Friday, April 5, 2013

Riftglade by River Jordan: An Author Interview

In her latest book, Riftflade, Author River Jordan explores a fantasy world that was inspired by a poem she read. River and I are close personal friends, although we have never met in person. I saw the beginnings of the story that Riftglade ended up being so I knew where she was going with it in the very early stages. However, just like most reading this interview, I have not read the finished product.
Today, River discusses some of the content, the ideas and how and why she wrote this story and others. 

What is Riftglade about?

Princess Yaliza is the youngest daughter of High King Vodyanik as well as his favorite. Rather than be forced into a marriage without love, she sadly leaves the kingdom to search out her soul-mate. Fate steps in and she is snatched from the sky and rolls unconscious into the forest, Riftglade, where she meets her destiny.
When High King Vodyanik arrives in Riftglade, a dark magik befalls the gathering, paralyzing everyone. In a bold act of treason, Yaliza is swept away in a conspiracy that could leave her bereft and alone.

Why is she his favorite?

She is the exact replica of her deceased mother AND the baby of the family.

Why did you choose to make her the baby and an exact replica of her deceased mother? Is that significant in some way to the story and relevant in any way to you?

When writing Riftglade, the characters formed themselves. But I will admit that I am in fact the youngest in my family and favor my mother in looks and stature.

In some ways, could you say that Yaliza is a part of who you are? 

In a way, all of my characters are part of me. Yaliza is a part of who I am. I don't intentionally create my characters that way. When they take on their own "energies" and pour out of my imagination, usually they will have my traits and experiences.

Did that go through your mind as you were writing Riftglade?

With Riftglade, it just poured out of me. It had been singing in my head for a few days until it got its way. Especially the love scene, it wanted to be written. It was kind of a turning point for my writing.

Turning point, in what way?

It seemed to open up new avenues of confidence and creativity for my writing. I recently wrote a true horror story that is to be released in
Crushing Hearts &Black Butterfly's Dark Light 3 anthology in April. As well as a comedic short story to be released in CHBBs' Dark Light 4 anthology.  

Do you anticipate that you will do a Riftglade, the sequel, or Part 2?

I've almost finished book 2 which has a working title of Rige Skygge.

(Editors note: At the end of this interview will be an excerpt from the upcoming Rige Skygge.)

If you had to describe Riftglade, how would you do so? Triumph? Tragedy? Or whatever you think it is or the readers will think it is?

Well, it has comedy, drama and tragedy. I wouldn't know how to pigeonhole it into one category.

Were there any surprises in how you thought up a character and then how they developed into something else in the course of writing the book?

Yes. Galen, the Unseelie King. He channeled his inner darkness though he was raised by the High King as a Seelie. His sojourn in Underland took on an ominous nature as you'll see in the book.

What does Unseelie mean?

That is the court of malevolent/evil fairies. The Dark Court.

Did you make that up, or is it a common used term?

It's Gaelic mythology

Did you rely on a lot of that mythology and did you have to do a lot of research for this book?

I did research regarding hierarchy and courts. Everything else is mine.

Did you get emotionally attached to any of your characters in the book?

Yes. Galen. King of the Dark Court.

Why him?

Because he loves Yaliza. For the last ten years he was assured she was his soulmate.

If you had it to do over again, would you change anything in the book?

I'd thought about developing a longer, deeper relationship between Mathias and Yaliza but the fact that they are mythological creatures demanded it be instantaneous.

Matthias leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “Princess Yaliza, come to me.” He reached out his hand and smiled down at her. “I would like nothing more than to taste the nectar of your nubile body. Come to me.” He leaned down and kissed her deeply, then nuzzled down her neck, taking time to explore, encouraged by her shivers and moans. Lying down beside her, Matthias pulled her in close to his body. “Princess, your heart sings to mine; your beauty beyond compare. I am without words to express my gratitude to all of creation and the cosmos.” he ran his fingers down her cheek lightly, “My body shivers as I touch you here,” he touched her lips, running his fingertips along her full bottom lip. “And here,” they traced the swell of her breast, “and here,” he whispered sliding his hand along her hip to her thigh. The feel of her body was driving him insane with need. “My fair maiden, Princess Yaliza, daughter of High King Vodianyk, by all of creation above and anon, wilt thou spend eternity by my side?” he looked into her eyes, loving the silver lights sparkling in their depths. If the fates chose to punish him by causing her to deny him, he would at least always have this moment in her arms to savor.**

What is it about new and amazing worlds that interests you?

