Physical follows two women, Fatima who has given birth to twins in London and Kiki who finds herself stuck and alone in Northern Italy after her boyfriend leaves her for an ‘upgrade’. What was the inspiration for the setup to this engaging novel?
This novel was inspired by a wine-fueled conversation between two close female friends discussing the past five years of their lives. Like in the book, one had given birth not too long ago, and the other one had recently been ditched by a long-term boyfriend. Both were distraught at the sharp decline of their self-esteem and loss of their identity in a matter of months. They exchanged passionate words of rage and desperation which grew more caustic the more they drunk. Just before collapsing from alcohol intoxication, they homed on actionable lessons from their almost opposite yet very similar experiences: desire was still ablaze inside them; sex continued to matter; and whatever else slightly alien seemed to be hijacking their lives, they deserved to seek physical fulfillment. The rest, is fiction.
Emotions run high in this book and you can truly feel where these women are coming from in their midlife crises. What were some themes you used when developing your characters?
On the side of Kiki, I was eager to explore ways in which a middle-aged female could cope with rejection including the weight of factors such as aging, the yearn for children, and the clash with societal pressures and surrounding family and friends. Of course, I also wanted to look at the role of sexuality and how it changes with age, and whether physical desire can remain determining even as mature life becomes more complicated.
On the side of Fatima, I focused on the potential result of taking away freedom and independence from a successful middle-aged woman, trapping her in a new ‘silent’ world. I wanted to push Fatima to the edge and see where she would run to re-find herself, and how much she would risk to regain happiness. I toyed with betrayal and whether it could be therapeutic and serve a purpose, as well as with a mother’s/wife’s guilt for her own selfishness versus her right to want fulfilment of all kinds including physical. I wanted Fatima to consider whether love means total trust and what trust actually means.
I felt that Kiki was sabotaging herself a lot through the story. Do you think this is reflective of her character as a whole or is this just a phase she’s going through?
Kiki is a woman of a different time. Full of ideas and ideals. Passionate and righteous but who has never been allowed to believe in herself too much. She would like to leave Italy but doesn’t find the courage. She would like to step out of her parents’ influence but loves them too much. She knows she’s very different from her friends but not sure she could do without them. She’s deep down uncertain of what she wants from men, but at times feels pressured she should follow every female’s ideal of marriage. She’s a strong doubter with a good heart for whom things finally work out. We need more Kikis in the world, for sure.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Morte a Pisa: LIPS, LIGHT & LYRE will be out in June. It is a thin book with a trio of reflective short-stories around female death following a weekend in Pisa. The next full-length novel will be Caro M, where a lover misses her beloved Caro M after being abandoned; a wife is steered through her divorce from husband Caro M by her sweetheart psychiatrist; and a young girl has landed a fairy tale wedding to groom Caro M that soon becomes a nightmare her cousin wants to help fix. Naturally, someone somewhere will be the end of Caro M…
In a small town in northern Italy, Kiki feels worthless and angry when her longtime partner finds a new cool girl to ride on another decade of easy existence. Meanwhile in trendy London, Fátima, the wife of Kiki’s best friend, is losing her selfhood after giving birth to twins and being made redundant. Both heroines are determined to rebuild the passion and impunity of their youth, vitalising desires that will bring them to risk everything…
Themes covered in the novel include rejection, identity, betrayal, freedom and the right to happiness. The tone is humorous on the face of distress, often rejoicing in the terror of lives out of control.”
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In the final installment of the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, Blooded takes us on a gruesome journey as we learn how Lisen will affect the future of the Garlan people. When writing the first book in the series did you know where you would end up in this third book or did it come about organically?
