Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Maurice X Alvarez

Author Maurice X Alvarez writes what he loves to read. He tries to make his stories much more fun that the real world. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, there. My name is Maurice, and I live in New Jersey with my wonderful wife, author Ande Li, two great kids, a dog and a parakeet. I grew up in NYC, and still consider myself a New Yorker at heart.
I’m an avid cyclist, finding the activity and the exploring of new places cathartic after a long week of work.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was around ten years old. I was fortunate to have family that encouraged my writing, including a cousin whose feedback proved invaluable at that early age.

I’m often asked about “when” I began writing, but seldom “why”. I was inspired by films like Star Wars, The Monster Club and Xanadu. They made me dream things I’d never dreamed before, and opened my mind to the kinds of places I wanted to explore and people to learn more about.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

There’s nothing more convincing than that first time you hold a printed copy of your book in your hands. That was January of 2011 for me. But I’d suspected I was a writer long before that, probably in high school when I found myself writing a number of sequels to a short story I’d written in 8th grade. One of them required me to do some research on travel to Africa and diamond mining. That’s when things got real.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

“Return to Averia” is the first book of a trilogy called “The Trouble With Thieves”. It falls under portal fiction, a subgenre of sci-fi/fantasy I learned about recently.

It’s a lighthearted story of a thief from a distant world and two young women from Earth who are drawn into the adventure of their lives as they hunt down a borderline sociopath with delusions of grandeur. How’s that for a one-liner?

What inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration came from a drawing my wife created one day. As I sat there admiring the drawing, a friend happened to peer over my shoulder and mused, “I wonder what the story is behind that!” I’ll never forget those words. He made me realize that I wondered what the story was too! Within a few hours, I had the character names, the epilogue and a basic plot.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’ve heared others refer to my writing style as “seat of my pants”. I know some authors create outlines and have other elaborate methods for their writing. And perhaps some of that goes on in my head, but I definitely don’t engage in anything so formal. My characters lead the way most of the time, and they get themselves in and out of situations, often to my surprise.

Aside from that, I write the way books I have enjoyed are written: easy to read and focused on characters that change and grow from their experiences.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Each book in the trilogy contains the name of a planet within that book. “Return to Averia” is actually the second time one of the characters goes to that planet. The backstory of their first trip to Averia became so rich that it evolved into a forthcoming prequel story.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say it is to look past small issues and just enjoy life. Like us, the characters each start out with a personal struggle that they bring to their relationships with each other and with others. The adventure in “Return to Averia” begins putting things into perspective for them. And that growth progesses throughout the trilogy.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

There are so many! Issac Asimov, Larry Niven, Stephen Donaldson, Jack Chalker, Edgar Rice Burroughs… the list goes on. Their characterizations and worldbuilding skills were true inspirations. And with authors like ERB and Doc Smith, it’s more about the whimsical nature of the stories; you can just zip through them, losing yourself completely but without feeling like you’ve read a deep work of literature.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustration?

The original artwork on which the cover is based was my wife’s doing. There’s a pencil-version of that image which I converted into a 3D graphic for use as the cover. I’ve always been partial to the pulp paperback book covers of the ’60s and ’70, and this was my attempt to mimic their style. Though I did change the title about a year ago when books two and three were released, in order to get a consistent look across the series.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Two things:

Prepare yourself to receive a lot of feedback. Some will be good and some bad; that’s just the way it is. But you will have to learn how to deal with it. Just don’t let it get you down. Read it, ignore it for a day or two and let your chemistry settle down, then read it again and see what you think of it then.

Whether you’re new at it, or it’s old hat, you can always learn something from other writers. This is especially true for us, the self-published. Ours is an ever-evolving world, and it helps to stay on top of the latest trends.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Whether it’s my book or someone else’s, have fun reading!


