Meet The Alt.Historians — J.E. Mac

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)Here we go. When I solicited interviews from my fellow authors in Alt.History 102, I never dreamed I would get this. This…I don’t even know what to say. I sent out four broad questions, expecting a short little interview. J.E. Mac (otherwise known as James McCormick) decided to send me a manifesto. He put words into my mouth, so turnabout is fair play, right? J.E. has a potty mouth at times, so since this is MY blog, I substituted some of his words for my own. Think 80’s TV censorship if you will.

So, if you see the word SNICKERDOODLE, FLAMETHROWER, DAGNABIT, DIME, CHEESES or GOLLY DANG, be assured that James has more of a potty mouth than me, and I’ll leave the interpretation of those words up to you.

So…strap yourselves in, get a beverage of your choosing, and enjoy my “INTERVIEW” with J.E. Mac.


 

In response to Alt.History 102, Will asked some questions. Some serious questions. Very serious questions.

WILL: Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

My name is James McCormick. Oh SNICKERDOODLES. That’s not what it says on my story. Well, FLAMETHROWER.

I write SciFi as J.E. Mac.

Why J.E. Mac? Well, it’s just my name super shortened. I always felt, that visually, McCormick is kinda a lopsided name. It’s very heavily weighted to the left—and that poor k is just a teeny tiny hook hanging on for dear life. I don’t know if many of you guys out there are typography nuts or anything (I was a big comicbook fan as a kid—also inked comics for DC a lifetime ago), but I just felt that I’d always have to capitalize my name (Brandon Sanderson style) and I didn’t really want that.

So… I thought J.E. Mac would look cool, big and blocky on a cover. (Yes, kids. “Cool” was my reason). I thought it’d be all BEN HUR. Big and Bold. And Simple. I’m not sure it does any of that. But whatevs. It’s what I use now.

Ironically, looking at the cover of Alt.History 102, I also noticed another advantage. It’s super short.

I mean, look at that long list of names. Then mine just pops out because of the visual contrast.

Wish I could claim having the foresight to do that (Or that I rigged the anthology to have all other authors with moderately longer names)… Actually, there’s no way to finish that sentence. I wish I had that foresight lol.

Now, I get it. Sounds like I’m super egotistical and all (I am! Nah. Not really). But your author name is your brand and I really want people to read my SNICKERDOODLES. So, you know, getting people to see and remember your name is a big deal.

Yet, you post on Facebook as James McCormick and not J.E. Mac.

SHUSH YOU! I AM A COMPLICATED MAMMAL DAGNABIT! /sobs into a pillow.

GOLLY DANG, James (he means J.E.) you wrote a FLAMETHROWING novel answering a sliver of the first question.

Well get used to it Interview Me.

WILL: Wait, isn’t this my interview?

J.E.: Is it?

Interview James: Nah. Bug off Will.

J.E.: Dude, I liked his story in Alt.History

Interview James: Lookit you, you sell out!

WILL: Can we like, move on please?

I nod. But Interview me rolls his eyes.

WILL: What else have you written?

I used to write screenplays. A lot. Had a few optioned. They were generally 1 hour action-y stuff (think J.J. Abrams). Or half hour comedies. Had moderate success. But not enough to write home about. (Or pay bills with. That last one being the more important. At least, I think so. Wonder what my mother thinks about that? I mean, I have to wonder. Obviously, I haven’t written home in awhile).

So why the hell am I not doing that?

Well, it takes money. And people with money get a lot of say. And I don’t generally like being told what to do. So, uh…

Yeah.

I actually didn’t like the idea of not being in control of my own creative destiny. I didn’t like that the stories I would write would ultimately not be reflections of me, but of what test market 22K deemed appropriate.

(P.S. It’s the type of creativity and logic that posits: Hmm, people love watching monkeys. Look at all the hits on YouTube. And man, people sure love doctor dramas. That’s it! We’re making a show called Dr. Monkey about a chimpanzee doc and all the hot trim he pulls on the side).

I know. I’d probably watch it too.

I decided to learn how to write a novel. I mean, I can write. Er, sorta. I mean, well Stephen King aside, ya don’t need a large vocabulary. So, I took that as a challenge. (Man, gotta say, it’s… different. Two dozen short stories in, one novel, and a bunch of half written novels, and all I can say is that the process is a very different one).

