Wednesday, April 30, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: A M Rees, Writer of Prose and Poetry

A M Rees, Author
A M Rees, writer of prose and poetry, brings us THE JOURNAL (coming soon!), described as “a story of one Woman’s journey through pain and into love.” Mixing poetry with prose, Rees intends for readers to “connect” to her story of self-discovery. To enhance the reader's experience, she keeps the character and setting “subtle,” although admits a strong influence by the ocean, her muse.

When Rees is not working on her novels or poetry, she writes stories on life coaching and traveling and covers competitive surfing as a free lance writer. She recently moved from the UK to Sydney where she enjoys surfing, frequenting the beaches, and watching sunrises and sunsets. She has written a first draft sequel to THE JOURNAL, as well as a novel based on horse racing.

Don’t miss the excerpt to THE JOURNAL following the interview, illustrating her use of poetry within her prose.

Q: How did you conceive of THE JOURNAL? Why did you write it? 

A M Rees: The idea of THE JOURNAL came together after receiving some truly touching emails from readers of my blog. The rawness of sharing personal thoughts that usually go unheard in polite society seemed to connect with many readers. It was through that process that I developed the story of a woman sharing every intimate emotion and brutally honest thought in a journal.

Q: Early reviewers praise your writing in THE JOURNAL as a “combination of emotive poetry and colloquial prose.” How do you combine these to entice your reader?

A M Rees: THE JOURNAL consists of ‘snapshots’ of life, ideas and thoughts through an inspirational journey of self-discovery. It is written in the relaxed manner one would expect when journaling moments and memories, giving it a simple, raw and intimate feel. The poetry is intermittently scattered in-between prose, connecting the story whilst sharing deeper, emotional thoughts that prose alone cannot always achieve. This, I believe, is the magic of poetry.

Q: How close to a real person is your protagonist? Is she based on anyone?

A M Rees: Many of the diary extracts and poetry pieces in this novella are hauntingly similar to my own experiences, and I believe it is the honesty of sharing real emotions that connect with the reader, and inspires them to find their own courage. That being said, it is not my own personal journey - there are also pieces of every woman I have ever met within the protagonist, which may help all women to feel a connection to the story.

Q: You are a journalist, a poet, and now a novelist. Which is your favorite?

A M Rees: I simply adore the journey that writing a novel takes me on, it is an obsession that clutches at every part of my life. When I am writing a book, I can do little else. I write about it, think about it and dream about it constantly. I find myself in a state of wild, obsessive excitement, although that pleasure comes with equal amounts of pain. There are days, weeks maybe even months when the long haul of novel writing seems to take its toll in the form of self doubt and loathing. This is when writing articles rescue me – mini milestones of acknowledgements that I am not in fact a complete failure! Then the inspiration comes back and I am flying high once again.

But poetry has always been a release for me, an escapism, a way to shrink the universe around me to fit inside my heart. It allows me to understand the world, it allows me to understand myself… it allows me to keep the therapist at bay!

Q: How do you engage readers to care about your characters?

A M Rees:  THE JOURNAL is a quirky little thing for many reasons, one of them being that none of the characters are named. This is in an attempt to highlight the fact that you do not need to know or label a stranger to empathize and understand their pains and emotions. It leaves the door open for the readers to make the characters their own, perhaps their friends or sisters, maybe even themselves.

When reading THE JOURNAL, I want the overall experience to feel as though you have taken a sneaky peek into somebody’s life and that somebody could be the woman you sit next to on the bus or in a cafĂ© but she’s out there, somewhere…

Q: Did you write THE JOURNAL to entertain readers, to educate them, to deliver a message, to inspire?

A M Rees: I think a good story encapsulates all of the above. The craft is sharing a story that does this naturally without preaching or being dictatorial in any way. For THE JOURNAL, I believe the strongest impulse was to inspire – to inspire courage, inspire hope and inspire women to find their own path from heartbreak towards self-discovery.

