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Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.

18Apr/12Off

Continuing Characters #8: Asahel

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

The Universal Mirror

The Artifacts of Empire series by Gwen Perkins begins with the novel The Universal Mirror (2012), newly available from Hydra Publications in paperback and Kindle format. Planned subsequent volumes will be the novels The Jealousy Glass and The Funeral Ring, and a novella entitled Paper Armor. The books share a common universe, but are designed to be readable both as a series and as stand-alones.

(cover art by Enggar Adirasa)

Asahel by Wilson Fabian SaraviaAsahel Soames rose from obscurity to become a magician. Part of a merchant family, Asahel struggled through adversity as he went through training with others who believed him incapable of performing magic because of his low class. He formed a bond with Quentin Mathar Gredara, a nobleman, during these years and that friendship forms the basis of conflict in both The Universal Mirror and its sequel-in-progress, The Jealousy Glass.

"People are the same whether they believe in a higher being or not. I shouldn’t see that having a god absolves anyone of responsibility. Rather, it ought to give them more of it." --Asahel

(character portrait by Wilson Fabian Saravia)

Questions for Asahel

Q. How did you feel when you realized the full extent of the consequences of defying the laws of your land, which prohibit magicians from leaving their homeland, and casting spells on the living?

Afraid.

I hadn't realized before the depth of what it was that we were doing or what it meant to other people. When I first agreed to help my friend Quentin learn to heal others, I thought only of the good that it would mean. I didn't understand the path that we'd need to take to get there nor where he'd want to go.

Quent hasn't got an understanding of what life is like for those who don't have money. He thinks that it's acceptable to treat the poor as if they're not the same as he is. Easy for him to say when he's never missed a meal in his life nor really spoken to many who did. Life doesn't have the same consequences for him that it does for me. The experimentation that we were doing—it meant exile for him if he was to be caught but for me? It meant death. It wasn't until he made the suggestion that we perform our experiments on the poor that I truly understood how much was at stake.

Q. In The Universal Mirror you play a supporting role to Quentin in his personal quest, but in The Jealousy Glass you play a more central role than Quentin. How do you feel you have changed between books in this series?

A long time has passed. I'm not sure that I feel I'm as much of a man as I used to be. I stood up to Quentin and made difficult choices before. In the aftermath, however, I let myself weaken when I should have been strong. I'm worried that I gave up one friendship to maintain another that perhaps wasn't as valuable as I once believed it to be.

I'm still discovering who it is that I am. A person never really stops learning that, I know, but it's easier to find when you step away from shadows cast taller than your own.

Gwen Perkins Gwen Perkins is a fantasy author and museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, published by Hydra Publications. Her website is located at http://gwen.ironangel.net.

Questions for Gwen Perkins

Q. How have you managed to balance the independence of your second book in your series while maintaining continuity with the first book?

I've used a few different techniques to make this second novel work as a "stand-alone" while playing with the concepts introduced in The Universal Mirror. The Jealousy Glass takes place a year after Mirror concluded which gives the events a little space and also sets the stage for a different conflict to take place. Because so much time has passed, this puts the reader who has followed the series on a more equal footing with those who have not. Those who've read Mirror are likely to notice subtle nuances in Jealousy Glass from moments in the first book but it won't be necessary to read both books to enjoy either first or second.

The second book also takes place in the Anjduri Empire, a larger nation that has a conflicted history with Cercia, the island that The Universal Mirror is set on. Although Asahel and Felix (book 2's POV characters) are familiar with Anjdur, neither has ever been off their island before and because of this, they're discovering the country at the same time as the reader.

Q. Are you planning to write your stories in sequential order? How much continuity in POV characters will there be?

Presently, I have three novels and a novella planned in the Artifacts of Empire series. The Universal Mirror is the starting point for the novels and the two subsequent novels, The Jealousy Glass and The Funeral Ring, take place in sequential order right after that one. Paper Armor is the novella that I'm planning and that will actually be an origin story for Felix and Tycho, two characters who play pivotal roles at varying points in the series.