Maurice X. Alvarez
Florham Park, NJ

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Return to Averia

Cover Artist: Ande Li
Publisher: Room 808 Press

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Author Interview: Taya DeVere

Author Taya is a Finnish-American author, equestrian, and a psychology enthusiastic, writing dystopian sci-fi. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Moi! Hello! My name is Teija DeVere (my author name is Taya DeVere). I was born in Sweden, grew up in Finland, moved away to England in my early 20’s, and continued to travel the world by moving to the states. I meant to stay in Vermont for a year, then hop on a plane again and go find another equestrian job in Spain. But when I happened to meet my partner-in-everything, Chris, on a wintery road trip to Portland, Maine… well, change of plans. Six weeks later, we got married. Over the next seven years, I lived and worked in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and California, until I dragged Chris and our zoo across the Atlantic to live in my home town Kaarina, Finland.

But all that aside, you are what you do, right? Therefore, I’m a ferocious writer. A curious digital marketer. A kind and soft-hearted equestrian. A dog owner who prefers bunnies over puppies (and therefore our house is filled with both). A person who believes that every single one of us is worth a third chance in life.

I devour stories about unlikely friendships. Get my craziest story ideas while lying in a hundred-degree sauna. Add green olives and ketchup in everything, and never miss a chance to tell a bad joke.

When and why did you begin writing?

Where? Durham, Maine. Just like Stephen King, though I didn’t know that at the time. When? I think it was around the summer of 2015. Why? After years of writing an expat blog to friends and family back home, (mostly about little things I found intriguing about living in the states, like coin laundries, French toast bagels, and how people often have popcorn for lunch), I decided to write something in English instead of Finnish. I wrote about the beautifully terrifying equestrian world and submitted my story to a magazine, got accepted, got addicted. I wrote articles and short stories for a long time, until one of the stories grew legs and ended up spreading into a novel. I’ve been hooked on writing books ever since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Back when I was fifteen, my boyfriend waited in my room while I was having dinner with my parents. When I walked in – my belly full of green olives and ketchup – he was reading a five-page essay I had written about The Lord of the Rings. I was embarrassed he had read the paper; it was just something I whipped out because the due date was tomorrow. I’ll never forget the genuine surprise on his face when he said, “Teija, this is great writing. Like, really great.” It still took me years to accept that I was better than average in something, but that essay was the first time I considered it to be true.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The world as we know it is crumbling down. Things like the government, housing, jobs, food, inter-personal touch and conversation now cease to exist. You have to run and hide. But where?

That’s the random thought that started my dystopian sci-fi series “UNCHIPPED.” Though the main character of the story, Kaarina, is not based on me, her torn sneakers took her exactly where mine would; hiding under a slightly moldy horse blanket at a remote horse barn in the Finnish woods.

At the moment, I’m writing book 15/20, and I’m starting to experience separation anxiety from the Unchipped universe as the story is slowly closing to its end.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cultural differences. I thought of my life in Finland and how different it is from my life in the USA. I played around with the two nations switching places; in my head, I relocated all Americans to live in Finland and vice versa. This initial idea didn’t make it to the book but molded into an unlikely friendship between a quiet Finnish outcast girl, a witty and fun Californian guy, and their newly found connection through a brain chip implantation gone wrong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s what I’m told, yes. Though my books are thoroughly edited and stripped of any “Finnglish” before publishing, my editors sometimes have a hard time deleting some of the “Teija-ism’s” in the books. Apparently, some Finnish thoughts and sayings are quite amusing in English. The last Teija-ism I recall was me calling sweatpants “college pants.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Good question! I don’t remember the thought process exactly, but I do remember it being a sunny summer day. I was drinking ice tea on the back porch. Our bunnies jumped around with cheer and the dog was basking in the sun. While genuinely enjoying the moment, my mind somehow jumped into things like Armageddon, social issues, and telepathic connections. Then, a moldy barn. Then, a questionable government with a desperate need to control and save humanity. I guess the name, Unchipped, was an afterthought of the story idea.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. Many. But I think more than anything, I wanted to challenge the reader’s conception of what it means for someone to be good or bad. How our need for ultimatums and simplicity can make us victims of confirmation bias.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the characters are a mix of people I know. A lot of the events and “themes” in the books are based on challenging moments and eras in my life. None of these times are good or bad; all of them are important pieces of the (slightly damaged) puzzle that I am today.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last started my love for dystopian sci-fi. Her sense of humor is beyond intelligent. Her stories have an uncanny way of processing complex social dilemmas, psyche, and humanity in a thrilling but easy-to-gasp way.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

