Author Interview: HS Stone

InTheHandsOfChildrenToday I’m delighted to have In the Hands of Children author HS Stone join me for a little one-on-one. After reading his book, I had a few questions.

Even before he could read, H.S. Stone wanted to write a book. Fascinated by the stories that seemed to leap from his kindergarten teacher’s books, he went home and wrote his own book, with illustrations and bound by staples. Of course, since he didn’t know how to read or write yet, the book was full of gibberish. Undaunted, H.S. eventually mastered the ABC’s and continued to write throughout his grade school years, adolescence, and into adulthood. Despite getting a degree and working in a field not related to writing, he continued to pursue his writing passion. Numbers Plus Four, a collection of short stories, was H.S. Stone’s first publication. He followed that with his first novel, George and the Galactic Games, and two additional books. H.S. Stone lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

What prompted the idea for In the Hands of Children? It seems like tough subject matter to tackle.
Like with many stories I write, the original idea from which this story sprung was different from how it eventually turned out. My inspiration for writing the story came from my concerns about how much we rely on technology today and how specialized everyone’s knowledge is. We live in a society that relies on other people to provide most of the things we need – even food and electricity. And God forbid if the Internet ever went down! I wanted to explore what it might be like if the people who have the knowledge to run the world were suddenly gone, and those who survive have to re-learn how to live with what’s left behind.

I really appreciated Kyle’s character, and actually he might’ve been my favorite (though I loved Amy quite a bit, too). Did you intend for him to be a heroic character, or was that something that came out through the writing?

I’m a sucker for heroes who save the day and happy endings in stories, so Kyle was always going to be a hero in my mind. He’s also the type of hero that I enjoy reading about — one who doesn’t know that he is and never intended to be a hero but becomes one because something inside drives him to do good when the situation demands it.

Hannah is a fantastic character, very strong and protective of her little sister. What went through your mind as you were writing her part of the story?

I have two kids of my own, and when I wrote about Hannah and Amy, I tried to imagine what it would be like for them if my wife and I succumbed to a pandemic and left them alone. It’s a horrible thought and a scenario that I hope never occurs, but some of the things that Hannah did for Amy are what I hope my son would do to protect his sister.

Your book has kind of a cinematic feel to it. Is that an aspect of your writing, or did that come through the story itself?

That’s an interesting question. Certainly, the story itself lends a cinematic quality in the way that it was told, but I’m not sure if that’s also part of my natural writing style. It’s not something I consciously decided to do. Now I’ll have to keep an eye out for it in my other books!

What can you tell us about future plans?

Since In the Hands of Children, I published my third book, Beyond New Eden. I’m currently working on my fourth novel, which is an as yet untitled YA sci-fi twist on alien invasions. I’ve always wanted to write an alien invasion story, and I hope this one will be different from any you’ve read or seen in movies before. The plan is to release the book by January of 2014.
Sounds fantastic!
In the Hands of Children is available at
Amazon
Smashwords
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Review: In the Hands of Children – Cate’s Take

Genre: MG/YA science fiction

Rating: Yay

InTheHandsOfChildrenIn HS Stone’s In the Hands of Children we’re treated to a near-future, almost apocalyptic tale with real possibilities. The H5N1 virus has struck, leaving the globe devoid of adults, and only prepubescent children are left alive to pick up the pieces. It’s a harrowing tale of loss and the need to keep going. Hope, death, life, and sorrow intermingle throughout.

Stone does a great job in getting us to care about the struggles of the children in this new world by introducing us to them pre-virus, and we witness small characteristics that end up making a huge difference once the virus strikes. Kyle, Hannah, and her nine-year-old sister Amy embark on a journey that takes them from their disparate hometowns to San Francisco, where hope survives in the form of Youth Centers designed to maintain civilization however they can. The biggest problem the trio finds is that the boys in charge of the youth center are little more than bullies who maintain control through fear and threats. This doesn’t sit well with Kyle, who abhors bullying, but in the interest in keeping his new friends safe, he does nothing.

The book has a Lord of the Flies feel to it, and I think it’s fair, given that children are trying to be adults while still thinking like children. The bullies of the San Francisco youth center try to act for the greater good, but in the end, they reveal themselves to be power-hungry sociopaths, likely overwhelmed by their status in the new world. There’s a lot of emotion contained in Stone’s book, and it’s one that I think fans of post-apocalyptic tales and heroic children will enjoy.

