Fly: Welcome back, Zcooter. Many of uz were left wanting to pet your furry back by the end of our lazt interview. Az you made uz realize, we totally adore catz!
Fly: Erm, zorry?
Kathi: I said, Woof!
Fly: I believe that’z the wrong chord, Zcooter! Pleaze note that we’re live and airing now - not an ideal time for identity criziz.
Kathi: Dear Fly, I’m Rags. Rags the dog.
Fly: You mean, Kathi az Zcooter the cat az Ragz the dog?
Rags: Just Rags, thank you.
Fly: Alrighty then! Ragz, dear, lovely to have you here. How are you and what did you do to Zcooter?
Rags: Well, he’s alive and well. In a different world and rather enjoying the reception he has received thus far through Lost & Scared.
Fly: I noticed. 5-ztar reviewz to begin with, zpeakz volumes. But tell uz about yourzelf.
Rags: I belong to a different family - one that begins with far more tragic experiences. You will read about it in The Wrong One.
Fly: Indeed. A mozt tragic beginning az I can recall. Who can forget the brutal murder of a mother juzt when her water breakz, the cold-blooded murder of an entire family before little Lyzza’z eyez and a vizibly frozen Kyle before the toddlerz are taken apart by Ztinky and hiz men! My foremozt queztion on thiz note iz, why the added torment?
Rags: A painful day, that. Many years have passed. Little Lyssa was my pet. She was a birthday gift from the men and women who worked for her daddy. It was my job to protect her, but I failed. Even worse, those men shot me, made it impossible for me to do my job. I was so heartbroken when my pet, Lyssa, vanished that I couldn’t bark like a real dog. I could only yip. Most embarrassing for an animal such as myself. But I knew my Lyssa would one day return, for Kyle promised me that we would bring her home.
Fly: We obzerved the drug-maker dad from a cat’z perzpective. Now we watch with horror the three armed men kill an entire family. Iz the dominant evil your way of vizualizing ztoriez?
Rags: I relive that night all the time. But I can’t show anyone how badly I feel, for Kyle needs me. He blames himself, for being a coward. But he’s not. He is a very brave young man, a wonderful second pet, who will always do what is right.
Fly: Truth be told, there’z zomething very amuzing amidzt it all. Zcooter was zcared off by the "pop-pop-pop" of zomething in his toilet. Here, little Lyzza is zcared by the "boom-boom-boom" of a gun! You have zuch a playful focus on zoundz amidzt violent zettingz.
Rags: Perhaps a writing trait. In some stories. only though It is the way of some humans. They are mean and steal the happiness from those around them. Their very existence is to make people feel pain and sorrow.
Fly: You zaid you were a cat perzon. And here you are a heroic dog. What’z with the zhift?
Rags: Ah, but I am a cat person. I am also a dog person. My pets rely on me for protection, therefore I am what I need to be when the situation warrants.
Fly: Zo what and who iz next in line?
Rags: Rumor has it Shane and Keri might get two new protectors for their now happy home. A cat and a dog. Rumor also has it they shall return with a new story soon.
Fly: We look forward to it, dear Rags! You can Woof now.
Fly: Or maybe juzt relax and enjoy the oncoming zummer. Thankz again. We leave with an excerpt from The Wrong One.
Four-year-old Lyssa Winders landed with a thump on her living room floor. Her bottom hurt from the hard wood, and her head ached from all the yelling and shouting she'd been hearing. Nothing made sense. She just wanted this to stop.
Her parents, Auntie Keisha, Nana Brandy, and Grandpa Monty kneeled in front of her. They had their hands on the back of their heads, and they looked very scared.
"Gonna talk now, Jack?" the stinky man asked. He had carried her out of the safety of her bedroom and dumped her on the floor. "Or do I hurt your kid?"
Stinky jerked Lyssa to her feet. She couldn't run. He held her tight in front of his nasty smelling body.
"She's just a baby," Daddy said. "Don't hurt Lyssa. Let her go. She won't tell anyone anything." He stared at her with scared eyes. "Right baby? You won't say anything." She nodded, and her daddy faced Stinky. "See, she agreed. Just let her go."
