Tyler Wandschneider’s Lockheed Elite is a thoroughly enjoyable sci-fi crime adventure akin to an episode of Firefly than anything else. We jump between the perspectives of a cast of intergalactic anti-heroes as they dance on the edge of the law, caught between the authoritarian Galactic Command and the ruthless criminal underbelly of the galaxy. The plot is spiced up with more than a few twists and thoroughly human and flawed characters that keep you engaged right up until the end. If you’re a fan of the science fiction genre, you won’t go wrong with picking up this book.
I think the word that really summarizes Lockheed Elite is: competent. The writing doesn’t sparkle off the page; it’s straightforward in its delivery. There’s a certain relief to not having to dig through layers of purple prose to find any kind of enjoyable story. It’s an easy read, especially if you’re already au fait with the science fiction genre.
The writing was absorbing precisely because it was easy to digest. I found myself chewing through ten to twenty pages at a time before I even realised it. If the goal of a writer is to engage the reader, then Tyler Wandschneider has certainly achieved it.
This is not to say the writing is flawless; it occasionally struggles with articulating emotions. Characters will pontificate on the stakes or over-explain themselves, even at points where the tension and pacing should be amping up. The effect is something of a stumbling block in some of the most exciting scenes, as we read through one character or another describing how and why they feel a certain way.
The book develops it’s characters slowly throughout the novel, letting them build into complex characters towards the end of the novel. Although characters don’t feel like they have their own voices in the beginning, it feels more real towards the end of the book.
Lockheed Elite is engaging, and it kept me reading all the way through to the end. Despite my above quibbles, I really did enjoy it. I think Wandschneider has done a great job in writing a solid, exciting book. I only wish that it perhaps had a bit of a stronger start and I think this would be a stellar example of a science fiction genre piece.
Pages: 416 | ASIN: B073VHM3QG
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Tyler Wandschneider’s Lockheed Elite is a thoroughly enjoyable soft sci-fi crime adventure – more akin to an episode of Firefly than anything else. We jump between the perspectives of a cast of intergalactic anti-heroes as they dance on the edge of the law, caught between the authoritarian Galactic Command and the ruthless criminal underbelly of the galaxy. A predictable plot is spiced up with more than a few twists and thoroughly human, flawed characters that keep you engaged right up until the end. If you’re a fan of the science fiction genre, you won’t go wrong with picking up this book.
I think the word that really summarises Lockheed Elite is: competent. The writing doesn’t sparkle off the page; it’s straightforward in its delivery. But straightforward isn’t a negative word in this context. There’s a certain relief to not having to dig through layers of purple prose to find any kind of enjoyable story. It’s an easy read, especially if you’re already au fait with the science fiction genre.
The writing was absorbing precisely because it was easy to digest. I found myself chewing through ten to twenty pages at a time before I even realised it. If the goal of a writer is to engage the reader, then Tyler Wandschneider has certainly achieved it.
This is not to say the writing is flawless; it’s occasionally hamfisted in its delivery, especially when trying to describe emotions. Characters will pontificate on the stakes or over-explain themselves, even at points where the tension – and thus the pacing – should be amping up. The effect is something of a stumbling block in some of the most exciting scenes, as we have to sit through one character or another describing how and why they feel a certain way. The characters, too, can feel generic. As with all genre fiction, a certain amount of archetypal cliché is to be expected, but it’s important to expand on those clichés too. The book takes too long to flesh those characters out, leaving many of them feeling like empty slates until it’s too late.
But I complain about these small things because I truly enjoyed this book and I see so much potential. It’s engaging and it kept me reading all the way through to the end. I think Wandschneider has done a great job in writing a solid, exciting book. This is a stellar example of a sci-fi genre piece.
Pages: 416 | ASIN: B073VHM3QG
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Remember To Recycle explores a twisted state of dystopian society run rampant with political tension and censorship as experienced through the eyes of a sordid slew of characters. How did you decide on the starting point for this novel and how did that help create the rest of the story?
