My guest today is urban-fantasy author Carlyle Labuschagne, a firm believer in YA saves! This South African PR and Marketing Manager holds a diploma in creative writing through the writing school at Collage SA.
Carlyle is working her way into the hearts of international readers. Her debut novel “The Broken Destiny” was voted #3 on the Goodreads Debut list for 2012. Today, she has agreed to chat with me about its sequel, which is due to be released later this year .
Before we start, let’s visit the first novel for a bit to help readers who are yet unfamiliar with The Broken series.
Book One in The Broken series: The Broken Destiny
All my life, I had searched for something, something I thought I ought to be. I felt like I was living someone else’s life, waiting for the awakening of my own. I felt like an empty shell burning for life. That was, until the day I lay dying in the prince’s chambers. I could no longer feel the pain from the tear in my gut. The only sensation left was a hollowed-out feeling that I had made a huge mistake in assuming that taking my own life, would have stopped the ancestors’ spirit from raging out. I had given up. I didn’t want to see myself killing the ones I loved. I was the Chosen one, but I threw it all away for what I thought would save a life. Could you end a life to save a life? I did, and I have regretted it ever since. I realized then that things like me are not meant to exist. What had been missing my whole life? It was I. To find myself, I had to lose myself in the worst possible way. The consequences of my actions became the legend of The Broken.
Poseidon, a complex dystopian planet where humans migrate to after the earth was destroyed. Beautiful, mysterious, exotic. The Council rules Poseidon’s inhabitants the humans, Minoans, and Zulus races.
“The Broken” is a race of genetically enhanced humans. 16-year-old Ava, third generation of The Broken, knows much more, and feels much more than she is allowed to. When she starts questioning her origins and the destruction of Earth, things go horribly wrong for her. She is saved by a Minoan boy from an attempted kidnapping on her life–the perpetrators are evil Zulus and their dark ancient magic. Humans and Minoans are forbidden to interact with each other, and as she is taken back to their village she finds out why–they know of her, her kind and her destiny to save a dying race. Ava must rid them from the Council’s ruling and free the galaxy of The Shadow. Her destiny is to rise above the fall, because within her soul is the key to an archaic weapon that has been missing in the mix of a genetic code since the time of the ancients. As the prophecy unfolds she learns of her bloodline–a bloodline that makes her less human than she could ever have imagined. She alone has the power to destroy or save, but the mind-shift is a horrible thing. Ava will become what she hates to save the ones she loves. Beaten, poisoned, possessed and betrayed by her own emotions, she has no choice but to rise above it all… for that is her Destiny.
Now let’s meet the fabulous author and check out the sequel.
Hello Carlyle, thank you for stopping by. What is the book title of Book Two?
Evanescent A Broken Novel
Would you please give our readers a one-sentence synopsis of Evanescent?
Her fall has just begun and only HIS touch can save her from the mind-shift that could destroy it all.
Where do you get your inspiration for this sequel? Did you base the sequel on what readers like from the first book or your own inspiration?
I knew with my first book it was going to be a series. Sequel is a bit of what my imagination had in mind for me and a dash of what my readers liked from book one.
Tell us about the characters. Which actors would you choose to play these characters in a movie rendition?
I have a vast cast, form Zulu’s to Ancient Minoans and then the genetically enhanced kind. Please visit my Pinterest board.
What sets Evanescent apart from your first book? Is this a repeat or are there new excitements?
This book is very very different from book one. Its an entire new world!
Why is this a must read?
I’ve incorporated so many hard hitting issues that teenagers and most people crave for closure, I just did it in a creative way:
-Love in all its forms. Of one’s self , the good and the bad.
-Differences between races and people.
-The journey, the struggle, anger, betrayal, disappointment, rape, suicide, murder.
-Of believing in one’s self.
-Fighting to make your own destiny.
Sample paragraph, please?
