Friday, December 9, 2016

Interview With Author Ryan Galloway

I had the recent opportunity to interview Ryan Galloway, author of the YA Science Fiction novel Biome. In this interview he talks about some of the psychology behind the story concept, the challenges faced by his main character, and what is next on his writing horizon.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Author Ryan Galloway
Hello, everyone! My name is Ryan Galloway, and I’m an independent author. I just released my debut novel, Biome, this past week.
What inspired your latest book?
Biome was inspired by a kind of psychological curiosity. I wondered how we might treat each other—for better or worse—if we could literally see the way we all think about the world, one other, and the ourselves, firsthand. When Lizzy is given the memories of her peers on Mars Colony One, she is challenged to do exactly that.

How would you categorize your book?
The book is classified as Young Adult Science Fiction, though I’d say it leans more toward New Adult. That category is (currently) still developing.

Introduce us to your lead character.  What is it about this character that appeals to you as a writer?
Elizabeth is a strong person, but her strength comes from denial and repression. Understandably, she struggles to relate to other people—even her closest friends. For me, getting to see how Lizzy grows (or struggles to grow) when she is more-or-less forced to relate, is compelling.

How did the book come to be titled and how does it relate to the story?
A biome is a naturally occurring habitat in which certain plants can grow. While there are literally biomes on Mars in which the cadets cultivate certain species, the title relates more to the social and psychological bubbles in which we live. As Elizabeth’s bubble is “popped,” she is forced to exist in a more difficult, uncomfortable environment.

Available Now
Tell us more about the cover design.
The base photograph for Biome’s cover was originally part of a fashion look book called "Digitalized," which was created by Spanish designer Alba Prat. My partner, who is a graphic designer, used that base to create the cover you see today. Being an indie author, I was grateful to have so much input over the final product.

How much of your experience is in your book?
When I was writing Biome, I did my best to be vulnerable. Which is to say, I put a lot of my personal experiences, ideals, and beliefs into the story. Though I hope the book reaches a wide audience, I also recognize that vulnerability can be a tricky thing. Some people will connect with my convictions—others may not.

How much research did you put into your book?
Naturally, any Science Fiction novel requires a lot of research. It helped that we’ve learned so much new information about Mars over the past few years. Though my origins are in fantasy—making up your own rules requires its own kind of homework—it was a lot of fun to study another planet, and to dream about scientific breakthroughs in the near future.

What advice might you give aspiring authors?
In my experience, your most extreme praises and criticisms can be pretty off-target. I think the truth lies more in the middle. The best advice I can give an aspiring author is to simply be who you are. Write your own convictions, and write them honestly. No one else can tell a story from your perspective. If you really want to connect with readers on a deep level, you’ll have to go deep with them. It may not be popular with everyone, but it’ll be real. And that’s what matters. 

What specific authors or books influenced how you write today?
I’ve always been most inspired by the books in which an author speaks honestly about a difficult truth. J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Nicole Krauss are some of my favorite authors. The History of Love is a book I consistently come back to.

What is next for you?
Next up is an alternate-history novel about the dawn of industrial magic in Athens, and the only young man in the city who can’t use spells. I’m hopeful for a late-summer release in 2017. The sequel to Biome is on my list after that.

Biome Synopsis
   Inside the gleaming domes of Mars Colony One, seventeen-year-old Lizzy Engram and her fellow cadets work to make the Red Planet habitable. They spend their days growing plants in the giant biomes, eating meals pumped out of 3D printers, and waiting for the terraforming to be complete.
   And every Sunday night, the doctors erase their memories.
   Week by week the procedure is carried out, and no one suspects a thing. Until one morning, Lizzy wakes up with all of the missing memories. And not just her own, but the memories of every cadet on the planet—from the boy who falls in love with her every week, to the girl who wants to ruin her life, to the cadets who have disappeared since landing.
   Now balancing the desires, fears, ideas, and secrets of the entire colony, Lizzy has six days to figure out what the doctors are hiding—and how to stop them—before they erase her memories again.
   Or worse, make Lizzy the next to disappear.
You can find more information on Ryan Galloway and Biome at the following places:
Biome Book Page
Ryan Galloway Author Page
Twitter: @ryangallows

Friday, October 28, 2016

Interview With Author Tiffany Current

   Halloween is the perfect time to celebrate the paranormal and the release of My Maker's Keeper by author Tiffany Current.  In this interview Tiffany tells us about her new novel and some of the things that went into creating it.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Author Tiffany Current
   I’m an online marketer by day and writer by night. I love watching TV and reading books.  Overall, my life is pretty boring, but I like it that way.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
   My latest book is called My Maker’s Keeper. I’m a huge vampire fan and a huge YA fan, so I knew I wanted to write something that combined the two. Generally, a lot vampire books involve a human girl falling for a vampire, but I thought it would be fun to flip that concept and have the girl be the vampire.
How would you categorize your book?
   It’s Young Adult and Paranormal Romance.