WILL: Let’s try this again. What specifically have you written? Like, give us a title (mutters something that sounds a lot like ‘you DIMEbag’ under his breath),

DAMAGED GOOD.

There, happy?

I wrote a novel called DAMAGED GOOD.

It’s about an assassination attempt on the Los Angeles Mayor in the near future. It’s also about a six year old robot girl, Celia, who is left for dead and witness to some shnazzy SNICKERDOODLES. And a hard boiled detective, Jack Cutter—probably should lead with him, since he’s the main character and all—with a grudge against synthetics that needs to use Celia to solve the crime.

WILL: So BLADE RUNNER meets WITNESS?

Dude… You got some Harrison Ford love going there.

WILL: Who doesn’t?

Truth. /fistbump.

What made you write it?

Funny thing is, it’s the type of SciFi story I dig. Blade Runner is one of my all time favs. Altered Carbon is up there. (If I ever write fast enough, I have a story I want to flesh out that was heavily inspired by Altered Carbon—not how you’d think tho. Just gonna have to wait and see, suckahs! …if it ever gets written that is. /sadface).

I also discovered an odd thing about genre.

People either want detective stories / thrillers. OR Scifi. They don’t really want both. The audiences are two very dissimilar audiences.

You really gotta coax one over to opening the cover to get them to sit down with the characters a little.

NOTE: I’m not saying they don’t enjoy reading both genres. I’m saying getting them to pay for a book that isn’t another David Baldacci clone or George R.R. Martin clone is tough (P.S. Yes, I use a very broad term for SciFi. You know, like George R.R. Martin. The SciFi term. Not how broad he is).

I’m glad to see Hugh Howey is jumping into the future-noir detective stories, though. Hopefully it makes people realize that, hey, SciFi doesn’t have to be all dry and stuffy. It can be nail biting suspense. Or tales of murder and mystery.

The two can exist well together. And plenty of people cognitively understand this. Just convincing them to pick up a book is another behemoth task in and of itself. (One that I’m still learning, being a noob and all).

WILL: Sounds great.

Is that sarcastic?

WILL: No. It really. Sounds great.

You. Are speaking. Like you. Are. William. Shatner.

WILL: You know damaged goods has an ‘s’ on it right?

OMG, Will. You are so lucky this is the internet. I’d smack that smug smile off your face. Just. Punch you. Right in the mouf.

WILL: Well, you know. Grammar. It does.

Yeah, yeah. My reason was twofold (Meh, let’s make it threefold). It’s the idea of ‘good’ being damaged. It plays off the obvious ‘damaged goods,’ as in, maybe Celia is one. Or Cutter. Or everyone. And, I like the anomaly. I like titles that are a little off. That make you ask, I wonder what that means (without being so esoteric that you’re some Dada artist picking names out of a hatHi, every anime ever! P.S. Big fan).

So where are we?

WILL: Still question 1. Unfortunately.

What brings me to Alt.History 102?

WILL: Yes.

Truthfully?

WILL: I’d hope so.

I missed the deadline for Alt. History 101.

Like, I, uh. Slacked off?

Is there a way to put that, that, uh, like makes it sound like I did it because I knew 102 was gonna be awesome? That it would have a blue cover instead of a red one? (I love blue btw. Red, not so much).

WILL: No, James. There isn’t.

Yeah. Well, I had been following Sam’s (Samuel Peralta) Future Chronicles for quite some time. Actually, had read an anthology called Synchronicity that was somewhat of a predecessor to the

Future Chronicles: Time Travel Anthology. This one had a story from Sam, Nick Cole, Michael Bunker, Jason Gurley, and Susan Kaye Quinn amongst others. Basically, SciFi indie writers you see quite a bit on the scene.

Somehow, Susan and I started talking on Facebook… Um, if this interview is any indication, this is pretty much how I talk. It’s all stream of thought, but, ya know, I try to be entertaining or tell a joke or two. Some people respond to it. Others just block me.

And we hit it off. She’s a great lady. Read her stuff! Seriously. I’m partial to her DEBT COLLETOR series.

Interview Me: You unbelievable sell out!

Anyway, I don’t know for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she told Sam about me. And Sam had just so happened to have an idea for an offshoot of Future Chronicles that was the Alt History series.