Fractured and Tainted had been written, rewritten and re-formed at least 3 or 4 times. I had a plan for where it was going to go, a plan that would provide redemption for Lisen. Or so I thought. Then the friend, to whom I tell everything, said–after hearing my idea for the finale–“but how does Nalin feel about that?” Boom. Lisen’s redemption would lean on Nalin’s painful sacrifice, something I hadn’t seen until this friend pointed it out. Back to the drawing board. During the year I spent re-forming and rewriting Tainted, I made notes, 11 pages single spaced, to find the story that would bring closure to the series. No organization by plot points whatsoever; the notes were organized based on the date I entered them into the file. Once Tainted was complete, I put the notes together in the order they occurred in the story, then wrote them out on 4 x 6 cards for each scene. I had 57 cards at that point. By the time I finished the first draft, I had 94. I did, however, have the ending when Lisen and Korin are finally alone together all prepared well in advance, including the little bit at the end about the fairy tales (which I had word for word). So, the short answer is yes, it came about organically because I had no idea where I was going when I wrote the first two books.
The cover art for your three books are very well done. What decisions went into the art direction for the covers?
My cover artist, Aidana WillowRaven of WillowRaven Illustration and Design, is brilliant, and she definitely knows her stuff. She has taught me a lot about the art of the cover. We began with book II because I’d already created a cover for book I, and I was about to publish II. The process began with bringing Lisen to life. We worked back and forth for quite a while. The plan was to show her pouch through the material of the gown she’s wearing. We worked through several drafts of that. Then we came to the mutual decision that in order for the cloth the gown was made of to be transparent enough to see the pouch, it would end up showing things we thought inappropriate for a YA book. So the pouch disappeared behind the gown. It was a pity, but on the other hand, it leaves some of it up to the reader to fill in for him/herself.
After finishing up the cover for Tainted, we turned to replace my cover of Fractured. My desire was always to show a pivotal moment from the book. For Tainted, it seemed natural to show Lisen up on the top of the mesa after the Farii. For Fractured, the moment she falls apart after running from the chaos in Halorin was an obvious choice. For Blooded, I originally wanted the Garlan throne. Aidana loves slipping into alien worlds, and I had described the throne in the book specifically for her to have fun with. She informed me, in her experienced opinion, that with the covers of the first two books being set outside with a character in them, we needed to guard the brand and stick with that formula. I hated losing the throne (though it does remain in the book), but she was right. So the moment I chose was the one where Lisen and Korin must part after the blood bath in the Khared. (If you look closely, you can see Lisen’s eyes are black because she’s still blind.) This put both Korin and Pharaoh on the cover with Lisen. My artist definitely had a great deal of fun with Pharaoh. Korin was a challenge to be sure. I had some very definite ideas, as did she, but we got through it, and that cover is my favorite.
What were some things you wanted to clear up or wrap up in this final book in the series?
One important thread was what would happen to Lisen and Korin’s baby and whether or not they would finally find each other. The other was Lorain. The first was easy; the second, not so much. I knew what I had to do, but not how to set that up. Then the idea of a truly treasonous act rose up before me as a gift, with a little inspiration from Game of Thrones.
Was there anything that you didn’t have time to get to or wanted to leave open ended?
What I wanted to explore but had no place for in a YA trilogy was who would Lisen be (along with the other major characters) as she grew into her role as Empir. So when I finished Blooded and sent it off to Amazon, I sat back wondering what to work on next. I have several barely touched projects I could have turned to, but Lisen called. Rinli called. And it was at that juncture that I returned to Garla and Lisen 15 years on.
What is the next book that you’re working on? A continuation of the Lisen of Solsta series or a new series?
Yes, the Lisen saga continues. The first book, Protector of Thristas, is already finished and available. It begins 15 years on and follows the relationship between Lisen and Rinli. Let me tell you, a 15-year-out Rinli was an interesting character to place into the mix, and her two younger siblings are complex beings as well. And how has Korin reconciled his two roles–captain of the Guard and Empir-spouse? I answered most of my own questions that hinged on “what next?” and then, at the very end, created one hell of corner to paint myself out of in the book or books that will follow. I hesitate to commit to one or two as the “one” book I’m working on now grows longer and longer and will likely end up broken into two books. But this will conclude the story for me. I have an ending that I find satisfying and look forward to sharing it with others to see what they think.
