"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Publisher Spotlight: Aphrodite's Apples
Saje Williams is looking down the barrel of his fortieth birthday, though few people would ever guess it. He lives in the nicest little city in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, a pack of dogs, a cat, a snake, and a mouse named 'Leftover'.
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Saje W.: I was an avid reader even as a child. I learned to read even before I started school. It became something of an addiction. By the time I was in 4th grade, taking my books away from me had become something of a punishment for not doing what I was supposed to do in school. Of course, my response to that was to break out a notebook and start writing my own stories.
It didn't take me long to realize that the ONLY career in which I was really interested was writing.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Tell us about your writing schedule.
Saje W.: I work full-time and write when I can. I just moved back to swing shift so I can put in a couple hours a night, immersed in peace and quiet, after I get home.
PNR: To what extent did the television and movies you watched as a child influence you gravitating to the science fiction genre as a writer?
Saje W.: You know, I'm not sure TV did, really. Though I liked some stuff when I was a kid, I've come to the conclusion that TV really sucked through the seventies and eighties. I probably got more out of Saturday morning cartoons, when you get right down to it.
My major influence in this direction was from my father, who tends to prefer hard science fiction, and my stepmother, who started reading 'The Hobbit' to me in 3rd Grade. She stopped about a quarter of the way into the book, so I ended up picking it up and finishing it myself before moving on to the rest of the series.
PNR: Which author(s) is your favorite? And who has most influenced your work?
Saje W.: Hard to say. I've been influenced by so many. Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Fred Saberhagen, Mercedes Lackey, Spider Robinson, Glen Cook, Holly Lisle, Tanya Huff, Anne Rice, Anne Bishop, and Laurell Hamilton. To name a few.
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Saje W.: Keeping my muse awake. Sometimes a story comes on like gangbusters then fizzles a little along the way. I just have to keep plugging at it until something captures my imagination again and it takes off again. It happens with everything I write that's longer than a short story, but somehow this process seems to work just fine. It's just occasionally frustrating.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Saje W.: Tension, humor, romance, and characters people can relate to.
PNR: Your first two books, LOKI'S SIN and OF MAN AND MONSTER, have received a very positive response from readers and reviewers; could you tell us about your Infinity: Earth series?
Saje W.: Imagine an Earth very much like our own, but one where a race of immortals, two hundred refugees from a very different Earth, had fled to escape the attentions of a rapacious empire of alien monsters after the destruction of their own world. But their enemy isn't done. Their world was just one in a long chain.
The Middle Ages, this Earth. The enemy makes a preemptive strike, infecting the population with a series of diseases designed to damage human DNA. Their goal? To take away the human ability to use magic.
In the beginning of the 21st Century, the immortal Loki discovers what had been done and introduced a metavirus to reverse the damage. Of course, being Loki, he couldn't just leave it at that. He introduced several other metaviruses at the same time, ones that turned ordinary mortals into something more.
And, while trying to save the life of a dying woman, he accidentally changes her into something no longer human, no longer alive in the ordinary sense. The first vampire.
Loki’s Sin sets the stage for the rest of the series, and though it’s the first book in the series, it’s almost a prequel, and not necessary to enjoy those that come after. Each book stands alone, though they each build on those that came before them. Book 1 is primarily about the immortals, while Book 2 deals with the vampires, then Book 3 (due out this December) involves the very first lycanthrope and the woman he loves, a powerful mage and federal agent with some serious family issues.
PNR: An epic series such as Infinity: Earth requires extensive world-building; tell us about the challenges you face in world building and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters? Do you write your characters to fit the world you have created or vice versa? How much research is involved?
Saje W.: An awful lot of the research was done before I ever started the series. I became interested in nanotechnology some years back, and dug into everything I could discover about it. This became the basis for the metaviruses Loki created. Then there’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that, like dealing with how ordinary humans deal with those the viruses change, that requires a fair amount of understanding of human society and political structures, as well as basic psychology. These are truly the books I was meant to write, for whatever reason. They feed off of one another and the world almost builds itself.
PNR: I find your approach to the Gods of Mythology as Alien refugees fascinating; can you tell us how you expanded this idea in Infinity: Earth?
Saje W.: I wanted to come at it from a different angle than anyone else had so far. Mythology has fascinated me since I was in grade school. I read everything dealing with the Greek Gods early on, and then expanded my search into the Norse mythos in Jr. High. I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are pagan, and they take the nature of the Gods thing pretty seriously, but, in talking to them, I was left with the question 'what if everything we'd been taught was all wrong? We've all played the game where we sit in a circle and whisper something to the person next to us, by the time it makes it all the way around, it's usually very different than it was when it started. I took that concept, threw in several thousand years of history and mythology, and said "what if this is really the way everything was and we just messed up the whole story along the way?"
