National Indie Author Day: Sci-Fi/Dystopian Giveaway

Last but not least for this year we have a giveaway for folks who enjoy sci-fi and dystopian stories! The lucky winner will receive a copy of Azalei’s Riders by Miranda Marie, a copy of Malfunction by J.E. Purrazzi, and a signed bookplate from each author!

I have a review of Azalei’s Riders for those interested. I don’t have a review of Malfunction, but it’s an excellent book that looks at the sanctity of life through a very hopeful lens even amidst a dark, gritty world; it’s fantastically done.

I also have author interviews! Check out what the authors have to say about these books. ^-^

Miranda Marie

Could you tell us a little about you and what you write?

Of course. Hello, everyone! I’m Miranda, a previously homeschooled girl from the mountains. I grew up in the country, raised all sorts of animals when I was younger (including goats), and have been passionate about writing since around the time I turned ten. I’m dyslexic, which made reading difficult for me, so my mom set me free on Word and told me to write anything I wanted. Fourteen years later and I’m still writing.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

The simple answer is: I was 17 and not brave enough – or confident enough – to pursue a publisher or an agent. However, I wanted to share my stories with the world, so I decided to see what it would take to do it myself, and I’m really glad I did. It was a huge learning experience and it’s shaped my writing in ways I never could have predicted. I wasn’t ready for the high pressure environment of traditional publishing, and self publishing gave me the drive and experience to grow.

How does your faith impact your work?

I’m a Christian, and that definitely shapes my worldview. Themes in particular are important to me. I don’t write “Christian fiction”, because that’s not what I’ve been called to write. Instead, I focus on writing engaging, unique works that are clean enough for anyone to read, regardless of their age or content tolerance. This means most of the way my faith influences my writing is in the themes I discuss and the way I approach them – through a lens of hope, rather than despair.

What inspired The Fire Rain Chronicles?

I had a very specific thought on day when I was sixteen and preparing to do NaNoWriMo for the second time. “What if instead of technology destroying the planet (a common theme in Dystopian works), technology evolved enough to repair the planet instead?” Essentially, I asked myself what a futuristic world would be like where jungles and forests had taken over everything and humans didn’t need to use nearly as many of the world’s resources to sustain ourselves. I suppose I was just tired of all the doom and gloom outlooks portrayed in the usual dystopian worlds. I wanted to pursue a world in the distant future where the environment wasn’t the main issue. And The Fire Rain Chronicles was born from that thought.

Justice and putting things right are big parts of The Fire Rain Chronicles (especially in the last book). What do these themes mean to you?

That’s a harder question, mainly because those weren’t themes I was trying to include. I suppose that’s the whole worldview thing coming into play. My main focus thematically were the questions ‘what is freedom’ and ‘is it worth it to relinquish freedom for safety?’ But justice and self-government are a huge part of the answer to those questions, so its natural that they’d play a big part in answering them, even if it wasn’t the focus with which I went into the story. Justice and repaying mistakes is synonymous to me with repentance. You have to face that you’ve done something wrong to put it right. If you aren’t willing to accept responsibility for your errors, you can’t progress. In that regard, the characters who grew and made an impact were the ones willing to admit they were wrong and make new choices. Those who couldn’t accept they’d strayed were slowly driven mad by the weight of their mistakes.

This series has so many moving pieces that weave together exactly as they should. What were some of the challenges of creating such a complex world and plot?

I recall commenting to a friend at the time of writing the second book in the series (when so many things come into the light for the first time), “I wish I was as smart as Azalei. That would make it a lot easier to keep up with her.” So I would say that Azalei was both my main challenge as well as my biggest help. Most of the intertwining pieces of this series were orchestrated by her, so it was only a matter of getting into her mind and thinking, “What would Azalei do with this information?” The problem with that was that she has the ability to juggle sixteen steps ahead, where I can manage about six. Suffice it to say, editing was my friend. If I messed up, she would give me a gentle nudge in the right direction on the next read through, showing me one by one all the pieces she had in place.

What do you hope readers take away from reading The Fire Rain Chronicles?

