Orange City follows an advertising executive whos new addictive product causes him to question his reality to dangerous, and world changing, effect. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Seeing the power of advertising was a big influence. I remember watching TV one day and it was an ad for sodas and I got up from the couch and grabbed a soda without even thinking about it. The ad was that good! Orange City began as a short story about an ad exec addicted to the sodas in his new campaign, but there weren’t any science fiction aspects to the story beyond that. It existed in this world. When it became a novel it needed more, so the City became a character as well, along with the Man, and the Outside World. The story has been published separately by a journal, so I like to think of both as alternate realities of a similar tale.
Graham is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Thank you. Graham is someone who has been beaten down so much in his life that he’s lost himself. It’s what makes him so susceptible to the soda addictions. But he shows real growth as a character as the book progresses. He’s someone who’s been oppressed but learns to stand up for himself and others like him. He becomes the face of the resistance. I wanted a character that had the ability to be molded. Someone who was weak but that you rooted for. Someone who could become a product for change.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The threat of democracy being destroyed is a huge part of the novel. There are allusions to our own society and the last four years we went through in the United States. Also the manipulation of the advertising world and how much they control our lives. And the power of brands that exist in our world like Pow! How easily we have become addicted to so many different things to our detriment. And I stopped really consuming sugar so that had a lot to do with the anti-soda messages.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a YA series coming out in the Spring. The first book is called Runaway Train and is about a teenage girl in the 1990s who runs away from home after her sister dies to become a grunge singer and meet Kurt Cobain. The first two books have been written, but I’m editing the second right now and plotting out the third in the series. Look for them soon!
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In the Orbit of Sirens follows the remnants of the human race who are facing extinction and a deadly enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
This story had been cooking for a long time for me. When I was in third grade, I drew a comic book called Space Explorers that featured my friends and I going on various missions across the galaxy. It was fun and filled with lovely grammatical errors and copyright infringements that come with a child’s writings. I got a little older, and I tried my hand at making a new comic book in high school. I called it Star Siren, which featured a more cohesive story, but ultimately never got finished. After 10 years of working in the film industry on VFX heavy action scenes, I decided it was time to try again. I had a more extensive knowledge base and a matured outlook of the world, I was finally ready to tell a story of my own. So the short answer? I wrote this book to make that 3rd-grade version of myself happy.
Eliana and Denton are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
Eliana and Denton are very dear to me. I wanted to show a contrast between two world outlooks. We have Eliana, a brilliant researcher, and doctor, who had options based on her skills and connections but is driven to help humanity any way she can. She fixes People. Then there’s Denton, a guy who had almost no options in life who grew up under domes doing whatever his ancestors before him had done because that’s all that’s available. He fixes Machines. The two ultimately come together after being stripped down to their core fundamentals. When humanity has its back to the wall, it will take them both to keep the human race from going extinct.
Denton is also based on me in some ways, but not all. I don’t know a thing about fixing machines (besides what I researched to write the book), but I know what it’s like to leave your home behind to go somewhere new and strange. I grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty-three to pursue my career in the film industry. Denton moves from Ganymede to Kamaria and deals with some similar feelings that I had once. Write what you know, they say.
What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?
One of the main themes I focused on in this novel is “What comes after loss.” If you look back, everyone loses something and copes with it in different ways. To keep it spoiler-free—Eliana loses her family. Denton loses his path. Roelin loses his soul, and Nhymn loses her purpose. There’s a journey in a loss that defines who we really are.
What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?
I am currently in the beta reading stages of the sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens (title currently unannounced) and finishing the outline to the end of the Song of Kamaria trilogy. I hope to release Book 2 sometime early to mid next year, with the trilogy completing sometime after depending on the writing process. Dare I say the end of next year or early 2022? When it is ready, I will have more concrete answers.
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Covert Alliance by Blair Wylie starts when a massive and potentially dangerous pyramid is discovered on New Earth. Prime Minister Philip Wong has to make some delicate decisions regarding the investigation of this pyramid- while keeping military, political, and social turmoil at bay. He enlists the help of a professor, lieutenant, and a major for the deep space probe. They discover that a certain caste of a race known as ‘Masters’ is planning to annihilate their species using bio-terrorism and other nefarious means. Strategic and powerful moves have to be made by the characters that determine their chances of survival.
The parallels between the mystery of the pyramids in the story and our real world (Earth itself) is particularly fascinating. There’s definitely enough conspiracy theories floating around regarding the construction of the Great Pyramids- and not a few of them involve aliens. So all of this tying into the story made the plot more believable and interesting. The author presents a fairly dense and research-oriented view of the plot. Every detail is examined and explained with a scientific tone. I enjoyed this storytelling method- but I could see how some people who don’t prefer getting into the nitty-gritty statistics would find this a bit long-winded. Some of the parts read almost like a manual and I definitely struggled with some of the technical details but at the same time, it was almost educational- the systematic disassembling of the plot details so the big picture became clearer as a whole.