Introduce us to your series lead protagonist.  What is it about this character that appeals to you as a writer?
   Hannah Clark is the lead in My Maker’s Keeper. She’s an 18-year-old senior in high school who was turned into a vampire against her will. She’s trying to keep that a secret from everyone she knows and loves. What I like about her is that she’s not some damsel in distress. She has real issues that she’s trying to work through in the book, and that’s nice to see.
Available November 1, 2016
How did the book come to be titled?
   In my book, I wanted to add to the vampire lore that’s out there, so I created this term called a “keeper.” Basically, a keeper is what’s considered a vampire’s offspring. So I used that term coupled with the saying “my brother’s keeper” and got My Maker’s Keeper.

Tell us more about the cover design.  How involved were you with creating the cover?
   I hired a graphic designer for my cover. I wish I could create it myself, but that’s just not my wheelhouse. Basically, I gave him a general idea of what I wanted the cover to look like and the mood I was hoping to create. It only took him a few go rounds to get my vision right.

What types of genres do you read now for pleasure?
   I read a lot of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and just plain fantasy books.

Do you have any favorite characters, and if so, what is it about them that appeals to you?
   I generally love the dark and troubled male leads in the books. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the bad boy (at least in fiction).

What is next for you?
   I’m writing an urban fantasy novelette. It’s about this cynical and sarcastic woman who doesn’t believe in the supernatural – only to discover she is supernatural and has to team up with a hot guy to rid the world of monsters.

   Hannah Clark used to be an ordinary girl. She used to be a lot of things. Until she was bitten.
   Five months ago, Hannah woke up in the middle of the woods as a vampire. She didn’t know how it happened or who turned her. She just knew she wasn’t safe in her hometown anymore.
   Fort Wayne was supposed to be her fresh start. Her chance to finish high school without any other incidents. But then she met Jackson. Their attraction was instant and awakened something deep inside of her. Her thirst for blood.
   Things only got worse when her maker, Lucas, came to town. He might have been sexy, but he was one dangerous vampire. And if Hannah wanted to keep Jackson safe, she had to protect him from Lucas’ ravenous ways. Even though she found herself excited by them.
   But Lucas wasn’t there for her. Something sinister was happening in town. Vampires were going missing, and if Hannah didn’t want to be next, she had to work with Lucas to solve the mystery. But could she trust him? Or should she trust Jackson? She had to make a choice—and her life might just depend on it.

You can find Tiffany Current and her book at the following places:
Twitter:   @TiffanyCurrent


Friday, October 14, 2016

Interview With Author Denise Walker

   I recently had the pleasure of talking with Denise Walker, author of the novel Cedar ValleyIn this interview we talk about what inspired the story, the writer who influenced her, and what she has planned next.

Tell us a little about yourself.  
Author Denise Walker

   I live in Edmonton, Alberta where I work full-time as an Emergency Communications Officer.  I take 9-1-1 calls and dispatch ambulances which can be interesting to say the least (and a great source of inspiration!)  I do most of my writing in my downtime at work and the rest on my couch in my tiny downtown apartment.  Writing has been a passion of mine from an early age but I'd never completed a novel until now.  I've always dreamed of being a published author and now that it's happened I can't express how wonderful it feels.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

   My book is titled Cedar ValleyIt all began when I was camping in the mountains with some friends.  We were sitting around the campfire when my friend's boyfriend (I have no idea how it came up) said, "What if... when you turn a certain age you had to kill your parents?"  And it just snowballed from there.

Introduce us to your novel's lead characters.  What is it about these characters that appeal to you as a writer?

