Monday, June 1, 2020

Alma Alexander Interview - The Second Star

Photo Content from Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is an author whose books include the internationally acclaimed historical fantasy The Secrets of Jin-shei published in 13 language, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, set in a fantasy China.

VOYA suggested that her Worldweavers series (Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) might be just the thing "for readers suffering Harry Potter withdrawal."

Another series, The Were Chronicles (Random, Wolf, Shifter), which dramatically changes the Were world, is about to be republished,

Other fantasies include her haunting and newly republished Midnight at Spanish Gardens, as well as Changer of Days, Wings of Fire, Empress, and a humorous science fiction novel, AbductiCon. She has edited two anthologies, River and Children of a Different Sky.

More on all her books - and links for buying them - can be found under the pull-down menu BOOKS at the top of the page.

Alma Alexander was born on the banks of the Danube in a country that no longer exists, grew up in Africa, and is married to an American she met online. She lives with him and two cats in the cedar woods of the U,S. Pacific Northwest.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Crossroad Press (July 1, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1951510399
ISBN-13: 978-1951510398


“Like its cast of returned starfarers, this rich and continually surprising novel is many things at once: a religiously-inflected first contact story; an engaging psychological mystery; a glimpse of the future through the eyes of the past; and a moving tale about the difficulties of homecoming. I highly recommend it. ” —Matt Ruff, author of Set This House in order

"The Second Star is a grandly deep wallow in multiple personality disorder material. Dr. Stella Froud is wonderful as she studies six star-faring humans who come home fractured." —Jennifer Stevenson, author of Walking on Sunshine

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I wrote my first novel-length work when I was eleven years old. It, probably thankfully, does not survive – it was everything you might expect an inexperienced barely budded wordwright to produce, and it was a prime example of the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The reason I wrote it was because I needed to tell a story of that length, that arc, to show myself that I could do it, but it was inevitably done with training wheels, with scaffolding, because I didn’t know any better, and it clung to its original material and was derivative as all get go. Let’s let that one stay in the past where it belongs. 

My first ‘good’ novel, at least my first original one, was written only three years after that, though – more than 200,000 words, handwritten in pencil, in three A4 hardcover notebooks. Yeah, I still have them. It’s astonishing how CLEAN it is – no crossings out no erasures nothing like that – it was a harbinger of things to come – I THINK my stories into existence, and very often I barely edit, except for creeping infelicities and occasional continuity. The story – well, what most people call the first draft is more like my fifth because I’ve already tried and discarded the things I don’t want, before ever writing them down. This particular novel is an intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction, something like McCaffrey’s Pern books, and I still think the bones of it are good and salvageable from the (still rampant) inexperience of the Young Writer. I’ll do that someday. 

The basic inspiration underlying my fantasy world was the medieval city-state of Ragusa, now Dubrovnik, where a catastrophic earthquake decimated the population and the patrician families were forced to consider two alternatives, raise some from the plebeian lower caste populace into the patrician ranks, or face extinction. I put both options into play, in my story, running them concurrently, watching the consequences unfold. You’d think such social engineering was ambitious, for a 14-year-old. It probably was. But it was an immense amount of fun, playing God with a world in that way. That bug bit – and I was lost from then on. Since that time I’ve published three million words, and written, oh, a lot more than that. It was that first ‘real’ novel that was my launchpad for all that.

Tell us your latest news.
Well – I’m putting together, in omnibus form, the three novels that make up the Were Chronicles (Random, Wolf, Shifter). These will now come with a foreword written by an academic – my old professor, who supervised my own Master’s degree in Molecular Biology. He told me back when the books were first published that the science was “as good as it gets” and he is willing to write a note telling people WHY - which is awesome. I am really proud of those books, and I can’t wait to have them out there and available in a single volume – I think they address a lot of issues that plague our modern world, dressed up in the silver tissue of science fantasy lies, but those underlying truths that they carry have already changed readers’ lives. I know, because they have told me so. That’s in the works.

So is a collected edition of the Val Hall stories – currently out as “Val Hall: The Even Years” and “Val Hall: The Odd Years”, in a two-volume novel-in-stories or (as I’ve recently heard something described and I like it and it fits) a ‘mosaic’ novel. The new book will be called “Val Hall: Century” and it will have all the stories of the two current volumes plus a number of new never-before-seen stories. One of those, already written, is going to be the final story in the collection, and it’s to do with the Corona Pandemic. This book won’t be out until at least 2021 by which time I HOPE we will have left the worst of it behind us – but I don’t think it should ever be forgotten. And I am a storyteller, and as such, the keeper of memory.

