Mercedes Fox ~ Author

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Tag: Sci-Fi (Page 1 of 3)

Meet Author M. J. Lau

Halo! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author M. J. Lau

M.J. Lau was born and raised in York, PA. He has spent much of his adult life pursuing his dual goals of being a teacher and an author. He has been teaching English in Lancaster County for the past five years and is now an author with the publication of his first novel, The Buried Few.

Book sample:  The Buried Few

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Synopsis: Imagine a future where over-ambitious wars leave a generation of Americans without parents. Imagine the remaining citizens doing their best to raise grandchildren, cousins, or neighbors as their own. Imagine every child being overseen by the government, a paper trail following them from birth to adoption and beyond.

Now imagine being involved in none of that… until you find a baby, abandoned but alive, in a park. Daniel Allingham, a computer security specialist, is faced with just such a decision. Despite his efforts to wash his hands of the whole problem, he finds himself — and those close to him — further and further entrenched in a struggle against a relentless government agent.

While the personal, technological, and political issues grow more and more complex, the heart of the matter remains deceptively simple: a child, a man, and the lengths to which he’d go to set one thing right in a world of wrong.

Excerpt:  CHAPTER 1:  Lost and Found

“There you are…”

Three hours of staring at a screen and Daniel had finally isolated it: the bug in the code that kept letting government info leech out to some foreign server.  He worked up a patch in a few moments, but sent a dozen of his latest beneviruses through before sealing the wound; they would track the stolen data and turn it into jumbled pictures of kittens.  Daniel wanted to smile at himself for that, but he was still salty about there being a hole in the first place.  He had built that firewall only six months ago, and someone already managed to batter their way through it.

His head felt hot.  He rubbed the back of his neck, and his hand wandered instinctively to the tiny nodule behind his ear.  Was that bump always there?  Was it something vital, like a lymph node or a salivary gland or a Eustachian tube?  (Is that even in the ear area? He’d have to Wiki that.)  He wanted to avoid thoughts like tumor or clot, but the more he tried to keep those ideas away, the more they teased the fringes of his mind.  Whatever it was, it stirred up something deep and heavy inside him, but he couldn’t put it into words.  Or rather, he couldn’t condense it down from the thousands of words that ricocheted around his head any time he tried to make sense of it.

When Daniel first noticed the lump a few days ago, the droning of his office suddenly became muted.  The buzz and clack of computers faded out, his co-workers pantomiming conversations.  He turned his head and thought he heard the faintest sound, like when it’s so quiet your ears catch something on the farthest horizon of noise, and you wonder if you heard your name, or if someone just breathed too loud, or if there was really any sound at all.

He snapped back to the moment, scanning the dim, cavernous office area again, the blank faces of a hundred computer screens staring back at him.  Only his nondescript corner was faintly luminous, the soft blue light glowing like a child’s tablet under a sheet.  He shook his head in annoyance at himself; he knew no one else was there now. The noise was in his mind.  He had to stay focused on his work.  And what exciting work it was: improving network security for every business bigger than a car wash.  It paid all right, and he had enough rank to have some flexibility about where and when he did his work, but still, the day-to-day of it was hardly stimulating mentally.

At least he knew he would always have a job – everyone wanted more and more virtual safety measures, from the government to grocery stores.  Normally he just crunched code and collected the paycheck, regardless of the client, but this job was different.  When he was tasked with improving the encryption for the local Collection Agency, he was torn about mentioning a conflict of interest.  The rules didn’t outright say he shouldn’t do the job, and he figured half the guys in the department would be equally conflicted, so it might as well be him.  Besides, he wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the client records, so there wasn’t a legitimate reason to recuse himself.  Still, how could he resist a quick glance at his own info?  It wasn’t like he’d see anything he didn’t already have a right to know.

OK…this should only take a second.  He searched for his data number, and his screen became filled with dates, contributions, regular selections.  He was due for another contribution any day now; better this way than the alternative, he figured.  What a humiliating situation: a year ago, his whole life seemed to be right on track.  Now he found himself stuck in this program, probably forever.  At least he had the career he wanted, even if it meant working on things like this every once in a while that reminded him of –

A vibration shot up his thigh, spurring him to his feet.  Prickling with sweat, he retrieved his phone from his pocket and checked the message: “First Saturday Creator Mixer – Heywood Resort 9p-2a.  Drinks, DJ, Prizes – Guaranteed Connect!  Register ASAP!” His thumb declined the offer.

Exhaling, Daniel laughed at himself and put his fingers under his glasses to rub his eyes.  He needed to get away from all this.  He smoothed the hair down at the base of his neck, consciously stopping himself from feeling for the lump, which of course made him think about it and set the thought-storm churning again.  Weary and irked, he shut his computer down, slid his papers in his courier bag, and took the long walk down to the lobby.  The guards down front weren’t in their usual sociable mood when they did their standard security checks, and Daniel wasn’t much up for banter either, so they all just slogged through the motions.

Stepping outside, Daniel paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust to the brightness.  Daylight always made him self-conscious; he was hoping it would be dark by the time he left work.  Daniel sported the stooped frame, undefined midsection, and sallow complexion requisite for his field.  His black-rimmed glasses were fashionably retro, and his only nod to nonconformity was his lip ring, along with everyone else.

His lenses darkened after thirty seconds, but the sun still glowered faintly behind the tree line of Mordecai Park.  The fields and playgrounds across the street seemed like a distant world, a place forgotten behind the sea of concrete and waves of driverless cars before him.  He stepped up to the curb and summoned a vehicle to pick him up.  When he felt the warm afternoon breeze, though, Daniel decided to forgo the ride and reacquaint himself with an old habit.  It had been months since he’d taken that shaded path through the park, back when he took walks all the time with–

“Excuse me, could you hold this?” a woman asked, holding a large bag up to his chest.