So far as points of view, what I tend to do is have two points of view per novel. (I don't believe this will be the case with the novella.) Asahel is a planned POV character for all three novels while the second POV rotates for each. In The Universal Mirror, it was Quentin, his best friend, whereas in The Jealousy Glass, it's Felix, a swordsman, and in The Funeral Ring, it will be Catharine, Quentin's wife. You see many of the same characters from book to book but the POV won't be the same.

4Apr/12Off

Continuing Characters #7: Vern

Author Karina Fabian returns for our first Continuing Character interview with a dragon.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem Live and Let Fly

For a dragon detective with a magic-slinging nun as a partner, saving the worlds gets routine. So, when the US government hires Vern and Sister Grace to recover stolen secrets for creating a new Interdimensional Gap--secrets the US would like to keep to itself, thank you—Vern sees a chance to play Dragon-Oh-Seven.

It's super-spy spoofing at its best with exotic locations (Idaho--exotic?), maniacal middle-managers, secret agent men, teen rock stars in trouble, man-eating animatronics, evil overlords and more!

The DragonEye, PI series by Karina Fabian begins with Magic, Mensa and Mayhem and continues April 20, 2012 with Live and Let Fly.

Vern

Vern is a private investigator with the Dragon Eye Private Investigations Agency, where he works with his partner Sister Grace. The part where it gets interesting? He's a dragon, and she's a nun/mage from the Faerie Catholic Church. What kind of work to do they do? In Vern's own words: "We'll handle just about any case that pays and, being a dragon, I'm not particular about how I get paid. Cash or carrion, I'm your dragon. We do everything from find lost pets to save the universe--sometimes at the same time. Hey, I'm a dragon. I can multi-task."

Questions for Vern

Q. What made you want to become a private investigator, and is this your first profession?

I almost laughed at this question, because as an immortal being forged in the beginning of time, I’ve done a lot. “Profession,” however, made me stop and think. I’m not sure cruising the skies for cattle, snacking on annoying knights, or trading the spare scale to some apothecary that amuses me counts for a profession. Eight and a half centuries ago, I was “drafted” into service of the Faerie Church, and I’ve done some interesting things, from bodyguard to scribe—I’ve got great penmanship as long as I have an inkwell and a sharp pinkie claw—to agent of the Inquisition. Still, in all those cases, I did what I was told and got my rewards from God and whatever the Church doled out in food and shelter; so, not a profession really.

I didn’t exactly choose the private investigation profession so much as happen into it. I’d come to the Mundane world from Faerie--not sure why, it was a “Calling”-thing—and got caught up in a mystery that baffled the local sheriff. He had every right to be baffled; what Mundane lawman suspects chili pepper vines to turn into murderers—outside of the movie theater, that is? Magic was still new to the Mundane, back then, and obviously, the world needed someone who was an expert—and brilliant, quick to learn new things, strong, with good instincts… I fit the bill, so I hung up a shingle and spent a lot of time cold and hungry because no one wanted to hire a dragon.

That was over a decade ago—a blink of an eye to a dragon. Now, my partner, Sister Grace, and I get a steady share of cases where magic and technology have mixed badly. We still do our share of finding lost kittens. (I never get asked to find lost lambs; it’s always cats.) However, we also handle some major baddies. We’ve saved the Mundane and Faerie worlds so many times, we have a code for it—STUC. (Save The Universes Case). I try to charge extra when I can, but do you know how hard that is to get past a nun? It’s not like I can hold out saving the world until I get a raise.

Still, it’s interesting work, and if you disregard the danger, broken bones, gunshot wounds and other physical annoyances, it’s a pretty good way to spend a few centuries.