PNR: Your stories feature a number of paranormal abilities and beings, is this challenging?
Saje W.: Yes. I went out of my way not to say, "okay, these things exist. The world at large just didn't know about them." I gave them origins. They haven't been hiding among us, they are new born in our world, and we all have to figure out what that means to the human race as a whole.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? What are the challenges you face in balancing these two elements?
Saje W.: Definitely character driven. The characters make the plot come alive.
Take Loki's Sin. The two protagonists are Loki and Athena. Loki was a scientist on his home world, and has been waiting all this time for his adopted world to catch up to the technological level he needs to continue his work. But, as one of the other immortals points out later, Loki is an odd sort for a scientist, since he works as much on gut feeling as by the standard scientific methodology. If he thinks something will work, he just does it. He’s usually very successful, but it also leads to unexpected consequences.
Athena had lost sight of who she was. She’d lost confidence in herself and had been hiding among the mortals until Loki and another immortal, Deryk Shea, forced her out into the open. Enough of her personality was left for her to join the battle to save her adopted home, but every minute is a struggle against the self-doubt that has crippled her for so long.
PNR: Which of your characters was your favorite to write? The most challenging?
Saje W.: I'd have to say my favorite character, and the most challenging, was Jasmine Tashae, the protagonist of Book 4, 'Lady of Blades'. She's my darkest heroine to date—not quite an anti-hero, but she certainly walks the line. She has her own ideas of right and wrong, and of justice, and it’s really not a good idea for anyone to get in her way when she's in pursuit of that justice.
Though I have to say that Raven, the male protagonist of Sword and Shadow, comes in a close second. I just like him as a character.
PNR: How much of a role do the characters' romantic relationships play in the books you have written?
Saje W.: Quite a bit. I think romance is an important part of character development. I’ve learned a lot by reading romance—in fact, my favorite genre to read these days is romantic suspense. People throw obstacles in the way of their own happiness all the time, and just because it’s a fantasy world doesn't make this element of the story any less real. People struggle with their desires and their self-doubts all the time. The only book so far that doesn’t have a strong romantic storyline is 'Of Man and Monster', and that’s primarily because it didn't fit. It’s really about self-discovery and there just wasn't room for a love interest for at least one of the protagonists. And I did introduce a character I'd intended to be a romantic opposite for the other protagonist, but the needs of the story superseded that intention and, as it turned out, it made for a more interesting story arc in the next book.
PNR: In your opinion, what is it about the futuristic/sci-fi genre that seems to cross the traditional male/female reader boundaries? Do readers expect more or less romantic elements in this genre?
Saje W.: Anything is possible, and I think that draws a lot of people to the genre. It seems to me to be able to break out of ruts better than almost any other genre because there aren’t many, if any, hard and fast rules. The only barriers in sci fi and fantasy seem to be those things no one has done, yet. And romantic elements are a pretty standard theme in fantasy, if not sci-fi, probably because fantasy, as a genre, is a natural progression from the classic fairy tale—or at least, the fairy tale as we'd like them to be, and many fairy tales have strong romantic themes. Plus, as fantasy has grown into a strong contender on its own, rather than just a sub-genre of sci-fi, the female voices have become a strong influence over all. And that, in my opinion, is a good thing. We male authors can learn a lot from our female counterparts.
PNR: You describe your writing as 'paranormal science fantasy', I think perhaps you have created a new sub-genreJ What is it about this genre that captures your imagination? Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Saje W.: LOL. I’ve also been using the term 'futuristic urban fantasy' as well. Science-fantasy is relatively uncharted territory. Most people tend to stick to one side of the aisle or the other, with only a few people trying to mix the two genres in equal measure. Piers Anthony did it in his Incarnations of Immortality series, and Julian May in her Saga of Pliocene Exile, but very few authors are ambitious enough to explain how it all might work. That's actually what I've tried to do. I’ve taken common elements of both science fiction and fantasy, and put them together in a way I believe makes sense.
Magic hasn't been around but hidden. It was stolen from us. By alien invaders who take the long view and plan for centuries before invading. And it's not mystical. It involves the manipulation of the same energy that creates new universes as per quantum theory. Vampires aren't damned creatures tainted by demonic forces; they're carriers of a unique disease. Most of the 'monsters' are man-made, or, at least, made by people who were once human.
I wanted to do something different. This is what I came up with.
PNR: What are your plans for the Infinity: Earth series, will we be seeing more stories set in this universe you have created?