"Nope." A man near her laughed.
She turned her head and saw her puppy. Rags crept out from behind the sofa. His tail stood straight in the air, and he made growly noises in his throat.
Lyssa swallowed hard. Rags couldn't come any closer. Stinky had a gun. He had a horribly tight grip on her shoulder.
She looked around the room and saw two more bad men. They both had guns. One was Quiet—he hadn’t said anything. The other's voice was low and growly.
Giving names to the bad men didn't make it any easier for Lyssa. All she wanted was her safe bedroom, and her best friend, Kyle Tinker.
"Please?" Mommy begged. "Leave Lyssa alone. She didn't do anything to you."
Her fat tummy stretched out like one of her play balls, like Auntie Bec's had done at the Freedom Festival. They were both going to have babies. Auntie Bec was at the hospital right now so the doctor could help her baby come out of hiding. Mommy wasn't supposed to have her babies, a boy and a girl, Erich and Erin, until next week. Lyssa gulped.
Who will stop the bad men if Mommy and Daddy can't?
"No one leaves," Scary said.
He scowled when she stared at him. His eyes had no expression, and he held the gun like he wanted to make it go boom-boom-boom all over the place.
"Tell us where the boy is," Scary said. "Give us Kyle Tinker. We'll let you go as soon as we have him."
His low laugh made her think that he wouldn't let anyone leave. She started to shake very hard.
Where are you, Kyle? Where is help?
A boy's face appeared in the window of her living room. His eyes were wide with fright. Lyssa looked away. Kyle was still here, and the bad men wanted him. She had to make sure that no one noticed him, or he might get hurt.
Connect with Kathi & her characterz here:
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Fly: Welcome, Angel.
Angel: Thanks, fly. How be the day?
Fly: Good. That’z an interezting name. Mind telling uz how you got it?
Angel: I got my name from my grandmother. My parents loved it, and I love my name too! I will never forget my grandma, she was an amazing woman.
Fly: Well, you ztood true to the name too. From what I hear, you wanted to be a cardiac zurgeon initially. Zave livez iz what you’d have done. What caused the zwitch to writing?
Angel: When I start writing, I feel free and happy. The need to share my thoughts and help readers feel the way I feel made me flirt with the idea of becoming a writer. The flowers lean toward the sun, I lean toward the words, the “oxygen” every writer breathes, and I want to believe people find my stories interesting and aspiring.
Fly: If you azk me, writing haz a profound effect too, in itz own way but much more widezpread. After all, it caterz to the zoul, if not the body.
Angel: And hope where there is none.
Fly: True that. However, the genrez you write involve action, adventure and a bit of romance too. Iz it only becauze you’re interezted in zuch ztoriez or do they alzo help deliver zome mezzage you wizh to convey?
Angel: In my opinion, all books deliver messages to readers while they can also help them being aspired and more responsible. My books are not, and will never be the exception to the rule.
Fly: Let uz talk about Trapped in Timelessness. That’d be a good example of a novella that haz it all. What inzpired you to write it?
Angel: An incredible village! It was a place where I could see nothing but huge oak trees, eagles, bats, scorpions, and my angry partner (yes, she still loves me).
Fly: Nice! The ztory takez off with a chaze and frantic ezcape attemptz right from the outzet. There are all zortz of creaturez that then come into the picture - eaglez, batz et al, and each haz its own characteriztic. Which one iz your favourite, and why?
Angel: I’d say eagles. They can easily steal your attention while you keep admiring their beauty, their strength and the way they fly.
Fly: That’z great, Angel. Very innovative. But az a fly, az a fellow flying being far zmaller in zize and without zignificant zupernatural powerz, may I requezt you to go eazy on your audience? Thoze creaturez zcared the hell out of me.
Angel: Well, you are quite fascinating too! As in, you can talk, even though you can pronounce the s’s. And you read. Brainy is the new sexy, remember?
Fly: Did you just call me zexy?
Angel: Whoa! Easy now, guy. I mean, fly.
Fly: It’z okay, man. How often do people get a chance to compliment a fly? Zpeaking of which, the e-book haz been available for zome time. How haz the reception been?