As always, Blair Wylie creates a dark world without using a cynical or depressing tone. The decisions the characters make are influenced by their intellect and limited resources. Similarly, the motives of the antagonists are also laid out clearly. The Warrior Masters were menacing and dangerous not because of their inherent evilness but because of their efficient and convincing plans. They made detailed plans about the best way to attack and cripple New Earth. A relevant and terrifying pandemic is also central to the plot.
Covert Alliance is a slow-burner that takes a while to sink its teeth in. It’s a well-researched and relevant science-fiction story that made me rethink the nature of human society. It’s a great read for anyone who enjoys believable and engaging science fiction.
Pages: 380 | ASIN: B07W6GLHB1
Phantom’s Mask is a thrilling continuation of your War of the Realms series. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
Each book in the series has a very different tone. Book I thrived on suspense and the hunter/prey relationship, and it introduced the scaffolding for the world building. Book II has much stronger action scenes and shows off more of the supernatural powers. It also portrays a completely different side of the main character cast. In the first book, the Alpha fugitives were relatively helpless, always on the run with many of them unable to access their true abilities. In the sequel, they’ve shifted from defense to offense in a big way. Azar played a more direct role as an antagonist. Character development is a gradual process throughout the series, and you’ll definitely know the characters much better after this book.
I enjoyed the delve into Cato’s past. Did you have his past already planned or did it develop as you were writing?
Yes, it was planned! I had to be careful with the way I presented Cato in the first book in order to set up his transformation in the sequel. Because Cato’s memory has been so critically damaged after two years of torture, the reader gets to discover his past piece by piece as he searches for the answers. Cato actually has two different journeys; navigating his way through the present and uncovering the truth about his past.
I likened the book to Stranger Things or The Boys on Amazon, but I found it difficult to find a comparison as the book was quite unique. What sources of inspiration did you draw from?
Cato’s earliest conception was heavily influenced by a cartoon I loved when I was young. The idea of having ghostly powers fascinated me, and I often pondered what that kind of world would look like when I was bored and letting my mind wander. I thought, what if all the stories about spirits and mythological beasts were actually true, at least in part? Maybe we got some parts wrong in all the retellings. But what if those beings had been here a long time ago? What if they still exist, just not in this world anymore? Cato evolved into his own being, and I pulled religious concepts, fairy tales, paranormal superstitions, mythology, magic, and natural phenomena into a brand-new world around him where the spiritual and physical could coexist.
Cato in particular was an interesting study because I had to figure out what kind of Cryokinetic he should be. There are so many examples in comic books, movies, television shows, literature, etc. Should he create elaborate structures, like Elsa from Frozen? Slide on ice tracks like Frozone from The Incredibles? Create walls and shoot a frosty blast out of his hands like Iceman from X-Men? This factor would determine what kind of fighting style he would have. I also had to think about how his technique would have changed from the time he was Phantom to the present, how he would have honed his abilities during his intense trials. I decided to make him conservative with his ice. He rarely uses it on a large scale, instead preferring to protect himself with armor, form shields on his arm like a gladiator, utilize ice blades on the offensive, and shoot small projectiles across short distances. Because the creatures in this world have a limited reservoir of power, Cato has to be smart about how much he uses at one time. No ice castles!
This is book two in your War of the Realms series. What can you share about book three in the series?
Book III is going to focus heavily on character development and internal conflict. Cato and Axel were both pushed to the brink in Book II; the next installment will show Cato grappling with the person he was, the person he’s become, and the person he’s expected to be, and Axel is in a dark place psychologically after the events of Phantom’s Mask. Character relationships across the board will be put to the test. RC’s secretive past is going to come back to haunt him. Azar, who is used to always getting what he wants, just suffered a devastating defeat and will need to reevaluate his strategy. But most importantly, Cato finally uncovers the truth about what happened to him, and he has to come to terms with it and decide how to move forward.
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Moira follows a woman trying to make it through life without being killed by weirdos or aliens and finds help with a surprising person. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have to thank J.M. Barrie and Disney directly for my inspiration. Moira is ripped from the story of Peter Pan and Wendy. Almost every scene is a murmur of something that happens in Peter Pan. Some nods to Peter Pan are obvious and some take a little more imaginative sleuthing. Don’t get me wrong! I love the sweet and gentle Wendy Moira Angela Darling. However, for my own twisted interests, I sliced her up and pieced her into the confused, teenage monster that is Moira Angela Starling. I left her in a desert for a more dramatic twist when she should have been swept up in an enchanted land of mermaids and pirates. I wanted to see Wendy grow up, essentially. But, to do that, she had to be alone and be okay with it.
Moira is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a focused or profound answer! She is in many ways a highly-concentrated version of myself because it was the easiest thing to write. There are elements of my own feelings, topped with lessons I’ve learned through therapy or from scouring my own “inner self.” I let her be a teenager in ways that made me cringe. I let her make me uncomfortable with her language and her behavior, and I even wandered around my house, wondering how she would react to things around me. And then MUSIC! Songs wrote her – not the lyrics, but the combination of instruments and the inflection of voice. Her mood and her personality came to me through sound.
