Interview: Jeremy Flagg, Author of the Children of Nostradamus Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Jeremy Flagg. We chat about his love of graphic novels, the hope for a Salvatore-based tabletop game, and plenty more.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

Currently with the boom of comic book movies and TV shows, I’m honestly surprised the same hasn’t happened in the literary world. I grew up on comic books, in fact, it’s how I learned to read. However, the jump from illustrated stories to novelization seems to be a slow process. With only a few breakouts such as Brandon Sanderson or Peter Clines, the market is vastly underserved. But despite the market having yet to sway in that direction, there are some amazing superhero inspired stories happening. I think the ability to get inside the head of the hero makes it a unique medium that brings a lot to the table for the genre.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I’m a superhero writer, I should pick a superhero, but I think I’d have to go with the supernatural. There is something about these myths and folklore that continue to make us wonder. I like the idea that there is a world we’re not quite sure about. I’m curious to see what wonders there are. Granted, with my luck I’d be stuck with a grumpy gnome saving me.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I’m a 90’s kid through and through. I was born in the early 80’s, and loved the music of the time, but nothing will surpass the 90’s for me. My playlists are filled with songs from the late 90’s and even the weird look we had during that period sticks with me. Despite that though, there’s a bit of an 80’s child hiding in there. I secretly like to think I’m a punk in corporate clothing.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

We’re on the verge of so many emerging technologies, I think it’s fascinating to see how much science fiction has simply become science. Still, the thing I’m dying to see is the computer screen from Minority Report. I find myself frequently annoyed that I don’t have enough screen space and constantly flipping through windows. I frequently have my laptop hooked up to a TV and my iPad next to me. It’d be amazing to have it all in one place and just be able to manipulate it with my hand. We’re not far from it, I think this one may actually happen during my lifetime.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Not the worst by a long stretch, but definitely the most difficult would have to be teaching high school. I’ve been a high school art teacher for a decade now and it’s a demanding job. You’re constantly pushing kids to be creative and step outside their comfort zone. It’s extremely rewarding, but after a day of wrestling with kids, you find yourself lacking the creativity to do your own work. There are the hand full of kids who give back as much as you put in, and those have been the ones that continue to inspire. Writing on the other hand, during my off months is a walk in the park. The only temperamental thing I have to deal with is my laptop, and that’s nowhere near as complicated as wow-ing a room of twenty-five teenagers. The only difficulty is in forcing myself to sit down and write when I have the time (which isn’t too difficult for me.)

You’re granted a super power and given the chance to team up with 4 other superheroes (or supervillains). What power do you have and who have you teamed up with?

The obvious answer is teleportation. I will always want the ability to teleport. I hate going places, but I’m always happy once I’m there. As for the others I would team up with? Not that I haven’t thought about this in depth, but it’d be Nightcrawler, Colossus, Magneto (every time needs the slightly villainous character) and Phoenix. That’d pretty much be the unstoppable superhero team. I may have spent more than a little time figuring this out (aka a lot.)

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I would love to see R.A. Salvatore’s Demon War Saga turned into some sort of tabletop game. Salvatore has a wonderfully unique perspective on traditional fantasy and I think it’d make for a great storyline. I’d love it even more if it were turned into a console game similar to Skyrim. I’d want to play Pony, one of my favorite female leads who wields magic and her female intuition like a weapon. That’d be a pretty badass game.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in comics & graphic novels, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I actually teach a college class about graphic novels. There are a variety of great pieces that should be in there. I like to blend great stories such as the Watchmen alongside classic superheroes such as X-Men’s Inferno with things like Maus. My favorite question to pose the class is to ask, do comics influence society or does society influence comics? I like exploring the need for diversity in mainstream comics and how smaller companies are filling in these niche categories. I feel if given enough time, there could be entire concentrations in comics similar to Art History at this point. Unfortunately, I don’t think we respect comics as much as we do novels. I am happy however to see them get more attention thanks to the popularity of movie adaptations.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

Marvel beats DC. Star Trek over Star Wars. Sub before Dub. With the company I keep, there are always geeky conversations happening. I’m always down for a geek argument.

About Author Jeremy Flagg:

Jeremy Flagg is the author of the CHILDREN OF NOSTRADAMUS dystopian science fiction series and SUBURBAN ZOMBIE HIGH young adult humor/horror series. Taking his love of pop culture and comic books, he focuses on fast paced, action packed novels with complex characters and contemporary themes.