“From the award-winning author of Fractured and Tainted comes Blooded, the finale to the Lisen of Solsta trilogy. After committing an act that terrifies her in its calculated coldness, and losing Korin, her valued companion, as a result, Lisen shuts down emotionally, allowing her to perform her duties as the Empir of Garla. But the arrival of a child, an abduction culminating in captivity and a drug called gryl provide Lisen with new insights, and faced with a civil war, she opens up to startling perceptions which offer a unique solution to the conflict.
Will Korin relent and reveal the secret he’s kept from her? Will Lisen come to forgive herself for her self-perceived sins? Will she recover the sense of family support that she once felt on Earth? Will she ever feel anything but alone again? Or will the nightmare of reality overwhelm her as the story concludes in this final volume? In a story that brings traitors to justice and two opposing lands to an inevitable confrontation, Blooded completes the Lisen of Solsta trilogy.”
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Woofed Cookies by Greg Bauder is an entertaining, but short read. The story follows Peter Moon and his dog named Cookies as they go through a whole breath of conflicts and tribulations. His best friend, Tiger Moss, pressures him into smoking, a strange man keeps appearing menacingly, and Tiger’s little sister is enamored with him. Peter confronts all of these with Cookies by his side who is gifted with a neat little trick; throwing up everywhere at any time.
The book begins with Peter being down on himself for not having a puppy and being alone most of the time, since his mother is a nurse. This situation is rectified, and the book truly begins, when he receives Cookies on his birthday. Bauder does a great job of recalling what it was like to be a preteen and getting into trouble with your best friend. The joy of having a puppy is felt here, even if I question the mother’s recommendation of “flushing the dog poop down the toilet”? I mean, what happened to the garbage can? The rest of the book precedes with what you would normally expect. The story did take some turns that I was not expecting and the point of view with Peter is arm’s length, so you are never really sure what he is going to do as the reader.
I do think that the book reads a little “simple” for the audience I believe Bauder is aiming for, but I can forgive that for the fact he has an entertaining story. To take the everyday, messy occurrence of a dog throwing up and make that the title, is rather ingenious. It also steals the show away from Peter, because I found myself reading the pages looking to see what Cookies was going to do next. The lack of agency on Peter’s part was a little of a let down, especially as a children’s book, but I believe that the escapades of Cookies makes up for it.
The actual pacing of the book is a little choppy and does include two scenes that almost entirely mirror one another, which is kind of strange for a children’s book. I would love it if Bauder could make Woofed Cookies into a series of books of Peter and Cookies and I would not mind at all. There is something timeless about a “boy and his dog” and as a reader I could not get tired of that. This story is a classic paradigm with a new spin and I want to see what else Bauder has up his sleeve.
All in all, I believe that Woofed Cookies is an excellent book to give to your child for an afternoon of adventure.
Pages: 20 | ISBN: 1683946812
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In Book II of the Lisen of Solsta series, Tainted takes readers back to the land of Garla and introduces us to the dangerous land of Thristas. What was the inspiration for these fantastically imagined worlds?
Truthfully, I based them on my home of Southern California with the cooler areas to the west of the mountains and the desert to the east. My picture was more of Rome or Greece at the height of their power than of some middle European medieval land, and the white-marble and columned Avaret Keep exemplifies the architectural feel I was looking for. When it came to Thristas, I love the desert. Lisen’s response of awe as she and Korin come through the Pass and she sees Thristas for the first time expresses my feelings about the deserts of California. Most people see deserts as dry, sterile places, but they teem with life–both animal and plant life. My inspiration was to show the breadth and depth of this life and its influence on a people who had lived there for many generations, establishing a culture separate from Garla’s and giving their lives a meaning dependent on no one save themselves.
Lisen develops as a dynamic, heroic character, constantly fighting her surroundings and learning more about herself. How did you tackle character development in this story that is different from book 1?