It had been written many times over, been portrayed in so many Earth movies. Those flashes that pass through you before you die. But to me, it was not my life I was leaving behind, it was the choices I had made which had brought me to this moment, the moment before the reckoning. The shift had caused a rift within me. When the first blood-shift came, it tore through flesh and blood, threatening to bend me, break bone, shatter my mind and entrap my heart with its honeyed seductive poison. It came with vicious intent, moving my thoughts, altering me forever. It had many ways out, and when it was released, there was nothing that could stop it. No one was safe when it entrapped me in its claws of foul lust. Crooked, damnable, depraved, destructive, hideous – your kind would call it many things. In my blood, runs the thing our kind call The Shadowing disease. It shadows over, and turns everything to its will. I, however, had the only antidote against the evil that becomes me – his touch alone has the power to release the spurs of a sweet darkness that clung on for dear life. I knew what I had to do; the desperation pulled my mind with the deep determination of a hungry predator. But, by the time the revelation lifted me from the dark dungeon of our bounds – it was too late.
When is the planned release?
Evanescent due for release late 2013 – between Oct and Nov.
And we’ll be looking forward to Evanescent. Now, would you like to share a bit about yourself? What are your hobbies?
I love to swim, fights for the trees, and I’m a food lover who is driven by passion. I also write for IU e-magazine—an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words.
What matters the most to you?
The drive behind my author career is healing through words. My goal as an author is to touch people’s lives and help others love their differences and one another.
Very commendable, Carlyle, my best wishes on that.
Want to share your latest news?
Latest news: The Broken Destiny just hit the local bookstores!
Congratulations! Good luck for The Broken Destiny, and thank you so much for visiting Carlyle—keep in touch!
Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Carlyle. Follow her on Twitter @CarlyleL , Goodreads, Facebook, and check out her website, blog and book trailer. Her book The Broken Destiny is available from Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.
And of course, here’s my review of the first book:
The Broken Destiny, reviewed by Ia Uaro
Author: Carlyle Labuschagne
“The Broken” is a race of genetically enhanced humans, survivors of the destroyed earth who have migrated to Poseidon, an exotic dystopian planet. Three races cohabit this new planet: the Broken (humans), the Minoans, the Zulus—but strict apartheid segregation rules forbid them to interact. Poseidon is ruled by The Council. It is here 16-year-old Ava, third generation of The Broken, questions her existence, challenges the boundaries and gets into trouble.
Meanwhile some evil Zulus want to take over the planet for sinister purposes and they want Ava because she alone has the key to save the planet—whether she is willing or not. Ava learns more about herself after being abducted by the Zulus and saved by the Minoans. Apparently, she is The Chosen One. She has been predestined to be the planet’s Savior.
And her path isn’t easy. It involves internal and external struggles—and boys and black magic and various dangers. Dealing with these complex issues, the headstrong girl reluctantly journeys from being a self-absorbed teen to become a responsible savior. Yeah, this part reminds me of a book from the 80s about a reluctant Jesus who’d rather stick with his day job as a mechanic instead of becoming the Savior as predestined, if only he had a choice. However, despite traces of influences from the South African local politics and a rigid salvation dogma, the talented and imaginative Carlyle Labuschagne has invented a highly original new world packed with actions and tangled with intrigues that is sure to delight fans of dystopian fantasy.
THE BROKEN DESTINY is a complex weave of dystopian science fiction and urban fantasy, paranormal, mystery, and YA romance with mild sexual references. An entertaining coming-of-age novel with message.
Meet Alex Knight, author of murder mystery novels born in Toronto who have lived in a number of cities in Canada and the United States.
Hello Alex, so happy to have you joining us. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of BODYGUARD, The Adventures of Anya Orlova?
This is the story and back story of a young woman who had to grow up with an unusual gift that often threw her into the path of danger.
How real are your characters?
Almost all of my characters are composites of people I know or have known so some of them are all too real.