Daniel looked over the heavily burdened woman, and then shook his head into the present.  “Of course, yeah,” he said, gripping the handles.  “Oh, I didn’t–” he cleared his throat.  “Go ahead,” he said, gesturing toward the waiting car.

He felt deeply relieved to have his hands occupied, because he felt completely awkward standing there, watching this woman slowly positioned her very pregnant person, one angle at a time, near, beside, and then into the idling vehicle.  He tried not to stare at her red cheeks, the strain on her face, her quick breathing.  She waggled her fingers at him.  His heart raced.  He forced a smile: “No, thank you, I’m walking.”

“My bag?”

His membership to self-contempt renewed itself.  “Right.  Sorry,” he said, handing her the bag and then closing the door for her.   He waved to her to complete the awkwardness trifecta.

He drove his fists into his pockets and crossed the street hurriedly, then replayed the last two minutes over and over in his head a few times.  He was never a distracted person before, but ever since he lost Renee… no, he wasn’t going to bring that up again.  Just push that thought to the back of your mind, Daniel.  Right back there by that weird lump – he sighed heavily.  He was not going to win this battle.

Not that he would truly put Renee out of his head if he wanted to – that’s probably why his jerk brain kept bringing her to the surface.  Still, he asked himself, what was the point?  What conversation could he ever have with her that he hadn’t had a hundred times already, just like this?  It seemed strange that he could still have so much to say to her, after how much talking they’d done on evenings just like this, strolling through the park, or eating dinner at home, or fighting after he washed her dry-clean-only jacket.  He laughed in spite of himself.  During better times, he would consider that a sign of their bond; now such thoughts were fresh lye in old wounds.

As the path began to slope up, the sounds from the playground began to carry from the top of the hill ahead.  Daniel looked up and saw children running around in the distance, little creatures climbing and tumbling and laughing.  Daniel thought of the crowds of parents inevitably watching soccer matches and couples cozied up on benches just over the hill.  He decided to cut left through the woods to avoid even the possibility of such sights.

Suddenly, a series of beeps resonated from his pocket.  Daniel pulled out his phone and automatically punched in his data number.  His SafCom app indicated that he wasn’t taking his usual route home and offered to redirect him.  He entered his override code and set the maximum delay – fifteen minutes – before it would check for his coordinates again.  He rolled his eyes at the need for such safety precautions, but felt comforted that someone, if only a device, showed concern for his whereabouts.  They had a joke at the office: If you ever felt like no one cared about you, just let your SafCom warnings go unanswered.

He ambled down the path into the thickest part of the woods – or as close to woods as you can get in downtown San Francisco.  Once he reached a fully shaded stretch, Daniel felt a surge of relief.  A faint dampness eased around him, and the cooler air loosened his muscles.  He began to remember why he used to love coming to the park in the first place – the daily walks always unknotted the worries of the day, and the sight of other people, even from far away, used to make him feel less alone.

Around the towering trees he felt so small, like he was a boy again, and more than once he let his boyishness possess his gait as he wandered around the trees.  Once fall came, he would gather a small pile of leaves with scuffing footsteps until his shoes were buried, and he would pretend he was a tree growing out of the ground, ageless and wise, unable to be uprooted.  Lost in the daydream, he only vaguely remembered a world going on outside the surrounding trees.  Everything beyond a few feet seemed muted in a calm and timeless way.  Muted?  Daniel thought.  Wait a minute… where did all the sounds go?

His eyes searched their peripheries.  His fingers fluttered at his sides.  He didn’t even hear his inner monologue.  Slowly cocking his head to the side, he tried to pick up the distant trills of children’s laughter and stock encouragements from half-attentive parents, rhythmic jogging banter and the quarrelsome tittering of birds.  Instead, he heard only the faint keening of silence, like a TV left on with nothing on the screen.

He looked up at the trees arching above him.  The breeze that had been stirring the branches faded.  The subtle chafing of the foliage had stopped.  The sun knifed around the thick limb above him, streaking out at angles but somehow still stinging his eyes.  He raised his hand reflexively, stepping back into the crunch of leaves behind him.  The sound startled him, but then just as quickly calmed him, since he momentarily feared he had gone deaf.

He looked down at the leaves enveloping his shoe, and he smiled to himself unconsciously.  He kept his foot planted there a lingering moment, admiring now the stillness of the air, and enjoying the embrace of the quiet woods.

Just then, Daniel heard a faint noise, like a stifled cry.  He paused and looked toward the sound, but saw only trees, leaves, grass.  A breeze moving through branches.  Maybe a kid fell at the playground.  He shrugged it off.

The lilt of a birdsong drifted through the air as Daniel resumed walking.  After a few steps, he heard it again: a half-whimper pierced the silence, sounding closer than before.  Daniel held his breath.  Waited.  Nothing.  The quiet clutched at his chest—where was the sound?  He looked uphill through the trees toward the clearing; he could make out people flying kites and walking in twos and reading on benches, only they seemed farther away than before.  Much too far to match the nearness of that last quivering whine.

Daniel swallowed hard.  He stepped off the path, toward the noise.  He reached a clearing where a breach in the canopy let some light filter down to the thin underbrush.

A choked gasp.  He froze.  From seemingly nowhere, he heard a staggered sob—the unmistakable staccato cry of an infant.