Everyone has inherent in them a natural curiosity that is fascinated with the possibility of other worlds. It is a kind of vacation away from the day to day stresses. If I love to be captured by a story which involves something special, unreal or different - possibly magic, then I know other people will. Everyone enjoys being in someone else's shoes - someone extraordinary, so that we can look at the world through their eyes. You can switch off and enjoy letting your imagination run wild for a while!

So you view it as escapism?

It's an apt description, although the connotation leans toward a bit extreme. Any type of writing, if it's good writing, will plant you in the world that has been created.
It's an interesting thing to think that as authors we are all looking to escape into fantasy.

Because you enjoy it yourself, do you gravitate more towards writing in this genre?

Yes, I love writing in that genre because I fell in love with it as a child.

What kind of writer do you view yourself as?

I think that I'm a plastic facsimile of the kind of writer I would wish to be. That is not to say that I think I am less of a writer, but to say that I could ever create epic worlds like J.R.R. Tolkien would be a huge stretch. But one never knows. Maybe he thought that at some point as well.

Do you have any plans to write non fantasy, or more grounded mainstream books, maybe straight romantic novels or do you wish to stay in the fantasy world realm?

Most of my writing leans toward mainstream with some paranormal elements to them. But I do have one current project that is a mainstream fiction horror.
Actually, Riftglade is the first story that is completely in a fantasy world.

Do you start out with an idea of how it will go, relative to the amounts of paranormal and fantasy, or does it just develop and you go with the flow?

I would say a bit of both. For example, with Riftglade I just happened to read a poem by Gary Robinson, Clover's Bliss. I'm fascinated with poetry and that poem began a thread of an idea that developed into Riftglade. It was extremely fun and exciting but because the ideas were smashing into each other I had to discipline that voice with a kind of outline.

What unique or special life experiences do you have that you think makes you a different type of writer from others?

When I was a young girl my family went through big changes. The world I lived in changed forever by the death of my brother, Jaime. Idyllic is what I would describe my life before his death, nightmarish afterward.
You see, I was clueless the first eight years of my life (before my brother died). I was safe in the security of my family. Then, it all fell apart.
My sister and I had no one. We were alone and homeless because our house burned and was unlivable.
When you're homeless or living off of the generosity of others you see life in a different way. You see utter poverty, abuse, violence. You see a world that is desperate and depraved.
It's a lot for any child to endure. But we survived it.
For myself, my eyes were opened forever.
This probably doesn't make me much different from others, but...maybe just a little bit.

And do you think elements of those experiences find their way into the stories you write, like Riftglade?

I didn't realize that those elements had revealed themselves in my writing. A really wonderful friend read one of my stories and then mentioned the fact that the heroines overcame much adversity finding inner strength to survive.

Give me an example from Riftglade if you can think of one?

Princess Yaliza has to face life outside the Kingdom. Outside the life that she has lived for three hundred years.
Unintentionally, I have interwoven my own experiences in my stories.

Did you know you did that before...or if not,...then after when you re-read your work?

I knew my heroines had overcome adversity because that is how it was meant to be.
What I didn't realize was that I was mirroring my own life experiences. Growing up, I never looked back hard enough because it hurt too much to do so. I only visited those memories later, when I was older.
It was actually a big surprise to me.

If there was one thing you could change about the finished product that is Riftglade, what would that be..if anything?

I wouldn't have stopped there. I wish I would have kept writing while the passion to do so was strong.

I would probably expand Galen's role. Explain more why he was the way he was. But other than that, I wouldn't change anything.

So, you have said you are likely going to do a sequel. Will you explore that in the sequel?

Yes. It's all about Galen.

Tell me more about Galen. Is his character based on anyone you have known in the past/present. Or is he just a character you made up out of thin air that developed?

Galen developed himself. He is like an amalgamation of every one of us that has had to walk away from the person we thought was "the one".

What do you think readers will take away from this book?

I hope they see that fear is a crutch that we create ourselves. Step boldly into the unknown and know that they'll survive

Is that a conclusion you came to writing this book, or before you wrote the book?

Before. but it's in the story.

You have used a book trailer to promote Riftglade. Is this the first time you have tried that? How has it gone? What kind of feedback have you gotten from it? How did you learn to do it?

I have created an unofficial Riftglade teaser trailer. I used a MovieMaker program that helped me to combine my reading, some pictures and music.