Q:  How relevant is setting to your story? Could it occur anywhere?

A M Rees:  Just like the non-naming of the characters, the setting is also very subtle, although there is a strong theme to coastal areas – there is in everything I write, I can’t help it! The ocean is my muse for life, love and loss, and in this case, it certainly helps unravel the story within THE JOURNAL in many ways.

Q:  How relevant is the concept of hero vs villain to your story? Do you need a villain in order to have a hero?

A M Rees: Within THE JOURNAL, the villain takes the form of heartbreak itself, so in that context, the protagonist is both the villain and hero of her own story. Every emotion we feel, we allow ourselves to feel and we always have a choice to change it, no matter how hard that choice and change can be. It is an empowering and terrifying fact, but I believe the women who can fight the battles that reside in the silent chambers of their hearts will become the heroes of their own lives. We are not princesses waiting to be saved by our prince – we can learn to save ourselves.

Q: What’s next? Do you plan to write more novels?

A M Rees: I have a follow up to THE JOURNAL that is in first draft form, titled, 50 Love Letters – again, a clipped story, composed entirely of one sided love letters. This is heart melting stuff and I am already very sentimental about it!

I also have a completely different novel based in the fast paced world of horse racing, titled Ambition. Ambition is a suspense melodrama that explores the human need for success and the deceit people are willing to create to get what they want from life. Having ridden racehorses all of my adult life, my experiences behind the scenes from the very top of the racing world, from the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup in the UK to the world famous Melbourne Cup in Australia, enabled me to write Ambition with inside knowledge, precision and the passion that engulfs all who become involved. Ambition is in her final draft and I hope to send her out to the publishing world within the next 6 months.

As for poetry, I begin the journey of Spoken Word Performances this month during the Sydney Writer’s Festival – I am incredibly excited and nervous all at the same time. Watch this space as they say…

Q: Tell us about A M Rees. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

A M Rees: If I am not writing you will find me in the ocean, I recently followed my dreams, packed up my life in the UK and moved to the sunny shores of Sydney. I take advantage of that fact and surf with the regularity that could turn me into a mermaid. I think nearly every lesson in life can be taught by Mother Ocean. I watch the sunrise or sunset every day – a quiet few moments to reflect on how awesome and magical this world is. I read in beachside cafes, partake in yoga and hippy like meditations and eat ice cream.

For a writer, I am an incredible social being. I have been referred to as ‘the glue that brings people together.’ I like that – a nice closing sentiment, don’t you think?

About A M Rees

A M Rees is a strange individual with a life threatening romantic disorder.

As a Freelance Writer, her inspirational musings have been repeatedly published internationally, from motivational life coaching and thought provoking travel documents to covering world class surfing competitions around the globe.  

This enables A M Rees to succumb to her barefooted wanderlust armed with a notepad and a surfboard, whilst she explores the world’s oceans and emotions. And it is her ability to share these emotions with delicate empathy and brutal honesty that enables the pages of her debut novella, THE JOURNAL to come alive.

About THE JOURNAL (coming soon)

“Sometimes, the best gift you can be given is a broken heart. It rips you open, exposes your vulnerability and tests your courage. And I have been there. I have known hurt and darkness. I have been that person crying on the floor in the midnight hours, desperately clutching myself for fear of falling apart.

But it is from this place you will hear your inner wisdom speak and if you listen carefully, it will guide you from the darkness towards your own greatness. Are you ready for that journey?

Join me, as I share with you every thought and every emotion that scarred my heart, through love lost, world travels, friendship and hope. Writing in The Journal changed my life. Perhaps it will change yours too...”

The heroine is not a princess waiting to be saved by a prince. She’s ordinary woman with an extraordinary adventure, who learns to save herself. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious but always inspirational. Follow her as she takes the most important journey of her life – the journey of self discovery.