Thank you for asking. I based the novel on current reality based on in-depth study of foreign policy and traditional patterns of involvement by intelligence agencies who use propaganda to skew public opinion toward a military agenda.
I began the book inspired by the guys who go through my recycling bins to take what they can sell; I made a recycler character who has a clever scheme to take what he learns about the people in the neighborhood that way. The idea made me chuckle, and I wanted to see what kind of goofy brilliance he might display. I also had often joked around with a housemate about the empty buildings across the street which are owned by the church. We’d see people go in and never come out. I was also inspired by our jokes about the counter-intuitive business choices of the local ice-cream truck driver. The truck indeed broadcasts the recording of a scolding woman’s voice, just like in the novel.
Though entertainment is the ultimate point of the book, my main serious goal with the book is to balance the propaganda about the White Helmets, though characters in the United States who had hear the stories about a group like them on the nightly news or watch the Hollywood movie about them.
This novel follows the introduction to Nancy and her relationship to the Agents of the Nevermind in book one, Glossolalia. Nancy has done sordid things in her past, but she was forced into it. In this book, she’s again given the chance to be a hero and make amends for her role in political intrigue, even if it means using the dirty skills she was raised with. Some methods are so dirty, she hardly even lets herself know just how sordid she can be. But like all the other POV characters, she has a good heart.
I chose the beginning scene because it was cinematic, with the dramatic contrast arising from Nancy relaxing at her unusual dwelling, chuckling at the anomalous sound of the ice-cream truck that never seem to make any sales. That prepares us for dark humor in the book. She’s being startled by the loud sound of a hard snowball smashing the glass of the window beside her head. She puts on her costume when she realizes someone outside might be looking at her, so we see how she’s been living “underground,” hoping no one recognizes her, in a somewhat primitive location, but someone mysteriously is communicating with her.
She finds a painted rock inside the snowball and the image reminds her of herself and her one friend, a lovely artist named Becky. Nancy has followed another such anonymous note to lead her to Becky in the past. So that beginning creates questions about the dynamics of some major characters, as it sets in motion Nancy’s sleuthing, and involves the reader in the mystery.
I remember the excitement of thinking of the snowball, with ice-cream and a rock inside, at the beginning. Most of the book was already written, but that image created a colorful motif that I went back and inserted through the novel. It was gratifying the way it drew a lot of elements together.
You’re able to weave together the intricate lives of a ragtag group of characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
I focused on the theme of the heroism of examining and exposing social engineering, and the difficult choices, nobility and sacrifice that can entail.
I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?
I appreciate that. I’ve been writing all my life, as well as studying the form, not only for my benefit but for my students, as I teach fiction writing and edit manuscripts. I’ve explored a variety of genres; psychological suspense, which is the overarching category all the diverse books in the series fall into, fascinates me because of human psychology making propaganda and other forms of deception easy and bewildering, creating the need for answers. I love the feeling of figuring out the answers to such mysteries, such a rush, a shudder. It’s the perfect genre to dramatize the ability of intelligence agents working behind the scenes to gaslight the public. So, I read and watch movies and TV shows in that genre a lot, to understand what works best. I’m always studying more about fiction and screenwriting techniques. I learn as much from the screen as the page, and organize my books like movies.
This is book two in the Agents of Nevermind series. Where will book three take readers?
It continues the theme of the Agents who combine deception, mind control, blackmail, and occult practices. I’ve been including history about that intersection in the books, returning to certain historical figures such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, and their use of Enochian language as a spy code as well as an attempt at magick.
The novel is called Encore, and is Gothic. A highly-acclaimed performance troupe has a special requirement to make their shows work: the audience can’t be aware if any of the actors are replaced by a standby (similar to an understudy.) Their resident hypnotist, Dune, who is rumored to be an Agent of the Nevermind, accomplishes that by hypnotizing the standbys to believe they’re the actors they’re mimicking, and even coat their own auras with the residuals of their actors.
