Indie Author Spotlight: EJ Fisch ~ Science Fiction/Thriller mashup!

Indie Author SpotlightWelcome to week SIX of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word. We’re switching genres this week to sci-fi, with a sort of thriller twist. I used to think I didn’t read sci-fi (I wrote a post about that once), but really I find myself reading and enjoying it more and more. Doesn’t hurt that my 8yo seems to like it, so I end up reading some with her, too. I’m please to introduce you to EJ Fisch, who will talk to us a little about herself and her writing!   

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One of the coolest things about putting together this series is that I’ve gotten introduced to so many new books. I’ve been doing my best to read at least one book from every author I feature, so when EJ Fisch expressed interest in participating I picked up her first book, Dakiti, which I just finished a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it, and do plan to read the rest of the series. 

So, broadly speaking you write sci-fi. After reading Dakiti, I feel like it’s a little bit of a cross with thriller, though. Are all your books a hybrid like this one?

You’re right, my sci-fi comes with a twist. My current series, of which Dakiti is the first book, is character-driven space opera with kind of a spy/military thriller twist—lots of action and intrigue, but happening in a fictional galaxy with a cast of superhuman characters. All of my future story ideas are also sci-fi but have varying subgenres like post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk.

Tell us about your books and where we can get them!

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My Ziva Payvan series—the aforementioned space opera/spy thriller mashup—is currently available on all major ebook platforms and in paperback. The saga begins with an elite operative (the series namesake Ziva Payvan) being forced to team up with the brother of a man she killed in order to stop a threat to their world. Shenanigans ensue. The main trilogy consists of Dakiti, Nexus, and Ronan (+ an omnibus edition containing all three), and then there’s Fracture: Ziva Payvan Legacy, Part 1. Embers, which is part 2, is still in the works and I’m aiming for a year-end release. While all five books are technically part of the series, I consider the two Legacy books kind of a collective sequel to the main trilogy.

I really enjoyed Dakiti, and I was shocked when I heard when you wrote it! Can you share with readers when you started writing?

I’ve been writing to some extent since I was probably 10 or 11, but I didn’t really start writing “seriously” until I was in junior high and even high school. A couple of friends and I had this goofy Star Wars roleplaying game going via AOL instant messenger in 7th and 8th grade and I used to take our chat transcripts and novelize them. It was at that point that I started to think, “Hey, I could probably write a real novel-length story if I wanted.” I started developing some new characters and some new plots and experimented with some little one-shots. I actually wrote the majority of Dakiti during high school, then spruced it up fairly extensively a few years ago when I decided to pursue publishing.

Seems like writing has been a part of your life for a long time. Why do you write?

Frankly, I think I’d go insane otherwise. I admittedly have a very a vivid imagination and am always thinking “what if,” so creating new worlds and characters is a constructive way for me to explore all of those ideas. Writing just feels like the natural solution. It’s an outlet.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I gave pantsing my best shot when I first started developing the two Ziva Payvan Legacy books, and looking back on it, I really should have known better. I’m a plotter at heart, and I ended up wasting an enormous amount of time (we’re talking like three years—yikes) before I finally went back and wove what little material I had into a detailed outline. After that, I was able to progress much more smoothly. An outline serves as a roadmap for me, and I’ve always had to at least have a high-level list of major scenes/events before I even begin a new project. As I’ve worked on Embers, I’ve created an outline for each chapter, leaving space for extra notes because it never fails that I come up with more ideas for little details I don’t want to forget. I’ve really enjoyed using the GoodNotes on my iPad so I can sync it with my phone and jot things down wherever I am.

How do you fit writing into your life? 

I have a day job, so it can sometimes be tricky to fit writing into my schedule. When I’m really on a roll, I usually don’t have much trouble finding the time, but more often than not, writing is competing with several other hobbies for the limited free time I have. I’ve gotten to where I do all my drafting in Google Docs so I can access my work from pretty much any device at any time, and I think that has really helped. Even if I’m not actively working on the story, I’m still connected to it.

It’ll take me a bit to get through the books you’ve already published, but can you share anything about your upcoming projects?

Embers is definitely my primary project right now and I’m planning on it being the final installment in the Ziva Payvan saga (with “planning” being the keyword—I wasn’t originally “planning” on Fracture and Embers even existing, but here we are). One of my future ideas is for a semi-comedic sci-fi adventure/heist story I’m describing as “Ocean’s Eleven in space,” and then I’ve got a space-opera-meets-post-apocalyptic story idea that will involve a bounty hunter guild and a character who belongs to another race featured in my current series. Then there’s kind of a near-future-Earth cyberpunk/psychological thriller idea I’ve actually had longer than the others, but it’s not as big of a priority as they are.