Lisen is, of course, a work in progress. It is absolutely essential that she struggle to find who she is in this mess that she sees as her life. All bets are off for her. It’s do or die, and as she begins to realize that she cannot win without cheating and that she must win in order to fulfill her mother’s hope for her, she also recognizes that she must find a way to become a person who she isn’t quite yet. I loved exploring her hidden spaces and corners, seeking out the fortitude within her to make it possible for her to do what she does at the end of the book. And when the degree of her ferocity came to me one day driving home from the grocery store in the guise of that moment when she cuts off her braids and then tells Nalin she never was a hermit, I knew I’d found the Lisen she needed to find on her journey.
There is a holiday in this story called Evenday/Evennight. How did you come up with this idea and develop it in your story?
You will note that in Garla, they call it Evenday because they live and work under the light of the sun. On the other hand, the Thristans call it Evennight because the center of their lives, the time conducive to productivity, is in the dark, away from the searing heat of that very light the Garlans worship. This day on earth is called the vernal equinox, and I saw the Thristans as being closer to nature and therefore more likely to attach a more spiritual importance to it than the Garlans. Hence their centering of an entire ritual around it, while the Garlans celebrate it more casually. A lot of the Thristan culture revolves around something akin to the nature-centered cultures of our own world, including Wicca.
Where does the third book in the Lisen of Solsta series take readers?
Two major questions remain. What happens to Korin and the special “package” he carries away from Lisen and Avaret at the end of Tainted? And what the heck are they going to do about the unstoppable Lorain? Lisen has seen Thristas for herself and is apparently the first Empir to have done so, and that alone puts her in a unique position in her dealings with Thristas as their “Protector.” I think, however, that the most fascinating aspect that opened itself up to me for inquiry was how the miracle of child-bearing might affect a man. I explored and hopefully resolved the questions and conflicts raised by the events in the first two books by digging deeper into both Garlan and Thristan culture and by opening up the possibilities for redemption for Lisen but only if she can accept the fact that as Empir she has responsibilities that sometimes require desperate and even cruel measures to fulfill them.
“In Fractured, Lisen Holt, Valley girl, beach lover, learned she doesn’t belong on Earth. Re-adapting to Garla, the place of her birth, proved difficult, but the greater challenge was learning that she is the Heir-Empir and must confront her brother for the throne. Witnessing her only friend’s murder, defending her own life with forbidden power, and succumbing to possession by her friend’s soul left Lisen fractured, with little hope she’d ever recover.
The story grows darker in Tainted with Lisen and her guardian companion, Korin, traveling to the great desert of Thristas. They hope to find safety in the anonymity of the barren wilderness, out of the range of Garlan spies. There, Lisen learns the ways of Thristas and its fierce people who view Garla’s Empir as a tyrant. In an effort to prove their sincerity, Lisen and Korin participate in the Farii, the spring fertility ritual which changes everything for Lisen. She returns to Garla with a brilliant but damning plan that she believes will ensure her victory against her brother.”
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It’s an important time in every young adult’s life: the final summer before post-secondary school and after high school. It’s a transitional period where one goes from being a teenager towards becoming an adult. For a young man who lost his parents before he could tie his own shoes, this final summer holds more than just pre-school anxieties. Wil Carter is preparing to head off to school in Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird but his grandfather, Gramps, has other ideas in mind. While Wil just wants to work and hang out with his friends, Gramps prefers to toss his charge into a classic truck and head on a road trip. This is a coming of age story where the bond between a young man and the only father he has ever known is tested, strengthened and celebrated. This is a journey across the prairies of Canada that will touch your heart and possibly make you cry.
Our tale starts with Wil and Gramps arguing about a road trip that the senior has pushed on his grandson. The dynamic relationship between Wil and Gramps is funny, heart-breaking and above all else: realistic. This is a delicate and interesting relationship that is being described. We have an eighteen-year-old boy and a ninety-five-year-old man with more than a ‘generation gap’ between. Gramps is the one who raised Wil after the untimely death of his parents in an automotive accident. While each gives as good as he gets there is a nostalgic respect that Wil holds for his grandfather. You can hear the irritation in his voice as he deals with the elder man’s stubborn personality but you can also hear the respect he has for him as well. Wil was not a golden child while growing up and as he is aging and moving forward with his life he is beginning to understand everything his grandfather has done for him. The description of the relationship between the two and the dynamic in action seems like something out of a movie.