Q. How do you get on with humans, and do you ever find it's difficult being a dragon in your profession?

It would be a lot easier if the government would consider me a person. Until Grace joined me, I did everything under the table, with the police force turning a blind eye. Grace holds the PI license that makes us legit, even if we have to pay taxes. It’s humiliating to think that Coyote the Trickster has a Green Card but I don’t qualify. (I just take comfort that he’s still on parole in the reservation, and I put him there. Grin.)

I get along fine with humans from Faerie. They understand about dragons and give us proper respect. (Or most do, and I just eat the rest.) In the Mundane, things are different. Took years to convince the populace of Los Lagos that I did not need a leash and asking me if I was “housebroken” was insulting. Oh, and let’s not discuss the time in Florida when I got mistaken for an animatronic kiddie ride. People as a group are ignorant, but individual persons are all right. I have a lot of good friends in the Mundane.

Karina Fabian Karina Fabian breathes fire, battles zombies with chainsaws and window cleaner, travels to the edge of the solar system to recover alien artifacts, and had been driven insane by psychic abilities. It’s what makes being an author such fun. She won the 2010 INDIE Award for best fantasy for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (her first DragonEye, PI novel) and the Global E-Book Award for best horror for Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. She’s an active member of Broad Universe and the Catholic Writers’ Guild, and teaches writing and marketing online. When not writing, she enjoys her family and swings a sword around in haidong gumbdo.

Questions for Karina

Q. The DragonEye Universe started out as a short story. What sparked the idea of a dragon and a nun as a private investigation team?

Vern came about because I needed a different angle on dragons and got inspired by a comedy routine in the show Whose Line Is It, Anyway? Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles were doing a noir skit about a parrot, I think, and I was laughing and thinking, “I could do this—with a dragon!” Vern was born. I followed the noir motif of giving him a jaded past, and what could make a dragon more jaded than having to work for St. George (and by expansion, the Faerie Church and God) to get his dragon glory back?

Vern was rough, very cynical, and not good with people, so he needed a soothing influence. Enter Sister Grace from the Order of Our Lady of the Miracles. She’s a high powered mage in the Faerie Catholic Church and has a tortured past of her own; and in fact, was in the US for psychiatric treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which they don’t have a lot of experience with in Faerie. She needed someone who could protect her, comfort her, and push her to use her magic again. Vern fit the bill nicely. They have great respect and admiration for each other. You’ll notice, for example, in the books that Vern always puts himself first, even when saying, “I and” another person. Other than the saints, Sister Grace is the only person he makes an exception for.

Q. Vern has a very distinct voice. What do you enjoy about writing from his point of view?

I can let loose, be snarky, make sarcastic jokes and puns. (I looked at the henchman under my claws and drooled. “Phil A. Minion. Can I have fries with that?” I live for these moments. I really do.) It’s a lot of fun to look at the world from the point of view of a predator who believes himself superior to everyone—even the ancient gods and goddesses.

Vern’s easy to write. I scared a friend once by saying I “channel” him, but in truth, his voice and attitude do take over. It’s hard to write Vern when others are around, because I feel my face twist into a kind of half grin, half sneer, and my eyes narrow. (When I’m not chortling at something he said.) I probably look odd at best, schitzo at worse, but that’s okay because the books are such fun, and his voice makes it that way.

For the next book, Gapman, I’m alternating between Vern’s POV and that of his apprentice, the superhero Gapman. It’s a great juxtaposition, because Gapman, aka Ronnie Engleson, is so sweet and naïve and bumbling until Grace makes Vern take him under his wing, so to speak. Vern doesn’t want to deal with a superpowered babe-in-the-woods, but if he has to, he’s going to have some fun…at Ronnie’s expense. (“Consider it ‘tough love,’ if it makes you feel better, Ronnie.” “(Groan) That’s what Mom always says.”)

1Feb/12Off

Continuing Characters #6: Talie Tappler

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

The Tomorrow News NetworkThe Tomorrow News Network is the only news agency run by time travelers. Their reporters venture across the known universe, covering the biggest stories of all time. Their broadcasts bring viewers the news before it happens, except those viewers who could change it. Those viewers only see static.