Funny, but now that I think about it… I consider my editors to be my mentors. Especially the development editing process teaches me so much. And not just about story structure or language, but about life itself. I really lucked out finding my team. Knowing that someone will give you honest feedback and gently guide you to make the story flow better helps me become a less cautious writer. Brave, with a hint of insanity. That’s the on-going goal.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Deranged Doctor Design (DDD) designed all my Unchipped covers. I believe it was Chris who initially found their website and then showed me a few sci-fi covers that I found to be superb.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Know your genre tropes and what the market demands, but only write stories that truly inspire you. Book research is the key; I find that my best stories are about things that I want to read and then write about, almost obsessively.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ve had so many moments of despair while reading through the same draft for the eleventh time, and wondering if the story’s message will come through or not. When publishing a new book, I feel vulnerable beyond belief. But the feedback I’ve gotten for my stories has been overwhelmingly positive and helpful. At this point (still under a year since Book 1 came out), I remember most reviews I’ve gotten by heart. Thank you for helping me be better, but most of all, thank you for being a reader!


Taya DeVere
Kaarina, Finland

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UNCHIPPED: KAARINA

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: DVM Press

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Author Interview: Rae Knightly

Author Rae Knightly is a science-fiction adventure author for teenagers and the young-at-heart. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

My name is Rae Knightly and I live near Vancouver, on the West Coast of Canada, with my husband, two children and two grumpy cats. Before that, I lived in Mexico City, and before that, I lived in Belgium, and before that, I lived in Arizona, and before that… I think you get the idea. I love travelling and immersing myself in different cultures. In fact, I got a BA in translation (those who have read my books will get a chuckle out of this).

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always been a writer at heart, but never had time to really do anything about it until 2018, when I lost my job. I already had a rough draft of Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall (The Alien Skill Series, Book 1), so this turned out to be the perfect time to polish it up and publish it. That’s when I decided to go full-time into writing, and I haven’t looked back since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

2018 was a pivotal year for me. For the first time in my life, I managed to concentrate on a single project and write it from beginning to end. I felt very proud of that achievement because I had never managed to write a full story before. I had to wait until my forties to have enough time, a certain insight into my strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of patience, before I could attempt to become a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I published the first book in The Alien Skill Series in 2018 (second edition in 2020). This is a science-fiction adventure story for middle-graders and teens, which talks about a twelve-year-old boy, Ben Archer, who witnesses the crash of alien spacecraft in his grandfather’s field and is entrusted with an alien superpower. He goes on the run from government agents with the sole survivor of the crash: an alien man called Mesmo.

I believe that the friendship between Ben and Mesmo, as well as uncovering the reason why aliens came to Earth, have captivated readers of all ages and are the reasons for the series’ success. I have now won multiple awards and have achieved bestseller status on Amazon in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is the first book in the series. The sixth and last book, Ben Archer and the Toreq Son, published in March 2021.

I am now working on my next series, The Lost Space Treasure, which I plan on publishing in 2022.

What inspired you to write this book?

As mentioned above, I had plenty of story ideas but always struggled to focus on one of them. Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall was supposed to be my ‘practice novella’ – a short and simple story. I wasn’t even focusing too much on the story itself; all I wanted was to prove to myself that I could finish something short. But once I got into it, I became attached to the characters and the story kept growing. I guess you could say I grew with the story and was inspired to see how far I could go.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My mother tongue is French (I was born in Belgium), so I have a certain limit as to what/how I can write. Fortunately, I have enough English knowledge and vocabulary to tell a good story in an easily-accessible way.

Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall is told from multiple points-of-view, which is quite unusual for middle-grade/teen books, but I believe it also the reason why readers of all ages have found a character to relate to.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I did a lot of research for the title, as well as the name of the main character. The original title was David Archer and the Chilliwack Fall, but then I discovered there already was a David Archer series and some smart readers pointed out that no-one would remember the name Chilliwack. I then changed the title to the Cosmic Fall to give it a science-fiction vibe.

