Monthly Archives: May 2018

Guest Post: When Worlds Collide: Science Fiction and Physical Therapy by LJ Cohen

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LJ (Lisa Janice) Cohen is a poet, novelist, blogger, ceramics artist, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, and relentless optimist. She lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. When not doing battle with her stubborn Jack Russell Terrier mix (aka “other dog”) or hanging out with her lab/hound mix (aka “good dog”), LJ can be found writing, which looks a lot like daydreaming. She writes SF, Fantasy, and YA novels under the name LJ Cohen.

LJ is a member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and Broad Universe, a national organization promoting women writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

She also is a member of The Scriptors, an indie and hybrid author collective, where she blogs monthly on topics related to the writing life.

Once in a Blue Muse is LJ’s personal blog, where she has been posting about her life, work, publishing, and random observations since 2004.


When Worlds Collide: Science Fiction and Physical Therapy

by
LJ Cohen

I started writing stories when I was a child. At the time, I devoured anything even remotely related to science fiction or fantasy, so of course, those were the kind of stories I wanted to write.

The usual advice came my way from well meaning teachers and from my parents: Write what you know.

But what does any ten or eleven year old know? Like many kids, I lived in a world of imagination where the ordinary took on eldritch meanings. So I wrote about UFOs, magical talismans, and portals. But I didn’t have the lived experience or the knowledge to match the stories that seemed so brilliant in my mind.

I spent a long time believing this advice meant I couldn’t write what my imagination dreamed of writing.

Fast forward about three plus decades until I was a young mother with a rewarding career as a physical therapist. I still gravitated to reading SF&F and I still had the desire to write. So I returned to story ideas I’d had as a child and started writing again, but this time, I had the perfect rebuttal to my elementary school teachers: I took what I had been reading over a lifetime, added my professional knowledge to it, and linked them both to the emotional truth of my lived experiences.

What I knew wasn’t only the events of my day to day life; it was much richer and deeper than that. And my stories began to reflect it.

So what did I know best? I had studied anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, kinesiology, communication and teaching methods, pain management, exercise and movement analysis, and differential diagnosis. I had some skill with early computers and programming. But I also had experienced love and loss, disappointment and good fortune. And change. Always change. 

Technology, medicine, and injury braid together to help drive each plot arc across all five of the volumes that make up the Halcyone Space series. Among my ensemble cast are characters with injuries, impairments, and disabilities. They also each have specific talents, interests, strengths, and struggles. These elements are not merely plot points, but are part of how each character reacts to external events and internal needs. This is particularly evident in ITHAKA RISING.

While the books take place in a near future world, there is still no perfect cure for brain trauma and Jem Durbin, a young computer genius, is overwhelmed with headaches, vertigo, and nausea, made worse when he tries to focus his vision. Desperate, he is willing to risk his life to get a black market neural implant. 

Lieutenant Commander Emmaline Gutierrez is an upper extremity amputee. She lost her left arm in the war that ended forty years before the events of the series. It is part of who she is that she makes the choice to use what appears to be a fairly primitive artificial limb with a claw hand, rather than a more anatomical and cosmetic one. That choice resonates with every other choice she makes in the books. 

Rosalen Maldonado is coping with PTSD from years of emotional abuse by her father. This, too, colors all her choices and actions. It especially makes acting as Halcyone’s captain and trusting her crewmates a challenge. There are times when Ro’s fear of trust and intimacy places them all at risk.

Barre Durbin, Jem’s older brother, wrestles with his guilt over Jem’s head injury. Jem would never have been hurt had he not been trying to help Barre escape the consequences of illicit drug use and their parents’ threats of forced commitment. 

Jem disappears. Ro and Barre attempt to rescue him. And because all choices have consequences, their actions lead to a planet that shouldn’t exist and decades-old secrets that could very well ignite a new war.

I’ve never uncovered conspiracies or fought in covert wars. I don’t understand the physics of wormhole travel and artificial gravity. But I do know a fair amount about people and some of the many ways we cope with adversity. 

For the rest, I rely on imagination, which is something we all know something about.

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*** Ithaka Rising is available to purchase TODAY as a part of the SFWA Scince Fiction Buyndle!!! ****

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Buy the Book:

StoryBundle


About the Bundle:

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Welcome to the largest, grandest and most out there bundle SFWA has ever done: the Sci-Fi SFWA Space Bundle! With 17 books that range from hardcore military sci-fi to character-focused alien encounters, we might have gone through the wormhole and out the other side.

