Book Shelf: Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Gods, ghosts, family secrets. What’s not to love? I so much enjoyed this fantasy tale of Jess finding her voice, and the courage to come out, and be herself. A page turner from beginning to end, with feeling like I was right there with the characters, as one of the invisible goddesses spying on their every move. Loved it!

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Book Shelf: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I dove in and spent days getting to know the characters, being a part of the adventure, the mystery, the magic. Every time I picked this up to read it, I did not want to put it down!! My tastes in book genres has changed drastically from a few years ago. This one and a few other sci-fi books I’ve read lately really grip me. Other worlds, different times, and magical ways in which to travel between the two … Yes!! That’s my jam currently. Give me more!! Loved this one times ten thousand!

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

Meet the Author: Plus Sign by David Wake

Today we travel to Bournville, in the UK, to chat with David Wake about how an alien spaceship, a chocolate factory, a junk yard, a manual typewriter, theatre writing, Captain Kirk, Agatha Christie, an MRI scan, rhythm guitar, a full size TARDIS, and a sombrero wearing penguin come together as part of David’s current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m David Wake and I live near Birmingham in the UK in Bournville within smelling distance of the chocolate factory.

In which genre do you write?

Ah, well, I say ‘Science Fiction, steampunk and more…’, which is the positive spin on the truth. I’m an ‘eclectic writer’. The SF is I, Phone and the Thinkersphere books, starting with Hashtag. The Victorian based adventures are the Derring-Do Club series and then it’s Ancient Japan, Roninko, and bloke-lit, Crossing the Bridge. The next book is cosy mystery. But I think, to answer that perennial ‘where do you get your ideas from’, ideas just pop into people’s heads and the good ones demand to be written.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve published 11 books with 7 first drafts to rewrite.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?

Looking back, I think I always did. I won a writing prize at primary school for a story about a kid finding an alien spaceship in a junk yard. It blew up once I’d reached the three pages requested. I bought a manual typewriter at University which I used to torture my flatmates into the early hours. It wasn’t until I started writing for theatre that I found a niche that reached an audience. I won awards for various plays. I do remember celebrating with the cast and crew in a curry house and drinking lager from the Rose Bowl, a big piece of silverware and thinking, I like this writing lark. And then, suddenly, I switched to novels.

What does your ideal writing space look like?

Captain Kirk’s quarters on the original Enterprise. I mean that seriously. I’m redecorating a room in my house with that design vibe in mind. It won’t be the Captain’s as it’s a much smaller space, but maybe someone of a lower Star Fleet rank like the ship’s writer-in-residence.

What are you currently reading?

V2 by Robert Harris. Before that I was reading Agatha Christie’s Marple books.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I have a photograph of my brain, an actual MRI scan, taken when I came up with the idea for my most recently published book. Where do I get my ideas from? There! Look! Bottom left!

I was going to the hospital and I had a theory that the strange sounds an MRI scanner makes, and they are very strange, were similar to the soundtrack from Forbidden Planet. So, on the drive over, I listened to the beeps, warbles and woo-wooOOoo, and then, trapped in the scanner, I heard the beeps, warbles and woo-wooOOoo of the MRI machine. Yes, they are the same and, boy, was I spaced out by the end.

My mind wandered, what else was there to do, and ping! An idea for a sequel to Hashtag appeared. There! Look! Bottom left! This turned out to be two ideas and became Atcode and Plus Sign.

Can you play a musical instrument?

I played rhythm guitar in a band. We were world famous in Formby.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

Fans. I’ve made some good friends amongst my readers and my fellow writers.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I’ve kept a diary and written every day for three quarters of my life! Good grief! That’s a long time. And, of course, it’s helped with my writing. Endlessly trying to make what I ate for tea or what I watched on TV interesting is a real challenge. As with everything, practice makes, if not perfect, at least better.

What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life, and why?

Me! Me! Finally, a part that’s within my acting range.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

1. I have a full-sized TARDIS in my front room.

2. I starred in an episode of Captain Tartan filmed in Hollywood, California.

3. I invented the literary form, the Drabble.

A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

The sombrero won’t fool me, it’s Frobisher back for the TARDIS.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on book 5 of the Derring-Do Club series. One of the heroines has just… ah, wait, that would be telling.

Thank you! Hmm, is that chocolate I can smell?

It was a blast having you be a part of MTA, David! Wishing you all the best and here’s to much success with your writing and future books. – Camilla

Blurb

Plus Sign
The dark sequel to Hashtag and Atcode

Fourteen teenagers dead!

