Fact meets fiction: Denial and reality in Double Bind

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Your favorite bestselling authors describe times when the world around them comes to reflect situations from their  books. This week, the author of Double Bind describes a warning for us all.

By Seb Kirby

I’ve seldom thought of my fiction as having any intention to foresee the future. What I mainly write about is the interior landscape of ordinary people facing unprecedented changes in their lives. But in one of my earliest novels, Double Bind, published eight years ago, I did stray into that territory. The book starts out as a doppelgänger fantasy but then quickly takes on a sci-fi direction. I don’t want to reveal the main plot line since this is meant to be one of those secrets that sneaks up on the reader. But suffice it to say that a large element of the story is the understanding that the world we live on exists in a fragile equilibrium that could be overturned at any moment by climate change.

When I wrote this, I was thinking that my imagined dystopia might serve as a warning to my grandchildren or great grandchildren. Since then, increasingly in last few years, it is becoming clear that the meltdown is already taking place in our time and at an escalating rate. So, whether you look at the speed with which ice is melting at the poles or the alarming rate of the increase in the extinction of species or the incidence of wildfires and soaring temperatures in the northern hemisphere or the release of methane from the north Asian tundra, the story is the same. We’ve entered a new geological age – the anthropocene. Meaning that for the first time in the three billion year history of our planet, human activity has become the dominant factor in its future. And the prognosis is not good. We may already have pushed that fragile equilibrium beyond the tipping point.

Here is an extract of what I wrote in Double Bind:

“Tell me about the deniers.” It’s Ingrid and she’s demanding more answers. Now that I’ve leveled with her about who I am.

We’re sitting at one end of the research area. Peterson and Janet are within earshot working the Xilix system, searching for information.

I move close to her and whisper. “Maybe we should talk somewhere more private.”

She whispers back. “No. Trust Peterson. The more he knows, the more he’ll be able to help.”

“You’re right.” I speak up so Peterson can hear. “It’s a long story that goes all the way back when.”

“Back to your home?”

“Yes all the way back there. The deniers. They destroyed the planet.”

I’m trying to keep from her and Peterson the true weight of the disaster. What happened as the planet died. How the life was sucked out of it in a rage of sulphur, bromine and day long darkness. How the sun disappeared and eternal night settled upon us.

“They watched as your planet died?”

“They couldn’t see the disaster that was right there in front of them. They still don’t see it. They don’t see the connection between what they did and what happened.”

“Why not?”

I swallow hard. “Ingrid. They blamed it on an angry god. A god who’d lost faith with them. Not for what they’d done but for what those who’d tried to talk them out of their madness had done.”

“People like you?”

“Yes, people like me. People who could see the big mess for what it is. What you call the tipping point. People who told them that you can’t keep pushing the planet, can’t keep overloading it with the energy that you keep producing and expect it to keep bouncing back.”

It’s an apocalyptic vision that worries me now more than it did back when I penned this just eight years ago.

Ray Bradbury’s abundant imagination strayed into this terrain in the fifties with his remarkable cycle of sequenced stories, brought together as The Martian Chronicles, that tell of the colonisation of Mars. All that remained of the sophisticated inhabitants of the planet were ghosts that represented the dying essences of a civilisation that had come and gone, one that had failed to see that the outcome of their incessant need to squander the natural assets of their world would lead to a new equilibrium on their planet in which they had no place.

We are not yet at that point. But we are close to it. It is still possible that we could commence on the kind of terraforming activities that brought life to our planet in the first place. Yet this would take significant and determined effort beginning right now. It’s by no means clear that we have the collective understanding of the importance of this task or the organisation and resources to carry it out. But one can only hope and do what one can to bring this about and avoid the catastrophe that awaits.

About Double Bind

Life-changing experiences come thick and fast for Raymond Bridges as he attempts to unravel a mystery that goes to the heart of his being.

It’s a thrilling journey that leads him to question so much of what he finds in the world around him – including the loyalty of those he thinks he knows well.

What he uncovers is a conspiracy that shakes the world he knows to its foundations and asks key questions about our responsibility to the planet.

A book that just might invoke deep thoughts about how we live today – or just be appreciated for the wild ride of the imagination that it undoubtedly is.

Get it from Amazonhttp://smarturl.it/dbb 

Seb Kirby

BestSelling author Seb Kirbywas literally raised with books: his grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham, UK and his parents inherited a random selection of the books. Once he discovered a trove of well-used titles from Zane Gray’s Riders of the Purple Sage, HG Wells’ The Invisible Man and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities to more obscure stuff, he was hooked.

He’s been an avid reader ever since.

