Author Interview: Joseph Stone

Today I am interviewing Joseph Stone, author of the new horror and fantasy novel, A Perfect Night, first book in the Haunted Women series.

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DJ: Hi Joseph! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Joseph Stone:  Hello, there!  I am a historical and dark fantasy novelist.  Aside from regular folks, my characters include ghosts, demons, werewolves, and now witches.

DJ: What is A Perfect Night about?

Joseph:  This novel is about a girl named Fran who loses her mother at a young age, only to find the woman’s spirit remains by her side.  The spirit comforts Fran when she’s sad or lonely, and disciplines her when she misbehaves.  As Fran becomes a teenager, those disciplinary punishments become more severe and terrifying.  One day, the estranged family of Fran’s father contacts her, and she learns what her abilities to sense spirits truly is.

DJ: What were some of your influences for A Perfect Night and the series? 

Joseph:  I’ve always wanted to write about witches since I read Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches as a boy.  I loved the enormity of that story and the idea of a human bloodline having significance to the spirit world. 

The idea for this story came from a dear friend of mine, also named Fran, who revealed to me how she and her family have been haunted by spirits all their lives.  It’s not a matter they’re comfortable discussing, but each of them has had multiple, often unpleasant experiences with ghosts.  Fran came to believe ghosts are attracted to her family because she and her siblings can sense the ghosts’ presence.  To this day, Fran will not visit her aunt’s house because of the number of angry ghosts in the house who would taunt her as a girl. 

The idea of a haunted house simmered with me for years before Fran also revealed that her mother’s spirit has visited her many times.  They had a humorous relationship as adults in life, and to this day, her mother’s ghost plays pranks on Fran.  A favorite keepsake will go missing for days or weeks, only to reappear on Fran’s pillow one night before going to bed.  The idea of a parent remaining on earth to play with their child struck a chord with me, and a much larger story was born in my imagination.

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Author Interview: Edith Pawlicki

Today I am interviewing Edith Pawlicki, author of the new fantasy novel, Trials of Fire and Rebirth, latest installment in The Immortal Beings series.

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DJ: Hi Edith! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Edith Pawlicki: Thanks for having me! I always love talking about writing! Since 2016, I have been a full-time mother of twin boys. Honestly, that pretty much consumed my existence for two years, but I have always loved writing, and in 2018, I started again. My sons started school in 2020, and that’s given me a lot more time to write (Trials of Fire and Rebirth is my fourth book since I started writing again).Writing novels is wonderful for me because I am interested in everything! I double-majored in Japanese and Computer Science, and I minored in history; I taught English abroad and math and programming in the US before my sons were born. Throughout college, I was an assistant to the manuscript librarian at Rare Books and I spent my summers as a park ranger – so really, everything intrigues me, and books are a great way to use what I learn!

DJ: What is Trials of Fire and Rebirth and then The Immortal Beings about?

Edith: I created the Immortal Beings world for Vows of Gold and Laughter because I was fascinated by xuanhuan (western-influenced Chinese fantasy) and basically wanted to create an Asian-influenced western fantasy to explore. For Vows, I set myself the challenge of writing four very distinct characters with contrasting love stories but a shared quest. Their story was  too complex for a single volume, so I split it into tales one and two of the Immortal Beings. For each story within the series, I choose an idea  that I want to explore. For Trials of Fire and Rebirth, I was thinking about objective versus subjective reality. In the book, there’s a mortal cult that worships the God of Destruction. He thinks they’re crazy and does his best to ignore them, but as the atrocities that they commit in his name get worse, he realizes he has to face his past mistakes in order to understand and stop the cult. In the course of this, he meets a young god who is dealing with her own contradiction: she considers herself a woman, but she presents as male to the world. So the book explores both how truth can warp into delusion, and how belief can manifest a new reality, all while two gods fall in love and try to make the world a better place!

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Immortal Beings series? 

Edith: I watched the Chinese epic Ashes of Love in 2019, and it blew my mind. The only Chinese fantasy I had encountered before that was the Monkey King as a child. I started researching the mythology in Ashes of Love only to realize it was based on a fantasy novel rather than mythology – Heavy Sweetness, Ash-Like Frost by Dian Xian. I started exploring xuanhuan, xianxia, and wuxia (subgenres of Chinese fantasy) and decided I really wanted to create my own Eastern-Western fantasy fusion. Most of the book is pure fantasy, but it draws on Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Hindu, and Thai influences. I think that Japan comes through the most strongly because I was exposed to Japanese culture since birth and lived there, but my grandfather grew up in India and my sister-in-law is Chinese, so a lot of stuff in my subconscious bubbles up and merges together. 