That was not some voice, he told himself.  That was not in your head.  Daniel’s skin tingled, and the cool air made his throbbing skull ache.  He heard a struggling breath, and a longer, more ardent wail.  His heart began to hammer in his chest.  He looked around, but nothing was close enough to match the intensity of the sound.

Hunched over, Daniel crept across the clearing, feeling completely ridiculous.  Another cry rose up, higher pitch and nearer yet.  He shuffled his feet violently through some leaves, thick around the nearby trees, but turned up nothing.  The sobbing gained momentum now, muffled but steady.  Every way Daniel looked or moved, the crying grew closer, more impassioned.  The gasps came in ragged pulls.  The silences between stabbed deeper at him every time.

Sliding to a stop, Daniel could now feel the ground beneath him trembling with the forcefulness of the crying.  He unslung his bag and fell to his knees.  Clutching at leaves in wild fistfuls, he cleared the ground and clawed at the dying grass and damp loam near the foot of a towering birch tree.  The crying sounded so close it seemed on top of him.  Or that he was on top of it.

Raking at the soil with his fingers, he created a few shallow furrows in the dirt.  He soon formed a hole, gouging at the earth with each shuddering cry.  He worked on widening the fist-sized hole, scratching against the edges.  He caught a fingernail on a hair-thin root, tearing the nail half off his middle finger.

He cursed through gritted teeth, shaking his left hand vainly to dispel the pain.  He clamped his hand against his right side with his arm, his mind racing.  Another SafCom warning beeped from his pants, trilling relentlessly this time.  He fumbled for his pocket, grasping clumsily for the edges of his phone.  Another cry shook the ground at his knees. The phone fell free from his side, and he tried frantically to enter his code with his off-hand.  He failed twice, sending the beeps up several octaves.  Panicking, he ripped the battery off the back and tossed the parts aside.

The cries continued, but he was barely getting anywhere.  He needed to dig faster.  He rifled awkwardly through his bag for something he could use.  What was he going to dig with, his laptop?  A highlighter?  He threw the bag aside in frustration.  It landed near a mossy log, where he then spotted a sturdy, pointed stick.  Daniel seized it and began hacking at the ground.  The edges grew by choppy degrees, now as wide as a cabbage, now as deep as his forearm.

Must. Dig. Faster.

One vicious swing struck at an awkward angle. Daniel pitched forward and quickly caught himself.  He stopped for a second, trembling from his frenzied state.  He didn’t hear anything coming from the ground now.  What if I gouged too hard and hurt whatever was crying?  he thought.  Wait… do I really think something is underground?

He held his breath a moment.  He wanted to make sure the wailing hadn’t stopped.  That he wasn’t hearing it just because it was etched in his thoughts.  Just then, a quaking breath was drawn, and a desperate shriek reverberated up through the hole.  Daniel threw the stick aside and dug back in with his hands, unflinching as more soil went black with his blood from every scoop.

Soon the dirt began to feel looser beneath his fingers.  He clawed across the bottom of the elbow-deep hole, and the rich, dark soil moved in telling clumps, as if there were space just beneath.  Daniel forced his fingers through like a blade and drew back a mass of loose earth, the ground breaking all around his hand into a small cavity below.

He looked into the dim opening, straining to make out its secrets.  Nestled in the black and crumbling recess beneath the tree, it was just barely visible—pink, warm, and impossibly alive:  a naked and utterly transfixed baby boy.

Why do you write? I write for many of the same reasons as everyone else – to get something off my chest, to organize my thoughts, to explain, to entertain.  I’m a teacher, so I write a lot for my job, and I try to impress upon my students that writing is a life skill, not a specialized art that only a select few people actually perform.  Ultimately, I am most driven to write because writing helps me feel like I matter, like I have a voice, and that I can make an impression on the world if I just put my thoughts out there and connect with others through my stories.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I’ve thought about being a writer since I was about 14, when my high school English teachers started to notice I had some talent with words and encouraged my creative flourishes, however misguided, when I wrote for school.  I wrote for fun, too, but mostly for my own amusement, like comics about my day.  Once, I wrote – and attempted to film – a movie with a friend right after graduating high school, but we never completed it.  In college, I wrote several short stories, poems, and even a historical research article that were all published; several poems won prizes, and I earned a writing scholarship for my academic work.  So the thought of becoming a writer has been bouncing around my head for about twenty years, but only recently did I actually decide to commit to becoming a writer rather than just thinking it would always be some unfulfilled dream.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  Considering that I’ve only completed one book, and it took me five years (off and on) to do so, my average isn’t looking very impressive right now!  I do have several other novels started, though, and I project that I will finish my second book within a year, and perhaps produce more books at a roughly annual rate.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  My stories usually start out when I get an idea and just start running with it.  I eventually hit a point where I either lose steam or realize the story needs more coherence for me to continue.  That’s when I start mapping out the plot and trying to connect the random dots I sketched out.  I’m frequently surprised by how I manage to tie together various scenes or concepts that weren’t necessarily related initially.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? I used Fiverr.com to find a graphic designer for my book cover.  I went with a woman named Angie (pro_ebookcovers) who had a lot of positive reviews and reasonable pricing.  I gave her my “vision”, chose the images I wanted her to incorporate, and provided examples of existing book covers that captured the general style I was going for.  She was very accommodating, did as many revisions as I asked for, and produced all the files I need for the print book and the Kindle edition.  It was a very fun process!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Yes – read this article by Hugh Howey: http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/154821781295/so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-by-hugh-howey?ref_=ac_bl_hh.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Finding the time!  I did have moments when I wasn’t sure how to wrap up a scene or plot thread, but mostly I just had too many other priorities demanding my attention.  I’ve learned to make time for the important things, and writing (usually) makes the “important things” list.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  I don’t have a specific favorite movie, but some of my favorites include Fight Club, The Departed, The Big Lebowski, and The Princess Bride.  My favorite TV show is LOST.  The writing was phenomenal (for the first five seasons, anyway)!