Currently, one of my biggest dreams is to have my books adapted into graphic novels. I’ve been really into the Lazarus graphic novel series by Greg Rucka, and every time I read it, I think my material would be perfect for that sort of thing and I imagine how cool it would be to see it visualized on the page. It’s one of those things that I could probably do myself if I tried, but it would take me a thousand years and I’d have to devote all my time solely to that project. And if someone else was developing it, I’d be hovering constantly to make sure it was done the way I wanted. So while it’s a nice dream to have, I’m not taking it super seriously at the moment.

I don’t tend to read graphic novels, but I can see how your books would fit really well, and it would be really neat to see visual representations of the different species and their characteristics. You mention you’d do it yourself – are you an artist as well? What other hobbies do you have? 

Yes! Digital art is a big hobby of mine. I do all of my own cover art and concept art, so even when I’m drawing instead of writing, chances are it’s still somehow related to the story. I’m also a sucker for story-based RPGs, but gaming is dangerous because if I get caught up in a new game, I typically don’t get anything else done, regardless of how much I want to. I keep saying I’ll have to make myself finish Embers before Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla comes out this holiday season or it’s never going to get done. Ha! And, of course, reading, but that tends to fall by the wayside a lot.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Favorite books?

They say write what you like to read, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading a) sci-fi and b) thrillers (bonus points for a combination). Space opera is definitely my favorite sci-fi subgenre, but I’ll read most types of sci-fi if a given book’s premise grabs my attention. I love Hugh Howey’s Silo trilogy and have enjoyed a number of space opera works by other indie authors, such as G.S. Jennsen’s sprawling Amaranthe saga and Joel Shepherd’s Spiral Wars series (which I’ve fallen miserably behind in, I fear). My CP T.A. Hernandez also has a great dystopian thriller trilogy with a dash of sci-fi. On the purely thriller side, I’ve really enjoyed David Baldacci’s Will Robie series (government assassins, anyone?). The plots feel a little far-fetched at times, but the two protagonists are wonderfully written.

What do you want readers to know about you?

I’m always up for connecting on social media (links below). I’m happy to discuss my books, characters, or just chat about writing and reading in general. And it’s always fun to connect with people over other random mutual interests. Sometimes it feels like I spend more time tweeting about video games and cats than I do about books.

Thank you so much to EJ Fisch for taking the time to answer my questions! Please check out her website and find her on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Also, buy her books from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, and Google Play.

 

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Indie Author Spotlight: T. A. Hernandez

Indie Author SpotlightAnd we’re back for week four of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word, which is super exciting because when I hatched this idea I really had no idea whether anyone would take me up on it! I originally had ten, and the roster is growing so we’ll just keep on going. Today’s Spotlight is T. A. Hernandez, whose most recent release I reviewed here on the blog last year. She writes speculative fiction, which includes a whole host of things like fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, dystopian, and more. 

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TAHernandez.jpgI met T. A. Hernandez on Twitter (yup, you’re noticing a trend, aren’t you?) when I agreed to participate in her cover reveal for Calico Thunder Rides Again. I enjoy following her because her tweets are usually upbeat, I can identify with her as a mom, and I LOVE that she shares her writing-related artwork! Calico Thunder Rides Again is a fun read, and I’m looking forward to her next releases (more about that below). Check out her website for more info on all her books and some free stories! 

Please tell us about how you got started writing, and why you continue. 

I started writing when I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven years old. I was a voracious reader and just wanted to tell stories like the ones in the books I loved so much. I started to take it more seriously as a teenager and realized then that this writing thing was something I was really passionate about and wanted to pursue long-term. 

Still today, I write first and foremost because I love it. I love stories and it brings me a lot of joy to let my imagination run wild and record my stories for myself. But it’s also a lot of fun to share those stories with others, which is why I decided to go ahead and publish them. Writing is a big part of my self-care and mental/emotional well-being. I’ve always been a very creative person, and I have to be doing something with that creativity to feel like my life is fulfilling.

You make your own FABULOUS book covers – is art another of your creative outlets? 

I love art and have been drawing for even longer than I’ve been writing. I got into digital art about nine years ago and have really enjoyed doing that, as well as branching out into graphic design and other related things. The graphic design skills I’ve picked up have come in super handy as an indie author when it comes to things like making my own social media and promotional graphics as well as designing my own book covers. I also enjoy playing video games and take a lot of my writing inspiration from games. Some of my favorites are the Mass Effect series, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Portal.

Can you tell us a little about your books? 

Right now I have four novels out. The first three belong to a new adult dystopian thriller trilogy called Secrets of PEACE, which follows a skilled but inexperienced young assassin named Zira who works for the authoritarian government. The other book, Calico Thunder Rides Again, is a fantasy novel set on a magical travelling circus in an alternate Prohibition-era America. The circus owner, Jake, finds himself indebted to some dangerous mobsters and has to find a way to repay them on a tight deadline.

