Giveaways · Indie Voices You Should Look Out For · Interviews

Interview & Giveaway: D.L. Orton

We had the pleasure of interviewing D.L. Orton, the author of the Between Two Evils series, earlier this year. It’s a conversation about books, writing, researching, loving, living… and the doors and windows opened by the world of science fiction.

Without further ado…


INTERVIEW


Infusões d’Alma (I): I read somewhere that the idea for “Crossing in Time” came to you at a wedding. What caused the ‘ripple effect’? What made you choose to explore and write about this idea in particular?

D.L. Orton (DLO): Who hasn’t looked back at a turning point in his or her life and wondered how things might have played out differently?

I met and fell in love with the man I’m married to when we were 28, and one of the first trips we took together was to attend the wedding of his best friend from college. I ended up seated next to my husband’s girlfriend from college (!), and the two of us hit it off right away! She and I were a lot alike, and we started comparing notes on him (to his obvious horror, lol.) By the end of the evening, it was clear that he had matured a bit from the guy she knew (and gave up when they both graduated). Since college, she had been married and divorced, and I think there was a hint of regret in her voice when she said good night to the two of us and left alone.

It was a very poignant moment for all of us: How would our lives have been different if she had held on to him, waiting for him to mature and grow into the man I had fallen in love with? And if I had met him first, perhaps in college, would I have let him go and been the one to leave that wedding alone?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but the possibilities began to fill my head, and a book was born.

I: When one thinks of Science Fiction the word machine tends to come to mind. “Crossing in Time”, though, seems to lay the roots of the future on humankind, ‘on building and maintaining human relationships’. Is this something you intend to pursue?

DLO: Love is the most powerful force known to mankind: It wrecks kings, breaks down impassible barriers, makes us risk everything for a few stolen moments together. Love is stronger than the instinct to eat, sleep, or survive. It motivates us to kill in cold blood, die to save another, and rail against impossible odds. It brings out the best and the worst in us (and that makes for great stories!)

Having said that, I do think the future of mankind involves machines: intelligent ones that have vast knowledge, compassion, and honor. When we as humans let go of the instinct to fight and kill (and learn to value the unique spark that is intelligent life — biological or otherwise), that will mark the end of our childhood. When we start falling in love with intelligences other than our own, it will be the beginning of something wonderful. The universe is a vast, cold, and empty place. Intelligence — in any form — provides a candle against the darkness.

I: I must confess that my science days are long behind me. However, curiosity happens to be one of my many middle names and one of the many reasons why I loved “Crossing in Time”. How was the research process for writing this book?

DLO: When I first started writing, I used google to search for information: what is the most popular kind of handgun? How long does it take to die from an infection, and what are the symptoms? What happens if you use a negative value for time in a physics equation? How difficult is it to land a single engine plane without an engine (coming in book 2, lol)? What are the biological effects of radiation poisoning?

After a number of those types of searches, I started getting REALLY scary google ads in my browser!  I have since switched over to querying “incognito” (and I would definitely advise aspiring writers to do the same).

One of the most difficult parts of the book was balancing the science with the action-adventure. I work with a very talented editor, and we spent a bit of time trying to find that balance. I love science, and like you, I’m naturally curious about all sorts of stuff: physics, medicine, space exploration, swarming insects, and I could easily spend all day chasing new information on the internet. I did end up taking out a couple of chapters that contained more detailed explanations on how the time machine, time travel, and multiple universes work in the book’s universe (and I tried very hard to stick with the real limitations of physics in our universe!) I’m hoping to add them as “deleted scenes” on my website, and if you’re interested in finding out more, sign up for my mailing list (BetweenTwoEvils.com/website/sign-up/), and I’ll let you know when they’re available.

I: I read about your shower curtain, your ant, and your bowling ball. You write about the existence of different realities. What are your thoughts on the “flexible membrane,” if there is one, between reality and fiction?

DLO: I regularly find myself commenting that reality is stranger than fiction. If you’ve been paying any attention to US politics, you’ll know exactly what I mean: even the writers for “House of Cards” or “Game of Thrones” couldn’t have thought up what’s been going on with Trump!

Part of the reason books are so powerful and can change our world view is because we step into those fictional worlds and become those daring (or frightened or defeated) characters. We feel their losses and celebrate their victories. We long for the touch of a lover or despair when he’s been taken away. Good books allow us to learn and experience things that would be too dangerous, expensive, or impossible in the “real” world.

But let me ask you this: five years from now, when you look back at something that happened today, or you recall a great book that changed the way you see the world, which is more real?

