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

Audiobook & Signed Book Giveaway + Interview: Brandon Bosse, Author of the Phillip Aisling Adventures

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Brandon Bosse. Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – signed paper copies and Audible.com/.UK copies of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. 

What’s next for Phillip Aisling?

Well that could be answered a few different ways. First, and what I’m most excited about, I am working with a team of talented UCSD students to create a virtual reality game called Phillip’s Lucid Dream Training.  It is based on the first and second books, so it will actually be a bit of a preview of book #2. In the game, the player takes on the role of Phillip, a young true Dreamer just getting started learning how to master his dreams with lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming and virtual reality go hand in hand because both transport you to a world that looks incredibly real, but you are aware that it isn’t real! A demo version will be coming out later this year for Google Daydream and a full version for HTC Vive later.

Next, the second book is underway titled The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Lessons of Lucidity.  In this book, Phillip begins training by the Dream Masters to learn how to fully take control of his dreams. I have taken your comments to heart that the story needs something more to draw the reader in, so expect the story to take an epic turn in book #2. I have tons of notes that I’ve been collecting as I’ve been doing research for the book over the years. I cannot wait to get them down into a book. It is just so hard to find the time to write between all the other projects I have going on!

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?

If I had to choose? Oh but why choose?! Why not be rescued by a supernatural alien who happens to be my own personal superhero?! Since my book is about interdimensional travelling via lucid dreams, I am imagining a being that has developed the ability to open portals to any point in time and space, which would be quite supernatural indeed. I imagine that this being would rescue me just as my eyes close as I prepare to accept my unfortunate fate and my spirit transitions back into the astral. By some unexplainable supernatural force I’m swiftly yanked back to reality by the interdimensional alien, pulled to safety within the hyperspace of infinite possibility. Or I suppose I could have just gone with a superhero. Superman. Yes, let’s go with Superman. He will do nicely. Come to think of it, he is a supernatural alien superhero!

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

My favorite movie of all time, The Matrix. I recently re-watched it again for the umpteenth time, but this time with a friend who had never seen the movie before. It brought back many fond memories of what it was like to watch it for the first time.

[SPOILER ALERT] Go watch the movie if you haven’t already! Come back and read the rest afterward!

There is a scene near the beginning where Neo is offered a deal by Agent Smith to “wipe the slate clean” in exchange for helping track down Morpheus, but Neo instead gives him the finger and demands his right to a phone call. Agent Smith responds, “What good is a phone call if you cannot speak?” and Neo’s mouth begins to seal shut as the lips inexplicably begin to grow together! When I first saw this movie I was really taken aback by this scene, as was my friend watching it with me for the first time. This is the first point in the movie where you realize some something really serious is up. It’s moments like that in the movie and many other ah-ha moments that make me want to relive it all over again for the first time.

What makes you fall in love with a story?

I love a story that has a misunderstood, goodhearted protagonist that has supernatural abilities. Remember the 1995 movie Powder? It featured a misunderstood albino boy who had telepathy and telekinesis and was taunted relentlessly by ignorant boys and eventually died by converting back into pure energy. I loved that movie and was very moved by it. I also loved Matilda. Her parents didn’t get her at all, but her teacher helped her realize the potential of her telekinetic gifts! Now that was a fun movie!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

In no particular order, I would select the following 4 fantasy authors to join me on a magical quest:

J.R.R. Tolkien – because he practically invented the modern genre of magical quests! Although, he is a bit long-winded at times, which might get annoying after a presumed weeks long journey together, his ability to imagine fantasy worlds would no doubt prove more than useful.

Brandon Sanderson – First of all, Brandon has a cool name! Haha! He has impressed me many times with his prose in The Way of Kings and is a big inspiration for me as I set off on writing book #2 in my Phillip Aisling series. The fact that he’s roughly my age helps, too!

J.K. Rowling – Speaking of inspiration, Harry Potter was absolutely a huge influence on my book! Ms. Rowling’s knowledge of magical systems would be essential to solving any puzzles along the way.

Terry Pratchett – He seems like a happy-go-lucky, lighthearted fellow. His ability to imagine worlds rivals those of Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. I’d invite him just to add some much needed levity to the bunch!

Who or what are your non-writer influences?

I would definitely say that Rob Bryanton’s video, Imagining the 10th Dimension, was the most influential source I drew from when forming the ideas for dream magic in the book. It was in 2007 when I awoke from an unusually vivid dream and I had been watching YouTube videos about higher dimensions. I came to the realization that given the infinite probability space that exists in the theorized multidimensional hyperspace, then dreams are then glimpses into alternate positions therein. Now take that concept, and write a young adult novel about it. There’s 99% of the inspiration for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I remember watching The Incredible Hulk as a kid and liking it, but the new movies are, well, incredible! There’s just something about how realistic CGI can make the Hulk that a body-builder with green body paint and purple spandex just doesn’t live up to, you know? Plus, the story line, dialog, and acting are more on par with what we’ve come to expect with modern movie production. As for reboots that I haven’t gotten into, sticking to the superheroes, I’d say that I really wanted to like The Flash reboot, but just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a lot of time to watch TV these days and so I’m very selective with what I’ll give my attention.

Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. Will you tell us a bit about your book’s cover art?

I absolutely agree! A mistake some indie authors make is putting their heart and soul into their writing but then scrimp on the book cover. While I still agree that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you still need a cover that grabs the attention and imagination of potential new readers. The cover is the first impression that either leads someone to invest their time into reading your book or not. My book’s cover was illustrated by the very talented Andres Cortes. If you want your best chance of getting a book cover you’ll absolutely love then I recommend you do what I did. Here is a blog article that gives away my secret to getting the perfect book cover.

As for how I came up with the scene for the cover, I knew it needed to capture the more important moment of the namesake of the book, ‘The Numinous Nagwaaagan’. In the depicted scene, Phillip is receiving his prized possession from the Oracle, an old Native American woman who’s dreams have shown her all she ever wanted to know of the future.

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

Well other than picture books from early childhood, like the Berenstain Bears, the first full length novel that I recall reading was The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It made me want to learn more about wilderness survival. I loved it!

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Nightcrawler from X-Men would be a great partner for any obstacle course! He has always been my favorite of the X-Men because his teleportation ability is awesome and he is always so compassionate. Of course having him with me would almost be like cheating considering he could simply teleport us both past any obstacle, but you did say I could invite any fictional character of my choice!

Thank you Susan for these fun questions! They certainly lead me down a few unexpected paths that have even contributed to ideas for my book series!

Book Blurb for The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan

BosseTheDreamsOfPhillipAislingAndTheNuminousNawaaganPhillip Aisling is just like any other boy, or so he thought. On the night of his 13th birthday he has a dream so vivid that he is convinced it was real! He soon learns that he has begun training with the Dream Masters. They practice lucid dreaming to be able to fully control their dreams, giving them immense power. But when his vivid dreams turn into nightmares he never wants to fall asleep again!

In his struggle to understand his remarkable dreams and prevent terrible nightmares, he finds The Dreamer’s Dictionary written to help young Dreamers make sense of their new powers. It begins with a very peculiar poem:

“Through the Gates of Dreaming come powers untold.

There are distant worlds for true Dreamers to behold.

You may not understand just what your dreams mean

Once you have broken through the barrier in between.

Each moment you sleep brings signs without number.

May this book bring meaning to visions of your slumber.”

The dictionary leads him to seek the guidance of the Oracle who gives him a numinous nagwaagan, or a magical dreamcatcher, to protect him from the draiths that are causing the nightmares. With the protection of the nagwaagan hanging above his bed, he is finally able to safely return to dreamland. But his struggle to learn to control his new powers has only just begun!

Join Phillip and his friends on an epic journey to learn how to become a powerful Dreamer. Explore the possibilities of where our dreams might come from. Are our dreams nothing more than glimpses into alternate realities within the multiverse?

Have you had a dream so vivid that you are certain it was real? Would you like to control your dreams? Maybe you too are a true Dreamer!

About Brandon Bosse

BrandonBosseAuthorBrandon Bosse is a computational cognitive neuroscientist, biomedical engineer, and visiting scholar at UCSD. He has worked in the field of retinal implants for the past 10 years, including prior work in Germany and Australia. During this time he wrote The Dreams of Phillip Aisling. He was inspired to begin writing the story after awakening from an unusually vivid dream in 2007. He is a Lucid Dreaming and Virtual Reality enthusiast and is also working on a VR Game called Phillip Aisling’s Lucid Dreams, where the player can learn lucid dreaming techniques while exploring Phillip’s dreamland.
Follow Brandon at facebook, twitter, and instagram to get regular updates about the VR project, the newly released audiobook, and the next book in the series!

Places to Find Brandon Bosse

Website

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GIVEAWAY!

Brandon Bosse is generously offering up 2 signed copies of the paperback and 2 copies of the Audible audiobook (winners choose Audible.com or Audible.UK) of The Dreams of Phillip Aisling and the Numinous Nagwaagan. You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) Are you interested in the signed book or the audiobook? 2) What reboots have you enjoyed? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways ends March 1, 2017, midnight. Additionally, if you are interested in receiving a free copy of the book (including audiobook copies) in exchange for an honest review, you can contact Brandon through any of his social media.

