Interview with Kent Lester, author of The Seventh Sun

We’re so excited to bring you an interview with Kent Lester, author of the epic thriller The Seventh Sun! A big thanks to Kent and Forge Books!

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The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

A stunning debut novel about corrupt government agencies and terrifying conspiracies using the latest developments in science, technology, and oceanography

In a breathtaking debut drawing on complex science and recently discovered deep-sea biology, Kent Lester has married fast-paced narrative and cutting-edge, reality-based science to produce an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

A seemingly random murder off the Honduran coast leads scientist Dan Clifford to a massive corporate conspiracy. Illegal, automated, undersea operations have unwittingly awakened a primordial organism that turns host organisms into neurotoxin factories, wreaking havoc with aquatic life and the nearby human population. This maleficence threatens to trigger a worldwide outbreak that could end in human extinction, the Seventh Sun of ancient myth.

When the CDC and the full resources of the U.S. biological threats team fail to uncover the source of the devastation, Dan and a brilliant marine biologist, Rachel Sullivan, must plumb the deeps and face an unimaginable, ancient horror in the murky depths. It’s up to them to stop this terror before a determined multi-national corporation unleashes death on an unsuspecting world.

Published April 18th 2017 by Forge Books

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What inspired you to write The Seventh Sun?
Kent: I went on a scuba diving vacation to the island of Guanaja, Honduras many years ago. It was one of my favorite trips and I found the island to be an idyllic paradise. The local Payan Indians and the people at the scuba resort were extremely friendly. At the time, there were no roads on the island. Everyone traveled about on boats. The main settlement, Bonacca Town, was literally built on stilts over the water. It felt like the Caribbean version of Venice. Life was simple, fun, and beautiful, and I loved it. I vowed to return there in the future for more scuba adventure.

Then tragedy struck. In the late nineties, Hurricane Mitch traveled directly over Guanaja and sat there for three days. The entire island was destroyed. Every single tree and bush was denuded. I was devastated, thinking about all the friends I had made on the island and what their lives must be like after the hurricane. This got me thinking about the nature of tragedy, and how it always seems to be so unanticipated. This led me to read about Black Swan Events, those sudden surprising developments that come out of nowhere to turn our lives upside down.

Then I realized that all our modern tragedies were black swans — 9/11, the Asian tsunami, the Great Recession, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, the Chilean earthquake, the Ebola outbreak, Fukushima – they all seemed to catch the experts by surprise because we, as a society, are totally unprepared for the unimaginable. Can we prepare better? Imagine the unimaginable, ahead of time? Can we predict our demise before it’s too late?

That seemed like a great theme for a thriller, and the idea for The Seventh Sun was born.

Government agencies and conspiracies play a big part in The Seventh Sun. Do you have any favorite conspiracies?
LOL. I’m not sure I’d call them my “favorite” conspiracies! That’s sort of like asking “what’s your favorite way to die?” That said, I believe that there are real conspiracies in the world, but not in the way we imagine them in fiction. A lot of conspiracies happen because a bunch of people share similar goals and behavior, so they act alike in similar situations. Their shared tendencies creates the illusion of conspiracy. But the result of the illusion is no different from the reality.

During the Super Bowl, toilets flush around the world when commercials are aired. Is this a willing conspiracy? No, but the effect is the same. Millions of people are programmed to behave in similar ways, so you get “collusion by action” even though nobody sat down and decided to conspire.

I think we see that a lot in the corporate world. Everyone’s out for profit and power, so several entities can behave as if there’s a conspiracy, even though the participants are unaware of each other’s actions. That is a key component of The Seventh Sun: that conspiracies can emerge naturally without one’s express knowledge.