His wife is the star, but must leave the troupe due to cancer. Her standby and Dune have strong chemistry. He kidnaps her while she’s hypnotized to believe she’s his wife, and takes her to an alchemist’s castle. Underlying the story is the real history of a few powerful countries’ competing mythologies meant to gain supporters for them in wartime.
I hope this book will move readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.
What if the homeless men going through your recycling know more about your life than you do? Like who is going to die. One of the recyclers, Dave, wearing disguises he keeps under a bridge, memorizes the information in people’s bins. He, like many others, idolizes the Rescuers, a supposedly neutral, unarmed humanitarian aid group in a Balkanized country, as the possibility of WWIII looms. The Nevermind Agents lie on the evening news to garner support for proxy wars. They say the Rescuers are unarmed, neutral, and giving humanitarian aid to a Balkanized country. Their movie about them is a blockbuster. Rescuer costumes are the bit hit for Halloween. But it’s time to unmask them. And that requires a plan so ingenious, even the planner can’t know how it’s done. Living not far away from Dave’s bridge, Becky donates generously to the Rescuers, making her finances even more insecure. She doesn’t know what to think when she finds things in her apartment moved slightly. The toothbrush is wet. There’s a stain on the ironing board. The cat food is nearly gone. Is it her imagination? Is someone messing with her mind? Could it be Stan, breaking in because he loves her? He certainly loves putting her body into mysterious BDSM contortions for their videos. But what’s that muffled moan she hears in the background when she calls him on the phone? Becky hires her friend to spy on Stan. The woman has gone underground since escaping from the Nevermind; she wears a wig, and a mask meant for burn victims. She has traveled across the country to befriend Becky, taking a chance on an anonymous message recommending she do so, though she doesn’t yet know the reason.
A Thriller for Thinkers
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Black Ink Pearl the screen play was adapted from your award winning novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest. What were some challenges you encountered while adapting your novel?
Well, first I had to learn something about screenplay writing, so so different from a novel. Hadn’t a clue!! But was passionate about doing it so signed up at more than I could afford (worth it) for a course with Voyage Media. It was brilliant. Though this one wasn’t the script I got mentored on then (by marvelous and incredibly patient – I really was clueless to start – Kathleen McLaughlin) they must have taught me the craft well as have just – wait for it – heard that my ‘Black Ink Pearl’ script (subtly changed title from the book, nothing clever or deep, just to differentiate it) the Genre Winner for scifi/fantasy in the internationally acclaimed (whew!) Capital Fund Screen Play Contest 2017. Doesn’t mean it gets produced, but its certainly a step closer. It will now – this is the process for the winners – get put in front of producers (who normally, don’t I know it, ignore any sent-in scripts) in the leading companies worldwide, including China. Still looking for other producers to consider it, so let me know if you know of any. It’s a great read, honest, fantastic in both senses, great actin and characters. Anyway hold your thumbs.
Am just finishing a second, this time based on a Walter Scott novel. If adapting a novel the trick, I now know, and it’s a good one, enjoyable, is to leave out two thirds of the scenes of the original and rewrite, perhaps utterly change, most of the rest but at the same time still be inspired by that original story that first caught and moved you. Also always always always – so hard for a novelist – to show, never to tell; show through actions words, and not adverbs or attributed (by you ) inner emotions (if it’s written properly the emotion comes through in the dialogue and the acting, leave it to them). Have had such fun learning all this and seeing the characters of the novels I love through new eyes.
Also to use that funny layout (‘Final draft’ it’s called) that is apparently the ‘industry standard’. And not too many pages – 100 seems to be about right for a full-length feature film.
And don’t expect anyone to be prepared to read it, do it just for love and passion. All the same keep trying and (essential) get as much much feedback and as many times as you can (I had really great fdvice from WEScreenplay judges, not too expensive) and don’t even think of entering contests till you’ve got a high mark from one of them (I learned that the hard way
Have been encouraged since then to read somewhere that if you’re successful in one genre people may tell you to stick to that, but actually you’re likely to be successful in another, so – but only if you really WANT to – don’t’t be afraid to try it.