It wasn't very difficult but my trailer is basic and was quite easy. Most of the people who've seen it have commented that they enjoyed it. I was even asked to enter it into a "trailer" contest.
What have the reviews been like? 

I'm very pleased with the public's response to Riftglade. Mostly they like the "world" that I have created and have commented several times that my style of writing brings the world and characters to life. There were a couple of comments about editing. One reviewer mentioned the "language" of the story being a bit archaic at times.

What kind of weight do you put on them and how do they effect you?

I'm concerned about the editing. Everyone deserves to have good editing when they are puchasing any kind of book.
The "language" part is a very appreciated critique. I will not change the voice of the story because it is meant to be other-worldly and even a bit archaic. It's my creation and I meant it to be that way.
But I will keep it in mind while writing Rige Skygge.
What is your general marketing strategy for this book, and what have you learned that you will use again or might do differently for future books?

Mostly my publisher takes control of the marketing. But the bulk of my own marketing is word of mouth, Twitter, and Facebook.
Though I liked the idea of the trailer, it seemed to fizzle.  Didn't "hit" like I thought it would. I don't know that I would do that again. But even so, it will pull up if someone enters the "tag" I attached to it.

Your book cover. How much input did you have into that and did you do any of the creative parts of that? If so, why does it look as it does?

I went through many, many pictures and decided on that one myself. When I saw it, I knew it was the one I wanted.

You are a nature lover. How does that play into your writing and even more so into Riftglade, if at all?

I've always had a love and respect for the world around me. In Riftglade, I tried to let that love have free rein.

Where can we find Riftglade if we want to purchase it? 

Excerpt to Rige Skygge (Galen's story):

A million banshees screaming in agony and defeat tunneled through my unconsciousness, shredding the neural tissue and eviscerating my optic nerve. Could there be blindness in death? In the wink of a wyte I knew that I would die if the entity reached my brain. The banshees circled as if aware of my semi-conscious thoughts and then come speeding toward the massive hole they'd ripped into my neural tissue. They slam into the wound they’ve created and, finding they are unable to rip through, proceed to repeatedly bite the already weak tissue.

"Aaaiiiiiieeeeeeee! Be gone, malicious shrews!" At my weakened command, a cloud of black viscous droplets stream out of my nostrils, pummeling their path out of my head.
Now a prisoner of Woden's Hunt, I lay sprawled across the silica rich amber dust of Rige Skygge where I had been unceremoniously thrown. Circling in the swirling mass of acrid ether above me were the invading banshees in their elemental form.
It would be easy just to lay here and allow myself to fade into the Land of Clouds where death would be swift at the shredding thirsty hands of the banshee, but Princess Yaliza would be coming to rescue me soon. I was determined that she should find me alive and running in her direction and to the safety of Faerie.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Cash Cow by Demetra Fisher

At the sound of the bell, they all looked up with wide eyes, the fear and wariness in them clearly evident.  Those who were creeping along slowly between the barriers looked up as well and appeared to be just as fearful, which only served to add to the unease.  The line seemed to go on forever.  There were so very many.

The “holding cell” was the worst.  Some were pacing.  Others were making odd little noises that resembled sobs but were even more pitiful.  None made eye contact, but rather averted their eyes whenever the opportunity for connection seemed probable.  They all knew exactly why they were there, so what would be the point anyway?  There was nothing even worth trying to convey that would make it easier for any of them.

The silence was louder than any noise could have possibly been.

One by one, they disappeared, only to return a short time later, each one complete with some form of marker that made it clear why they were being herded in and out.  Dividing them up only contributed to the general sense of tension that continued to build as the hours passed.  Their eyes all held the same sad plea.

When will this be over?

Eventually, each one moved on to pass through the final station and then failed to return, the outcome being no surprise to any still torturously waiting.

One more number was up.  One more life lost.

I’m told that they all innately know just when it will be their turn and when there is no option to turn back.  The “handlers” make it easy for that to be next to impossible.  The barriers become narrower with each step closer, making it more and more difficult to escape and as such, the eventual outcome is cemented.

Making it painless is only a by-product of the drugs that are administered.  The real point of the medication is not to take away the pain but to ease the fear, so no one is tempted to make a run for it, at the last minute.

And it works like a charm.  Not one of them attempted to escape.  After all, they were just cattle.  What else could you expect from them except that they should simply allow themselves to be guided along to an outcome that was predictable from the very start?

