Review and Interview With Elizabeth Guizzetti

Other_Systems BlogTourSquareHello once again, Readers!!! Guess who’s back on my blog!! That’s right!!! Elizabeth!! To celebrate the release of her novel Other Systems in paperback, she is going on a blog tour! I was lucky enough to snag a spot!

So to celebrate, Elizabeth has agreed to do an interview with me:

eguizzettiauthor2For those who might not know you, can you tell them a little about yourself?I am the author and artist of the independent graphic novels Lure and the Faminelands Series. I also illustrated the comic book series Out for Souls&Cookies. Other Systems is my first published novel. I currently live in Seattle with my husband and two dogs, Rosie and Tycho.
I began my career as an artist, but I got into comics, after realizing that painting baby room murals was incredibly boring work. Later when my comic book partner, Maria Masterson needed maternity leave, I wrote my debut novel Other Systems.

What made you want to become a writer?
I always enjoyed telling stories. I decided to become a writer/artist when I was twelve or thirteen.

Tell us a little more about Other Systems.
Basically Other Systems is a story of a young woman’s determination to make a better life for herself. The novel explores the loss of identity, friends and family due to a forced breeding program and time dilation. I also tried to consider the shifts in culture and belief systems, the definition of humanity, and family structure.

Humans have begun to sprawl across the known galaxy, however without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has eleven generations before it can no longer sustain a healthy population. It takes over two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed.

Other Systems follows Abby, an Earthling, who sees opportunity in Kipos’s need. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, she and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. They leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for higher education.

When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind.

To escape her captors, she’ll join a planetary survey team and discover yet another way of life.End_Nebula

What has been the hardest part of being a writer?
Deciding how to break up my time between writing, drawing, publicity, running the business, and life. Time management is imperative for any self-employed person. I do not find writing or drawing difficult, however marketing my book and comics now takes a huge portion of my day. Also deciding what is good publicity versus what is a waste of time is vital. Interestingly, it is not the same for every author or even every book.
Are any of your characters based on someone you know?
While I was inspired by certain mannerisms, no, they were not based on anyone particular.

Can you tell us a little about what you’re doing right now?
Trying to figure out these answers to this interview…just kidding. I have three projects in the works. A fantasy novel entitled The Martlet which is about assassins who are trying to live forever. The manuscript is finished and is in the process of being shopped around. I am also finishing up a companion novel for Other Systems which right now I am still calling Other Systems #2. This novel focuses on Earth after the Kiposi took people and left space elevators. Finally I am beginning to do the prep work of my next graphic novel which is based on my short story Unintentional Colonists which is scheduled for release Spring of 2015.

Who are your top five Sci-fi heroes?
For this question and the next, I am going to try to stick with science fiction rather than sci-fi/fantasy, because this list is by no means complete.
1) Q—from StarTrek TNG. Wait Wait, before you say he/she/it/they were villains. I disagree. Honestly if Picard was slightly more open-minded they might have even been friends. Picard was willing to give a wide berth to other omnipotent species, but he was constantly judging Q. Yet Q did the very thing that the crew of the Enterprise did when visiting less developed species: he mimicked them. Sure, sometimes he seemed a bit proud, but come on, he was omnipotent! The Q did not help the crew, because they lived by their own “prime directive,” yet on the Q episodes when Picard was close to failure, Q gave hints without giving away the answer. In DS9, when Sisko punched him, Q did not react maliciously though he certainly had the power to. In Voyager, he asked Captain Janeway if she would carry his child, gave her time to think about it, and when she said no, he respected that. (Compare that to the Greek and Roman Myths of Gods impregnating women in order to make demigods.) This is why he gets #1 on my heroes lists.
2) Ripley for the Aliens Series played by Sigourney Weaver. She was one of the first strong female leads in movies.
3) Eleanor Arroway from Contact (Carl Sagen) I enjoyed the movie and the book, but for different reasons.
4) The whole crew of the Serenity, but I loved Firefly (TV show), I only liked the film.
5) Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko Deep Space 9. Of all the StarTrek captains he was the most fleshed out.