And I posted DAMAGED GOOD in his, by now infamous, “one book” thread.

I thought it was an interesting idea. But I really, really didn’t want to do—History as you know it, but one tiny thing changed. Hitler tripped and fell on his way to art school and we all lived happily ever after! I was worried that was the type of stories ALT HISTORY would generate.

I also wanted to do something local. About something I knew. That maybe many people didn’t.

Anyway… I’m sure I’ll go more in-depth about it in a future question.

WILL: CHEESES! MORE in-depth? You’ve only answered one question.

Yes. More in-depth.

WILL: What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

Funny you should ask that!

WILL: (sighs and hangs his head in his hand). It’s not funny at all.

DROUGHT is about a future Los Angeles in which the events of The Rape of The Valley never took place.

Basically, the short hand is—you know CHINATOWN? Its plot and stuff? Yeah, well that really happened. (Not the Jack Nicholson stuff, but the screwing over the people of Owens Valley).

You probably know the name Mulholland. Well, you know it because they were responsible for a lot of shady shenanigans in a very corrupt birth of Los Angeles that made a handful of people very rich. As rewards, many of these men named streets after themselves. Woohoo!

As I mentioned before, I didn’t really want to do a past setting. I didn’t want to go back to the event and nudge a couple things around that would result in a different outcome.

I wanted to look at what would happen to the development of the city if it had never occurred. Where would a Los Angeles be?

Fun fact – A small group of powerful men wanted the Los Angeles population to grow because they needed crews to help pump oil. The city itself didn’t have the means to support a population like what they needed. Chiefly, being a desert climate, cheap easy access to water. Cuz, ya know, people gotta drink water to live.

So, you know, that’s not really a story. That’s just a setting. A world.

You need the human element.

And this is where I’m always terrible at pitching my stories. Because I don’t know which story to pitch. I prefer talking about the human element. But then you get questions like… Yeah, but what happens?! And honestly, the poster is usually the cool plot SNICKERDOODLE (blowing up).

SIDE BAR: Shane Black, amongst others, have this theory that must stories are really two stories. I tend to agree. One story is the plot. The things that happen. But the other story, is the WHY you’re telling the story. The ‘what’s it all mean?’ The ‘so what?’

Godard called it writing for the invisible. I like that.

You can have the greatest plot in the world, but without the human element no one is going to get past page one.

DROUGHT is also about a father who left Los Angeles that has intermittent business dealings there, who winds up taking his daughter to see the city for her first time.

(P.S. This is the “rookie cop” story model. It’s a really good, fast, simple way to introduce an audience/reader to something far out or exotic—Have a character who has been there and one who hasn’t. That way, the character who has, gets to tell the one that hasn’t (and the audience) a whole lot of exposition. Yes, it’s a cheap trick, but it’s effective. So good, check out how many television pilots use this device).

Anyway, I just wanted some sheer culture clash in a Los Angeles that resembled more of a desert wasteland than anything else. I thought it’d be cool to have a bunch of people living out in the desert. That have learned to live there without help or aid from civilization. And make civilization sort of a trap.

I mean, so many of our stories are about how civilization is good. But not many think about everything we have to give up living in a society.

People don’t stop to realize that a city, the rules and laws, are all man-made constructs. We’ve literally convinced generations that they have to do what they’re told – yet, we’ve somehow disassociated that with the notion that it’s some other dude (who tends to profit quite a bit off telling you what to do) telling you what to do.

The irony is—I started writing this a year and a half ago. Before I knew Mad Max was coming out. Before California started really ramping up about going into a drought. So, it was kinda timely in an odd way.

Anyway, I think I covered what my story, DROUGHT, is about.

WILL: Uh, yeah. Just slightly.

WILL: Moving along…If you could pick a previous Chronicles Anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

Well, I did try to get in a (super short) story to the Time Travel Chronicles.

Maybe it was because of Synchronicity. I don’t know. Actually, didn’t really think about why I pushed for that anthology. But that’s probably a large part of it.

I submitted a story called, BUTTERFLY, that was about a father and son.

I had this revelation about my own relationship with my father. And about generations. And how limited we are by our own perceptions. Basically, the new generation always thinks the old is wrong, or crazy, until they get to the age where they realize the context of what the older generation was saying all along. Only now, they’re the old generation and when they go to tell the younger one, they don’t listen (Irony :p).