   I'd never written from the view of a male character before and it was as equally challenging as it was fun.  Cedar Valley follows the POV of two main characters, our protagonist - Peter, and our antagonist - Ari.  Peter is a police officer who is haunted by the fact that within the year, he'll have to kill his parents.  He's desperate to find a way to save them.  Meanwhile, Ari begins our story by sacrificing his parents and he finds he wasn't bothered by it at all, actually he rather enjoyed it.  Plagued with a bloodlust, he'll go on to be Cedar Valley's worst serial killer.
   Ari's chapters were so fun to write, they're written in first person and it was quite the experience to get into the head of a killer.
   Peter, on the other hand I created out of necessity.  However, I ended up falling in love with him and I hope everyone else does too.
Available Now
How did the book come to be titled?

   Initially, I wanted to call the book The Catalyst however if you search that title, there are approximately 56,000 other books with that title and I wanted Cedar Valley to stand out.  Cedar Valley is the name of the town where the story takes place.

How involved were you with creating the cover?

   I was fairly involved.  My best friend Lydia Stewart is a designer and created the cover for me.  I think she did an excellent job portraying the tone of the book.

Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

   Peter has an awesome partner named Royal who also happens to be his best friend.  I find their relationship super entertaining and Royal provides some much needed comic relief.

What are your interests outside of writing and do any of these find their way into your book?

   I like to practice yoga and that plays a big part in Ari's life.  Before he killed them, his parents were yoga teachers at an integral place called the Temple.  He goes on to take their place.
   I also enjoy nature and there are many elements of that in Cedar Valley.

What specific author influenced how or what you write today?

   My favourite author is David Morrell.  The first book I read by him was Creepers and it blew my mind.  It was so creepy and well thought out.  I  began devouring every book by Morrell that I could get my hands on.  He wrote a series of short horror stories that he published as collections.  Each story is preceded by an introduction including the inspiration for each story.  In one, Morrell goes on to describe his experience in University where he pursued a Literary professor with great tenacity.  The professor dismissed his work but began to give him advice which he shared in that introduction: (and I'm paraphrasing) Find what really scares you.  Not heights, not ghosts, not fire, but what truly terrifies you.  The so called ferret in your psyche.  So I began to think of what really scares me and it lit a fire under my writing like nothing ever had.

What is next for you?

   I am celebrating Cedar Valley by having a book launch party at a local restaurant.  I'm so excited for that.  Also, I'm using October for outlining and prepping for NaNoWriMo 2016.  I'll be dipping my toes in a sort of Supernatural/Dark Fantasy type!  Should be lots of fun.

You can find Denise at the following places:

Twitter:  @DeniseWalker

Facebook:   DeniseWalkerAuthor

Cedar Valley is available at Amazon in ebook or paperback

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Interview With Author Molly Neely

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing author Molly Neely.  In this interview she talks about her debut paranormal thriller novel, The Sand Dweller.

What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

Author Molly Neely

My book is called The Sand Dweller. I originally intended to write a vampire novel Being a huge fan of ancient history, I knew wanted the story to take place as far back in time as possible. As I began researching ancient Egypt, I found myself surrounded by such rich history and folklore, that my original idea sorta fell by the wayside, and The Sand Dweller was born.

How would you categorize your book?
If a paranormal thriller and a historical fiction had a baby, it would look just like my book.

How does the title relate to the story?
In ancient Egypt, there was an interesting turf war going on between Bedouin tribes (who were and still are Israelites) and the Egyptians. Bedouins are mostly nomadic, so they grow no crops. Egyptians on the other hand, were experts in land cultivation. Bedouins would regularly raid Egyptian fields and steal their grain. Egyptians looked down their noses at this practice. The term “sand dweller “ is a racial slur used by Egyptians to describe the Bedouins. My protagonist Malachi is of Bedouin heritage, and his antagonist, Ra, is of course, Egyptian.

Tell us more about the cover design.  How involved were you with creating the cover?
Black Opal Books was so open and supportive of all my ideas for the cover. I wanted it to reflect Malachi and his solitude.
Available Sept. 10, 2016
How much of your experience is in your book?
Maybe not so much my experience, but definitely my passions. I can’t get enough history, especially when it deals with what different cultures believe. Ancient religions and folklore are so fascinating, and I really wanted those elements to shine in this book. I think there is still a lot we can learn from the ancients.

Describe your writing process.
Pffft! Erratic.

Describe your writing environment.
A cluttered library. I’m surrounded by books.

How much research did you put into your book?
Well over a year. And even after I was deep into a second draft, I was still looking up small details. Most of it was necessary, some of it was because I would find a subject that interested me, and then get sidetracked.