Who are your top five Sci-fi villains?
1) Darth Vader. When I was a kid, he was scary, yet he redeems himself. I love redeemed villains.
2) Aliens, Predators, Aliens versus Predators. It doesn’t matter once they are involved, humans are prey.
3) The Mule from the Foundations Series (Isaac Asimov) A mutant who has the ability to change people’s emotions. He conquers planets simply by visiting them with his own army, instilling great fear, then loyalty to himself.
4) I don’t know if they are “villains” per say since they are not evil after all the war was just due to a misunderstanding. The Formic/Buggers from Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card) were interesting. There really should be a “just misunderstood” list.
5) Pennywise from It (Stephen King) Tim Curry played Pennywise in the movie rendition which was straight horror, while the book version was more science fiction, either way Pennywise is evil, munches on kids, and poisons a town into complacency.

Part 3_KiposIf you could be any character in your book, who would you be?
Diane Richards. Though her son died of old age when they were on different timelines, Diane has a job that she loves with her best friends. Though not related by blood or marriage to the Alekoses, she is family. Since she is Head of Engineering rather than Captain or XO, she gets to have lots of fun every time they go on shoreleave. She is kind to animals and kids so she takes on an “older sister” role to Abby. She has a pet cat, Rockford. (Or Rockford has a pet human, the relationship is slightly unclear.)
On a side note, many women readers have told me how much they loved seeing a woman who was smart, sexual and yet not predatory in any way.

Plotter or Pantser?
What is the word “or” that you speak of? I do basic plotting and then let the story take over. Sometimes its characters who say, “No, I wouldn’t do that.” Other times, my research pushes the story in a new direction.

Sweet or Salty?
Again another “or” question… I like mixing sweet and salty. Bacon dipped in maple syrup, Popcorn and M&M’s, Pretzels dipped in chocolate. Need I go on?

Favorite color?

Favorite planet?
Earth. It is home and the only home we have right now. However, I would also vote for Jupiter. It is an easy spotting planet from Earth even with the naked eye and its four largest moons can be seen with just binoculars. When Galileo Galilei discovered these moons in 1610, it was a revolutionary idea that the Universe did not revolve either Earth or at least our sun. Once when his observations were confirmed, the idea shifted thinking at least in Western cultures.

Star Trek or Star Wars?
Oh wait, that wasn’t an option. I enjoy Star Trek TNG, DS9, and Wrath of Khan best, but then put in the original trilogy of Star Wars. Then the other Star Trek films, the original Star Trek series. I disliked the Star Wars Prequels. I really disliked Star Trek Voyager after the first series since the writers didn’t seem to know what they wanted to do with the main characters except Janeway was expected to pick up, care for, and teach every random person in the delta quadrant.

Links where you can stalk her:




Barnes & Noble


FB Page

Website with deleted scenes and other extras!

Trailer Links:

Other Systems: Voices from the Stars Trailer

Other Systems: The Stargazer Trailer

Echelon out!!

A Construct Of Angels – Author Interview

Hello once again, Readers!!! It is crazy windy here! I hope it dies off by tomorrow for the craft fair. But enough about that. Today I have a special guest, Andrew Toynbee. He just published his debut novel, A Construct of Angels, and I have the pleasure of sharing with you an awesome author interview. But before we dive into that, lets take a look at the beautiful cover created by Ravven and blurb.

The blurb:

After accidentally triggering the spontaneous resurrection of a dead student, an ordinarily routine day for York-based paramedic Sara Finn erupts into a series of events that propel her on a terrifying journey, promising to forever change her pragmatic opinions of life and death.
Still haunted by her domineering and abusive stepfather and driven by a life-long search for her missing younger brother, Sara finds herself caught in the crossfire between warring forces, powerful beyond human comprehension, that threaten to plunge civilisation into hellish chaos and eternal darkness.
Are you excited yet?? I just bought my copy and can’t wait to begin reading it!! So let’s get to the good stuff and meet the brains behind this operation!

Welcome, Andy! Tell us about your book and what was your inspiration for writing it?