Excerpt from THE JOURNAL

The Sea Burial

       After a broken heart one tends to deny that the love ever existed, but you cannot deny something that has left you scarred. You free yourself from the past by acknowledging that the love will always exist, that it was real but it simply does not belong to you anymore - It belongs in the vastness of the Ocean. That knowledge lifts your spirit and lightens the load from a heavy heart. I wrote a poem on a scrap of paper and set it alight on a piece of driftwood that I placed along with my emotions into the sea.

Now that your heart doesn't belong to me,
I'll send our love out to the sea,
And in the ocean it will always remain,
And as it drifts, so will my pain.

       I watched and mourned as it mirrored the inevitable burn out of a toxic relationship.
Starting with a fiery passion that becomes self engulfing as you lose yourself in the flames, until exhausted, the fire gives way to a smoky smoldering. The heat subsides, the flames go out and you are left choking on the smoking remains of hopes and dreams until they eventually turn to ashes.

       I watched the ashes sink into the Ocean's locker with a sense of freedom, content that I had given this beautiful burden to the sea and in return I felt Mother Ocean lay salty kisses on my tongue.

       I took a step back and watched as my sandy footprints became washed away by the shore as if I had never stood there. The moment was already gone.

       "The past belongs to me," She whispered, drawing the shore back into Herself.

       I turned away leaving my past behind me making footprints into my future that one day too, will be washed away to be nothing but a seaside memory.


BookTrailer (and soon to show spoken word poetry performances)

Monday, April 28, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Chris Kennedy, Author

Chris Kennedy, Author
Amazon-Top-100-Science-Fiction author Chris Kennedy describes his books as “not your traditional sci-fi.” Rather, he says, they are more “speculative fiction with a side of fantasy.” His just-released novel, WHEN THE GODS AREN’T GODS, is the second story in The Theogony trilogy. Reviewers tout his action scenes and suspense, which he credits to his “keeping the action true to life.”

Kennedy has also published the Occupied Seattle duology concerning the invasion of Seattle by the Chinese. He is currently working on the conclusion to The Theogony trilogy, which he plans to release in late summer. In addition to writing, he works a full-time job, spends time with his family, and tries to manage to get in an occasional round or two of golf.

Don't miss the excerpt from WHEN THE GODS AREN'T GODS immediately following the description of the book at the end of the interview.

Q: How did you conceive of your “worlds” and “aliens” for your science fiction stories?  

Chris Kennedy: Before I answer that, Joyce, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview me.  I greatly appreciate it.

Looking at the question, I think it’s important to note at the start that the trilogy I am currently working on is not your traditional sci-fi story. It’s more speculative fiction than straight sci-fi; I like to think of it as “science fiction with a side of fantasy.”

The universe in The Theogony trilogy is built on science (‘what is’) with an overlay of fantasy (‘what may be.’) As far as the “worlds” go, the star systems in the books are stars that exist in our galaxy and the actual planets that our astronomers have found orbiting them. I had to add a few planets that scientists haven’t found yet, but that is mainly due to the imprecision of the instruments that we are currently using. I think that when we get out into space, we will find a lot more planets than we are able to see from Earth.

With regard to the “aliens,” I started with the premise that Earth’s folklore and mythology came from somewhere. As we haven’t found historical or fossil data for many of the creatures in our historical tales, they must have come from somewhere else…off planet…and they are still out there, just waiting for us to come find them again. For example, why does every Martian trope depict them as being short with a big head? There’s probably a reason. Maybe it leaked out from Roswell or Area 51…

Q: Your newest book WHEN THE GODS AREN’T GODS was just released and is a continuation of a previous book JANISSARIES. Why do you write in a series rather than standalone books?

Chris Kennedy: That’s a great question, Joyce. Although I’ve always liked series books the best, I know there are many readers out there that would rather have the whole story in one standalone book. One of my proofreaders, for example, prefers standalone stories. When she got to the end of my first book, RED TIDE: THE CHINESE INVASION OF SEATTLE, she called me up to ask, “Where’s the rest?” When she found out that she’d have to wait for the conclusion in the second book, she was NOT happy. 