I: Science is usually associated with words such as cold, logic and exact. Back in the day, women and romance in Science Fiction were seen as distractions. “Crossing in Time” not only has a female protagonist but also a love interest with a male protagonist that doesn’t erase her brilliance. How are your readers reacting to this?

DLO: The Kirkus reviewer (who must have been expecting hard sci-fi) summarized my book as “two star-crossed lovers attempt to save the world with sex” and “erotic fiction dressed—barely—as sci-fi” (and that “dressed barely” comment after bad-mouthing the wordplay in the book, lol!)

I can’t deny that reviews like the Kirkus one sting a bit (okay, they sting a lot!) because after spending thousands of hours writing the book, thousands of dollars publishing the book (copyediting, proofreading, cover design, typesetting, etc.), and way too many hours trying to get reviews for the book, it’s tough when someone tosses your work off as sordid junk.

But the good news is, most of my readers like the book, and some love it, and when readers say stuff like “it’s the best sci-fi love story of the year” or call it “clever and absolutely hilarious” make it all worthwhile!

After I received the Kirkus review, the book went on to win a couple of awards, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and made the PW “Great Indie Stars of 2015” list (one of only twelve indie novels selected in 2015!)

In the end, whether or not a reader connects with a book is a very personal (and somewhat unpredictable!) thing. My goal is to get the book into the hands of as many readers as possible and hope that some of them will connect with it (and I live to read those reviews!)

I: When asked about time traveling, you seem to be interested in going back to do your laundry (ah! I would go back to read a few books). What do you think about the possibility of visiting the future? Is that something you would go for?

To be honest, if I did go back in time, laundry would be the last thing on my list (just like it is now!). I’m more interested in finding a volunteer to go back and do the laundry. Any takers? 😉

If forced to choose between the past and the future, I’d go forward. I think it’s easy to be romantic about the past (simpler times, more relaxed, etc.), but it would be tough to live without antibiotics, running water, or the internet (and I’m well-aware that there are people TODAY who don’t have those basic necessities. We should fix that.)

I: I don’t have a favorite genre. Still, lately I don’t find myself reading much Science Fiction. However, writers I’ve come across seem to focus on traveling to different planets/galaxies instead of realities. What made you take that step?

DLO: I grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, Le Guin, Clarke, and the rest of the sci-fi greats. I loved their world building, and the glimpse they gave me of possible futures, both good and bad. But what I love most are the characters. I can never remember book titles, and a few years down the road I struggle to remember all the plot twists, but the good characters stick with you. They change you, become a part of you. I aspire to that with my writing.

As far as science fiction, I use time travel as a plot device. It allows me to examine the characters at different stages in their lives and twist things up a bit (would you still have fallen in love with your mate if you had met ten years earlier? What about ten years later? How much is love a “timing” thing versus a “meant for each other” sort of thing?)

One of the toughest challenges with marketing the book is that it crosses genres with abandon: sci-fi, action-adventure, romance, literary, mystery, and (yes Kirkus reviewer who hated the book) some explicit sex. Real life is like that: a mingling of different genres, unpredictable but compelling (and great sex is one of the very best pleasures life has to offer.)

Bottom line: I enjoy reading books that don’t stick to some pre-defined formula, so I wrote one that doesn’t.

I: If you could have a famous scientist write herself/himself into your novel, who would you choose?

DLO: Someone who was ahead of his or her time and suffered a bit for following the science: Semmelwise (hand washing), Boltzmann (atoms), or Wegener (continental drift). Illegitimi non carborundum (don’t let the idiots get you down.)

I: This is just the beginning of your Between Two Evils series. Where are we headed next?

DLO: The next book, “Lost Time”, will follow Diego (who you may recall got in the time machine, encountered some sort of targeting problem, and disappeared). I’m hoping to have it out this summer.

Book three will pick up Tego’s story, and by the time we wind our way back to the end of book five, you’ll know who that mysterious man is at the end of “Crossing In Time“.


Lost Time is out NOW. Catch up while waiting for Down Time, the third book of the saga, coming out this winter.


Want to win a copy of the first two books of the Between Two Evils series? Just tell us below whether, if possible, you would prefer to travel to the future, past or perhaps even a different reality. Best of luck! You have until the 26th to participate.

 

Advertisements
Indie Voices You Should Look Out For

“Blue Sun, Yellow Sky” by Jamie Jo Hoang

I’m taking a much needed vacation from my life.”

I ran into the author of Blue Sky, Yellow Sun on twitter. One thing led to another and I found myself holding a copy after having read nothing but the back cover. For the first time in a long while I felt like there was no need to look for previous reviews. I had a good feeling.

What would you do if you learned you’d be going blind in six weeks?