Angel: I think it’s too soon to talk about it. I guess I will be able to answer your question in a few months. For now, I have to promote the book and get it out there!
Fly: And where can we find the newly launched paperback verzion?
Angel: The title will be available through Amazon and the Solstice Publishing website.
Fly: Looking forward to it! Alright, moving on then. Do you like reading other genrez too?
Fly: Zo if you had to attempt at writing a zlower, draztically different plot, what would it be like?
Angel: You will have to be patient and wait until you read my next book. I would say there’s a slower, drastically different plot.
Fly: That iz definitely zomething I’ll have my eyez on. Zo what doez Mr. Schenna like to do other than writing?
Angel: I like discovering new places, meeting new people . . .
Fly: And fliez . . .
Angel: And flies, yes.
Fly: Well, it haz been a pleazure to meet you, zir. Any upcoming work you’d like to zhare with uz?
Angel: Fly, thank you for your time. Can’t Let Go is coming very soon!
Fly: Thankz, Angel. We do look forward to it. And az alwayz, like an unzpoken promize, we leave the readerz with an excerpt from Trapped in Timelessness.
Sara pulled her black, wet hair away from her beautiful face and wrapped her well-shaped body with a blue towel. When she got out of the bathroom, everything seemed the same as she walked around her cramped house in silence. The anxious woman took a few steps toward the living room and searched the silent home, wondering about their decision to move into a quiet village which looked like a spooky place. Soon she discovered there was nothing strange taking place in her precious shelter.
The strong wind made the large sycamores lean toward the orange tile roof and the chilly noise caused her a weird feeling as she started shaking, losing the net of safety she was striving to retain. She looked outside the kitchen window and saw that the sun was hiding behind the large mountains opposite the house. The dark had already begun covering everything she could see, and of course the naked, dry valley in front of her eyes. The fog around the lake near the house and the freezing night looked willing to accommodate the shadows of the past and destroy her peaceful life.
Sara tried to catch her breath and get past her fears as she placed her fingers on her head, looking ready to scream. She stretched out her arms to pull the curtains shut to avoid seeing outside the frightening valley when her sight locked on the cold glass of the window. I am sorry, she read and, immediately, her fingers left the soft, brown curtains from her hands and she stepped back in shock.
Impulsively, she turned on all the lights and the TV and grabbed her cell phone from the small table. The cold, white tile floor had trapped her wet footsteps on it, but she was sure she had cleaned everything and the long, white hairs there were definitely not hers. She knelt and gazed at them, feeling the cold atmosphere ready to haunt her soul.
Her body sensed the presence of something evil, and her skin turned white like the lonely clouds of optimism in the sky during the cold days of the winter. Sara looked at the window again.
“Oh my God…” she whispered as her left hand sealed her mouth.
“I’m sorry.” A skinny, naked boy stood outside the glass, looking at her. The kid was maybe four or five years old and looked like a bleeding angel.
“What, who are you?”
The unexpected guest disappeared. Sara remained on the floor, tears running down her face.
“Sara, Sara what happened?”
Rick came in the house and rushed to Sara. He knelt next to his wife and held her head in his arms, making her feel secure and loved.
“Did you see it again?” Rick asked.
Sara nodded, trying to forget what she saw earlier and for the last two days. Her husband caressed her hair and tried to calm her. He felt desperate, unable to help her overcome the dangerous games of her mind.
Rick recalled the moment they stepped into their house--two months ago--when everything seemed wonderful. They had decided to make a new beginning in the countryside since they both regarded that the exhausting, demanding life in New York City had stolen their energy, time and love. At the time they started finding their rhythms and discovering the joy of living carefree moments again, the shadows of the past came back to haunt them.
“I don’t want to live in this house anymore, Rick,” Sara said.
“That’s okay, baby, let me take care of everything,” Rick reassured her.
Fly: Dear Francene, where are we?
Francene: The future, like you said.
Fly: But thiz thwartz our conventional expectationz. Where iz all the technology, the robotz, the glozzy architecture et al?