The answer, though, is that the story in The Theogony trilogy was too big for a single book. JANISSARIES was about 105,000 words, WHEN THE GODS AREN’T GODS is over 109,000 and the conclusion, TERRA STANDS ALONE, will be the biggest one yet. It’s not quite WAR AND PEACE if you put them all together, but it isn’t too far off, either. One book couldn’t contain them, nor the books in the series that will follow The Theogony. It required a series.

That being said, I made a conscious effort to try to make each of The Theogony books a standalone story, where you can read it and feel that you read “a story,” even if it is part of a story on a much grander scale. I very much hope that I succeeded in this area, but will leave it up to the readers to decide if I did or did not. One Canadian reviewer seemed to think that I did, as he said, “So many of these trilogies or hexologies leave the reader feeling cheated at the end of a book, as there is no finish of the book, just a sudden stop. This book left me feeling good about the story I had read, and willing to wait for the author to complete the next one.” I hope everyone feels this way, including the readers that normally aren’t fans of series. I know that I’ve converted my proofreader; having read WHEN THE GODS AREN’T GODS, she can’t wait to find out what happens in TERRA STANDS ALONE. Maybe that’s why I always liked series books the best—it’s the anticipation of looking forward to the next one.

Q: In creating future worlds, how do you make them credible and believable? Does your background as a pilot help to create credibility? How important is back story?

Chris Kennedy: I think that each world and culture has to be developed in its entirety so that the author knows how members of that civilization are going to react to external stimuli. What makes sense from their viewpoint may make little or no sense from ours. The back story is important for developing the consistency necessary to keep them credible…but it isn’t always something that the reader is going to know everything about, any more than the characters in the story know about it until it is revealed. I don’t think that being a pilot helped with that. If anything, my credibility comes from the hundreds and thousands of science fiction and fantasy books that I’ve read over my lifetime. My books attempt to recreate the feelings of wonder and awe that I got from reading the masters that went before me. I’ve had a couple of reviewers compare me to some of them and it is humbling. I know I’m not there (yet), but it makes me want to make each book better than the one that preceded it, so that eventually I AM worthy of that compliment.

Q: Why do readers care about your characters?

Chris Kennedy:  I can’t say why every reader cares about the characters, but I know of at least a couple. First, I hope they care because they can see themselves in the place of the heroes. While some may be slightly larger than life, they are normal people trying to make the best they can out of bad situations, and they have personalities which readers can relate to and pull for.  The other reason is that there is a liberal use of “red shirts” throughout the books, where people have signed up to use their names as characters. These people, as well as their friends and relatives, are pulling for their favorite red shirt to make it out alive…or at least to have them die gloriously.

Q: Does the concept of “hero” versus “villain” apply to your books? If so, do you believe you need a villain to have a hero?

Chris Kennedy: Although there are enemies in my books, the stories have not revolved around the traditional “hero” versus “a villain.” The books do, however, periodically allow the reader to experience passing events through the eyes of the enemies, so that the reader understands that they do have a plan that the hero has to overcome. I don’t think that you have to have an individual villain, per se, but I think that it’s important to at least show scenes from the enemy’s perspective as a foil to better appreciate the hero’s actions. Without knowing the evil, you cannot appreciate the good.

Q: Reviewers appreciate the action scenes and suspense in your books. How do you create action and suspense?

Chris Kennedy: I try to create action and suspense by keeping the action true to life. Like the GAME OF THRONES books, by now my readers know that some of the characters in the book are going to die. Not all the enemies are storm troopers; enemies in my books have a distressing ability to shoot/claw/stab effectively that mirrors real life. There are also many times where several battles are happening simultaneously, and suspense builds as the scene is shifted through a number of different characters’ perspectives.

Q: Do you write your books strictly to entertain readers, or do you try to deliver a message or educate them?