Wow – how did I get into all this from one simple question …
Film rights are held by Garn Press. Where are you in the process of turning this screenplay into a movie?
Holding our thumbs that we get a deal. We just just might …
If we do get an option, we’d divide the proceeds between us in our agreed proportion, while the (lesser) amount for the screenplay, in which I hold the copyright, would come to me. The good thing about an option for, say, 3-6 months, is that even if they decide ot to proceed with the movie we get to keep that money and once the option time expires can try elsewhere..
The big hope to find a producer with funding and enthusiasm to actually make the movie (or just possibly, a television series, but would be best for the big screen). Both I and the publishers (Director is wonderful Denny Taylor, by now a real friend) would both love to see our mystic fantastic story disseminatedto wider audiences, I think it would really really work as a movie and that is inspirational sybolism – not pushed at them – would get through: but we’d ONLY want it if as a high-concept movie, we’re not in it just for some trashy commercial fix however lucrative.
Let’s say you’ve got the movie deal and you have to pick some actors for your film.Which actress/actors do you think would be perfect fits for your characters?
Emilia Clarke (fabulous in ‘Game of Thrones’ – also filmed in Ireland as this one could and should be) ) as the lead, Kate. She;’s interested I hear
Daphne Alexander (now gathering a great reputation in London and Broadway) as Deirdre, Kate’s mother (or as Kate if Emilia couldn’t), sh’ed be brilliant, and warms to the novel, I know she’d be prepared to be involved.
Idris Elba as the hero Christy – he’s such an intelligent as well as talented actor/person, and shares my feeling for Africa.
Judi Dench (I was at school with her, so know her and her commitments, she just might be persuaded) as the Queen of Heaven.
Rawiri Paratene as (the complex and difficult) character of) God. He’s less well known up here than in his native New Zealand but I thought he was the real star as the grandfather/tribal chief in ‘Whale Rider’
Do you have any other plans for your novel Black Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest?
Absolutely: an audio book is on the way with a brilliant illustrator, also a colouring book around the novel’s key themes. It’s already had a spin-off in its prize-winning fairytale prequel, ‘Pearl of the seas’ (that will soon be an audio book too, with musical background), and there will now be a whole series, taking children, gradually, through aspects of the story from age nought upwards in a series of (probably) five children’s books, text by me, fabulous illustrations again by amazing silk artist Rachel Backshall.
All these just arrived, no deliberate planning by me. Enjoy it.
Bye for now everyone, get back with any comments or questions.
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.
Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.
The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.
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Apocalypsia by Jerry Veit is a saga in the best sense of the word. I was able to read the complete edition of this work, which consists of three books and three parts per book. They detail a post-apocalyptic Earth after what appears to be, for all intents and purposes, the end. Demons comb the land, freed from Hell and what is left of humanity struggles to survive and trust one another. It is left to small bands of warriors to come together and unite the warring factions, otherwise they will all perish with the rising of a new demon army.
The vision that Veit has for this world is expansive. It is also a fun blend of science fiction, fantasy and post-apocalyptic. These elements may seem to much for the casual reader but for Veit they are all ingredients that lend themselves to the epic that this work is. The edition I have, has a couple, very thick appendices, which was helpful for the wide cast of characters Viet details in all of these stories. Some of the terms, locations and overall history of this Earth is also given. All in all the world building that Veit skillfully brings to life is very present and rich for the reader to sink into and lose themselves.
I found Veit’s prose to be stilted in places and I wonder if his work would hold up better in an audio book or audio drama form. He did not shy away from any action and made sure the story kept moving through these pages, especially as the conflict became more and more intense until the dramatic conclusion. He does follow the time tested formula of having a band of hero’s and a singular villain, bent on destruction. The setting he built around this formula is what refreshing for this type of tale and the considerable scale he chose to write it in. The story itself could have been confined to two books but with drawing it out into a third he was able to deepen the plot just enough to please the reader. I won’t say anything else in that regard, lest I spoil the story.