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Interview: J. A. Cipriano, Author of Kill It With Magic

CiprianoKillItWithMagicEveryone, please welcome the author of the urban fantasy Kill It With  Magic, J. A. Cipriano! We chat about the  Flintstones, genies, Penny Arcade, World of Warcraft, and plenty more! Enjoy!

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how? 

Not particularly. What new fictional thing has come out in the last decade that really changed the way we look at stuff, really introduced new ideas and caught on? Even Harry Potter is almost twenty years old. Pretty much everything that’s out now has been around for a century. Most super heroes are 80 years old. When we come out with something new, then I’ll change my answer.

I mean, I’m no exception. I write about werewolves, vampires, and teenage girls with katanas, as if that hasn’t been done a billion times.

CiprianoTheHatterIsMadGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I’m pretty sure most fantastical beasts eat people, so I wouldn’t really want to encounter any of them really. Though I guess I could live with encountering a genie, only he’d have to be like the Robin Williams genie and not like Jafar. Then again I have always wanted a unicorn or a Pegasus. Could I catch a winged unicorn to use as my own personal steed? Is that allowed?

I don’t think I’ve ever taken a selfie, so that’s probably out. I got a new shirt one time I wanted to show my wife and got too embarrassed trying to take a pic of myself so I made the girl at the store take a photo of me.

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

I really like Fight Club. I like the movie and the book. I think the way they did the movie is just phenomenal. I was reading the book and was like how could they make a movie from this, then I saw the movie and was like, “wow!”

That being said, I haven’t read Vampire Diaries, but I like the show…

I was driving yesterday and was thinking about, of all things, The Super Mario Brothers movie. I want to see a sequel for it because Daisy comes back at the end all bad ass and is like “I need your help.” I want to know why, dammit!

CiprianoPursuitIn 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 actually can’t stand promoting myself. I always feel like I’m bragging or that someone is going to discover I’m a big fraud and break into my house and steal my cat. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened… yet.

If you could go enjoy a meal in a fictional world, where would that be, and what would you eat?

I want to eat those giant brontosaurus ribs from the Flintstones! I’d pull up in my bone mobile and ask for a strawberry shake, pterodactyl chili fries, and a brontosaurs burger, you know, for after the ribs. Plus I want to watch the girl skate around and pretend I’m in the fifties, you know, before I had an ipad at the table to summon my waitress and pay my bill. Wow… that answer makes me feel old.

CiprianoHardboiledWhat were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer? 

I wrote a lot as a kid, and always wanted to be a writer. I was a pretty smart alecky kid. My parents swear that when I was like 2 and a half they took me to interview for a McDonalds’ commercial. All I had to say was “Mom, Dad, can we go to McDonalds?”

Evidently, I spent the next hour telling the person I didn’t like McDonalds and wanted lobster and caviar. Obviously they gave up and sent us home. As soon as we got in the car, I smiled really big and said “Mom, Dad, can we go to McDonalds?”

CiprianoMayContainSpiesCare 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? 

Actually, there was this time I met the creators from Penny Arcade, and I just forgot how to even talk. I just stood there with my mouth open with my wife and them looking at me like I was a crazy person. Finally, they asked me if I wanted a sketch. I nodded dumbly, and Gabe asked me which character.

I opened my mouth, but words didn’t come out. I couldn’t even remember a single character from the comic I’d read for years. I was just like… um the yellow one. Then I smiled awkwardly.

Just thinking about it now makes me blush because I remember them looking at me like “who is this person pretending to like our stuff and taking up valuable time from real fans.”

What do you do when you are not writing?

I play with my two year old and play World of Warcraft. I used to run a lot and do marathons, but I realized I hate, you know, exercising and sweating. I can’t stand sweating.

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

Probably when I asked why the shamans in WoW don’t say anything about the fire god, but they praise the others: water, earth, wind.

My friend said it was because Ragnaros was dead.

I looked at him and was like, but the Cataclysm released Al Akir and we killed him in tier one, so wouldn’t that mean they shouldn’t talk to wind either?

That was when it got quiet and everyone looked at me like who is this person who suddenly knows lore?

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (real of imaginary, living or dead)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

Um… can I bring Nightcrawler from the X-men so we can just teleport through all the obstacles and go drink beer at the end? Because, you know, all races give out beer at the end. Unless this is a beer race, then I’d need one of those guys from Revenge of the Nerds.

CiprianoKillItWithMagicKill It With Magic book blurb: 

Sixteen-year-old Lillim Callina is good at two things: running away and magic.

Now, Lillim’s half-demon ex-boyfriend is contacting her for help, she has somehow gotten herself mixed up in a kidnapping, and her long-dead rival has risen from the grave.

So when a dragon plotting to take over the world offers her a choice: Work for him or else.

Lillim Callina is going to choose else.

Placed to stalk J. A. Cipriano

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