What was the hardest part of writing The Seventh Sun?
Wow! It was all tough. But if I had to focus on one thing, I’d say taking a complex subject and theme, and making it compelling and exciting. Early on, I probably focused too much on the scientific enlightenment I was experiencing while researching the story. But my wife, Penny, kept me centered, thankfully. She kept asking me, “are you writing a textbook, or a novel?” I soon realized that the REAL story was about how the characters coped with the unknown, how we all try to make sense of the nonsensical. So the real journey of the story focuses on Dan Clifford and Rachel Sullivan, two characters who have suffered through their own black swan events. They use their prior experience to deal with the world-shattering events that take place in the story. From that point on, the story became far more gripping, since the readers could experience events through eyes of the main characters.

What makes Dan Clifford such a special character?
I think Dan Clifford is an ordinary guy who gets thrust into an extraordinary circumstance and has to rise to the occasion. We can see Dan growing as a person and as a hero throughout the progression of events. Dan is a prediction scientist. Because of his own childhood tragedy, he desires to predict and prevent black swan events before they happen. I think he begins to realize that you can’t reliably predict the future. It’s what you do when faced with the unimaginable, that defines one’s character and heroism.

What was the hardest scene to write in The Seventh Sun?
The romantic scenes for sure! I tell people that my romantic scenes improved immensely when I shortened them to one paragraph or less. J Actually they’re a bit longer than that, but romantic scenes are just as awkward to write as they are to experience in real life. Love scenes make geeks of us all. But as the reader will discover, there’s a huge secret in Rachel Sullivan’s life that makes the romance between Dan and Rachel poignant and gut-wrenching.

Having a background in biology and oceanography, did the science in The Seventh Sun come naturally to you?
That was probably the easiest part for me. I love to increase my knowledge of how the world really works, and there’s a lot of profound stuff that is revealed in this story about the nature of life, something I hope readers will enjoy.

What can readers expect when they pick up The Seventh Sun?
They should expect a rip-roaring adventure with a lot of technology, action, scuba diving, ocean life, conspiracies, biology, cool technology, and some compelling romance. It’s a good “beach read.” But if readers stop there, they’ll miss most of the hidden messages lurking under the surface like an iceberg. I love stories that surprise and enlighten, as well as entertain. For the diligent reader there is a lot of hidden information, and I’m proud of the ending especially, because it catches the reader off guard, just like any good black swan should.

What do you hope readers take away from The Seventh Sun?
That the “truth” of life is fascinating, surprising, and takes mental insight to understand. We have to exercise our minds and hearts if we really want to decipher how the universe really works.

If you could describe The Seventh Sun in one word, what would it be?
Can I cheat with a hyphen? “thought-provoking”

Kent LesterAbout Kent Lester

Author of the upcoming thriller, The Seventh Sun, to be published by Macmillan-Forge on April 18, 2017.

Current non-fiction author of The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home, 5th edition, with over 350,000 copies in print.

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Author Interview with Joel Lawrence

We’re very excited about today’s post! A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview debut author Joel Lawrence, author of the soon to be released Tears of Time, the first installment in the Atlantis Reborn series and I’m so excited to share it with you guys!

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How did you think of the concept for your book?

That’s a cool question to think back on, since concept is probably my favorite part of all this. Tears of Time evolved as a side project I worked on as I completed a large fantasy manuscript a few years ago. I’d been getting into YA books like the Lux Series and the Mortal Instruments, and I thought it would be fun to try something contemporary myself. But I viewed fantasy as my strength, so I was trying to think of a two worlds style fantasy that would let me practice something contemporary while still having one foot in the genre I was more familiar with.

So the two worlds type of fantasy was where the idea started, but I wanted to do it in a way that felt fresh. So no magical wardrobes or intedimensional portals! Next was the decision to ground the fantasy world in a real place and time, though a highly fictionalized/mythological version. That’s where the Atlantis idea came from, and everything started clicking together and forming a really interesting outline.

As a Young Adult writer, what do you strive to get across to your readers?