What was difficult was the way that Viet chose to tell his tale. He took some grammatical liberties that a seasoned reader may have trouble reading at first. The most notable one is that Veit does not use traditional dialogue tags or quotation marks but instead uses names labeling who speaks (i.e. ADRIAN: Welcome to Apocalypsia). This is similar to how one labels dialogue in screenplays, which I am aware is in Veit’s background.
All in all Apocalypsia is an epic tale of loss, bravery and learning what it is to be human. Lovers of quests and end of the world tales will find something to enjoy here.
Pages: 387 | ASIN: B0726374N1
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The Slave Boy is the sixth installment of the Orfeo Saga and follows Cyrus as he lives his life in Kuragalu. Cyrus is feeling restless and bored as he lives his life without any foreboding danger lurking in the shadows. Even though there are thoughts of what life would be like married in a traditional Kassite way, he is eager to find an adventure and sets off to Babylon to find old friends and new lands. Here they land themselves in a familiar career path of merchants however a seemingly easy road into money is tarnished when they are captured and sold into slavery. Cyrus may escape but his new mission of protecting a member of the Royal family may prove to be his most difficult task yet. Meanwhile, Cyrus also has his eyes set on stopping a siege that could kill many innocent people. Life changing decisions will leave Cyrus in a position that will change his life forever.
The Slave Boy, written by Murray Lee Eiland, is a story of courage, passion and friendship. Prepared to be thrown into the world where slavery, Royal families and war mongering politicians will stop at nothing to take over power within their country and beyond.
Murray Lee Eiland has written this novel with a beautiful air of understanding and respect towards cultures within places such as Iran. I appreciated the context of history woven throughout the plot and how he easily fit the characters into the historical tones of the story. I also liked how the chapters were short and concise which left no room to ramble or over describe situations or people. Because of this, I found myself eagerly continuing the story and was always filled with excitement and anticipation at what may happen next.
The character progression of Balik was one that I thoroughly enjoyed. He begins the novel as a drunk- lost in the old time ways, desperately searching for a place in a world that no longer accepts the heroes of war. Cyrus saves him from himself and the cheap stench of wine and injects life and a sense of adventure into his old employer.
The Slave Boy explores both governments and Royal families which adds an element of politics throughout the deep throes of adventure. Further into the story, relationships with Royals offer benefits and power, however is this what the characters want or need? At times the novel almost felt like a James Bond style movie with spies, slaves and Kings mixing together to find out the deepest of secrets within the kingdoms.
I appreciated the historical note at the end of the novel, allowing the reader to have an understanding of what was real and what was made up. As it concludes the novel, it leaves the reader to consider and ponder on what life people may have had within these areas of the world.
I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys a novel loosely based on historical events, full of adventure and life changing lessons.
Pages: 238 | ASIN: B06WVFPGP3
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Protector of Thristas takes place fifteen years after the tumultuous One Day War and Lisen is faced with something far more challenging than ever before. What were some important themes for you to capture in this novel?
I’ve taken on several archetypes in these books with an eye towards shifting what originated as masculine-oriented myths into their feminine equivalent. Lisen is the hero of a story in which she must overcome many obstacles, including her own self-doubt, to rise at the end of the original trilogy to the destiny she cannot escape. I looked at heroes, such as Luke Skywalker and King Arthur, and asked myself how this would look not simply with a “girl” as the hero but with a gentler and more sympathetic way of presenting the momentous events that occur in the story. The battle at the end of Blooded is a case in point. Lisen found a way to break through the fighting and turn the combatants towards a negotiated resolution rather than one in which many people died or were left physically or emotionally injured.