The Tomorrow News Network web series by James S. Pailly is a collection of original short stories. Each month, from January to October, 2012, will feature a new adventure with Tomorrow News Network reporter Talie Tappler and her cameraman, Mr. Cognis. Join them as they cover the Roswell crisis, the assassination of Earth’s first president, a holy war in the Orion Nebula, and much, much more.

The first TNN story, The Medusa Effect was posted January 9th, 2012. February's installment is coming February 6th.

Talie Tappler

The Encyclopedia Galactica lists Talie Tappler as a professional time traveler, but where others would make time travel a profession she makes it an art form. Using only a battered, old pocket watch, she can go to any point in space or time. Her knowledge of chronotheory, the science of time travel, is absolute, almost instinctive. In her career with the Tomorrow News Network, she’s earned a reputation as the greatest reporter in all of time and space. She’s covered the biggest stories of every era, from the deaths of galactic leaders to the destruction of planets and entire star systems.

"Look, there’s nothing wrong with emotions. I have a whole bunch every day, but you have to use them responsibly!” --from The Medusa Effect

Questions for Talie Tappler

Q. I'm sure everyone would love to know when and where in time and space you were actually born--but this seems to be one of your closely guarded secrets. Won't you give us a little hint?

To be honest, I don’t know. It was on Earth, but my parents were time travelers, and we time travelers have a hard time keeping track of dates in our own lives. I’m pretty sure it was a Tuesday, though.

Q. You are known to be at the very top of your field: time travel reporting. Do you feel that this is your true calling?

My true calling… I hadn’t thought of it that way. You see, I’ve always known my future, and I’ve always known I would become a journalist. I couldn’t have changed that even if I tried. Every decision point in my life brought me inevitably closer to this career path. Time forced me into it. With that being said, I love my job. The Tomorrow News Network is a great organization, and I’m proud of the work I do for them.

Q. How do you remain professional and objective in the face of some of the greatest disasters that will ever strike humankind?

Even in the darkest hour, there is always a flicker of hope. I know that. I can see it even as disaster occurs around me. In my reporting, I try to make the viewer see it too. So many people, both time travelers and otherwise, want to change history, but they don’t realize how valuable those flickers of hope are or how easily they can be stamped out. Those are the moments that make history, not conscious decisions or well thought out plans. Understanding that, I can remain professional. I can even be enthusiastic, despite the death and destruction, because I know where hope is and how it will play out.

James Pailly

Author/illustrator James Pailly has no first hand experience with time travel, but he does have experience in the TV news business. He’s been a cameraman, video editor, and writer, and he currently works at an independent news station in Pennsylvania. He specializes in science journalism.

Visit his blog, Planet Pailly, for a look at the latest science and technology news from a Sci-Fi perspective.

You can friend James on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. You can also find him on Goodreads and DeviantArt.

Questions for James Pailly

Q. In Talie Tappler's biographical information, it's hinted that she has a few secrets and personal demons, yet in The Medusa Effect we see a very polished surface image of her. As the stories go on, are we going to learn more about Talie and the depth of her character?

Talie is so complex with so many secrets I doubt we’ll ever get through them all. But as the series progresses, we’ll see more and more of the woman inside. She adamantly insists she wouldn’t change history, but at times she manipulates events in subtle ways. In the final story of the year, scheduled for October, someone will outsmart her and change history in a way she didn’t intend. You can bet her inner demons will come out when that happens.

Q. According to the TNN website, readers can expect one short story every month from January to October. Do you already have ten stories planned out, and what are your plans for when they are all published?

All ten stories are in various stages of development, and at the time of this interview the stories for February and March are nearing completion. After they’re all published, I plan to release an ebook version which will include ten flash fiction sequels. If all goes well, Talie will be back in 2013 for a second short story series.