The relationship between Moira and Rafe was enthralling. Was there relationship planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
Rafe had always been in the wings and I was hopeful to work their relationship out. I found that the more Moira gained traction in her ordinary life, the more she was empowered to make choices – choices like Rafe! So, I suppose it was wishful planning that worked out organically. Is that dumb? That’s dumb. It was planned, but loosely. I didn’t think it would work out.
This is book one in The Witness Journals. What can readers expect in book two?
Oh, boy. Well, get ready. Book Two leaves Moira and jumps over to the origins of Ravage, Rafe’s foster brother and nearly invisible villain who is actually the coolest, worst dude of all time. The reader will be treated to strong hints of cyberpunk mingled with old earth magic. There will be much human experimentation and fighting for survival, plus the crushing notes of hopelessness and rage. I predict that this book series will wrap up in about seven novels – maybe eight? And each novel gives a glimpse into some part of a character’s life, weaving in and out of Moira’s main storyline, which operates as a kind of treasure map.
Author Links: GoodReads
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The Battle for Imperiana follows Meesha and her allies as they uncover a plot to restart another war which threatens Imperiana. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
In the first PATCH MAN book, I explained how the origins of the war between Imperiana and Summia began as a result of depopulation by the developer of the Labyrinth, Julius Gelfson. President Gelfson’s plan to destroy Summia is reminiscent of several of today’s world rulers who think power is the best way to get whatever they want, but power without responsibility, without compassion is simply a threat, and there will always be Meeshas of the world who will confront that threat.
Meesha is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas that guided her character development?
Throughout the first three books of the PATCH MAN series, Meesha grows both chronologically and in her maturity. We see her as a young, one-armed girl in book one who is unflagging in her optimism, but in book two, like many teenagers, she is moody and controlled by her emotions. During these first two books, Var and Zefa, her adopted Father and Mother, guide her character’s development through their unconditional love. In book three, The Battle For Imperiana, she has matured, but her love for Ten becomes her driving force. She is both fiercely independent and emotionally attached, as I suppose many of us are.
I enjoyed the detailed and intricate world you’ve built in your Patch Man series. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this book?
Two major themes are hard to miss: 1. War is destructive 2. Family can help us overcome adversity in life. Of course there are numerous subthemes as well. Balance is needed in any community if we are to live healthy, productive lives. In the book, this is shown through the loss of technological power and the rise of magical power. The Chunee are a good example of how a people have found balance in their lives. Another subtheme is a warning that children who play computer games all day may not interact well on the human level when they become adults.
This is book three in your Patch Man series. What can readers expect in book four?
Book four and book five have already been written, so I can talk to this question with some insight. Book four is Ulan’s backstory. It describes the forces and events that led her to become an assassin. Book five continues in Summia with Meesha expecting, but events soon have Meesha, Ten, Riata and Ulan thrown into a Doppelganger domain where they meet their opposites in a world no longer covered by desert but by oceans.
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Come aboard the new “Freedom III” Space Station for out of this world adventure! Once there you join up with the Agents of ISIS as they uncover the what and why of the problems that are plaguing the Station during its opening ceremonies and afterwards. By the time the first Agents arrive on the scene there has already been sabotage and mysterious murders. Help the members of the Space Station Investigations Bureau save the Freedom III Station, and the Earth!
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Outbreak follows a group of friends trying to find a safe home in a zombie wasteland. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I think it was a combination of different stories, but the main inspiration for this story is the same inspiration that made me start writing – a book called Everlost by Neal Shusterman. It was an amazing story of this boy and this girl trying to survive in a mysterious limbo world while seeking personal answers. The book pulled me in and I was developing the spark that would later ignite the writer in me. I started writing and re-writing while brainstorming what works and what doesn’t.
Sonny, Ashley and Carrie are all well-developed characters. What were some ideas that guided the groups development and relationship?
I looked and analyzed stories that weren’t just good, but great and why they were great stories. I looked for what made characters likable. Likable characters are ones that readers care about. They want good things for them and feel the intensity when they are in danger. In this dark zombie wasteland, it’s easy to lose humanity and resort to savagery. So, the idea that kids so young are not only fighting for their own survival but are fighting for their humanity. The way it is, if you have something you care about, then fight for it. Just like these three, Sonny, Ashley and Carrie fight for each other.
This novel did a great job of exploring friendships and connections between people. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Some of the themes that were important to explore in this book were figuring what to let go and what to hold on to. In a way, that’s part of growing up but the dark side in the book is in a zombie wasteland, children have to grow up faster. So, letting go of childish things like the joys of just being a kid for their own survival is something Sonny and the girls had to figure out and decide. The things they hold on to were things like love, friendship, courage, kindness, and the fire that keeps them alive inside are important because in certain environments like this, it’s almost all they have left.
This is book one in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book two?
In book two, readers can expect different things and familiar things. Without giving spoilers, the main character Sonny finds someone who has suffered loss in a severe way that most people can’t recover from. He helps her and in a way, it helps him be part of her family.