Chris Kennedy: The books are written to entertain, because I know that people’s entertainment time and money are limited. When I read, I want to enjoy what I am reading. I have never enjoyed being preached at, so I won’t do it to anyone else. I don’t have any soap boxes to stand on; I am just trying to craft stories that people will enjoy reading. There may be some educational nuggets scattered throughout it, but the focus is on the story.

Q: You set your earlier books in Seattle. How helpful is setting your story in a familiar city or place like Seattle?

Chris Kennedy: I think that it is very important, because it taps into the reader’s connection with the location. For the American readers, the story doesn’t take place in a far off land, it takes place in a spot that they are emotionally invested in; the Chinese are invading the U.S.! To arms! To arms! The readers from other countries are able to connect as well, wondering when the Chinese will topple famous landmarks like the Space Needle. Seattle is a major iconic city that conjures up pictures in people’s minds, pictures that the readers are then able to connect with.

Q: What’s next?

Chris Kennedy: Next up is the conclusion to the trilogy, TERRA STANDS ALONE, which will be available later this summer. It already has 70,000+ words into it and will be larger than its predecessors. After that, I have several other books planned. Let’s face it, Joyce, it’s a big galaxy out there and civilization is struggling to hang on in many places. All of them could use a hero right about now.

Q: Tell us about Chris Kennedy. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or working?

Chris Kennedy: Working a full time job and still finding time to write take up a lot of my time. When I’m not doing one of those things, I try to spend quality time with my family, whether that is doing something with my kids or having a quiet meal out to connect with my wife. They are truly the center of my life. If I can sneak in a round or two of golf here and there, too, that’s just icing on the cake!

About Chris Kennedy

An Amazon Top 100 Science Fiction author, Chris Kennedy is a former aviator with over 3,000 hours flying attack and reconnaissance aircraft for the United States Navy, including many missions supporting U.S. Special Forces. He has also been an elementary school principal and has enjoyed 18 seasons as a softball coach. Chris is currently working as an Instructional Systems Designer for the Navy.

Chris has published two series. The first, the Occupied Seattle duology, contains RED TIDE: THE CHINESE INVASION OF SEATTLE and OCCUPIED SEATTLE the conclusion of the series. Both books are currently available. He is currently working on his latest series, The Theogony trilogy, of which JANISSARIES and WHEN THE GODS AREN'T GODS have both been released. The conclusion to the trilogy, “Terra Stands Alone,” will be released later this summer.

Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and his special forces platoon just returned from a three-month mission to the stars. The technology they brought back will help, but it won’t be enough to hold off the alien menace headed their way. Although they returned alive, they returned without finding any new allies or help in building the fleet necessary to ensure the Earth’s survival.

They’ve got to go back.

What do you do when myths become reality, and nothing you have ever been taught about history turns out to be true? How do you find the truth when everything you know turns out to be a lie? What is there left to believe in, when even the gods aren’t gods?

Seacon Towers Apartments, London, January 12, 2020

       Master Chief O’Leary kicked in the door of the East End apartment and was greeted by a hail of bullets that hit him in the chest, despite his invisibility. “Damn it!” he grunted, as the impact of 12 bullets drove him back into the opposite wall. While the terrorists focused on O’Leary, other members of the platoon crashed through the back windows of the 4th floor apartment, taking the terrorists by surprise. The fight was over in less than a minute, the terrorists dead and Ryan with an expanding bruise on his chest. Although the suit stopped the bullets, as advertised, it did nothing to absorb the impact. Someone else gets to kick in the door next time, he vowed.

       Ryan surveyed the dead. No prisoners were taken, but then again, the terrorists hadn’t given them the chance...and the soldiers hadn’t really wanted to take any in the first place. The terrorists had nothing they needed, and to have to go through the motions of a trial was just...inconvenient. Besides, the terrorists shot first, and to come back to London when they were already wanted there was just stupid. Ryan shrugged. Just another example of Darwin’s rule of natural selection; they were obviously too stupid to live.