My book follows the adventures of a female paramedic who inadvertently becomes involved in the eternal battle between the Realms that we know as Heaven and Hell. Whilst she’s trying to identify a body that may or may not be her missing brother, using her peculiar ability to retrieve disembodied souls, she accidentally pulls down a lost Angel – one who had been trying to Fall to Earth in order to counter a particularly nasty plot against mankind, but had become lost. Together, they have to figure out who or what is behind the plot and how it will affect us all before they can organise themselves enough to try to prevent a world-wide catastrophe.

The ambulance picture is the hapless Methuselah, the battered vehicle driven by the main character in the first part of the book.

The whole idea originally stemmed from the market saturation of vampire and werewolf novels.  After seeing Twilight, the Vampire Diaries, Blood Ties and True Blood on TV, I began to wonder if I couldn’t write a supernatural story – but one without any Vampires or Werewolves in it. I asked myself; ‘What’s more powerful than either of those creatures? What wouldthey fear?’  The answer, naturally, was Angels, beings that have been around forever.  I remember reading a novel many years ago (the name of which evades my Swiss-cheese memory) where US Marines in flying gear were sent in to battle a group of rebellious Angels. They were torn to pieces. The scene in which the Angels simply ripped the marines apart was graphic and horrific and I have never forgotten it (unlike the name of the book).

So, when the time came to visualise the power of Angels, that scene was foremost in my mind.  But as I began my research and delved into all the biblical accounts of angels and their dealings with mankind, I realised that I wanted to create a more modern approach to the whole Angel-Heaven concept – something that could be explained not only with faith, but with science too.  I’m a confirmed scientist and a big follower of Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, so I envisaged a Heaven that could be linked to modern cosmological thinking, whilst retaining the consistencies that biblical references have documented.

Very interesting. How long did it take to write your book?

The original concept was formed in August 2009, when I began to discuss the idea by email with my long-time friend and fellow Trekker, Louise.  We even began to write the story together, describing an Edinburgh over-run by marauding demons, battled by Angels that walked the Earth in defence of mankind. But it quickly became clear that we were both developing divergent ideas on how the story ought to run.  I’d envisaged a contemporary tale, whilst she favoured a post-apocalyptic scenario.  The project stalled.  After a great deal of thought and several sleepless nights, I realised that both ideas could work – except mine could be a ‘reboot’ of hers.  She could continue to document the consequences of a demon-invaded world, whilst I would describe how the whole disaster had originally come to pass.  So, in early 2010, I set the story in York, recycled a pair of characters that hadn’t been used in Louise’s story and began from there.  It took me until mid-2011 to complete the First Draft.  Sadly, Louise never completed her work in progress.

What is your favorite part of writing and the most difficult part?

My favourite part is letting my Muse have her head and just watching where the story goes.  I am a confirmed ‘Pantser’, but that’s now been tempered with a degree of initial plotting.  As long as the story ends up where it’s supposed to, my Muse can have a field day.

I think the most difficult part stems from something that is relatively new to me – that of fitting my tale into a contemporary setting.  I’ve always avoided writing real-world stories for the same reason that I rarely read real-world novels.  I find everything too restrictive, too contained.  In our world, there are definite limits to what you can and can’t do.  If you set a novel in a city, you must adhere to that city’s layout.  Our world has physics, which means that, unless you utilise magic, those physics must be strictly adhered to.  I’d set myself a very difficult challenge by setting ‘A Construct of Angels’ in modern-day York, with a Main Character who was a Paramedic.  But, if Stephenie Meyer could set Twilight in a real town, why couldn’t I?

What was your favorite scene or character to write?

My favourite scene, I guess, would be the final scene of the book.  This was my Muse’s anchor. This was where the entire story had to lead up to.  When I began to research the city for suitable venues, I’d envisaged a certain crucial event in which Hell attacks Heaven directly.  I’d even thumped Louise’s wooden table (a little hard, I confess) to convey the single hammer-blow that Hell launches.  So I needed a cannon – a historical venue from which to launch the attack.  Actually, you can see the building in Ravven’s marvellous cover for the book. All through the story, I knew that I had this final scene ahead of me and I could hardly wait to get there.  That probably helped to speed my writing.

