On Fridays right here, authors talk about their books, their process, where they’ve been, and where they’re going. Today we welcome award-winning MAGGIE TOUSSAINT writing as RIGEL CARSON, to celebrate the success of G-1, a Kindle Scout winner published by Kindle Press, and the sequel, G-2, launched in September, 2015.
Though plague, locusts, and earthquakes riddle 2065 Earth, Dr. Zeke Landry focuses on the one resource vital to the planet's survival: the world’s quickly vanishing water supply. When his uncle disappears, Zeke abandons his hydrology research to find Uncle John. His efforts land him in deep trouble. The Chameleons, a secret society, believe Zeke has the keystone, an object of great power. This group has already murdered in its quest to find the keystone, so if Zeke can’t produce it, his hours are numbered. Time’s running out for Zeke . . . and the world.
Brand new Guardian of Earth, Dr. Zeke Landry, is just learning the ropes when his extraterrestrial warning system sounds. Merciless invaders are on their way to 2065 Earth. With no tangible proof, Zeke is powerless to warn anyone until the space ships arrive. First Contact has finally happened, and the aliens are tall and green. The Maleem say they come in peace and want to explore trade opportunities. World leaders salivate at the chance for interstellar markets. As the Maleem tour the planet, countries welcome them with open arms and try to curry favor. Meanwhile, pop star Queen Bea and her sister are stranded in Japan, diverting Zeke and his android’s attention. Bea sings her pop hit, Little Green Men, during a friend’s concert, and the Maleem show up for the performance. Afterward, the Maleem hand out jeweled necklaces to key leaders, enslaving them and beginning a reign of terror and annihilation. When Zeke is enslaved by the Maleem, all looks bleak for humanity. Outgunned, outmaneuvered, and outfoxed, citizens of Earth are doomed, unless someone helps them. Can Zeke rally and save the world a second time?
- G-1 was one of the early winners on Kindle Scout, and the sequel, G-2, was launched in September. Both books are attracting good reviews. Can you share your publishing journey with us--the highs / lows and moments when things came together?
Before the Kindle Scout contract, I was lucky enough to be published and award-winning in both Romance (HOUSE OF LIES, NO SECOND CHANCE, SEENG RED, MUDDY WATERS, HOT WATER, and ROUGH WATERS) and Mystery (IN FOR A PENNY, ON THE NICKEL, DIME IF I KNOW, DEATH, ISLAND STYLE, MURDER IN THE BUFF, GONE AND DONE IT, and BUBBA DONE IT).
I had the idea to set a mystery in the future with a scientist as the lead character. One story led to another, and I soon had three books in this series written. Somewhat to my surprise, my new mystery series wasn’t classified as a mystery at all. It fell into a new genre (for me). My agent kept getting back replies that said things like “the writing is good, the story is good, but we aren’t acquiring midlist authors.” Bummer.
Meanwhile, I’d acquired rights back for some previous books and released them under my own imprint. I’d decided to indie pub my series when I heard about Kindle Scout. The possibility of a strong marketing partner appealed to me, so I subbed the first book of the series, G-1, to this brand new reader-powered publishing process. I was a nervous wreck during that 30-day campaign to attract reader votes. No one was more surprised – or elated – than me when I was offered a Kindle Press contract for G-1.
Some Kindle Scout authors went through the process again with their sequels. I decided against going through that stress again. So I hired a professional editor and released the next book, G-2, under my own imprint last month. I have plans to get G-3 out before Christmas--the luxury of DIY publishing is that the author sets the timeline.
- Tell us about the GUARDIAN OF THE EARTH series, which is set in the future on a beleaguered Earth. One of the looming crises is a diminishing water supply, not to mention hostile alien invaders. What draws you to your subject matter?
I’m the daughter of a fisherman, and I grew up in and around the Atlantic Ocean. In college, I gained a basic understanding of scientific processes, like the water cycle. Then in my scientific career, I worked in an aquaculture facility. Writing a series where water and other elements provide pinch points allows me to tap into what I know.
Conflict drives stories. Put two hungry dogs in a pen with one bone, and you’ll see action. Since I’d developed a solid writing style in Mystery and Romance, I knew that I write character-driven stories with a whodunit plot. Setting the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series 50 years in the future allowed me to add societal pressure points.
Currently, in arid parts of the US and globally, drinking water is a huge issue. Imagine a future world where water is rationed, where food is in short supply. That creates a pressure cooker situation. It creates a strong reaction chain when an outside force tries to take over. Two dogs, one bone–that was my goal in creating the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series.
- You've created some compelling and flamboyant characters that are easy to connect with and care about. How do they come to life in your mind?