Laird knows what Manitoba, Canada looks like and appears to have at least visited the cities, villages and towns described in the book. For readers who live near or in a location used in any story faithfulness to the recreation is paramount. Laird uses local vernacular when referring to some of the locations and even though the story takes place in modern times, Gramps’ relaxed and sentimental accent rubs off on Wil. While it could be said that Laird sometimes tries a bit too hard to make Gramps really sound like a stereotypical old man, it doesn’t detract from the story.
While a road trip before heading off to university or college is an idea that has been done before, Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird brings more than just self-discovery to the tale. Wil not only learns about himself on his journey with his grandfather. He also learns about the parents he can barely remember. He learns about what he is capable of when a small child stows away in his truck, begging for help. He learns what it takes to be a man to the standards of what his grandfather has wanted for him. This book is a delightful short read that will tug at your heart strings while making you laugh at the same time.
Pages: 166 | ASIN: B00DGJK3B8
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In the final installment of the Lisen of Solsta trilogy, Blooded by D. Hart St. Martin takes us on a gruesome journey as we learn how Lisen as Empir of Garla will affect the future of the Garlan people. After ascending to the throne, Lisen must make major decisions while facing her own physical and mental battles alone, especially when she’s captured by rebel Thristans for a period of time. On the verge of a devastating war, Lisen and the holders of Garla face the bloodthirsty Thristans in a battle that reveals the truth of the hermit’s prophecy and whether peace can ever truly arise between the two nations.
In Blooded, the concluding piece of the Lisen of Solsta series, Lisen becomes Empir Ariannas—without Korin at her side, though, she struggles with this new sense of authority. As a result, Nalin becomes a vital figure who assists Lisen with developing the knowledge and skills needed to rule over Garla, and he becomes even more important when Lisen is captured by rebel Thristans. Blooded also follows Korin’s return to his homeland, Thristas, and he experiences his own dilemmas, as he realizes his connection to Lisen is much deeper than he originally thought—in this world, where gender norms are shattered, men or women can carry a child, and Korin is carrying his and Lisen’s baby (unknown to Lisen).
Hart St. Martin’s impressive fantasy world construction throughout the entire Lisen of Solsta series kept me so absorbed in the story that I couldn’t put this last book down—I had to know how the series ended because I felt genuinely invested in these carefully-constructed characters. For example, along with everyone else in Garla and Thrista, Lisen resembles a human, but she has a flat chest, a furry belly, and a marsupial-like pouch. In Blooded, we learn more about the “unpouching” or birthing process in this world by witnessing two important “outcomings” or births. St. Martin makes these moments suspenseful and full of emotion by showing two birthing events from different perspectives.
While Korin is raising his and Lisen’s child in Thristas, Lisen faces her own mental struggles when she realizes that the Thristans are planning to go to war with Garla. This climactic moment in the plot, where Lisen and her Council devise a plan for war, showcases the dynamic development of both Nalin’s and Lisen’s characters throughout the series.
During Lisen’s abduction by the rebels, Nalin becomes a strong-minded, confident leader, commanding Lisen’s Council to make major decisions in Lisen’s absence. On the other hand, Lisen sets aside her typical sarcastic, sassy attitude and at times she reveals her emotional turmoil a bit more, as she feels overwhelmed by death piling up around her and the possibility of war. Bala, a significant character from Tainted, becomes instrumental to the plot of Blooded once she’s granted a spot on Lisen’s private Council—when the Garlans go to war, Bala shows her true colors as an assertive leader for her troops.
It’s rare to find a series of books that keeps your interest until the very end, and the end of Blooded and the Lisen of Solsta series left me feeling a great sense of closure. With characters that felt so real within a uniquely constructed fantasy world, this series captures the best aspects of the fantasy genre while also pushing the genre’s boundaries through constructing a gender non-conforming world.