What are your interests outside of writing?  Do any of these activities find their way into your books?
At one time I wanted to be a chef. So I do tons of cooking. Especially anything with bacon. I am always on the lookout for a new, weird way to incorporate bacon into a dish.  I’m also a huge fan of classic movies. If it’s black and white and came out during the Great Depression, chances are I’ve seen it. Those two things take up a lot of my non-writing time. And zombies. I love me some zombies. None of these have made their way into a book yet, but look out! “Revenge of the Hollywood Bacon Zombie” could be my next project.

What kinds of books did you read as a child?
I have always loved dark stories. I read a ton of John Saul, Stephen King, and Ann Rice as a teenager.

What specific authors influenced how or what you write today?
I was very taken by The Serenity Falls series, by James A. Moore. Those books took all that was so perfectly creepy in Ray Bradbury stories and lifted that creepiness to the next level. I also love Matthew Pearl. The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow are two of my all-time favorite books. I appreciate any author who can incorporate real people and events into a work of fiction and make it believable. When you are no longer sure where the history ends and the make believe begins? That’s magic.

What types of books do you read now for pleasure?
All kinds. History books, art books (I love Gris Grimly), theology, politics, I’m kinda all over the map. But I think it’s important to be interested in everything. The world is bursting at the seams with opportunities to learn and grow. 

What is next for you?
I’m jumping back and forth. I have a children’s fairytale I’m working on, as well as another full length novel.

The Sand Dweller
   In the ancient mountains of the Sinai desert, a child is born. The half-demon son of the devil's greatest general, Malachi grows up with one foot in the human world and one in the darkest pits of Hell itself. Soon, a power struggle will force him to choose. Will he claim the dark heritage promised to him by Lucifer? Or, will he learn firsthand hand, just how far evil will go to destroy mankind?
   Caleb Glass is a young priest with a flourishing flock and a successful church. Plagued by strange visions and a tragic past, he’s also beginning to question his faith. When he’s suddenly thrust into an ancient feud, Caleb must decide whether wearing the collar is a part of God's plan, or an excuse to hide from his pain.
   Is it possible for a broken priest and a sand dweller to achieve redemption, or are they both doomed by circumstance beyond their control?

The Sand Dweller is available for pre-order at Black Opal BooksKobo, and Barnes and Noble

Molly Neely can be found on:

Twitter:  @mollyneely


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Interview With Author Adam Theberge

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview author Adam Theberge as he gets ready to launch his newest release, The Demon. This is the third novel in his fantasy series, The Demon Plight Saga. In this interview he talks about his series and lets us have an inside look into his writing life.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.      

Author Adam Theberge

   I’m 39 and that’s not the worst of it.  By the time this interview comes out I’ll be 40.  Can you believe that? I guess age sometimes tells you a little bit about someone.  I certainly don’t feel that old.  You would also assume that by this point in life I must have gone through enough to contribute to my writing… and I have.  I think that’s what helps all of us become better writers, focusing our experiences into our work.

   I grew up just outside the City of Halifax, in Nova Scotia, Canada.  I did all the things that kids out there do: climb trees, fall out of trees, hide behind trees... There are a lot of trees! Did I mention chopping wood?  Yeah, that too!

   When not playing outside, I was a voracious reader.  Anything to do with magic or dragons.  I think it was my fascination with fairytales that got me hooked.  The idea of a mysterious world hidden just beyond my reach was something I always found intriguing. 

   And then I discovered Jane Yolen.  She was my first foray into a dragon world.  I became addicted.  From there I moved into DragonLance, Xanth and Pern just to name a few.  They, along with the X-men and Greek/Roman Mythology, sent my imagination into overdrive and inspired me to write. 

   Granted that was twenty years ago.  In that period, I wrote blurbs here and there, worked several different jobs and went to university, but I never thought about becoming a full time author; not until recently. 

   Luckily I have a supportive husband who encouraged me to pursue a creative path and channel my crazy into my stories.  Also, I have two awesome dogs.  They keep me calm.  Hopefully this wasn’t too much!  I can ramble… how much space do we have?

   I also forgot the part where I mention I’m a fantasy author!

<a  href="">The Demon (The Demon Plight Saga Book 3)</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
Available Now
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?