I think YA, like all genres of fiction, is ultimately about entertainment and escape, but good stories are almost always wrapped in several ubiquitous themes by their very nature. So YA has a core audience centered around a younger demographic group, and there’s certain universal themes that emerge when writing about younger characters, such as new experiences and coming of age conflicts, so I strove to present those familiar themes underneath while weaving in some different ideas as well. Feeling lost in life is a familiar idea, for example, but feeling like a stranger in time felt fresh to me. Identity, destiny, regret, but played out on a much larger canvas. And at the very core, I strove to make the main character grounded and relatable, so the fantastic elements would mesh with the contemporary setting.

What’s your favorite part about writing YA?

The diversity of the audience. Many YA readers aren’t genre exclusive, but are open to and even eager for genre blurring stories that might not have been possible 15 years ago. If you look at something like Red Queen or Obsidian or Under the Never Sky, there’s a unique mix of elements in each case that might not have been considered marketable before YA rose to prominence.

Do you have a favorite line from Tears of Time?

Another cool question, and yes, many. Maybe for a fun teaser, “The temple gives way to a dark hotel room somewhere in another life.” And “Riadyna, my love, you’ve betrayed me.”

Do you like to outline the plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I like an outline initially, but as George RR Martin says, it needs to be viewed as a roadmap subject to change as you’re trekking across the country and see something cool, get sidetracked, run into a detour or engine trouble. Once the writing starts, character motivation needs to drive everything. If a character isn’t trying to achieve one of their goals, a scene is spinning on wheels and needs to be scraped, regardless of outline. If that means changing a cool outline element or even the entire finale, so be it—it will read so much stronger in the end. This might be the most important writing lesson I’ve discovered, and yes, I’m also still learning it!

What books have influenced you as a writer?

Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Wheel of Time. The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout was kind of my introduction into the world of more recent YA. I’ve enjoyed everything from Red Queen to the Twilight Saga to Alienated, and many many others.

What was the hardest part about writing Tears of Time?

Getting a somewhat complicated background story across in First Person POV. In a way I think it works out in the end, since it’s the first book in a trilogy, but I spent a lot of time during editing cutting and adding and moving around little clues and pieces of information so that the reader could hopefully piece together a sense of what’s going on in the same way Eden is. The sequels will expand on some of the unanswered and partially answered questions, but the first book in a series still needs to stand on it’s own, and that took me awhile to achieve.

What can readers expect when they pick up Tears of Time?

A fun, fast paced story that naturally blends a lot of fantasy genres together. Final Fantasy meets Outlander. X-Men meets Twilight. Atlantis mythology meets contemporary YA. There’s a lot of back-story and mystery beneath the surface, and some deeper themes going on, but hopefully the story can also be enjoyed as just a fun adventure fantasy with some romance, mystery, and epic magical duels!

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Thank you so much to Joel for all of his wonderful answers and to Ben at Oftomes Publishing  for setting our interview up.

Be sure to grab a copy of Tears of Time when it’s released September 13th!

About Tears of Time, book one in the Atlantis Reborn series

 

tears of timeCal State freshman Eden Ellis feels like a stranger in time, and her dreams are growing more dangerous each night. Is she really the reincarnation of a Bronze Age princess, or is that just the medication talking?

Eden’s new telekinetic powers feel real enough, the same abilities used to wage an apocalyptic war in the dream world, where an ancient kingdom struggles to survive the wrath of a fallen priest. When Eden’s friends start having similar nightmares and developing powers of their own, she realizes one of them may be the reborn soul of the villain from the dreams who nearly shattered the world—a madman, a traitor, and the lover of Eden’s past self.

When a government experiment using the same powers that started the ancient war goes disastrously wrong, Eden’s dreams hold the key to saving the future—if she can accept her dual identity and defeat the reincarnation of the man she used to love.

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Author Interview with Jaime Lee Mann

I’m so excited for today’s post! A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to interview Jaime Lee Mann, author of the Legend of Rhyme series and I’m so excited to share it with you guys!