4Jan/12Off

Continuing Characters #5: Amel

The first installment in Continuing Characters featuring a character from the Okal Rel Universe.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Book 4: Throne PriceBook 5: Far ArenaBook 6: Avim's Oath

The Okal Rel Saga by Lynda Williams is a 10 novel series, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, set in a very different universe. The character-driven stories tackle themes of culture clash in a context where all-out war is so horrific it is all but obsolete, but passions still run high. Currently forthcoming is Part 7: Healer's Sword.

Amel Soul of Light by Yukari Yamamoto Amel is the prince raised as a pauper and the prostitute with the heart of gold. He begins the Okal Rel Saga as a battered 16-year-old. He ends it, about twenty years later, as a religious and secular power. As recognized by reviewer Stephanie Ann Johanson, Part 6: Avim’s Oath is the book where Amel gets a grip and takes charge. But then, Amel is mostly Demish so it’s not surprising that he takes a few books and about twenty years to mature. The main protagonist of the Okal Rel Saga, Amel is one of the point of view characters in all the books except Part 2: Righteous Anger, where he makes a cameo appearance.

"What would life be without other people?" --from Part 5: Far Arena

Questions for Amel (circum Avim’s Oath)

Q. What do you most desire?

To have lived a different life. At least, I always used to think so. Now, I am no longer sure. When I was young I wanted nothing more than to escape unwanted attention and to spend my life with the people I chose to love. Most of my dreams were foolish ones but I needed them to be large, real and beautiful. As I get older, I have begun to see responsibilities before me that are larger than my personal desires. Change is coming, and the Demish will need my help to cope. I cannot bear to think of all that is good and beautiful in a thousand years of Demish life being lost in the maelstrom of change, even though I understand much of the change will be good.

Q. What is your greatest fear?

The stupidity of people who have no empathy. If every would-be conqueror could feel even a tenth of the anguish he inflicts on others, it would be a better world. The greed for dominance some people feel is sickening. And yet, I must acknowledge it is necessary to fight for what I believe in and that means I must risk harm to myself and those who follow me, as well as those we oppose. There is no escaping conflict if one holds an opinion. Sometimes I fear the sadness at the bottom of all struggles in which someone wins and all the rest must lose.

Lynda Williams Lynda Williams is the author of the Okal Rel Saga, published by Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Part 7: Healer's Sword arrives in 2012. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science.

Questions for Lynda

Q. Where did Amel come from?

Originally, he was a thought experiment in how kind someone could be and still survive. I’ve also been accused of creating the perfect man for myself, as a teenager, and can’t deny the charge. Amel interests me more, now, as a maturing visionary and leader than as a hot date who is also awesome at giving a woman his full, emotional attention. He is an archetype, but he is also as individual as people I know in real life. He has been around nearly as long as I have, and has tons more experience interacting with people and other characters than will ever appear in print. He evolved in a spirit of interactive play.

I even have a small collection of his poetry, snatched from "the other side" over the years, and translated into English when necessary. 🙂

Q. What role does Amel’s arresting physical beauty play for you?

On the superficial side, I’m going to blame my teenage self again. When my older self inherited him, however, I took on the challenge of exploring the reactions he inspires: everything from adoration to predatory behavior, annoyance or jealousy. He has a hard time getting other men to take him seriously.


From Part 8: Gathering Storm – Eler POV

He’s so damned pretty, Eler indulged in a blackening spite, he could be a woman if his chin was just a little sharper, his shoulders narrowed and his hips adjusted a bit.

Mentally making the changes, Eler found himself smack in the middle of an angry, sexual fantasy that popped in a bubble of revulsion when Amel’s body snapped back to its masculine proportions in his mind’s eye.

"Ugh," Eler said aloud, shaking his head with a shudder. There were times when even he wished he could reign in his imagination.

16Nov/11Off

Continuing Characters #4: Jetta & Sheshan

This week's Continuing Characters feature has a bit of a different format. This week, we include two continuing characters and hear both sides of the topic.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Firedancer

Firedancer, S. A. Bolich's first novel, is available now from Sky Warrior Books. Book 2 in the series, Windrider, is due out in April 2012. The release date of Seaborn, the third book in the series, is to be announced.