   My newest book is The Demon – Book 3 in The Demon Plight Saga.  It was inspired by books 1 and 2… just kidding.  When I wrote book 1 – The Well, I initially started by writing out all the things I knew about the universe in which the story takes place.  I knew most of it would never be in the book, but I had to know the particulars anyway.  Book 1 and Book 2 concentrated on just one side of the story.  Book 3 was inspired by the side untold; from a different perspective.

How would you categorize your book?

It is fantasy for sure.  Sword and Sorcery or Heroic to be specific.

Introduce us to your series main characters.  What is it about these characters that appeal to you as a writer?

   Book 1 – The Well, and Book 2 – The Cave both focus on Kalim.  He is the solitary main character.  He’s 19.  His father died a year ago and since then he has been unmotivated, kind of lackluster.   On top of that he has been having recurring dreams that are so real, yet otherworldly he isn’t sure what to make of them.

   Kalim appeals to me because I know what it’s like to be depressed.  How you can fall so deep into it that when an idea pops into your head that convinces you to try, you go for it.  Even if that idea is preposterous.  So he awakens from his doldrums to go out on this wild quest in search of answers to the riddle of why he’s having these dreams.  A metaphor for how we are all in search of answers.

   Book 3 – The Demon is about Dojé.  She’s a bit nutty.  A free spirit.  She’s clumsy and easily distracted.  She is also a good person… well she isn’t human, but I’ll say person for now.  She is just fun to be around, that awkward sort of friend that makes you smile but you don’t quite understand them.  I like her because she represents all the times you feel out of place and wish no one would notice.

How did the book come to be titled and how does it relate to the story?

   I like simple titles.  The Well was named because the dreams take place at the bottom of a well; that’s where the answers are.   The Cave is named for similar reasons.  A series of events, including a family dream journal and a demon chase, lead him into a strange cave.  It’s here that things become even more peculiar and everything is thrown upside-down.

   The Demon is a whole other matter.  I can’t really tell you right now why I called it that.  Not because I don’t know, but because it’s a bit deceiving.  Who the demon is, isn’t quite clear.

Tell us more about the cover design.  How involved were you with creating the cover?
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Book One of The Demon Plight Saga

   A graffiti artist named Orfin drew the pictures.  I asked him to read the books and tell me what he envisioned for the art.  He then drew them in black ink.  I then had the awesome job of choosing back ground colors and fonts, inverting some of the art, and overall the rest of the formatting.  It was a steep learning curve.  In the future I hope that I can find someone to do that for me as it was very time consuming.

Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

   The main character in The Well and The Cave is gay.  It’s never really mentioned and only ever alluded to briefly.  Mostly because that part of his life isn’t a contributing factor to the success of his quest.

Give us a summary of your book in a tweet.

   When Kalim realizes that his dreams could be visions of the past, not even a demon infested forest can keep him from discovering The Well. 

How much of your experience is in your series?

   I imagine a lot of it.  I feel like telling you all the ways that my experiences show up in the books, but it is probably better to leave the reader guessing.  The characters are really their own people.  So I tried to give them their own experiences.

Describe your writing process.

   The first thing I do is have an idea.  That probably seems obvious.  Normally though, I let the idea out onto a page.  I just start writing and writing the scene I imagine until it is all out there.  It’s a little backward I think to do it that way.  Sometimes it makes it harder because you haven’t spent anytime developing the settings or establishing the roles of the characters.  After I get my first thoughts out in a page or two, I work on building the world. 

   I write down everything from what sort of world it is, where the mountains are, how are the cultures are governed, who is good and who is bad, what are the dangers.  Things like that.  Then I ask myself.  How did it all get this way?  Where did the people come from?  What are their buildings made out of and how do they live?  It is a very lengthy process.  There are so many questions to ask yourself about the land, the people and the history.  Even if you aren’t going to use it in the story, at least you know it and you might be able to use it later on.

   For this series I only decide on the personalities of the main characters.  Then I write their story as though I am them and start following them through their day.  I let them make their own decisions. 

   I always loosely have an idea of where I want them to start and where I want them to end up, but they aren’t necessarily going to end up where I want them to; and I’m not going to force them.  So when they run into a new character, I just write a conversation between them and I make up the new persona as I go.  This often leads to unexpected new ideas or paths for the character that I wasn’t thinking of, or intending.  I am sure someone is probably reading this and thinking “You can’t do it that way”.  Well I did!  Sorry!