It started as a short story in September 2010, inspired by a random comment a colleague had made about a little tavern. That’s usually all it takes to get me started, a random word or comment that brings out the best (or worst) in me.
But always entertaining, Alex. When did you first know you just had to write?
Like many other writers, I’ve been an avid reader from an early age. I knew that I wanted to entertain others the way that I had been entertained over the years. It’s always hard to take that first step, especially if you’re plagued with self-doubt. After putting it off for decades, I made it a goal to be published before I reached my 50th birthday. I was and I haven’t looked back.
How long did it take you to write Bodyguard?
As mentioned earlier, it started as a short story in 2010. Over the course of the next two years the protag whispered to me constantly, telling me her back story. In 2012 I started working on it again and released it in January 2013. While it didn’t take three years of writing, it did take that long to realize it was going to be a novella and to get it written and published.
How did you come up with the title?
The working title changed a number of times from start to finish. When it was time to create the cover I had to provide a title; eventually it presented itself.
What is your favorite paragraph in Bodyguard?
“Heed our advice and our warnings. When you are no longer a child we can no longer guide you.”
“But Grandmother, I stopped being a child yesterday.” This terrible truth was confirmed by the gravity of my tone and my solemn expression.
And she was only six, poor Anya. Alex, who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?
Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald, and Mickey Spillane were the authors I read and admired the most when I was growing up. I think one of the things I like the most about their writing is that it stands the test of time. Their stories are still quality entertainment.
What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?
When I first started to write I enjoyed some immediate success and so I thought I was ready for bigger and better things. Apparently, according to the much copied, photo-copied rejection letters I received from a major magazine, I wasn’t. (I didn’t even merit an ‘original’ photo-copy, addressed to me, or signed.) That brought me back down to earth pretty damn fast. However, if you don’t try you’ll never succeed.
But many likes your story.Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?
Alongside of my family, it would be a great group of writers that I have had the pleasure of knowing for well over a decade. Write Stuff is comprised of several very talented writers that I often refer to as my extended family. We have shared each other’s joys and sorrows and celebrated each other’s victories as if they were our own. Their belief in me has made it possible for me to believe in myself.
What are you working on right now?
I have six NaNoWriMo novels that I have done nothing with since having ‘won.’ My goal is to revisit them and do some serious editing this year. I hope to release them all before the end of the year.
Tell us your latest news.
I am working on a love story. It’s a bit out of the ordinary for me and it’s going to be extremely difficult not to throw in a murder, or two.
And why not? 🙂
Do you see writing as a career or distraction?
It definitely isn’t a distraction, but I don’t see it being a career until I retire.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to continue to work full time, work part time at home, run a household, and write and edit my writing. Until I can devote at least eight hours a day to my writing and editing of same, I can’t call it a career.
How much do you have in common with your protags?
Every protag is a bit of me, a bit of my daughter and a bit of my sister. Of course being the eldest, both of them tend to be rather like me so perhaps all of the protags are a lot like me. The humor, bits of sarcasm, the courage, the second-guessing, the self-doubt, the loyalty, the willingness to pack up and start over – all of that is me. The physical characteristics are mostly a combination of the three of us.
What are your hobbies?
Besides reading, I love watching old classic movies, listening to music, making jewelry (natural gemstones set in silver or copper) knitting, cooking, and fishing.
A woman of many talents! What is your other profession?
I am, what is affectionately known as, a bean counter (accountant.)
When do you find the time to write?
I often plot about murder during the day. Finding the time to actually write it all out is more difficult; like most other writers I grab spare minutes here and there.
Tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.
I admire those who stand up for others and who protect those who cannot protect themselves, whether they are protecting people or animals.
How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?
I mostly write about murder so I truly hope I haven’t influenced too many people. As to their attitudes towards me, they either love me or tend to avoid me.
What one thing is important for your readers to know about you?
They should take everything I say with several grains of salt.