JettaAt twenty-six Jetta ak'Kal was the youngest Third Rank master in all the Fire Clans, brash, confident, supremely skilled in the elegant Firedance that binds the greatest threat to her people--the Ancient, the elemental fire at the heart of the world. She and her lifemate Kori kept their assigned village fire-free for five full years, a thing unheard-of. But one night the Ancient rose in Setham and defied the Firedance, destroying the village--and Kori. A year later, still grieving and no longer confident, she is both insulted and secretly relieved to be assigned to a remote mountain village where the black containment stone that is the only other safeguard against fire is mined. Annam should be safe; the Ancient has never risen there. But the Delvers are curiously naive, and not all of them welcome the presence of a failed Firedancer and her partner Settak, the most erratic journeyman in all the clans. When fire begins to assault the village, Jetta and Settak are thrown straight into the middle of a battle not only against fire, but with the Dance itself. And to top it all, Annam is full of Windriders, masters of air, who control the very thing the Ancient wants most. The wave of a Rider's hand could bring disaster down on them all--especially if what Jetta secretly suspects is true. The Ancient has always been an opportunist; now she fears it has begun to think. If they cannot discover a way to keep the white fire from escaping into Annam Vale, nowhere will be safe from the ensuing firestorm.

"We're naked on the floor, and it's cold. Yes, we are a fine pair of fools." --from Windrider

Sheshan of Clan Heshth, Third Rank ak'Kal (master) of Wind, survived the great disaster that overtook his clan during a great storm by the sea. While the masters fought to keep the raging winds from scouring the coast clean, a great wave flung itself into the cave and drowned his lifemate and all but a handful of his kin. The grieving remnant fled far from the smell of the sea to the clean winds of Annam Vale, where for three years they have kept the high passes open for the kindly Delvers who accepted them without question. It is a great gift to a people whose nomadic existence make them forever the outsiders among the people who hire them to turn Wind's capricious hands away from their homes and crops. And something rare and wonderful has come to pass in Annam. After a summer of terror and fire, Sheshan's frozen heart has thawed to an impossible touch. Happily he defies the gloomy Delver tradition that autumn weddings are unlucky and reaches for new love as the leaves turn. He even shyly hopes that the Rider's song born in him and lost to the great storm that killed his clan will return--but the Hag, gentle Wind's malicious sister, has other ideas. Like her brother the Ancient, she is rampaging across the plains, and every Rider is needed to discover what has set these two against their mother Earth. Angrily Sheshan answers the call to duty, but a close encounter with the Hag leaves him more desperately aware than ever that a Rider stripped of his song is oh, so very vulnerable indeed...

"Wind is a woman, fickle and fey, now here, now there, gentle as a caress, as unbending as a shrew."
"Thank you," Jetta said dryly. "No wonder Windriders are so few." --from Firedancer

Questions for Jetta & Sheshan

Q. Jetta, you were the main point of view character in Firedancer, the first book in a series. In the sequel, however, Sheshan takes over the lead role. How did that make you feel?

Jetta: Frankly, after the summer I just had I'm tired of looking at, worrying about, and dancing fire. It feels pretty good, actually, to not be the one in charge trying to prop up everyone's morale. But Father Flame, I sure never knew what it was like to live a Windrider's life. Seeing through Sheshan's eyes is giving me a whole new perspective on things I thought I knew--and a lot of it is making me angry! But not as angry as Sheshan, and that worries me. He's always so calm, so gentle, and now this thing with the Hag... I'm a bit scared, actually.

