An Interview with Kathryn Sommerlot

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So I may have needed a little more insight into what inspired Kathryn Sommerlot for The Life Siphon Duology. Okay, more like I’m just super nosy and like to see what happens in other authors minds.

 

How did you come to decide on the names you used? It’s obvious that they have meaning, at least one character in particular.  

The names are divided by location, since all the varying kingdoms have their own linguistic commonalities. Runon in particular uses the Japanese phonemes as its base, so all the names use those sounds. Both Yudai and Tatsu are Japanese names. For Chayd, there’s a lot of l’s used, and some sounds that don’t show up in the Runonian language, like the ‘sh’ and ‘sch’ sounds. So you get names like Alesh, Ral, Drel, and Hesch. But I tried to keep them fairly short, because it can be difficult for readers faced with long unknown names, and the shorter ones are usually easier to sound out.

The scenery throughout is extremely rich? Do certain real life elements appear in these settings? 

With the scenery, I tried to use combinations of real life climate zones – like Chayd’s subtropical zone, Runon’s moderate mountain climate, and Joesar’s tropical deserts – and more magical settings I could see in my head, because I wanted them to be a realistic fantasy. The Weeping Forest was based originally off Weeping Willow trees you can see in my home state!

Do you have any upcoming projects we can be on the look out for? 

There is a sequel novel coming for The Life Siphon series that is set in the world with many of the same characters, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to finish that within the year. I’ve also just finished a first draft of an alternative historical fantasy that I’m planning to shop around to agents.

Is there any fun, behind the scene stories you want to share with us from while you were writing this?

It was my beta’s idea to have the trees in Runon laugh and giggle, set up to be the opposite effect the siphon had on areas like the Weeping Forest. Her hand is very visible in the story, and it wouldn’t have been nearly as good without her influence. The importance of having a beta who loves your work as much as you do can’t be overstated.
Want to read more by Kathryn Sommerlot?
She’s got more to read and they are officially on my TBR List. 
Both are available on Amazon and other major retailers.
Ibuki   Roanoke

A Interview with Matt Doyle

addict for wordpress interview

Of course I had some burning questions for Matt Doyle after reading Addict. I mean who wouldn’t have a million questions with all the tech and the mystery? Plus, I may have gotten the scoop for those of you who were wondering if there were more books planned.

What drew you to writing about a private investigator?

Honestly, writing a PI was something new for me, and it wasn’t initially planned. What basically happened was, I was playing the fighting game BlazBlue Central Fiction online on my PS3 – read as ‘getting destroyed by people across the globe’ – and during a particularly brutal loss, something in the back of my head just said, “We’re writing a mystery novel next.” And who was I to argue? The thing is, I always loved the noir detectives of old; they were stubborn, and they certainly had their own moral compass, but they always seemed to be pushing towards (what they at least viewed as) the greater good. So, when it came to writing about a PI, my mind went to there. At the same time though, I tend to write with a grounding in science fiction, even when the books themselves don’t fit neatly into that genre, so it really felt like I should try to work that into the setting. When I was searching for inspiration, I basically just sat down and did a marathon re-watch of the films The Maltese Falcon, L.A. Confidential, and Blade Runner. That solidified in my head that using a PI as a protagonist for this tale was the right way to go. It’s been interesting too, as I’ve seen readers not only comparing the story to both The Maltese Falcon and Blade Runner, but also to characters like Jessica Jones, Veronica Mars, and Claudia Valentine. It’s really heartening, because people are finding similarities with all this awesome stuff that they enjoy, but without the book becoming a pastiche of these works.

 

What gave you the idea for the tech shifters?

Now, that I actually had a good idea about from the get-go. I’d been reading a lot of urban fantasy novels – stuff like the Mercy Thompson and Otherworld series – and wanted to work shifters in, but with a tech-infused twist. As a result, I went back to stuff I was familiar with. I build costumes in my spare time, and these have ranged from simple clothing modifications to full-blown mascot style fursuits. The world of fursuiting is really varied too, with everything from the cartoony humanoid costumes that people generally think of to quad-suits designed to simulate quadrupedal movement. So, I took that concept and had a look at the way different builders are already incorporating tech into the costumes and worked my way through how a future version might look.

Meanwhile, the reasons that Lori has for Tech Shifting came from some documentaries I’d seen on pup-play (and pet-play in general). The way I saw it, people would have many different reasons to want to use Tech Shift Gear, so understanding why we do similar things already was a must. It’s also really different to what springs to mind for most when you mention kink.

 

Where did you get your inspiration for all the tech for you book? You’ve got to be tech-minded.

I knew from the get-go that, while I wanted a futuristic setting, I didn’t want to go too far into the future. The world in The Cassie Tam Files is pretty dark at times, and I wanted to leave people thinking that it could be a viable reality. That included the tech. So, I started looking at the stuff that we have now and what we’re seeing growth in in terms of usage, then started brainstorming ideas as to where that stuff could end up further down the line. I am fairly tech-minded, but a lot of the time, I simply research what I’m wanting to work with and go from there. Moving forward, you can expect some other bits and pieces to pop up that utilises modified versions of existing tech too. The key for me was to try to understand some of the science behind it and make sure that everything was at least theoretically possible.

t’s a really interesting part of the BDSM scene too, because it’s not sexual for a lot of people. It’s also really different to what springs to mind for most when you mention kink.