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Author Interview: Maya Deane

Today I am interviewing Maya Deane, author of the new fantasy novel, Wrath Goddess Sing!

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DJ: Hi Maya! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Maya Deane:  “As I was sitting down to this interview, I heard about the murder of a trans woman and the acquittal of her killer. They had gone out on a date together a month before he killed her; then he tracked her down a month later and broke every bone in her face. At a time like this, when trans women’s lives are under constant peril and what little progress we’ve made is threatened by total annihilation, I think the most salient thing about me is that I am a trans woman, and will live or die with other trans women. In happier times, I might also add that I am a genuinely strange woman, a linguist’s daughter, a poet, obsessed with history, mad for cats, glorious in jewelry, skilled in the ways of food, cunning with makeup, and, no lie, an instructor in meme analysis. But all of that is beside the point when the lives of my sisters can be ended, free of consequences to their murderers, because one man decided to go back and murder his Tinder date and there was at least one transmisogynist on the jury, happy to rebrand the trans panic murder defense as something like ‘fear of mistaken gender identity.’”

DJ: What is Wrath Goddess Sing about?

Maya: Wrath Goddess Sing is about divine anger and love. It is the story of Achilles, a woman like me – and a legendary warrior – who fled to the island of Skyros to live as herself, far from the cruelty of the world outside. But war followed her to Skyros, and the heroes of the Achaians demanded that she fight for them to recover the lost Hittite princess Helen, whom the Achaians viewed as an innocent kidnapping victim cruelly ripped from her husband’s people. Naturally, Achilles had no interest in fighting for her old oppressors, but when her divine mother the Silent One offered her everything to fight – and destroyed the bubble of safety she built for herself on Skyros – Achilles went to war. There she found death – and love.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Wrath Goddess Sing

Maya: They are innumerable, but I owe a particular debt to Tanith Lee, who taught me that stories can be spells and that love can become more powerful than any god. I also owe a debt to the late Shannon Andrews, who encouraged me to tell the truth and never coddle my readers, and to Alina Boyden, who taught me so much about the way transmisogyny constrains trans women’s lives – and taught me how we must, with absolute resourcefulness and indomitable bloody-mindedness in the face of it all, persist, thrive, grow, and live

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Author Interview: Andrew Claydon

Today I am interviewing Andrew Claydon, debut author of the new fantasy novel, The Simple Delivery, first book in the Chronicles of the Dawnblade series!

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DJ: Hi Andrew! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Andrew:  Firstly, let me thank you, DJ, for offering to interview me. This is my first interview as an author, so it’s really exciting. 

So about me, I’m an independent author from Somerset in the United Kingdom who has just published his first book. I grew up a lover of fantasy and sci-fi in any form; films, television, books, whatever. I’ve also always been quite creative. Over the years I’ve tried multiple times to write a book, as it’s always been a dream of mine. My failing was self editing. I’d write a couple of chapters, go back over it, assume it made no sense and scrap the idea for a while. During lockdown I got that writing itch again. I’d started seriously at the gym just beforehand, weight lifting. With that comes a bit of mental discipline. As I started to write again, I was able to keep pushing myself on, ignoring the idea to edit too early and get my first draft finished. If I can push myself to do one more set on the squat rack I can certainly ignore those negative voices in my head. Finally, I had a first draft done. It was rough, but I saw the potential in it and so did others who read it. That was enough to give me the drive to keep working and get my book published, which I am massively excited about. It’s been an amazing journey so far.

DJ: What is The Simple Delivery about?

Andrew: It’s about a boy called Nicolas. I say boy, he’s just turned 21, but I’m thirty nine so that seems pretty young to me now. He is your atypical village boy and he is comfortable being just that. He has no big dreams of adventure or seeing the world. He is happy with his life as is. If I just let him do that, it wouldn’t make a very interesting book. Nicolas’s bubble bursts when he gets chosen to go and deliver a message. He, obviously, doesn’t want to go, but he’s in a situation where he has no real choice. He consoles himself with the fact that at least it’s a simple job. It is, until one near death experience changes everything, and suddenly he finds his life spiraling out of his control as he goes on an adventure to save a kingdom from a necromancer and a horde of vampires.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Simple Delivery and the series? 