DAMAGED GOOD has some similar theme running through it as well, although it’s not the main one of that book.

If you’ll indulge me…

WILL: Like I haven’t already?

…I’d like to share the opening of that story. It’s my favorite opening I’ve ever written.

“What’s this?” my father asked holding up a baggy.

He knew what it was. I knew that he knew. And he knew that I knew that he knew. That came with knowing the future, I guess. He had been there and I hadn’t.

I’m a big fan of repetitious dialogue. But not repetition for the sake of repetition. More, repetition in how words can change meanings in different context.

So that’s one answer.

WILL: ONE?! HOW MANY ARE THERE GOING TO BE?!

Three.

WILL: (falls over in his chair).

The other is the Cyborg Chronicles. There’s a story that happens offscreen (offbook?) between DAMAGED GOOD and FOREVER SIX (the sequel) that makes Celia somewhat of a quasi-celebrity. I wanted to tell that story in a Future Chronicle.

WILL: And the third?

Is going to be in 103.

WILL: That’s, uh, not how alternate history works. That’s in the future.

We don’t know that. I don’t know if I’ve been accepted. Hell, there might not even be a 103. We can’t tell.

WILL: Right… therefore you CAN’T alter it.

I’m altering it right now. I’m making it happen.

WILL: OMG. Is this almost over already?

What was the last question?

WILL: Anything else you’d like to plug?

Nah. I think I’m good.


Editor’s note…

WILL: FALLS OVER. DIES. Gets resurrected as a mosquito somewhere near James’ house in Hawaii. 

THE END

Meet The Alt.Historians — Will Swardstrom

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The next anthology up in the Future Chronicles line steps back in time — Alt.History 102.

 

ALT-History-102-eBook (1)Samuel Peralta, the curator of these anthologies, put out Alt.History 101 last summer to critical acclaim (including my own), but he always had a plan to continue the series with 102 and 103. I love the covers with an almost textbook feel to them, almost as if readers are being “re-educated” on past events if they had gone just a little differently. The next in the Alt.History series is being released on January 31, 2016 — less than a week away.

To introduce readers to the authors of this collection, I’m rolling out a short interview series with many, if not all, of the authors. To give everyone a brief taste, I figured I would start with myself. It’s always tricky interviewing yourself, but I powered through. I’m super proud of my story and I really hope people enjoy the entire collection like I have as I’ve gone over an early edition.

Some phenomenal authors in this one as you can see from the cover over there — Drew Avera, Asha Bardon, J.J. Brown, Artie Cabrera, Jennifer Ellis, Hank Garner, Therin Knite, J.E. Mac, Alex Roddie, Adam Venezia, and Rysa Walker. I can’t forget the amazing job Sam did in putting it together along with co-editor Nolie Wilson.

Enough from me…let’s hear from me!


 

Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

My name is Will Swardstrom, the son of Paul D. and Eileene Swardstrom, of the North Dakota Swardstroms.

I’ve written a few things. My Amazon page hasn’t gone on to three pages…yet. I have a suspicion that once this volume goes live, I will. I’ve written three novels (one currently unpublished), and a couple handfuls of short stories and novellas. I got my first crack at a Future Chronicles story with Uncle Allen in The Alien Chronicles, then I published Z Ball in The Z Chronicles, and then The Control in The Immortality Chronicles. Samuel Peralta, curator of the Future Chronicles anthologies knew I was a history teacher during the day, so I suppose it was only a matter of time until he asked me about doing some alternative history. I pitched him three stories, but I knew he was going to pick the one he did.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story? 

My story is entitled Requiem and centers around Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of those quirky facts of history is that Mozart and his family gave some performances for the Austrian Royal family as part of a European tour. Mozart was just six years old and the young Austrian princess — the future Marie Antoinette — was a few months older at the time. The two were smitten with each other; a confirmed case of puppy love.

That’s where the story ends in the history books, but suppose Wolfgang harbored feelings for his childhood crush. That their lives continued on, but in the end…when the French Revolution is just in its bloody, violent beginnings, he seeks out that first love of his life in a quest to rescue her?