SFWA serves authors at all points in their careers and we’ve embraced that diversity for this bundle. First, the Self-Publishing Committee reached out to a number of sci-fi authors throughout the genre who we know have enthusiastic and diverse fanbases. Then we opened the bundle up for submissions to our entire membership. We received far more submissions than we could actually put in this bundle, but after some rousing debate, we settled on a total of 17 spectacular titles.

Some of the proceeds of the bundle go to support SFWA in its mission to support, promote, inform, defend, and advocate for professional fantasy and science fiction writers. For more about the organization, see sfwa.org. For its grants program, see http://www.sfwa.org/2017/09/call-grants-2017/ – Daniel Potter

Not only that, but during our 3 week run, all StoryBundle newsletter subscribers get Qualify – The Atlantis Grail Book 1 by Vera Nazarian for free. Make sure to get that so you can enjoy Compete – The Atlantis Grail Book 2 by Vera Nazarian, available in the bundle!

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!


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Author Interview: Cynthia Kirkwood

BF6BFFC7-F786-471F-92B6-A8AF75A76283Today I am interviewing Cynthia Adina Kirkwood, author of the new literary, digital dystopian novel, Turn On, Tune Out.

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DJ: Hi Cynthia! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Cynthia Adina Kirkwood: Thank you, DJ. I’m a former San Francisco Chronicle journalist. I’m also  a baby boomer straddling two centuries. I learned how to type on a manual typewriter. Now, I type on a computer. So, I can see both the wonder and the danger of computers and the Internet.

DJ: What is Turn On, Tune Out about?

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Cynthia: A British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles. Angelica Morgan flouts a computer law that cripples creativity by mandating four daily hours of screen-watching. In the year 2033 in California, artists, who steal time off-line, are considered suspect, criminal, and dangerous.

DJ: If you could compare this book with any book out there that we might be familiar with, which book would it be?

Cynthia: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Bradbury introduces us to a world where people watch wall-size televisions incessantly (the novel was published in 1953 before the age of big screen TVs) and so-called firefighters burn books for peace of mind of the populace.  Over several decades, people had embraced new media – TV and films – and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged to accommodate shorter and shorter attention spans, while minority groups protested against perceived controversial content. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Challenges and Rewards of Writing a Series by Dave Creek

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Photo by Andry Creek

Dave Creek is the author of the novels CHANDA’S AWAKENING and SOME DISTANT SHORE, novellas TRANQUILITY and THE SILENT SENTINELS, and short story collections A GLIMPSE OF SPLENDOR and THE HUMAN EQUATIONS.
 
He’s also published the Great Human War trilogy, including A CROWD OF STARS (2016 Imadjinn Award winner), THE FALLEN SUN, and THE UNMOVING STARS.
 
Dave also edited TRAJECTORIES, an anthology of stories about space exploration and its many challenges, and is the author of MARS ABIDES: RAY BRADBURY’S JOURNEYS TO THE RED PLANET, a non-fiction look at Bradbury’s Martian stories.
 
His short stories have appeared in ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT and APEX magazines, and the anthologies FAR ORBIT APOGEE, TOUCHING THE FACE OF THE COSMOS, and DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS.
 
In the “real world,” Dave is a retired television news producer.
 
Dave lives in Louisville with his wife Dana, son Andy, Corgi/Jack Russell Terrier mix Ziggy Stardawg, and polydactyl cat Hemmie.


Challenges and Rewards of Writing a Series

by
Dave Creek

Science fiction has a long tradition of stories that take place within a series or a common future history.  E.E. “Doc” Smith began his Skylark series in AMAZING STORIES in 1928, and continued with his Lensman series in 1934, also in AMAZING.  Catherine Lucille Moore chronicled the adventures of her hero Northwest Smith and swordswoman Jirel of Joiry.  Many other authors quickly learned the appeal to readers of revisiting characters and situations.   Continue reading

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Author Interview: Stephen Zimmer

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Today I am interviewing Stephen Zimmer, author of the new sword and sorcery/dark fantasy novella, Depths of Night, first book of a new novella series of stand-alone tales following the adventures of Ragnar Stormbringer.

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DJ: Hi Stephen! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Stephen Zimmer:  Great to be back with you and your readers!  For those that don’t know me or what I do just yet, I am a writer/filmmaker based in the heart of Kentucky.  I write primarily speculative fiction, with published works in fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, cross-genre fiction, steampunk, horror, and, very soon, young adult!  