Jeremy is the Co-creator of Massachusetts Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors and member of the Metrowest Writers writing group. He is also an active member of the New England Horror’s Association and Broad Universe.

Jeremy spends most of his free time at his desk writing snarky books. When he gets a moment away from writing, he watches too much Netlix and Hulu and reading comic books. Jeremy, a Maine native, resides in Clinton, Massachusetts and can be found in local coffee shops pounding away at the keyboard.

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Synopsis of Nighthawks:

New England is a walled off radioactive prison. People exhibiting extraordinary abilities are hunted for experiments. The only talent twenty-six-year-old Conthan has in life is his art and knack for sarcasm. When a cop threatens his life, Conthan discovers he has the ability to teleport. Hunted by the military and a woman with her own gifts, Conthan finds exiles in the Boston wastelands with powers of their own. For the first time, he sees potential to become a hero. But as he unravels a conspiracy threatening the world, he must decide between his survival and his humanity.

Audible ~ Amazon

Paperbook Giveaway & Interview: Paul J. Joseph, SF Author of Through the Fold Series

JosephMarkerStoneFolks, it’s my joy to have Paul J. Joseph on the blog today.  We chat about books to movies, villains, geeky arguments, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Honestly, this is something I think about surprisingly often, but not necessarily the way one might expect. The game I often play with a favorite movie or any kind of story would be to wonder how it would be perceived by somebody else.  Imagine if you could share with a young Gene Roddenberry some of the more recent Star Trek movies just to find out if in fact those things based on his vision are anywhere near his original expectations.  And, though it may sound like a really silly idea, I’ve often wondered how an earlier version of myself might perceive my own writings, especially before I wrote the first one or while I was thinking of the initial details.

But seriously, there are loads of movies and books that I love, but those that stand the test of time are relatively few.  Some that rise to the top may not be all that popular or well known, but I suppose that’s the point of the question.  I love the movie Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis.  As both a film maker and a writer, I can’t speak highly enough of the true mastery of the details of that movie.  I honestly prefer that to all the other works of M. Night Shyamalan.  I also liked The Thirteenth Floor, another obscure science fiction movie.  For dystopian masterpieces, (I know you may hate me for this) I’d have to choose Soylent Green, yes I loved that movie and there is now a food company called Soylent, imagine that!

JJosephHomesickWho are some of your favorite book villains?

Looking over my favorite books, it’s surprising how many good science fiction stories don’t actually have obvious villains.  For example, who was really the villain in 2001?  Who was the villain in AI or Solaris?  In 1984, the most depressing book I’ve ever read, I would have to say that the villain is not the O’Brian character, but Big Brother himself.  The scary thing there is that, since he really didn’t exist, he couldn’t be killed, and that’s really the point.  In science fiction, villains can stretch the boundaries a bit, and I’m particularly proud of some of the villains I’ve designed.  In general, I don’t like one-dimensional villains. Most cheap horror stories and bad science fiction have villains that like to kill people for no particular reason.  Even though it worked, Alien would fall into that category.  The alien could not be reasoned with and it had no back story.  It was pretty much like fighting a virus or any other force of nature.  The Terminator was also like that, though he did it with class.  The T-1000 was a far better villain in the second movie, however, because he didn’t look like a villain and could basically be anybody.  My favorite villains are the ones who have charisma and possibly curb appeal.  Magneto in the X-Men movies always had a point.  We may not want him to win, but we understand where he’s coming from.

JosephWebOfLifeDo you have any phobias?

My most significant phobia would be heights.  I can go to the top floor of any building and look out the window, but there is only so far I can climb up a ladder.  When I visited New Orleans one time we stayed at a hotel that had a rooftop pool.  I could swim in it, but I had to hold on tight to the railing in order to look at the skyline.  Grandfather Mountain is another matter.  There are no railings!

Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

This is a particular passion of mine because I’ve seen some terrible bastardizations of books in my time. Almost every attempt to recreate a Dean R. Koontz book has ended in disaster, though I haven’t seen them all.  Two great attempts of novel into film would be 2001 (and 2010) though much of what made those books so interesting really didn’t translate visually.  Solaris was the other.  The Tarkovski version was fascinating, but hardly scratched the surface of the book.  The later George Clooney version was far worse, however, to the point that much of the story was completely different than the book.  Honestly, the best I’ve seen thus far was the John Hurt version of 1984 that was actually made in 1984.  Both the movie and the book left you feeling just as empty, and I can’t really think of a single scene in the book that wasn’t represented.  I’m not so much into PC games, though I did play them when I was younger.  I will say that Silent Hill, which I only played briefly, made an excellent movie!  That’s the best example I can think of.  Generally, there isn’t enough information in a video game to make a truly great movie or book in my opinion.  The best that can be done is a movie based on the idea of the game, which is a very different thing.  Honestly, most games based on movies or books are greatly over-simplified.

JosephSplashdownIn this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I will step out and say that I don’t really like self-promoting.  I honestly prefer to let my work speak for itself whenever possible.  Social media campaigns are the way to go these days and I’m very glad we have these, but the work involved is often tedious, repetitive, and ineffective.  Because I have a media background, I have no problem making my own websites, some book covers, and general graphics.  I enjoy that kind of work because it involves producing something that can be later evaluated for what it is.  A social media campaign is more amorphous and often involves posting just to post.  I’m just not good at that.

JosephInfinityMachineCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I actually have a lot of those.  All of my books are available as podcasts and I have loyal listeners all over the world.  One woman told me I had a hypnotic voice.  I didn’t quite know how to process that.  Several people have told me they would drive places just to keep listening to my chapter installments.  I have a friend in Australia who corresponds with me from time to time, and I had a very nice couple of phone conversations with a fellow in Detroit who wanted to help me market my work.  One of the strangest encounters I had was with somebody who kept asking me very detailed questions about the universe I wrote about, surprisingly detailed based on only listening to my work.  He also put together an elaborate timeline that supposedly kept track of elements in the story.  In short, he may have known more about the details of the story than I did, and I was amazed that he would spend so much time studying it.  I like to converse with readers and am happy to make time for them.  The only author I’ve ever been in contact with is Nathan Lowell, who wrote a series of books called the Age of the Solar Clipper.  I became interested in this series when I first learned to podcast.

JosephWindowInTheSkyWhat is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

I must admit that it’s hard to write science fiction without breaking some rules, and there are some arguments that always come up.  For example, most space-based adventures have real time conversations between planets and stars, where time delays would be inevitable.  I write about VR links where my space explorers can visit their families in real time.  I allude to the existence of some kind of faster-than-light transmission, but that’s really just a copout.  My father was a physicist, and the most interesting discussion I ever had with him was one where I thought he was going to laugh out loud at one of my more far out ideas, but he actually said it would be possible, or at least not impossible.  This was concerning an alien environment I write about in Web of Life.  There we have what amounts to a massive “bubble” in space in which there is an atmosphere, but no gravity.  From the inside it appears to be a never ending sky where wind currents go in all directions, but there is no up or down.  Considering that my father didn’t like most science fiction, I took his lack of laughter as high praise.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The very first book I ever read was The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Alfred Hitchcock.  My mother put it in my notebook in the sixth grade.  I don’t think there is a single Three Investigators book I haven’t read.  I didn’t read the Hardy Boys, though.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I don’t have a lot of national or international activity in the near future, but I will be participating in a small private book signing on the 10th of September at a store called 2nd and Charles in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  The fun begins at 12 and it goes until 2PM.

Other than this, my most immediate plans include publishing a short story anthology, possibly called Twisted Fire.  The next series I am working on concerns an artificial intelligence on a journey of self-discovery.  He kind of exists in the same universe Sally Buds inhabits, but he chooses to make his home on Mars.

Where to Find Paul J. Joseph

Website

GoodReads

Twitter

Facebook

Smashwords

PodioBooks

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Paul J. Joseph is an independent film maker as well as a story teller through writing. One of his recent films has been featured in the 2010 Ava Gardner Independent Film Festival. He has been teaching mass communication courses at a college level for 20 years, and currently works at a small private university in North Carolina. He lives with his wife Tyreese, his son Ian, a mother in law, and three cats.

Paul Joseph’s first love has been and always will be science fiction. He looks for ideas that are based on plausible trends in technology, both good and bad. He is particularly interested in space travel and time travel, which can include alternate realities and paradoxes. He tends to avoid fantasy and magic. So, if you are looking for elves and fairies, this is not your guy. On the other hand, ESP and other observable phenomena may well be fair game.