In the Hands of Children is available at:

Amazon

Smashwords

This Week’s Read: In the Hands of Children – H.S. Stone

 

InTheHandsOfChildren

The H5N1 virus was the deadliest disease in the history of mankind. Not only did it spread rapidly, reaching every corner of the globe, but it also resulted in an inconceivable 100% mortality rate among adults. Within a month, almost every human being became a victim of the virus. All that remains of humanity is a handful of “immune” children. Except that they aren’t truly immune. The virus lurks in their bodies, ready to strike when they reach maturity. Kyle, Hannah, and Amy are three immune kids who find themselves thrust into a lonely world after losing the people they have known and loved. No longer able to rely on the company, wisdom, and experience of adults, they must survive in the harsh post-pandemic world with only a handful of other immune children. But the trio soon learn that dying from H5N1 isn’t the only thing they have to worry about.

In the Hands of Children is available at:

Amazon

Smashwords

About the author:

Even before he could read, H.S. Stone wanted to write a book. Fascinated by the stories that seemed to leap from his kindergarten teacher’s books, he went home and wrote his own book, with illustrations and bound by staples. Of course, since he didn’t know how to read or write yet, the book was full of gibberish. Undaunted, H.S. eventually mastered the ABC’s and continued to write throughout his grade school years, adolescence, and into adulthood. Despite getting a degree and working in a field not related to writing, he continued to pursue his writing passion. Numbers Plus Four, a collection of short stories, was H.S. Stone’s first publication. He followed that with his first novel, George and the Galactic Games, and two additional books. H.S. Stone lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Review: Special Offers by M.L. Ryan – Landra’s Take

Rating: Maybe

Genre: Sci-fi/Urban Fantasy

Magic and Aliens collide in this story. Hailey bought a Kindle to stop cluttering her house with books, instead she gets the essence of a 100+ year old Courso alien, Sebastian, in her body. The ultimate goal is to reunite Sebastian’s essence with his body. How she’ll get that accomplished she’s not sure, but Sebastian’s more than gorgeous friend, Alex Sunderland, is willing to help.

This book introduces an alien race, Courso, from an alternative dimension. I have to admit, I’m a geek when it comes to sci-fi so I was definitely interested in the species, background etc. Ryan does a good job of creating a believable group of aliens with alternative abilities, laws, and rules. The book doesn’t play too much into their own customs or practices, but focuses more on the interaction of Courso’s in the human world and the laws they’ve enacted to protect humans from Courso’s who would like to do whatever they wanted.

As far as character’s go Hailey is a snarky, take-it-as-it-comes kind of gal. The book is told entirely from her POV. Being possessed doesn’t really bother her as much as it would some, and she has a pretty strange day job… chinchilla milker, anyone? With an overbearing religious mother, an evil cat named Vinnie, and friends who just want to see Hailey get over her divorce and hook up with a nice guy, Hailey’s life is pretty much boring until the Kindle incident.

The guys are both gorgeous, alien cops. Who doesn’t like gorgeous, alien cops? Sebastian and Alex have some extra-large language attributed to the lengthy time spent on Earth, and both  have distinct personalities, but I noticed the lengthy, formal way of talking tended to bleed over into Hailey’s dialogue and thoughts. For me, the formal language took some getting used to and the author explained it away without issue. Otherwise, Sebastian was probably my favorite character. When possessing Hailey’s body the conversations are hilarious and I loved the idea of having a man live in my head for a while.

As to why this book is a maybe for me it comes down to over amount of telling and monologue. The first chapter is entirely back story  info dump and Hailey’s perspective. Some of this toned down about a quarter of the way into the book, but the majority of the first portion was very hard to get through. No action, and just an overabundance of what Hailey was doing throughout her day. When we finally get to the meat of the story, the possession and subsequent search for Sebastian’s body, there was a huge lack of conflict. A little was thrown in here or there, enough to propel the story, but I found myself skimming paragraphs of descriptive details or more internal monologing to get to dialogue, conflict, or some sort of romantic tension.

Overall, the concept and the sci-fi perspective was interesting. I would’ve liked to have seen more action, more fleshed out conflict between the 3 main characters and a more determined villain (the guy didn’t go after them, but waited for them to show up). This is the first book in the series and it did end with a bit of a cliff-hanger. The second book is currently available so if you’re up for a ride, then you won’t have to wait to find out what happens.

Special Offers is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo

This Weeks Read: Special Offers by M.L. Ryan

Special Offers coverHailey Parrish is quick-witted, irreverent, and hasn’t had a date in three years. She only wanted an eBook reader because her collection of paperbacks threatened to take over her small living space. Little did she know that the “special offers” that prompted the purchase included much more than a reduced price in exchange for a few ads. The device came pre-loaded with the essence of Sebastian Kess, an erudite womanizer with magical abilities from a parallel dimension. When she inadvertently releases him and he inhabits her body, she finally has a man inside her, just not in the way she imagined. And soon her predicament introduces her to yet another supernatural, the handsome could-be-the-man-of-her-dreams Alex Sunderland. Can Alex and Hailey find a way to return Sebastian to his own body, stay one step ahead of the criminals who want to keep him where he is, and not lose their sense of humor?