Q. Sheshan, what do you see as the pros and cons of your new position as a main point of view character?

Sheshan: Well, it's good that people might understand what it's really like to be a Windrider. I mean, it's not all just weaving wind and singing, you know. I love dealing with Wind, but her sister the Hag? What a-- Sorry. I suppose it won't make it any easier to learn the songs of a storm like the Hag if I insult her. She just makes me so mad! I want to be with Jetta and enjoy what we earned together in peace, but it looks like that's not going to happen. The Hag is on a rampage everywhere. I'm not overjoyed to be back on the road dealing with all the things I had forgotten about for the past few years--and honestly, having people peering into my head while I do it is uncomfortable. I'm a really private person, you see. It makes me quite angry, in fact...

Q. Jetta, if you were to answer honestly, would you say Sheshan is fulfilling his role as well as you have?

Jetta: Oh, yes. I certainly can't do anything about a storm trying to flatten a whole town. It's beautiful and thrilling and really, really frightening, what Windriders can do. But, em, I am seeing sides of him I didn't know existed. I know something has upset him quite badly, but I wish he'd just tell me what it is. I mean, I know that deep down Sheshan wants to help all these people. He has to. This thing with the Hag? He's just going to have to get over it. And soon...

S. A. Bolich S. A. Bolich: My biography is nowhere near as interesting as that of either of my characters. Born and raised in Washington State, I graduated college and got commissioned into the Regular Army on the same day. I spent 6 years running around Germany and Texas as a military intelligence officer, got married, got out of the army, and eventually found my way home to a 20-acre patch of heaven in the boondocks. I have been a teacher, a riding instructor, a project manager, and any number of other things, but most of all I've been a writer, and a few years ago I escaped corporate cuckoo land to do it full time. I have not looked back. With a large family, two horses, four cats, and a dog for inspiration, I have more ideas than I have time to write about. My first published novel, Firedancer, is available now from Sky Warrior Books, with Windrider due out in April 2012 and Seaborn, the third book in the series, sometime after that. You can find my short fiction at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, in the military SF anthology No Man's Land and wolf-themed anthology Wolfsongs 2, and several other places.

Questions for Sue

Q. What is it about Jetta and Sheshan that makes each of their perspectives interesting for you to depict?

Jetta was actually the first female heroine I used for a full-length novel, so it was interesting. It's easier to write guys because it's easier not to end up smearing yourself all over them. You need to inject a certain amount of your own personality into each character to really understand where they're coming from, but it can hit too close to home sometimes. So Jetta was actually a nice challenge for me in learning to hold a balance. And I like her attitude a lot. She's blunt and undiplomatic and refuses to quit or accept defeat. Finding the way to turn that key in her after she's been so terribly hurt and had her confidence shaken was a big part of the book.

And Sheshan... wow, he turned out way more interesting than I thought he would. In Firedancer he is the voice of calm, absorbing Jetta's storms and rarely getting angry himself. So I was really sweating going into the writing of Windrider wondering how I could make this guy complicated enough to carry a whole book. Well, that took care of itself in Chapter 3 and suddenly I had this whole complex person with baggage I never suspected and abilities I never knew and problems I hadn't imagined. It was an unexpected writing challenge to try and evolve this wonderful, gentle guy through this series of changes and emotional storms without losing the qualities about him that I liked best, or leaving the reader going "no way" and hating what they're reading. And, it was fun, seeing Jetta from someone else's perspective, and the same with Sheshan. From observing him, we're suddenly inside him, and vice versa with Jetta.

Of course, the best part of looking out through different eyes is that the reader and I both get to experience what it is like to be a Firedancer or a Windrider. I couldn't show the reader what it "feels" like to weave wind and call the storm, or to dance fire and understand a Dancer's perspective, if I didn't switch POVs from book to book. The sensory detail for each changes, and I really want the reader to be inside that skin.

Q. After Windrider comes out April 2012, there will be a third book in the series called Seaborn. Will you be exploring a new viewpoint character in Book 3?

Yes, in order to maintain the "insider" look at how each of the talented clans confront their elemental (Fire, Wind, Water, or Earth), I need to step inside a new POV character each time. I have not yet decided how I'm going to do that while continuing the story with the same basic group of characters I have now. I have some ideas. I think I may end up with an alternating POV, because I really want to use one of the existing characters and make it "his" story, but I need the Water Clan perspective to make it work as well. Another interesting writing challenge!

