Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Ani H. Manjikian with her science fiction novel, Do You Believe in Legend? The character, Joanna C. Mason, from the book will be joining us later, but first…
Born and raised in Southern California, the diagnosis of hydrocephalus at birth should have killed Ani, or worse, left her blank to the world. Her strength of spirit, parents’ love, and a miracle all combined to overcome that prognosis within nine months. From this almost impossible beginning, she has developed into all-around person with the technical knowledge and analytical mind of a programmer, creative and detailed orientation of a writer, and aesthetic instincts of a photographer.
Her writing career started when a friend in Cyprus made her promise to stop throwing away her writings because she thought they weren’t good enough. After returning to the States, she set out to finish a single horse story and get it published. However, the book, like the writer, needed time to mature.
While perfecting her craft, Ani graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in Industrial Arts and worked several jobs from retail sales to human resources project management. Her innate ability to learn new computer programs with minimal instruction and need to be creative led to her current long-term stint as a web designer and developer.
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About the Book
“Legend isn’t about people. It’s about pursuing a dream or higher ideal. About believing in something impossible and transforming the belief into reality through faith and hard work. The future is a legend written and unwritten.”
Jo Mason believes that creativity, spontaneity, and faith exist as definable words, but not actionable items. Negative consequences always follow the rare positive outcomes. It seems her destiny is surviving a chaotic world she can’t control. Hearing her own voice where she shouldn’t have leaves her wondering about her place in time.
Jeff has always been a part of her life, offering encouragements, wise words when she needed them, and many other things she can never completely thank him for. She knows he replaced her cousin who died saving his life. When she questions why he didn’t get to stay with his family, Jeff replies that without fixing the timeline everything she knows would be different.
When Jeff’s twin brother Randy falls into her lap, both literally and figuratively, Jo hopes he can give her a better answer. There is only one slight problem… He doesn’t remember anything about himself or his life and what he does, doesn’t help.
Together, the three of them learn that life isn’t about who or what you know, but who and what you care for.
Get it today on Amazon!
Keep reading for an interview with Joanna C. Mason from Do You Believe in Legend?:
Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?
I was born in Southern California. Spent the first five years of my life in the high desert before my father assumed command of USMB Los Angeles, located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains when I was five.
We had the typical pets as kids, dogs mostly. Then when moved on base and I was surrounded by horses, it was pure heaven. Living on a military base isn’t much different for a kid than living in a regular neighborhood. Just a little more security and having to check in with an adult when there’s an alert. Nothing ever came of those, so no one close to me died. (That would happen later in life as I moved up the ranks and made different career choices.)
USMBLA will always been my home. Sure I’ve gone off and served at other bases, but I always manage to make it back here. Though, there was one point in my life where I didn’t think I was going to, but then I wasn’t myself at the time. Will I spend the rest of my career here? Yeah, most likely. Because of the shadow in my head, I have a cap on my promotions, so I’ll end up retiring as a Captain and the CO of USMBLA when the time comes.
Did you have a close relationship with your family?
Yep, though it was a little strained for about nine years when I needed to prove myself after almost being killed by a horse. There’s my twin brother Jim, who’s is as calm and thoughtful as I am hot-headed. Bill, the quiet giant, is next. TJ, a perfectionist engineer. Michael and Tyrell, the other set of twins in the family. John, the youngest, who can make computers dance. Four stepbrothers, an uncle and aunt, stepfather, nephew, cousin, and son round out the close family.
Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?
The Nolan clan. One of their relatives got in an argument with mine. Guns were drawn and shots fired. Neither man suffered a life threatening injury, yet someone found Charles Nolan dead in his room the next morning. Because of this, my relative received command of a cavalry unit that later became the United States Mounted Band (USMB).
It didn’t help that I was part of a peer group that held back Casper Nolan after he failed a simulation. Nor that I received the base he wanted because of I had seventy-two more hours experience than he did.
Until we solve the mystery of Charles Nolan’s death, my family is going to remain a target of the Nolans.
What are your goals? What would you like to achieve?
Finding enough ways to help the human race survive the crazy stupidity of the times we live in. I wish people would just realize that despite our differences in beliefs and the color of skin, we all bleed red. We also need to take better care of ourselves and the planet we live on. Not sure what’s it’s going to take to get those messages through to people’s thick skulls before it’s too late.
Of course, I have to be respectful of the USMB’s strict non-interference regs, so I can’t bend people to my peaceful will. I have to lead by example. And that’s hard sometimes, especially when I have my own doubts about humanity’s future.