Andrew: This could be quite a long answer. If I were to narrow it down I would say that the film Willow would be one of my biggest influences. It’s fantasy, but at times it can be light as well as serious, fun as well as action packed. That was the tone I went for with the world I built and how I wrote the story. There are serious moments of course, but also some tongue in cheek moments to balance it out. I think another influence would be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I always loved the interplay between the characters, the banter. That’s something I hoped to replicate in my dialogue. Beyond that, there are just so many others; Warhammer games, Marvel, Skyrim, Conan to name a few. I think some of my influences are apparent in the book as I like to include little nods, or easter eggs, to my various influences. Sometimes it might just be a bit of dialogue that makes you think ‘hang on…’, or the name of a character. Some people will notice them, some may not. But for me it’s fun to include them anyways. 

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Author Interview: K.D. Edwards

Original Photo by York Wilson

Today I am interviewing K.D. Edwards, author of the new fantasy novel, The Hourglass Throne, final book in the first trilogy of The Tarot Sequence, which has been planned as a 9-book series!

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DJ: Hi K.D.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

K.D. Edwards: Absolutely! I’m…. Well, what am I? I’ve lived in a lot of states, and held a lot of jobs. Eventually I settled into HR, and built a life around that in higher education in North Carolina. I’ve wanted to be a published writer as long as I can remember–and set out to fulfill that dream over 10 years ago when I began planning this series of a reimagined, modern-day Atlantis.

DJ: What is The Hourglass Throne and then the Tarot sequence about?

K.D.: It’s the world as we know it – with an Atlantis. The island, which had remained hidden for all of human history, was finally revealed in the 1960s. In the modern day, my story focuses on the fallen prince of the Sun Court, and the found family he builds as he grows closer to reclaiming his family’s mantle. It’s series built around several core concepts: broad world-building, humor, found family, and queer identity. The HOURGLASS THRONE marked the climax of the first trilogy in the planned 3-trilogy series.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Tarot sequence

K.D.: Definitely the major arcana of the tarot deck. I use the archetypes as models for the power centers in my series. The main character, Rune, is the last prince of the Sun Throne. I was also inspired by the great urban fantasy series – Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Ben Aaronovitch’s River of London…

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?  

K.D.: Oh good grief, I hope so. I try to make each of my characters as distinct as possible. I think I succeeded? I know my readers have their favorites, which is always a good sign. But the main character is Rune – the fallen prince. His most profound relationship is with his human bodyguard, Brand. They were bonded at birth in the crib, and have spent nearly every moment of their life together. They are not romantically intimate–but they are, in many ways, the love of each other’s lives. The sphere of characters expanded from there: the quirky prophet; the knight-like boyfriend; the accidentally-adopted teenaged ward…. I’m also trying to show, as the series progresses, greater representation of queer identity. Rune is best described as demisexual; Addam as pan sexual; Quinn as ace; Layne as non-binary…

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Author Interview: Aric McBay

Today I am interviewing Aric McBay, author of the new speculative fiction novel, Kraken Calling!

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DJ: Hi Aric! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Aric McBay: I’m an author, an organizer, and an organic farmer.

I live and work on an organic farm on one of the Thousand Islands (Ontario) on the traditional territory Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territory. it’s very beautiful and lush this time of year, and we have a lot of wildlife, including endangered species that we set aside habitat for. 

Being a farmer – and seeing the huge impact the climate emergency is already having on our farm and farms around the world – definitely helped motivate me to write this book.

As a community organizer and farm organizer, I work on a lot of different issues from prisoner justice to Indigenous solidarity to anti-pipeline campaigns to unionization, to name a few.

As an author, most of my previous work has been non-fiction about social movements and social movement strategy. My book Full Spectrum Resistance (2019, Seven Stories Press) is a two-volume exploration of how to build more effective movements. And your readers might also be interested in my 2020 book Direct Action Works: A legal handbook for civil disobedience and non-violent direct action in Canada, which they can get for free online. 

Kraken Calling is my sixth book, but it’s my first novel. The shift to fiction has been exciting and fulfilling for me. This may seem counterintuitive, but I believe that fiction can allow us to connect to fundamental truths even more deeply than non-fiction.

DJ: What is Kraken Calling about?

Aric: Kraken Calling about social movements, the climate future, and people trying to make a difference in the world, even when doing so is extremely difficult. 

The chapters of Kraken Calling alternate between 2028 and 2051.

In 2028, activists fight an increasingly desperate battle against the climate emergency and capitalism, but their every victory brings down repression. Meanwhile, discontented by protests and polemics, a radical movement named Kraken grows in the shadows. 

Twenty years later, an oppressive regime has taken control after a series of epidemics, economic shortages, and ecological disasters. The population suffers ruthless “triage” at the hands of an Emergency Authority that cares only for its own inner circle. Revolutionaries struggle for survival and support. In the city and on a remote farm, regular people try to stay out of the conflict. But no one can avoid the coming storm. 