28Sep/11Off

Continuing Characters #3: Morgan

Today's featured continuing character is Morgan Bailey, the Vampire Hunter of Shéa MacLeod's Sunwalker Saga.

Continuing Characters: A series of interviews featuring continuing characters and the authors who know them best.

Kissed by DarknessKissed by Fire

The Sunwalker Saga by Shéa MacLeod consists of Kissed by Darkness and Kissed by Fire. Kissed by Darkness is available as an ebook on Smashwords, as a Kindle Edition, and a Kindle Edition UK.

MorganMorgan Bailey is an ordinary woman with all the insecurities and fallibilities that come along with the human condition. But Morgan is something else, too: a natural Vampire Hunter. Her affinity with the undead makes her a skilled killer. Not just of vampires, either, but of demon spawn and death spirits and the other nasty things that go bump in the night.

"You're getting blood on my carpet. Again." --From Kissed by Darkness

Questions for Morgan

Q. How do you maintain a day-to-day life now that you've become a Hunter and have the ability to channel the powers of Darkness and Fire?

I don’t know. (shrugs) I just do it. That’s the thing about life. It doesn’t stop just because you’ve got some weird stuff going on in your life. The worst part is keeping it from the people I love. But mostly, I just try not to think about it too much, the Fire and the Darkness and the fact that one day I might not be able to fight it. That stuff will eat you alive if you let it.

Q. Your love life is somewhat...conflicted when it comes to two men in your life. What is it about each of them that draws you in two directions at once?

They're both hot.

Seriously, though, the minute I met Jack the attraction was fierce. Not to mention we’re sort of bonded through the Atlantean amulet. He’s strong and he’s fierce and he’s loyal. Who wouldn’t fall for a 900 year old Templar Knight who looks like Gerard Butler? Am I right, ladies? But what they don’t tell you is that 900 years comes with a heck of a lot of baggage.

Then there’s Inigo. He and I have always had this attraction thing going on between us. I mean it’s pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain. But more than that, he’s my rock. He gets me like nobody else. He knows what I need and he’s good at all the emotional stuff. But he brings his own baggage to the party.

They’re two totally perfect men in two totally different ways. Frankly? I’m not entirely sure what to do about it. I think I’ve got it all figured out and BAM! Life throws me a sucker punch.

Shea Shéa MacLeod has dreamed of writing novels since before she could hold a crayon. She totally blames her mother. After living in Portland, Oregon most of her life, she now makes her home in an Edwardian town house in London just a stone’s throw from the local cemetery. Shéa writes urban fantasy post-apocalyptic scifi paranormal romances with a twist of steampunk, because that is what she loves to read most. She’s the author of the Sunwalker Saga and the upcoming Dragon Wars series. Visit her blog at http://sheamacleod.wordpress.com/.

Questions for Shéa MacLeod

Q. What works best for you, about Morgan, as an on-going protagonist?

Morgan is incredibly fun. She’s been through hell and back and still faces a lot of scary stuff, yet she maintains her somewhat snarky sense of humor and surprisingly positive outlook on life. She kicks major butt. Seriously, she’s one step away from a super hero. Yet despite that, she’s incredibly human, incredibly flawed. I think that makes her really interesting and gives her a vast potential for growth.

Q. Can you give us a hint at where Morgan's future may be headed?

There’s a lot about Morgan I can’t tell you. Mostly because I don’t even know yet! In fact, I don’t even know who she’ll end up with in the end. Truly I don’t.

I do know that in the very near future she will unravel even more secrets. Secrets about her family, about herself, and about where she came from. Secrets about her abilities. She will meet some interesting new supernatural creatures including djinn and Mongolian death worms! The sidhe will definitely play a big role in her future, and the Amazons may make another appearance, too.

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