So, when I decided to explore Lisen and the others as adults, to look at the relationships and their children fifteen years on, I made another decision–to raise the bar and tackle an archetype I refer to as “the king must die and live again.” This myth can be found in many nature-focused cultures. The leader of the people sacrifices his life (or acts the sacrifice out in ritual) and goes to the underworld, then rises again, all of which is symbolic of the “burying” of seeds in the fall and their rising as plants in the spring. It is a form of fertility ritual. It is also, in some ways, the Christ story, but this time it’s a young woman.
I think this book did a fantastic job displaying how emotional a mother-daughter relationship can be, and family relationships as well. How did you develop these complex relationships? Anything pulled from real life?
My mother was not the nurturing type which left my father with that role in my life. In fact, Korin’s nickname of “Fa” is the way my father, in his later years, signed birthday cards and such. But there was more to it than that. As I foraged deeper into the story and the wounded relationship between Lisen and Rinli, I realized one very important thing. I had to be very careful about how I framed the discord between the two of them. The critique group I belonged to at the time loved the portrayal of the mother-daughter conflict, but I began to recognize that I had created a very “earth-centric/potentially sexist” struggle. In my experience, women in our culture learn at a very early age that they must challenge one another over the attention of a man. Men are taught a similar lesson, but it manifests differently. Men thump their chests and growl at one another (figuratively) or go out and kick a football around, whereas women get mean. And it often begins in the relationship between a mother and daughter and their desire for the male in their lives–the husband/father. It’s fairly subtle in most cases, but it’s there, and once girls become teenagers with all those hormones raging, they may not “desire” their father, but they want what their mothers have and the fight is on.
I couldn’t let this be the basis for Lisen and Rinli’s conflict, so I struck out on my own to find something that didn’t smack of the sexism in the “typical” tension that can tear a mother and daughter apart. And although I may have no control over the enculturated eyes the reader brings to the story and her interpretation of what she sees in that relationship, I had to be true to my commitment to present Lisen and Rinli sparring not over the mean-girl stuff that can mess with a mother and a daughter but over the betrayal Rinli feels at her mother’s use of her as a bargaining tool to bring a war to an end. Add to that the fact that Lisen is not the nurturing parent in the family, and it becomes clear, in my eyes, at least, that their relationship was likely doomed no matter what Lisen did.
Rinli is resistant to the idea that she has her mother’s magic abilities. How did you handle magic in this novel that was similar and/or different from the previous novels?
In some way, I think the magic became more central to the story than it had been previously. I have always played the push as something unacceptable but sometimes necessary, even to Garlans who are pretty accepting of most hermit magic. As a Thristan, Korin distrusts hermits and what they can do, and Lisen has a powerful gift. This presented its own set of problems in the first trilogy and ultimately tore them apart. Now, with Rinli growing up and it becoming obvious to both of her parents that she has inherited her mother’s gift, Lisen and Korin have to make their peace over the magic thing and then band together to convince Rinli that the only way to stay safe amongst magic-fearing Thristans is to master her gift in order to control it. This is where that conflict I mentioned above manifests with Lisen trying her damnedest to reach out to Rinli and Rinli turning away. (I had one reviewer say, “So many times I just wanted to scream ‘Say I LOVE YOU!'” which would, of course, have simplified things a great deal. But it was about the magic in Lisen’s mind, and “I love you” wasn’t in her lexicon.)
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I began a followup to Protector of Thristas with the idea that it would be the final book in the series. I had to find a way to put down the characters and the world I’d created in order to move on to something new. Five books. The series would be five books. I was adamant with myself. Then as I wrote and wrote and wrote, I began to realize that this was going to be one hell of a long book. I set a word limit at which point I would break it up into two books. I’m still on first draft, and I am within 2500 words of that limit I set. It’s definitely going to be 2 books. Because I’ve been making changes that affect earlier scenes as I go along, I must finish the entire tome before officially splitting them up. (And even then, I’m probably going to produce draft 2 of both books together, incorporating all the necessary tweaking at one time, before I turn to book 5 of the series and complete it.) All of this is to say, that this has taken far longer than I wanted it to take, but I continue to move forward.