       Scattered among the remains of the bomb making materials, he found the jihadi bomb maker Samantha Lewthwaite, the notorious ‘White Widow’ that terror agencies in the U.S., U.K. and Kenya had been looking for since the Nairobi shopping mall terror attack in 2013 that killed more than 70 people. A key member of Somalia’s al-Shabaab militants, her career as a terrorist was over, courtesy of three laser blasts to her chest. Good riddance, he thought.

       Sirens wailed as the local police made their appearance. Ryan looked at his watch. If the shuttle wasn’t late coming down, they could still make it back to Moon Base Alpha in time for Happy Hour at the new bar that had just opened.

       Life was good.

The war with China was over and Lieutenant Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs just wanted his life to go back to normal. The hero of the war, he had a small ream of paperwork to fill out, a deployment with his Navy F-18 squadron to prepare for, and a new girlfriend to spend some quality time with. Life was good.

Until the aliens showed up.

They had a ship and needed to get to their home planet, but didn't have a crew. They had seen Calvin’s unit in action during the war, though, and knew it was the right one for the job. There was just one small problem—a second race of aliens was coming, which would end all life on Earth. Calvin’s platoon might want to do something about that, too. Having already won a terrestrial war with 30 troops, winning an interstellar war with nothing but a 3,000 year old cruiser should be easy, right?

“Janissaries” initiates “The Theogony,” a trilogy that takes Lieutenant Hobbs and his Special Forces platoon to the stars where they will learn that there’s much more to Earth's history than is written in the history books!

We thought the war against China would be fought in Asia, not Seattle. We were wrong.

Analysts have long forecast that China would go to war to reintegrate the province of Taiwan. It isn't a matter of "if;" it's a matter of "when." For decades, the only thing that has restrained China from taking Taiwan by force of arms is the American promise to defend it, even if that meant World War III. To date, China has not been ready to go that far. But what if China figured out a way to put the United States on the sidelines of their fight to regain Taiwan?

Drawn from today's headlines, "Red Tide: The Chinese Invasion of Seattle" is set in a not-too-distant future where China decides to invade Seattle to use American citizens as high-stakes chips in a game of nuclear blackmail. Will the United States get Seattle back?

Written by a former aviator with over 3,000 hours flying attack and reconnaissance aircraft for the United States Navy, including many missions supporting U.S. Special Forces, Red Tide is a look at one possible future that isn't as improbable as you might think. Events in it are not only possible, they're already happening. Could China attack the United States to get back Taiwan?


The Chinese Have Captured Seattle!

In 1949, the government of the Republic of China fled to the island of Taiwan. For nearly 70 years, the People's Republic of China has wanted to take the island back and unite the nation under one flag, the Communist flag. Their desire was thwarted by U.S. support for Taiwan, until the Chinese conceived and executed the perfect plan to keep the U.S. out of the war for Taiwan, an invasion of Seattle!

Yesterday, China captured the cities of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, in a Pearl Harbor-like surprise attack. The Chinese also captured six American nuclear warheads and are not afraid to use them on American soil, if necessary to keep the United States 
out of the war in the Pacific. Without U.S. aid, the fall of Taiwan seems imminent, and now even Seattle seems lost to the Chinese.

America's hopes are riding on a shot-down F-18 pilot, a retired Navy SEAL, and a platoon of Army Rangers. If that's all America has going for it, all hope seems lost!


Twitter address: @ChrisKennedy110

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


E A Lake, Author
E A Lake likes to write dystopian fiction because it is “so much fun.” He started the WWIV series with IN THE BEGINNING to set the stage. Lake strives for believability and “regular, normal, everyday people,” and writes purely for entertainment.

E A Lake is his pen name, and the E and A are just "random vowels." He wants us to refer to him as Lake. He is a father and grandfather, and when he's not writing he's working as a CFO at a small creative company. His mother says his books disturb her, which he takes as praise. Lake is just finishing his next book in the WWIV series, Kids at War.

