. I looked at the number of words when I started this story and I’m thinking it will be half a million when I’m finished.So No, I tend to stay focused and not get distracted.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed at the size of the project you’re working on?

  • Nope. Planner remember? One foot in front of the other until all the steps are taken. Besides…it’s fun. We always do fun stuff, and if I’m having fun, hopefully the readers will too.

::Chuckles:: I can’t dispute that. Without the element of fun, things seem to turn into text books.

Do you ever include any of your experiences in your books?

  • Um…kind of. I was a weird nerd when I was younger, I also liked doing adrenaline type things. So some of the things in the books I bring my own experiences in. But mostly it’s about characters and how they interact. That’s people, and as an author, I’m a people watcher.

Have you ever included scenarios in your work that have been fictionalized from observations in real life?

  • Well, I find flawed characters interesting. So some of the characters have my flaws, O.O, and some of them have flaws from…other people, but it’s about how those flaws interact…particularly when set against a backdrop of stress and conflict. But I don’t really base my scenes on real interactions, most of them are too fantastic.

Makes perfect sense. Not to mention, authors put their characters through scenarios that aren’t quite legal in many cases.

Do you have any authors that have helped influence what you write, or the way you put your books together?

  • I have a large well loved bookcase full of them. Yes I am a purist, I love the smell, weight and feel of a book in my hands. I could take you a picture, but you’d immediately notice the Pratchett Expanse, the Jordan Byway, The Martin Alcove, The Gemmel Lane, The Eddings Avenue, The Heinlein Nook, The Lackey Overpass, The Feist- Lynch- Riley- Rothfuss Conglomeration.

Hmm, sounds like I need to come take up residence for a bit. Many of those are old friends of mine as well.

Going back to your comment about being a planner, do you feel that has helped develop you develop a unique writing style?

  • Author voice is one of those things that happen with practice and revision. I’ve been told I have a very easy style, and the planning I think certainly helps with that.

I’m a panster, so no comment from my particular pea nut gallery. It does lead to the next question, however. Do you have a snippet or teaser you can share?

