Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?
VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.
Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.
Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.
I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.
I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.
Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy.
Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire.
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Apocalypsia details a post-apocalyptic Earth. Demons comb the land and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such an immersive story?
I had a lot of time on my hands (haha). I was in my early twenties, worked two days a week, living in my parents’ basement, and was addicted to video games. Writing was my way to keep my mind active and a way to escape my uneventful reality. It started out as some dark and depressing poetry (some of which appears in the book). I felt like the only way I could find meaning in this world is if it ended. That was the idea that sparked Apocalypsia. I wanted to go on an adventure, and if I couldn’t live it, I could at least create it. I also drew inspiration from authors like Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens, and stories like Beowulf and Lord of the Rings.
This story is a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. Did you plan the novel before you wrote or did this happen organically?
I was told to always know the ending of your story before you begin. Apocalypsia was the exception. I had no idea where this story was going to go. At times I felt the story was telling itself and I was just the messenger. I never thought about what will come next only what was happening now.
In its infancy I wanted to make Apocalypsia a graphic novel. I wrote it into twenty-five separate books in a little over a year and a half. Since I cannot draw or know an artist that could take on this huge project I rewrote it to read more like a manga, but without the art; since I was into Japanese anime at that time. About a year later I developed a love of screenplays and the desire to write them. Apocalypsia was rewritten again into three different scripts due to its length and the 80-120 page constraint of a normal screenplay. When I discovered self-publishing the book that exists today got another overhaul. The book gained new content and became a little darker too. I was older so everyone in the story had to grow up also. Overall it took seven years and several rewrites before Apocalypsia appeared in our hands.
What is your writing experience and how has that helped you write Apocalypsia?
I actually wrote all of my books as screenplays first until I learned about self-publishing. I reformatted my screenplays into novelized script versions by taking away all the screenplay lingo, headers and directions, but kept the name of the speaker before my dialogue to cut down on “he said” “she said” throughout the entire story. Screenplays taught me about plot points and showing not telling. I learned to write a good ending and a good beginning and then finding out how to link the two. I learned how to write books by thinking about them as movies. Usually screenplays are the product of books. My books are products of screenplays.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have started writing a steampunk story. I think that will be a cool genre to explore. I have the beginning written and several notes about the world, technology and devices that exist, and character backgrounds and personalities, but I’m still working on the plot so no release date in sight yet.
Much of civilization lies in ruins after the mysterious happenings of a demonic uprising. In this post-apocalyptic world survivors must scavenge for supplies while taking up arms against demons, goblins, and even each other.
When an ally’s fort is attacked; a small group of survivors take it upon themselves to unite and stand against the further spread of demons. Along the way new allies agree to stand with them. Encountering stronger demonic threats and the discovery of an ancient artifact, which could destroy the boundaries between Hell and Earth, causes a collision of the human resistance into an epic final battle with the demonic forces.
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King of the Moon is a story is about the strange, entertaining, and hilarious life of the king. What was your inspiration for the wild journey you take readers on in only this one week of the kings life?
I have written all my life, and as an adult generally had projects. King of the Moon was the latest—it was time, again, to write I novel. I’ve tried previously but was never happy with the results. For a while an idea had been in the back of my head about someone dying and waking up on another planet as its King. I decided to give the idea a try. The first chapter worked out pretty good, and then the second, and then, with rewrites, it was a year later. Why the subject matter? Our current world demands satire! I look at everything from the current Presidential election campaign to environmental issues to personal politics.
I found this novel to be a cutting piece of satire. What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your novel?
That they enjoyed it and want to read it again.
Most of the book takes place in the kings head, his thoughts and ruminations. What was your writing process to ensure you captured the essence of this character?
Well, each chapter had to satirize something. Sometimes low fruit, sometimes stuff high on the tree. Each chapter had to advance the plot. It also had to advance the main character. For example, it was after the first four chapters that I stopped and figured out what the rest of the novel would very roughly be. Short chapters. For satire, I started with the urge to have Kings and Queens instead of a democracy. Fox News and its impact on media played an important role. People fighting each other rather than a common enemy. Trading jobs for environmental pollution. Our world has plenty to satirize. Also, I played with Game of Thrones and Star Wars, two favorites.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
The next book? The first seven or so chapters, unedited, are on http://www.redfez.net, along with a bit of my poetry and short fables. I started this graphic novel (is there another name for what I’m doing?) in 1994. There are 26 completed chapters. Currently I am going back and editing the chapters. As the original desktop publishing software no longer functions with modern Windows, I can only edit the PDFs, but that will do. It is fine tuning. The graphic novel? It is the story of a failed social services manager who wins the lottery. He uses the money to start a community newspaper. To prove he is a good manager, he only hires people who had been fired. He also deliberately creates problems. Each chapter of the novel is one issue of the newspaper. This originated over 20 years ago, when there were community newspapers. Each issue is complete, with news articles, movie reviews, a comic strip and, on the end page, a puzzle. You find out what is happening through those, along with the classified ads. It is reading fiction obliquely. It is reading fiction as if the novel was a newspaper and you could flip from article to article, choosing what you read. The plot for each of the six characters progresses clearly, at least to me. Why have I spent so long working on this? I started almost as soon as I had my first computer. There is something about the concept. I love the format, which allows me to work in jokes and sarcasm.
Author Links: GoodReads
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