What about your current work? I’m enjoying the artwork teasers!

I’m currently in the process of drafting the first book of a YA fantasy duology, which is told from the perspective of three main characters: Amar, Kesari, and Aleida. Amar is a man who seems to be immortal, but he doesn’t remember anything about his past and wants to figure out exactly what’s happening to him. Then there’s Kesari, a girl who traded part of her life for magical powers she now refuses to use. And finally, we have Aleida, a young refugee woman desperately trying to save her younger brother from a debilitating illness before it takes his life. When their paths intersect, they encounter new conflicts and are forced to face the darkest parts of themselves in order to get what they want. It’s a story that’s been floating around in my head for more than a decade, so I’m really excited to finally share it with readers.

You’ve said you write because you are passionate about it, which makes sense because it certainly doesn’t seem like you have loads of spare time for pursuing it. How do you fit it in? 

I have two kids, ages 6 and 9. I also work part-time as a therapist, and a year ago, I was a full-time graduate student doing a part-time internship and just trying to keep my head above water with all the responsibilities I had to juggle. So I’ve definitely had to learn to balance my time and fit writing in whenever I can. It’s not always easy, but as I said, writing is such an important part of my own mental health and self-care that I just have to make it work. Maybe that means I give up some of the time I’d spend watching TV or playing video games, or maybe it means I do a lot of my writing late at night when the kids are asleep. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a great housekeeper and have often put off whatever chores I could to write instead, but it makes me a happier, healthier person overall, and that helps me be a better mom, so I don’t feel too bad about it. My husband is also a huge support. Because he works full-time, I’ve been able to work part-time, and that leaves me with some time to write that I might not have otherwise. He’ll also take the kids out on his own sometimes so that I can just be alone at home and focus on my writing.

It’s so interesting to me to hear what authors read in their downtime so I’ve been asking everyone I feature here to share some favorites (which, honestly, is something I’d have a hard time doing). Do you have any favorites?

I love reading speculative fiction just as much as I love writing it, and I like to read across a variety of genres under that umbrella. Some of my favorite books are The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, the Tales of the Wendy series by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown, the Ziva Payvan series by EJ Fisch, and the His Dark Materials books by Phillip Pullman.

What do you hope to achieve as an author?

I have a lot of different author dreams, some of which I’ve already achieved (selling a short story to a publisher, self-publishing a novel, receiving a positive review from an author whose work I greatly admire) and some of which I’m still working on. My overall goal is to reach as many readers as possible with my stories and to just keep getting better as a writer. And I’d love to eventually make enough money from my books to supplement my existing income in a more substantial way.

Thank you so much for participating here. Is there anything you’d like to leave with readers? 

I like to think I’m a pretty easy person to talk to, and I love hearing from readers and fellow writers, so if you ever have any questions about me or my writing process or my books or even just books I’ve read, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I especially love hearing about readers’ reactions to my stories and characters. I also love to connect with and support other indie authors, so if you’re an indie author or if you have a favorite indie book you want to recommend, definitely let me know.

All right, friends! Please visit T. A. Hernandez at her website, or on social media, and maybe buy her books!

Website: www.tahernandez.com
Book links: https://books2read.com/ap/n9bBBK/T-A-Hernandez
Twitter: @ta_hernandez5
Instagram: @ta_hernandez5

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Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at kristin@theedifyingword.com!

Prepare to be haunted! Check out “Please Disappear” by M.K. Shivakoti, read my interview with him, and buy the book! Available for PREORDER NOW, Releases March 25

Please DisappearLast year at some point I had the great privilege of beta reading M.K. Shivakoti’s debut novel, Please Disappear. It was a truly rewarding experience because the book is fantastic, and because it led to an engaging dialogue about the book and the characters and where he might go with a sequel (yay!). I am so excited now to tell you that Please Disappear is releasing March 25th, and is available for preorder NOW on Amazon.

If you read my blog often, then I presume you trust or at least are interested in my opinions on books – so you should read it just because I said it’s worth your time, haha! But in truth, Shivakoti weaves a complex mystery, revealing bits of information at a time and keeping the reader guessing. Here are some of the comments I made to him in my beta reader feedback:

You do a phenomenal job with the dark-and-twisted stuff!

I looked forward to picking up the book every night, had a hard time putting it down at bedtime, and was disappointed when it ended.

I would buy your sequel!

In case you’re not sold by my praises, and if you’re a visual as well as literary person, you can check out the book trailer Shivakoti put together to promote the book. This whole book trailer realm is new/foreign to me, kind of like book-tubing… but that’s just me. So, if this is your thing – then enjoy!