San Francisco, Santa Monica, St Petersburg… and now another mass suicide, here, in Newtown.

Or is it murder?

The case drops into Inspector Oliver Braddon’s inbox. The world demands answers. With everyone’s thoughts shared, liked and monitored, why haven’t the police solved the case in the usual 20 seconds?

As the pressure builds, Braddon’s suspicions focus on a disturbing cult, the Church of the Transcendent Cloud, and tech-billionaire, Jacob Lamb, the creator of the Thinkersphere app, After Life – except that he’s dead.

With more deaths due, Braddon needs to act… and soon.

Plus Sign is a gritty, dystopian neo-noir that questions our obsession with religion and exposes a mind-bending picture of what life might be like when your very thoughts are no longer your own.

Where to find the book:

Book Three of the Thinkersphere series is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as an ebook and a paperback.

Connect with David:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/David-Wake-Author-287522215449564
Website: http://davidwake.com/
Amazon.com author page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Wake/e/B0034OBZRQ
Amazon.co.uk author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Wake/e/B0034OBZRQ

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Meet the Author: Martyrs of the Mind by Andrei Cherascu

Today we travel to Timisoara, Romania to chat with Andrei Cherascu about how his grandfather, comic books, music journalism, Garden of Rama, science fiction, augmented reality, classics, Game of Thrones, detailed outlines, improvisation, playing the guitar, and living on Mars come together as part of Andrei’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Andrei Cherascu. I live in Timișoara, Romania with my wife, Ioana and our Bichon puppies, Jazzie and Teyla. I’m a full time writer, editor and music journalist.

In which genre do you write?

I write science fiction. It was the genre that really made me fall in love with storytelling. I started reading very early on in my childhood, mainly because I idolized my grandfather, who was a voracious reader. I loved bonding with him over books. He would read just about anything. Once he was done with a book, he’d pass it on to me and then we’d talk about it.

When he handed me “Garden of Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee, it opened up a whole new world for me. It was an experience unlike any other. On a purely emotional level, the grandeur of these “big idea” stories and these monumental events made me feel like I was part of something important. It made me feel like life was important.

It was an organic transition from cartoons and comic books and all these fantastic tales of childhood to something that was equally wondrous but made even more impactful by the fact that it used reality as a reference point. Over time, though I enjoy reading almost anything, it was always the scifi stories that stuck with me the most. They were pivotal to my development — emotionally and intellectually.

When I decided to become a writer, it just felt natural to write scifi stories. I wanted to write the kinds of books that impacted me the most. That’s why my tagline is, “Science Fiction in the Style of the Classics.” I actually took that from one of the reviews for my first book; it just fits perfectly.

The “augmented reality” of science fiction stories gives you the opportunity to place characters in moral and ethical situations they could never encounter in the real world. That’s what always drew me to these stories. It wasn’t the science and technology, but the way these things shaped the characters’ inner lives, their moral philosophy, their emotional spectrum.

My series takes place in a world where telepathy is common and people called Mindguards are tasked with protecting other people’s thoughts from intrusion, essentially preserving their mental integrity. So I was able to contemplate the concepts of privacy, information security and especially responsibility in a setting that presented these topics in their most extreme form. It was the concept of responsibility that I was particularly interested in. If people presented themselves to you in their most vulnerable form and you were responsible for the wellbeing of their very minds, what kinds of consequences would this responsibility have on your own mind? It would essentially be an unprecedented exercise of empathy. Would that be a privilege or a burden? Or both? As a person who tends to be excessively protective of people, these questions are very important to me. This series allowed me the space to think about them very deeply.

How many published books do you have?

I’ve published four novels and two novellas, all in the same universe. My series is called “The Mindguard Saga.” It centers around a character named Sheldon Ayers, who is an extremely powerful telepath tasked with guarding “information packages” in his clients’ minds. I came up with this character almost a decade ago, when my wife was going through a difficult time at work. I tried to comfort her but was constantly frustrated with my own limitations in doing so. It made me wish I could truly guard her mind from everything that was upsetting her. So I came up with the concept of a Mindguard and then imagined the kind of world that would have to exist in order for somebody like Sheldon Ayers to become who he was.

I started from this complete character and then built an entire universe around him. It became a really complex story with several plot lines coming together at the end. It was really interesting to explore all the layers of this world just based on this character’s place in it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the fifth and final book in the series.