Among other things, I enjoy broadcasting and am a regular podcast host on the Star Chamber Show on Blog Talk Radio.  I also founded the Imaginarium Convention, an annual convention that takes place in Louisville, KY themed on all-genres of creative writing.  

My interests are wide and varied, ranging from martial arts, to good Kentucky bourbons, to film, reading, travel, music, and cats such as the wonderful Dubious, who is a member of my immediate family (he even has his own Facebook and Instagram pages!).  

Above all, I’m a laid-back guy who puts 150% into my work and gets up each day with the goal of taking another step forward, no matter if that step might be large or small.

DJ: What is Depths of Night about?

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Stephen:  Depths of Night is the first published Ragnar Stormbringer Tale.   It is about Ragnar going on a sea raid to the lands of the Petranni, who are inspired by ancient Celtic cultures.  When Ragnar goes ashore, they find that the tribal people have abandoned their homes and taken refuge in a large fortress.  The story is about Ragnar’s discovery of the reason for the tribe’s abandonment of their homes, and his response to it, which brings him up against fearsome adversaries.  This is a tale that involves lots of action, supernatural elements, and plot twists.

DJ: What were some of your influences Depths of Night and the series?

Stephen:  Depths of Night and the other Ragnar Stormbringer tales bring out influences of mine such as Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell, both of whom are masters of heroic fantasy fiction.  I have a lot of influences as a writer, but these tales are definitely centered around an iconic, heroic figure, and as such they reflect my love of Howard, Gemmell, and perhaps even a little R.A. Salvatore too!

I should also mention that my readers were another influence for the decision to go forward with this series, as I wanted to be able to bring more stories to them in between my larger novel releases. Continue reading

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Author Interview: David Keck

2040D016-DE0C-4F3D-94DE-CFB3ECA53A64Lisa (@ Over the Effing Rainbow), Jorie (@ Jorie Loves a Story) and imyril (@ One More) are delighted to bring you WYRD AND WONDER, where they plan to celebrate all things fantastical throughout the month of May!


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Today I am interviewing David Keck, author of the new fantasy novel, In the Eye of Heaven, first book in the Tales of Durand series.

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DJ: Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

David Keck: Big picture, I’m a prairie Canadian. Winnipeg is where I grew up, and it’s still the place I think of when someone asks about “home” although I’ve been living in New York City for fourteen years. Somewhere along the line I got hooked on science fiction and fantasy. I remember watching Star Trek reruns after school, and playing Hoth in the snow drifts. I will also confess to playing Dungeons and Dragons too much at high school.

I did a degree in writing at the University of Sussex and snuck off to climb around castles and henges as often as I could. I am not sure how many tombs and towers and mossy stones I’ve seen. (An Ordnance Survey map can be your best friend). Now, I’m a teacher in a Washington Heights middle school. Life can be astonishing. Oh, and, when I grow up, I also want to be a cartoonist! (I love drawing monsters and things, and a few have appeared in professional spots over the years).

DJ: What is In the Eye of Heaven about?

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David: In the Eye of Heaven is the story of a real, rust-and-muscle knight who backs into the center of a civil war full of mad dukes and sorcerous horrors. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and it sees our hero, Durand Col, miss out on an inheritance and make some terrible mistakes as he tries to find his own way. Without giving away too much, Durand earns a place in the retinue of a young man who hopes to prove himself as a tournament hero. Before the end of the novel, the half-war of those early tournaments leads Durand and his friends deep into the politics that tear their nation to pieces.

DJ: What were some of your influences In the Eye of Heaven and the series?

David: I’m a huge reader of actual history and folklore. I’m deeply interested in how people actually lived and died–and what they believed while doing it. My bookshelves are crammed with the stuff. So, when I turned to writing In the Eye of Heaven, I brought with me all of the eerie folktales and grim histories I’d been reading. In some ways, what you get is an antidote to an Arthurian romance. You will find uncanny places and ancient sorceries, but the men and women you meet must deal with broken bones, grumpy horses, and at least one scrape with medieval dentistry. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Nancy Springer

2040D016-DE0C-4F3D-94DE-CFB3ECA53A64Lisa (@ Over the Effing Rainbow), Jorie (@ Jorie Loves a Story) and imyril (@ One More) are delighted to bring you WYRD AND WONDER, where they plan to celebrate all things fantastical throughout the month of May!