Other than that, I’m starting out on a new novel. Am I not always doing that…?

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
How much time do I have for this, again…?

Nothing happens in a vacuum, that’s for sure. But for me it was a buildup, with a few shining peaks – my grandfather, with his poetry, which nourished me since I was barely a coherent toddler, began my love for the written word, and then I built on that. Before I was fifteen I had read five Nobel literature laureates, before I was eighteen, ten of them. They won a prize for a reason and the way with words of a Henryk Sienkiewics or a Sigrid Undsett or a Pearl Buck or an Ivo Andric or a John Galsworthy inevitably seeped into my own shaping of those words. 

Then I discovered J R R Tolkien and he showed me what was possible when it came to creating a world of your own. Then I met Roger Zelazny and he showed me what a raw mad genius could do. Then I read Matt Ruff, and I couldn’t decide whether I hated him for his precocious mastery of story or adore him for it. Then I found Ursula Le Guin, and I STILL want to be her when I grow up. Then I read the glorious rich historical fantasies of Guy Gavriel Kay and I knew he was a signpost to what I wanted to do with my writing.

It’s the advice that I offer to everyone who wants to know what to do in order to “become” a writer – first, read. Without reading, without loving those other stories which are not your own, without doing that first, you can have no real idea what to do with the wordstuff you hold in your head, Reading is your apprenticeship, your training ground, it is a school from which you will never graduate because there will always be someone out there with something to teach you.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Once, at a book signing, a woman brought a copy of ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’ and asked if I could sign it for her adopted Chinese daughter. I asked for the name and as I was writing in the book the woman said, “I want her to know about her heritage, the stories inspired by the culture which she was born into before she came to me.” That was inspiring enough, but then, when I gave her the signed book, she said something about “giving it to my daughter when she is old enough.” I asked what age was that and she said maybe when she is fifteen or so. I asked how old the child was now. She said, “Four”. And I cried. For my book to be carried in trust, as a treasure, for a child until she was old enough to receive it and what it would bring to her… it was a gift beyond measure. I treasure the memory of that encounter. 

That girl will have received the book by now, will have read it. I wish I could find out what she thought of it. But either way – my blessings, young lady, and grow up rich in heritage, and wise, and kind, and happy.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Are we back onto “The Second Star” now? J This is a book about a collision of faith and a hyper-reality that transcends the interpretation that faith had put upon it. I would like to think that readers of this book will end up thinking about the nature of fantasy and reality, about what is true, about whether they can handle their ‘truth’ being shattered by empirical facts they cannot refute. In one sense this is a book that poses the age old question of whether humans created God or God created humans – and pondering that ultimate chicken-and-egg scenario ought to be something that this book leaves behind in its wake…

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I don’t GET distracted when I write. Ask my husband – when I was writing ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’ he literally had to pry me away from my keyboard in order to eat and sleep. I live in my worlds until the story set in them is done (and often well beyond, with some of my books). I am only just beginning to live in a different reality – post “The Second Star’ – now; while it was being written – shaped in my head, and then set down on the page – I was not distractable from that. I could take breaks – watch TV shows – have conversations about any number of other topics over meals – any of that – but then I would simply close the door on that reality and retreat into the “The Second Star” world. I belonged to that, to those people, until their story was told. 

Can you tell us when you started THE SECOND STAR, how that came about?
I have woken up many times from dreams which became stories. This one… I woke up one morning with a single sentence cast like flotsam from the oceans of night onto the bright and empty beach of the morning. “A soul is like a starfish”. That was it – that was the entire thing. It linked to no dreamstuff that I could remember, nothing to give me any kind of clue at all, but I picked it up and turned in my hands over and over again and, reader, it gleamed. It hypnotized. The more I looked on it the more complex its shape became. I began to think about it, to follow it down curves into unknown places I did not know were there; I began the “what if” game with some of the ideas that came accreting to the thing; I spent more nights dreaming on the ideas I was starting to embroider onto the base, and mornings after I woke from those dreams relating the things I had learned in the night to my long-suffering husband.

When I had a handful of pieces in my hand, they came together, into a picture, into a coherent whole, and the story was there before me. The underlay was that starfish but that was a metaphor. The real story was about that soul – the human soul, and what happens to it under pressure.

