Monday, July 13, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Simone Pond, Author

Simone Pond, Author
4th book in The Agenda series
Simone Pond introduces us to her recent release, THE TORRENT, the final book (4) of her dystopian series, New Agenda.  She previously joined us to discuss the third book of the series, THE MAINFRAME, which is when she informed us that she writes dystopian novels to let out her “dark side.” In her final book in the series, she seeks to discover how a separated mother and daughter will interact in her future world.

Although a creator of future worlds, here in the now and present Pond says she most enjoys lounging in front of TV watching a movie. She is working on a young adult romance series and considering whether to include a SciFi element. Pond lives in Los Angeles with her husband and Boston Terrier, Winnie.

Q: THE TORRENT is the final book (4) of a dystopian series New Agenda. In a previous interview you said that you “have a dark side that needed to come out.” In THE MAINFRAME, for example, you said you wanted to see how a rebellious daughter would team up with her mother to fight a common enemy, Chief Morray. What were you trying to see in THE TORRENT?

Simone Pond: In THE TORRENT, Ava is trapped inside the mainframe network with Chief Morray. Meanwhile her daughter, Grace, is in the real world fighting her own battles. I wanted to see what would happen if I separated the mother and daughter team. How would they find a way to work together even though they were in different worlds? Would their love be strong enough to break through the barriers of time and space?

Q: How difficult is it to create engaging characters set in a dystopian novel? For characters set in the future, do you need to assign character traits that are different from other genres?

Simone Pond: I loved creating this cast of characters. Though they exist in a far off future, they have the same emotions and desires that we have; only their setting is a lot more complicated. Ava and Grace have unique DNA, which gives them the ability to merge with the mainframe network.

Q: Reviewers enjoy how you cross time in the future and how you “weave within different realities seamlessly.” How do you manage to “weave” in and out of different time periods and “realities” and keep readers engrossed? Does this ploy enhance suspense and/or draw us into your characters?

Simone Pond: My editor once told me to look at each book like a reader’s first time picking it up, regardless of where it landed in the series. They might not have read the earlier books. I make sure to include pertinent information threaded throughout each book, while not going into too much exposition. I use memories or feelings surrounding a memory to weave the history and backstories together.

Q: What do typical readers of dystopian literature expect? How does the New Agenda series meet those expectations? How is it different?

Simone Pond: I think dystopian readers expect the story to have some underlying social commentary. To say something about the future, as a warning or a red flag. Stories with heroes who stand up against the oppressive authorities. I included these elements. My series spans over three hundred years, while linking together many of the same characters. The consciousness upload process is the vehicle that gives me the room to explore multiple worlds – reality and virtual.

Q: How did you build your worlds? Do you create them before you start writing? Do your characters help?

Simone Pond: The city center world came to me by thinking of every modern convenience I could possibly want at my fingertips. I visualized what the future would look like if everything, including people, connected to a mainframe network. For the villages, I used Ojai as my inspiration and incorporating how small towns developed during the late 1800s. A lot more went into the world building, but those were the starting points.

Q: I know that you’ve said that you write your stories primarily to entertain, but you’ve also said that you include some “spiritual themes” and reviewers have claimed they found your books “thought provoking.” Did you include any “spiritual themes” in THE TORRENT? Can you clarify what they are?

Simone Pond: All of my books have the underlying theme of spiritual warfare––the evil forces trying to control and manipulate us on physical and spiritual levels. Pride versus humility. Death and rebirth. Redemption. Forgiveness. To me, Morray represents the oppressive dark forces in life, while Ava and Grace represent God’s soldiers, fighting the good fight.

Q: I’m a fan of cover art, so I need to ask you about your covers for the New Agenda series. Without spoiling the plot, can you tell us the significance of the globe-like circle in the middle of each of the books in the series?

Simone Pond: My designer came up with that idea and I fell in love with it because it visually represents everything I wanted to communicate. Chief Morray wants to live indefinitely, as well as keep society in a controlled bubble. But it also represents a guiding light and the circle of life.