“Mindgod” will come out at the end of the year and will bring all these narrative threads together in what I’m hoping will be a satisfying finale. This is really important to me. No matter what I’m going to be writing in the future, this series is fundamental to who I am, as a writer and a person. I want to make sure that, when it’s all over, I will have done justice to these characters. I want the conclusion to truly feel like it matters. I want to be able to still feel comfortable with it a decade from now.

I remember how disappointed I was in the final season of “Game of Thrones.” Remember that? It was almost universally hated. As a fan of the show, it just left me lamenting all the wasted opportunities. If I felt that way as a fan, I can only imagine what it would feel like to be a writer and be disappointed in your work. I don’t want to be haunted by regrets. That’s why this last book has taken longer to write. But I’m done with the first draft and I’m happy with how it turned out. Hopefully the readers will be too.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

Just how the mind works, really. There are so many things in the back of your mind that you never consciously realize. It’s interesting how many things you can come up with on the fly.

I write a detailed outline for every story — it’s the only way I can work. However, I do leave a lot of room for “improvisation.” When I write the first draft, I do it almost without thinking. I use the outline as a guide and just furiously type away, just pouring everything onto the page. It’s like a trance. I’m always surprised by how many things pop up that I’ve never really thought about consciously, in spite of my detailed outline. Most of these things come in the form of conversations and musings about all sorts of things and just character development. But sometimes it will be something that takes the story in a completely new direction. Then I have to adjust the outline. At the end, I’m left wondering where all of that came from. It’s an interesting exploration of one’s own psyche.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

I think it’s the ability to integrate so many interesting things into your life. I’ve always been interested in all sorts of things. Growing up, it was difficult to decide what to do with my life. There were so many fascinating things to which I wanted to dedicate my time. There was never really one dominating area of interest for me.

I love art, I love music, I love history, I love wine, I love doing all sorts of physical exercise. But I don’t love any of those things more than the other. I have a good singing voice and I can play a bit of guitar. Sometimes, I get together with friends and we do jam sessions and it’s really fun. But I could never be a professional musician. I’d have to dedicate so much time to it. That time would come at the expense of reading about art, or practicing my photography, or training. I train every day and do all sorts of things, from running to martial arts to weightlifting. But I couldn’t be a professional athlete because, firstly, I would have to dedicate myself entirely to one sport and then I would have to train for so many hours a day I wouldn’t have time to practice guitar. I’d have to watch what I eat and I wouldn’t be able to drink wine on a daily basis. And I love wine.

So, basically, writing is a result of an indecision regarding what to do with my life. Because writing practically gives you an excuse to pursue anything you’re interested in for exactly as long as you want. When you’re a creative person, especially a storyteller, anything you do in your life is conducive to creativity. You get to indulge in information without actually having to specialize in anything and thus restrict the time you can spend learning about something else. This jack-of-all-trades nature of writing really fits my personality. I might never be a professional athlete, but I can make up a character who is and then imagine what that would be like for a little while. There’s nothing I love more than imagining what things would be like.

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

When I’m not writing my own books, I’m helping other people write theirs. I run expanse-editing.com, where I offer developmental editing and professional beta reading for indie authors.

Since 2012, I’ve also been active as a music journalist, covering adventurous music from all over the world (jazz, world music, experimental, indie, avant-garde and the like). On my website, The Music and Myth, I post reviews, news articles and interviews with musicians like Bill Frisell, Al DiMeola, Thana Alexa and Jazzmeia Horn.

What are you currently reading?

I’m actually currently reading one of my clients’ manuscripts, a lovely literary fantasy novel that’s going to be the first in a new trilogy. This is a client I’ve been working with for years and the stories I’ve read are all set in the same universe, so it’s been great to revisit this world and watch it grow.

If Mars or another planet was livable, would you accept a one-way ticket there? Why or why not?

No. Despite my predilection for scifi, I’m good here. I’m a socially active person. I love traveling to different places, meeting people, spending time in cafes and restaurants, going to museums. The breadth of experience on this planet is more than enough for me. Mars would get really boring really quickly. That soil is probably terrible for wine production and I can’t imagine walking my dogs in that gravity.

Tell us about your most recent book.

My most recent published book is “Martyrs of the Mind,” the fourth novel in my Mindguard Saga. The events in this book directly influence the series finale, which I’m working on now.

For my series, I used the same structure that Frank Herbert used for his Dune Saga, which is my all-time favorite work of fiction. In the Dune Saga, the first three books are kind of similar in their structure, pacing and themes, with “God Emperor of Dune” kind of sitting in the middle as its own separate entity and then the last two books once again connected. It should have been the last three, but he passed away before he could publish the series finale. He wanted to have this balanced structure, with his God Emperor at the center of the universe, so to speak. It’s really elegant.