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

There have been so many great anthologies, but I think I would love to go back and get a spot in The Galaxy Chronicles. I’ve dabbled a little in space opera, so getting my feet wet alongside the other ridiculously talented authors there would have been a hoot.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

As a matter of fact, yes! My latest novel is just a few days away from publication. It’s entitled Blink, and it was co-written by me and my brother, Paul. It is the first full novel in our Utility Company series about a government agency that specializes in the strange and unique. We had a blast writing it and I think readers will have as good of a time reading it. Look for it soon!

the party

Meet The Immortals — Will Swardstrom

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Hey look, it’s my turn! I’ve taken time and used this space to interview each of the other eleven authors featured in The Immortality Chronicles. I thought it only fair that I got to cap the interview series today.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Immortality Chronicles for just $2.99 for a limited time. To check out the other author interviews, just click on their names: Patricia Gilliam, John Gregory Hancock, Drew Avera, Gareth Foy, D.K. Cassidy, Thomas Robins, E.E. Giorgi, Harlow C. Fallon, David Bruns, D. Robert Pease & Paul B. Kohler.

And now…me!

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nWho are you?

Okay…okay. I’ve asked this question of enough people at this point, I should have this down pat. I’m…24601. Shoot. That’s not right.

Okay…my name is Will Swardstrom. I’m a husband, father of two, high school history teacher, and author. Since 2013, I’ve written two novels and a couple handfuls of novellas and short stories. I enjoy teaching for my day job, so there isn’t a huge rush to quit and focus entirely on writing, but perhaps one day… Until that day, I’ll continue to find a balance between my two careers.

Why are you writing for The Immortality Chronicles?

I was on board with The Immortality Chronicles from the get go. Chronicles curator Samuel Peralta approached me about a volume that would act as a vehicle to foster charity donations and he chose Immortality for that. I’d done a previous anthology with my LOOW writing group, so he worked with me early on that side of the book. Eventually I was able to write my own story to help benefit First Book and contribute my third Chronicles story (I’ve also appeared in Alien and Z).

Also, now that I’ve read the entire collection, I’m thrilled to be sharing page space with these immensely talented men and women. Each time I get a story in a Future Chronicles anthology, I am just in awe of the words that surround my story on all sides, from the Foreword to the final acknowledgements, each book is a work of art.

11936983_10207733939815640_650787208_nWhat did you write for The Immortality Chronicles? 

My contribution to The Immortality Chronicles is a story called The Control. It spans much of human recorded history going back to ancient Egypt. I guess I started with the idea that aliens were behind the construction of the pyramids and the other monuments scattered around the Old Kingdom upwards of 5,000 years ago. From there my protagonist goes through history, always alive, but not always living. Not when your life is under someone else’s control. 

How can we find out more about you and your writing?

Well, right here is a great place to start! Up above there are links for many of my books and stories (although I have been terrible at updating this site in the past year or so.) Ultimately to check out my current works, visit my Amazon page HERE. I’m fairly active on Facebook and I can guarantee there aren’t any other Will Swardstrom’s out there. Just search and find me. I’m also on Twitter, but I am a terrible tweeter.

What’s next for you?

Oh boy. Here we go.

My brother, Paul, and I are co-authoring a book. I started it on a whim and he asked to help out and now it may be the best longform fiction I’ve been a part of. We’ve got nearly 83,000 words as of the start of September and I have a goal to finish it by the end of the month.

After that, I’ve got a few short stories to write and/or finish. One I can’t really talk about quite yet, but I can mention the story I have planned for the Alt.History 102 volume coming up. My deadline for that is November with a publication date of early 2016. My working title is “Requiem for an Austrian Princess.” (I’ll leave it there for now and reveal more details later.

In terms of anything else, we’ll just have to see what time allows for. I’m always up for something new, but I gotta make sure I take care of the day job, too.

Anything else we need to know about you and your story?

I was really drawn to The Immortality Chronicles by the epic tale of Gilgamesh. An ancient Sumerian story — in fact, the oldest story we have on record — that tells about Gilgamesh as a king in the Sumerian city of Uruk. Gilgamesh is a great king, mighty and powerful, but he has flaws. Eventually those flaws attract the gods who send him a friend, Enkidu. The two have a great bromance and go on epic adventures, but Enkidu eventually dies and much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Gilgamesh. In order to avoid Enkidu’s fate, he embarks on a search for immortality. The journey is long and tough, but he eventually learns man cannot become immortal, but immortality happens for those who live full and complete lives, allowing others to remember their deeds long after their mortal death.

