Author Interviews: Andrea Graham

 

Ella Font (EF): Hello! This is Ella Font of the Inter-Dimensional News Network. Today, we’re dropping in on Earth in the early 21st Century to visit with an author that so many of our modern viewers have come to love: the amazing Andrea Graham. 

Thank you for joining us here today, Andrea.

Andrea Graham (AG): Thank you for inviting me, Ms. Font.

EF: Which work are you sharing with us today?

AG: Avatars of Web Surfer, a collection of short works set in the same universe, each has a different perspective character, but all feature the same hero. I collaborated with three co-authors: Travis Perry, Cindy Koepp, and H. A. Titus

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EF: I have to say that one is one of my favorites. I just love the way Sander and Lexus come to the rescue of the different people they encounter through the Web Surfer system. For our viewers who are unfamiliar with your work, what genre does it fall into?

AG: Science Fiction, Christian allegory, some might consider it cyberpunk since AIs and virtual/simulated reality feature heavily.

EF: That’s fascinating. As I recall, some of the stories are more overtly Christian than others, but I would agree they all fit into that spectrum somewhere. Where can people find it? 

AG: On Amazon, from narrationbygeorge.com (audio book only), and Barnes&Noble.com

EF: Well, that makes it very easy to find, and an audiobook is handy for folks who travel or who listen to books while working on other tasks. Can you tell us about the main character?

AG: Alexander McGregor is just an infant when his father converts his cells into biological supercomputer components, but he may be the Messiah-figure AIs have longed for, even though on one level, he is only human. Sander is enslaved to his code as he serves a billion users worldwide, users he appears to as separate avatars of himself. Each avatar has its own personality, but all of him are linked together in a shared mind. He reigns over most of Earth’s computers in a global society where tech-dependency can kill. Freedom calls Sander like a siren. His answer could shake the Earth.

A full interview with Sander is at my author website.

EF: Wow. He sounds like an interesting guy, which is what makes each of these short stories interesting. Some people say that you must have based him on a real person. Are there any characteristics you have in common with the main character?

AG: Sander can operate well in all eight Myers Briggs functions as needed, but his core personality is closest to an ENTP. I have always been more of an ambivert than either a true introvert or true extrovert, but I functioned as an ENFJ before I started working with Sander, a bit over five years ago. In the last few years, I switched to ENFP and from there came to grips with my thinker side to the point where I sometimes test as an ENTP myself and wonder I how I got to my thirties without realizing I’m so different from my true-blue INFJ husband. So, um, we both have attention deficit disorder and tend to go off on rabbit trails that drive our more linear-thinking friend and our editors up the wall. That is the big one.

EF: [stares for a moment] I see. Well, um, let’s see if any of our viewers have sent in questions. Here’s one. Rex Karz of Infinite Roadway, Enceladus. Rex asks, “Which Muppet does your main character most resemble?”

AG: He’s a cross between Kermit and Animal.

EF: That’s quite a combination there. Sort of a frustrated, organized maniac? I’ve read all of them, though, so I can see that. He does have the intensity of Animal and the organization of Kermit. Here’s another question from Amanda Rekkonwif from Tombstone Colony on Europa. Amanda asks, “If your character actually had pockets, what would be in them?”

AG: They would be magic pockets, and he would have stuffed in them every aspect of life on Earth that he had collected and had yet to plant in the alternate universe that he hosts in cyberspace and treats like a massive terrarium. (He hosts simulated realities and some hold our own universe is a simulated reality.)

EF: Those would be some awfully large pockets. Earth-building would be an interesting hobby. Time consuming, but I guess if you’ll live indefinitely, you’d better have a hobby that will last. We have time for one more. Here’s a question from Tom Katt from Litter Pan Colony on Ganymede. Tom wants to know, “If your character existed in main life, would you be friends?”

AG: I hope so.