The title of a book is important and is worth some thorough thought and research.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Under layers of adventure and excitement, there is indeed an important message in the series. Fortunately, readers have grasped that message and it reflects in their reviews: “A great environmental lesson for young adults.” “Contains environmental yet important themes about our need to protect our planet.” “An extremely timely message for today’s readers.”

In short, I hope to inspire young readers to take action to protect our environment.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in
your own life?

The book is not based on experiences or people in my life. However, they are inspired by real events, short newspaper articles or videos I came across; such as water plumes jutting out of one of Saturn’s moons, imprisoned whales freed off the coast of Russia, images of the Northern Lights in a magazine, major fires in the rainforests of Brazil…

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you
find inspiring?

I was an avid reader when I was a teenager, and most of my own writing reflects that. Some of my favourite science-fiction and fantasy authors were Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising trilogy), Lois Duncan (A Stranger with my Face), Monica Hughes (Earthdark), Terry Brooks (The Shannara Trilogy), Paulo Coehlo (The Alchemist).

I loved their stories because they transported me into fantastical realms, away from reality. It was a thrilling feeling full of emotion and discovery. That is what I aim to do in my own writing.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Cristy Watson, my editor and author friend (Cutter Boy), has been a guiding light since the very beginning of my writing career. As a traditionally published author and teacher, she knew exactly how to gear the story towards my target readers. She has also brought a positive touch to my stories.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I ran a book cover contest on 99designs.com and received over eighty submissions! I picked five covers, then asked reader and writer Facebook groups to vote for their favourite one. The book cover designer Pintado came out a clear winner. This was an excellent marketing strategy for me because I knew I had a cover that was on target.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing, publishing and marketing your book can feel overwhelming at times. I suggest you don’t look at the mountain. Rather, focus on what you can get done today. It doesn’t have to be much, but you have to be constant. Also, forget about pleasing the crowds. What you have to do is find a group of target readers: those who will most enjoy your stories and rave about them.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Although my books are geared towards middle-graders and young adults, I welcome anyone to try them out. You can download a free novella by subscribing on my website: www.raeknightly.com .

This free novella is called The Great War of the Kins and is the point of origin of my two series: The Alien Skill and The Lost Space Treasure. I will also send you a monthly newsletter with news on upcoming releases, book cover reveals, ARC-reader opportunities, free books and more. Welcome to this fun and inclusive reading community!


Rae Knightly
Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

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Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall

Cover Artist: Pintado

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BARNES & NOBLE

Author Interview: Bill McCormack

I asked Author Bill McCormack (aka Bill McScifi) how he would describe himself as a writer.  He said, “I tend to write dark stuff for adult audiences. It’s not something I do consciously, it just seems that somehow, somewhere, someone needs to be skinned alive with a titanium cheese slicer.”  Please welcome him here to No Wasted Ink.

Author Bill McCormickHi there, my name’s Bill McCormick and I’m a science fiction writer who lives in South Chicago with my fiancée. Before writing science fiction, I did occasional articles for music magazines and sports blogs. Overlapping that I worked as a touring musician and eased into management when it became clear I was going to live my life in bars if I kept playing bass in public. I went on to work with James Brown and many others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written for fun and intermittent profit. But, in 2010, I’d lost my job, my wife, and most of my reasons to live. I decided to dust off some ideas I’d had and immerse myself in fantasy worlds for a while. It was a rude, but semi-effective, form of therapy. Oddly, some early beta readers of the stories I was writing said nice things behind my back and I started putting more effort into it. I was able to get a job with a consulting company that gave me some freedom, so I used my free time to write. I cranked out multiple short stories, and garnered multiple rejection letters, until 2011 when I sold And the Beat Goes Phut to Bewildering Stories. That’s when I circled back to a story I’d tried to write a couple decades earlier. I trimmed it, dramatically, and began work on what I hoped would be a novella. It ended up being a trilogy. Oh well.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always used the term to describe my life goals, but I started using it as a personal descriptor in 2017. By then I’d left my job and concentrated exclusively on writing. I had two comic book series, several one-offs coming, and The Brittle Riders was out and doing well. Being that I was fifty-six at the time, it was a risk. But, so far, so good.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY is both an interesting and cautionary tale. It starts with a ten-year-old, African American, boy being tossed out of a car in Omaha, Nebraska. He has a crisp fifty dollar bill his father gave him, before tossing him out, and not much else. It is very much a road story as he travels first into Omaha proper, and then across the U.S., until he ends up in the Marines while trying to do a favor for the New York mob. The name comes from a fictionalization of Elon Musk’s theories about enhancing humans with cybernetic implants.

