Monday, November 28, 2011

The Apocalypse Gene

One announcement before we move forward with this week's special guests:  Hadley Rille Books is celebrating its birthday with special offers on all its titles:  just $0.99 for the Kindle or Nook editions; this includes all novels by Terri-Lynne DeFino, Kim Vandervort and Karin Rita Gastreich.  The sale lasts only through November 29, so if you haven't yet ordered your electronic edition of your favorite titles from HRB, now is the time.  Happy reading!

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We are delighted to have as our guest bloggers this week Carlyle Clark and Suki Michelle.  Clark and Michelle are co-authors of The Apocalypse Gene, released just this past October by Parker Press.  This critically acclaimed blend of science fiction and fantasy is set in a near-future Chicago.  The protagonist, Olivya, is a spirited young African American woman whose unique ability to see auras becomes a key weapon in a struggle upon which the fate of the world – and perhaps the universe – depends.  I recently finished reading The Apocalypse Gene, and will be posting formal reviews on Amazon and Goodreads in the next week or so.  In the meantime, I can give the novel my highest recommendation for anyone interested in imaginative blends of sci fi and fantasy that engage the reader with imminent danger, nonstop action, a healthy dose of romance and a touch of well-placed humor. 

Please join me in welcoming Carlyle and Suki to Heroines of Fantasy.

Olivya-Wright-Ono is a fifteen-year-old, sword wielding, aura seeing, African–American girl born into a near-future dystopian Chicago. She lives on the pages of The Apocalypse Gene and loves nothing more than to share her adventures. That she has that opportunity is a miracle. First, let's talk about what her authors didn't know when they started writing her story.

  1. We didn’t know that there was such a word as "dystopia" let alone that it was a whole genre or that it was the genre we were writing. Needless to say, we hadn't yet heard of The Hunger Games, and didn't until the manuscript was almost complete.
  2. We didn't know there was a term called POC - Protagonist of Color – or that there were very few in YA Speculative Fiction – especially those who are female.
  3. We didn’t know that Olivya’s story, as it developed, would refuse to stay within the strict boundaries of any genre.
  4. And we certainly didn’t know that new authors who try to enter the scene with a novel that combines Dystopia, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, and even Cyber-Punk was enough to make agents' and editors' heads spin.

In our ignorance, innocence, and enthusiasm, we forged ahead. At last it was ready to present to what we thought would be waiting arms of agents and publishers. How surprised we were to discover that the story, being utterly unique, met no pre-established marketing paradigms, that there was no proven sales model to encourage agents and publishers to snap it up regardless, as most of them said, of its originality, the quality of writing, or the fresh new characters. Most rejected it with regret simply because the novel refused to be part of any trend.

Then along came Parker Publishing who specializes in multiethnic literature. They loved our story for their Moxie imprint, and they loved Olivya. The Moxie heroine, as Parker describes her, surmounts all obstacles in her path, and learns lessons from each.  MOXIE heroines are the antithesis of unrealistically pretty and shallow characters that have been popularized in much of YA fiction.

This is a perfect description of Olivya! When the book was released, we were greeted with high praise from professional reviewers and many beloved readers - words like "unique", "refreshing," 'wildly imaginative," and of course, "original." 

Olivya is a headstrong girl, rough around the edges, and highly determined. You can't dictate to her – you’re lucky if she'll even pay attention. At first, we wrote her weapon as a good old katana. No. Olivya wanted an obscure Japanese sword called a nagamaki, which has a handle as long as its damn blade! That's just how she is - difficult and opinionated - but so much more. Loving one moment, cynical the next, and filled with pain because her aura sight forces her to see the suffering of the pandemic with exquisite agonizing intimacy. She had every right to give in to despair, but that's just not her style.

Carlyle Clark and Suki Michelle

Olivya is a fighter. She won't give up on her sick mother, her dying world, or on hope itself. The odds against her are staggering. Horrifying myths and monsters spring to life around her. Shivpacks run the streets of Chicago, hell bent on chaos. Cancer is ravaging the world.  Challenge after challenge arises. The one thing you can count on is that Olivya is the embodiment of MOXIE. She will fight whether it is against monsters and mayhem or for the preservation of love and hope.  Olivya . . . Will . . . Fight.

As Kirkus says in their review, “This novel is ultimately about belief, belief in yourself, your friends, your family, and the future.”  We are proud to present Olivya to the world. She is a sorely needed role model for young women of every race, and we thank Parker Publishing’s Moxie for giving her that chance.


Suki and Carlyle said...

Thank you so much for posting this on your beautiful blog. I've been following avidly.

Now . . . back to work on the sequel.

Later, beauties!


Terri-Lynne said...

The world needs more heroines like Olivya. I have requested The Apocalypse Gene for Christmas. It WILL be mine.

Thanks for being here, Suki and Carlyle!

Suki and Carlyle said...

Cyber-hugs from Chi-Town, Terri-Lynn. Thank you!


Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Hi Suki & Lyle --

I loved this novel on the first read; loved it even more on the second. Thanks so much for bringing the story to HoF.

It's fun how we sometimes talk about our characters as if they were our children; and how it often seems characters have a mind of their own. I'm not surprised at all that Olivya had her own ideas about what weapon to use and what her next decision would be -- and that sometimes these ideas came as a surprise even to her authors!

Wishing you much luck with this first novel and all the novels to come.

Terri-Lynne said...

Something I've always wondered is how one goes about collaborating on a work of fiction. How does that work? Does one do plot while the other does prose? First draft and polish?

Do you ever disagree? And if you do (as you MUST) how do you resolve it?

Curious oysters everywhere want to know.

Anonymous said...

The Apocalypse Gene continues to be avidly read in my classroom of sixth graders. The cover is enticing, and the story is extremely well done. Olyvia and Mikah are fabulous characters!

Suki and Carlyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suki and Carlyle said...

Hi Linda! That's fantastic news!! Oh yeahhhhh.

Terri - we learned as we went, but we got it down. Carlyle is a great story-teller. He is plot master, the what-happens-next guy. He also has a flare for choreographing fight scenes and punching up dialogue.

My best skill is in descriptive prose and being in real-time with the characters' thoughts, words, and deeds. I write a lot of internal monologue, sense-feel, and setting.

Generally, I ask Carlyle what story elements need to be revealed in a scene. Then I transport myself to that world and follow the POV character around, writing what I "see".

OR Carlyle writes a scene, and I put it "in voice" and make it more linear (he's extremely smart and thinks on many levels at once. I'm a simple creature, so it's my job to make it engaging for teens.

Somewhere along the way, we cobble our scenes together, figure out what makes no sense, and fix, delete, edit, revise, agonize, pull-hair, have tantrums, revise again.

We both have crazy-wild imaginations, and no idea is too strange to consider. Also, we NEVER EVER EVER argue (cough . . . ummmm . . . much).

Thanks for asking! <333


Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful blog. I want to thank you for sharing Suki and Carlyle and their wonderful book with me.

I so much enjoyed The Apocalypse Gene. The characters and imagery jump from the pages with amazing clarity. Olivya is definitely a character you can't help falling in love with, and Aivilo is laugh out loud funny. The 'spanky', futuristic world Suki and Carlyle created is masterfully brilliant.

Susan Stec, author, The Grateful Undead: They're So Vein.

Terri-Lynne said...

Sounds like you and Lyle have fun, Suki. Thanks for that little look inside!