EF: [Pauses several seconds] Okay. He does seem like a nice guy most of the time in these stories, and the times he isn’t aren’t his fault. He does have to obey the user’s script after all. I’ve met Sander, actually. Well, I’ve met a virtual version of him in one of the VR books being released of all the classics. He wasn’t as tall as I thought he was, and I wouldn’t say he’s a very trendy dresser, but personality wise, he seems to be a good man. Virtual reality is just beginning in your time, so perhaps you’ll still have the opportunity to meet Sander. That’s all the time we have for viewer questions today. For those who still have burning questions, where else can they find you on the web?

AG: My webpage:

www.christsglory.com or povbootcamp.com

Social media:

https://www.facebook.com/alightchild

https://twitter.com/andreajgraham

https://www.pinterest.com/alightchild

EF: All right. That’s great.Thanks for joining us today. [Looks into the camera] That’s it for today, but do stop by to visit Andrea and check out her exciting anthology Avatars of Web Surfer. This is Ella Font of the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples at the news desk. Bob?

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Mythic Orbits 2016

Visiting with us today is Travis Perry, who recently published an anthology containing only stories by Christian authors. Take it away Travis!

 

Mythic Orbits 2016 had a basic motivation as an anthology project: To collect and publish the very best short stories I was able to find by Christian authors, without any pre-defined theme.

Stories first had to be interesting or intriguing. Solid endings with a strong emotional payoff were essential, as they are in all good short stories. Some of those payoffs in the anthology are feel-good, emotionally warm moments. But not all are. A final story moment which challenges preconceived notions, or which is disturbing, or thought-provoking, I accepted as freely as the happier endings.

I love the short story format, by the way. A short story is not a substitute for a novel, only shorter. Not necessarily, anyway. Conflict drives the plot in novels, but short stories have a number of other possible roads to success. For example, they can surprise, shock, or amaze instead of bringing conflict to resolution. I often find short tales inherently more interesting than novels, if written well.

The commitment to good short stories in this anthology came without any specific doctrinal or content tests. Though it happens to be the case that the stories are basically clean. They contain no strong profanity (on a few occasions cuss words generally seen as mild are included). No sexuality is included beyond being attracted to someone and on one occasion, kissing. No violence is graphically described–though there is some violence in a number of the stories.

What really happened is my authors self-edited for content themselves. The only content edits I performed for “moral” purposes was downgrading one curse word to a milder version of the same thing and changing a religious reference into one which unambiguously talked about one God. All other content edits were for the purpose of making the stories make more sense, flow better, or have more powerful endings. (Though one author did ask me how to make his story more Christian, to which I had a specific suggestion–this was for the story “Escapee,” for which I recommended he create an alien chapel.)

I did not want to impose upon this anthology some kind of common theme like some other anthologies I’ve seen and participated in. That’s because I believe the best stories come from authors writing what they want to write about, not from me telling them what I think they should produce.

A question that comes to my mind as I write about the anthology I assembled is, “Why Christian authors? Why not just find a bunch of good stories and assemble that, regardless of whether the writers are believers or not?”

The use of Christian authors I found essential. I perceive the world of speculative fiction (by which I mainly but not exclusively mean science fiction, fantasy, and horror) as not especially Christian-friendly. So for me, the first order of business was to show the world that we Christians are not so bound by conventional thinking about stories that we cannot tell intriguing tales.

I also hoped that the Christian authors involved would themselves use Christian themes in their stories where they felt inspired to do so. I wasn’t disappointed in that. Some of the stories feature Christian characters reacting to worlds of speculative fiction, while some of the stories have themes that explore the tendency of religious leaders to misinterpret the faith, the role of science in human experience, the desire for eternal life, the pitfalls of avoiding pain, the nature of love, the role of empathy, and other, more subtle concepts.

Some of the stories, even if they have an underlying morality, show no direct influence of Christianity at all. You would not necessarily know from reading some of the tales that the author who produced it was a Christian. Which was fine by me–I saw my role in publishing this anthology was to highlight Christian authors, not stories with Christian themes. (As already mentioned, Christian themes showed in some of the other stories.)