That makes sense, you say, because cattle are not humans.  They can’t possibly know that they are being driven and channeled and convinced to move along - they’re just animals, right?
Except that these cattle are not animals - they’re human beings.  Flesh and blood, and totally real, everyday people.  People who also happen to be women.  Women who feel shame and hurt and fear. Just like you and I do.

As I left the clinic, I asked myself several questions.  Like, how much money does this place and others like it all over America actually make off the shattered lives of women?  Not to mention, the probability that those same women may repeat the procedure again sometime in the future, some many times over, simply because it has become relatively commonplace in today’s society?

How is it that so many have become sensitive enough to the heartbreaking and tragic slaughter of innocent animals that they decide to become vegetarians while others remain desensitized to the means by which women are forced to endure the very same torture as those defenseless animals who continue to be shamelessly slaughtered without remorse?  It hardly seems fair.

I have no answers.

Do you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview with River Jordan

Tell us where you were born,  grew up and where you currently live?

I was born in a small town outside of Victoria, Texas.  We lived there for a few years and then our family bounced around to different towns along the Gulf Coast and The Rio Grande Valley.
I'm still on the Gulf Coast of Texas but living in the country south of Houston, Texas.

Did that bouncing around influence the way you write?

In a way, I guess it did. Starting a new school every few months would be hard on any child. I was shy and introverted so you know it was terrifying at times.  After a while, I didn't feel the terror any longer because I had reverted completely into myself.  My sister Darla was the complete opposite, she became my protector. My sister and I prayed a lot during that time in our lives.

Of all the cities you lived in those days,  what is the most memorable or the most memorable/interesting moment?

At Memorial Middle School in McAllen, Texas, the assistant gym teacher was Ms. Pena.  A week before the last day of school she saw I was doing a one-armed cartwheel.  I didn't have very good form so she came over and helped me out.  She encouraged me to sign up for the "talent show" on the last day of school and helped me figure out a routine.  So, on the last day of school, I performed my routine. It consisted of a  cartwheel, round-off, one-armed cartwheel, and then somersault. The routine wasn't so special, or different from the other girls' routines, but I changed that day. I became a bit more confident and less shy.

You have said you have an obsession with writing a personal history of your family. How is that progressing?

It's progressing nicely. My parents always loved to recount stories of our childhood.  I never thought much about the memories until they were both gone.  Because of this, writing it can be very emotional and so I spread it out.

Where does your love of reading and writing come from? 

Really, both my parents loved to read. My father never went anywhere without a Louie L'amour in his back pocket. That was nothing compared to my mom, though. She would even read encyclopedias for fun!  And naturally, this love of reading transferred to me.  But it took the encouragement of one of my teachers to get me to write prose.  Ms. Walters just told me to do it. So I did.  It turned out that I was pretty good at it.

Who are some of your favorite authors? 

William Shakespeare, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and Harper Lee for the classics.  Modern authors include Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton and Cormac McCarthy.

Clive Cussler and Cormac McCarthy. I am not familiar with them.  Tell me about their work and why they are some of your favorites? 

Clive Cussler writes adventure novels that involving NUMA agents that solve historical mysteries around the world! What's cool is that NUMA really exists and his characters' adventures deal with real historical mysteries.
From the moment I picked up my first Clive Cussler novel, I have been entranced with them.  I love history and these satisfy my sense of adventure as well!
Cormac McCarthy is the author of such books as All The Pretty Horses and The Road, which happen to be my favorites of his. 
The first book I read of his was All The Pretty Horses.  I had gone to a garage sale at my neighbor's house and bought it for a dime.  I've probably read it three times.  
The Road was given to me as a gift by my brother.  He likes to introduce new genres to me and 9 times out of 10 he ends up starting a trend in my reading! 

In terms of reading, what are some of the types of genres you like to read. And for writing, do you gravitate towards any specific genre?

I enjoy reading non-fiction historical books, YA, mysteries or adventurous books that challenge my "sleuth" side, and self-help books.
My writing tends toward YA, but I have ventured into a bit of sensual fantasy writing.

Are there genres you don't write much or haven't in the past that you want to do more of?

I would like to be able to write historical novels.  Also, I want to explore little known mythology.

What are some of your hobbies and do any of them play an important part in the types of things you write about?

Some of my hobbies, other than reading, include swimming, fishing, writing poetry and gardening.  As you can see, most of these hobbies require average physical activity but leave the mind free to wander.  I use this time on meditation which in turn relaxes me and churns my creative side (writing).
Is my writing affected by my hobbies specifically? Maybe, because I've been told that my writers "voice" tends to be reflective.