Q: Were you able to use humor to tell your story or develop your characters? How important is humor to develop engaging characters?

Simone Pond: Blythe is my favorite character because she’s such a smart-ass and constantly giving people nicknames that aren’t so pleasant. She was my comic relief.

Q: What’s next? You’ve finished the New Agenda series. Will you be writing more dystopian novels?

Simone Pond: I’m working on a couple of ideas for the Young Adult romance category. I’m debating about whether or not to include a sci-fi twist.

Q: Tell us about Simone Pond. Have you discovered any new fun things to do?

Simone Pond: I’m such a homebody. Seriously, my idea of a fun night is lounging in my pajamas and watching movies on Netflix. Or if I’m not entirely lazy, I’ll put on some clothes and go to the theater to see a movie. I love spending time with my Boston Terrier, Winnie. She’s enough entertainment for me.

About Simone Pond

Simone Pond is an award-winning author of dystopian fiction. Her current series includes The City Center, The New Agenda, The Mainframe, and THE TORRENT. She also has a short story series called Voices of the Apocalypse.

She grew up in Kensington, Maryland - a small town just outside of Washington D.C. As a young girl, she loved writing in her journal and making up stories, but after reading S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, everything changed. Amazed that a woman could write so convincingly from a teenage boy's perspective, Pond became determined to become a writer as well.

Pond currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their Boston Terrier. Follow her blog at Simone Says... 

Be sure to join the mailing list for updates on new book releases. 

Grace has survived Chief Morray’s attempt to keep her trapped inside the mainframe, but at a terrible cost: leaving her mother behind. Giving up training at the academy in order to wait for Ava’s return. Grace wants to do the right thing, but it’s never that simple. While Ava struggles against Morray in the virtual reality, Grace is left alone in the real world to fight her own battles. There’s a new corrupt authority figure. A regional council to sway. A war to stop. And a promise to keep to a precious young soul. How can Grace save everyone, including herself?


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Monday, July 6, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Michael Paul Fuller, Author

Michael Paul Fuller, Author
Reviewers tout Michael Paul Fuller’s THE BAD POET as “original” and “romance, a bit of mystery and definitely thrills” as well as “funny, serious, mysterious and heart warming.” Fuller himself credits its originality to his plot that revolves around characters participating in a chatroom—not an often-used ploy—but concurs that it is a “mystery, thriller, romance and adventure story.” His reviewers also applaud his characters “which are tightly framed and are filled with passion.”

Fuller has written “and thrown into a drawer” many stories but also published Chronicles of a Nappi Head subtitled Tales from the Back of Your Mind. Mostly, he just likes to write. When he’s not writing, he enjoys golfing, gardening, and coaching middle school basketball. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and family where he is working on a sequel to THE BAD POET.

Don't miss the excerpt following his interview.

Q: Reviewers describe THE BAD POET as “an exciting, original book.” What makes it “original?” How did you conceive of it? Is it a mystery, thriller, romance and/or adventure story?   

Michael Paul Fuller: I think it is original because I haven’t read a novel that revolves around the internet chat room.  I thought of the idea because my cousin would visit me and go into my office to get on my computer and chat with people in the chatrooms.  She would chat for a long length of time.  She shared many stories with me about the conversations they would have. She even told me one time they kicked her out of the chatroom because of her fowl mouth.  I thought that was very interesting so I decided to write a story about people communicating in the chatroom. 

I think my story is all of the above.  It is a mystery, thriller, romance and adventure story.

Q: Your reviewers also applaud your characters. They are “tightly framed and are filled with passion.” What makes us embrace your characters and care what happens to them?

Michael Paul Fuller: I think they care about the characters because they are ordinary people.  They enjoy talking in the chatrooms and they are involved in interesting relationships and to top it off the main character is a poet.

Q: How do you make your characters and plot “believable?” Do setting and back-story contribute?