Seriously, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is usually not serious at all. Often the second thing that comes out of my mouth isn’t much better. I laugh at life and myself a lot and if we can’t laugh at ourselves then the joke is truly on us.
Any tips for us on reading and writing?
Read as much as you can, whenever you can. Open yourself up to new genres. (I used to say that I loved all music except Country & Western and Opera. Having explored both, I can no longer say that.) You can like one genre more than another, but if you don’t explore and open your mind you can miss so many wonderfully written books that could truly change your life for the better. As to writing, you need to read as much as you can in every genre, not just the one you want to write in. Do not let family and/or friends discourage you. Like everything else in life, if you want it badly enough you have to work for it. If you don’t give it a shot you’ll never know.
I hate research. I love reading about a wide variety of topics—for entertainment purposes. The minute I ‘have to’ read about something—it becomes work.
And we can only give readers something that we love, right? Thank you so much for chatting with us Alex. Best wishes with the books!
And readers, here are here you can find Alex and her books:
Find Alex on The Web Links:
Sue-Ellen Holmes, Australian author of several science-fiction and urban-fantasy novels for young adults is with us today. Sue is different from most authors. She is very shy, humble, but she writes about outspoken, passionate heroines who would fight for justice.
Hello Sue, lovely to have a neighbour stopping by J It was so entertaining your book BRINK. Would you be so kind to give readers its one-sentence synopsis?
In the near future where the intellect rules and science offers civilisation’s only salvation, a mad-man bio-terrorist is determined to purge the planet of its human stain and the only one standing in his way is defiant hyper-immune girl called Io, whose ridiculed physical gifts may just give her the upper fist.
How real are your characters?
Well it’s really important to create characters with the full range of human emotions, complexity and depth, but whether I succeed or not is for the reader to judge. Often what’s in your head is not always transcribed well on the page no matter how hard you try because real people are actually quite confusing and their motivations are often obscure. I have a Psych degree, but as in life, I find that’s no help at all. As you can tell, I’m good at nailing confusion!
You’re good at building the characters! Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’m a Neuroscientist, so many aspects of the physical world fascinate me. If I had my time over, I think I’d specialise in bacteria and viruses—they’re such perfectly nasty little suckers. So, it was only natural that I wrote about something I’m very interested in. Also, many people write about catastrophe in retrospect and I thought it would be fun to see an extinction event as it unfolds. BRINK was actually the first full length novel I attempted and it’s ten years old now. Unfortunately, if I’d had the skills back then to clean up the story and edit it to a higher standard, I might have beaten the current slew of dystopian/post-apocalyptics flooding the market. Still, despite the poor timing, it’s a far better story now that I’ve practiced and schooled myself in the art of writing and I’m grateful for the delay.
The catastrophe is well detailed. When did you first know you just had to write?
I’ve been writing creatively since primary school—poetry and short stories—but didn’t attempt a full length novel until I was an adult. Now writing’s like breathing and I can’t imagine a day without it. I resent anything that interferes, such as mortgage-paying jobs and maintaining personal hygiene. All of my jobs involve either academic writing or educational writing, so I guess it’s always been deep in my bones.
How long did it take you to write Brink?
The writing process is very quick for me, it’s the editing and fine tuning that takes a long time. I finished an entire re-write of the first version of BRINK for a contest (ABNA 2011) in four frenzied days. It’s taken months since to fine-tune.
How did you come up with the title?
I wanted a word that represented not only the visual image of teetering on a cliff, but also one that auditorily came to a screeching halt. I spent a long time messing around with crappy titles, until BRINK finally hit me.
What is your favourite phrase in Brink?
“They’ll come” because it encapsulates a particularly unexpected instance of treachery and provides a bit of a cliff-hanger in a book that is mostly stand-alone.
Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?