My favourite character?  Oh, that’d have to be the man with no name.  Actually, he’s a Nephil, a demon’s offspring, not a man at all.  He’s also the antagonist.  And he does have a name…unfortunately no human can bear to hear it – as my Main Characters discover. I’m a good-natured person at heart, but I spent some time trying to get into the skin of an evil antagonist, trying to work on his motivations.  What would it be like, I wondered, to be all-powerful AND evil?  What would you do?  What havoc would you wreak? It occurred to me that if you were a powerful enough villain, you would probably have no fear of consequences.  So, the man with no name, who is only ever referred to by description in the story, became the sinister, shadowy and disdainful-of-authority figure that I most enjoyed writing.

Will there be a sequel to your book?

Currently, there are two sequels planned, both with a specific ending in mind (to keep my Muse in check).  In these, I’d like to explore more of my cosmological Heaven-Hell ideas.  The first book barely touched upon them. However, these two will only take us about half-way towards the previously-mentioned apocalypse, so there is room for a second trilogy, assuming the first is successful.  And there might even be a post-apolcalypse trilogy.  But that’s all a long way off at the moment.

Do you ever get writer’s block and if so how do you overcome it?

I’m fortunate enough not to suffer from writer’s block.  No, really.  I DO find myself standing at a fork in the road quite often, with my Muse panting like a terrier and pointing down an unknown route…when I had planned to take a ‘safer’ path. I usually give in and follow her down the dark and twisty path just to see what happens.  More often than not I am surprised and delighted. If I ever find myself at the natural end that a Chapter break provides, wondering just what comes next, I will lie down, close my eyes and run the scene that I’ve just completed in my head as if I was watching it at a cinema. As I munch on virtual popcorn and squeak my folding seat, the scene will change and show me what happens next, hopefully in such a way that the virtual audience around me doesn’t cry ‘what the hell just happened there?’  If they do object, I have the film rewound and run it again until an acceptable scene-change occurs to me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read a lot. I usually have at least two, sometimes three books on the go at any one time.  I also make short videos and post them on YouTube under the name Andybee64.  Most of them are movie/music  mash-ups where someone else has done all the hard work filming and composing, but occasionally I get time to head outside with my camcorder and shoot something for real. I’m hoping to use my experience in this area to create a trailer for my book. I’d love to include some live action scenes.  Any volunteers?

What are you currently reading?

‘Planet Word’ by J P Davidson and Stephen Fry.  ‘The Jesus Mysteries’ byTimothy Freke and Peter Gandy and ‘The Cylinder’ – an eBook by Luke O’Boyle.

Any authors or books that inspired you and your writing?

Well, you could say that the books of Stephenie Meyer, PC Cast, Rachel Caine and Richelle Mead (amongst others) got me started by saturating the market with vampire stories, but it was the ‘Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’ (all ten of them) by Stephen Donaldson that inspired me to begin the ‘Elementals’ saga (all 234,000 words of which are still languishing on my back-burner), and before that it was E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s classic ‘Lensman’ series that inspired me to my first planned-ending novel ‘Homeworld’ (still unfinished, sadly).

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Start writing!  Now!  Whether it’s NaNoWriMo, a short story or a full-length novel, you have to write to be able to write.  And nowadays, you are no longer required to stand in line before the Gatekeepers that are the Agencies and Publishing Houses.  You can publish independently as an eBook author. But make sure you have your work read by as many independent, trustworthy people as possible.  Even now, after twelve drafts, I’m still finding silly errors.  So check, check and check again – then get other people to check.  And then use the feedback to strengthen and improve your work as much as possible.  Make it as good as you possibly can – and then make it even better.  Jenna Burtenshaw told me that when I was five drafts in – and I groaned at the thought.  But she was right.