What is your greatest fear? How did you overcome it?
For nine years, it was a paralyzing fear of horses. Got it after a rogue stallion almost killed me. It was really hard to deal with because I grew up with the noble creatures and loved everything about them. As the commanding officer of a large mounted base, they are part of my life.
Those nine years were very difficult to deal with, filled with self-doubt and a need to prove myself, I drove my family away. A few close friends stuck with me and helped me the bad times. I wouldn’t have overcome my fear, except for a set a really weird circumstances.
My base had been getting horses meant for another base. I had signed the transfer paperwork to handle yet another one and went for a walk in the woods. Everything was fine until this horse appeared on the path. I stood my ground, but I was freaking inside. Turns out the horse wasn’t doing much better.
His name is Dreamer’s Hope. He’s the son of the stallion who almost killed me. His past includes some serve abuse. Together, we overcame our fear of each other’s species and learned to trust one another. That trust saved both our lives.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?
That it’s precious. I learned this after an undercover op went south and I ended up serving as a mindless, emotionless, and soulless operative who thought about death like normal human beings think about breathing. Not very proud of that time in my life. I’m very lucky and grateful that I’m back to being me.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
My stepfather, Jason.
He took over after my parents died in a car wreck when I was eleven. He has always been someone I could go to with any problem. Part of his insight comes from visiting a starship from the future. Me and my family have never been in any less danger from him knowing about certain events in our lives. Still it has given him a wisdom beyond his years.
I remember him taking me and Jim out a few weeks after my parents’ death. He pointed to the sky and asked, “What do you see when you look up into the night sky?”
“Stars,” my brother replied. “Doesn’t everyone?”
Jason’s emphatic “No” surprised both of us while the rest of his answer inspired our imaginations. That night, we learned that Jason didn’t view the stars as a cosmic night light. He looked upon them as a challenge and an insight into humanity’s future.
Have you ever been in love?
Love has always been tricky for me. It’s always been about career and family first, so most of my dates have been of the hi, how are you? kind. Some have even managed to make it to some sort of meal out. After I that I haven’t had much luck. My one serious relationship ended with an argument and the death of my boyfriend.
What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?
Unfortunately, being in the USMB, I’m stuck in a uniform for most of my waking hours. When I can get away with it, I love a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers, comfortable, loose fitting shirt, and a nice soft pair of sweats.
What do you own that would be hardest to part with?
Dreamer’s Hope. I’m not sure I really own him as he is an independent thinking horse registered to the USMB. Still, he’s his grandfather’s grandson. Sweet-tempered, but competitive, Day Dreamer was my lifelong companion before colic killed him. DH has many of his traits and attitude, despite Casper’s crazy attempt to turn him into a killer like his father.
We both understand deep-rooted fear and have healed each other from it. The day he dies is going to be hard. So hard that I’m not sure I will be the same afterwards.
What was your greatest achievement?
Winning the 2014 International Championships. Started a year after the end of World War II as a means of keeping the peace, the annual championship series test the mettle of teams through a series of equestrian and non-equestrian events. To earn the honor takes six rounds of competition for a California base.
Our run was marred by Casper’s need for revenge, so we were fighting him as much as competing against the other teams.
What do you regret most in your life?
The lives I took during my career. Most were by my shadow’s hand. A majority of Its victims were others like it that had lost control. Nothing can, or will, ever excuse what it did to six family members whose only transgression was coming home a few minutes too early.
Making up for those deaths is impossible, I know. Still I’m not proud of them and wish circumstances could have been different. I’ll live with the regret for the rest of my life.
If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing. Who I am is based on my experiences and knowledge. If I didn’t have them, I might not be the same person. Sure there are a few I want to forget, or relive a different way, but that’s just regret talking. I’m not sure I’d like the person I’d be without the lessons they taught me.
Would you ever or have you ever lied? How do you feel about lying?
Lying, unfortunately, is part of being an USMB officer. There are times I know more about a situation than everyone else, so I have to bend the truth. Either by choice to protect them or because I’m under orders.
Although our family discourages one another from telling half-truths and lies, we expect secrets. The higher in rank or more sensitive the position, the more they permeate our lives. Even living by this mantra, explosions of truth are often a surprise.
If you had one day left to live, what would you do with your last day?
Go horseback riding with my family. We’d be together on the powerful and noble creatures we all love. Is there any better way to die? I think not!