JosephMarkerStoneBook Blurb for Marker Stone (Book 1 of Through the Fold series): There’s trouble on CMC-6 and it’s been brewing for a long time. The golden age of space travel and asteroid mining has ended and the bean counters have taken over. Sally Buds’ patients are all suffering from low-gravity syndrome because the Canadian Mining Consortium won’t spring for gravity generators and the miners won’t exercise. On top of this the station might be facing hard times. An expensive mining robot disappeared while surveying a region of space known and Kelthy. But then, after a replacement is over, it reappears. How could the station personnel have been so incompetent? But Sally has another question. Where did the probe go when it was out of contact? Where did the strange rock samples come from and why did the images it saw not correspond with known star charts? Her new friend Ian Merryfield, an RAF shuttle pilot, wants to know, too. But the station commander does not. What is in the Kelthy region and why do things disappear there? Is it a hoax intended to scare away claim jumpers or is it the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century? Ian and Sally intend to find out even if it means risking their careers or even their lives. Not knowing would be worse.

JJosephHomesickBook Blurb for Homesick (Book 2 of Through the Fold series): The mission to New Ontario, isn’t going as planned. Scott Anderson walked ten paces onto the new world and disappeared from radio contact. Not knowing Scott’s fate but fearing the worst, Captain Sally Buds embarks on a rescue mission that risks her life and that of her pilot, Ian Merryfield. There Sally and Ian uncover a chilling reality. Something terrible has happened on New Ontario. The evil regime of the Masters have consumed an entire civilization and established an empire of unspeakable barbarism. And now, so far away from home and help, it becomes clear that the Masters’ rapacious attentions have been drawn to Earth. Sally and Ian must now defend themselves and their planet from a tyranny that goes beyond slavery.

Giveaway!

Paul is generously offering up five Kindle copies (international) of Homesick and two print ones (USA only). Homesick works quite fine as a stand alone novel. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Is there a book to movie/TV adaptation that you like? 2) What country are you in – ebook or paperbook? Contest ends October 3rd, 2016, midnight.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Alex Hurst, Author of D. N. A.

HurstD.N.A.1Everyone, please welcome Alex Hurst, author of D. N. A.: Alta, a most entertaining illustrated novella. WE chat about comics, TV series, artist influences, and plenty more! Also, there is a sweet giveaway – check out the last question in the interview for that.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Oh, definitely a superhero. The idea that there could definitely be the promise of super powers in the human race is an amazing concept for me. While aliens would be interesting, I’ve always considered them an inevitability (just look at how big this universe is!) and the likelihood that I would be able to communicate with my savior would be quite slim… same goes for any mythical creature. But a superhero would be like me, like you, like all of us –– just with something a little extra.

What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

If I could interview any dead author, it would be Edgar Allan Poe. A couple of years ago, I took it on myself to read everything he’d ever penned: short stories, poems, essays, and his one and only novel. I had so many questions by the end. He seemed to have a wicked sense of humor (he had a habit of writing fake news stories that ended up on the first pages of respectable papers) and a really interesting philosophy about art and life. I feel like being able to interview him would make for some fascinating reading, and I’d really be curious to know how he would feel about his cult icon status in the world these days.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d love to experience the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes TV series with Jeremy Brett. While I’m also a fan of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Brett’s will always be my favorite. I’ve watched the episodes so many times that I can’t get the same thrill from them that I used to. I’m hoping if I wait to watch the series again for another ten years, it really will feel like experiencing them again for the first time! I suppose a close second would be A&E’s Horatio Hornblower adaption.

HurstHeroes&VillainsOver the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

This question is a little harder for me to answer, as my benchmark only begins with the 80s comics of Marvel and DC, but I would say so. The prevalence of superhero films and TV dramas has brought the world of comics into grit (especially with DC, as seen with the Arrow and Dark Knight series), which we see most obviously in cinematic adaptations. Heroes are getting darker, more antihero than hero, and villains are getting dirtier and scarier. The Joker from the 80s is not the Joker of 2015’s Suicide Squad movie trailer.

While in some cases, I have liked the industry’s tilt into further character development and psychological meanderings, I’m still undecided as to whether those things automatically need to be explored via gratuitous violence. The range of human emotions is broad, and I do not think they are being explored to their full potential on either side of the equation.

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take your works in the multimedia realm?