Other than full length novels, you have a deep love of poetry. Have you put out any poetry?

For publication, no.

Do you intend to?

I would love to publish a book of poetry, but it is a hard step to take.  Poetry is often so very personal. In a way, it's a peek into the writer's mind and soul.  Most of my poetry is a reflection of my heart at the moment I am writing the piece.  The other is my view on the world, at large.  Am I in a hurry to publish, no I am not.  Would I want to some day, yes I would.  Hopefully, people will understand my poetry and benefit from my writing.

When you sit down at the computer or stare at a blank page, what motivates you to write?

Honestly, anything motivates me to write.  I could be walking along and see someone or something that begins a story in my head.
For example, I was visiting my nephew who is an inmate at a federal prison in the Hill Country.  I'd just finished a radio interview and writing was on my mind.  As I approached the security check there was a woman ranting about seeing the warden because the metal detector kept going off and she claimed to not have metal on her.  I waited patiently by the door until one of the regular security guards noticed me and waved. I smiled back at him knowing that he needed me to be patient. When the warden showed up the guard came over to me and asked after my health.  After passing through the checkpoint, I opened the huge gate to walk alone to the visitor center. As the chainlink gate clanged loudly shut behind me, it was as if a door opened into my imagination.  In my mind I imagined myself walking down the long walkway in the bakingly hot sun beating down on me.  Unknown to me an escaped prisoner was running silently toward me.  He grabs me and lifts me over his shoulder in a fireman carry.  I'm so startled that at first I can't even speak.  A drop of sweat slides down my nose and drops to the ground invisibly passing beneath his running feet. Then I begin to scream and hit his legs, trying to make him drop me to the ground.  He holds my legs tighter yelling and cursing at me.  I realize that my outburst is only making things worse, so I try to speak reasonably to him. He tells me to shut up and that I don't understand anything. Apparently the same people that sucked him into illegal drugs were trying to do the same to his younger brother and he needed to get out and try to stop them.   Then suddenly I am back in "myself" and opening the door of the Visitor Center.

You are inspired by water. How does that play into your writing?

Because my father was a fisherman, we lived on the coast.  Our very existence depended on the bounty of the Gulf.  Every moment of every day was spent on or in or near the Gulf of Mexico.  If I am fishing or swimming the salty sea air inspires my introspective side.  Naturally, when I am at peace, my mind will wander to idyllic summer days spent on my father's trawlers or swimming in the water.

What are some of the places you have traveled to, in terms of out of Texas?

Charlotte, North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; Kings Canyon, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; Peaks of Otter, Virginia; Albuquerque, New Mexico, Baltimore, Maryland; Ocean City, Maryland, many places in Florida; outside of the U.S., The Yucatan, and Cozumel.

Do you have any interesting stories of the places you have traveled to?

During a trip to the Yucatan, we came in port at Progreso.  The crowds of cruise goers were smiling and laughing, ready to embark on their various tropical excursions.  We had our brightly colored clothing and festive hats and sunglasses to protect us from the sun.  As we disembarked in long lines, the crowd suddenly became subdued and at times completely quiet.  We wondered what was going on, but were so far down the line we could not actually see anything.
As we neared the "gate" at the edge of the dock, we saw what had everyone quietly and quickly shuffling along.  Apparently, the local militias "protected" the port and were armed with machine guns!!
We hurried past the guards and quickly boarded the tour buses leaving to various excursions.
It put a damper on the day, but only until the lovely tropical paradise erased it from the forefront of our minds.

What is your goal or what do you see as your future as a writer? 

Every writer's dream is to have their books live through the ages, to be one of the classics.  It would be nice to write something that would opens peoples hearts and minds to the sweet expectation of the sunrise and the quiet promise of the sunset.
<3To show them that they are beautiful creations that are made for more than the lives they have settled on. 

You have an Amazon author page. Tell us about that.

I setup my author page just a few days ago when a fellow author, Mark David Gerson asked for it.  I quickly researched it and set one up as a convenient way for readers to find my published work. 
 It is interesting to monitor the sales as well as what geographic area is buying them.  Also, my twitter followers have increased by 10 percent.