I hope they take away the lesson to think independently and logically. It’s so easy to be swept up in a mob, where the frenzied and passionate voices of others can pull us along on a emotional-high. It feels good to be a part of something, to ride that moral high ground and think you’re doing what’s right. But misplaced passion can lead to very dark, very dangerous places. The conflict in the Northern Countries started from a desire for a peaceful future, spurred on by the pure passion of someone who loved those around him. However, acting out of passion and emotion, and blinded from logic, it lead to their ultimate destruction. If people learn anything from The Fire Rain Chronicles, I hope it is the skill to self evaluate their choices and to practice independent thinking, rather than following mob rule.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

My next project, as is probably expected of me by now, is nothing like anything I’ve published before. I love trying new and wildly unique things every chance I get, and this project has held a very special place in my heart since before Azalei’s Riders was even a concept in my mind. It’s got a large cast of characters, including, but not limited to: Mal, an antisocial homebody just seeking some peace and quiet; Tauby, his conspiracy theorist, adventure-seeking bff (who may or may not accidentally get them kidnapped); Chance, a dark, grim criminal boy (who may or may not do the kidnapping), and Jade, a girl who simultaneously delivers dire warnings about the horrors of jail and offers everyone snacks. There’s a heist in the world’s most dangerous underground city, superpowers of all shapes and sizes, and so much lore it occasionally makes me dizzy (in a good way). I can’t wait to release it to all of you so you can love it as much as I do!

Thank you so much, Miranda!

J.E. Purrazzi

Could you tell us a little about you and what you write?

My name is J.E. Purrazzi, or Jill. I am a writer of speculative fiction, so I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Right now my focus is on gothic horror and cyberpunk science fiction. My goal in writing is to draw my reader into thinking deeply about subjects, taking a different view than they might have before, and finding truth, which is why I brand my fiction as “exploratory fiction.” Because of that, one of the most important facets of my writing is, for me, story theme.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

I considered traditional publishing briefly, but the more I looked the more I discovered that traditional publishing couldn’t offer me the things I most valued in a writing career. It seems to me that the main value of traditional publishing these days is to have someone to help shoulder the actual cost and work of the publishing (and thus, by nature, take away some of your creative input) and the benefit of having an established creator back up your work. But the downsides, most importantly having your success dependent on the subjective tastes of someone who will never be as passionate about your books as you are, seemed too great. I don’t mind if my books fail, but I would like to have the ability to get up, brush myself off, learn better, and try again. Traditional publishing seemed to take a bit too much power from the author in my personal opinion. Though I might consider trying a hybrid model at some point, I really just love the indie mindset.

How does your faith impact your work?

My faith is important in every aspect of my writing, though I don’t actually write Christian fiction. Some of my works have a heavier emphasis than others, but even those don’t seem to always come across as strictly “Christian” to unsuspecting readers (those who go in not knowing I’m Evangelical). I’d say the greatest impact it has on my writing is the fact that I believe that God uses creativity to his Glory for our good. I don’t believe the gospel should be made palatable through fictionalisation to “win” people to Christ, so I avoid direct preaching or allegory. Though if you know me well enough you can find my theology and philosophy in anything I write.

I constantly think about the passage “Seek and ye shall find” when I write. So my goal is NOT to bring people to the Lord (I believe that’s the work of the Holy Spirit) but only to get them to start asking questions and “seeking”. I believe that, if you shake a person out of their comfort zone and get them to start asking hard questions, you have already done a very effective work in opening them up to truth. As such, my target audience is typically the unbeliever who is just starting to question some of the things they have taken as truth. While I think my fiction can be enjoyable for believers, I typically don’t recommend it to believers because I feel like it’s more likely to feel a bit too jarring if you aren’t expecting violence, language, and characters who don’t always pick the moral route the first time around.

What inspired Malfunction?

I have inspiration from EVERYWHERE. I’d say the main seeds that started the idea of Malfunction was some interesting science about manipulating the brains of cockroaches using electricity, as well as some aspects of the children’s story City of Ember. I was just starting out as a “serious” author when I started it. I had written a massive fantasy inspired by Lord of the Rings… as one does… and I had wanted to try something different to escape the idea of a “second draft”. The “short story” I started turned into a large, complex trilogy and an entire universe. But I couldn’t be more happy about that.

The sanctity of life is a big theme in Malfunction. What does this topic mean to you?