   So once I have written the story to an open ended conclusion, I leave it for a couple weeks.  Then I pick it back up, read through it, pat myself on the back for the good parts, smack myself on the forehead for the “what were you thinking” parts, and then start editing.  Which is a whole other demon.

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Book Two of the Demon Plight Saga
Describe your writing environment.

   I have my own office in my house.  It’s filled with nerdy gidgits and gadgets, comic books, posters, and figures.  We built my desk in the corner of the room so I can see out the window into the backyard.  It’s also tall enough that I can stand at it or work sitting on a tall desk chair.  I have notepads everywhere for jotting down ideas, a whiteboard for the same, and art books to draw horrible maps and creatures.  Everything I need is here.  On nice days I might sit out on the deck and write on my tablet with a stylus.

What are your hobbies, interests outside of writing?

   I used to love to read.  I don’t so much now that I am writing because I find I can easily be influenced by the writing style of another author.  It’s not an intentional thing, it just subconsciously happens.  I prefer to avoid that. 

   I like working out.  Not to have a gorgeous body.  Mostly it’s because it feels great, and it helps me burn off the calories my sweet tooth makes me consume.  I exercise 3-5 time per week depending on what is going on in my life at the time. 

   I’m also a gamer, although there isn’t a lot of time for that right now.  I do enjoy Fallout, Tomb Raider, Dead Island type games, but I also like to rock my WiiU.  The WiiU really is made to bring people together civilly.

   I also love to cook.  I experiment a lot with my cooking.  That is how we were raised.  You imagine what flavours might go well together and then you make it happen.  Usually with great success, although there have been times where I may have misjudged.

   I like yard work and gardening.  Going for walks.  Swimming.  This is starting to feel like a dating profile.  I’m already happily married.

What is the best advice and the harshest criticism received as an author? What have you learned from either?

   Wow, what a loaded question.  The best advice is to not give up.  The harshest criticism?  I am pretty open to criticism so if its constructive then I really look hard at what I was told and try to fix it if need be.  Harsh criticism to me is the kind born out of negativity.  That type isn’t meant to aid you or help you grow; it’s meant to tear you down.   It took me some time to separate the two.

What advice might you give aspiring authors?

   If someone doesn’t like something you wrote, then ask them what it is about your writing that bothered them.  Sometimes it’s your writing style.  Not everyone is going to like the way you write.  That is fine because there are always others that will love it.  The important thing is to write as yourself.  Grammar, spelling and structure are something different from style.  If that is bad, you need to fix it.  Mine isn’t always great.  I find I can’t see the mistakes in my own writing.  I can see it in others’ writings but I have writer’s blindness when it comes to my work.  That’s why I hire an editor.

What kinds of books did you read as a child?  Did the genre you read most influence your decision to become an author of the kind of books you write today?

   I mostly read Science Fiction, Science Fantasy and Fantasy novels.  They sure did influence me.  I liked to be transported to far away worlds with unique settings, but sometimes I also enjoyed having the real world meld with the fantastic.  I did read lots of fiction as well, but I always felt fantasy transported me more, activated my imagination and really invigorated me.  That's the kind of thing that I want to write.  And Dragons!  I've always loved Dragons!  The world needs more dragons in it.  So, again, yes!  All those books influenced me to become the type of author I am today.

What specific authors and books influenced what you write today?

   There are so many.  Jane Yolen really got me started with her Dragon series.  Then I would say the creativeness of Anne McCaffrey.  She had so many series that I loved:  The Dragonriders of Pern, Talent, Crystal Singer; all great.  Piers Anthony with his puntastic world of Xanth.  Then Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman with DragonLance.  All of these people and series helped influence me as a fantasy author.

What types of books do you read now for pleasure?

   I don’t read as much right now and when I do I shy away from fantasy.  When I am done with this series my plan is to pick up the Xanth books I have never read. 

What is next for you?

   I have several other books I am working on.  They are all full length novels.  So I plan to work on those.  I also have more to write for The Demon Plight Saga.  I already know what the next two books are going to be about, so I will have to start writing those soon.

   I recently had the opportunity to pitch ideas for some animated tv shows.  I think that went really well, but it will be a while before I hear back on whether the studio wants to produce them.  So you never know, writing for cartoons might be in my future.