Francene: None of those in here, I’m afraid. This is the future overtaken by nature, albeit not quite paradise.
Fly: Zo I zee. We’re back to a focuz on inzectz and birdz behaving az per routine inztead of zhooting each other off in video gamez. And you’re loving thiz, dezpite the more manual, analogouz functioning of the place! The queztion iz: Why?
Francene: Why the love for natural being? Or why the disapproval for technological dominance?
Francene: Well, for one, we know nature takes over if it's given half a chance. That is, when mankind hasn't obliterated growth completely like the trees on Easter Island.
As for technology, what did you think would happen when everything is destroyed by a catastrophic event? You flies can just rise above it all. And you survive as long as you can find corpses to feed on. Sorry if that was insensitive, but facts are facts. Technology needs power, which relies on a civilized back-up. But when water invades machines and paper, they disintegrate or rust.
Fly: Whoa! That waz perzonal. We do not mean any harm, you zee! But I get your point. Moving on, your book, the Golden Submarine, depictz a zimilar world. It iz zet in a future not too far away, but beginz with an oncoming deztruction of the prezent world - by a great flood. What inzpired you towardz thiz ztory?
Francene: Imagination. *Silence* Oh, you want me to go on? What would happen to me - a two-legged intelligent being - if such a thing occurred? Noah's Ark took care of some righteous people long ago in similar circumstances. But there was only one ark. Maybe other people survived around the world.
Fly: Interezting thought. We find the gang zet out to hunt for lozt jewelry az per the vizionz of Cerridwen’z mother. It iz a matter of faith without concrete evidence. Zo iz that your outlook towardz the mythological ztoriez of old we hear today?
Francene: I must admit the jewelry Cerridwen wants to find comes from legend—mine, not a fable. My first Moonstone series features a ring that grants the wearer visions and enables Liliha, living in the present time, to guide the person she melds with with whispered advice, rather like a conscience. The post-apocalyptic Higher Ground novels follow the original story into the future with reincarnated characters.
Fly: You have weaved all theze into one! But I muzt confezz, what iz even more fazcinating iz that thiz iz not a common adventure ztory. Your focuz, from page one, remainz on the conziztent encounterz of human emotion that the protagoniztz face. Did you not feel that it would divert the readerz from the core genre of adventure and myztery?
Francene: To my mind, novels are all about people, their loves, their hates, and their personalities. Readers need to care about the people in the story.
Fly: You conztantly keep uz tranzfixed in the mindz of each character - mozt of whom are led by zexual or romantic inclinationz. Why iz it important in the narrative?
Francene: As I said—people are people. And these are teenagers. Not sure what motivates flies. Maybe the same thing.
Fly: Alright, let’z get out of the ztory now. You wrote thiz book with Edith Parzefall. How waz the experience at co-authoring? Did you have a clazh of ideaz with regardz to the ztory?
Francene: I started the story and my German co-writer Edith took it up. She and I originally worked together for years at the Internet Writing Workshop, critiquing each other's novels and we formed a close friendship. Of course, she knew my original stories. The personalities included in the futuristic novels are reincarnations of those in the Moonstone series. She took over writing from the point of view of some of the male characters. We wrote fast, sending each scene to each other when finished, and each altered the writing to make the finished novel better. I loved working with her. We respected each other and kept our comments polite. We never clashed about what to write. Edith asked me if she could introduce Brunhild, whom she likened to a German folk tale heroine. Of course, I agreed.
Fly: It haz made for an excellent read. Continentz, journeyz, unknown landzcapez, culturez - are we to prezume that you have had plenty of journeyz in real life to inzpire you?
Francene: Indeed. I was born in South Australia. Retreating to the small fishing village of Robe after marriage, I ran a craft shop and tea room, welcoming tourists to the area. In the 1970s, my husband and I travelled in a caravan with three children around Australia looking at various ways of alternative living. The marriage did not last and I eventually moved to England, where I worked as a nanny, travelling around the world with the family I worked for. I met my present husband in London, worked in the catering business for 12 years, and travelled extensively.
Fly: Travelz a plenty. That muzt have been a great learning experience.