Popular social movements and underground liberation groups clash, and people struggle against the limitations of their time. In 2028, the underground seems premature—but by 2051, they may be too late.

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Author Interview: Brandi Elise Szeker

Today I am interviewing Brandi Elise Szeker, author of the new novel, The Pawn and The Puppet, first book in The Pawn and The Puppet series!

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DJ: Hey Brandi! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Brand Elise Szeker: Thanks for having me, DJ. I’m 27, for the last five years I’ve worked as a social media marketing specialist, but have been writing The Pawn and The Puppet for the last ten years (on and off, of course.) And I have four rescue dogs that are my babies, Louis, Stella, Cali, and Nova. 

DJ: What is The Pawn and The Puppet about?

Brandi: The Pawn and The Puppet is a New Adult Dystopian Romance set in a problematic, tortuous asylum. We follow our main character, Skylenna, as she tries to change the ways of the asylum treatments (simulated drownings, chair binding, electroconvulsive therapy.) and tries to understand the patients and their traumatic pasts. But she’s given the ultimate challenge, the thirteenth room. The most dangerous patient in the asylum, with a split personality, genius mind, and a master manipulator. 

During her time getting to know him, she learns of the mystery of his sinister past, and realizes he might know more about her than she does. 

This book has extensive trigger warnings. Please take them seriously as they are not suitable for anyone under the age of eighteen. 

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Pawn and The Puppet and the series? 

Brandi: The show Criminal Minds played a big part in the complexity of each case. I did thorough research for asylum cases that would match the extremity of the asylum, but I was originally drawn to the idea by the cases in Criminal Minds. 

I also loved the dystopian world of The Hunger Games and Divergent, hence, why I pictured Theo James when I wrote Patient Thirteen. LOL

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Author Interview: Chelsea Abdullah

Today I am interviewing Chelsea Abdullah, author of the new fantasy novel, The Stardust Thief, first book in The Sandsea trilogy!

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DJ: Hi Chelsea! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Chelsea Abdullah: Hi DJ, thanks for having me! My name is Chelsea. I’m an American-Kuwaiti SFF writer who loves writing found family dynamics, exploring innovative storytelling structures, and twisting fantasy tropes and archetypes.

DJ: What is The Stardust Thief about?

Chelsea: The Stardust Thief is a quest narrative about a merchant, a prince, a thief, and a jinn who travel the desert in search of a mythical magic lamp. It’s an epic fantasy filled with stories-in-stories, chaotic misadventures, and…ghouls? So many ghouls.

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Stardust Thief and the series? 

Chelsea: The central inspiration behind The Stardust Thief are the stories I grew up listening to, both Arab oral tales and stories from the 1001 Nights collection. I was born and raised in Kuwait and, when I left home to go to university in the U.S., the first thing I latched onto as a writer were those stories. It was my nostalgia for those tales, and my pride in my heritage, that inspired me to write the Arab-inspired fantasy that would eventually become The Stardust Thief.   

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? 

Chelsea: Love this question! How about…

Loulie: Loulie al-Nazari is a legendary merchant who keeps her secrets close and her heart hidden. I fondly refer to her as a being of chaos because she always manages to stubbornly carve her own path forward. She’s a bit of a wild force, a storm cloud of emotion that is difficult to predict.

Mazen: Mazen is a prince whose head is filled with more daydreams than common sense. Soft-hearted and empathetic, he’s a bit of an untraditional hero; no combat skills, no adventuring experience—but he’s incredibly passionate about storytelling, and perceptive of those around him. Also: he’s the comic relief character. I’ve always wanted to write a comic relief POV character! 

Aisha: A stab-first-ask-questions-never thief, Aisha is a jinn hunter and one of the legendary forty thieves—a woman who single mindedly pursues her revenge against jinn. Aisha’s mind is filled with a bunch of closed doors, even to herself. But in the story she’ll be forced to open some of those doors…and face her prejudices in ways she never expected.

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Author Interview: R.W.W. Greene

Today I am interviewing R.W.W. Greene, author of the new science-fiction novel, Mercury Rising!

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DJ: Hi R.W.W. Greene! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

R.W.W. Greene: Hi, DJ. Thanks so much for inviting me. 

Once upon a time, I was a Teacher Who Writes, but in recent years, I’ve made the pivot to Writer Who Teaches. These days I mostly work with college students, but I returned to the high-school classroom this spring for a brief encore. Before I started teaching, I did a decade as a print journalist. I’ve a couple dozen published sci-fi shorts to my name, and two prior novels — The Light Years and Twenty-Five to Life — with Angry Robot Books. I am an amateur beekeeper, and I collect manual typewriters. I drink my coffee black.