And start a blog.  Immediately.  If I hadn’t, I would never have met any of the amazing bloggers who have been my daily inspiration.  A blog can work as a private journal (if you want to keep to yourself, but document your daily writing progress) but it can also be a meeting-place and a venue where ideas and valuable information can be exchanged.  I might never have ePublished without the help and support of my fellow bloggers.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

My ideal job would be…Bush Pilot in the Australian outback.  Flying, freedom and daily challenges amongst larger-than-life characters.  That appeals to me.

Tell us something random/share a guilty pleasure.

Something random?  Oh, well, I used to be a cat person, but my wife taught me to be a dog person.  Our two terriers are called Ron and Arthur Weasley after…well, you know.  Their much-missed predecessor was a terrier called Harry.  He used to potter around the garden all the time…so blame him for the names.

My guilty pleasure is chocolate.  Isn’t it everybody’s?  And I adore Honey Rum.  I’ve only ever seen it for sale in Spain and the Canary Islands, but a bottle always accompanies me on the journey home.  It’s lush.

If you have anything else you want said, let me know!

I love to listen to soundtrack and soundtrack-esque music as I write.  My current favourite is Thomas Bergersen’s ‘Illusions’. It lifts me to incredible heights and plunges to stunning depths. I hope something of that feeling has transferred to my writing.

So what’d ya thing, Readers!! Pretty awesome right?? Here’s where you can pick up your copy:


What are you waiting for!!??

Echelon out ♥

Blog Tour: September 8th through the 14th

Hello once again Readers!!! Like the banner? Me too!! I was lucky enough to be given a blog tour featuring Born in Flames beginning next week! I’m super excited!

Here’s the itinerary:

September 8th:   The Secret Sanctuary of Books - Guest Post: Introducing the Born in Flames Trilogy

9th:   Terri’s Book Addiction - Review

10th: Paranormal Reads (Sabrina) – Review

11th: The Indie Bookshelf (Adriane) – Review

12th: Tam’s Two Cents – Review + author interview

13th: Paranormal Book Club (Bella) – character interview

14th: Tsk Tsk What To Read - review

What, what!!??? Also, I just did my first interview with fellow blogger Dan! Check it out here. He did an awesome job on it! Show him some love folks!!!

So make sure you keep an eye out for the posts and reviews. Crossing my fingers that you all fall in love with my novel!

Also, to any blogger that is looking to join a blog tour, Roxanne, a fellow author of 48fourteen, is holding a tour for my novel from September 24th to the 30th. Sign ups end on the 17th. You can sign up here: Born in Flames Blog Tour.

That being said…Echelon out ♥

P.S. My cover is on Listopia for Best YA cover of 2012. Please go on Goodreads and vote for it!!! It’s currently holding 6th. ♥

The Shadow of Black Wings – Author Interview with James Calbraith

Hello once again Readers (and newcomers)!!!!! Today we have a lovely treat! An interview with James Calbraith, an amazing author who’s surely on his way to success with as much talent as he has packed into his fingertips.

Now, I’ve only read about 16% of this book so far, (I started this morning) so I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of the plot, but from what I’ve read , I am highly impressed. This is definitely my kind of read. Bards, Geomancers, Necromancers, Wizards, Priests, and let us not forget the most important ingredient…Dragons! *Swoon* Oh how I love dragons!

So, let us get to the good stuff-the blurb

An ancient empire stands on the brink of a civil war. His arrival may push it over the edge.

It is the sixteenth year of Queen Victoria’s enlightened rule and the world trembles before the might of her ironclad navy and the dreaded Dragon Corps. The largest ship ever built sails from the Brigstow Harbour on a journey to the mysterious lands of Orient. Its load – a regiment of the Royal Marines and one Bran ap Dylan – freshly graduate in Dracology at the Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.

In the empire of Yamato, sealed from the rest of the world for the last two centuries, a wizard’s daughter Sato witnesses her father joining an anti-government conspiracy. Her friend Nagomi, training to be a priestess, is haunted by dark visions that she must keep secret. Neither of them is aware that a change is coming to Yamato… on the wings of a dragon.