Saje W.: At the moment I'm taking a break from it play in the Infinity: Prime universe, but I'm sure I'll return with a sequel to Lady of Blades sooner or later. I've got some ideas in that direction already. I also have several short stories set in that universe that may make it into an anthology somewhere down the line. I'm nowhere near done with the setting yet.
PNR: SWORD AND SHADOW is scheduled for release in January 2007 from Samhain Publishing, and will kick off your new series, Infinity: Prime. Could you tell us a little about this new Infinity project and what your plans are for the series?
Saje W.: Infinity: Prime is set about two hundred years after the end of Infinity: Earth. The Cen War is ancient history—at least for normals…many of the characters who come to the fore in Infinity: Prime were players in the War.
Infinity: Prime is about a civilization that exists between the various Earths, trying to ride herd on those who would exploit the less advanced worlds for their benefit. There are several agencies in operation, all based in an artificial universe called Starhaven. They send out operatives to various worlds to chase down renegades or put a lid on potentially explosive situations. They also keep an eye out for any sign of Cen encroachment. The Cen may have been chased off of their Earth, but they're still out there, and they're still hungry.
Eventually what the Immortal High Court of Realities, the council of immortals who run the agencies, wants to do is to chase the Cen back to their own universe and free all the worlds they’ve taken during their eons of warfare. But that's not going to be an easy task, and every little victory they can claim over the Cen in the meantime gets them a little closer to being able to take the fight to them.
Sword and Shadow begins the series, and tells the story of the vampire Raven, and the mortal metapsi Val, who’s assigned to help him out clearing up a little problem on a distant version of Earth. They’re completely different people, with entirely different jobs to do. The last thing either of them expects out of the deal is to fall in love.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months? Do you have any new series in development?
Saje W.: I’m currently working on a sequel to Sword and Shadow, tentatively titled 'Pale Hand of Darkness'. It picks up where S&S left off, bringing together two of the secondary characters from the first book in the series. This time one of the immortals, a legendary party girl, meets her match in the form of a male vampire who isn't interested in becoming just another notch on her bedpost. He has no intention of making it easy on her.
They undertake a particularly dangerous mission on a world dominated by vampires, setting out to free the mortals from their bondage. It will test both of their resolve, and their strength of purpose.
I also recently submitted the first book in another intended series, this one called Infinity: Empire, that deals with the future of the immortals’ Earth after the Cen War, and begins with a novel called 'Tales from the Magitech Lounge',that deals with a nightclub in San Francisco where the “freaks” form their own kind of family, and share the joys and burdens of being odd in a world that still doesn’t quite know how to deal with their kind.
PNR: Thank you, Saje, for taking time out to speak with us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Saje W.: Thanks, Dee. I really enjoyed it.
Best place to start is on my website. http://www.sajewilliams.com
Everything you might need to know about my work and my ultimate intentions can be found there, as well as links to my yahoo group (which is primarily a mailing list to keep people informed of my newest projects and how things are going) and an e-mail link to contact me directly.
Buy it now! Wings e-PressBook 2: Infinity Earth Saga
June 1, 2006
e-Book ~~~~~~~~~~ Wings e-Press
Trade Size Read the Reviews!
OF MAN AND MONSTER Detective Rachel Flynn is a smart woman. She doesn't believe in the undead. But the clues are starting to point that way and she's smart enough to see it. Doesn't mean she has to like it.
Then her son disappears.
Plunged into a race against time, young Cory Flynn must set aside everything he thought he knew about life and the universe to fight against a new kind of evil.
Book 1: Infinity Earth Saga
LOKI'S SIN - Is it the end of the world? The Enemy is coming. A handful of the old gods are all that stand between the Earth and total devastation. What can turn the tide? Loki has a plan. But, then again, Loki always has a plan.
Lining up for what might be the final battle, they must deal with the both the Enemy's advance guard and traitors within their own ranks.
Buy it Soon! Wings e-Press
Book 3: Infinity Earth Saga
FREAK CITY - The wolf is hunting.
It's where the immortals
live and play.
But this werewolf is no bloodthirsty monster.
He's going to be a
Fed. And plans to use every resource available to him
to find out what happened to his best friend.
Seeking his friend, and with the aid of Amanda Keening, mage and federal agent, he starts digging. And together they unearth several shocking secrets bubbling up from beneath the roiling surface of "Freak City."
Featured in this issue:Futuristic/Sci-Fi Romance Aphrodite's Apples Press
Rowena Cherry Colby Hodge H.S. Kinn, Aphrodite's Apples Patti O'Shea Michelle M. Pillow Linnea Sinclair
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are copyrighted to the authors/publishers.