Pages: 420 | ASIN: B00R8K8XXQ
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In Book II of the Lisen of Solsta series, Tainted by D. Hart St. Martin takes the reader back to the land of Garla and also introduces us to the dangerous land of Thristas. After overcoming a harrowing event, Lisen must develop her strength in order to fulfill her destiny: to become the Empir of Garla. With the loyal Captain Rosarel at her side, Lisen hides away in the desert lands of Thristas, growing in ways she’d never imagined. Tainted by dark impulses that threaten to destroy her, Lisen must ultimately decide which promises she’ll break and which promises she’ll keep.
After reading Fractured, the first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, I was pretty psyched to read Tainted. The book begins where the first one left off—Lisen of Solsta, the heroine of the story, is recovering from almost succumbing to madness beyond the point of no return. Once she’s fully recovered, she continues her trek with Captain Korin Rosarel to Avaret in order to face her brother, Ariel Ilazer, who is currently ruling as Empir.
In a decision to keep her safe, Korin takes Lisen to Thristas, a desert land with a unique way of life. Under the guise of two former Guards in love, they discover that Lisen must commit to cultural rituals that threaten to change their relationship. I’m always a sucker for romantic subplots in fantasy novels, and this twist creates a romantic tension that continues to develop throughout the novel, morphing into a love triangle once Nalin’s feelings become revealed.
Even with the romantic subplot, Lisen develops as a dynamic, heroic character, constantly fighting her surroundings and learning more about herself. St. Martin does an excellent job with maintaining strong values in Lisen— overcoming gender norms, Lisen fights off forces that try to weaken her, and she continually quips sassy, sarcastic remarks. It’s fun to watch Lisen adapt to different environments, especially once she discovers her true purpose in life. Even while Korin and Lisen continue with combat training, Lisen has her own plans, as she secretly trains her mind and develops her necropathic powers.
What excited me most about this sequel was how intricately St. Martin wove the other characters into the plot. My favorite example of this is in a chapter about “Evenday/Evennight,” a holiday in the land of Garla and Thristas. Ariel and Lorain, his soon-to-be spouse and the mother of his unborn child, have a drastically different Evennight than the other characters— especially Korin and Lisen, who experience Farii, a Thristan fertility ritual. Through taking various characters’ perspectives, St. Martin creates unique vantage points for the reader during such a heightened moment in the plot. There’s a few characters that I wished were featured more often, such as Bala and Titus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those characters play a bigger role in the third book.
After weaving multiple characters’ perspectives throughout the novel, the final chapters, filled with fast-paced action and a few plot twists, bring all the characters’ paths together in a masterful way. Ending with a cliffhanger regarding the fates of Korin and Lisen, I can’t wait to see what happens next in the final book of the trilogy.
Pages: 350 | ASIN: B00GCYAYVS
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A Tangled Web is set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating tsunamis in Japan and follows three children as they navigate their new lives. Why was this an important story for you to write?
When I first heard about the tsunami in 2011, it was a huge thing and I remember being really intrigued by it, however, I was only a teenager and newspapers didn’t particularly interest me, though I loved reading. For some reason, what I head heard about the events stayed with me for years and when I traveled to Japan for the first time several years ago I started developing a story line – though I didn’t start writing it until my second visit at the beginning of 2016. It was important for me to write because, although there are many factual sources and several non-fiction books, in all my research I only found one fiction story about the Japan tsunami in 2011 which I think is a shame because I believe most people prefer fiction and can learn so much through it, yet it is a relatively unexplored subject. Therefore, my aim was to provide a book for YA which is both interesting and explores what happened in 2011 and afterwards, hopefully encouraging people to then go and do their own research.
The three children in this beautiful coming of age story have a lot of depth. What were some obstacles you felt were important to develop the characters?
I think it was important that at the beginning Taiyo was quite naive and selfish, a little unlikable if I’m being honest, but that gave her the opportunity to grow and develop as a character so that in the end she had the strength to deal with the catastrophe that happens. To me it was also important that Ryuu and Kairi be total opposites and yet both be likeable and relatable characters.