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Today I am interviewing Nancy Springer, “legendary fantasy writer” according to Publishers Weekly, author of long-awaited mythic fantasy novel The Oddling Prince .

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DJ: Hi Nancy! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Nancy Springer: Well, I’m almost seventy years old, but some things haven’t changed since I was a child. I get a lot more pleasure out of seeing a giant swallowtail butterfly than having a new bracelet. My idea of a good time is wading up a creek, especially if I find a salamander. I like to go off by myself on foot or a bike or a horse to explore the backwoods. I’m contrary; for instance, a lot of people loathe snakes, but I like them. I’ve always been an oddball. Being a social misfit gave me a difficult childhood, but now it works very much to my advantage as a writer, which has been my profession for my entire adult life. There are times when I am lonely because, as a self-employed individual, I don’t have co-workers, but thank Mothergod for my family – two brothers, two grown children, and my husband, who is my rock.

DJ: What is The Oddling Prince about?

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Nancy: Two heroes and the bond between them, which should surprise none of my longtime readers, because just this sort of thing has been a frequent theme in my writing. Why? Because vivid, compelling, almost frightening daydreams along those lines have obsessed me most of my life since I was fifteen. The first fantasies I wrote, which were also my first novels, always had two noble heroes, faithful comrades, one dark, moody, poetic and visionary, the other sunny and prosaic, gallant and steadfast. In hindsight, I can see I was working out profound psychological problems — but interestingly, the compulsion to fantasize ceased sometime after I met my second husband, the love of my life. Still, a good while later, I wrote THE ODDLING PRINCE because of one last daydream I’d kept in memory, a tale of a seemingly ordinary prince and his oddling double. This time, however, neither of my heroes is dark and moody. Devoted to each other, both are tall and fair-haired, looking nearly as alike as twins. This time the grim, stormy element comes from someone with authority over them, the king. The result is a fraught triangle of turbulent loyalties. This book is about a love worthy of legend, valor in battle, fealty threatened by jealousy and suspicion, a seemingly doomed quest for the sake of brotherhood, and the dangers come in so many forms…forgive me for being so vague. I don’t want to let go a spoiler. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Bethany C. Morrow

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Today I am interviewing Bethany C. Morrow, author of the new science-fiction novel,  MEM.

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DJ: Hi Bethany! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Bethany C. Morrow: I’m a speculative literary writer, writing both adult and YA market fiction; I’m a recovering expatriate originally from Northern California, but I’m not particularly invested in recovering so I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it doesn’t take.

DJ: What is MEM about?

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Bethany: MEM is about an imagined past in which scientists were able to extract unwanted memories, and those extractions resulted in…beings identical to the people who had the memories taken out. Typically those extractions simply housed the memories, but then along came one Mem who was a lot more. MEM is about what it would be like to be her.

DJ: What were some of your influences for MEM?

Bethany: I don’t know if there are influences for MEM, other than my recollection of the spectacle of Dolly the Sheep. Once I know my character, my desire is to follow their trajectory in the world in which I’ve both placed them but which also has to inform them. In the sense that none of us are born or formed in a vacuum, what doesn’t influence us? Continue reading

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Author Interview: Deborah A. Wolf

2040D016-DE0C-4F3D-94DE-CFB3ECA53A64Lisa (@ Over the Effing Rainbow), Jorie (@ Jorie Loves a Story) and imyril (@ One More) are delighted to bring you WYRD AND WONDER, where they plan to celebrate all things fantastical throughout the month of May!


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Today I am interviewing Deborah A. Wolf, author of the new fantasy novel, The Forbidden City, second book in The Dragon’s Legacy series.

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DJ: Hi Deborah! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

Deborah A. Wolf: My pleasure! Thanks for having me back.

DJ: For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Deborah A. Wolf: Aw, I’m just your run of the mill ex military, martial arts studying, horseback riding, single momming, fishing, adrenaline junkie fantasy nerd.  😉

DJ: What is The Forbidden City and then The Dragon’s Legacy series about?

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Deborah: It’s about young people coming of age and having to correct the mistakes of their elders, while fucking the world up anew. It’s about friendship and love in the face of disaster. It’s about power imbalance and abuse, the absolute absurdity of war, gender norms… and, most especially, it’s about dragons.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the The Dragon’s Legacy series?

Deborah: Growing up in a mostly Athabascan village in the middle of Alaska, immersion in the Arabic language and cultures, and a passion for Tolkien make for a very potent brew. Also, George R. R. Martin basically gave me permission to really fuck my characters up, so blame him.