Which writers inspire you?  My favorite current authors are Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, and Junot Diaz.  Shakespeare will always be the greatest, in my mind.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  My next novel will be part of a fantasy series.  It involves a family that has magic in a recently conquered empire where magic-users are now being hunted down.  I also recently started drafting a book with my son, based on this really interesting plot we developed during a car ride.  We were batting around the idea of kids being trapped in a video game, which they enjoy at first, but then realize they can’t escape!

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?  Great question!  When I was writing this book, I often saw it in my head as a movie, so I think about this frequently.  My gut answer is that I’d prefer to have mostly unknown actors and actresses, based on their fit for the role rather than on star power.  But, just so future casting agents have a general idea, here are some suggestions: Daniel would be played by John Cho (of “Harold and Kumar” fame).  Gozzum would be Mahershala Ali.  I would really want to get the female roles right, because they’re the most interesting, in my opinion; Renee would be someone cool and edgy like Cameron Esposito.  I’d like to see if Q’orianka Kilcher could handle the intensity of Tenebre.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? I am a HUGE history fan, so this is a question I ponder a lot.  I tend to lean toward the obvious – Julius Caesar, Jesus, Shakespeare – but whenever I hear about some unfamiliar historic event, I usually want to go back there meet the people involved.  Recently, I’ve wanted to meet Enrique of Malacca, Magellan’s slave during his circumnavigation of the globe.  Magellan gets all the credit for sailing around the world, but it’s arguable that Enrique crossed every line of longitude (i.e. circled the globe) before the end of the voyage.  Either way, he traveled to exotic places and saw so many lands unspoiled by modernity – just hearing about his experiences would be incredible.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  End global warming so there’s still a world for my future grandchildren to enjoy.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?  Is there any living writer who doesn’t wish they had come up with Harry Potter?

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  You have to make time to write.  Nobody is going to carve out that time for you – you have to do it for yourself.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  My favorite books include The Catcher in the Rye, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  The main quality they all have in common is a unique, dynamic voice.  Each book is instantly convincing, and spellbinding the whole way through.

Tell us something unique about you.  I’ve moved more than anyone I know… 26 times!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?  Yes – thank you for taking this time to interview me.  Authors need to support each other, and I appreciate you helping me reach new readers!

There ya have it folks! Many thanks MJ for coming by! For more about MJ, his work, and to get yourself a copy, follow the links below:

Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author Ethan Howard

Hello! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Ethan Howard

Ethan Howard is a graduate from Rutgers University with an English and Political Science degree. Once an alternative school teacher, a combat veteran, and a former psychological consultant, he is now a director of a social service program for the homeless youths. He lives in the San Diego area with his wife and son. In his spare time, he writes every chance gets, reads, plays board games, and cheers for the New England Patriots.

Book sample:  Starry Messenger

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Synopsis: Starry Messenger is about a stranger from the stars sent by his masters to Earth to learn why civilization has not advanced to their expectations. The stranger named Quentin discovers the reasons behind the planet’s stagnation. He slowly realizes his masters have not been truthful about the mission and Earth is in grave danger from insidious forces.

The story is book one of a four-part series called Opportvnvs Adest. In my story, I explain the origins behind legends, myths, fairy tales, and folklore. I venture into why the world is littered with so many fantastic unexplained things like the pyramids, Stonehenge, the Bermuda Triangle, etc. and challenges the things we have been taught from it in a big way.

Sample:  Quentin reluctantly turned his thoughts from Regina to his true mission. Why had they not developed space travel? Humans attempted it several times years ago, but now it is no longer a priority. What stopped them? Could the Degans have affected this planet to such a degree? It certainly would not be the first time. Whenever a civilization failed to reach their full potential, it was always the Degans.

Questions needing answers.

I will meet with Aron tomorrow. Now this body needs rest.

Quentin fell asleep and immediately began to dream. He saw himself on a devastated planet with smoking ruins and dead bodies piled up by hundreds. An empty burned out spacecraft represented a promise unfulfilled.

One word resonated in his mind. Quentin woke up in the dark and screamed, “Blight!”

 Again? I have had the same dream since my arrival on Earth.

What does it have to do with me or my mission?

More questions. Quentin began to feel a sharp pain in his head. He got out of the bed. Sleep was no longer an option.

Why do you write?  The sheer joy of creating stories and characters. This an outlet for an over active imaginative mind that never stops thinking about endless possibilities.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I thought about it for years, but when I truly decided to write was in 2012 when I came home from the Middle East and realized it was time for a new challenge.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  6-7 months.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  Talking to my wife in the kitchen about writing and she said “Why don’t you start writing? There’s nothing stopping you.” I started that night.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?  Best time for me is late Friday and late Saturday night. After I have spent my time with family and everyone is tucked in, I start writing.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  I have read hundreds of books for enjoyment in the past. Now, I go back and STUDY them. Meaning, I look HOW someone writes. Tone, foreshadowing, structure, etc.  Alan Moore, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, H.G. Wells are just a few of my teachers.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I listen to music on my iPod. I enjoy all kinds of music, but for writing the content I have, it is very specific. Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones, Godsmack, 311, Godsmack, Sevendust, CKY, Korn, Papa Roach all put me in a creative state of mind. Go figure.