Below is a short story by River called  "Oshana's Escape"

The flood waters have reached the attic where I was hiding.  Looking out of the huge tear in the attic that spanned from one corner to the other, I see the water rushing by so close I could touch it.  I thought the worst of the hurricane would be the gale force winds and gangs of tornadoes that had laid waste to my adopted home-town of Beaudreaux, Alabama, but then the water began to rise.
Life is weird sometimes.  Only a year ago I had escaped my clueless mother's home when her new boyfriend had begun to slap me around and other things.  I knew it was not enough for him to slap me around when he brought a friend over.  They chased me to my bedroom as I ran in terror.  "Oshana, stop, or it'll be worse for ya!" he yelled out.  I remember falling to the ground, screaming.
I opened my eyes and saw my baseball bat.  My real dad had encouraged me to play and I knew what he wanted me to do.  When they pulled me up roughly, I whaled the bat on both of them until they were unconscious.  Then I filled my backpack and left them in the ruins of my bedroom, my bat tightly fisted in my hand.  I never looked back.  Didn't even bother leaving a note for my mom who never believed me anyway.
Now here I am, fifteen years old and facing the impossible, yet again. 
The rustling behind me reminded me that I was no longer alone.  Gone were the days of sleeping under bridges, in cemeteries, the occasional homeless shelter,  hidden from the public eye alone. 
Shasta looked over at me and smiled her doggie smile.  She was a lab mix and one of the laziest dogs I had ever encountered.  But she loved me and I loved her.
"Hey lazybones, time to get out of this place if we can."  I looked out of the window one more time, my eyes following the debris flowing briskly past the window. 
I knew it would be risky, but our only way of getting out of here alive was to use the air mattress that I'd been trying to fill since yesterday evening like a boat.  Thinking of it, my cheeks began to hurt again.  I'd spent most of the evening before blowing into it.  The family that lived there had a pump to fill it, but it was electrical and the electricity had been out for two days. 
Shasta came over and licked my hands good morning.  Somehow she knew from the moment we found each other that I would not allow anyone or anything too close to me again.  I smiled down at her and ruffled the fur behind her ears thinking she was better than any human being on earth.
Within an hour the water had risen another four inches and was now just below the windowsill.  Thankfully, the house we were in hadn't been washed away like the one across the street.
The air mattress was as full as I could get it.  I tied one length of the rope I'd found to two corners of the air mattress so that I would have a way of maneuvering it once the current had it in it's grip.  I had thought about it long and hard; I knew it was the only way to escaping the steadily rising water.
"Come, Shasta."  Shasta came over and sat at my feet.  I bound us together with another rope so that I could be her anchor if she slipped off of the mattress. 
I slipped the mattress through the tear in the wall of the attic, making sure to loop it over a protruding board.  The mattress was quickly taken up in the current and threatened to flip over.  Acting quickly, I held fast to the back corner of the mattress and put one of our food packs on the mattress two feet from the foot.  This kept it stable enough to slip the other food pack on to it, near the front where the maneuvering rope was tied.
"Okay, Shasta, hop on.  Don't be afraid, I have you."  Shasta gingerly stepped onto the air mattress and curled up next to the food pack at the back end. 
I made sure my back pack was secured tightly to my shoulders and crawled slowly onto the air mattress.  Holding the edge of the attic wall, I pulled us in close to it, fighting the current, and with my other hand, slipped the rope off of the anchoring board.
As if the current were on my side, it slowed enough to allow me to sit securely before rushing back into breakneck speeds.
"Hang on, Shata." I cried out as we rushed into the speeding current.  A quick thrill of excitement shot through me as the houses blurred by us on both sides. 
Maneuvering the makeshift boat was a moot point at the speeds we were going.  I just kept hold of the maneuvering rope and prayed that the water would take us somewhere safe.
Within a few minutes the water began to slow as it spilled out into the less populated part of town.  It seemed as if we'd been rushing along for hours when it had probably been less than ten minutes.  I  was completely soaked and the air mattress was steadily losing air.
The danger hit us instantaneously and in a flash Shasta and I were thrown from the mattress; rolling off the back end and into the water.  The front end had caught on a branch that ripped a gaping hole that rendered it mere rubber and thread in moments.
My eyes were wide open as I hit the ice cold water.  It felt as if I'd fallen into a washing machine as I tumbled end over end in a frenzy of arms and legs.  I don't remember thinking that I should hold my breath, but I did.
A sharp pain spreads across my abdomen and my silent scream fills my head as my body automatically takes a deep breath of the dank murky water.  Within seconds, the world suddenly disappears in a flash of light. 
"Slugger, my sweet baby girl Oshana, please open up those dark brown eyes for Daddy."
"Daddy?" I whisper with my eyes closed. "Daddy, is that you?  I'm so tired, Daddy. Can I sleep a few more minutes?"
"You have ta wake now Slugger, its time."  My Daddy's gravelly voice fills my heart full of warmth and color.
"I want to stay here in your arms, Daddy."  I snuggle closer to his warmth, the scent of motoroil on his clothes.
"Oshana!" Sternly. "Oshana, wake up now."
"Okay, Daddy."
When I wake, my head is throbbing and I am vomiting, the acidic mess burning the inside of my nostrils as it forces an exit through my nose.  I tried to lift my head off the ground, but the ensuing shot of pain through my skull makes me lay my head back down. 
More slowly now, I lift my head away from the sour smell of my vomit.  My eyes blink open slowly, squinting at the bright sunlight. 
I stare up at the clear blue sky.  The beauty of it makes me want to cry, especially when I realize that Daddy is still in heaven and I'm not.  But Daddy said to wake up and I always listen to Daddy.
All around me is the detritus of the storm.  Fallen trees, branches, trash, lots of outdoor furniture and surprisingly, a lawn gnome.  The oddity of the gnome makes me giggle, but a sharp pain behind my eyes ends it quickly.
Not wanting to lay my head back down in the vomit, I lift myself slowly from the ground.  Finally sitting up, I take in my surroundings and the destruction of the hurricane and flooding. 
"Shasta!"  The patch of dark fur is only a few feet away, but my slow movements make it seem like miles.  "Oh, Shasta, please be alive!" I whisper in anguish as tears well in my eyes..
Shasta bounces her tail and lifts her head as if to say she's okay. 
I notic that the fur around her shoulders was almost completely gone.  I wondered how that could have happened and then it hit me that Shasta had saved my life.  She had dragged me from the water until I was clear of it.
I hugged her tight and untied the rope from around her sore neck and shoulders.  Nearby I found one of my foodpacks and backpack. 
Calling Shasta, I smiled up at the storm-free clear skies, thinking of Daddy, feeling hope for the first time in ages as we set out on our journey.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with Demetra Fisher: Part 2.

