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Interview with KristaLyn A. Vetovich

Say hello to KristaLyn A. Vetovich! She was the second person to respond to my speculative fiction interview post, and I’m excited to share her answers with you today. 

What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?

My mother hooked me on reading with the Harry Potter series. She would read them to us every night, but I would read ahead because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Who is your favourite author? Why?

At the moment, Neil Gaiman. Not only are his stories incredible, but his perspective is so encouraging and grounding for me as an author.

What do you like most about the genre(s) you read?

I love speculative fiction because it’s the best way to unleash everything my imagination can come up with, whether it’s through my own writing or leaping into a world of someone else’s design. It helps remind me that anything is possible and I can make a better reality.

More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?

I love it! Why not get creative and complex as long as it’s entertaining and makes sense for the reader? We have plenty of people (editors, publishers, etc) who keep our feet on the ground while we take our minds further into the clouds.

If you could name a pet after one character, which character would you choose? Why?

I usually let my pet’s personality inspire their names, but I did give my corgi the middle name Mikleo after a character in the Tales of Zestiria video game.

What fictional world would you never want to visit?

Any world with zombies in it. Zombies aren’t my thing.

What fictional world would you want to visit?

I want to visit the world of Good Omens and just get coffee (or tea) with Crowly and Aziraphale. I feel like that would be an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?

I take responsibility for my own exposure to spoilers and if I happen upon one I see it as just another reason to experience the story as soon as possible. I’m not one to spread spoilers though. Everyone deserves the right to choose what they know going into a story.

Which series do you think should be made into a TV show or film next?

That’s a tough one! So many are already coming to the screen. As long as they’re done well, I’d watch all of them to promote the authors and their series!

Which TV show or film do you think should be turned into a book?

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Those characters would translate so well into books!

Bonus Author Questions

What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?

For the Shifted series it was just people watching and imagining how hard we must make it on spirit guides to get through to us. The story exploded from there.

Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?

I’ve had entire characters introduce themselves and I don’t realize it until pages later. I welcome them. If my creativity is flowing, I’m all for it and I like to think it usually works out better for the story than what I’d originally planned. I can always adjust in revisions if I need to.

What is your favourite trope?

I love the unwilling or unexpected hero. It shows that heroes come from everywhere and that being a hero is a choice anyone can make.

What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?

I avoid love at first sight—though I believe it can happen. I like romance to be a secondary part of the plot in my stories so I can focus on the individuals and what makes them heroes in their own right.

 

About: KristaLyn is an internationally bestselling author, certified holistic practitioner, and intuitive coach who helps people attract the lives they want to live with the one thing they can’t control: divine timing.

KristaLyn lives in a treehouse in Pennsylvania with her husband and corgi, Jack, and cooperates with her family to help revitalize the Coal Region of Pennsylvania to a new, sustainable glory.

Website: www.KristaLynAVetovich.com

Email: info@KristaLynAVetovich.com

Social Media Handle: @AuthorKristaLyn

What to Read If You Liked The Walking Dead

Since the first post in this series was about a book published almost forty years ago, I thought the second post should feature something more contemporary from the speculative fiction genre.

I try not to make assumptions about what my followers already know about any book or graphic novel I blog about, so I’ll summarize The Walking Dead in one spoiler-free sentence for anyone who isn’t familiar with it:

After waking up from a coma, a police officer must find his missing family and adjust to a world that has somehow become overrun with zombies while he was unconscious. 

Obviously, there’s a lot more going on this world, but that sentence will give you the gist of it.

As a fair warning, the graphic novels as well as the TV show based on them are both incredibly violent. I actually had to stop reading and watching both of them a while ago due to this, although I’m still intrigued by the characters Robert Kirkman first created in 2003 and the assumptions he made about what life would be like in this sort of world.

If zombies and post-apocalyptic worlds are things you enjoy reading about, here are some other books that might be equally appealing.

Some of these titles have popped up in many similar lists online, but I’ve come up with a few classic novels I thought would work as well because of how many themes they share with this series.

Humans have dealt with plagues for millennia. For most of that time, we didn’t know why someone would seem to be perfectly healthy one day only to become dangerously ill the next.  You might be surprised to see how many similarities there are between an outbreak of cholera or rabies and a zombie infestation.

What happens when a society breaks down is another string connecting all of these recommendations. While I tend to have a much more optimistic view of how the average person would behave in that situation, not every writer agrees with that. It’s always interesting to see more pessimistic takes on the topic.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Imagine trying to stay alive in a world where nothing grew anymore. Now picture doing it while raising a child by yourself.

The relationship between the main character and his son reminded me a lot of how Rick Grimes interacted with his son in The Walking Dead. Both of these parents had been pushed to their limits by worlds they couldn’t possibly have predicted or prevented. Their love for their children was what kept them going in impossible situations.