As regards where we go from here, having sent a young person as flawed as Rinli through the experience of dying and rising from the dead, I discovered (upon working on the final two books) a character who is not doing well emotionally at all. It’s been an interesting trip. Rinli was originally intended to be the character to whom Lisen would pass the baton, but she turned out to be a character very different from what I had expected when I began. Her last words at the end of the book blew me away, coming as they did as I was writing that last scene, and they set the tone for the remaining story. I had to ask myself “what does a world broken by Mantar’s Child look like?” It took a while to answer that question. Now first draft is finally winding down for books 5 and 6, and all I can say is “whew, what a ride!” “When will it be available?” I’m hoping for some time early in the new year for book 5 and spring for book 6.
Fifteen years after the One-Day War, Lisen, now Empir Ariannas, has developed into a just and capable leader. Together she and Korin have created a union of two souls based on respect, commitment and love, and their family has grown. In addition to Rinli, their daughter who made her first appearance in Blooded, two more children have joined the family, completing their complement of three complicated adolescents.
Now the sixteen-year-out Rinli prepares to take on the mantle of Protector of Thristas, a title destined for her in the treaty that ended the war. The Empirs of Garla have carried this title for hundreds of years, and Lisen anticipates changes once she hands this single title on to Rinli at the girl’s investiture. But the prophesy of Mantar’s Child, upon which Lisen and Korin depended in the treaty negotiations fifteen years earlier, refuses to remain but a convenient myth, and with the advent of the fulfillment of the prophecy, an epic begins.
Although Protector of Thristas includes the familiar faces and settings of the young adult Lisen of Solsta trilogy, it begins a new adventure for an older and often wiser Lisen and her allies. Looking at their world through their matured eyes, the book takes on the heroic tragedy that the trilogy could only hint at. Return to Garla. Enter its mystical environs for a new encounter with Lisen and her world’s gender-free culture. The adventure awaits.
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The False Prophet is set in a post apocalyptic America and follows Donald of Fisher, our unlikely hero, as he must confront an army raised to conquer the land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
The question applies to the first novel, The Stonegate Sword as well as The False Prophet although it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to understand the second. The initial idea was to create a character with a world view similar to present-day America and place him in a society with very different values, such as Medieval Europe. I considered a time-travel approach, but then hit on the idea that in the future the world could enter a second Dark Age. So the main character, Donald of Fisher is a lore-man, steeped in the study of the past from an early age. Then circumstances forces him to take up a sword and take on the role of a warrior. The conflict between the evil figure in the west owes a bit to Tolkien and a bit to the prophecies of the last days in Biblical prophecy. I made no attempt to create the details associated with the Antichrist, except that if the imagery in Scriptures is taken literally, it sounds as if the final battles will be fought with antique weapons. I realize that this could be figurative language, but I decided to take it literally, and that implies, again, that a dark age lies in the future.
The story follows two characters, The False Prophet and Donald of Fisher, which I felt were two contrasting characters. What themes did you want to capture while creating your characters?
The story follows the archetypal “hero’s quest.” Don is the hero and must face adversity. The False Prophet is the anti-hero and he does not actually appear in the first novel, being only a rumor, a malignant force driving the forces of evil. In the second novel, he is revealed to be a ruthless despot of the kind with whom we are all familiar. The Prophet’s armies are the driving force behind much of the conflict that Don must face and overcome, though human frailties (his own and those of his companions) are other obstacles in his path.
There were many biblical undertones throughout the novel. Where do you feel you paralleled the Bible and where did you blaze your own path? And how did that help you create an engaging story?