That’s what Jamie Jo Hoang, the author, asks. Blue Sun, Yellow Sky is Aubrey’s answer. And what an answer it is!

Aubrey is, at the age of 27, considered “one of the best technical painters of our time“. She seems to have finally found both her voice and her audience. But, because timing is everything, she is diagnosed with a condition that will steal her vision. Aubrey, at the age of 27, on the verge of success in her career as a painter, is going blind. What to do when the only thing you seem to have left is taken from you? You steal it back.

It’s wonderful to see, to feel, through a painter’s eyes. Aubrey seems to be carving her visual memories on her mind, describing them with a voice so full of everything that it sometimes hurts, leaving scars as you go by. You are there, right by her side as she witnesses the world happening. She gives every single moment the third dimension that makes the landscapes leap from inside the pages. It somehow feels like you are reading a memoir. The images so vivid, intense, the emotions so palpable… you can almost distinguish the pigments’ textures as she transcribes what she sees into new canvases.

This is the story of someone who is lost and isn’t sure wants to be found. This is the story of someone who is lost and learns to want to be found. It’s a story about forgiveness; forgiving the past, the present, the future, and, most importantly, oneself. It’s a story about courage, bravery, honesty. It’s a leap of faith followed by a fall that lifts us, leaving us with an endless thirst for life. It is, essencially, a story about being alive, about living and loving it to the point of taking a leap faith, again and again, knowing that the fall with eventually follow.

I really don’t know what else to say. I fell in love with every second of this book, every page, every single word… I am sure I will be visiting Aubrey and her world full of life again. It’s a conversation that requests a second and third reading.

Honestly, Jamie Jo Hoang is beyond talented. She, with her words, paints majestic tattoos on our skin, tattoos that become history in us. It’s quite a lesson.

Just remember, you don’t need to be blind not to see… and being blind doesn’t mean not seeing, just means seeing differently. And difference? That’s what keeps the world spinning.

Here’s “[t]o dancing on an empty canvas.”


Português


“Eu estou a tirar umas imprescindíveis férias da minha vida.”*1

Dei de caras com a autora de Blue Sun, Yellow Sky no twitter. Uma coisa levou à outra e, após ter lido apenas a contracapa, acabei com uma cópia em mãos. Pela primeira vez em muito tempo não senti qualquer tipo de necessidade de consultar críticas já existentes. Tinha um bom pressentimento.

“O que faria se soubesse que iria ficar cego em seis semanas?”*1

É esta a questão que Jamie Jo Hoang, a autora, nos coloca. Blue Sun, Yellow Sky é a resposta de Aubrey. E que resposta!

Audrey é, aos 27 anos, considerada “uma das melhores pintoras técnicas do nosso tempo“*1. Ela parece ter finalmente encontrado a sua voz e o seu público. Mas, porque o timing é tudo, é-lhe diagnosticada uma condição que lhe roubará a visão. Aubrey, aos 27 anos, no limiar do sucesso da sua carreira como pintora, está a ficar cega. O que fazer quando o nosso mundo nos é tirado? Roubá-lo de volta!

É esplêndido ver, sentir, através dos olhos de um pintor. Aubrey parece estar a talhar memórias visuais na sua mente, descrevendo-as com uma voz tão cheia de tudo que chega mesmo a magoar, deixando cicatrizes, à medida que o leitor a vai seguindo. Estamos lá, mesmo ao seu lado, enquanto ela testemunha o acontecer do mundo e constrói, a todo e a cada momento, para nós, seus leitores, uma terceira dimensão que projecta formidáveis paisagens na atmosfera exterior às páginas. As imagens são tão vívidas, intensas, as emoções tão palpáveis… que quase conseguimos distinguir as texturas dos pigmentos que ela usa para transcrever o que vê na tela.

Esta é a história de alguém que está perdido e que não sabe se quer ser encontrado. Esta é a história de alguém perdido que aprende a querer ser encontrado. É uma história que perdoa; perdoa o passado, o presente, o futuro e, fundamentalmente, a si própria. É uma história de coragem, de bravura, de honestidade. É um salto de fé seguido de uma queda que nos levanta, que nos deixa ainda mais vivos e com sede de viver. É, essencialmente, uma história sobre ser, estar, vivo, sobre o viver e o adorar ao ponto de saltar uma e outra vez, mesmo sabendo que a queda é iminente.

Sinceramente não sei que mais diga. Apaixonei-me por cada segundo deste livro, cada página, cada palavra… Tenho a certeza que voltarei a visitar Aubrey e o seu mundo repleto de vida. É uma conversa que pede uma segunda e terceira leitura.