How can we become immortal? Ultimately we can search for man-made ways — faster than light travel, gene therapy, freezing your body, etc. — but the true way to achieve eternal life isn’t found there.

Author Interview – Jennifer Ellis

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Jennifer Ellis is one of five authors with books releasing next week under the “Apocalypse Weird” banner. The series started out with The Red King by Nick Cole and is spreading like a firebomb with the next books in the series, which include entries by Ellis, Michael Bunker, Chris Pourteau, E.E. Giorgi, and Cole himself with the follow-up to Red King. After reading Ellis’ book Reversal, I knew I wanted to interview her on my blog. The novel is a great read, in or out of the AW series. It reads a lot like a Clive Cussler novel with bits of Dean Koontz mixed in for good measure. And while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, check out that M.S. Corley cover as well. Wicked.

Oh…and there may be a few spoilers, so consider yourself warned in advance.


WS: Jennifer, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Why don’t you start with a short background about who Jennifer Ellis is and your career thus far.

JE: Well, I’m a bit of an enigma, even to myself. I started off as a serious academic and have a PhD in Geography, but quickly decided academia was not for me. I always wanted to be a writer and I could not see how a career teaching at a university and being forced to publish or perish could fit with my writing aspirations. I’m also a bit of a lone wolf. I like working on short-term projects, over which I have significant control, on my own, preferably in my house, in my pajamas, with the option to sneak out for a skate ski in the afternoon. So for the past sixteen years, I’ve worked as an independent consultant doing research, coordinating projects, and writing reports for multiple clients in the fields of sustainability and climate change. I started writing fiction seriously in 2007, and after having an agent and trying the traditional route for several years, published my first novel , A Pair of Docks, in 2013, which is a middle-grade science fiction fantasy. I have published two more since then—the second in my middle grade series, called A Quill Ladder, and a dystopian action adventure novel for adults, called In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation. Reversal will be my fourth novel. I also have published two short stories in anthologies—Synchronic and Tales from Pennsylvania.

My writing career thus far has been pretty fun, and I’m so glad I decided to go indie. I have had lots of amazing breaks and met lots of fantastic people. I’m still very much at the beginning of my career, but plan to ramp things up significantly in the coming year. I had just started two pretty major and intense consulting contracts in December 2013, which left very little time for writing over the past year. Those two projects will be done in March, and I’m really looking forward to focusing more on writing.

Reversal_FT_FINALWS: How did your involvement in AW come about?

JE: I had met Nick Cole and Michael Bunker through my involvement in Synchronic, which I was invited to join by my editor, David Gatewood, and got to know them a bit through the Facebook Launch Party and subsequent Facebook interactions. You know Michael and Nick—never a dull Facebook moment when they are around, beards and all. It’s sort of like working with Iceman and Maverick. And more importantly, they are both seriously great writers. Then I worked with them both in the Tales From Pennsylvania anthology. They asked me to join the AW crew and after doing some quick math in terms of whether I could generate the required word count to produce a complete novel by December, I gave them a resounding yes, and have been thrilled to be along for the ride ever since.

WS: What inspired your story Reversal?

JE: Well, I am Canadian, so I wanted to do something with a bit of a Canadian and snowy spin. I also have friends who have done Arctic research and I thought the Ellesmere Island setting offered a lot of scope to do something a bit different than what the others were doing. Also, since I do have a background in climate change and geography, I wanted to take more of a geomorphological and environmental approach to the apocalypse with pole reversal, solar flares, super volcanoes and methane-venting craters. I’ve always been interested in the different theories of mass extinction and what from an environmental perspective might finally do us in.

WS: One aspect I was impressed with was the authenticity. Do you have a background in Arctic research?

JE: Thanks so much. No, I don’t have a background in Arctic research. But I did hang out with people who did do northern research in grad school and heard a lot of their stories, mostly about not being able to shower for 45 days. I also spend a lot of time in a snowy climate, as I live in a ski town. We have bears in town and our yard routinely. Regular black bears of course, but I am accustomed to thinking about bears every time I go out for a run in the summer. I also did a research paper on penguins in university, and when I started writing Reversal, I had just finished reading a book about Shackleton’s voyage to the Antarctic. Pulling the rest together was just pure straight research, which I am pretty used to doing.