Michael Paul Fuller: I make them believable by making my characters similar to people that I know and have known in my life.  In this particular book , the setting does contribute because the story takes place in Chicago, which is my hometown.

Q: How do you mix the elements of “thriller,” “page-turner,” “suspense”, and “mystery,” with those of “romance,” “heart warming,” and “funny?” Are you able to use the suspense side of your story to build the romance side and vice versa?

Michael Paul Fuller: Well I start off developing relationships between a woman and a woman, a woman and a man, a woman and her daughter. I then add the suspense and the mystery to the relationships.

Q: How helpful is the concept of “villains vs heroes” to tell your story? Would you characterize your protagonist as a “hero?”

Michael Paul Fuller: No there isn’t a hero in the story but I do consider the protagonist of my story to be a villain.

Q: How helpful was humor in developing your characters and telling your story?

Michael Paul Fuller: Humor was very helpful in developing my characters.  My villain had to have a sense of humor so that he could entice the lead character.  He wanted her to fall in love with him so that she could help him work out his plan.

Q: Did you write THE BAD POET strictly to entertain readers? Or did you also want to educate or deliver a message?

Michael Paul Fuller: I wrote the story to entertain and to enlighten the reader as to the dangers of the chatroom.

Q: Can you explain your title THE BAD POET without revealing too much of your plot?

Michael Paul Fuller: The Bad Poet basically describes the main character.  She enjoyed writing poetry and wrote often, however her poems weren’t very good.

Q: What’s next?

Michael Paul Fuller: I am presently writing a sequel to the book THE BAD POET.   I am also writing a play.

Q: Tell us about Michael Paul Fuller. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Michael Paul Fuller: I love playing golf. I am a gardener and have vegetables and herbs growing on my deck, I coach middle school basketball and I plan on becoming involved with the 2016 Presidential election in some capacity.  As soon I figure out who I want to win I will try and become a part of their campaign. 

About Michael Paul Fuller

He was born in Evanston, Illinois and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology in 1977 from Southern Illinois University. Now, Atlanta is home with his wife (Sheila) and family.

He had written many essays and term papers throughout college, where Plato’s Republic and Machiavelli’s The Prince, along with Dr. King and ‘X’ ruled his time and efforts. But it was Richard Wright’s Native Son and Steven King’s Stand that brought him into fiction. They gave him the gumption to sit down, be patient and create characters and let those characters take him to different times and places. His writing would begin without knowing which direction the characters and plot would end up, which for him was the most exciting part of the creative process.
After some time had passed his first story was finished, and was not read a second time. Instead, he threw it in a drawer unedited and unseen by anyone. Then, another story was written and finished and again tossed into the drawer of no return.

So what was it? Why did he continue to write? For him, it was the time spent alone in his writer’s closet with not a soul to direct his path. He closed his eyes, then bent and twisted plots and characters to go as they pleased and do and accomplish whatever possibilities. Now, after Chronicles of a Nappi Head, comes his first novel THE BAD POET.

You never know about people. Human predictability is the singular thing that mathematicians and scientists cannot calculate with 100% accuracy. The human chemistry ebbs and flows from second to second where only one thing is certain, and that is unpredictability. Just as in one’s own decision making, where life’s twist and turns will eventually dictate your final decision, sometimes even when you know it is the wrong choice. The time an individual spends on earth is as small as a tiny pebble tumbling down the Grand Canyon. We should spend it as wisely as possible by measuring each day, hour, minute and second given to us. Life is a fleeting spirit and with each breath worthy of congratulations as it is given only by the grace of God. We must cherish it, and nurture every moment as our transitory time marches to an end. An end that man has been studying, writing songs, creating stories about and trying to beat, since the beginning of his existence.