And I was off. The story had momentum. There was no stopping it any more.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
Father Philip’s central crisis was a difficult chapter to write. I was partly educated in a convent school; I have known plenty of deeply religious people in my life; I understood completely the place where my Jesuit priest was standing, and the way the world would have looked to him, to a man with a true vocation. But I had to break that, for him. I had to shatter that world. I had to push him off a high cliff and watch him fall – and there literally was no guarantee that he would not break into pieces as he hit the sharp rocks below. By this stage I was deeply invested in that character, I respected him, I loved him, I cared about him deeply – but sometimes I think there is no worse fate than to be a central character in a novel of mine because I don’t treat my characters well. Particularly the ones I care about. THEY get tested. Hard. And this was a tough test for that character.

We both survived. Barely.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
You know, I had never thought about that. From within my own books – I’d love to have my protagonist from the “Changer of Days” book, the girl after whom I’ve named myself in the Cyberworld many a time, Anghara kir Hama, meet someone like Simonis, Callidora, my ‘Empress’ from the book of the same name. They are both queens, but very different ones. It would be an interesting conversation. Further afield – I wonder what my Xaforn, from ‘The Secrets of Jin-shei’, and Eowyn of Rohan would have to talk about…?

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
A dolphin’s blowhole, which helps to produce the sounds we’ve all heard dolphins make as they cackle at humans about some private joke they aren’t about to share with us, is an airway – which means that a dolphin who is vocalizing and going underwater at the same time sounds exactly like you would sound if you were trying to do the same thing – there’s a wet gurgle that drowns the sound as the dolphin’s head submerges, and it’s wicked funny to watch. Also, their sonar is quite capable of detecting a second heartbeat which is why we were all asked, before entering the water, if any of us females in the party were pregnant or even thought we might be – because dolphins, who ‘hear’ that second heartbeat, are instantly fascinated by it and will congregate around the pregnant woman to the detriment of anyone else who might be present. They apologized for being so intrusive and personal but to justify themselves they told the story of a woman who came to swim with the dolphins and who attracted every dolphin in the pool when she waded into it – and denied vehemently that she was pregnant. A couple of weeks later they received a phone call from her. “You know those dolphins of yours?” she said, “Well, it’s like this…” If I were ever pregnant, this is how I would want to find out. By dolphin-gram.

I’ve swum with dolphins twice in my life. I will not give back a moment of those memories. Or the ridiculous facts that I know about those creatures.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
I have one of those old-fashioned articulated bears with a hard body and attached limbs that move independently. You can see the stitching on the pelt; his head is barely on his shoulders, his brown plastic eyes broke at least once and were glued back on with meticulous care, his ears are literally threadbare with the material underneath the ‘fur’ showing. Only behind the ears, where they fold back and are somewhat protected, does a hint of the true original color and texture of the bear remain – a golden velvet plush that lives on in memory now. 

That bear was handed to me by a great-uncle when I was a year old – on my first birthday. It was literally bigger than me. But it became my treasured companion and it was loved, deeply, sincerely. It still is to this day. He sits in pride of place as the aged Emperor of my plush collection, and he is going to be fifty six years old this year.

He is the reliquary of love and memory. He would be the thing I race to save if my house ever caught fire.

Best date you've ever had?
Oof. Well, it could have been the one where my date insisted that the Vietnamese meal I was about to share with him was NOT spicy (until steam came from my ears… and he laughed… and in the end I did too because the food was really good, in the end, and I walked into the whole thing with my eyes wide open…) 

Or it could have been one of my very first dates, where I asked a young golden-haired Greek Adonis to a school dance (I ‘stole’ him from another girl at my residence, whose cousin he was, and who had intended to ask him herself only I got there first… and then spent HOURS talking to him in the school courtyard as the moon rose overhead – it is a golden moment, made bittersweet by the fact that the young man in question was involved in a terrible accident not long after which affected his short-term memory – he would forget who he was talking to on the phone, in minutes, and would just go absolutely blank – he was never the same again…) 

Or it could have been meeting up with an ex-boyfriend who was still a friend – both of us on the loose in London, and we sat in a cafĂ© and got so excited about the prospect of going to see ‘Les Miserables’ that we rushed out forgetting to pay our bill and realized that only much later – and then, independently, *I* went back to pay those people and *he* did too, without telling each other, so they didn’t lose out in the end, they got paid twice for the same meal… 

Or would it be the time that my then-current beau brought me on a company outing – as his date – onto a tall ship which actually set out sail and caught the wind and I was so exhilarated by the experience that I very nearly went overboard in all the excitement. His hat DID go overboard, as he grabbed me hard by the wrist and held onto me until I could get my feet back under me again; I bruise easily and I had a plum-colored hand imprint on my arm after that, as a memento of the moment. But oh boy, was that – in SO many ways – exciting…