So, now that I have commented on the reasons behind creating Mythic Orbits 2016, the next natural question to ask is, “What inspired me to comment about this story anthology in this blog post?” What am I hoping to achieve here?

First of all, I hope all readers of this blog will go out and buy a copy of Mythic Orbits 2016. The stories really are excellent, every last one, and well-worth your time. (Seriously–yes, I am plugging a work I published–but it actually IS awesome. Check it out for yourself: https://www.amazon.com/Mythic-Orbits-2016-SPECULATIVE-Christian-ebook/dp/B01NAIY432 )

But I have a secondary reason–and that is, I hope, God willing, to do this sort of collection next year. And for as many years after that as I can. I want to produce a Mythic Orbits 2017, 2018, and so on.

I will be looking for excellent short stories written by Christian authors in the future. Perhaps among the readers of this blog there’s somebody with an excellent tale already written, the exact sort of short story I’m keen to publish. I hope so.

Feel free to send an email to bearpublicationsanthologies@outlook.com if you have something now. If you don’t have anything yet, perhaps you can write something in the upcoming year and send it my way when its ready.

Eventually (God willing), I will be making specific announcements recruiting authors for Mythic Orbits 2017. Hope you can participate. 🙂

Book Spotlight: Medieval Mars edited by Travis Perry

My friend Travis often comes up with interesting ideas for science fiction stories, often much faster than he can get them written. So, from time to time, he collaborates with one of the other writers he knows. For Medieval Mars, he collaborated with 8 of us to create an anthology. Mine, “The Dragon’s Bane,” is a western … sorta.  😀

Medieval Mars Anthology ebook cover

A future terraformed Mars, where civilization crashed back into a Medieval Era. Christian Knights called “riders” patrol the Pilgrim Road from Olympus to New San Diego, on the Chryse Sea. The technological past is known as the “Age of Magic” and only a handful of people understand how the remaining ancient devices really work. Lighter gravity in dense air makes flying dragons and bird riders a reality; alloys of the past make “magic” swords; and masters of ancient knowledge wield wizard-like power.

Nine authors spin tales in this unique story world, one which combines elements of science fiction and high fantasy.

… and westerns. Don’t forget westerns.  😉

Book Spotlight: Hero’s Best Friend Anthology, Part 1: The Guest Post

Today, Scott Sandridge, the editor of Hero’s Best Friend, shares some insights into the importance of animals in our lives. Take it away Scott!

 

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Animals and the Hero Archetype

By Scott M. Sandridge

 Down through the ages certain qualities have always been associated with heroes: integrity and honor, perseverance, a willingness to defy tradition when necessary, and self-sacrifice for a cause or to save another person. Not all heroes share every quality, but they at least demonstrate a couple of the above.

It is also no accident that the images of animals have always been used as symbolic ways to express these qualities, for such virtues are embodied in the very core of most animals. Mules are stubborn, cats are independent and rebellious, dogs and wolves are loyal to a fault, and eagles have always been a symbol of freedom and honor.

Since the dawn of humanity, we have noticed and sought after the qualities we’ve seen inherent in the animals around us, so much so that many cultures even anthropomorphized the images of their gods with animal heads or by having them take the shape of certain animals in their myths. Much of Eastern martial arts originated from the observations of how animals moved, stalked, hunted, evaded, and fought. Indeed, without our desire to aspire to the noble qualities of the animals around us, human civilization probably would not have evolved in the way it did.

We humans have a symbiotic relationship with our animal companions, whether it be pets like cats and dogs, work animals like horses and oxen, or the animals we rely on for survival like hens and cows. How we treat such animals and whether or not we look the other way when such animals get mistreated says as much about us as how we treat each other. For the divine spark resides in all sentient beings regardless of the forms they take or their level of consciousness, and they will continue to be the instinctual heroes we aspire to be.