Juliet could hear the alarms again. Although familiar, the dream was anything but comforting. It was always jarring: a recurring nightmare.
In her dream she was small, just seven, not seventeen, and she could see their faces. Her brothers and sisters, all strikingly dissimilar in appearance but sharing the same young, cherubic, guileless eyes and open expressions. Juliet liked India’s shoulder-length blond hair much more than her short, dark pixie cut. Her own dark brown hair barely covered her surgical scar.
She liked Alpha’s smattering of freckles across her button nose. Freckles were cute. Delta had the most amazing green eyes. It wasn’t fair that a boy had eyes like that. They had tiny flecks of gold among the pale green that shone when he smiled at her. But mindsharing meant she knew that her siblings thought she was pretty, with her elfin jaw and big eyes.
They sat in a circle, passing the foam ball back and forth. The rule was that they couldn’t use their hands, only the Gift. They didn’t want to drop the ball. Bad things happened when they dropped the ball. The bright red ball floated towards her slowly when the first harsh sound broke her concentration and her hands involuntarily covered her ears. She fumbled the handover from Delta and her eyes widened in horror as the ball fell at her feet.
No, not again, I don’t want to see it again. Please.
As Juliet looked to the white-coat, she expected him to press the button, to feel pain explode in her head like thousands of tiny needles burrowing into her.
That was what happened if she dropped the ball, or couldn’t pop the balloon, or snuff out the candle or perform one of a hundred different tasks. Pain. If they got through every task, if they answered all the questions on theory, they got something nice, like a piece of candy or a toy. But not today. She’d dropped the ball. Today she got the pain. She curled her shoulders, trying to make herself smaller.
Instead, a harsh klaxon assaulted the air and no pain followed. The white-coat looked at the ceiling, head cocked to the sound, face uncertain.
“Stay on the carpet,” instructed the white-coat sternly.
All the children blinked as their neural tech registered the command. He picked up the phone that hung in the corner and pressed the handset against his ear, frowning. He muttered to himself, jiggling the button on the top when there was no dial tone.
“Someone’s coming,” whispered Alpha, peeking out from behind a curtain of red hair at the others in the circle.
The group turned to look at the doors, ball forgotten. So often Alpha knew things before they happened.
“What?” demanded the white-coat. He walked across the small room towards the door, withdrawing a shinkari pistol from his pocket as he did so. His other hand stretched out for the handle when the door blew inwards. He took the brunt of the blast in the chest, knocked unconscious as the heavy metal door crashed into him. He slammed against the wall, crumpled and bleeding.
A handsome Asian man lowered his booted foot with a smile of satisfaction on his face. “Told you I could,” he quipped to the tall, attractive black woman at his side, as if in answer to a dare. She raised her weapon and hustled into the room as the children watched, silent and motionless.
“By the Monarchs. China, there are kids here. What is going on?”
“What? But—” China stepped forward with a look of dawning horror on his face. His features turned pale as the blood left his face. ¬¬
“What are you kids doing here?” The woman demanded, her voiced stressed, one hand white-knuckled on the rifle she carried.
“We live here. What are you doing here?” Foxtrot asked, brushing his hair from his face to look at the imposing woman fearfully.
“You live here? You’re the secret project?”
Juliet could feel the woman’s violet eyes on her. She was looking at her scar, the only one that could be seen because of her hair cut.
“What did that bastard Mycroft do to you?” she demanded.
“Sarge,” China swallowed. “There’s no time.” There were unshed tears in his voice as he tugged on his partner’s arm urgently.
The children all looked at them in confusion as she responded stubbornly. “I’m not killing kids, China. We’re getting them out. Come with us. Now,” she commanded the group.
Juliet shook her head with the rest of her siblings. No. It’ll hurt if we leave the carpet without permission.
“They’ll slow us down. Sarge,” the Asian man implored, holding a gentle and familiar hand against her cheek. “We won’t get away ourselves. We’ll die if we don’t go. The timers are running. I’m going to kill my father when we see him.” He swore heatedly.
As the large dark-skinned woman looked at the small group of children, her eyes settled on Juliet. She was the smallest. Juliet knew what the woman was thinking. She could feel it. “We can’t leave the carpet,” she pleaded urgently. “We’re not allowed.”
As the big woman strode forward and picked her up she started crying, anticipating the pain. But it’s not my fault, she thought bitterly as hot tears splashed her cheeks.
The others started crying as well. Delta’s green eyes spilled tears freely as he watched Juliet carried away from them. They weren’t allowed to leave the carpet.
Alpha looked at Juliet, slung over the woman’s shoulder as she turned to leave. Alpha had tears streaming down her face and Juliet heard her sibling mindspeak. ‡You have to go. Don’t be afraid, you’ll survive. Remember us, Juliet. Remember all of us.‡
How did she do that? Alpha knew things before they happened.
That last glimpse, she’d never forget: slung over a shoulder like a knapsack as the pain started and the woman broke into a run. Sharp pain stabbed into her head while her tears blurred her vision.
Except the middle remained clear.
A tear-curtained tunnel burned into her memory, with her brothers and sisters still sitting on the red carpet while alarms split the air.
“How long?” Her kidnapper barked, at a full sprint down the corridor with Juliet curled in pain and whimpering like a wounded animal over her shoulder.
“Three minutes,” huffed the man, trying to hold in a sob and effortlessly speeding past. “Then Mycroft’s science experiment goes up in flame.”
Jay screamed as fresh pain exploded in her head and the nightmare finally released her. She opened her eyes and a dark rage narrowed her vision, reality mirroring the dream. She reached out with the Gift, intent on destruction.

Ooh, now I’m drooling.

Where do you hide out on the interwebs, so I can stalk… erm… follow you and discover more about your work?

And the last question…

Do you have anything published?

Suffrage (World Key Chronicles Book 1) by [Green, Julian St Aubyn]

Suffrage: The World Keys
A group of rebels travel across realities to steal something precious. What would you do to take control of your destiny?

There is something hidden on Earth. A secret so immense it’s worth killing for. In a race against time, five travelers arrive, hunting a key that will change the balance of power in their world.

Jay’s birth father is a monster. He destroyed half her world and established a twisted version of utopia from the ashes, ruled by the Five Monarchs. But his blood flows in her veins, giving her power beyond any human. She has to prove that she’s not him; that she’s better. With the help of her teammates, she has to stop him from destroying her adoptive family and her world by finding the one thing that can make her his equal. But will the world key make her a monster, too?

Dr Stanford Ellis, an American scientist, is tasked with understanding these travelers. What does their arrival mean, for his country and the world? He must unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

Little do the travelers know, they were followed to our Earth. The Walker King has come seeking the rebels, and will let nothing stand in the way of his revenge. Freedom comes at a price.

 

Thanks. Definitely be checking this out in a bit.

Julian, thanks for stopping by today. It’s been great getting to know you a bit better.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, come back in a few days.  Julian will be returning with Delta (one of the characters from Suffrage) for another visit.  Until then… keep those pages turning!