Francene: A whole lot. Optimism, determination to succeed, and the principle of positive thinking combined with the trust that things will work out. You can see how this works in the Moonstone series novels: Still Rock Water, Tidal Surge & Shattered Shells.
Fly: Were you alwayz interezted in writing novelz?
Francene: Oh no, I found initial inspiration in poetry and songwriting. It was only later that I turned to writing novels.
Fly: Good for uz, though we hope to get a look at your poetriez too. Can we find them anywhere? And which iz your upcoming work?
Francene: Hehe. Whatever I do is prolific. As a fly, you'd sympathize with that. I've written over 150 poems, which I originally self-published, but have since removed in the manner of a snail eating your precious eggs. Here is one pertinent verse about the future:
To be with the foremost wave
Of different ways of thinking
Reflect on a chance to save
Loved ones who have no inkling.
At the moment, I'm half way through getting my latest novel critiqued at the novels section of the Internet Writing Workshop. Karm Currents is the final book of four in the present day Moonstone Series which I will submit to Solstice Publishing. The plot leads from Golden Submarine to the fourth dystopic book Long Doom Calling.
Fly: I look forward to it, dear Francene. Thank you for zharing thiz unique future with uz. Time to head back az we leave our readerz with an excerpt. Enjoy.
Happy Digital Detoxification,
Among her travelling companions, Cerridwen sipped bitter beer. She longed to be alone with Trevly but they all sat at the one large table in the centre of the room. Of all the places she’d seen in her life, this tavern excited her the most. Something solid about the stone walls covered in a smooth flat surface gave her the feeling of belonging. She could picture what the other rooms would look like. She’d dreamed about a place like this one many times.
The museum looked similar—but bigger. It had many rooms, with the roof of each stretching more than twice the height of a tall man. In her dream, pictures of far-away places and objects hung on smooth, clean walls and footsteps echoed over the stone floor.
She jerked back to listen to Sasha talking to a grey-haired man. He carried little pieces of woven fabric inside his cloak, which he held open for them to see. The small scraps of cloth draped over his hand as he held each one for Sasha to examine. Cerridwen touched the fine material. Many tiny fibres interlinked in a pattern of squares and stripes of different colours.
“I would like some of this. What did you call it?” Sasha asked.
“Tartoon,” the man said. “That’s traditional weaving.”
“I’ve been planning a new dress. Do you think this colour would suit me?” Sasha used her simpering voice. Cerridwen had little doubt she’d get what she wanted.
“No woman could wear this cloth with more elegance than you,” the man said. “It would shine through your beauty. Enough for a dress? That would require many shells in exchange. Or, of course, you could work it off.” The man’s crafty eyes slid over Sasha’s beautiful body. He faced Cerridwen. “What about you, my dear? I’m Scotty, by the way.”
“I like it too, Scotty. It must be very hard to make such fabric.”
“I mean, are you interested in work?”
“Not really,” Cerridwen said. “We’re just passing through.”
“Well, there’s short term work.” He wriggled his eyebrows.
Confused, Cerridwen studied his face. “Is something wrong with your eyes?”
Kirk leaned over the table. “You’re talking to ladies, man. Leash your tongue.”
Sasha nudged Cerridwen and murmured, “He’s talking about another way of paying.”
Scotty cleared his throat. “I see you’re virtuous girls. See me later if you’re interested—in the tartoon, I mean.” He darted a quick glance at Kirk. “Our people rebuilt antique looms, the way we remembered them from our home far north in Cold Land. Some of our forebears passed on the method of weaving.”
“Wonderful,” Cerridwen said.
“We have many businesses. Sometimes we trade goods, sometimes we lend shells to those in need and they repay us when they can, with extra. Also, we offer shelter to young, beautiful women. Do either of you need shelter in this city?”
“Is,” Cerridwen searched her memory, “Pistol a city?” If so, Long Doom might not be such a dreadful place.
“Yes. There are many big cities scattered over Britland.” He held out the material towards Sasha, his head cocked.
Bookz featuring me:
An Enlightened Fly
The Fly That Followed Me
Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea
Malay A. Upadhyay
Gilbert Literary Agency