He is author of the James Blake thriller series, Take No More, Regret No More and Forgive No More; the science-fiction thriller, Double BindEach Day I Wake; and Sugar for Sugar. His latest book is another psychological thriller, Here the Truth Lies.

Seb can be found:

BestSelling Reads author page  |   Amazon Author page  |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |    Goodreads   |   LinkedIn   |    Website & blog 

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Monday musings: literary goals for 2018

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By Autumn Birt

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2018 began with the release of my thirteenth book as well as a nomination for Best Book of the Year from Fantasia Reviews for my twelfth. There is nothing like that culmination of events to light a new year fire under my keyboard.

Plus, that new release ended my second epic fantasy trilogy, one that was set in the same world as my first. I’m ready for new things. I hope my readers are too—because they are coming!

When I wrapped up A New Goddess, I had no specific books in mind to write. Actually, I was going to write a non-fiction book on writing. But one morning I woke up from a dream where I needed to write a new series to balance what I’d published.

By that night, I’d begun to outline a new trilogy titled Black Throne, Black Blood, complete with two intro novellas. An idea that I’d ferreted away merged over the course of that day with another. Alone, they were interesting. Together, they were dynamic and inspiring!

But I couldn’t jump right into it. See, I have a business partner and we are building something together and the world of that story just might be a fit for something we’ve been planning. So, I need to hold off a couple of months until I know for sure.

Writers have a really hard time putting on brakes.

One of my favorite things about inspiration is it is not a limited resource. Actually, I think creativity is highly expansive and a little explosive. Being inspired to write but trying hard not to continue crafting a world lead to a desperate search for something else to focus on. Which had the end result of birthing another series idea.

I outlined the second series pretty quickly with some brainstorming from my husband. It too has an intro novella and at least four books with it. It is a mad combination of influences from ancient Celtic and Native American myths mixed with the desperation of my near future dystopian series, Friends of my Enemy. And I’ll secretly admit here that a short story I wrote as part of my college honor’s thesis that was probably the original seed. Boy, has it grown into a monster!

I’ve already begun the novella for this dark, urban fantasy series. And while I don’t have the name to the novella as yet, the series will be the Caillte Ré, which translates to “dark time.”

I’m hoping by the time the first novella is finished, I can switch to the first one in Black Throne, Black Blood. I’d like to have both novellas out before mid-year and be working on book 1 of the Caillte Ré along with the second novella in Black Throne, Black Blood.

Yes, I’m planning on writing two series at the same time. I’ve done it in the past. We’ll see how it goes this year!

And though these series are two entirely different worlds and characters, I see a linking theme between them of exploring the role of darkness. Where my current epic fantasy series is noble bright, my new books won’t be so clearly cut. I see them as darker, sexier, more adult, and far more complicated.

I can’t wait to share them with the world!

Autumn Birt

Autumn is a bestselling author in multiple genres. She is the author of two epic fantasy adventure trilogies on elemental magic, The Rise of the Fifth Order and Games of Fire. Games of Fire has received tremendous critical reviews and book 2, Gates of Fire & Earth, is also a Fantasia Reviews 2017 Book of Year nominee and winner of Best Worldbuilding.

She is also the author of Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance. Friends of my Enemy was released in full in 2015 and is quite the story full of strong characters, tight plots, and lots of action. Meanwhile, despite saying she was taking a short break to write a non-fiction book on writing techniques to go along with the courses she teaches at www.UltimateFantasyWritersGuide.com, a new story is already starting to build.

If she stops goofing off and enjoying hobbies such as traveling, hiking, motorcycling, and kayaking, she may even be able to release a new fantasy story in 2018 too.

Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books at www.AutumnWriting.com. You can also find her on Facebook at Author.Autumn.Birt or more frequently on Twitter @Weifarer. Start with her BestSelling Reads author page.

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Announcing a new BestSeller: Autumn Birt

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BestSelling Reads is proud to announce a new member: Autumn Birt, author of epic fantasies as well as dystopian science-fiction. But we’ll let her introduce herself.

I see stories in my mind.

Even if I didn’t write, I’d be daydreaming snippets of imaginary places and people. I have done so since I was child stuck in the backseat of my parent’s car on epic drives. Actually, we lived in the country (my neighbors were Amish), so anywhere was an epic drive: grocery store, mall, school…

I would look out the window and dream of somewhere else.

At first I tried to draw what I imagined. There was a fifty fifty chanced I’d end up a graphic artist rather than a novelist. But when I discovered that by writing I could explore words so much deeper than a simple passing daydream, that was the point of no return for me. Characters could by my friend for years as I wrote. Worlds I created were real enough I could smell the smoke of campfires and hear the music from celebrations. My artwork is now secondary, but so useful as an author.