In this two part interview, novelist Demetra Fisher talks about her life and her influences 
on what has led her to become a published author. Her first novel, In Your Dreams, will
be appearing shortly in book stores and online. Part one focused on her background,
life experiences and interests.
Part Two, below, talks about the
specifics of her book, the characters and the genre.
How much of you is in your main character?
There is a bit of me in Alex; mostly my likes and dislikes. 
Alex is an English major and loves to read; we share that. 
Also her interest in psychology, which leads to her curiosity about
the supernatural is the same path that I traveled when I was close to
her age. Oh, and her hair (laughs); we have the same difficulty taming
those unruly curls!

Did you draw off real life experiences for the characters in this book?
I was a late bloomer in a way, so I did draw from that experience.  
For the most part, Alex is generally unconcerned with her appearance, having 
more important things to concentrate on.  However, that all changes when
she meets someone to whom she is attracted.  That was the same for me and 
for most of my friends, although for them, it happened when they were much 
younger.  Some of the other scenarios in the book are also drawn from 
real life experiences, although not all of them are my own.

How much and what type of research did you do for this book? 
I did a fair amount but not a lot.  Mostly, I just incorporated
information I've gathered over the years whenever I investigated the 
many different paranormal subjects that interested me.  Dreams 
and dreamstate activity always intrigued me so I have studied that pretty 
extensively in the past.
When you were forming the ideas for your book and in the 
beginning stages of writing it,  did you have in mind 
that it was going to be a series, or did that just develop?
As I said before, I had no idea where my story was 
going when I first began writing it.  I just let it flow 
and as it unfolded and I got more deeply entrenched,
it made sense that it should be written as a trilogy, given my
target audience. 
Your book is aimed mainly at the Teen/Young Adult audience. How mindful 
of that are you when you write?
Very! Teens have little extra time in which to develop a love of 
reading and I am aware of that.  Most spend as little time as they can get away with on 
their assigned reading because of all the other sports, clubs, 
and social activities that they would much rather focus on.  The books 
in my trilogy are designed to encourage readers to contemplate some rather sophisticated 
topics, but written as easy, quick reads to fit in with their busy schedules.