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? 

Deborah: I love all my characters. Each of them is imperfect, and flailing through life as best they can. Sometimes they fuck up, and those fuckups can have terrible, irreparable consequences, but they keep trying. Jian, for instance, lives in a slave empire and is constrained by his half-dae heritage to become a member of Sindan’s elite military force, but he tries to create a small bubble of safety and normalcy for those he loves. Sulema is dragged into politics when all she wants to do is ride her horse and be a warrior for her people, but she tries her best to live up to her new responsibilities. And Hafsa Azeina really is trying to kill fewer people. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Tyler Whitesides

2040D016-DE0C-4F3D-94DE-CFB3ECA53A64Lisa (@ Over the Effing Rainbow), Jorie (@ Jorie Loves a Story) and imyril (@ One More) are delighted to bring you WYRD AND WONDER, where they plan to celebrate all things fantastical throughout the month of May!


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Today I am interviewing Tyler Whitesides, author of the new fantasy novel, The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn, first book in the Kingdom of Grit trilogy.

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DJ: Hi Tyler! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Tyler Whitesides: Hi! Thanks for interviewing me! I live in northern Utah with my wife and son. I’m the author of two fantasy series for young readers, JANITORS, and THE WISHMAKERS. ARDOR BENN is my first venture into fantasy for adults. I’m so excited!  

When I’m not writing, I love to get out into the mountains near my house and enjoy hiking, skiing, and fly fishing. I studied music in college (specifically percussion) and I still try to play as often as I can. I’ve always been cursed with an overabundance of interests, and you know what they say about a jack of all trades…

DJ: What is The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn about?

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Tyler: The story centers around a con man, Ardor Benn, who calls himself a “ruse artist extraordinaire.” After years of successful heists, he’s hired by a priest for his biggest job yet – to steal the king’s coat and crown. To do it right, Ard needs to play the long game, consulting with expert criminals as he and his team infiltrates high society to gain access to the king.

DJ: What were some of your influences The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn and the series?

Tyler: I love smart heist movies and tv shows such as Leverage, and White Collar. I wanted to capture a similar feeling in a fantasy world. I also love the complexity and unique nature of the magic systems in Brandon Sanderson’s books, so I definitely found some inspiration there as well. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jason Mott

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Today I am interviewing Jason Mott, author of the new dystopian novel, The Crossing.

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DJ: Hi Jason! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Jason Mott:  Hi, DJ! First off, thank you so much for taking time out to interview me. It’s pretty exciting! So…as for telling you a little bit about myself, well, I’m never really sure where to start. I’m actually a huge introvert and kinda hate talking about myself. Haha! But I’ll do what I can.

I live in Southeastern North Carolina in a little town called Bolton. I like movies, racing, video games, and writing. Writing is what I love both. I’ve been doing it for a long time now. I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree in fiction and a Master’s degree in poetry. Back in 2013 my first novel, “The Returned,” was published and became a bestseller. (Still one of the greatest moments of my life!) That novel was also turned into a television series called “Resurrection.” The very next year I wrote another novel called “The Wonder of All Things.” That one has been optioned by Lionsgate and, hopefully, will become a movie.

And now my third novel is about to come out. It’s called “The Crossing” and is due out in a few weeks. I’m really excited about it!

DJ: What is The Crossing about?

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Jason:  The Crossing is the story of a pair of twin siblings, Tommy and Virginia, as they make their way across America in the hopes of viewing a rocket launch in Cape Canaveral. But this isn’t America as we know it. Not anymore. In this world there is a mysterious disease that’s quickly wiping out the population and, as a result, there’s essentially a third world war happening. Tommy has been drafted into the military and this trip with his sister is the last time the two of them will get to be together. So, in addition to dealing with the disease and the war, Tommy and Virginia are struggling to understand what it will mean to be apart from one another for the first time–especially when they know that they’ll likely never see each other again.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Crossing?

Jason:  Hmmm. That’s a tough one. Honestly, a lot of the influence has been the news. That may sound dark, but it’s the truth. The news cycles have become so sad, scary, and depressing that I think we’re all struggling to process it. I turn on the news each day and I just feel overwhelmed by it all. And when I get that feeling, I immediately try to think of what I can do to help ease it. For me, that’s writing. So I wrote a novel that helped me process things and, at the same time, I hope will help readers do something similar. Continue reading

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