What have you written?

Tales of the Unexpected

Starry Messenger

Enemy of The Human Race

Know Thy Self

End of All Things

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  Always outline the plots first. Create profiles and detailed histories on the character—even if I do not show the histories to the reader. Once I know the characters inside and out, the dialogue is considerably easier to write.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  Julia Sage is my designer. She is terrific. Detailed, professional, timely, and patient. Oh, and she is a nice person too.

Julia Sage Photography and Talent Promotion   @juliasagephotography

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?  Scheduling book signings with local book store. Great way to interact with the public and actively promote your product.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Keep writing. Write for yourself. SOMEONE will read it and SOMEONE will like it.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  Quentin is very complex and we can all relate to him. Yes, he is an alien with great power but the reader can see his/herself in him. He is isolated, lonely, and full of doubt. He questions authority and is confused by his own action. He rebels and does the very thing his superiors tell him not to do. I think there is a little of Quentin in all of us.

Where do your ideas come from?  Traveling the world. Reading everything I can. Talking to diverse people and getting their opinions on life itself. Staring up at the sky and just imagining.

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Devoting the proper time to do it and balancing the rest of your life.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?  Coming to the end and saying goodbye to the characters.

What is your favorite movie or TV show?  Favorite movie: LA Confidential.

Which writers inspire you?  Too many to count but I will give you one: Alan Moore.

What is the current book you are promoting?  All four books in the Opportvnvs Adest series are now out. Binge reading at its finest.

  1. Starry Messenger
  2. Enemy of The Human Race.
  3. Know Thy Self
  4. End Of All Things.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?  Quentin, for the reasons I stated earlier.

Who is your least favorite character and why?  Dante Tate. He is a ten-year-old boy who I wish was not such a little pain.

Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school?  Studied creative writing in college.

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?

Quentin: Idris Alba

Regina Tate: Ruth Wilson

Rex Talion: Jason Isaacs

What is your next project?  Opportvnvs Adest series created an entire universe of worlds and characters. I am finishing a encyclopedia ( A-Z) with every character, world, weapon, item, directly, or indirectly related to the stories.

The other project (and the most enjoyable) is a timeline for my alternative universe. This ambitious time line begins 4.6 billion years ago and ends 2020 CE.  It gives you a crash course on the Opportvnvs Adest Earth. Everything from the pyramids to the Kennedy assassination is in there. Unexplained, weird things throughout history are explained.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?  Professor John Robinson from the Lost in Space. He was the perfect blend of brains and brawn. He was brave, heroic, and a family man.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?  Homelessness.

Who inspires your writing?  Alan Moore. Richard Matheson. Ernest Hemmingway. Henry James. Ray Bradbury. Ian Fleming. Phillip K. Dick. Lewis Carroll. Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells. Mary Shelly. John Wyndham. Isaac Asimov. Stan Lee.

Where do you come up with your stories?  By studying history. I tried to explain the unexplained by putting a science fiction/fantasy twist on it.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?  Casino Royale. Ian Fleming created one of the most iconic, most imitated, characters in the last one hundred years. And it turned into a billion-dollar movie franchise. Not bad.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?  Save your work in several places! Including on a pin drive. Listen to your editor. I started out with Latin titles for my books. I did a live interview and host and audience could not pronounce the names.

Do have a favorite car or truck model?  BMW 325i.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes?  No. It is a natural instinct in all creatures on Earth. Whenever I write a scene like that, I make sure it fits the story and not just gratuitous smut.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  The Martian Chronicles. Frankenstein. Old Man & The Sea. Portrait of a Lady. The Iliad. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A Tale of Two Cities. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The Day of the Triffids. War of The Worlds. I, Robot. Rabbit Run. Lord of the Flies. Just great reads.

Are you currently reading a book or just finished one?  The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel. This fine piece of literature catalogs fantasy lands from literature around the world.

What do your readers mean to you?  They keep me in line. They deserve a good story and no shortcuts. Ever.

There ya have it folks! For more about Ethan, his work, and getting your copy, follow the links below:

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author Pete Planisek

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Pete Planisek

Pete Planisek lives in Columbus, OH, where he teaches English, runs Enceladus Literary LLC, and is co-host of an entertainment podcast called Hindsight is 20-20. He received his Masters from Ohio University where he founded a student literary arts magazine called Recently Eclipsed. He has published newspaper articles and is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association.  He served for seven years as adviser/co-adviser to a NCTE award winning student literary arts publication.  Frankenstein A Life Beyond was his debut novel.

He has two published works in his Resurrection Trinity series titled Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) and Frankenstein Soul’s Echo (Book 2 of 3) and won a 2016 Silver Honoree IBPA Benjamin Franklin Digital Book Award for his children’s fantasy book titled Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm.

Enjoy this book sample: Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

Genres: Fiction, Literary fiction, Horror, Historical fiction, Romance fiction, Sci-Fi fiction

Blurb:  Ten years after the loss of his entire family to madness and death, Ernest Frankenstein finds himself compelled to return to the city of his birth, Geneva, in order to discover if his elder brother, Victor, might still be alive. Only Victor can provide the answers to questions, which have long plagued Ernest. The quest for answers will force Ernest to confront demons, both internal and external, from his past, which refuse to be at peace and which ultimately will endanger both he and his new family. Hunted across Europe their only hope may lie with a French spy, Ernest’s childhood friend, and a mysterious gypsy girl whose people believe that Ernest will lead humanity to its salvation or final destruction.