Jamie Jo Hoang é, de facto, extremamente talentosa. Ela, com palavras, pinta majestosas tatuagens na pele que é nossa tornando-as histórias em nós. É uma lição de vida.

Lembre-se, não precisamos de ser cegos para não ver… e ser cego não significa não ver, significa ver de um modo diferente. E a diferença? É ela que mantém o mundo a girar.

Um brinde “ao dançar numa tela em branco“*1.


Deutsch


Ich nehme eine dringend benötigte Auszeit von meinem Leben.*1

Ich bin auf die Autorin von Blue Sun, Yellow Sky auf Twitter gestoßen. Eins führte zum anderen und ehe ich mich versah, hielt ich ein Exemplar in den Händen obwohl ich lediglich die Kurzbeschreibung auf dem hinteren Cover gelesen hatte. Zum ersten Mal seit langem fühlte es sich unnötig an, die verfügbaren Reviews zu lesen. Ich hatte einfach ein gutes Gefühl.

Was würdest du tun, wenn du erfährst, dass du in sechs Wochen erblinden wirst?*1

Das ist, was Jamie Jo Hoang, die Autorin, uns fragt. Blue Sun, Yellow Sky ist Aubreys Antwort darauf. Und was für eine!

Aubrey wird, im Alter von 27 Jahren, als “eine der besten technischen Malerinnen unserer Zeit“*1 gesehen. Endlich scheint sie sowohl ihre Stimme als auch ihr Publikum gefunden zu haben. Aber, da Timing bekanntlich alles ist, wird sie mit einer Krankheit dianostiziert, die ihr das Augenlicht stehlen wird. Aubrey, 27 Jahre alt, am Rande einer erfolgreichen Karriere als Malerin, ist dabei zu erblinden. Was tut man, wenn einem das einzige, was einem geblieben ist, genommen wird? Man nimmt es sich zurück.

Es ist wundervoll durch die Augen einer Malerin zu sehen, zu fühlen. Aubrey scheint ihre visuellen Erinnerung in ihr Gedächtnis einzugravieren, sie mit einer Stimme so voll vom allem zu beschreiben, dass es manchmal wehtut und beim Vorbeigehen Narben hinterlässt. Man ist dort, gleich an ihrer Seite, als sie Zeugin davon wird wie die Welt um sie herum geschieht. Sie gibt jedem einzelnen Moment eine dritte Dimension, die die Landschaft aus den Seiten herausragen lässt. Es fühlt sich irgendwie an als würde man Memoiren lesen. Die Bilder so lebhaft, intensiv, die Emotionen so greifbar…man kann die Beschaffenheit der Pigmente fast unterscheiden, wenn sie das, was sie sieht, auf neue Leinwände überträgt.

Dies ist eine Geschichte, über jemanden, der verloren und unsicher ist, ob er gefunden werden will. Dies ist eine Geschichte über jemanden, der verloren ist und lernt, sich selbst finden zu wollen. Es ist eine Geschichte über Versöhnlichkeit, über Vergebung der Vergangenheit, der Gegenwart, der Zukunft und, was am wichtigsten ist, Vergebung deiner selbst. Es ist eine Geschichte über Mut, Tapferkeit, Ehrlichkeit. Es ist ein Schritt ins Ungewissen gefolgt von einem Fall, der uns Auftrieb gibt, uns mit einem endlosen Durst nach Leben zurücklässt. Es ist, im Großen und Ganzen, eine Geschichte darüber, am Leben zu sein, es zu leben und lieben bis hin zu dem Schritt ins Ungewisse, wieder und wieder, in der Gewissheit, dass man irgendwann hinfallen wird.

Ich weiß wirklich nicht, was ich noch hinzufügen soll. Ich habe mich in jede Sekunde dieses Buches verliebt, jede Seite, jedes einzelne Wort… Ich bin mir sicher, dass ich Aubrey und ihre Welt voller Leben nochmals besuchen werde. Es ist eine Unterhaltung, die um eine zweite und dritte Leserunde bittet.

Ernsthaft, Jamie Jo Hoang ist mehr als talentiert. Sie malt, mit Hilfe ihrer Worte, majestätische Tattoos auf unsere Haut, Tattoos, die in uns zur Geschichte werden. Was für eine Lektion.

Denk daran, dass man nicht blind sein muss, um nicht sehen zu können…und blind zu sein heißt definitiv nicht, dass man nicht sehen kann, es bedeutet lediglich, dass man auf andere Art und Weise sieht. Und Verschiedenheit? Das ist, was die Welt in Bewegung hält.

Ein Hoch “darauf, auf einer leeren Leinwand zu tanzen“*1.


Book Trailer




*1 Tradução livre/ Freie Übersetzung