DJ: What is Mercury Rising about?

R.W.W. Greene: It’s about a small-timer named Brooklyn Lamontagne who gets caught up in things way above his pay grade and skillset. Imagine an extra from the film Taxi Driver or Saturday Night Fever who wakes up one day on Mars in the midst of an alien invasion.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Mercury Rising

R.W.W. Greene: The Seventies — the entire decade — played a huge role. The music, the movies, the politics, the attitudes, the clothing … I listened to a lot of music, read a lot of history, and wrote from photo references for this one. Add a strong desire not to think too hard about the future for a little while and my regard for the Apollo program. Bake at 250F for a few years.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?  

R.W.W. Greene: Brooklyn is so far out of his depth it is or isn’t funny, depending on your attitude to such things. He just wants to pay his bar tab, help out his ma, and keep the personal drama to a minimum. He swears a lot, has some regrets, and once lit his cousins’ tent on fire. 

I feel like there are a lot of interesting characters in the book, but I’m likely biased. None of them are perfect. Some are smart. A few are well-educated. They’re all really, really outclassed by what they’re facing. There are no heroes in Mercury Rising, just people trying to figure it out and doing what they can in response. 

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Author Interview: Terri Favro

Today I am interviewing Terri Favro, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Sisters Sputnik, the sequel to Terri’s 2017 novel Sputnik’s Children!

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DJ: Hi Terri! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Terri Favro: Hi DJ, thanks for your interest! I’m a Canadian writer based in Toronto but I grew up on the U.S.-Canadian border in a rural-industrial town called St. Catharines. (Yeah, it’s really spelled that way.) It’s not far from Niagara Falls. In addition to being what we’d now called a ‘rustbelt’ town, the Niagara region in Canada is home to a microclimate that makes it a good wine and fruit growing area, so it attracted a lot of immigration from Italy including my who were from the mountains of northwestern Italy. I grew up in a two acre vineyard. My father and grandfathers were enthusiastic winemakers, but Dad was also a bit of a techno-geek, an amateur inventor. He made his living as an electrician in a car parts plant and was eventually given the job of looking after the first industrial robot, UNIMATE. This was in the late sixties. Dad became completely enamored with UNIMATE (which he called “Robby”, short for “Roberta”, because in his mind the robot was a female). He started writing the odd purchase order for spare robotic parts that he’d bring home and use to build working robots in our home. I loved hearing stories about “Robby” from him and imagined her as a humanoid robot, rather than a gigantic robotic arm. We were the only kids on the block with a self-mowing lawnmower in 1970. So science, machinery, space flight, robots and sci-fi were big interests in our house (along with comic books, which I loved). My family was also obsessed with oral storytelling, which influenced me from an early age to start creating stories of my own. I was storytelling before I could read or write. I’m a fabricator of tales of the fantastic going back to my childhood. (That’s what my last name means in English – ‘fabricator’.) In addition to writing novels (four to date), stories, essays and one book of nonfiction (about robots of course), I’ve made my living as a freelance writer, mostly copy and content for ad agencies. I’ve worked on campaigns for technologies, like mobile phones, when they were still emerging.

DJ: What is The Sisters Sputnik about?

Terri: It’s an odyssey through the multiverse, crossed with a love story. At its heart it’s  about what it means to be human in the unpredictable future we’re hurtling toward. Are robots and AI assistants capable of being as human as we are? Are humans becoming more like machines? Is storytelling the ultimate test of what makes us human?

To  give a quick sketch of the storyline, three itinerant storytellers (a comic book writer, her unpaid intern and an AI)  are wandering the multiverse, telling stories for anyone willing to pay. As quantum voyageurs, they’re able to jump from one time continuum to another. In The Sisters Sputnik, the multiverse isn’t infinite: new continuums are only calved when a nuclear detonation occurs in our reality, referred to as Earth Standard Time. That’s  2,058 worlds, to date, including all the test detonations since World War II. The book opens with the Sisters in the Coordinated Universal Time Zone, better known as Cozy Time, a world that has forgotten how to tell stories. Very profitable territory for storytellers-for-hire! The senior storytellerDebbie Reynolds Biondi ends up in bed with an old flame from another continuum, and  spends one long night telling him the story of how the Sisters started to wander the universe, in particular their run-ins with  a race of robot-people who want to send humans back into their own pasts and change the history of Earth Standard Time.. 

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