I wanted to do a similar thing as a tribute to my favorite author. So the first two books in the Mindguard Saga introduce this universe, its characters and the dramas and tragedies they have to deal with while the third book sits by itself as a sort of character study of Sheldon Ayers (who, at least symbolically, is my version of a God Emperor). The final two books chronicle the unavoidable classic scifi “war to end all wars.”

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, and to learn more about you, Andrei. I am inspired by the thoughts you shared. Beautifully conveyed. I wish you all the best and much success! – Camilla

Book Blurb for Martyrs of the Mind:

In the aftermath of Earth’s battle with the Vintages, an unlikely messenger delivers a shocking revelation: the existence of an advanced civilization that threatens to change the very core of human identity.

As the world falls into panic, a terrorist organization once thought extinct rises from the ashes of its violent past to embrace the dawn of a new era. Led by a charismatic prophet – a telepath with unprecedented powers – the Martyrs of the Mind wage a holy war on the Federation in the name of the God Revealed.

Now the de-facto leader of mankind, Enforcement Unit Commander Tamisa Faber must step up as the world’s last guardian. But Tamisa is no stranger to war. As the crimes of her past return to haunt her present, Tamisa is faced with her own chilling revelation: humanity will need the Mindguards she herself has all but destroyed.

Where to find the books:

All of my books are available in digital format pretty much wherever e-books are sold.

Connect with Andrei:

andreicherascu.com

expanse-editing.com

themusicandmyth.com

http://www.andreicherascu.com/martyrs-of-the-mind/

https://www.facebook.com/AndreiCherascuAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/andreicherascu.author/

https://themusicandmyth.com/

http://www.andreicherascu.com/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

 

Meet the Author: What Branches Grow by T.S. Beier

Today we travel to Ontario to chat with T.S. Beier about how  paddle-boarding, tattoos, cross-stitch embroidery, Virginia Woolf, painting houses, freedom in Las Vegas, a Jurassic Park themed wedding, a boating license, a one-eyed pug, and Lake Huron come together as part of her current and past life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m from Ontario, Canada (about 100km west of Toronto). I love to read Science Fiction and Victorian literature. I have two daughters and a partner; we live a very mundane life in suburbia. I love to travel, specifically to desolate landscapes or cliffs above roaring waves. I play video games (when I can) and I also love baking/cooking, paddle-boarding, craft beer, tattoos, soccer, cross-stitch embroidery, travel, and renovating my house. I’ve been an editor, a project coordinator, a house painter, and most recently an entrepreneur (risingactionpublishingco.com). I have a university degree (English), and certificates in Publishing, Creative Writing, and Interior Decorating. I have a strange obsession with ghost towns and the ruins of industry.

In which genre do you write?

I write science fiction in multiple sub-genres. My recently-released novel is post-apocalyptic, I’m working on a space opera trilogy, and I have finished a hard sci-fi drama. I also wrote a faux noir cyberpunk that is stuck two chapters from completion. In my early 20s, I wrote a five-book fantasy epic (which I’m sure leaves much to be desired today).

What are you currently reading?

I’m sure this will change by the time this is published, but I just finished a NetGalley arc of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks and am jumping into Falcon’s Shadow, which is a sequel to Eight Pointed Cross, an utterly amazing historical fiction by fellow Canadian Marthese Fenech.

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author from the past, who would it be?

Virginia Woolf. That might sound strange, but I think she would be a very interesting person to talk to. She was a brilliant writer and pioneer within postmodernism. Granted, she wasn’t known to be the nicest of people, but I bet it would be an intellectually-stimulating conversation at least.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

I kept a diary since I was twelve but stopped around age twenty-two. I had dozens of them. A couple of years ago I burned them all; I literally threw them into our backyard fire pit. I was pregnant at the time and I morbidly decided I didn’t want my future daughter to find my angsty, angry words if something happened to me during delivery (oh, how those hormones will get you). While I don’t think this rambling jeremiad helped my writing in any specific way, any writing is good for the craft.