Frankenstein A Life Beyond by Pete Planisek is a direct sequel to Mary Shelley’s iconic story, Frankenstein, which examined Victor Frankenstein’s quest to both create and kill an unnamed creature that ultimately destroys all but one member of the Frankenstein family, Victor’s brother, Ernest. Frankenstein A Life Beyond explores many of the issues left open by the original, while establishing new characters and mysteries.

Excerpt:  “Your neighbor’s death was an accident, nothing more.”

So this monster had followed him back to Geneva. What all had he witnessed there?

“If his death is so trivial, then explain how he died.”

There was only the briefest of pauses.

“Fear,” was the solitary answer.

Ernest’s breath was now escaping in short bursts, and a cold sweat clung to his skin.

“Of what?”

“Of what you are seeing, right now.”

He felt it, before he saw it. A hand had reached through the curtain to clasp Ernest’s wrist. No, it was not such a commonplace sight which beset his eyes; it was anything but.

At least twice the size of a normal man’s hand, it encompassed not only Ernest’s wrist, but a portion of his arm as well. It was shriveled and mummified, the skin of a nearly translucent nature, which made visible the networks of veins and muscles throughout. The cruel nature inherent of the claw-like fingers, capped by blackened nails, was re-enforced by the strength of the grip. It felt as if Death itself clutched Ernest. Were it not for the visible movement of blood and the controlled beat of the pulse, he would have claimed that he was restrained by a corpse.

“What you seek awaits you in Ingolstadt,” the voice wheezed, “Find the clues, Uncle, so our destinies can be fulfilled.”

The pressure from the fingers increased. Ernest wanted to scream, but found himself too frightened to utter a sound.

Why do you write? It’s an essential part of who I am.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book? Honestly, it just depends on the book. Some of my writing projects have lasted years but I’ve also written a full draft of a children’s book in a single day.  A variety of factors can impact the creation time for a book but as long as you invest yourself in the process and keep writing your project will get done.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I know when I first started writing when I was young a lot of the stories where very comedic and over the top.  I’ve always had a pretty unique sense of humor and I think writing initially gave me a means to express and explore it. As I’ve matured as a person and an author, I find inspiration from a much more diverse set of experiences, resources, artistic mediums, and a desire to explore the possibilities of being an author. I never know where inspiration will come from but I know now it’s important to embrace it when it does because you never know where it will lead you as an artist. I’ve also learned to trust myself more than I once did by trying to judge less and listen more, be it to people or my own instincts as an author.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? I almost always write to music. I actually have entire scenes in my stories that were created around specific songs.  Sometimes I just use music to help get me in the mood to write.

What have you written? I have published two fiction novels, one award winning children’s chapter book, and a host of short stories and poems. I’ve also written for blogs and a newspaper.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I’m much more apt to just see where an idea takes me when writing a short story or poem than I am if I’m working on a novel. Outlining is great but you also have to let a story develop as you write. Outlines can help guide and create structure but shouldn’t be viewed as an absolute. Play!

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? I’ve designed the basic concept and layout for each of my books but the final covers have been a collaboration with a photographer, Scott Coons, and an illustrator, Elizabeth Nordquest.

Any advice for aspiring authors? Your worst story is the one you don’t write. We grow by practicing and expanding our skills as writers. If you’re not writing, you tend to stagnate.  Not everything you write will be brilliant or will be something you want to publish but everything you write can help you to mature as an artist.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? Ernest Frankenstein and the creature have some interesting parallels. They are both survivors struggling for answers about the past and seeking a way forward in their lives, both are connected and weighted down by their relationship to Victor, and they are bound in unique ways as “family.”

What is the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Writing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series is a bit daunting because of all the plotlines I need to resolve and because I know I’ll be saying goodbye to characters who have been with me for years.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Abrielle is probably my favorite character to write because she is so complex.  Her background and life leading up to the events in the books has been so dark, difficult, at once sympathetic and unnerving, and wholly interesting that it’s a lot of fun to figure out how she’ll respond to certain characters, conflicts, and situations throughout the Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity novel series. She tends to surprise both me as a writer and the reader.

What is your next project? I have two short stories I’d like to finish before returning to completing Book 3 of my Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series. I also am working on getting my first children’s picture book underway.

Do you have any fur babies to brag about? I have two “fur babies.” My dog, August (Auggie) is a rescue schnauzer and I have a stray cat, Asoka. They’ve both got personality to spare and when they’re getting along (both want plenty of lap time) I call them The A-Team.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? The Frankenstein The Resurrection Trinity series books are actually allowing me to kind of explore what I would have done if I’d penned aspects of Mary Shelley’s classic. If I had to pick another book, it would probably be either Self- Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson (nonfiction) or The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (fiction) because both inherently ask the reader to go deeper into themselves and the texts.

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer? Perseverance. You’ll get writers block, get negative responses/feedback, have failed marketing strategies, and face general setbacks but if you believe in your work, foster a support network, are realistic with yourself, practice patience, and adopt the right attitude then no obstacle is insurmountable.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? I’ve only written a few but no I don’t feel self-conscious.  My scenes are typically major turning points for character development so there’s more than just sex going on in them. I find them fun to write.

What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing? I think both can be viable routes for writers to get their works out to a larger audience. It really comes down to the goals of both the writer and publisher. As long as an author does their homework and makes an informed decision, and is willing to put effort into the publication and marketing process, they can be successful with either publishing model.

Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published? I think there can be. People sometimes associate self-published with poor quality, and while this can be the case for some books (traditional or self-published), more often than not, self-published books are just as well-crafted and creative as traditionally published works.

