Sunday, October 11, 2015
Olivia almost has the perfect life. She almost has a job. She almost has a boyfriend. She almost has a future.
It’s a good thing she has friends.
On a sunny day in June, the entire world steps sideways into a new reality—out of this chaos, almost a third of the human population find themselves transformed into Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, and Trolls. Olivia is now a Dark Elf mage, and her new girlfriend is one sexy kitty.
With magic, however, come monsters and things that draw blood in the night—and now a werewolf is carving a path of pain and terror through the park next to Olivia’s home. The old Olivia would have been hiding under her sister’s bed.
The new Olivia is going hunting.
Adversity is the forge of the soul. For Olivia, today is Forging Day.
Character Interview: Olivia
RIW: What's your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?
O: Before the Change I kind of drifted. I made bad choices in college getting my art degree. After college, I never had a real job and I lived with friends.
When the Change happened and I became a Dark Elf mage, I found my purpose: Might for right. Suffer no guilt. What did I do today to make the world a better place? Someone described me as a trouble magnet. No matter what I do, adventure seems to find me.
O: My sister, Cordelia, is my hero. When our parents passed away, she put aside her own dreams and raised me and Leo, and trust me, it was not an easy job.
RIW: What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
O: I’ve had to learn that I have value as a person and that I don’t have to do things that make me feel bad just to make people like me. When something doesn’t feel right, I’m learning to speak up.
RIW: Do you expect your hero/ine to help or is s/he the problem?
O: My sister helps just by being my sister. I don’t expect her to solve my problems. It’s enough that she’s there, and she loves me.
RIW: Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?
O: Why choose? Life offers so many pleasures. I’ve never limited myself to just one choice. The important thing is who you enjoy things with.
RIW: What is your secret guilty pleasure?
O: Letting the nanny take care of the kids and having a decadent evening with my husband, Frank and wife, Yuri.
RIW: Cherries or Bananas? Leather or lace? Black or red? Mud Bath or Oily Massage?
O: Cherries. Leather. Black. Massage.
RIW: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
O: Don’t mess with my loved ones. I will destroy you.
RIW: Satin sheets or Egyptian cotton?
O: Egyptian cotton
RIW: Party life or quiet dinner for two?
O: Quiet dinner for three.
RIW: That’s all the questions we have for you. Thank you for speaking to us.
O: Thanks for speaking with me. I enjoyed it.
Author Interview: Noelle
NAM: The Crucible of Change series, starting with Forging Day, is set on an alternate version of Earth and slightly in the future. I use Google maps to explore specific locations. A lot of the action in Forging Day is around Cheesman Park in Denver, so I read online history about the park, printed maps so I could mark specific locations and researched housing in the area. Book Five of the series in set in the Amazon rainforest. For that I ordered a map and travel guide to begin with. I read blogs about trips to the area and researched tourist activities and locations. My companion novella to Forging Day is from the perspective of the military unit my main character’s brother serves with. Part of my research for that was speaking with people from work who had been in the military to get their perspective. It was quite educational.
RIW: Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from?
NAM: Forging Day is the first book in the Crucible of Change series. My main character, Olivia, and her brother and sister have been in my head for over fifteen years. Olivia was my character in a Dungeons and Dragons group I used to game with before I had my daughter. I guess Olivia wanted more of her story to be told. The story, as with all of my stories, starts with the question, “What if…?” I like exploring the idea of taking ordinary people and throwing them into an extraordinary situation.
Olivia is a twenty five year old woman who is struggling with finding her place in the world. An event happens that unleashes a Change across the world. About one third of the population becomes other than human and magic becomes very real. In Forging Day, Olivia starts out a victim and becomes a hero, but not without earning a few scars along the way.
RIW: Do you feel humor is important in fiction and why?
NAM: Humor is essential to my writing. There are some very dark points in Olivia’s story and it needs her slightly off-beat sense of humor to lighten it up. In this excerpt, Olivia is recovering from her first (and nearly her last) combat experience after the Change.
“Not that I mind getting my arm fixed and not bleeding to death, but why didn’t you use the glowy-light thing like you did on Mikah? My arm is killing me and I’m completely useless like this.”
He looked troubled. “I tried. I don’t know why it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t get it to work with Mike either. And why didn’t you shoot those little balls of light like you did before?”
“I forgot. I panicked and I forgot.” We both sat there, looking glum. “Oh my god, Berto. We’re noobs. We’re not even first level adventurers. We’re those idiots trying to figure out the tutorial—and I always skip the tutorial.”
“We’d better not skip this one. Our lives might just depend on it.”
“Somehow, when I dreamed about becoming a fantasy adventurer, I was always a max-level character with epic gear. Look at me. I’m wearing vendor trash.”
RIW: Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
NAM: A full length book takes me two to three months from when I begin the research. I wrote my last novella (about 30k words) in twenty days. Last year I did NaNoWriMo and finished in about three weeks. On the other hand, I have a book I’ve been pondering for a while that I write snippets for. It’s been in the back of my head for a few years now. I guess I’m just not ready to write it. It’s going to be called Princess of LaLa Land and will be about my experience of raising a daughter with autism.
RIW: How do you come up with story ideas?
NAM: I’m always coming up with story ideas. I need to beat them off with a stick. Here’s an example: watching Survivor the other night, I thought what if Lord of the Flies was done Survivor style with the confessional interviews interspersed. I saw an odd looking car and driver on the way home from work one night and I imagined the rough outlines of a murder mystery. I don’t know how not to come up with story ideas. They just happen.
RIW: Do you ever ask your Significant Other for advice?
NAM: My husband is my best supporter. He is also a writer. We commute to work together since we work in the same building. Our drive each day is our own little writers group. We talk about our ideas and brainstorm together. I have been known to ask for his input on my stories. What I’ve learned when he offers advice is to think about whether his suggestion will benefit my story before I respond when sometimes my contrarian instinct is to reject it right off.
RIW: How many books have you written, and how many have been published?
NAM: I have written five books and one novella in the Crucible of Change series. Forging Day is the only one currently in stores but the others are under contract. I have a chick lit story under contract and a spicy short story coming out October 16th called Trick or Treat.
RIW: List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
NAM: I love the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold. I reread them regularly. I have all of them in print and also as eBooks.
My other go to series are the three Crystal Singer books by Anne McCaffrey. I really enjoy the progression of the characters. I wish there were more. These I also have in print and then repurchased them as eBooks.
RIW: What is the single most important part of writing for you?
NAM: It’s critical to me that my characters feel real and relatable. You may not like them, but I want you to feel that the character, even if he or she is not human, is acting and reacting in a realistic fashion. With Olivia, my main character in the Crucible of Change series, it was important to me that she not come across as perfect and a know-it-all. She has vulnerabilities. She needs her friends and family. If she gets into a battle, there’s every chance she’ll get hurt. Olivia makes mistakes. Sometimes she has bad judgment. In the end, her heart is always in the right place.
RIW: What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
NAM: I want readers to come away from my work with a feeling that different doesn’t mean wrong. Judge a person by how they treat others; their actions and not preconceived notions of race, religion or sexual orientation. More importantly, I hope they come away entertained and wanting more.
RIW: Thanks so much for joining us today, Noelle. By the way, I love the Vorkosigan series, too. I met Lois at MarCon, a sci-fi con in Columbus, Ohio. Someone asked her what to do when you bog down in the middle of a book. She said, “I ask myself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen to these people?’ and then I write it.” That bit of advice has helped me so much!
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