A detailed and fast-paced historical fantasy based around the turbulent opening of Japan to the West in the middle of the 19th century, “The Shadow of the Black Wings” is the first volume in “The Year of the Dragon” saga. The second volume, “The Warrior’s Soul”, is expected in August.

Sounds epic, right? That’s because it is. It’s easy to follow and sucks you in from the very first page. Now to the interview!

Welcome James! What inspired you to become an author?

I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a writer. There were periods in school when I wanted to also be a scientist – a biologist at first, a physicist later – and sometimes I wanted to be a musician or a stand-up comedian… but these were all fancies. Writing was the only activity I actively pursued throughout the years. It’s just something I am, I guess I was born a storyteller.

After reading your saga, I think many will feel grateful that you chose to stay with what you are so good at. 

So how did The Shadow of Black Wings come about? What sparked the idea?

I have always been fascinated by the history of Japan, and read plenty about it. I’ve been to Japan a couple of times now and it’s a land steeped in history – anywhere you go there are monuments and memorial plaques. But it wasn’t until two years ago that the idea of actually writing about Japan had struck me, after a conversation with a friend where we joked about Harry Potter and Twilight clones that seemed to populate the bookshelves at the time. I vowed then to write a better young adult book than any of those – with samurai and dragons thrown in for good measure :) What came out was a bit more serious – I’m now deep into volume three without a sign of the story’s end anywhere near…

Oh goody! I can attest from what I’ve read that you have done just that. And all within two years? For the amount of detail you’ve put into the characters and the storyline (in only 16% of the story), that’s astounding. This novel seems to be as deep and as epic as The Lord of the Rings. Which brings me to my next question.

The opening page has a map. Who creates the maps and why did you add them in?

I hired a freelance cartographer, Jared Blando –  I have no art skills of my own, and needed a proper map to show how the fictitious world of my novels differed from the real one. I have developed a lot of alternative history – from the beginning of the Roman Empire until the 19th century – and the only way to introduce some of the ideas upfront, without the walls of explanatory text early on, was through a map. Hopefully, one look at that map tells the reader all they need to know for a start: that the world is geographically similar to ours, but historically very, very different. There will be more maps coming in further volumes. The map shown here is a preview of the map from Volume Two.

That’s very interesting and only adds to the depth of your story. I believe, as an avid reader of fantasy, that it is essential for an author of epic fantasy to incorporate a map such as this to help the reader grasp the world you’ve created in its entirety.

Why did you choose this specific era to write about, and why did you use historical figures as some of your characters?

Once I decided to write about Japan’s history, there were only two periods to choose from, really: the civil wars of the 16th century, and the revolution of the 1860’s. The civil wars are better known to the Western reader: it’s when all the popular samurai stories happen, all the famous movies, James Clavell’s “Shogun” (and the TV series) – it was, basically, overdone. But in Japan, this period is far less popular than the 1860’s: this is the equivalent of the War of the Independence in the US, or the 1789 Revolution in France: the beginning of the modern nation. The most fascinating aspect of this history to a Westerner is that there were no ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides in the war. Every notable person taking part in these events is now a hero: they have monuments built to them, movies based on their lives, theatre plays, books, the lot – regardless of whether they stood for or against the ruling regime. This is pretty unique, and I wanted to keep this uniqueness. There are bad guys in my story, because every story needs a bad guy – but these bad guys are completely fictional. The historical figures remain as they are, with all their complexity.

I wanted to introduce this history to the Western public in a way that would do it justice, and that meant keeping the historical names mostly intact: I hope (perhaps in vain) to inspire the readers to do further reading on their own, and having the names as guidelines should help.

That’s a very humble hope to have. You are giving those who have once walked this earth a chance to live again underneath your penmanship. History will benefit from having you on its side. And I definitely believe that readers will be interested in learning more about this specific time period.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to incorporate history into a fantasy-based story?

Don’t overdo it on the facts. My first drafts were full of little tidbits of information I had buzzing in my head. It read terribly :) It’s tempting to write down everything you know, especially since research can sometimes be such a hard work and it’s sad to see it go to waste. But a work of fiction is not an encyclopaedia. The balance between facts and action must be kept, with the emphasis on action.