The tragedy of 9-11 changed many things for Americans that will never be the same. In the cloudy days soon thereafter, Carla King’s husband disappeared without a trace and she was left with their daughter to survive. After their divorce, she was living a mundane life one day at a time when one night while out with friends, she runs into Cutino Grigsby, her mister right. From the start, time spent with Cutino was adventurous and lustful, gregarious and fanciful free. They danced the Marengo on the Bay of Biscay and flew with the doves over mountains of joy. Their impromptu travels to faraway places and gifts from Cutino blinded her from any negative judgments about him. His physical appearance was striking and his confidence brought her security and made Carla take a note of admiration. But it is his deceit that teaches her the most, as her renaissance man will bring changes into her life that she never anticipates. She must hang on for the ride towards a crossroad of life which could land her in deep water, or even her demise.

Experience her journey and enjoy the ride.


Carla King

I yelled at the top of my voice to the jogger, or at least he was thin like one. But at this time of night, who knew. He could have been a burglar or an addict running from some ill-conceived crime, then fleeing to his freedom. But at this point, I had to take a chance. So I pleaded to him, “Help me! Help me!

He slowed for an instant, turned and peered over at me, taking a step in my direction. But as if stuck in cement, he stopped in his tracks, recoiled back around and took off running again, only this time faster. Damn, I thought, he’s running away from me.

Despair welled up inside of me. Once again I called for his help, then twisted around to see the nightmare closing in for the kill. The jogger must have seen him and wanted no part of our mad theater. Even so, I tried to enlist him to join in, petitioning him to be my hero. Again, I yelled for him to show compassion and rescue me. “Stop! Stop! Help meeee!”

I turned to see the shadowy horror gaining on me with each second. I spun around in hopes that the jogger was coming back. But the slim exercise freak was long gone, his schoolboy physique flying down the gloomy side street, probably never to jog at that time of night or down that path again.

I angled around the corner dashing past closed retail stores and barren alleys hoping to bump into the jogger’s path again. Seconds later my stomach churned with a sour sensation and while running, I vomited. My lungs burned and my kidneys cut into me like my insides were trying to digest thumbtacks. Suddenly, a pain shot through my foot as if it was hit by a hammer. That’s when I realized one of my favorite black Juicy Couture sling-back pumps was missing. The cost of three hundred and seventy-five dollars flashed into my mind, the most expensive shoes that I had ever purchased. At first I overcame the initial shock of pain and just kept running, but soon it became a throbbing ache which slowed me down, but still I continued to drag the bashed foot along.

My breathing was short and rapid, while the throbbing pain from my shoeless foot challenged my will to the point that I was about to give up and take a stand. Truth be told, I was at the end of my physical ability to continue. However, as quickly as the thought of giving up had crossed my mind, it disappeared. I refused to let this happen to me and become a victim, so I dug deep into my soul and with every ounce of strength left, commissioned my body to continue the escape for survival.

I whirled my head back around and saw that my pursuer had stopped running, too. He was power-walking towards me, evidently tired as well, but nonetheless determined to finish what he’d planned.

The crackling sound like exploding Wildcat firecrackers rang out again. The slugs bounced off the brick walls of the closed stores and sleepy condominiums and whizzed past my head, so close that I felt the hot metal singe the hair from my ear. Nothing had changed; he was still resolute on disposing of me.

Hobbling down South State Street, struggling to keep from giving up, I squealed out again for help, still hoping that somebody would rescue me. Like one of those bobble head dolls that sat on the dashboard of some young Mexican kid’s leisure van, I kept a vigilant eye on the killer imp, constantly rotating my head back and forth, looking for some kind of escape.

There it was, a sidewalk sign that stood a little taller than my five foot seven-inches, used for advertising Tommy Gun’s Diner and Theater valet was tucked away in the restaurant’s entrance. I ducked into the corridor, folded myself into a ball and hid between the modern A-frame sign.

The sorrow of the moment consumed all of my thoughts and emotions. Why me? If I had just stayed home that innocent evening, all of these tribulations could have been avoided. As I thought back, it all began that trouble-free night not so long ago…