What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

When I was in Las Vegas in 2019 I took off one day to “go to the desert” (I love the desert). I rented a Mustang convertible and spent 8 hours on the road by myself. I toured Red Rock Canyon and afterward I drove south along the highway, doing a mini road trip basing my stops on the game Fallout: New Vegas. It was one of the only days in my life I felt completely free – it was just me, the car, the road, the mountains, and the endless blue sky. I felt accountable to no one, as I had only the most basic of agendas. At one point I was on a sideroad and despite going drastically over the speed limit, I didn’t see a single person for over half an hour. The hint of danger (what would happen if the car broke down?) made the experience even more freeing. I have a post about it on my blog.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Learning new things. You can definitely learn new things as an adult, but not with the same sense of wonder that you do as a child. I get to watch it second-hand now with my daughters, which is nice.

List 3 interesting facts about yourself.

During my first pregnancy, I watched Mad Max: Fury Road during labour to psyche myself up for home birth as I knew it would be natural (aka no pain meds). What I didn’t expect was an episiotomy on top of this (also no pain meds), so I was happy I had channeled Furiosa hours earlier.

I had a Jurassic Park themed wedding (and my wedding dress was red).

I have a boating license and a firearms license. I had a motorcycle license too but I let it lapse.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

A documentary called Tread on Netflix about the “Killdozer” attack in 2004. One night years ago my partner and I were watching police car chase videos on Youtube (yes, we were under the influence). We came across a video of a very agitated man waging war against his town using a self-modified bulldozer-turned-tank (no one was hurt). When the documentary popped up on our feed a few weeks ago, we had to watch it. The movie shows the events from the angry man’s perspective but also that of the town that he felt wronged him. The reenactments were a little cheesy but the rest was fascinating.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

I have three pets:

I’d ask my one-eyed pug whether he regrets his decision to challenge a Shepherd-Mastiff to a fight (hence the single eye).

I’d ask my Shepherd-Mastiff whether he regrets stealing my GoPro from me while I was swimming and dropping it into Lake Erie.

And I’d ask my cat whether she regrets all the dozens of smaller animals she’s killed (likely not).

What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?

Canada is so vast and varied in its beauty, so I’m going to narrow it to my province. As such, the coast of Lake Huron is where I love to be. Beautiful white sand beaches, tropical-blue water (that can also get very rough – I was lucky to witness a huge water spout this past summer), and quaint little towns all the way from Grand Bend to Tobermory. I love renting cottages along the coast, boating, and paddle-boarding on the water. It’s essentially a freshwater ocean.

What are you currently working on?

A space opera trilogy! It’s lighter in tone than my first book, but it’s still got lots of action scenes. There’s snarky bander, space battles, an unorthodox romance, and weird aliens with interesting cultural and physical traits. You should see my notebook to keep track of all of their idiosyncrasies! The book is like Mass Effect meets Firefly meets Alien/Event Horizon.

Tell us about your most recent book.

What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic adventure novel, was the subject of my Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. I chose to self-publish it because I had time off and decided to produce it myself (I paid for an editor and cover designer, of course). It’s about a resilient and misanthropic woman on a quest to find civilization thirty-five years after a war ravaged the United States. She is joined by a Byronic male hero and an eccentric Millennial in his 60s with his pug dog. It has an inclusive cast – two of the three main characters are people of colour, the female characters are varied and complex, and one of the main characters is bisexual. They travel through strange towns in the wasteland, trying to find a city that’s rumoured to have survived the war. It has fun banter, exciting action scenes, a slow-burn romance, and some nasty villains. It’s part Mad Max, part Fallout, part The Road.

It was wonderful to have you on MTA, Tina! You sound like so much fun!! If you ever make it down to Reno (eight hours north of Vegas), give me a shout! I think you’d love Lake Tahoe! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla

Book Blurb:

What Branches Grow

A boldly imagined, exhilarating quest through post-apocalyptic America, where human nature is torn between the violent desperation to survive and the desire to forge connection.

Thirty-five years ago, the world was ravaged by war. Delia, driven from her home in Savannah by loss, travels North in search of a future. Gennero is tortured by his violent past and devotion to his hometown. Ordered to apprehend Delia, he follows her into the post-apocalyptic landscape. The wasteland is rife with dangers for those seeking to traverse it: homicidal raiders, dictatorial leaders, mutated humans, and increasingly violent and hungry wildlife.

What Branches Grow is an unflinching depiction of life after civilization, where, above all else, trust is the hardest thing to achieve and to give. The survivors have an audacious dream of a better life, but their quest may end up being a fruitless endeavour in a world openly hostile to hope.

Where to find the book:

You can find What Branches Grow on Amazon and Kobo.

Website https://www.nostromopublications.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/TSBeier

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.ca/nostromopublications/

Booktube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBbh_JV7M8K11U2AWIkNfNA/

Insta https://www.instagram.com/tinasbeier/

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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host