I can only imagine how much work went into forcing yourself not to overdo it.  I especially like, “But a work of fiction is not an encyclopedia.” That simple statement says it all. That should sell you right there. You know what readers want, and more importantly, don’t want-lengthy paragraphs full of definitions and timelines that confuse the plot and leave you wanting to pull your hair out and chuck the book across the room.


So then, exactly how much time and research went into this novel?

I’ve been writing the novel for two years straight, almost every day. The amount of research I could only describe as staggering – I have about 300 websites bookmarked just for the purposes of the book :) I had read at least half a dozen books on the subject. I guess I should include into this my travels around Japan, and whatever I have read about its history before and had in my mind while writing. A vast majority of what I had researched did not make it into the books – see previous answer – but it did help me to establish the mood for many of the scenes.

You’ve done a fantastic job with capturing the time period, even down to the mannerisms (from the 16% I’ve read). You’ve made it believable and far from boring-something you should pat yourself on the back for.

And lastly, if you could choose one character to be, who would it be and why?

It would have to be Dylan ab Ifor – the main character’s father. A sort of Victorian James Bond – a dashing spy, a renowned soldier, a famous magician and a skilled dragon rider. In the books I only hint at his many adventures – but he had lived a life of an international man of mystery for years and, what’s more important, he still has a little home in Wales to come back to whenever he gets tired of it.

Well James, thank you SO much for letting me have the opportunity to interview you. The Shadow of Black Wings has so much potential and I’m positive that it’s only a matter of time before you hit best-seller. Congratulations to you.

Audience? What did you think? Love it! You must! So here is the link to help you along in following Bran on his journey!


And feel free to comment below and wish James good fortune on his journey to becoming a best-seller!

Echelon out ♥

Other Systems – An Author Interview with Elizabeth Guizzetti

Hello once again Readers!!! Remember how I said that I was looking to start interviewing authors of interest on my recent post How To Gain Traffic To Your Blog? Well guess what…mission accomplished! And I feel it’s complimentary to today’s guest, Elizabeth Guizzetti, to call my endeavours a mission. Why? Well because her latest work, Other Systems, is a Sci-Fi about a star-gazer named Abby Lei who’s on a mission to find herself amidst the terror of being stripped from everything she’s ever known or loved.

So let’s get to the good stuff!

Published by 48Fourteen, Other Systems was released on April 1, 2012 on e-book. It explores the loss of identity due to a forced breeding program camouflaged by the promise of life on a new planet. It also takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as she experiences the loss of family and friends through time dilation and modern-day slavery.

Personally, I love books that pull me away from reality and make me feel as if I’m on the actual journey with the characters. Elizabeth has accomplished this in her writing. I felt Abby’s excitement, her fear, her joy, and her pain.

The blurb:

Humans have begun to sprawl across the known galaxy, however, without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has only eleven generations left before it reaches failure. And with it taking over two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed, the Kiposi are running out of options. Other Systems follows Abby, an Earthling, who sees opportunity in Kipos’s need for humans. After medical, intelligence, and physiological testing, she and her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid, are offered transportation. They leave the safety of their family with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for a higher education. But when Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin is nowhere to be found. Not long after, Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her analytical mind.

So Elizabeth, what inspired you to begin a career in writing?

I always wanted to be an author, but stopped writing fiction due to my focus on creating art and working other day jobs during my early and mid 20’s. My writing career actually began six years ago. I was doing baby room murals, and I was getting bored with the work so I wrote and illustrated my first graphic novel, Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye. After three graphic novels and a comic book series, my comic book partner-in-crime became pregnant with her second child and needed a break so I wrote my debut novel, Other Systems.

When did the idea for Other Systems hit you? What were you doing at the time?

I was running into some plot/character arc issues with Faminelands#3—but the concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs: a young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. Obviously this original idea would have ended the novel after Abby was in her late twenties. It also ended up not being exactly the final concept.

That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into new cities and thinking that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this.