In your view, what is acceptable in that genre and what is not?
Well, I think that anything that pertains to teens and their lives and 
futures is acceptable.  That includes all kinds of relationships, 
varied social situations, and exposure to more adult activities like drinking
and sex. Even if teens are not participating in those particular activities,
they are most certainly, at the very least, thinking about them, so intentionally leaving those 
topics out is kind of demeaning to their intelligence and budding sophistication.
If you do that, you will lose their interest very quickly because your subject
material and characters will not be relevant to their lives and thought processes.  

How would you describe your writing style and in this book specifically?
All of my writing tends to be emotionally based as well as being
visually descriptive.  I try to have my reader feel whatever my
characters are feeling as if it were their own experience.
It's tricky with a YA audience because you have to make the
story and the characters' experiences believable, yet you have
to be sure to capture and retain their attention.... make them
want to read more. It needs to be an interesting and descriptive
read, but has to move along at a fairly quick pace. Challenging
for a writer like myself, who tends to get a little wordy.
Why Young Adult as a chosen genre for you? 
Well, two reasons, really... One: As I said before, I want
to entice young readers to develop a love of reading.  I do
that by creating stories that feed their imagination and also encourage
them to question the subject material.  Like, "Could that really happen?
Is this even possible?" That isn't difficult as teens have a natural
inclination to question the validity of almost anything.  By giving my
readers lots of concepts to explore, I'm hoping they will be encouraged to
build on their own belief system, and solidify their ideals and principles
individually, and not just rely on what they have been taught to accept.
Two: I think that because teens are especially hard to please,
targeting the YA audience makes me focus more on the skill of writing rather
than just the storyline.  
Do dreams play an important role for you in your everyday life? 
They do. I have always been interested in what our dreams mean on a subconscious level and I have read many books on the subject.  It is always interesting to try and interpret what you've dreamed.
I believe that all our dreams have meaning.  After all, the brain doesn't shut down when you sleep... quite the opposite!  Sometimes we do our best thinking while we are asleep. And our dreams often reflect that.

Some of the imagination in your trilogy is presented as abstract concepts such as reincarnation and the ability to predict future events. Are you a believer of those concepts?

I have a very open mind with regard to the abstract. Unlike most people, I don't necessarily have to have concrete physical proof that some things exist in order for my mind to accept that they very well might.  Those concepts are not a stretch for me at all.  As such, I can write about those subjects as if they are in fact, real and do indeed, exist.  And for all we know, that may actually be the case.  We are here on earth for such a short time,
it would almost be acquiescent of us to assume that only what we've come to know and are familiar with, is all there is.

Again, where can we find your book and when will it be released? 

The target for release is in mid-September and it will be available as both an e-book and a printed copy on and Barnes&

Below is a brief excerpt from In Your Dreams.

   As I walked, my mind replayed the evening’s events.  I was disappointed and I couldn’t help but wish that tonight had turned out more like my dream.  I was still shocked by it all - the dream and how vivid it was.  It had all seemed so real.  And that guy, Taylor, no, wait…Tyler Caldwell.  Wow, was he ever hot!  How on earth I had managed to come up with him, I would never know.  I found it interesting that my first memorable dream was so mind-blowing.  Is that the way everyone dreamsOr is it only because it’s the first time I’ve ever remembered?
   My thoughts expanded to replay the entire dream in my mind, start to finish.  I was amazed that even now, I was still able to remember everything that I saw, heard and felt, right down to the way the punch tasted and the flowers on the table in the foyer had smelled.  Incredible, that it could replay in my mind exactly as it happened the first time, with all my innermost thoughts and intense emotions clearly detailed.  I could recall everything I’d experienced, including the intensity of my reaction to meeting Tyler Caldwell - especially when he took my hand - with such clarity that it really was as if I had lived it.  I shook my head in disbelief that this memory was in fact, more vivid than some of the most precious memories I held from my past.  Like my high school graduation when I had graduated with high honors and my parents had been so proud.  Or my first visit to the ocean when I was eight and determined to ride the waves, I had almost drowned until my Dad fished me out of the salty water.  Christmas when I was five, and I got my shiny new bike that I had begged and begged my parents for.  I couldn’t wait to ride it and even though it was winter, my dad let me try it out in the basement until the snow melted in the spring and I could then take it outside.  There were countless other memories that for some reason right now, paled in comparison to this newly acquired memory.  Maybe, that’s because it’s all just happenedBy tomorrow I will have forgotten everything.
Or so I thought…