Today I am interviewing J.T. Nicholas, author of the new sci-fi novel, SINdicate, second book in The New Lyon’s sequence.
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DJ: Hi J.T. ! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
J.T. Nicholas: Hi, there. Thanks for having me. I never know what to tell people in the “tell me about yourself” section, but here goes. I’m an Army brat (child of a career military family) which means I moved around a lot as a kid and got a bit of a taste for the nomadic lifestyle (I’ve moved, at last count, something like 30+ times in my life). That’s great if you want to be an author, because you get to see lots of different slices of the world, and see how different, and how the same, people are wherever you go. I spent most of my professional life before making the jump to being an author in data analytics, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. But I’ve always wanted to be an author and as far back as I can remember, have been writing stories of one kind or another. Gotta be honest, it took a long time to get here, and I’m not quite sure I believe it yet. 😊
DJ: What is SINdicate and then The New Lyon’s sequence about?
J.T.: I like to think of the entire series as telling two stories. The first is a pretty classic detective whodunnit, but set in a dystopian, cyber-punkish future. The hero, Jason Campbell, is a Detective who is trying to solve a series of serial murders. Only, the victims aren’t human, at least in the law’s eyes, and that’s really what the second story is about. What it means to be human and the complacency that we allow to creep into place that keeps us from standing up against things we know are wrong. And what we can do about it. It’s about murder and investigation and revolution and genocide, too. So, you know… the usual.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The New Lyon’s sequence?
J.T.: A lot of the sci-fi I read as a kid. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. A ton of Phillip K. Dick’s work, with obvious homage to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s work. William Gibson. Neal Stephenson. The list is pretty endless.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
J.T.: I think the thing about the main protagonist (Jason Campbell) that is the most compelling is that he’s a guy who has become complacent. He knows the world around him is in a bad way but doesn’t really believe there’s anything he can do about it, because the few times that he’s tried have always ended in tragedy. Which has left him isolated and a little lonely. I think we’ve all felt like that at some point. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a story if it ended there, so he finds the motivation and wherewithal to get on with the doing. Helped, in large part, by one of the other major protagonists, fellow detective Melinda Hernandez. Hernandez is a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails, cop’s cop. She’s the kind of character who kicks in doors, kick’s ass, and doesn’t bother taking down any names. She’s a lot of fun to write. 😊
DJ: What is the world and setting of The New Lyon’s sequence like?
J.T.: It’s a near-future imagining of our world set in the city of New Lyons, built on the bones of New Orleans when that city was drowned by rising sea levels. Genetic science has advanced to the point where disposable synthetic humans have become common place, and are, essentially, a slave race. “Real” humans live a life of plenty, an almost utopic existence, at least on the surface, with the majority of the “menial” tasks falling to the synthetics. Of course, there’s a darker side, human nature being what it is, and synthetics are used for just about every shady purpose imaginable. A single corporation, Walton Biogenics, has the monopoly on synthetics, and they’re in bed with all the world governments to ensure that that doesn’t change. On the surface, day to day life is peaceful, but that’s due in large part to the fact that crimes against synthetics aren’t considered crimes – you can’t go to jail for murdering your toaster.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first book of The New Lyon’s sequence? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
J.T.: To be honest, I don’t read reviews. All any author can do is write the best book they can at the time they’re writing it. I glance at the star rating from time to time (out of the corner of my eye and on my way to something else!) but I can honestly say I haven’t read a single review yet. I hope to have the willpower to keep that record.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing SINdicate?
J.T.: I pretty much knew the story of SINthetic (book 1) from the moment I sat down to write it. And my goal was to make it something that could be a standalone, but if a publisher picked it up and wanted to expand it into a series (thanks, Rebel Base!) then I could do that with it, too. Which is what happened. When I first sat down to think about SINdicate, I wasn’t really sure where it was going. I think that process of deciding not just what it would be about, but how the broader series itself would shape up was probably my favorite part. It was a combination of creation and discovery that, while frustrating at times, was also a lot of fun.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
J.T. I HOPE they’ll be talking about not casually accepting the status quo because it’s the easy thing to do. Or about the concept of othering – that is, our tendency to group people into those like us and those not like us and immediately assume bad things about the ones not like us. Of course, I also hope they’ll be going away saying, “Man, those were some kick-ass fight scenes.” Because those are fun to write, and I want people to enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing The New Lyon’s sequence? The series is not yet complete, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
J.T.: The dangers of complacency. The dangers of othering. The dangers of assuming that different means the same as less than. Those are really the themes, at least for me.
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 quotes from SINdicate that you can share with us?
J.T.: You know, it’s funny, but I can’t really think of any. There are scenes that stand out in my mind – the elevator fight scene at Walton Biogenics, for example. But no real direct quotes that leap to mind. I honestly think that people other than the author are a lot better at finding meaningful quotes… when I’m sitting down and writing, I’m not really trying to be meaningful. I’m just trying to tell a story. I love it when others find meaning that snuck in, all unintended, though.
DJ: Now that SINdicate is released, what is next for you?
J.T.: Well, I’ve just finished up SINdrome, the final book in the New Lyons Sequence. The last step that I had to do in the production process of that – checking the proofs – got wrapped up today, so with that, I’ve put the New Lyons Sequence to bed (well, except for promotional stuff, of course). I’ve got a couple of other projects that I’m working on, but I’m not sure I should give out too many details, since neither are completed or under contract at the moment. I’ll say that the first one is a slightly farther future sci-fi in the tradition of Rickard K. Morgan (the guy that wrote the books Altered Carbon on Netflix is based on) complete with nano-viruses and cyber-zombies. The other is a more traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Like most sci-fi readers, I’m also a huge fantasy fan, and the first manuscript I ever completed was actually an epic fantasy, so going back to that genre has a lot of appeal for me.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about SINdicate and The New Lyon’s sequence that we haven’t talked about yet?
J.T.: Just that SINdrome, Book 3, is now up for pre-order as well. 😊
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
J.T.: You’re welcome!
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*** SINdicate is published by Kensington Books and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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The Post-Modern Prometheus
Synths were manufactured to look human and perform physical labor, but they were still only machines. That’s what the people who used—and abused—them believed, until the truth was revealed: Synths are independent, sentient beings. Now, the governments of the world must either recognize their human nature and grant them their rightful freedom, or brace for a revolution.
Former New Lyons Detective Jason Campbell has committed himself to the Synths’ cause, willing to fight every army the human race marches against them. But they have an even greater enemy in Walton Biogenics, the syndicate behind the creation and distribution of the “artificial” humans. The company will stop at nothing to protect their secrets—and the near-mythological figure known to Synths as “The First,” whose very existence threatens the balance of power across the world . . .
About the Author:
J.T. Nicholas was born in Lexington, Virginia, though within six months he moved (or was moved, rather) to Stuttgart, Germany. Thus began the long journey of the military brat, hopping from state to state and country to country until, at present, he has accumulated nearly thirty relocations. This experience taught him that, regardless of where one found oneself, people were largely the same. When not writing, Nick spends his time practicing a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop, and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on. Nick currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, a pair of indifferent cats, a neurotic Papillion, and an Australian Shepherd who (rightly) believes he is in charge of the day-to-day affairs. Visit his website at jtnicholas.com.