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An NOW, here’s an interview with M.K. Shivakoti himself!

M.K. ShivakotiThe Edifying Word (EDW): Tell us a little about yourself!

M.K. Shivakoti: My name is M.K. Shivakoti. I was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, but have spent most of my adult life in the United States. I’m also a debut author of a suspense thriller, Please Disappear, which is releasing on March 25, 2019.

My story is perhaps not that unique. I’m an immigrant who is regularly questioned about my Nepalese versus American identity. Many ultimately conclude that I don’t truly belong to either. To the nativists, I don’t have enough pride, enough loyalty, enough faith, enough whatever it takes to be called one or the other.

But from my vantage point, being part of the two cultures has been a tremendous blessing. As a writer, I’m able to draw similarities and differences and use it in my fiction. My characters are multi-cultural and are free to express themselves however they would like; they are not bound by religion, national origin, faith or dogma. I’m able to tell human stories, without being shackled to the continent I grew up in or the continent I live in. And it’s all because I have had the privilege to be part of two beautiful yet distinct cultures.     

EDW: Writing is hard work – why do you write? 

MK: My parents and friends tell me that I’ve always been a writer, that I enjoyed writing even at a young age. It all seems a little hazy to me now since there was a period when I didn’t write at all. What I now know is that creativity needs a certain environment to flourish and I didn’t have that space until my late twenties.

Anyhow, I write because I have to. It’s part of who I am. It’s always been that way, even though I had to re-discover this in my life. To non-writers, this may be difficult to understand, but writing to me is akin to eating, drinking, or using the bathroom. Of course, I’m not going to die if I don’t write for a week or two. Nevertheless, my point is that if we’re devoid of these basic needs, our bodies would complain. Why eat? Why drink? Why go to the bathroom? These are not questions we bother ourselves with. These are facts of life. These are things we do. These are things we must do.

EDW: I’m so excited for your book release! What can readers look forward to when they pick up Please Disappear?

MK: My debut novel, Please Disappear, took four years to write and a few additional years to get published. I have a lot of emotions attached to this book. It’s upcoming release, and associated anticipation, anxiety, and whole array of emotion is second only to the birth of my son.

My hope is that readers will quickly find themselves engrossed in the thrilling suspense. As a reader, I gravitate toward books that grab you from the first page and won’t let you go until the end. As a writer, I have attempted to create something similar. I hope people enjoy reading what I thoroughly enjoyed writing.

They can read more about the book here: https://mkshivakoti.com/

If anyone’s interested in reading sample chapters, I’m sending that for free. They can find more information at: https://mkshivakoti.com/contact-us/

EDW: If Please Disappear were made into a movie, who would you hope would play your lead character?

MK: Wouldn’t that be great!! If something crazy like this were to happen, I would love to see Jared Leto as Gabriel and Priyanka Chopra as Sara Sardana. Katie and Arun are tough for me to imagine. Maybe Dev Patel would be great as Arun, but then he’s a little too tall and his English a little too native to pull off an immigrant from Nepal. Although a comic, Kumail Nanjiani, maybe a better fit. Given an opportunity, I’m confident he can do justice to gritty roles. 😊     

EDW: Do you have a favorite writer, or someone who influences your work?

MK: One author in particular stands out for me—Stephen King.

I read ‘The Shining’ when I was a grown man. One day I was sitting outside on a lounge chair, overlooking our community swimming pool. It was a bright sunny day, and I was reading ‘The Shining.’ When that woman stepped out of the bath tub, I had to close the book and look around just to double check. There was another family across from me, eating hot dogs and burgers. One kid was about to canon ball into the pool and a couple had found a sweet corner to canoodle. The hideous woman from the book was nowhere to be found and I was just glad she didn’t jump out of the pool. Yet, my heart was going boom, boom, boom.

Stephen King not only creates fictional worlds, but he possesses the magical ability to transmit real palpable emotions through his writing.

EDW: When you are not writing, what’s your favorite way to spend time?

MK: I have a full-time job and daddy duties most days of the week. So, if I have any free time, my favorite things to do are to read and write.

EDW: Finally, is there anything else we should know about you?

MK: No, I think we’ve covered quite a bit here. I want to thank Kristin for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank you all for reading this post. There are million other things online to watch and read, I’m truly grateful you chose to read this instead.

EDW: You’re welcome, and thanks for being my first author interview here at The Edifying Word. Okay everyone, now go buy Please Disappear!

You can connect with M.K. Shivakoti the following ways: 

Email: contact@mkshivakoti.com

Website: https://mkshivakoti.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.mkshivakoti

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mk_shivakoti

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/mk_shivakoti