Q: Why did you choose to write about dystopia, rather than utopia?

E A Lake: Dystopia is so much fun! It’s all about subtraction; removing from people all the nice things they depend on so much every day. It makes me smile now just thinking of it. Also, it gives me a chance to show the recreation of our humanity, after I’ve used most of the book destroying the same.

Q: Why are you writing a series rather than standalone books? How will your first book, WWIV: IN THE BEGINNING, set the stage for the books that follow?

E A Lake: The more I considered a single book in this unique situation, the more “what if…” questions popped into my mind. I didn’t want to create a massive, all-inclusive novel with everything, so I came up with individual books for the series.

My first novel tells the reader what has happened. Actually, it shows you the effects of what has happened. No one knows what actually caused our power, phones, and cars to stop working. That answer may come at a later time (maybe Book Six or Seven).

Q: How do you write to appeal to readers “between 13 and 113”?

E A Lake:  Very carefully. First of all, I try to eliminate all graphic violence. Bad things will happen in these books. But I can cover the bad elements in short vague passages, and still get the idea across. Next, I keep the mild profanity to a minimum. We all know that these will be trying times, but not everyone in the novel has to talk like a Marine Grunt. Finally, it’s the cast of characters I assemble. Teen boys and girls, twenty and thirty-somethings, older folks, and maybe an innocent child or baby thrown in here and there (just for fun). Something for everyone really.

Q: How important is credibility or believability to your works? What do you do to pull readers into your make-believe world of the future?

E A Lake: Believability is my number one goal. I constantly tell people I never want the reader to suspend their beliefs. I research certain aspects of my writings to the maximum degree. Cars won’t run? Okay, all cars or just some cars? What’s the exact year break-off where they started using computers? Things like that. 

I try to paint the complete picture of our new landscape, post event. But I use a very broad brush to attempt to engage the reader’s imagination as much as possible. I take everyday events, that we now take for granted, and make them as painstakingly difficult as possible. Remember, you’ll now have to go looking for food and fresh water.

Q: What makes your characters interesting? Why will readers engage with them?

E A Lake: Great question, and I have a great answer for this. My characters are interesting because they are regular, normal every day people. They’re your neighbor, the guy who mows your lawn when you’re on vacation. The woman who bakes cookies for the church bazaar. The minister from the local church. A 14-year-old girl, just trying to get from one dysfunctional parent’s house to another’s. The kid who’s the quarterback on the varsity football team. Just a bunch of regular people. In other words – you, me, your mom, your dad – everyone you know and love. This makes it really easy for the reader to identify and relate to at least one character in each of my books.

Q: Is the concept of “villains vs heroes” or “antagonist vs protagonist” relevant to your books? If so, do you need a villain to have a hero? Or can events create heroes? What makes an interesting villain and hero?

E A Lake: I believe that when you present the citizens of the world a new dark dreary dystopian setting, they really don’t need villains. Come on, these people are going to struggle against nature to survive now. They’ll have their hands full.

But as long as they’re struggling, why not throw in a few villains. Just to keep things interesting. That way, every time you think you’ll be able to catch your breath and maybe get started back towards normal, turn the page. More trouble awaits our hero.

Events against incredible natural odds will make our heroes/protagonists shine. Events against the already bad natural odds, and villains to boot, will make our heroes human once again.
Q:  Do your characters lead you to write about them? Or do you keep them in their place by sticking to an outline?

E A Lake:  The first step to every manuscript I create is to throw down a general outline. It’s nothing formal or complicated. This outline serves as a guide as I move into the actual writing process. Next, I create each character in detail. Name, height, weight, hair color, eye color, personality, birthdate, parent’s names, hometown, education, etc…

I refer to my outline as I write to make sure I get all the major scenes covered. And I try to highlight (in the outline) two or three main ideas I want to get across in each chapter. But it’s my characters that run the show. They take me to some of the wildest places I could ever imagine. I find it funny how these characters take over the novel and it seems like I’m just along for the ride.