WS: What’s it been being a part of the initial AW team?

JE: The best! They are such a great group and have been fantastic to work with. It has also been super exciting to be part of something that is such a revolution in publishing. But it has also been a bit nerve-wracking because of course I wanted to make sure my novel measured up to Nick’s and Michael’s and the other two launch books by Chris Pourteau and E.E. Giorgi.

WS: How about that Corley cover?

JE; I love it. He is a pro and totally worked with me to develop the elements that I wanted to include. It was great fun to be able to imagine what my characters looked like and how I saw the various settings and be able to send him links and have him just produce them with his pencil. That is true talent.

WS: Any hints on your next book?

JE: My next Apocalypse Weird book will be called Undercurrent. Sasha will carry on to the Falkland Islands in search of Murphy and Soren, and then back to the Arctic to retrieve the green folder with the mysterious coordinates with the help of Gregor, who has uncovered some information regarding the polar bear tags. They will encounter more than they bargained for, and discover that all magnetic roads lead to Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, the Deccan Traps in India, Parhump, Nevada and the year 1974. That is of course, assuming I get to write it, because that is not a given in the Apocalypse Weird world, as readers have to connect with my writing and characters, so if you want more Polar Wyrd, make sure you leave a review for Reversal.

WS: One last thing…exploding penguins???

JE: It seemed appropriately apocalyptic. I do feel a bit bad about the penguins. No real penguins were harmed in the writing of Reversal, I swear. I might have to have the penguins take over the Antarctic research station in Undercurrent to make up for it.


Seriously — if you love a good thriller, Jennifer Ellis’ Reversal might be right up your alley. A bit sci-fi, a bit mystery, a bit supernatural. All together a great read. It is just one of the five Apocalypse Weird books releasing on February 23.

Author Interview: Ann Christy

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ann christy mugOn Wednesday my friend Ann Christy releases her novel Strikers. She’s written a few short stories recently in Synchronic and the upcoming The Robot Chronicles, but Strikers is her first full work published outside of Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe. I’ll have my review up on Wednesday, but I really enjoyed it. The cover itself will sell a lot of books, but the story itself is well worth it.

In anticipation of the release of Strikers, I decided a small interview with Ann would be great as an introduction to the book and a little bit about what Ann is going to be working on next.


 

Where did the idea for Strikers come from?

I’m a dystopia fan and a huge fan of good YA fiction. But one of the problems with a lot of dystopian fiction is that it is hard to believe it would ever occur like that. Occasionally, the science is really…*really*…bad, as well. What I wanted to do was create a dystopia where the seeds of that dystopia already exist (if not in practice, then in popular thought). Then I wanted to take it out to the point where the good intentions had become so corrupted it was a dystopia. That is what Strikers is and I think it worked. The readers will tell me if it did or not, though. They are the ultimate deciders of that.

strikersWhat’s different about writing for Young Adult as opposed to Adult?

Young Adult is a lot like regular Adult fiction. It’s all in the focus and the newness of experience. Things we tend to take for granted as we get older…like the thrill of sitting close to someone we like or the frightening nature of being on our own for the first time…are still vivid in the YA world and need to be accounted for. I want readers to feel all the thrills and chills they deserve in a book.

For me, it was difficult to write YA. Far more than standard adult fiction. I couldn’t just resort to a curse word or anything like that. I *had* to find the correct way to express what needed expressing. In the end, I think it’s a much better book for having worked that hard to do it right.

Also, I absolutely adore the characters. If I were anywhere between 14 and 18, I would be scheming for a way to go out with Jovan. No question. I like them all, though. And the romance aspects of this story made me smile. I’m not a romance writer in general, but this part of the story turned out to be the most difficult and the most rewarding aspect of it.

This is the first trip out of the silo for you — how is going?

Well, it’s not truly the first trip out of the silo. It’s just the first full length novel out of the silo that I’ve published. I’ve got two other nearly complete novels…about 180,000 words worth…that I just haven’t finished yet. And there are two (or three?) non-silo stories in anthologies out there.