 How did you go about building the world in the Legend of Rhyme series? Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted before writing or did you build it as you wrote?

Interesting question! The world that I built was definitely based on the place where I grew up, but the vision didn’t become entirely clear until I continued writing. To be honest, the world is still revealing itself to me as I continue to add bits and pieces and explore additional realms.

Did you feel any pressure as the series went on to build the world even more?

I wouldn’t say that it is pressure I feel, as much as a strong need to get the story out of my head. The world continues to build itself in my mind as the characters show me what they want to be doing and where they want to be doing it. (Sounds crazy, but it’s true!)

What was your inspiration when you were writing?

When I’m writing I find inspiration everywhere! I wrote much of Elora of Stone and Into Coraira outdoors, either on the grass under a tree in my yard, on the red rocky shore below my parents’ house, or on a sandy beach. Nature would be my greatest source of inspiration. That and my beautifully imaginative children!

What’s your favorite kind of scene to write?

I love writing scenes with new magic spells! I also love writing the pixie scenes. And the scenes with Grimblerod. I don’t think I have a favourite kind of scene to write, but I can tell you that looking at that first blank page is my favourite. Writing the first draft of a story is my absolute greatest joy.

 Do you have a favorite line from any of your books?

Oh, I don’t think I could pick just one favourite! But I do always share this little blurb from Elora of Stone when I’m reading to students:

“Come with me,” the toad croaks. “I want to show you something.” He hops off into the woods, and I follow him. He’s not a dragon, but he is a talking toad.”

As a middle grade writer, what do you strive to get across to your readers? 

The underlying message throughout the Legend of Rhyme series is that things are not always as they seem. I also just really want kids’ imaginations to be stretched!

What’s your favorite part about writing for young readers?

Hands down, my favourite part about writing for young readers is when I get to read to them! Seeing the reactions to the story in a classroom setting is a feeling I never expected when I started writing.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

I knew when I was about nine years old that I wanted to write! When I was in high school, I had a creative writing teacher who told me that whatever I chose to do in the future, I had to keep writing. I never forgot that and here I am!

Do you like to outline the plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I always outline the stories so I have a guideline to work with and I always start with the ending! There’s no guarantee I will stick to the outline (my characters always have their own plans) but I do always start there.

 What books have influenced you as a writer?

The Chronicles of Narnia and everything by Dr. Seuss

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Thank you so much to Jamie for all of her wonderful answers and to Talia at DigiWriting for setting our interview up.

Be sure and check out the  Legend of Rhyme series!

About Elora of Stone, book one in the Legend of Rhyme series

23653469Four-year-old Asher Caine vanishes while playing near the woods one day with his twin sister Ariana. Eventually, his family believes him to be dead. In the Kingdom of Falmoor, twins are cursed. Ever since the evil sorcerer Larque turned the good witch Elora to stone, all twins in the Kingdom are doomed to be separated, either through death or mysterious disappearances.

Now about to turn thirteen, Ariana learns that her brother is alive, and she must find him in order to save Falmoor. With their magic blood and powerful bond, the Caine twins must release Elora from her stone imprisonment. Only then will Larque be stopped from spreading darkness throughout the kingdom.

Will the twins find each other in time? Can they save Falmoor from evil and remove the curse of the twins forever?

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About Jamie Lee Mann

When Jaime Lee Mann was nine years old, she decided that she jamie lee mannwould be an author when she grew up.

Many years later, Jaime Lee’s children would beg her to tell them stories at bedtime. Sometimes her stories were silly and sometimes they were magical.

The girls loved one of her magical stories so much that Jaime Lee decided to write it down. That story would eventually become Elora of Stone, the first novel in the Legend of Rhyme series.

JL (as her family calls her) lives in a pretty house in Prince Edward Island with her husband and two daughters (who are still little girls for now).

She writes every day and plans to do so for as long as people love to read her words.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @JamieLeeMann

JaimeLeeMann.com

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