And honestly, as a fantasy author and daydreamer, this world is a tragic disappointment. Where are the dragons? Magic spells? Portals to new universes? I have to create my own, so I craft them through books, which have the benefit of allowing readers to leap in as well. In my mind, I was lonely. Through my books, I can share the worlds and characters with so many people!

My first published novel was Born of Water, which was released in 2012 and began my first epic fantasy series The Rise of the Fifth Order. This year marks my sixth as a published author and I just released my thirteenth book which completes my second epic fantasy trilogy and third fully released series. What is crazy is I’m just getting started!

I write fantasy because I was drawn to it from a young age. I remember finding a short story on dragon impression on Pern when I was in Junior High School. Anne McCaffrey’s world changed me from an occasional reader to a book devourer. Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K. Leguin, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, and so many other amazing novelists opened new worlds to me and taught truths that might not have blossomed if handed out in a text book.

I think that is the secret power of fantasy; it can teach very personal lessons while entertaining: friendship, honesty, perseverance, and the drive to change the world. But I don’t like preachy stories written expressly to persuade. No, I want to fall in love with characters, with a world, and be swept up in events that make you rise to your best … or teach you the humbling result if you don’t. Those are the stories I seek out and then ones I write.

All that mental adventure and daydreaming bleeds through to my real life too. I love to travel and experience new cultures and places. If you don’t find me glued to my laptop, you’ll probably find me on my motorcycle on a back road or with my husband and dog in our Landcruiser outfitted for the great unknown. Someday I will convince him to cave raft with me.

Because, secretly, I’m still looking for a portal to another universe. 😉

Learn more about Autumn on her:

And follow her on Twitter @weifarer.

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Thursday teaser: Saving Raine

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Win a free e-book copy of the Drone Wars: Book 1

By Frederick Lee Brooke

The pickup lights cut a path through the darkness as they shared a bag of tortilla chips. All at once, Matt’s eyes picked up a familiar form in the grass by the side of the road. He pulled over fifty yards ahead.

“What’re you doing?” Benjy asked.

Matt got out without answering, and walked back up the road. Benjy followed. They found a small doe sprawled in the ditch, eyes staring.

“Is it dead?” Benjy asked.

“Dead and delicious,” Matt said. “Can you lift her?”

His stepbrother studied the deer, trying to figure how to pick it up. He bent down, then stood again.

“You sure it’s dead?”

Matt prodded the deer with his boot. “Even if she weren’t, they don’t bite.”

Benjy worked his left arm under the animal’s neck. With his right hand he grabbed one of the hind legs, just below the knee. When he stood up, he managed to get about half the deer off the ground before collapsing.

“She’s too heavy. I can’t.”

“Let’s do it together,” Matt said. He picked up the neck and the front legs while Benjy lifted the hindquarters. Matt could’ve thrown the animal in the back of the truck himself, but getting Benjy to help somehow seemed right. Although he was tall for fourteen, Benjy’s arms and legs were thin as twigs.

Off in the distance, another car was coming. They jumped in quickly, and Matt hit the gas. After a brief stretch at high speed, they entered a town and had to slow down. The car tailing them had caught up, an old red Chrysler. The other driver rode him close, his high beam lighting up the truck interior. Matt looked away from his mirror, but the lights blinded him just the same. People shot each other over less.

“Want me to check him out?” Benjy asked.

“You’ve got your own Viper?”

“I brought two Vipers and two Tornados,” Benjy said. He rolled down his window and released a small quadcopter. Then he studied his Jetlink.

“What’s a fourteen-year-old doing with four drones?”

“These are just the ones I decided to bring.”

Matt looked at his stepbrother, unbelieving. Where had Benjy been hiding all these drones? He himself, like most people, owned one all-purpose Viper. “Well, what about those guys back there?”

“Two men. Skinheads. Maybe locals, picking a fight.”

They had reached the end of town, and the speed limit was back up to 50 mph. Matt gradually increased to 40 mph as the Chrysler rode up his tail. The road was deserted.

“Why doesn’t he pass?” Benjy asked.

Matt rolled down his window. “Get ready to take the wheel.”

“What? I can’t drive.”

On the next straightaway, the Chrysler made its move and pulled alongside. Matt met the gaze of the man in the passenger seat, whose shaved head gleamed in the ambient light.

“Pull over to the side. Pull over now.”

Matt had the slingshot ready while Benjy guided the truck with one hand on the wheel. In a split second, he could kill the man, whose impassive face was less than six feet away.