The story of the novel does have some similarities to the Bible in that the Israelites were often raided by their enemies and the kind of weapons were similar. The military tactics I describe are probably not similar to those used in Bible days, although some of the principles are timeless. The use of walled cities reminds one of the Bible and also Medieval Europe. The political situation in the free cities east of the mountains reminds me of Israel during the time of the Judges, when there was no king, and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The apostasy or falling away from the faith is prophesied in the Bible. The rediscovery of lost technology, for example, cannons, is a new path. The idea of a man of sin arising in the last days is found in the Bible.
The False Prophet is the second book in the Stonegate series. Where does book three take readers?
Book three will take place a generation later. The False Prophet was not destroyed, and the evil in the West rises again. It is up to the children of Don, Rachel, Carla and Howard to bring the saga to its final conclusion. Donald, now a middle-aged man, past his prime, attempts to mount an invasion of the West to overthrow the Prophet, but his attempts are met with disunity among his friends and overwhelming might of his foes. As to be expected, the victory depends on help from a totally unexpected quarter.
Stonegate remains the key, and Donald returns to that great walled city and his beloved Rachel just as the hosts of enemy are also closing in. Part adventure, part love story, this epic saga covers the vast panorama of New Mexico deserts and Colorado Rockies in a possible future that looks very much like the medieval past. But duty, love, courage, and honor remain and are even more important than ever.
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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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The Genocide Gene is the third book in the thrilling Onryo Saga and continues the adventures of the teenage superheroes in their fight to save humanity. I felt this story was very well written. What is your experience as a writer?
In addition to term papers in grad school, I wrote fanfiction about my favorite shows growing up. It was great practice to hone my craft and experiment with my original concepts. As fun as that was, nothing beats creating original characters and guiding them on a hero’s journey.
One thing that stands out to me in The Genocide Gene is the creativity embedded in this world. What was your inspiration for creating such and imaginative world?
As I was researching Africa, I had to come up with ways to integrate what I had learned into a creative storyline. I read about the business of portable gas stoves, so I had a battle in a factory. I read about the African boda-boda drivers, so I envisioned a chase scene on their mopeds. Every time I read something interesting, I wondered how I can utilize it in an exciting way.
I also created my own African country so that I could integrate the culture, history and issues of other countries into it, such as civil wars and age-old divisions brought about by European colonization. That way, I could write about the political problems of places such as Uganda, the Congo, South Africa and others all at once.
The Genocide Gene has an intriguing setup to a novel that is high in social commentary. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
Bringing people together in harmony has always been my main goal, whether it be American liberals and conservatives or feuding African tribes. I wanted to present a war-torn nation keep impoverished and dysfunctional due to prejudice and hatred, but it was important to show people of other backgrounds getting along in spite of what their groups teach them. While the political extremists seek to tear their nation apart through fear, those who serve the cause of unity and understanding are the only ones who can bring peace to their people. While my conclusion can’t happen in real life, I can only keep the faith that the people of these lands find ways to bring about prosperity.
When will the fourth book in the Onryo saga be available and where will it take readers?
The Tree of Zaqqum will take readers to Israel/Palestine, and others Middle Eastern locations too. My heroes will have to stop a mysterious mastermind and his followers from destroying cities with stolen WMDs and quantum technology. Their friendship is further tested as Chikara gains a new ally that may become something more.
I’m still in the research phase at that moment, but the story is coming together piece by piece. I’m guess it may take two years to complete.
“It has been only a few months since Chikara Kaminari was given strange powers and a mission from her precognitive mother. Joined by her friends Renka and Gen, she traveled the world and stopped a band of super-powered extremists from imposing their will upon humanity. Now, a new menace has surfaced to threaten the lives of millions.
In the segregated African nation of Ghadhia, two fanatical brothers are scheming to ignite a new civil war and commit genocide against the tribes they have been raised to hate. The heroic trio must unite with new friends and old enemies to stop them, facing African terrorists, Afrikaner supremacists and enraged mobs along the way. But as Chikara and her friends journey further into the heart of darkness, their deepest fears and hidden feelings threaten to tear their friendship apart.”
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