I can explain this in four words: I’m from the South.
Need more? Everybody and their brother is a storyteller around here. You can’t walk into the post office or stand in the grocery store line without hearing a story or two. The simplest thing becomes a story, like this…I walked out to get this newspaper this morning and saw a pair of beady eyes staring at me from a freshly fallen clump of Spanish moss. I didn’t know whether to run back inside or check it out. My heart was racing like some alien was hiding under there, but I had to know what it was, so I inched closer, stooping to grab a nearby stick, of course. Not just any old stick either, but the slickety one the neighbor’s Houdini dog dropped on Sunday when he did his business beside the azalea bush, but that’s another story. Anyway, I was staring at that crazy thing as I approached, wishing like anything I’d put on a pair of real shoes instead of grody flip flops, when a peal of thunder sounded and froze me in my tracks. The pile of moss let out a shriek and darted across my foot and into the woods….
See? Even trying to tell you a story about storytellers, I ended up writing a story. We’re all bent a little different down here, but that’s a good thing. We prize eccentricity.
- What were the most challenging aspects of writing either novel, and what came easily?
The challenging part: once a science nerd, always a science nerd. I really get into the science parts of these books. The trick is to make it accessible to the average reader, and at the same time authentic so that someone from your field wouldn’t call you out on a mistake.
The easy part: developing the rapport between my android character, Forman, and my lead, Dr. Zeke Landry. Forman says all the lines and things I wish I had the guts to say in real life, while Zeke shares my worries about new situations, travel, and people in general.
- What did this series teach you about yourself as a writer and as a person?
I love writing the GUARDIAN OF EARTH series because it allows me to incorporate elements from my entire life. People have asked me who I identify most with in the series. I don’t actually see myself as Forman or Zeke. Instead, I see myself as Jessie, the girl who falls for Zeke. Jessie is the glue that holds everything together, the helpmate.
My take-home from that realization is that all characters contribute to the story, and all contributions in life, no matter how big or small, matter. Every-day people are just as important as superstars.
- You get to the end of your life, and there to escort you through the tunnel to the light beyond and show you around is a philosopher / author / artist / scientist / celebrity you've always revered. Who is it, and why him/her?
I’ve been a Jayne Ann Krentz fan for twenty years, and even though she’s still alive and probably healthier than I am, I’d love to have Jayne and my sister be my escorts. Jayne writes paranormal romantic suspense in the past, present, and future, so I figure she has mastered the space/time continuum. My sister is already on the Other Side with her best pal from childhood. I know she’ll be there for me because we still feel so connected.
- Tell us about your other books, past or in the pipeline.
My dystopian thriller book 3, G-3, will release later this year. My 2016 mystery, DOGGONE IT, book 3 in my DREAMWALKER paranormal mystery series, will be out next summer. My prospective 2017 mystery, DADGUMMIT, is in acquisitions, and I’m working on the 2018 book, CONFOUND IT, right now. Once I complete that 2018 mystery, I plan to write the next GUARDIAN book.
- What are your future plans as an author? How do you see your career developing?
I plan to keep writing as long as the brain and the hands hold out.
Formerly a contract scientist for the U.S. Army and a freelance reporter, Southern author Rigel Carson, the pen name of Maggie Toussaint, is multi-published in suspense, mystery, and dystopian fiction. Her background in environmental science and toxicology, as well as years spent doing water research, provide the impetus for this new science fiction/dystopian thriller series. Rigel’s series is set on a futuristic Earth, fifty years from now.
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And to capture your imagination, here's an excerpt from the series:
Shadows flickered in the darkness, black on black, Zeke’s mental gaze keenly attuned to the dark nuances. Frissons of dread peppered his thoughts, rattling his senses. He floated in the timeless void of space. Cold. Alone. Afraid.
Without warning, a line drive of thought energy socked him. He struggled to hold the link. The vermillion-tinged darkness reminded him of primordial ooze from which there was no escape. Was his planet destined to go the way of the dinosaurs?
Several voices spoke in uneasy unison, adding to Zeke’s disembodied sense. We have not been successful in dealing with Maleem. They take. They do not negotiate. They do not compromise.
His spirits plummeted. There had to be a way. He couldn’t give up on his planet without a fight. Someone, somewhere must have beaten the Maleem before. Earth needed to build on that success. He fired a query across the vacuum of space. Wait! What about those few stragglers on Drigil Eight? How did they survive?
The link hummed with energy. It buzzed bright in his head as if hundreds spoke at once. Zeke allowed himself to hope. All wasn’t lost. It couldn’t be. More than seven billion people lived on Earth. So many innocent lives at stake.
We have sent a query, young Zeke. We will advise you in due time.
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