 

 

Obviously there’s plan for more books. Are you going to explore the BDSM aspect and the tech shifters more?  One of your characters, Lori, said something that was so important. It’s about trust and I wanted a little more insight.

Yeah, unless plans change, there should be at least five books in the current run. NineStar Press has signed both the second and third book already, so I’m hard at work on editing those and planning out the fourth now. As to what we’ll explore … a lot of stuff. The BDSM part is only touched upon in the second and third book, as Cassie is still a little wary about the Tech Shifter community, and it kinda spills over for her. It really is all about trust, and when you’re still unsure about something so important for your partner, that can make things a little difficult. We do get to learn a little more about why it’s difficult for Cassie though, as well as seeing her try to get her own hang-ups about it under check. There will be a resolution to this, so I’m hoping to build up towards doing a little more about that part of the world, but at the moment the focus is on Tech Shifting itself rather than the BDSM side of Lori’s application of it.

The thing with it is, there is a bigger story going on in the background. Each book is its own self-enclosed case, but all of them drop breadcrumbs for something bigger until we hit the book where Cassie starts investigating the bigger mystery. My main goal has been to touch on things as and when it seems natural to do so. I want everything to feel like it slots into place by the end, if that makes sense? So, while the kink scene is a part of New Hopeland, it won’t be the main focus.

 

 

How did you come up with Bert? I need more Bert in my life. He had sass and snark and the most he said was, “Caw.”

You know, it’s really amazed me how popular Bert has been. I love that he’s so well loved by readers, but it wasn’t what I expected to happen.

I had wanted to have a futuristic pet in the book and being a fan of gargoyles (from the actual statues to the cult Disney cartoon series), I figured that a mechanical gargoyle would be a good way to go. His general attitude and behaviour came in because I was trying to picture what sort of pet would both infuriate and endear itself to someone like Cassie. As a result, we ended up with the lovable little menace that is Bert. There will be plenty more of him going forward though. I’ve been careful not to have him turn up for the sake of it, I want to keep the same feel for him in all the books, but he’ll definitely be a mainstay.

 

What’s to come?

Book 2 – The Fox, the Dog, and The King: Cassie and Lori have a night out at the theatre to watch a professional Tech Shift performer named Kitsune. What should have been a fun night out soon turns into Cassie being lumbered with a missing dog case, and that in turn spirals into something far bigger that has the potential to effect not only Cassie, but the whole of New Hopeland City.

 

Beneath the Surface by Rebecca Langham

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Four out of Five Stars

The Summary: When a change in collective conscious sends the Outsiders, a group of aliens, to the shadows below the city, humans reason that the demonization of their peers is simply more “humane.” There’s no question, nor doubt. Just acceptance.

Lydia had embraced that sense of “truth” for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a powerful governor, she has been able to live her life with more comforts than most. Comforts can be suffocating, though, and when the opportunity to teach Outsider children in their private, “humane” community becomes available, she takes it.

What she finds beneath the city is far from the truth she had grown to know. There she meets Alessia, an Outsider with the knowledge and will to shake the foundation of all those who walk above ground. The two find a new and unexpected connection despite a complete disconnect from the technological world. Or perhaps in spite of it.

Still, it takes a lot more than an immutable connection to change the world. Lydia, Alessia, and a small group of Outsiders must navigate a system of corruption, falsehoods, and twists none of them ever saw coming, all while holding on to the hope to come out alive in the end. But it’s a risk worth taking, and a future worth fighting for.

 

The Review

Beneath the Surface is Rebecca Langham’s debut novel.  It’s a science-fiction novel that delves into the tougher issues of what any society can and does experience. Lydia, who is the daughter of a powerful politician, choses to teach in an underground community where the Outsiders are housed. She teaches an extremely scripted version of history as to what happened and why the Outsiders were kept underground. It was for their own good, a way to protect them and one day they’ll get out of the underground societies. Once it’s safe for them.

Upon her arrival, Lydia first meets Jez, her teaching partner who is also a hybrid of the human/outsider species. That’s why she’s always remained underground, teaching and denying herself the chance to fall in love and to find friends. I think this is a moment that makes Lydia stand still and think. As she begins to get situated and teach she starts to interact more with the Outsiders. She sees Alessia throughout and she feels drawn to her. It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow. You’re taught a certain rhetoric all your life and you start to see something different. Then you’re attracted to an Outsider? That’s a lot.

Romance took a backseat to the main plot of Beneath the Surface. I think that if there had been more written about their romance, it wouldn’t have fit in the story. There were breathless kisses, scenes that could have been more detailed but you knew how the two felt about each other. It was more than attraction for them.

Fermi also had a bit of a romance going as well. I loved Fermi. He was so bright, happy and full of energy. So to see a secondary character get attention was exciting.