The list evolves, as there have been so many. I know it’s cliché for fantasy writers, but I love Tolkien or any author who can transport the reader to a place that, although utterly strange and unreal, seems likely (of course, J K Rowling). Dr Seuss is the earliest genius I remember encountering. Everything he’s done is just so gleeful, yet also imparts a subtle, valuable message. I read Dune when I was quite young and even though it necessitated a dictionary and periods of extensive confusion, I just loved the grand scope of that series, the tantalising possibility of it all. At the moment, I’m enjoying Laini Taylor and her exciting new spin on angel mythology. It sounds harsh, but I cherish any writer who can effortlessly keep me turning pages. Currently, I put so many potentially good YA stories down unread due to boredom and it’s such a shame.
What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?
I’m a fairly solitary creature so the great stretches of time alone writing don’t bother me, as it does some people. Besides, I’m surrounded by the characters I conjure on the page. It’s when I’m forced to venture outside the comfortable sphere of my study, even in virtual realms that I find being an author testing. Discoverability is something I’ve struggled with and failed miserably to master—letting the target reader know you’re actually there. And reaching teens is not the easiest in reality, let alone across the world wide web. Plus, if you’re not determined to overcome the self-doubt, the lack of financial reward, the constant rejection and less than glowing opinions, forget about it. So in essence, real thick-skinned writers never give up!
But getting immersed in your writing is a wondrous adventure and a reward in itself, right? Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?
Selling the odd book tends to give me an enduring high… My family, while not effusive in their encouragement, are stoically non-critical of my crazy dream to work full-time as an author. They weather the tears and gin-abuse with eye-rolling fortitude. My adorable long-suffering husband no longer bothers to compete with the computer for attention and now sleeps with his surfboard. It doesn’t matter how much external validation you get, if you don’t ‘back’ yourself nothing anyone can say will make a difference—which is supremely ironic given this entire career choice is about the subjective opinion of others. Go figure…
Sounds rather like my long suffering, accepting family! What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.
I’m attempting to work on completing the trilogies for each of the novels I’ve published on my website http://www.unrealya.com . Unfortunately, I’ve a few rather annoying jobs that eat up far too much time, so the endeavour is patchy at best. And I’m toiling to complete a space opera that is my own personal favourite, Able Unwilling.
You’re very creative and courageous! Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?
A career, without doubt, because it’s the thing I most love doing (except in my pesky day jobs, which are the true distractions!). You know that old adage ‘do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’? It’s true. Now, if I could just make enough/any money as an idle, gin-swilling, hammock-swinging writer…
And we can’t possibly give to readers something that we can’t love. How much do you have in common with your protag?
Io is head-strong, highly strung and anti-authoritarian, while I am as meek as a lamb. <I read this aloud and assorted family members were on the floor in tears of hilarity. I admit to being slightly miffed at the implication I am in any way oppositional. I am so not!> Okay, so maybe Io and I share some character traits. But she is also elegant and athletic, the opposite of clumsy old me (her abilities are wishful thinking on my part, perhaps).
I could see you when I was reading her 🙂 What are your hobbies?
Writing, painting, writing, running, writing, reading, writing, surfing (sort of, see comment above)… Oh, and that elusive past-time of doing absolutely nothing for a stretch longer than thirty seconds. Not to mention shamelessly embarrassing my adolescent children at every opportunity.
What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?
I’m a Neuroscientist by trade, but am working as a monkey-slave running research for several sets of doctors at the moment. Squeezing time out of the day is the biggest challenge right now and writing is relegated to the weekend, much to my irritation. This means I’ve been working seven days a week now for two and a half years. My body is frozen in the seated position, which makes jogging particularly challenging (and fairly awkward).
Sue, come tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.
My husband and my children are the world. They provide me with that other essential ingredient in a life worth living: laughter (even if it’s often at my expense).
Wonderful family! 🙂 Now, how has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?