Or should I bring up the time when I was, for my sins, part of a Debutante Ball (and the only deb who could actually WALTZ which was a problem because we were supposed to open the ball with a Viennese waltz with our partners…) but I was, um, between boyfriends at the time, and so I was partnered with someone whom I barely knew and who was more or less there to be DANCED WITH on the night – he came to get me on the evening of the ball, out where I lived in the suburbs, and got lost, and was very late, and I piled into the car with my ballgown on looking like butter wouldn’t’ melt in my mouth, and he floored it on the highway trying to get us to the ball on time. He apologized for driving so fast, “I don’t usually drive like this,” he said. “That’s okay,” I said tranquilly, “I do.” I don’t think he spoke to me again, and after he did his duty at the ball (and brought me (much more sedately) home), he hightailed it out of my life as fast as he had been driving on that highway. I don’t suppose it’s a “great date” but it’s a hilarious memory.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
To any time where I could go back and curl up beside my grandmother again, and feel her hand on my hair, and listen to her say my name with all the love that she always put into it. She meant everything to me – I lost her thirty years ago, now, and I still miss her, every day.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
In the high drama of a changing South Africa, I saw a crowd of people turn into a mob. I use those words studiedly – a crowd is still individual people, capable of acting on their own ideas and impulses. A mob is no longer that – there are no individuals any more, just a hydra-headed monster intent on something, ONE THING, with the same idea in every mind and everyone focused on it and multiplying and enhancing it, and it speaks with the voice of thunder, and it is unstoppable, and it doesn’t care what gets in the way of what it wants.. I have seen it happen. It is terrifying. And I don’t like large crowds, to this day. I know not every crowd is a mob, but they carry the potential for it, and I tend to start looking for exits if in that situation. I sometimes miss the innocence I left behind to be trampled by that original mob, but I can never get that back again. I can deal with individuals; I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert but I can handle small groups of people fine. But get past a certain breaking point – one person too many – and I kick into a protection routine. I retreat. I try to disappear, and to hide. It isn’t a conscious thing – it’s a fear that has me by the scruff of the neck and is making me react in the only possible way that will keep me safe. The world is a different place today from what it was in the moment before I saw what I saw.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Well, it may not be a ‘unique’ fear, but my reason for it probably is. I was eleven years old, in the second year of my African childhood, and we lived in a new suburb, one that backed onto an undeveloped and virgin high-grass veldt. Our next door neighbor was what was known as a ‘White African’ – he was not someone who had just got there and didn’t know anything about the place, his parents had got here, he had been born and brought up here, he knew it well, inside out, he’d grown up inside this world. It was this man – experienced in the ways of Africa – who was snipping his hedge with a pair of garden shears one day, with me in the garden next door, observing all this. He must have clipped the tail of the green mamba hiding in the hedge bushes without noticing it; it turned and bit him; he was dead within minutes. There was nothing anyone could have done for him.

For me, to this day, there is no such thing as a ‘non-poisonous’ snake. I see one, I freeze like a rabbit. Their very existence is a terror for me.

I was *eleven*. I saw a man die. That will never leave me. This is a fear I will take to my grave.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 
Back in 1994, in New Zealand, I discovered that there was about to be a science fiction convention happening in Auckland, where I lived, around Easter of 1995. I knew nothing about conventions at that time – but I noticed that this one would have two writer Guests of Honor – Vonda McIntyre, of whom I had not heard until that moment, and ROGER ZELAZNY. One of my personal literary gods would be coming to the city where I lived, and there might be a chance of my meeting him? I was already sold. But then I found out that there would be a writing workshop, chaired by these two writing luminaries, to which only FIVE people would be admitted.

I sent in a story for their consideration immediately – six months before the event! – and then spent the next couple of months biting my nails, asking myself why I sent THAT story – ROGER ZELAZNY would see it and he would think I am a complete dork – what was I thinking – and then I got word that I was in, that I was one of the five lucky ones.

On the day, there we were, us five newbies and the two writers GoHs. The format was that we’d go round robin on our own work, with all of us weighing in with opinions on one another’s work, and then the two pros would give us their insights. Come my turn, I survived the peer review just fine, and Vonda McIntyre – who would in time become a friend – returned my story annotated to an inch of its life with little pencil scribbles in every available white space – I may have learned more from that one critique from her than I had done in YEARS that went before. 