I found myself throughout the entire novel making connections to past and current events. I blame the historian in me but I saw segregation, racial tensions, and refugee issues. There were so many ways that this made me stop and think.

I enjoyed the amount of detail that had been needed to create such a huge, diverse world. There were at times I felt myself walking through the hallways, experiencing the rush of emotion. I could feel happy, sad, anxious and angry in a rapid manner. And it was all essential to the plot.

But the ending is what had you opening your eyes and thinking, oh my gosh. That’s so true. It’s something that I never saw coming but looking back there were plenty of little clues.

This is one you should definitely give a read.

This way to the Author Interview!

Purchase Here

Blackout by Kit Mallory

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: For 16-year-old Skyler, fear is a way of life. For three years, since the Wall split the UK in two, her survival as an illegal Northern refugee in the South has been a perilous balancing act between staying in the shadows and clinging to her reputation as the South’s best hacker.

Fellow refugee Mackenzie is a ghost from her past she’d rather ignore. But when their paths collide unexpectedly, Skyler sees an opportunity to exact revenge on the brutal regime that destroyed her home and family – even if it means she goes down with them.

Forced, with extreme reluctance, on the run together, Skyler and Mackenzie, along with enigmatic contract killer Angel, must find a way to outrun not only the Board and the South’s most sadistic crime lord, but their own personal demons. If they can manage to not end up murdering each other in the process, that’ll be a bonus.

But more is at stake than any of them realise. And Skyler, who has long believed she has nothing left to lose, is about to discover just how wrong she is.

 

The Review

Blackout by Kit Mallory is a post-apocalyptic story of survival, fighting for what is right and friendship. Skyler is an illegal Northern refugee who has been living in the South as a hacker. She’s been living in the cellar of one of the most ruthless of men in the North in order to continue living on the inhabitable side of the wall. When the opportunity comes knocking with the possibility of taking down the people who destroyed the North, how can she pass it by? Even if she goes down with them?

She can’t help but steal the extra drive off of Mackenzie. She gets far more than she ever thought she was end up with. She’s on the run from both the Board and Daniel Redruth’s men as she tries to find enough electricity, someone to fix her gear and a safe place to extract all the information that she can in order to make a move.

During the process Skyler ends up with a group of people who are just as dedicated to taking the Board down as she is. There’s Angel who is a contract killer and a healer, the twins, Mackenzie and others on the seedier side of the law who all aim to help. They each have their own history and reason for wanting to take down Redruth and the Board.

What I enjoyed about Blackout was the fact that I was able to get lost in the story. I was there with Skyler, Angel and Mackenzie. I could feel the tension, the anxiety and the fear that each of these characters felt throughout the book. The further along in their plans, the more and more I could see the attraction between Skyler and Angel. It was a subtle undercurrent. They cared about each other from the first meeting, developed a friendship and it ultimately culminated in a romantic attraction.

There are time jumps throughout that told as memories. These scenes are situated in a way that reads fluidly and helped push the story along. Usually I’m not a fan of this kind of writing but it helped me understand the motivations and how these teenagers grew to who they are.

And that ending?! Wow.

The romantic relationship isn’t the shining star in this novel but don’t let that stop you from reading this. I really enjoyed every page of this book.

 

Bonus, questions with the author, Kit Mallory!

 

Where did your inspiration for Blackout come from? I see parallels to events today and in the past but I wonder what sparked this for you?

 

I started writing Blackout back in 2012, and the original concept for the setting grew out of a few things. One was a long-standing fascination with the Berlin Wall and what that must have been like for the people who lived through it – it seems like such an outlandish concept, and yet it happened so recently – the Wall didn’t come down until after I was born.

 

The other big influence was the North/South divide in the UK, which is a thing that’s often talked about here – I spent a long time living in Yorkshire and it’s very clear that in many ways London and the south-east have access to a lot of finances and resources that are more limited in other areas. And finally, of course, there’s been an awareness for a long time that fossil fuels are a finite resource and that we over-rely on them, and ever since I was a kid I’ve wondered about what the eventual consequences of that might be.

 

Several people have commented on how the setup in Blackout seems increasingly plausible, and one of the most unsettling things for me is that although what happens in Blackout seems very extreme, we know that governments absolutely do do terrible things to their own people (Syria being an obvious current example, but there are dozens more, of course) and the political landscape in the UK and the US has changed so dramatically since I started writing Blackout in ways I would never have imagined were possible. It makes me think anything is possible, and not in a good way.

 

Are you working on or planning any future projects?

 

I’m working on the sequel to Blackout right now! I couldn’t possibly leave the gang there, haha. I am TERRIBLE with giving away spoilers so I won’t say too much about it, but it’s definitely coming! I’m aiming to have that out in the next 12 months. I’m also working on a YA contemporary fantasy series and another standalone book that’s technically YA fantasy but is turning out much darker and more of a psychological thriller. All of them are f/f.

 

Blackout is due out May 8, 2018 and is available for pre-order here !!