You can find me at

On Twitter @AdamRTheberge

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Interview With Author James Stryker

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview up and coming author James Stryker and learn more about him and his debut novel, Assimilation.  In this interview he talks about what went into creating this book, his love of reading and music, and what readers can expect from him in the near future.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.   
Author James Stryker
   Well, my name is James and I’m a central-PA transplant, originally from Utah. Despite being here for almost ten years I’m still notorious for getting lost – a source of amusement to my friends and frustration to me. I work as part of the leadership team at a call center, which keeps my supply of strange names and crazy characters pretty full. My wife and I are also the humble slaves to four pugs, who continue to think I should allocate more time to treats and less to writing.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
   My debut novel, Assimilation, released at the end of June. The inspiration for Assimilation stemmed from my goal to explore a transgender experience through a different lens.
In Assimilation, my main character is brought back from the dead after a fatal car accident; however, an error in the cryonic preservation technique impacts his gender identity. The result is that a male identity, Andrew, is reanimated in the female body of Natalie. Having the wrong body is further complicated by Andrew being expected to fill a role as a wife and mother under the pressure of Natalie’s husband, Robert.
   I feel like Andrew’s situation is one that a transgender individual would recognize and could help a cisgender person identify with the struggle.
How would you categorize your book?
   Assimilation could fit in many categories – Momentum/Pan MacMillan calls it a “dystopian sci-fi thriller.” When I’m asked “what kind of book is it?” my go-to answer is “sci-fi with LGBTQ elements and a prolific use of the ‘F’ word.”
Assimilation Available Now
Introduce us to your book's characters and what is it about these characters that appeal to you as a writer?
   Assimilation is actually told from three points of view (close third-person narrative):
   Andrew is my main character and the book focuses on his challenge to retain his gender identity against the controlling wishes of Natalie’s husband. He wants to just be seen as “one of the guys,” but putting so much energy into that singular purpose drives him to selfish, careless actions. He’s definitely not a “heart of gold” character, but I believe many can relate to his “trying to fit in” mentality.
   While the husband, Robert, is the antagonist from Andrew’s perspective, I think it’s significant to see the situation from his eyes. Robert is ecstatic to be reunited with the wife he thought he’d lost, yet she’s not the same Natalie. His desire to have his wife back at any cost is an admirable quality; however, I was drawn in by the idea of how perverse the quest for “the perfect Natalie” could become.
   My third key player is Oz, an ex-Cryo patient who befriends and supports Andrew in pursuing a life outside Robert. Oz has also been deeply damaged by the cryonic reanimation, which has taken away the gift he feels gave his life purpose. He regards himself as meaningless and is bent on a path of cheerful self-destruction. Of every character over all five books, I enjoyed writing Oz the most.
How does the title relate to the story?
   The tile Assimilation directly ties into the book. One of the legal repercussions of the reanimation is that patients only temporarily assume their pre-death identity until their guardian determines if they can assimilate on a permanent basis.
Tell us more about the cover design.  How involved were you with creating the cover?
   Momentum/Pan MacMillan actually proposed the cover. The concepts I’d posted on my website focused on a “brain in jar” motif, so it was interesting to see their designers take it in another direction. They were great to work with in incorporating a couple of suggestions I had in their design, and I love the result.
   The cover captures the opening scene of Assimilation where Andrew wakes up mute and paralyzed to be confronted with having been reanimated in a woman’s body.  Proof of how positive it can be to get outside my own head – I never would’ve created such an “eye-catching” cover solo.
Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.
   The synopsis alludes to it, but I think an interesting part of Assimilation is the other Cryo-patients and their group dynamic. Oz has essentially brought together a “band of brothers” – people who were also damaged by the reanimation in various ways.
   Midway through the book, Andrew meets Oz’s best friend, Santino – despite his charming exterior, his obsession with death veers into the morbid and taboo. Andrew is also introduced to another friend, Tinks, who suffers from the never-ending earworm of Chopin’s Polonaise Héroïque.
Give us a summary of your book in a tweet.
   It was actually an #SFFPit tweet that caught the attention of Momentum/Pan MacMillan and led to the offer, so I’ll give you that one: “Cryogenic error resurrects man in a woman’s body; he asserts own identity against husband who paid to have her back.” Funny how after 150 individual queries (word count amounting to a small novel itself) it only took 20 words squeezed into a tweet. J
How much of your experience is in your book?
