Today I am interviewing Eric Tozzi, author of the post-apocalyptic, alien invasion novel, Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights.
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DJ: Hey Eric! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Eric Rozzi: First of all, thanks so much for having me! I’m a video and film editor by trade, and on occasion a director. I’ve had the good pleasure of working for NASA as a Mars Rover documentary editor/producer, and the thrill of being involved with film adaptations for stories by Stephen King (Paranoid) and Ray Bradbury (Kaleidoscope). I’ve been writing since high school and love telling stories. I live in Phoenix Arizona with my beautiful wife and adorable cat.
DJ: What is Phoenix Lights about?
ER: Phoenix Lights is an alien invasion thriller set within the larger bookverse of Apocalypse Weird. For this book I decided to use a well-known, real life UFO sighting that occurred in March of 1997. It was a high profile event that was subsequently referred to as the “The Phoenix Lights Incident.” Anyone who Googles “Phoenix Lights” will immediately find a massive volume of links with pictures and articles. No matter what you believe about it—whether it was military aircraft or something else—it cannot be denied that the event left many thousands of people awestruck and to this day wondering what exactly happened.
The basic premise of my book centers on what happens eighteen years after the Phoenix Lights incident. The V shaped ships have returned and it’s an all out attack on the central Arizona region. Additionally, I’ve incorporated the idea of a secret, underground facility—an Area 51 mirror site—buried in the desert near the Superstition Mountains. And in the book I imply that this site has something to do with the V’s showing back up.
In a world of reality TV shows that cover the unexplained and paranormal, I’ve built my lead characters around a documentary/reality TV crew who call themselves the UFO Busters. And needless to say, they’re going to get way more than they ever bargained for when the ships start falling from the sky over Phoenix.
DJ: Your novel, Phoenix Lights, is actually a part of the Apocalypse Weird world. What exactly is Apocalypse Weird and how does your novel fit into this world?
ER: Apocalypse Weird is a series of books—the first community created bookverse—wherein different authors tackle various regions where some sort of apocalyptic event is taking place. Since I live in Arizona, it made perfect sense for me to tackle Phoenix. The key to Apocalypse Weird is that there are two events that happen in each book that tie all of them together in a larger story arc. My book has both of those elements and leaves itself several doorways or opening to other Apocalypse Weird stories.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main character? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
ER: My two main characters are estranged siblings: Gage Slater and younger sister Kristina Slater. Gage works in a secret, government underground facility, ostensibly built as a defensive measure against an alien invasion. Kristina is a reality TV star and documentary filmmaker. Her TV show, UFO Busters, sets out to investigate all kinds of UFO related stories. But there’s a larger story behind it all. Kristina was abducted by a UFO as a child and no one believed her. She fights to prove these occurrences are real, but more importantly she wants the answer to the big question: why was she taken? Gage, on the other hand, feels guilty over his sister’s abduction and is trying to atone for it through his top secret work. But in doing so he’s alienated his sister and now there’s only bad blood between them. When the alien apocalypse explodes, they are thrown back together and must help each other survive. And in the midst of the pressure and the unraveling of the world, they discover even darker secrets from their past.
I think readers will really like Kristina, because she’s a tomboy, a world-class smartass and can hold her own with the boys. I had a lot of fun writing her character!
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite (non-spoiler) quotes from Phoenix Lights that you can share with us?
ER: “Just because I’m blind, doesn’t mean I can’t see.”
DJ: I understand that you have recently released some other stories and are currently working on some new projects?
ER: I have a short story coming out in Samuel Peralta’s Future Chronicles series. My story, “Hide And Seek,” will be included in the upcoming Cyborg Chronicles, which is currently in editing right now. I’m very excited about this one—it’s unlike anything I’ve written so far. Additionally I’m putting the finishing touches on a female driven superhero novella, The Greatest Adventures of Mighty Woman. This project was optioned for television a few years back by a major studio, but never got produced. The rights came back to me and I decided to novelize it. Look for that before the end of the year. It’s a mashup of Galaxy Quest and Supergirl. Beyond that I’m mulling a sequel to my debut novel, The Scout, and of course there’s Apocalypse Weird and the
prospect of a Phoenix Lights follow up.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Eric-Tozzi/e/B00FW5FH1A
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add?
ER: I’d like to know some of the most favorite alien invasion books, short stories or movies from your readers!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Phoenix Lights will be on sale for $0.99 from 9/21/15 through 9/25/15!!! Pick up your copy here.
About the Book:
The Aliens Have Come to End the World…
On March 13, 1997, the incident now known as the Phoenix Lights left thousands of witnesses at a loss to explain the sudden appearance of the massive V-shaped craft that hovered in the skies above Phoenix that day.
Now, eighteen years later, the Vs have returned. Bargains will be made with an intelligence beyond our grasp deep within a super-secret government blacksite. Can a crew of TV UFO Busters find out the truth about the visitors or are they going to get far more than they ever bargained for? Whereas once they were blind, now they will see.
Welcome to the invasion.
Welcome to the Apocalypse Weird
Primarily I write science fiction. This genre is especially close to my heart. For over five years I worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a documentary film producer and editor, covering Mars Exploration (It’s funny how many times I’ve been asked if I am a rocket scientist). Getting an up close, behind-the-scenes look at planetary exploration gave me great inspiration for my debut novel, The Scout.
The iconic science-fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, was a personal source of encouragement to me. Having directed an award-winning short film based on the story, “Kaleidoscope,” from his book, The Illustrated Man, I had the opportunity to spend time with Ray before he passed away. His passion for writing and space exploration fueled me to the finish line on my debut novel, The Scout.
My latest book, Phoenix Lights, is set in the Apocalypse Weird book series and available now. Additionally I’ve completed a short story for the anthology Tales of Tinfoil (available now). I’m penning a short story for the upcoming Cyborg Chronicles (part of the Future Chronicles Book Series). On top of all that I’ve got a superhero novella that will take flight sometime in 2015: The Greatest Adventures of Mighty Woman Book 1: Resurrection. In its simplest pitch form, it’s a mashup of Galaxy Quest and Supergirl. Lots of action! Lots of fun!
When I’m not writing, I’m editing commercial television content with a major marketing agency in Phoenix and producing some nifty CGI book trailers also!