Sanctity of Life is a major theme. I took a few directions at this, including addressing concepts like abortion, human trafficking, and abuse. But also playing around with ideas of subjective morality, personhood (and where it begins and ends) and justice. It is not, by any means, exhaustively explored. I do hope there is a start to some genuine exploration and seeking, however.

The two biggest themes would be those of Human Trafficking and abortion. I grew up overseas in a culture that, more than most, views women as property. The girls I grew up with and played with were being married off and having children before I was in highschool. Many died in childbirth. Most were abused. Violence, especially towards women and children, was expected and commonplace. Despite the fact that I was really sheltered, I did see and understand enough that when I started learning more about human trafficking and other related topics like child marriages, it wasn’t something I could easily move on from.

As far as the topic of abortion, it was not something I felt personally attatched to until my then fiance told me that he had lost two children to abortion. I dreamed that night (I have several sleep disorders so it’s not strange for me) that two boys around my brother’s age came to speak with me. They called me ‘mom’ and talked about all the moments they would have liked to share as my step-children. It sounds a bit strange, as I had no real connection to them, but knowing how my step-children lost their lives, and watching my husband struggle through that, made abortion a much more personal subject. As has years of working in childcare and with children of all ages. It’s become a topic I am quite outspoken about and it came pretty naturally with the story of Malfunction.

You published the last book of the Malfunction trilogy earlier this year. What has it been like to transition out of a project you’ve worked on for so long to work on something new?

The transition out of writing the Malfunction series has been hard. Especially as I finished my second series not long before. I needed a long break, just figuring out what my plan was and shifting around a few times. I pretty much have an idea of what the future will look like now, but it was great to be able to just play with some “fun” projects for a while. I do want to get back into a clear rhythm for my brand and start another Cyberpunk series soon, but life has been a bit crazy and not allowing me to work as consistently as I once was. So we will see when they are able to start coming out and what it will look like. But the next series is plotted and started.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Malfunction?

This is an excellent question. As my main theme for Malfunction is the issue of “personhood” (in the philosophical sense), my main hope is to first allow people to empathise with some pretty extreme situations, and then perhaps start asking some deeper questions. My hope is that the excitement and relatively high level of violence, will help inspire anger at injustice and a passion to protect others. And I want people to see that correct motives, or correct goals, do not make for moral actions.

I want to call into question the idea of subjective morality and subjective concepts of personhood. This is why the tagline for the first book is “They say the ends justify the means.”.

My hope is that readers will see that this mentality doesn’t serve the protagonists any better than the antagonists and the only healing comes from changing that mentality. But I do trust that my readers are intelligent enough, and that the Lord will use the Holy Spirit to convict or comfort each person as is needed. I really hope that readers can make the story their own and draw out their own meaning and find absolute truth whether I thought of include it or not.

Can you tell us anything about your next project?

I CAN! So I have several projects in the works right now. Tawhiri is a relaxing, slow paced, pacific-island inspired fantasy about sea nymphs, adoption, and belonging. It’s basically a vacation in a book with a little bit of a thematic message about growing up and finding our place in the world around us. That is due to come out around summer, once I do some significant edits.

The second (and the one I’m currently drafting), Within, is a Gothic horror that might not be coming out until next October now. I’m still chewing on the publishing plan for that. It’s about a young woman who moves to a small town to reconnect with her son after regaining custody, However the town is attacked by an ancient evil in the forest which takes on your physical form and all your worst desires before consuming you completely.

But the one that will be most interesting for Malfunction readers is a Cyberpunk series which is already plotted out to be seven books long (though there are more to add). If you have read the free anthology from the Phoenix Fiction Writer’s newsletter, you will be familiar with Stealing Life. That is the story I’m expanding for this series. So think Ocean’s Eleven with cyborgs and a bionic cat, trying to take down an evil corporation that experiments on orphans. My hope is to start publishing that in 2022 or 2023.

Thank you so much, Jill!

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Let me know in the comments: Do you have a favorite theme in sci-fi or dystopian stories?

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2 thoughts on “National Indie Author Day: Sci-Fi/Dystopian Giveaway

  1. Azalei’s Riders is SO good!! Many of my friends have been lent/bought copies of it, hehe. Love this post! :)

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