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Survival by Escaping

John Vikara Author Interview

John Vikara Author Interview

My Lonely Room is an emotional novel that tackles themes of belonging and loneliness. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It reflected the era of my childhood and the struggles of a young life in a non-politically correct world. It was meant to show that indifference and bullying were going on long before the present, and that it was accepted as part of growing up. The challenge was to overcome these incidences of being singled out because of not having been taught how to engage with society. But the challenge was very hard to overcome when the difficulties of a weak foundation are the starting point. I also wanted to highlight the era and the lower middle class urban youth of the time, rather than the television versions such as Father Knows Best and Leave it To Beaver depicting more affluent characters who really didn’t have any real problems in comparison.

Jimmy’s character was intriguing and I felt that you developed your characters well. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing your characters?

Probably the most important theme was belonging, finding your place in a family, whether it be a blood family or a substitute family, as long the group accepts you for who and what you are. This applies to both Jimmy, who is looking, and Johnny, who has found. The theme of indifference, from Jimmy’s father, the landlady, the kids on the block right down to the ticket booth woman at the pool, who knew something was wrong but didn’t want to get involved. The theme of misdirection, trying to dissuade someone from their passions into a humdrum robotic existence, such as Jimmy’s mother—although consciously unwittingly from her own development—continued to push upon him. The theme of survival by escaping into a world you can cope with and where no one will enter without your approval.

This book explores issues in interesting ways like isolation, relationships, and fears. Was there anything from your own life that you put into the book?

A huge part of me went into this book. They say to write about what you know. Who do you know more about than the being you spend twenty-four hours a day with? I learned early to isolate myself from that outside cruel world and escape to my own means of entertainment and survival. In fact, I still have several copies of the Gastruck Kids. My relationship with my parents wasn’t great, but that could be said of most teenagers—of any era. There were many times my relationship with my friends was stronger than that with my parents. But, of course, there was always a home, even though with a lonely room, waiting for you.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I have nothing going on at the moment, but I would like to say that My Lonely Room is the prequel to a series of books I had written that began with The Vandals. Most of the characters go on into adulthood in the subsequent Adjuster, National Defense and Auld Lang Syne. They’re all available on Amazon.

Author Links: GoodReadsAmazon

My Lonely Room by [Vikara, John A.]Life wasn’t so great when you didn’t have much of a relationship with your parents or the ability to play street games while growing up in the fifties. You would rather be secluded in your lonely room, using your imagination to write stories and draw comic books than to be drowned in negativity by your mother or humiliated by your peers. All of this can change for Jimmy Yadenik when he meets Johnny, his soon to be mentor and member of the Vandals, and he applies for membership. But the transition won’t be easy.

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Game Over

Game Over (A Series of Ends Book 1)4 StarsGame Over begins inside a virtual world created by Sybil, an AI that rules over the virtual world of Elysium. Ekko Everlasting spawns into what seems to be a video game, armed and ready to fight, although he has no memory of who he is or why he’s there. He knows only his name and his innate ability to survive in a kill-or-be-killed environment. This skill helps him win his first match in No-Life, the most popular game in Elysium.

Flush from his win and mobbed by fans, he’s saved from an imposing cyberman—and potential deletion—by Ridley Scott, who tells him that Ekko is an important asset to the resistance. Ridley and his boss Dadgar recruit Ekko for their mission to find the central core of the Sybil system and free what’s left of humanity on Earth. Dadgar tells Ekko that Elysium was created to solve humanity’s problems, including illness and death, so millions of people were uploaded into the system. If humans in Elysium don’t live up to Sybil’s standards, embodied by the No-Life game, they are reprogrammed or deleted by the cybermen. Deletion brings death in the real world.

There’s a lot to like in this novel. The stakes are as high as they get: life or death for not only Ekko but humanity itself. The games he plays, No-Life, Myth and Magic, and The Test, bring the kind of exciting combat and split-second decision making that will keep you on the edge of your seat. His adversaries and allies are experts at the game, and the scenarios Sybil pits them against are both elegant and deadly.

There’s also a throwback to the “choose your own adventure” books that were popular in the late 1970’s and 80’s. At several points in the story, readers are given a choice for Ekko’s next action, and the wrong choice can lead to the words: Game Over! If you follow the right choices, it leads to a surprising conclusion with an interesting twist on Ekko’s mission—and his identity. His journey through the different levels of the game reveals the lengths that the elite will go in their quest for power. In this case, literal power measured in watts instead of mere credits.

A few things didn’t go over well. Every scene that ends with a choice of adventure has an obvious “opt out” spoiler, so it’s too easy to avoid the “game over” choice. I was also a little confused about the cyberman, Naraku Carbon. The author gives him an entire chapter and backstory, but after that chapter, he vanishes completely. His only contributions to Ekko’s story were brief encounters that could have been fulfilled by any anonymous security drone.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy gaming, tense action scenes, and life or death adventure. Though it borrows a few concepts from popular movies like Battle Royale and The Matrix, Game Over offers an interesting take on what might happen if life really is a simulation.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01KNJ8WB6

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