Fair warning: this is a pretty violent story. Be sure to read some full reviews of it before checking it out if you’re sensitive to or triggered by acts of violence.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

In this tale, a group of schoolboys were stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash. They needed to figure out how to survive there without any adult supervision for a long period of time.

This was one of the first classics I thought about after I discovered the zombie genre. True, there weren’t any monsters on the island, but the unstable, dangerous community these kids developed reminded me a lot of how many living characters behave in typical zombie movies.

If only William Golding were still alive. I’d sure like to see what he thought of the similarities between this book and today’s horror movies.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Zombies attacked. Humans fought back. Eventually, society stabilized enough for researchers to begin collecting stories from the survivors of this apocalypse.

I liked this more hopeful approach to how people might respond to a zombie invasion. People banded together in many of the anecdotes the narrator collected, and not all of them were the folks you might necessarily expect to make alliances with one another. Some characters also survived circumstances that seemed like they should never have worked out okay in the end. It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

Oh, and do not watch the film based on this book. The only things it shared in common with the original version were the title and the fact that zombies exist in both universes.

Yes, I might still be a little vexed about that.

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy

If you think about it, rabies shares many similarities with whatever virus, bacteria, plot hole, or magical disease that creates zombies depending on which universe we’re talking about.

This disease is spread through bites and scratches.

Once symptoms appear, death is certain.

People and animals unlucky enough to be infected with it become agitated and unpredictable.

Sometimes I wonder if rabies was one of those real-life diseases that encourages creative minds to come up with fictional versions of it. They certainly have enough in common for me to think this is a likely explanation for at least some of the zombie folklore out there.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaugh

This is one of those graphic novels that I keep waiting for Hollywood to discover and turn into a TV series. It was a post-apocalyptic story what happened to the world after a virus killed off all but one man on Earth while leaving everyone who had two X chromosomes unaffected.

It was much less violent than The Walking Dead has been so far, but humanity still had to figure out how it was going to survive in the longterm. Since even frozen sperm and male embryos died out in this plague, humanity would only continue to exist for at most another century if the characters couldn’t figure out a way to create the next generation without the help of the Y chromosome.

Most of the storyline dealt with the main character’s quest to travel to the other side of the globe and find his estranged girlfriend. That journey was far from an easy one, but it did introduce the audience to all sorts of interesting characters along the way.

The Plague by Albert Camus

This tale was written at a time when epidemics happened more often than they do in most countries today. I’ve read that Camus was influenced by the Cholera outbreaks that happened both in the setting of this novella as well as closer to home. While the storyline doesn’t mention this disease by name, it does give clues that this might be what was killing off the characters so quickly.

If you’re not familiar with Cholera, know that it’s a bacteria that causes such severe, persistent diarrhea that people die of dehydration. In short, it is an awful way to die, and the plot did go into detail about what happens to the human body after being exposed to this illness. (So maybe don’t read this while eating lunch….)

Like fictional zombie diseases, Cholera didn’t have a cure and was poorly understood. I’m not surprised Camus was inspired to write about it. It struck communities without warning and spread like wildfire through fecally contaminated water and food. Seeing how the main character reacted to an illness that no one could stop reminded me so much of Rick Grimes’ reaction to the many deaths he saw while trying to survive in a zombiepocalypse.

What other books should be added to this list? Have you read any of these titles?

Previous posts in this series:

What to Read If You Liked Clan of the Cave Bear

Taking an Excused Absence Today

Don’t worry, everything is well in my world. I’m simply not satisfied enough with the posts I’m currently working on to publish any of them quite yet. It’s better to say nothing than to share half-formed thoughts, I think.

I’ll go back to my usual posting routine on Monday. Cheers!

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Suggestion Saturday: August 18, 2018

Here is this week’s list of links from my favourite corners of the web. Last week’s list was a little sparse. I think I more than made up for that this time around.

Don’t Worry About Feeling Sad – on the Benefits of a Blue Period. What do all of you think of this idea? I know I’m intrigued.

How a Disabled Person Feels When Someone Stares at Them via SarahJBpoetry. This is a blog I’m going to be keeping my eye on in the future.

It’s Never too Late to Be a Reader Again. Raise your hand if you’ve ever regretfully stopped reading something. I like the idea of returning to a book later on in life to see if it fits you better then.

Sand Castle Marketing via cynthiaharriso1. If you have a mailing list or are thinking of setting one up, go read this. I love this blogger’s approach to marketing. If only more authors and other creative folks thought this way.

Losing Earth – the Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. Buckle down for a long read here. I’d be especially curious to hear the thoughts of everyone who clearly remembers 1979-1989. How much do you remember talking about climate change back then? Do you agree that we came close to finding a solution during that decade?

