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Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have M Thomas Apple visiting with his science fiction novella, Adam’s Stepsons. He’ll be sharing an excerpt from the book, but first, let’s learn more about the author!
A native of Upstate New York, M. Thomas Apple gave up his high school dreams of becoming the next Carl Sagan and instead studied languages and literature at Bard College and creative writing at the University of Notre Dame du Lac. Even after somehow getting hired to teach intercultural communication at a university in Kyoto, Japan, he is still trying to apply ideas from quantum mechanics to language teaching and research. He lives in a quasi-traditional Japanese house co-designed with his wife and partially decorated by his two daughters, nestled in the foothills of the mountains and surrounded by lots of cedar and cicada.
Dr. Johann Heimann designed the perfect soldiers: superhuman in strength and intelligence, immune to sickness and disease, programmed to lead the United Americas to a quick victory in the Mars Colony War. But Heimann didn’t anticipate the military’s unrealistic demands, or his own emotional responses to his creations. And now Number Six is calling him “Father”! What exactly is going on during the clones’ personality imprinting cycle?
As Heimann starts his investigation, Number Six grows in confidence and self-awareness…and both discover the project hides a secret even Heimann, himself, doesn’t suspect…
Rockets streaked across the deepening blue Martian sunset. The aircraft shuddered as explosions on either side buffeted it. Gritting his teeth, Six swerved to meet the oncoming attack squad. His Mars warplane shuddered again. Behind his head steam suddenly sprayed from a fractured coolant panel. Holding the throttle steady with his left hand, he rapidly flipped the switches on his right. The steam dissipated, but he still felt a burning sensation on his neck.
“Bogey at 5 o’clock,” he heard from his helmet speaker. Without turning to look, Six yanked the throttle upright and to the left, executing a perfect barrel roll. He fired before checking to see whether the laser guidance system had locked properly.
Strange thoughts came unbidden: First you got Hansen, be damned if you…I’m hit! Systems failing. Uncle…
“Target acquired,” the voice announced, five nanoseconds after the shots ripped a jagged strip into the adversary’s fuselage. For some reason, Six had the impression that he had done this before. A vague memory surfaced, a memory of nearly blacking out from the g-forces. He felt disquieted.
The plane on screen burst into flames and began its downward trajectory to the Martian soil.
“Target destroyed,” Six reported emotionlessly.
“Stand down and prepare to return,” the voice ordered.
Tapping the control panel in front of him, Six plotted a course back to Mars Colony One. Without checking his instruments, he knew the ETA was five point four minutes.
He paused, releasing the controls briefly.
Where had he learned that? The educational machine?
He raised a hand to adjust his helmet. Suddenly an image appeared in his head: upside down, careening across the rust-red rocky landscape, desperately struggling to eject…a stuck canopy…dislocated shoulder…pain…
“Pilot, disengage. Computer, end simulation.”
The same female voice as inside his helmet, only this time from a wall speaker in the outside room.
The clone blinked twice in rapid succession. The image disappeared. So did the Martian panorama. In its place stretched a series of connected flat screens with a raised fist holding a multicolored torch, the logo of the United Americas. The door to the simulator opened, and artificial light streamed in.
Removing his helmet, Six paused to stare at the logo.
The image had been so real.
Had he already been to Mars? Had he been shot down? No, it couldn’t be. They said his training was not yet complete. A video, then? No, none of the training videos from the library were first-person perspective.
Six tilted his head, pondering. It made no sense. He didn’t like things that made no sense.
“Six, log out and report to Doctor Heimann in five minutes.”
“Yes, sir,” the clone mechanically answered, withdrawing a thin filament from the panel in front of him. The filament smoothly retracted into the socket behind his right ear, and the logo on the screens disappeared. In its place, blackness, and the clone’s faint reflection; his light brown face marred only by the number 6 in red on his left cheek.
Welcome to another Friday Author Spotlight! This week I have Dan Petrosini visiting with his Science Fiction Novel, The Final Enemy. Dan took the time to let me interview him, so let’s see what he has to say!
Dan has his own view of the world and culture or lack thereof. He is passionate in his belief that people can realize their dreams if they focus and take action and actively encourages people.
Married with two daughters and a needy Maltese, Dan splits his time between South West Florida and New York City where he was born. Dan teaches at local colleges, writes novels and plays the tenor saxophone in a couple of jazz bands. He also drinks way too much wine.
Dan has an active blog and has written six novels.
Like all reporters, Jack longs for a breaking story but is stuck writing obituaries for a small-town rag. As his frustration mounts, it hits him that no one has died in over three days. Jack’s odd observation becomes something far stranger when he connects a meteorite to the bizarre phenomenon.
Seizing the opportunity, Jack breaks the story and after a struggle to control the meteorite’s power is resolved, a swelling population begins to create havoc. With the survival of the human race hanging in the balance, politicians enact increasingly horrific measures and desperate citizens take matters into their own hands.
Jack’s in a position to not just report the news, but change it, and his decisions and observations create an epic thriller that pits the potential of human immortality against a force designed to change – or obliterate – humanity itself.
Only one man might stand in its way … the man buried in the obits department.
Why did you decide to be a writer?
It wasn’t a conscious decision, just following the unavoidable pull to tell the stories in my head.
What genres do you write?
Sci-Fi and Crime Fiction
How often do you write?
It’s not easy but I am trying to write each and every day. Even for just a small period as it must become habitual. Happy to report I’m currently on a good, long streak of doing so.
Do you have a daily word or page count goal?
I would love to get to 1000 words min a day but I’m happy with 500.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
It really depends. It’s taken me two years on one and six months on another.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Write every day, no excuses.
What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?
I play jazz tenor sax in a number of bands and it’s a great release.
Do you prefer ebooks, print or both?
While I love holding a book, I prefer my Kindle. It doesn’t leave any bruises when I fall asleep reading each night.
Are you a pantser or outliner?
I started out as a panster and while I really enjoyed letting the story and characters take me on a journey, it left me with a zillion words to try to craft into a book. Outlining is tough and I am not rigid about it. I put down main ideas and fill in as ideas germinate.
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
It’s almost as hard as coming up with a good blurb. I look for a short title that gets to the theme, and I keep an eye on how many other books have used a similar title.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
I think its natural to ‘borrow’ from the world around us. Many times I will combine attributes of two different people.
I do Author Spotlights every Friday, and I'll be glad to be a host for blog tours and guest posts. Get the details if you're interested.
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