Something made him decide not to shoot. Maybe there’d been enough killing for one night. Maybe it was the fact that the man didn’t show a weapon. Maybe he was just tired. He retook the wheel, braked, signaled, and pulled over.

The skinheads got out and walked back to the truck, two men in black leather. Still no weapons. He got out to meet them.

About Saving Raine

A country torn apart by greed, corruption, and chaos.
A boy sent on a mission that could kill him.
A girl who’s in grave danger…and doesn’t have a clue.

Can Matt beat the odds stacked against him and outrun the drones raining down on his head in time to save his woman–and America?

Praise for SAVING RAINE…

“…skilled, full of action, truth, possibilities, and drama.” (Carol Keen, Amazon Reviewer)

“…an adrenaline-soaked adventure that kept this reader’s attention from beginning to end.” (Long and Short Reviews)

Find it on Amazon.

Win a free e-book

Just leave a comment. The author will choose one lucky winner of an e-book version of Saving Raine.

About the author

Frederick Lee Brooke launched the Drone Wars Series in 2013 with Saving Raine, and the sequel, Inferno, followed in 2014. The third and last book in the series, The Drone Wars, released in June, 2015 wraps up the short, catastrophic period in which Matt Carney first learned he had a twin brother.

A resident of Switzerland since 1991, Frederick Lee Brooke is also the author of the Annie Ogden Mystery Series. He has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He makes frequent trips to the United States to visit friends and family. Visit Fred on Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday Musings: The challenges of writing historical prose

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by Scott Bury

It’s just one word out of a hundred thousand, but it can stop a writer. Sometimes, the search for one right word can take longer than writing a hundred pages.

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That happens to me a lot when writing books based on history, whether it’s my historical fantasy, The Bones of the Earth, or my World War II trilogy, Walking Out of War.

If you get a historical fact wrong, the readers will let you know.

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The facts are essential

The challenge for the writer is to make every story immediate — to put the reader today into the story, even when it takes place a half-century or a millennium ago. The key to making the story real to the readers is the little details.

These can seem inconsequential — like what kind of side-arms Soviet army officers carried, or who the Eastern Roman Emperor was in 593 CE. But when you get to that point, you realize you have no idea what you’re writing about.

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A good example came up when I was writing Army of Worn Soles, the story of my father-in-law Maurice Bury. A Canadian citizen, he got drafted by the Soviet Red Army just before Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest land invasion in history.

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Maurice told me a lot about his experiences in the war so that I could write his story as a book. I wrote a draft that had a lot of the facts and the whole sweeping epic, but he passed away before I could finish it. That left a lot of details wanting.

Like what the Red Army’s anti-tank gun looked like in 1941.

It took a long time to work out. Google and Wikipedia to the rescue! But it wasn’t that simple.

Try Googling “Red Army anti-tank gun 1941” and you’ll get conflicting information of various levels of reliability. The Soviets used more than one type of anti-tank gun. Which one did Maurice command? Finding that out required going deeper than Wikipedia, and careful reading of the notes I took when Maurice was alive.

There’s nothing like hard copy

My current work-in-progress is the third volume of Maurice’s story, Walking Out of War. I got stuck in the postwar period. After Maurice fought in the Battle of Berlin, he left the Red Army to return home to Montreal. He told me how he walked from Berlin to Munich, found a D.P. camp in Ingolstadt, Germany, and then in Landeck, Austria. Finally, he met other Ukrainian people in Vienna who helped him get the necessary permits to return to Canada. But when exactly did all this happen? What did he do to survive in the interim?

Then I found some of the most interesting items I have ever seen in my life. In Maurice’s papers, pushed to the back of a desk drawer, was an old, tattered wallet with his ID papers — some as a schoolboy in Poland. There were two D.P. identification cards, a letter from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Displaced Persons Centre Kufstein, another authorizing Maurice to travel to Vienna to arrange his transfer to Canada, and more.

The most interesting were the travel permits authorizing Maurice to go from the Landeck D.P. camp to Vienna, and another from Austria to Canada. What’s most interesting is that they’re dated in early 1947 — nearly two years after the end of the fighting in Europe.

So what did Maurice do for those two years?

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Another mystery to solve.

Walking Out of War, the third part of the trilogy, is nearly complete and will be published by the Written Word Communications Co. and Independent Authors International by the end of 2016.