Broken Thoughts – The Story of My Two Broken Legs via sonzyb. Ooh, this made me wince. I also found it interesting because I’ve never broken a single bone and so didn’t know the details of how such an injury is treated. Keep in mind that there is one photo of her injuries and vivid written descriptions of them as well. It didn’t bother me, but I thought you all should know this in advance. If you like this post, be sure to click on part two at the end of it. There were four parts in all, and the author did link to the next one at the end of the first three parts in the series.

Inside the Very Big, Very Controversial Business of Dog Cloning. Seriously, how is this not the stuff of science fiction?

Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage. I don’t normally pay attention to the lives of celebrities, but this article was interesting because of how private Beyoncé generally is. It makes me wonder why she decided to share such personal details about her family all of the sudden.

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My 4 Favourite Science Fiction Books About Life on Mars

Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s breaking news about a lake of salty, liquid water being found on Mars. This is exciting news for the scientific community and humanity in general. We may now be a little closer to discovering life on another planet.

As a sci-fi writer, I can only hope this leads to that outcome and paves the way for humans to live there someday. Maybe we’ll even be lucky enough to both find life on another planet and figure out how humans could live there longterm, too.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

The first time I read the premise of this book, I wondered how the main character, Valentine Michael Smith, managed to survive on Mars for his entire childhood when there weren’t any adult humans around to take care of him. Where did he find air? What did he eat and drink? Where did he get his clothing? Who looked after him when he was sick or too little to take care of himself? How did he know how to speak English?

Without giving away spoilers for these questions, I loved slowly figuring out what Valentine’s childhood had been like and why he was bewildered and even horrified by a long list of what I would think of as quite ordinary Earth customs.

While there are topics that Heinlein and I strongly disagree on,* I will always appreciate the way this book explored what it meant to be human and how life on Mars could be radically different from anything people have experienced on Earth.

*See also: the ways he treats and describes many of his female characters.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but the concept of The War of the Worlds scared me the first time I heard of it. The thought of aliens coming to Earth in order to harm people was something I’d never considered before. Before that point, I’d always assumed that any alien species that found Earth would be friendly with us. (Yes, I was pretty young and naive when I first stumbled across this book!)

I’ve since come to interpret The War of the Worlds as a reflection of humanity’s fears more than anything else. Just because we have a long history of harming those we can’t or won’t understand in no way means that sentient aliens would have the same reaction to us.

Or at least I hope they wouldn’t…..

 

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Let’s assume that there are no forms of life blissfully swimming their microscopic lives away in a salty Martian sea. A “dead” world might be the perfect setting for terraforming a planet to better suite the needs of humanity.

One of the things I loved about this trilogy was how long it followed the same storyline. Generations passed as Mars was slowly transformed into an Earth-like planet. Nobody who was alive in the first scene knew how everything ended by the final scene of Blue Mars. Writing it this way gave the author many opportunities to explore what happens when the original intentions of a scientist or explorer are reinterpreted by new generations as fashions change and people’s ideas of    how best to manage a resource as large as a planet shifted.

I’ve often wished humans could live long enough to see how their ideas still influenced people several generations later. The world might be a better place if everyone took such a longterm approach to the things they advocated for (or against).

The Martian by Andy Weir

Yes, I know I’ve blogged about this tale before. As much as I try to avoid talking about the same science fiction and fantasy books over and over again here, there are times when simply have to circle back and repeat myself.

One of the things I loved the most about The Martian was how hard the author worked to make the events of the plot scientifically plausible. While there were a few discrepancies between it and how such a mission would really play out in real life, much of it was pretty close to what any astronaut would go through if he or she really were to be accidentally abandoned on Mars.

I could see something close to these events happening if humans decided to try to live on Mars only to suffer massive setbacks early on. Hopefully, any future residents of the Red Planet would be just as resourceful as Mark was in this adventure.

What are your favourite sci-fi stories about what it would be like to either live on Mars or discover that another species already lives there?

What Should I Write About Next?

Every once in a while, I like to ask my readers for feedback. What topics related to fitness, writing, mindfulness, and/or the science fiction and fantasy genres would you like to see me blog about? What posts here have you enjoyed the most so far? Which ones would you like to see a follow-up to?… Read More

Nothing Appeals to Everyone

As I mentioned last week, there are certain authors and genres I’ve never been able to become a fan of no matter how many times I try to like them. It simply isn’t possible to write, draw, film, or sing something that’s going to appeal to every single person who stumbles across it. My thoughts… Read More

Saturday Seven: Cold and Flu Season Reads

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews. We’re well into the depths of winter now here in Ontario. Cold and flu season is in full swing. I spent the last several weeks fighting and just recently finally getting over a stubborn cold myself, so communicable winter illnesses like these have been on my… Read More

Maintaining a Low-Sugar Diet Through the Holidays

Last August, I began seriously cutting back on how much added sugar I ate after a friend mentioned all of the positive changes she’d seen from doing that. Not only did I lose a few pounds unexpectedly, my skin became clearer and I have more energy now than I did last summer. My early afternoon energy… Read More

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