What were some themes you felt were important to highlight in this story?
I think friendship is a very important theme in this book; before Ryuu and Taiyo develop feelings for each other, they are first and foremost friends, as are she and Kairi. Another important theme is the value of telling the truth. Taiyo tells a lot of lies in this story and ends up so tangled in them that she can’t see a way out, hence the title. Though told for good reasons, those little lies mount up and ultimately lead to her and Ryuu being at the coast when the tsunami hits, while their friends and family are completely unaware of the peril they’re in.
What is the next story that you’re working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on another novella set in Japan, however, this one follows the Taiji dolphin hunt. Starting in 2009 when the documentary The Cove was released and ending in future 2018, Red Days follows and English reporter with Japanese roots who finds herself drawn to the cause and ends up fighting to save them.
Red Days is still a work in progress; I recently finished the first draft, however, it needs to undergo several rounds of editing before it will be ready for release, which will hopefully be around September this year.
Taiyo is a normal high-school girl living with her Grandmother in Sendai. She goes to school, partakes in club activities and hangs out with her two best friends, twin brothers Ryuu and Kairi. However, her perfect world is shattered when she begins dating Kairi but quickly discovers she’s already in love with Ryuu.
A tangled web of lies surrounds the pair, but everything is suddenly knocked into perspective on March 11th when they are caught up in a natural disaster that devastates the country and robs thousands of their homes, their possessions and their lives…”
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Goo of the Gods centers around the life of teen prodigy Jonah and his traumatic past involving suspicious accidents and missing people. This is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, horror, and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
A little of both. I’m a nurse whose also worked in the manufacturing and customer service industries while I was in college, so science, horror, and fantasy will continue to blend in my writing. Missing people, accidents, these are things that I’ve witnessed, so I knew what elements I had to have in the book. I began with a timeline, but, like life, the timeline continually grew as my characters took on lives of their own. Although, I should mention that not everything came from my own personal experiences. Changes to the timeline and character encounters were drastic when I chose to use my teenagers living at home as a resource.
Jonahs friends in science club form a group called Sci-6. I felt the supporting characters were well developed and intriguing. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I love all of my characters, including the creepy evil ones. I chose a male protagonist over a female one because I love writing about villainous women. Turning them into demons and putting them up against a wiz kid was a bonus, but, ultimately, that wiz kid has my heart. Jonah has a horrible past because, in truth, he has horrible parents whom he just can’t avoid even when they are missing from his life. His identity is important to him, but he’s still trying to figure out who he is. As he’s growing up, he has to learn to find confidence in the presence of self doubt and what’s expected of him. Most teens, I believe would relate to the struggle of figuring out what you want versus what others want of you.
Sci-6 embark on a mission to conduct risky experiments in order to uncover the truth and defeat demons. This sets up the novel to deliver some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
I think you said it! Some of the scenes are definitely “risky.” There is some genuine physical and medical science I used to formulate speculative fiction. The most fun was throwing the teenagers into these crazy experiments and seeing how they’d manage to get through it. I love the bickering and arguing when you have no clue what to do-that’s the most fun.
This book is part of the Rising Saints High series. When will the next book be available and where will that take the characters?
Blade of the Crones is the second installment of the RSH series and will be available at the end of 2017. Raz, Jonah’s ex-girlfriend mentioned briefly in Book 1, will make an appearance causing more teen drama. But Sci-6 has a job to do. One of their own needs rescuing, so they’re going to have to put their heads together and formulate a rescue plan. I also have a companion novella coming out next month in March, entitled Hella. Same school with a separate cast of characters in a plot involving time travel and a few friendly visitors from Book 1.
Memories of madness torment him…
And a voice, trapped in sixteen-year-old Jonah’s head, will reveal something not of this world…
Teen science prodigy, Jonah, doesn’t know if he’s seeing ghosts or if he’s inherited a mental illness. Either way, he wants the voice out. He wants to free the speaker from his mind and put her into flesh of her own. But he’s going to need more than his father’s old laboratory to do it. He’s going to need the help of his ingenious new friends.