Special Offers is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Kobo

 

Author Interview: Scott Cramer

for_twitterThis week, Night of the Purple Moon author Scott Cramer joins me for an interview!

Scott Cramer and his wife reside outside Boston in an empty nest/zoo/suburban farm/art studio with too many surfboards in the garage. You can find him on Facebook, at his blog, and on Twitter: @cramer_scott.

 

1.     This idea is terrifying. What inspired you to write it?

I’ve written two other YA novels. Both are sitting in my drawer. I think they have a lot of potential and I will revisit them someday. Both are very quiet character-driven dramas.

In Night of the Purple Moon, I wanted to go big. I wanted to write a high-concept story, a story with an expansive canvas, where the challenges are huge and the stakes high. Early on, though, I discovered that it still had to be a character-driven story.

2. Night of the Purple Moon deals with a lot of heavy life and death issues and difficult choices, and sometimes it’s hard to believe the characters are still kids. Did some of your characters surprise you with their actions/reactions?

With the internet and social media and TV and evolving parent styles, I believe that kids today are much more mature and knowledgeable than they were a decade ago.

Emotional maturity is another topic, but in general they are smarter and more competent than previous generations.

It’s easy to imagine absolute chaos and paralysis happening if all adults suddenly died. But in certain circumstances, with the right mix of kids, I think they would do reasonable well.

Finally, as an author, I always hope that I deliver enough reality so that readers are willing to suspend disbelief in some areas, and go along the ride.

3. Sailing is an integral part of life on Castine Island. Are you an experienced sailor, or did you have to research that?

 I know how to sail and I have raced small sail boats. I also love to read sailing adventures. The greatest sailing/adventure story of all time is Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.

In NOPM, sailing offered a bountiful topic to further explore the theme of man vs. nature and the emotional and spiritual growth that crossing bodies of water symbolizes, and heart-pounding moments of survival.

4. What was the strangest/most surprising information you found during your research?

  had been looking for something that separated pre-pubescent kids from the rest of the population. Having the space germs attack testosterone and estrogen, which the body produces in increasing levels at puberty, I thought worked pretty well. Then I discovered, at least in the case of testosterone, that the body produces much less in older males. That would permit older males to survive a bit longer than younger men. Early in the book, Abby and Kevin get to meet their neighbor, an old man, just before he dies.

5. Can you give us any insight into what’s next for Abby, Jordan, and Toucan?

 Book 2 is called Colony East. When the demand for resources and supplies far outweighs the supply, then some hard decision must be made. Who gets what? Who decides? Is it better to care for a few well, or try to care for many and risk spreading supplies too thin? I am hoping to have the book ready in June 2013, but I also want to make sure I am happy with it before I publish.

Sounds fantastic! Thanks again for the interview, Scott!

Scott Cramer and his wife reside outside Boston in an empty nest/zoo/suburban farm/art studio with too many surfboards in the garage. You can find him on Facebook, at his blog, and on Twitter: @cramer_scott.

And don’t forget to check out Night of the Purple Moon at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

Review: Night of the Purple Moon – Cate’s take

Genre: MG Science fiction

Rating: Yay!

It was just supposed to turn the sky purple for a little while, but the comet passing close to Earth introduces germs into the atmosphere that kill anyone who’s hit puberty. Thirteen-year-old Abby Leigh and her brother Jordan are trapped with their two-year-old sister on Castine Island, Maine. There are no adults. No cops, no medical personnel.

The Night of the Purple Moon is a “what-if” scenario that will terrify anyone over the age of thirteen. What would happen if a comet passed through our atmosphere and deposited hormone-attacking space germs into the air? What would happen to those left behind? Scott Cramer seeks to answer that question, and the result is almost The Lord of the Flies-esque. Abby, her neighbors, and her siblings attempt to reestablish a sense of order on the small island during an otherwise chaotic time. The book does not hold back. Abby’s group experiences awful losses, from the chickens and cows that helped their group stay fed, to some of their own. For Abby, puberty is a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode.

Cramer understands well how to ratchet up tension and suspense all the way down to the “OMG WILL THEY SURVIVE” ending that kept me turning the pages, scared to death for the characters as it practically came down to the wire for them. Overall, Moon is a powerful story about the will to survive and the strength of family. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good science fiction story with heart, and I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel.

Night of the Purple Moon at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Goodreads

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