When Victoria Robinson told her brother their parents were secretly aliens, Nate assumed his younger sister was just spinning her usual conspiracy theories. After their front door was broken down in the middle of the night and both parents were abducted by bizarre assailants armed with teleporting tazers, he didn’t know what to believe.
The siblings soon find themselves facing a mysterious enemy that wants Earth for itself, and forge a tenuous alliance with a top-secret government agency in a race to save the planet…and rescue Mom & Dad. Along the way they uncover pieces of their parents’ past and the teenagers begin to realize that both sides are manipulating them in a dangerous and elaborate game.
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Science Fiction and Fantasy are often lumped together as if they are two sides of the same coin, but that isn’t really true for most novels that fit either category. The rare exceptions are stories like The Green Sky trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, the Amber books by Roger Zelazny or The Dark Tower by Stephen King.
These are some of my biggest influences, because I absolutely love the texture of a great fantasy story like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time, but my favorite part of the Harry Potter universe was that it was part of the real world. Harry actually went to King’s Cross Station in London to get on a hidden train to some undisclosed location in the English countryside.
I think fantasy works best when it has strong ties to reality, and as an author I try to walk that knife’s edge. I want my stories to be full of wonder and discovery, but tied into reality as much as possible. I think it makes for a more compelling storytelling experience because it lowers the threshold for suspending disbelief and it also leaves you with a curiosity about the fictional world that can extend to the real world things and places that were in the story.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
After every rejection, after every “failure”, re-evaluate and figure out what you can do better next time, then do it. Sometimes that means knowing what to do (research). Other times it means improving your craft. Most often it means doing something difficult that you really don’t want to do. That’s when you re-affirm your dedication and do it anyway. Nothing worthwhile is easy, but lots of difficult things aren’t worthwhile. If you love writing, stay at it.
A technology lover from a very young age, Michael Raymond’s first computer was a VIC-20. All the way back in 1982 his father managed to learn the lesson that if a cool piece of tech was on sale, it was probably outdated. Within a couple of weeks the VIC-20 was exchanged for a Commodore 64 and it was on that machine that Michael fell in love with programming in BASIC, and eventually found himself coding in assembly.
Years before that first (and second) computer, Michael had been introduced to the Berenstein Bears, the collective works of Richard Scarry, and many other fantastic children’s books. He loved to discover interesting characters and see what adventures befell them. Most of all, he loved to learn about the wide world outside through the fictional lives of those characters on the page.
Michael’s worlds of technology and books came together for the first time when he discovered the game “Below the Root,” which stems from the fantastic Green Sky Trilogy by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. The game had deceiving emotional depth to its story and incredible, original gameplay considering the limitations of the Commodore 64 platform it was coded for. It planted a seed in his mind. He wanted to be able to give the experience he’d just had to others–to create characters and worlds that would make people laugh, and cry…and think.What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’ve always like Young-Adult novels, even since before I was considered YA (probably since I was 8 or 9) and I still love the genre nearly thirty years later. There is something fantastic about really good YA novels. Layers, where the story is highly accessible even to young readers, but there is depth that an adult can recognize and appreciate.
Like so many others, I also really loved the Harry Potter novels. They were really a shining example of what makes YA such a great genre. When I sat down to write The Robinsons’ Dark matter I knew it was going to be a YA, but I also wanted something that could have at least some real world impact beyond the fun of reading the story. That’s when I realized there wasn’t enough Science Fiction being written for Young Adults. People are literally finishing the Harry Potter books wishing they could go to wizarding school, but they can’t. I wanted to get readers excited about something they COULD do: Science.