Q: Are your books purely for entertainment? Or do you write to educate or deliver a message or two?

E A Lake: Pure and simple entertainment. Even though I write of doom and gloom, and end of days – I’m not like that in real life. These are just stories that I’ve thought or dreamt up about a situation that could happen one day. But I’m sure we all hope and pray it never occurs.

The only “so called” message I deliver is simple. The events in my novels crush humanity and each of our own humanity’s. But that’s not the end of the story. Read and watch how resilient we really can be. Humanity may sink for a while, but I truly believe it will rebound as time moves forward.

Q: What’s next?

E A Lake: Immediately, I am putting the finishing touches on book two of the WWIV series – Kids at War. But don’t worry; it’s not about children becoming soldiers. The theme deals more with our younger generation and the problems they will find in this new dystopia.

After that, I need to really tighten up book one of The Smith Chronicles entitled Golden 5. Books one and two of that series are written, but they’re still in rough form. These are longer tales, with recurring characters. I hope to have the first of that series out by late fall 2014.

Q: Tell us something about e a lake. What does the “e a” stand for? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

E A Lake: When I was younger, I ran a marathon. I spend most fall weekend days sitting in a tree, watching deer walk by (my son thinks I’m hunting with him, ha!). I have three grown children and three young grandchildren. My mother has read two of my manuscripts and told me they disturbed her – and she meant that as a compliment.

The ‘e’ and the ‘a’ in my pen name mean absolutely nothing. They are simply two random vowels. I want people in the writing community to call me lake.

Like many indie authors, I work a regular fulltime job. During the week I’m a CFO for a small creative company. On weekends I work on my honey-do list, and play Dad and Grandpa as much as possible.

About E A Lake

E A Lake: I write dystopian. It's dark, yet fun to play with. WWIV - In The Beginning is my debut novel. Trying to get this junk in my head, down on pages. Those pages become chapters. The chapters become a manuscript. The manuscript becomes a novel. Sounds easy enough.

I am an author and my pen name is e a lake. The e and the a mean nothing. So please just call me lake.

Not everything in dystopian writing has to be dark and dreary. I try to create post -apocalyptic situations that will challenge the reader to really believe that the events in my novels could happen.

The best part of my genre? Who needs antagonists when the landscape surrounding my protagonist is so bad. You just have to love this stuff.

My favorites are the usual list of suspects. Orwell, Bradbury, Stephen King, Vince Flynn, and James Patterson.

I'm not all that scary. Father to three, grandfather to two (three in April 2014). Just a regular guy.

What will we do when suddenly our power, our phones, and our cars don't work? What will we do when we realize our government is missing and we have no protection; no police, no national guard? What will we do when our food runs out or spoils, and fresh water becomes scarce? What will we do when we realize we are completely and undeniably on our own? What could possibly happen next? 

What happens when IT happens? 

Follow an ordinary man, Bill Carlson, through the first 30 days of the ensuing uncertainty. From his once quiet, now violent, St. Paul suburb; to the empty, and yet deadly, county roads of west central Wisconsin. 

With limited knowledge of prepping, Bill must rely on neighbors for help. Why did he never pay attention to his “crazy doomsday” neighbor Scott? Now that the world, at least his world, is dark, Bill has so many questions. How can he possibly survive in this dark dystopian world? 

Bill goes in search of his family, and finds so much more. Friendly people in small towns, other villages that allow no strangers, people searching for help, and people looking to take anything you might have – via any means. 

Will Bill find his family, some 300 miles away? Will the power come back on after mysteriously going out? Will he be able to help others in times of need, much less himself? 

WWIV has begun, and we’re only In The Beginning. 

Twitter (handle) - @ealake5
Google+ - Search for ‘e a lake’