   I wouldn’t consider myself a stereotypical guy – I crochet, I like cleaning the house, and there’s no way I could change a tire. But I grew up in a culture with very defined gender roles where deviation from the layout is sinful. Andrew’s struggle to embrace his identity and gain acceptance from those around him is an experience I’ve had, and that I think everyone shares in different ways. Realizing that my self-worth isn’t dependent on meeting the standards of anyone else is at the core of Assimilation.
Describe your writing process.
   I’m a combination of plotter/pantser. When I’ve mentally plotted the first third, I get the feel that “it’s time to write” – basically, if I don’t start, I’m going to have told it in my head so many times that it’ll be stale and boring (if I lose the enthusiasm in writing it, how can the reader be anything but bored too?)
   The actual “words to processor” phase goes quickly. I’ll take some time off work, cloister myself somewhere, and just pound out a first draft. I type 115ish words per minute, so as I let the story unfold it’s almost like taking dictation. Are you familiar with that scene in Milos Forman’s Amadeus where Mozart is at the billiards table? The shouting of his father and wife fades into the music as he passes the pool ball from side to side and writes. That’s what it’s like for me – I’ll write 10-12K in a day, and my wife will have to remind me to eat.
Describe your writing environment.  
Cover Concept For Boy
Release Date of late 2016
   I don’t have a specific place that I write overall – kitchen table, papasan chair, bedroom closet etc. Usually I’ll listen to music, but it’s often the same song for hours. I like to write in the dark, if I can. Another weird quirk is that I also prefer to wear a scarf when I’m writing.
How much research did you put into your book?
   Thanks to this book I actually became quite the abstract art fan, and my animosity toward mathematics has improved considerably.
What are your interests outside of writing?  Do any of these find their way into your books?
   One of my long-time fascinations has been in the biological/cultural aspects of death. I’ve toured several cadaver labs and did a brief stint in a mortuary, both of which have stuck with me. I frequently incorporate death and the dead into my books. In my second novel, Boy, the family operates a funeral home, and I write about suicide, necrophilia, and various levels of body decomposition in my other books.
   On a lighter note, I also love opera, but unfortunately, the characters I write about don’t generally have an appreciation for classical music. (My one fellow opera enthusiast in Boy dies at the end of the first chapter.) So I save my music preference to enjoy between writing books.
What is the best advice received as an author?  What advice might you give aspiring authors?
   The best advice I received is also what I’d pass on to an aspiring author – reading, even silent reading, is an auditory experience. Studies have shown that when reading, activity is present in auditory processing areas of the brain. (A great article among many:
   I’d recommend that any author have their manuscript read to them using an e-reader or text-to-speech software. The things that can be uncovered are amazing – typos, grammar, issues with sentence construction (awkward phrasing, length, etc.). As writers, we work on a project for years and its words are ingrained in our minds. When we read back to edit, we read it as we thought it. In hearing the book without our internal rhythm, how it will “sound” to a reader… Well, I always find plenty of cringe-worthy things.
What kinds of books did you read as a child?
   Books were an escape for me when I was growing up. I was actually a fantasy buff – I loved T.A. Barron’s Lost Years of Merlin series, and Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet. The characters in these books were my friends when I didn’t have any and gave me the strength to keep persevering to reach my goals. While I wouldn’t dream of attempting anything in the fantasy genre, I’d like the books I write to be as meaningful to someone else as these were to me.
Do you have any favorite characters, and if so, what is it about them that appeals to you?
   I’d say my favorite character is Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I discovered her when I was eleven-years-old. She was the little girl who was always alone and felt unloved, yet had dreams to be more. I especially identified with how she noticed and derived meaning from seemingly small things – the brown bowl in the library, the smell of her father’s shirts, the tree outside the window. I remember thinking, “Wow, there is someone who thinks like I do.”
Francie chose to express her feelings in writing, and when I read about her that’s probably when I started to think seriously that I should try and do the same.
What types of genres do you read now for pleasure?
     As opposed to fantasy, I go for more literary fiction now. I love books with beautiful prose that have purpose beyond entertainment.
What is next for you?
   I’m very pleased to announce that I recently contracted with NineStar Press for publication of my second novel, Boy, later in the year. Their objective of showcasing and advancing fiction from under-represented voices is something I’m very excited to be a part of.
   Of course, I’ll also continue to seek homes for my other completed works as I maintain connections with the writing community. There’s nothing better than a good #2BitTues, #1LineWed, or #ThruLineThurs to meet some amazing writers and get a sneak peek at the next best sellers J  

You can find James Stryker at the following:


Twitter:  : @JStryker21

Facebook:  @JamesScottStryker