What book are you currently reading or just finished? Montana 1948 by Larry Watson and A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Is there a book you love you’d like to recommend to others? The Moor by Laurie R King and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Tell us something unique about you. I love to hike, travel, cook, garden, photography, one day I’d love to try and climb a mountain, and am great at doing different character voices spontaneously.

There ya have it folks! For more about Pete, his work, and to get your own copy, follow the links below:

Youtube / Publisher / Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Amazon / Goodreads / Barnes&Noble / iBOokStore / Smashwords / Kobo

Meet Author Shawn Barnard

Hallo, lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Shawn Barnard

Shawn Barnard is a fiction author from St. Louis, MO. He lives in Imperial, MO with his amazing wife (who puts up with his insanity), and his two beautiful daughters.

Book Title: Reaper’s War (Book #1 Reaper’s War series)

Genre: Sci/fi action

Synopsis:  Hero or killer? This question has plagued Cole Ryan’s mind for years. A life of tragic events beginning when he was only fourteen, have put him in the middle of a war he never wanted to be a part of. It all started in a mental facility his parents dumped him in. That’s where he found out he wasn’t sick. That’s where he learned he’s telepathic, and that he can teleport.
From the mental facility, to a secret government training facility, Cole’s life would only become worse. Codenamed “Ares,” Cole would be torturously trained to become the deadliest assassin in the world. With no desire to be an obedient killing machine, Cole devised a plan to escape the grasp of his captors, and to do something they never expected.
He will not run. He will not hide. Cole will fight to the bitter end to stop the people that did this to him. Taking on the mantle of the vigilante that will come to be known as the Reaper, Cole will fight this war that has now been forced upon him. It’s his war now, Reaper’s War.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  I try to keep myself to a strict schedule. My goal is to have a first draft completed within three months. If I don’t move through quickly, I feel like I start to lose the story and the writing can become stale. Once the first draft is complete, I am also currently do my own editing. That process usually takes me around a month to two months. Once that process is complete, I have a few people that act as my beta readers. They look for any mistakes I may have missed. For them to read and get back to me, and for me to fix any final mistakes takes around another month. So, overall, writing a book for me takes right around six months.

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  Music is necessary for me when I write. It helps me get in the right frame of mind for the scene at hand. From using harder rock or metal to write my action scenes, to slower more emotional music to help with the more intimate and emotional scenes. Music always seems to keep me in the frame of mind I need to keep the words flowing.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  I’d say a little of both. Once I have the idea, the most important thing to me is the characters. That’s where my only outlining comes in. I write a short character bio for the main players in the story. This helps me get in the mindset for actions and dialogue for that character’s scenes. Other than that, I just let story take me where it wants to go.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  I think what makes Cole so unique is that he isn’t your typical hero. He’s not the guy you are going to bet on. He’s damaged and emotionally unstable. His life has been hell since he was five years old. Cole wants to do the right thing, but doesn’t always know how. His go to problem solving is to kill, and that can make him seem like a villain instead.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?  I am currently working on the second installment of the Reaper’s War series. Without giving away too much from the first for potential readers, I can try to tease a little. The second book will begin with Cole in a much better place in life than he has ever known. With good of course, comes bad as well. Cole has come to rely heavily on Abraham’s inventions, and has begun to stray from Nakata’s teachings. A new adversary, more deadly than Cole has ever faced, is coming to destroy everything Cole has built. Left physically, and mentally broken from their first encounter. It will be up to the team to put Cole back together, and a new character to take him back to the basics.

What is your next project? Once the second installment is complete and published. I plan to take a step back from the series for a moment. I have a lot of project ideas written in my notebook. It will be tough to decide which one gets to come up to bat next, but I feel this early in my career it’s a must that I show I can do more than just one series.

Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? I can say that the first time I held my copy of Reaper’s War in my hand, it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. It was really a holy shit moment for me. I wrote this, and I’m holding it as an actual book in my hands. I have not read it though, simply because I’ve read the story around a dozen times during the editing process. Once you’ve done that whole process, it kind of kills the desire to read that book, at least for me.

What do your readers mean to you?  Everything, every author desires to have their work appreciated. I’m a new author, Reaper’s War is my first book, and I don’t have a large following to speak of. I believe around fifty people in total have read the book. It’s humbling to discover just how hard it is to find readers. I didn’t come into this thinking that everyone in the world was going to just flock immediately to my writing. It’s a long and hard to become a popular author. I feel I have what it takes to take the hits along the way, and I look forward to gaining more readers no matter how long it takes.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  Yes, thank you for the opportunity of doing this interview. I always enjoy connecting with new people within the business. I again would like to sincerely thank anyone that has taken the time to read my work, and thank you in advance to anyone that decides to give reaper’s War a chance from reading this interview.

Many thanks for sharing Shawn! For more about Shawn and to get your own copy of his works, follow the links below:

Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon

Meet Author Elle Otero

Hola lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with guest author Elle Otero

Elle Otero grew up on the central coast of California, just outside of the San Francisco bay area. She has since settled near the waters of the Elkhorn Slough Estuary in California, where she draws inspiration for her writing. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and a menagerie of other creatures, including a cat, doves, chickens, and fish.

Elle has a professional background in higher education as an instructional designer and technology trainer. Despite her technical writing roots, she always considered herself a storyteller, from writing short stories as a teen to articles for her college newspaper.