Then I had another idea—an idea that I was playing with in Faminelands, but got cut out of the plot. I knew the breeding laws were more expansive than just the bonded Earthlings. There would be more species than Homo sapiens and Homo kiposi. Those other species would be sterilized due to their genetics.

Interesting, I love that you incorporated modern-day issues such as India’s travesty of sex slavery into your plot. Maybe through experiencing Abby’s pain, we could take a closer interest into helping them.

So how did you choose the names for your characters and do they have a specific meaning?

I believe a good character name may denote rank, gender, and nationality. It is also important to me to have names for my characters that the reader can easily read! That is why even when I choose non-European names, I choose easy to pronounce short names such as Jin and Lei.

Generally, I use the name’s meaning or sound to help me decide if it is the right name. Some names, though I love them, end up getting axed. I wanted Harden’s character to be a woman so I originally called her Arley, just because I liked the name. However, in Other Systems, there were two problems with it. First of all, on the page, Arley and Abby look and sound too similar. Secondly, Harden turned out to be a man. Since Arely means hare’s meadow, I looked for other similar names and found Harden-the hare’s den. The other thing I love about the name is that the word Hard is its first syllable, then it softens with the en.

Did you create the colorful cover?

Yes, I created the cover artwork as well as the act break illustrations as seen here to the right. However, the red shift/blue shift (which signifies light speed) and the lettering was 48Fourteen’s idea.

I love multi-talented authors! Your art is unique and depicts the observant eye of Abby.

For aspiring authors, what advice do you have for getting through tough scenes that deal with controversial issues such as Abby’s rape scenes?

Controversial issues (graphic violence, sex, swearing, politics, etc.) should be integral to the plot in some way. So first of all, an aspiring writer should ask himself or herself: Is this scene necessary? How much of the scene is necessary?

In my mind, Abby’s rape was integral to the plot, so I do not apologize for writing it. Her bond holders dehumanized her. She and the other Earthlings in her situation were literally property and bonded specifically to breed. Not only does the reader have to experience Abby’s rape, but also the horrors of slavery.

However, I did not go graphic in every place. For example, while Harden’s wife’s suicide is integral to his character arc, I did not describe her stepping out of an airlock or the gruesome effects of a vacuum on the human body. Instead, I described Harden and his family’s reaction to the act, simply because that is what is important to the plot.

Well spoken and noted. On a more positive note, how much research went into the creation of Kipos as well as the many planets Abby visited?

All total, I spent about three months researching prior to writing the novel. I looked up the plants and sea organisms as needed. I began by researching the Kepler Missions and then spent time finding G-type stars within 100 light years of Earth. I had to choose stable Sol-like stars in single or in stable binary clusters. Then I focused on ship engineering and what astronauts actually go through during space travel.

For the planets themselves, I used interesting hikes I have gone on, my travels, and my love of nature to describe the things Abby found there. The biological differences just on Earth is absolutely amazing.

I probably put the most work in Lathos and Lambda Saggitarri k since they did not orbit yellow dwarves and probably would be filled with different types of plant and animal life.

Wow! That’s an amazing amount of information to absorb. I’m impressed and intrigued. You must have a soft spot for stars as well as Abby. So if you could be one character from your story, who would it be and why?

Diane Richards. Her job as head engineer means she does the work she likes without getting bogged down with paperwork as Harden the Captain and Helen the XO do. She is kind-hearted and intelligent. Like all the characters, her life has known pain, but she lives with it. During the course of the novel, she is unattached, so she gets to have a lot of fun. Plus, she loves cats.

I admit I was sad that two scenes with her and Abby got cut, but they were both little darling scenes and cut in draft two for redundancy and pacing. The first one was Diane showing Abby an engine system between Lathos and Kipos. The second one is about the correct way to approach men after Abby’s scare on O-7.

I think I would have picked her too. She had such a loving, strong nature that I admired. I loved how she nurtured Abby and helped her see that being a woman could be fun and invigorating.




What are you waiting for? Hope you have enjoyed my lovely readers.

Until next time, Echelon out ♥