What inspired you to write this book?

Funny story. A gentleman named Tye Feimster, owner of ©Watchdog Entertainment®, had a series of comics he asked me to review. As I did, I noticed one character in the background of all of them and I wanted to know him more. So, I wrote a ten-page sample of what I wanted to do with the character and submitted it. He liked it, but … you knew there was a but, he wasn’t sure he wanted to do a comic. My writing seemed more cinematic. One thing led to another and I signed a deal to write a movie. When I finished the movie I tried, again, to sell the comic as an ancillary and complementary intellectual property. I said I wanted to add some elements that weren’t in the film to give it depth. Tye thought that was a great idea but asked me to write a novel instead. Azoth Khem had the whole thing under contract before I’d finished chapter one. So, short answer, I tried to make a few bucks selling a comic and it all blew up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Well, as author Steve Silver has noted, “McCormick says more in twelve words than others do in twelve paragraphs.” While that may be a tad hyperbolic, I do tend to be terse. Nancy Chandler, the owner of Azoth Khem, joked that The Brittle Riders was three hundred thousand words of gut punching sentences. SPLICE, however, is even more terse. It clocks in just under one hundred thousand words and I broke them out into eighty chapters to keep the story moving at breakneck speed.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Well, SPLICE was the character’s name in the comic books and Tye wanted to add Hit Bit Technology as it’s the link in all of his comics.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40). This kid goes through hell. Being an abandoned black kid in a primarily white city, already made somewhat paranoid by his parents, he never really catches a break. He learns early to be as invisible as possible. There are no heroes in this book. Splice grows up to be a super villain with an inexplicable support group.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some of the experiences he goes through are based on stories I have heard from friends. The early strangers in the book are based on lonely old people who would talk to me on planes as I was shuttling between families. They tend to offer information no one cares about. Like how Herbie likes tacos with American cheese.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

The holy trilogy, Heinlein, Asimov, and Clark, of course, but Walter M. Miller, A. E. Van Vogt, Clifford D. Simak, and Octavia Butler really punched my buttons. They wrote some brain bending stuff and my brain bent happily.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

David Brin. Mostly because he has answered questions for me and given pointed advice. Also, he’s proud of his growth from his early work, and isn’t ashamed of how much better his stuff is now.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Tye and I knocked it out in an afternoon. We both have experience in graphics and knew what we wanted.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be afraid to suck. You’re going to no matter what so just do it and move on. I once wrote “The yielding shall never commence” and thought it was good. It wasn’t, isn’t, and I learned.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Well, this group is your readers, but I hope some of them will become mine.

Splice Book CoverBill McCormick
Chicago, IL

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SPLICE: HIT BIT TECHNOLOGY

Publisher: Azoth Khem Publishing

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BARNES&NOBLE

 

Eccentric Orbits: An Anthology of Science Fiction Poetry 2 Launches!

Eccentric Orbits Poetry Anthology

Fabulous science fiction poetry and scifaiku by a talented international group of poets. There’s robots, there’s aliens, there’s intergalactic war, there’s the eternal quest for peace, and there’s love found and love lost. Underneath all, is the quest, the truth, and the realization of humanity.

Eccentric Orbits 2 is my debut as a poetry anthology editor. I am humbled by the quality and variety of poetry that was submitted for this volume. I am happy to have it available in time for National Poetry Month. The book is available in paperback via Amazon, or via paperback and pdf through the publisher, Dimensionfold Publishing.