CRASH! BOOM! KAPOW! There’s a new breed of superheroes at Rising Saints High and they’re not your typical teenagers. They’re nerds, but dark creatures are lurking among them—waiting to exploit the innovative young team for their collective intelligence.
In this action adventure, geeks will battle gods to piece together mysteries of science. But beware—Jonah and his friends will soon discover that science cannot always explain everything and that somethings are better left unknown.”
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Fractured is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Dune is perhaps my favorite book ever. I read it back in the day. After reading Dune Messiah, I was sure I knew what would happen next. When Children of Dune was published, I read it and threw it across the room, saying, “If Frank Herbert won’t write the book I want to read, I’ll write it.” I had no idea what I was doing, and I certainly had no concept whatsoever of where this first step of the journey would take me. But I knew I needed a “gimmick.” That’s when the idea of a world where sexism had never existed entered the story, but what began as a gimmick became an opportunity to define character with the facets of light and dark that exist in all of us rather than by the character’s genitalia and served as a significant guide to my world-building. Who are these beings that in their society there is no division of labor by gender? What differences between earth humans and the people of Garla (physical and mental) would bring such a thing about?
Lisen is a complex teenage girl that is brought to life by your writing style. What were the morals you were trying to caputre while creating your characters?
None of my characters is either all good or all bad. I revel in the gift of digging down deep and finding the darkness in the light and vice versa. For me, each character deserves the opportunity to show the reader all they’ve got and allow the reader to judge for herself. As for morals, I believe that one must know how to think before one can make any moral decision. Even then, the moral decision may not be the best decision at the moment. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice the “good” thing for the “right” thing (a major decision in book 2 illustrates that). Luckily, Lisen comes into the story with some pretty strong ethics that have been taught to her by the Holts, her guardians on earth. This allows me as the writer to challenge those ethics and see how she does.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who is truly in charge of shaping our path in life. Did you put any of yourself or your experiences into this book?
I have always had a strong connection to the dead, but certainly not to the extent that Lisen does with her gift as a necropath. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the story is the character of Flandari, a woman too tightly wound to give her son any love at all and who is ultimately stolen away from Lisen before Lisen gets a chance to know her. My mother was a distant woman, and I realized after creating the character of Flandari that she was very like my own mother. Unlike me, however, Lisen finds a way to love. She makes a friend in Jozan, and there is clearly something going on with her Captain Cutie. She’s open to the possibilities, and this is thanks to her time with the Holts.
Fractured is book 1 in the Lisen of Solsta series. Where does book to take the characters and what do you invision for the series in the future?
There are 3 more books already available: Tainted, book 2, in which Lisen must come to terms with what to do about her brother (and which contains the true beginning of the match between her and Korin); Blooded, book 3, which finds Lisen struggling with this new mantle on her shoulders of Empir; and Protector of Thristas, book 4, which begins fifteen years after the end of Blooded because I wanted to know who these people became when they grew up. I am currently working on what was originally book 5 and the final book. However, it’s turning into a longer project than originally planned, and although it will still put an end to the story, it’s likely to be two books rather than one.
“Seventeen-year-old Lisen Holt only begins to realize that her life is fractured after a sorcerer abducts her from a California beach and brings her home to Garla. She awakens at Solsta Haven, a refuge for the spiritual members of Garlan society known as hermits. The sorcerer, Hermit Eloise, has returned Lisen?s body to its true form?a human-like marsupial with no visible breasts and a fuzzy pouch just above where her bellybutton once was. She then restores Lisen?s memory of her first ten years in Garla, leaving her earthly existence behind but not forgotten. Although she is Lisen of Solsta now, questions haunt her, questions Eloise refuses to answer. Who are the parents who left her at Solsta? Why did Eloise send her to Earth? And what is so important about her that Eloise has manipulated so much of her life? The answers will propel Lisen into a quest for a throne, and all that will stand between her and her birthright is her matricidal twin of a brother.”
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