But, you’re right that this is the first non-silo novel I’ve felt ready to put out into the world. It’s scary and I’m keeping my coveralls close by so that I can run back into the decon station at a moment’s notice.

You’ve been included in a few recent short story anthologies as well. What has that experience been like?

My first thought after being asked for the Synchronic anthology was…”Uh, why are they asking me? Aren’t these people all famous?” For the second one, I felt a little less weird, but still completely intimidated. After all, The Robot Chronicles will also feature Hugh Howey in it!

Short story creation is actually really hard work. Essentially, you have to go to all the same work to create a new world you would in a book, but then tell the story in about 1/12th to 1/15th of the length. It’s like walking a high wire. I love it though! It’s the kind of challenge I enjoy. I’m thinking that I’ll probably do more of those.

What’s next on the docket?

After Strikers is released on the 16th of July, I’ll mostly be useless for a little while because I’ll be watching for reviews and seeing if people like it. I have another story for yet another anthology to create…no, make that two.

You and I will be together again in a book, don’t forget. Another LOOW anthology about superpowers. I’m excited about that one!

I’m already working on book two of the Strikers series, but readers should not worry about cliffhangers. I hate cliffhangers. Strikers is a complete novel. That world is a big world though and there is a lot to explore in it.

Also on the back burner, getting simmered to soak up all the flavor, is a series of medium length works I’m calling Good News Gone Bad. Each will be a stand alone story/novella that turns what might have been a good news story into something very dark, dystopic or apocalyptic instead. The first one is called, Young Blood. It’s my dark telling of the recent discovery that GDF11, something found only in young blood, reverses many of the effects of aging on brains in older people. Oh…yes…you can see the dark future there, can’t you?


 

(Full disclosure: Ann and I are both members of LOOW, a writing group that includes writers who have all published in Hugh Howey’s WOOL Universe. Her first Silo 49 book was coincidentally published the same day I published my Silo Saga book The Veil.)

Behind The Veil — an announcement

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So the other day, I did an interview with fellow author, Carol Davis. Carol has three stories available on Kindle Worlds and just released her first non fanfiction story, an original short story about werewolves, called Blood Moon. She asked the questions and I answered them. You can find the complete interview here

I did want to expound a little upon one of my answers — about my Silo Saga story, The Veil. Here is her question and my answer:

6.  Many of the Silo Saga entries, and much of the original fiction inspired by Hugh Howey’s Wool novels, are multi-part stories, prompting readers to keep buying each new entry.  For the people reading this who are most familiar (and comfortable) with reading a complete work – how would you encourage them to buy a piece at a time, with the promise that more will follow?

Well, my work, The Veil, is a stand-alone piece. But, as I was finishing it, I had some fantastic (I hope) ideas for a sequel. Does the story stand on its own? It sure does and that’s what I intended. But…is there a place I can go in a sequel? Oh yeah.

I think, ultimately, authors need to make sure the story works by itself. Readers can deal with cliffhangers, but tell a story in the process. For me, as I’m writing my two sequels to The Veil, I plan on having a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of Part 2, but the main story I’m telling in that book will be finished at the end, leaving another complete story to be told in Part 3.

 

The Veil was always intended by me to be a stand-alone story. I really wanted to tell my own stories, but I also wanted to honor Hugh Howey and his influence on my writing career, so I planned a self-contained silo story. But, as the story told itself, I found myself thinking of ways that I could extend the story. I still finished The Veil, but my in the days immediately following the release of the book, I began to think of different storylines that I could go down for any possible sequels. 

Image…and so i’m going to officially announce the sequel to The Veil, entitled Behind The Veil. I had written the first chapter a month or so ago, but different projects took me away until this last week. I’ve made some good progress and like where the story is heading. Parts 2 and 3 (Beyond The Veil) will be more connected than Parts 1 and 2, but the main characters from the first book will definitely be recurring in the back part. I’ll liken it to The Matrix and its sequels, except my budget is significantly smaller. 

The protagonist (antagonist?) of The Veil was Mary Welcher, ordinary resident of the mids caught up in  her own circumstances. For Behind The Veil, the main character will be Ari Green, the Head of IT in Mary’s silo. 

There is no release date yet for Behind The Veil, let alone the third installment, but I’ll keep everyone posted as soon as I know more specifics.

Thanks for reading!