She began writing her first novel as a part of the 2015 NaNoWriMo challenge, and over a year later, completed the draft for her debut novel, Out of the Efrenen Sea. She has since published several installments for the In Caves and Catacombs series of short stories, available to purchase now on Amazon and free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

Book Sample:  The Grave  Preorder your copy on April 20, 2017

Genre: Apocalyptic fiction (Science fiction)

Something dark is happening to Damian’s coastal California town. As a homeless veteran on the outskirts of society, he and his faithful dog, Wolf, are determined to stay the hell out of it. But when the viral outbreak hits home, Damian, Wolf, and his long-time friend Frog must push their skills past their breaking point to survive.

An indirect sequel to “The Boat”, “The Grave” takes readers through the apocalypse with new eyes, bringing them one step closer to where it all began.

When did you decide to become a writer?  I’ve decided to be a writer over and over. I first announced I would be a writer when I was about ten years old. I came up with a rather dark story about adults that were drug addicts, and my mother suggested I write about “what I know”. I didn’t know very much, so I stuck to making up fairy tales for my younger brothers instead.

I decided I would be a writer again when I was sixteen. I had a very encouraging English teacher who made an impact in time for me to start filling out college applications for English degree programs. Then life got in the way, and I focused on getting a bachelor’s in communication and a graduate degree in instructional design instead.

Eventually, I found myself working in a college library where I trained instructors in classroom technology, and I began pining after the writing career I never had. I’d like to think the third time was the charm, and that’s when I participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge. Out of that came my first novel (which I’m still editing), and now my second short story is launching on April 20th, 2017 on Amazon.

How long does it usually take you to complete a book?  So far, it’s taken nearly two years for me to get close to completing my debut, full-length novel, but my short stories have been completed much faster. I’ve been able to complete a short story every four to six months, which includes everything, from coming up with the concept and writing the first draft to editing, cover design, and marketing. My goal is to get my novel timeline down from two years to one full year to launch, but I won’t do that at the expense of quality, so we’ll have to see how realistic that goal is!

Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write?  I can’t stand having the TV on in the background when I’m writing! It really kills my ability to think. But music, on the other hand, really works for me. I like really broody alternative rock music and tend to play the same album over and over to evoke a particular mood. Some of my favorite musicians to write to include the Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, and a Perfect Circle, although sometimes I’ll throw in a little Chopin or Beethoven if I’m stuck.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?  One of my biggest writing revelations has been the importance of using outlines. I absolutely must use those to stay on track and complete my projects! That being said, my outlines are never rigid. Quite often, my characters will hijack my story and take it down a totally different (and always more authentic) path. When that happens, I’ll go through and adjust my outline accordingly so my plots have consistency.

Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website?  I’ve designed all of my book covers myself. I use a Photoshop-like program called Pixlr to take my own photos and layer/filter them until I get the effect I want. I live close to several highly photogenic areas as I’m right by the beach, so getting the photos to edit hasn’t been a challenge.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?  I’ll refer to the protagonist in my current release, “The Grave”. Damian is as bright as he is loyal. He has the ability to see solutions to problems that not everyone would think of, and he has his friend’s best interests at heart. He’s not afraid to make hard choices, and he will always take the hard road before he’ll compromise his morals.

What is your next project?  I always have several projects going, and I have a total of six planned short stories from the “In Caves & Catacombs” series. The next short story is “The City”, and you can look for that in early Fall 2017.

I’m also hoping to finish my edits and release the novel, “Out of the Efrenen Sea” in Winter 2017, but I may pursue traditional publishing with that one, which would completely change the timeline.

Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes?  Oh Lord, yes! It’s really difficult to determine what is appropriate versus what is gratuitous. I have to ask myself what the purpose is in adding the scene, and make sure it’s authentic as opposed to just being titillating. I’m not in the business of selling erotica (although I’d imagine I’d make quite a bit more money, and I’m not ethically opposed, so down the line, who knows?).

Also, several members of my family read my work, so there’s that. Nobody wants to horrify their mother. MF: It’s actually easier than you’d think LOL! Mine found my work when I was a kid and I had to answer questions about if I was doing what I wrote. She knew where I picked it up, from the movies, music, and books I read, I was not censored. Now, she reads my book and looks at my Father and says “She’s your daughter…” Needless to say, I’m not very shy.

What book are you currently reading or just finished?  I recently finished “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen, and am currently reading “The Neighbor” by Lisa Gardner.

I really enjoyed “One Second After” as it’s in a similar category as my short story series (apocalyptic fiction). It’s a great story, and it’s incredibly valuable in terms of research. The guy who wrote it really knows his stuff! Whenever a book makes me cry, I know it’s a slam-dunk, and I cried twice. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series!

“The Neighbor” is very different in that it’s a crime thriller, which is another genre I read often. I absolutely love Gardner’s writing style and her extremely realistic characters. I can really picture myself in the shoes of her leading lady, and I love (LOVE) strong female leads. I’m looking forward to crying at the end of this one too, haha!

What do your readers mean to you?  It’s hard to describe the relationship I have with my readers. I haven’t seen any in person as I’m at the beginning of my writing career and haven’t done any book signings yet, but I can tell you that every single time I get a review or a rating, I am absolutely, positively thrilled. I’m really hoping that as my books get more of a readership that they’ll reach out to me and share how it makes them feel or what they thought. I’ll often go through Goodreads forums and see how people are interacting and talking about their favorite books, and I fantasize that someday they’ll be talking about my characters like that!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?  To learn more about me and my upcoming releases, check out my website and blog at www.elleotero.com. I’m also very active on social media, so readers can connect on my facebook page (www.facebook.com/elleoteroauthor) or on twitter (@elleoteroauthor).

Many thanks Elle for chatting! For more about Elle and her work, follow the links below:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon

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