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Focus Friday: The Drone Wars

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Book 3 of The Drone Wars Series

By Frederick Lee Brooke

w2_NdsXzY1KowkK100IieFO3Q1_KMtLjS2d-OvLynNo[1]As O.C. backed out of the space, the three agents burst out of the restaurant. Their Eliminator streaked ahead and hovered, staying ten feet in front of the windshield. Matt saw a pistol in the lead agent’s hand, then saw the others drawing as they ran after them. They were flicking off their safeties. His nightmare was unfolding as reality. He wanted to rip off the bandage, but that drone was getting a read on all of them now. This was outstripping his innermost fears. What the hell was the world coming to?

“Homeland Security, stop your vehicle or we’ll shoot.” The voice came out of the Eliminator, amplified to megaphone. It must have been audible across the road.

Matt was surprised when O.C. slammed on the brakes. They stopped in the middle of the lot, fifty feet beyond the lead agent. Maybe Sander had signaled it, or maybe O.C. decided on his own. Maybe they would have shredded the tires with bullets anyway if they’d made a run for it. The agents ran up on the left side and fanned out in an arc.

When O.C. rolled down his window, Matt did the same. Matt’s window stopped halfway, some child safety regulation, but halfway was enough. Had there been a camera in the restaurant? Luke had said most stores and restaurants had cameras linked directly to Homeland Security.

“Otis Curtis from up in Dalton, that correct?” the lead agent demanded in the same southern drawl O.C. had. The agent spoke in his own voice now, not using the drone. He stood twenty feet away and gripped a nine-millimeter pistol in two hands, a pro. That was how fast their facial recognition worked. Or maybe they had linked to O.C. through the vehicle registration.

“That’s me. Who’s asking?”

“Homeland Security, jackass. We’re most interested in Matt Carney, but we’re going to bring in you other folks for aiding and abetting. I want everybody out of the truck, and real easy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” O.C. said.

“I said out of the truck!” the agent screamed.

The agent was still bellowing, eyes shut for a fraction of a second, when a bullet exploded in the middle of his forehead. Time slowed down. Matt saw blood pouring out. The agent staggered backward, his eyes losing focus.

Just as quickly, the second agent froze up like a brick wall and fell to the ground. The third agent was zigzagging towards them in a crouch as O.C.’s shots went high. The angle was bad. In one smooth motion, Matt brought up his slingshot and fired. Aiming was as close to instinctive as nine years of practice could make it. The ball bearing hit just north of the bridge of the agent’s nose, shattering bone and digging a crater in his brain, instantly ending motor functions.

Raine was screaming, covering her eyes. The fallen men were still visibly pumping blood as O.C. hit the gas, and tossed his weapon in Sander’s direction. A huge, long-barreled pistol. Sander caught it by the barrel and instantly dropped it in his lap. Sander blew on his burnt fingers, at the same time scanning right and left for additional threats.

Hitting the street on two wheels, O.C. swerved to the right without braking. He headed south without letting the pedal up. The whining old truck engine was almost as loud as Raine’s screams.

About The Drone Wars

Matt Carney has nailed every mission underground guerilla organization March22 has given him, beating the odds time after time. But when he gets his new assignment, he quickly sees his chances of success dwindling to zero.

“Find the man,” they tell him. Except the man he is supposed to find is at the top of Homeland Security’s Most Wanted list, an expert at escape and deception.

“Stop the man,” they tell him. Except the man he’s supposed to stop is plotting the murder of millions of Americans in a sociopathic quest for a new social order.

…and this man, the one they want him to find and stop, is his own father.

Malls, airports and factories erupt in pillars of fire, thousands die, and cities teeter on the brink of collapse as Matt and his twin brother, Luke, fight to stop a man on an apocalyptic quest to obtain the final piece of his deranged puzzle—a piece that will allow him to put into motion his plans for the complete annihilation of the United States.

120,000 dead. Entire cities devastated. The country a hair’s breadth from a fate worse than death. Can Matt and Luke stop this nightmare before the world as they know it comes to a devastating end?

Get it from Amazon.

About the author

fredbrookeFrederick Lee Brooke launched the Annie Ogden Mystery Series in 2011 with Doing Max Vinyl and followed with Zombie Candy in 2012, a book that is neither about zombies nor sweets. The third mystery in the series, Collateral Damage, appeared in 2013. Saving Raine, the first book in Fred’s entirely new series, The Drone Wars, appeared in December, 2013.

A resident of Switzerland, Fred has worked as a teacher, language school manager and school owner. He has three boys and two cats and recently had to learn how to operate both washing machine and dryer. He makes frequent trips back to his native Chicago.

When not writing or doing the washing, Fred can be found walking along the banks of the Rhine River, sitting in a local cafe, or visiting all the local pubs in search of his lost umbrella.

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