I would love if D.N.A. were to get adapted into a fully-illustrated comic or graphic novel, and of course the nature of Alta’s universe, I think, would make for some excellent animation of film adaptations. But for now, the important thing for me is to deliver the strongest story I can for readers, one that uses the superhero world as a foil to explore the weaker parts of the human and cultural psyche.

As for the publishing industry, I think it will always find a way to adapt. As the technology becomes more available and more stable, I think we will see more stories making the multimedia jump from one platform to several. With books, we saw this with audiobooks and then ebooks, which are now industry norms, but I imagine it will continue with the development of illustrated editions to full-on graphic novels, animated features, and so on. Motion Books (a 3D comic platform) will likely continue to gain steam, as well, as soon as their technology becomes available on more than one platform.

HurstDarklyNeverAfterWho are your non-writer influences?

Artists and musicians. My favorite artist to contemplate a story to is Lightwave, a new age, lyricless artist. I often pop in their song Uraniborg when I’m trying to work my way through a scene. I have a lot of artistic influences, as well, including Frida Kahlo, Jim Lee, Helena Nelson Reed, and Alphonse Mucha. I was so happy when my artist, Kevin Nichols, agreed to take on the D.N.A. project because it meant a marriage between my two favorite art styles: Golden Age and comics.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in super hero/ super villain literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

I’m more of a Marvel fan, so my list might be a bit biased, but there are a few comic arches that would have to be required reading for character study:

  1. Magneto, the independent comic series by Marvel currently exploring the psychology of one of their more fascinating hero-turned-villain-turned-hero characters.
  2. Batman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Year One, because as a hero, Batman straddles the line between the limits of a normal human going “super,” and all of the trials those limitations place on him.
  3. X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, because it is one of the most important arcs for the characters of that universe, and it was also written at the height of X-Men’s popularity before the movies.
  4. X-Men: Mutant Massacre, because this is the critical arc for my favorite X-Men character, Gambit (yes, I told you this was going to be biased!). The arc deals with the ramifications of a mutant-led mutant massacre, and Gambit’s struggles to define himself as hero or pawn to villainy.

I admit, my comic reading has not been as extensive as it used to be –– I poured over my brothers’ collections as I never had the money to purchase my own, but in recent years I have started reading in the genre again, and I am finding myself really in love with Storm’s standalone comics, as well as Dr. Mirage and She-Hulk. There are so many comics to read and explore I’m having a hard time catching up!

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I would like your readers to know I am more than happy to give away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) and I’ll pick my favorites to send a book to. Or do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

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HurstD.N.A.1D. N. A. #1 book blurb:

D.N.A. is an illustrated, serial novel written by Alex Hurst. The story chronicles the adventures of Alta Williams, a woman of a future where genetics dictate quality of life and scientific discovery advances at an inconceivable rate. Alta is known to the media as the Human Doll, the first successful case of a full nanoCell organ transplant.

Alta appreciates the technology around her: without it, a chemical fire would have killed her in her early twenties. Though the fire destroyed her extracellular matrix, scientists from the medical behemoth nanoTech were able to replace her ruined skin with their patented nanoCell material, giving her a second lease on life.

However, with nanotechnology now advanced enough to alter the human genome, and a company determined to capitalize – and control – the endeavor, it is up to Alta to expose their plans.

And she’s not alone.

Helping her every step of the way is D.N.A., the Digital Nanocell Accelerator, a self-learning computer program charged with telling synthetic cells which tissue they should build. D.N.A. fuses with Alta’s fully-synthetic skin and convinces her to fight against those who would otherwise oppress society as she knows it.

Of course, it helps that D.N.A. can change the genetic makeup of Alta’s skin at will, gifting her with the characteristics of any living recorded in the Genome Project. With the world’s genetic code at her whim, Alta has the power to overcome anything…

…but at what cost to her humanity?

**Please note that this is a novella with illustrations, not a comic or full-length novel**

About Alex Hurst:

Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

Places to Stalk Alex Hurst

D. N. A. website

Hurst’s Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 GIVEAWAY!

Alex is giving away 3 copies of D.N.A. Tell me in the comments what you would do if you could adopt the genetic code of any animal to fight crime (or perpetrate it!) OR do the Rafflecopter thing (right below this paragraph) for extra entries. Giveaway ends August 31st, 2015 midnight.

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