I’d have to say it’s barely made a ripple to the exchanges I have with others. In the beginning, I had too many friends apologising for ‘not getting around’ to reading my stuff, which just made everyone fidget and stare at the floor. Unless I morph into Stephanie Meyer overnight and people beg me for a profound sound-bite (and despite what people think of her technique, that woman is a brilliant example of connecting with her target audience. I’d take tips from her any day), I’ll be sticking to my ‘keep quiet and don’t startle the nervous/apathetic/guilty associate’ approach. Clearly, self-promotion is not my forte.
What one thing is important for your readers/audience to know about you? Why?
I work my bum off to avoid boring readers… I study television and movies to see how tension is maintained, strive to first and foremost write entertaining adventure stories where the protagonist struggles to prevail, much like everyday life, only bigger, harder and in much weirder places, usually with a generous helping of the supernatural or technology or my friend ‘the germ’. Boredom is the enemy of good story-telling.
Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?
If I were to offer tips on writing technique, the underlying inference seems to be that I am somehow an expert, which I do not feel is true. There is always something more to learn about writing. Reading good books is the best thing an aspiring writer can do—find examples that you love and try to discern why they push your buttons, what you admire. See if you can somehow emulate them with your very own twist. The best I can suggest is to keep writing and endure—never give-up on yourself. Oh, and remember when receiving criticism that planet earth would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things. Even Harry Potter got a one star now and then. So, have a laugh and go in search of a large gin to toast the honest effort.
What you’d like people to know about you apart from the questions above?
That I sing like a nightingale, am exceptional at ballet, have an IQ to rival Hawking and speak ancient Hebrew at parties just for the smart-arsed hell of it… I harbour a secret desire to be a dark avenger and right society’s wrongs ala Dexter Morgan, only a little less messy as I’m averse to doing housework. Well, Ia, you didn’t specify it had to be true (except for that last part)!
Hahahahaha… you forget to mention your sense of humour!
It’s been fun Sue, good luck with all these marvelous books, thanks again for coming!
Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Sue. And now my review of BRINK, here it goes:
Book title: Brink
ASIN: B007DMWZXS, 306 pages
Author: Sue-Ellen Holmes
The year isn’t clear, but BRINK takes place in the future when science dominates our earth. This first book in the Maverick trilogy is the story of 17-year-old Io Calypso, originally of Maverick Institute of Advance Thought. Here intellectual brilliance and obedience are the most valued assets, but alas, rebellious Io is a freedom-craving girl with physical gifts and a penchant for rock climbing instead.
On the day Io gets into trouble for challenging Maverick’s constrictive rules, a mad bio-terrorist places humankind at the brink of extinction by permanently covering the land with hazardous pollution and deadly disease. To survive, Io and 14 other survivors must take refuge in a shielded subsurface pod, protected from harm. Io loses her entire family in the disaster, except her grandmother. Or so she believes as she grieves.
Concerns for her grandmother’s health cause Io to sneak back to Maverick, their former luxurious home, one year later. Unexpectedly, impossibly, she encounters a surprise survivor, and learns that the disaster which she had thought was an accident was actually a sabotage staged by a devious and dangerous enemy, and that more survivors exist. Is her beloved brother Iz among them?
Enter Io’s pod members, geniuses who have shielded the deviant girl from the truth for her own “good”. At the head is her bossy, crafty grandma; at her side is Wim—an over-protective friend; around her is an assortment of interesting characters who now must back Io as this tough girl embarks on her lethal mission to free Iz from the clutch of menacing evil.
BRINK is a gripping dystopian science fiction that will delight smarter readers. Io is of your typical teen-against-the-world variety, but she has an extra-ordinary immune system and splendid determination. Sue-Ellen Holmes plays the early events by flipping the present and the past back and forth. These frequent flips wouldn’t allow me to lose myself in the mood of the scenes at the beginning, but once the story flows Io’s adventures through dangers are carefully plotted and original, the catastrophe and treacherous grounds vividly detailed, the descriptions imaginative, and the narration at times chilling.