Then – moment of truth – I quailed a little as I turned to my left, where Zelazny sat with his hands folded on the table before him. The empty table before him. There was no sign of my story at all. He turned his gaze upon me, out of a pair of Damascus-steel grey eyes, and said to me,

“I have two questions for you. One, how long have you been writing?”

And I gulped, and said, since I could hold a pencil. (and before that, I told lies.)

He nodded, and said, “And do you read, or write, a lot of poetry?”

I pled guilty to that.

He smiled. “It shows,” he said. “You have a voice all of your own. Nobody else will ever write like this.”

This was at Eastertime of 1995; by the summer of that year, he was dead. That was how narrow the window of my opportunity to meet him had been.

But the words he left with me are engraved in gold in the back of my mind, right where Zelazny’s little altar still stands, with lamps I keep always lit. Those words have taken me through dark nights of the soul. They have been wind in my sails. They have been a blessing, and an exhortation to carry on when there seemed to be no path forward.

He gave me a memory to treasure. 

Everything I have done since that moment had the light of those words shining upon it.

1. AngharaKir Hama (The Hidden Queen/Changer of Days)  Anghara is my alter ego in cyberspace, it’s been a sign-on name and an avatar name since I took my first steps into the computer universe. She grows – in the space of these books– from a suddenly inconvenient royal child heir into a poised young woman and then into the avatar of a goddess whose name was written in the prophecies… before she fulfills her purpose and becomes herself again, to take her rightful place in her own world. She’s my first strong leading lady, and I love her fiercely.

2. Xaforn (The Secrets of Jin-Shei)  there are eight jin-shei sisters in this book (and if EVER you have the urge to write a book with eight equal-weight protagonists who are all pulling off in their own direction at any given moment… go and lie down until the urge goes away…) but Xaforn stands out in many ways. She’s a warrior – but she has a tender soul, and her sense of loyalty and honor is unparalleled. She is real enough that she SPOKE HER OWN DIALOGUE in the novel. I would just stop typing and stare at the screen and think, I didn’t make her say that. I didn’t even think about it. SHE said that. SHE thinks that. She is utterly and completely a person who lived and breathed, not just any creation of a writer’s mind. I didn’t MAKE Xaforn. I met her.

3. Mal (Wolf, The Were Chronicles)  I love this character because he starts out with a handicap – one that, in his world, in his context, is huge – and he is young enough as this story begins to be your typical teenager. He’s sulky about his failures. He broods on them. He’s snarky to everyone and obnoxious to everyone else. He’s the classic toxic teen… until he takes matters, and his own future, into his own hands. Typically it’s only partly thought through and when he is thrown into the briar patch by his choices he has to scramble to make good, even to just survive it all. But he does. HE DOES. He grows in grace and power, and into leadership. And watching him grapple with the things I threw at him, and conquer them, and emerge as an amazing human being… that was a privilege.

4. Chalky (Shifter, The Were Chronicles)  the protagonist of the third book of the Were Chronicles triptych, Saladin van Schalkwyk (better known as Chalky) draws a hand of truly evil cards as he begins his existence. He seems to be so trapped, in a bad situation, that there looks to be no way out for him at all – until he realizes that he doesn’t really have to live by the laws of the world which constrains him because he is by definition outside that world. He is neither normal nor a classic Were, confined by their rules – he is a Shifter, a free Shifter, one who can Turn into anything he chooses when he chooses it. He doesn’t realize the price he is paying for this, until very much later, until very much too late, but he accepts those consequences, and his life is luminous with that acceptance. He is another of those characters who are ALIVE. This one once sat on my bed at three in the morning kicking the bedframe with his heels and keeping me awake while insisting that HE DIDN’T SAY WHAT I MADE HIM SAY IN THE PASSAGE I HAD JUST FINISHED WRITING, and it wasn’t until I cried uncle and agreed to change the passage that he had the grace to let me go to sleep. The worst part of that is, he was right, damn it. Don’t you just hate it when they are right?...

5. Simonis/Callidora (Empress)  This is a character who is strongly based on Empress Theodora of Byzantium, whose rise to power from the gutters of the Hippodrome to the Imperial throne beside an Emperor who changed LAWS so that she could be by his side. Largely because of a scribe by the name of Procopius who had his own axe to grind, Theodora has entered history as a venal gold-digger, a woman for hire barely above street whore let alone high-ranking courtesan, who somehow bewitched the vulnerable Emperor and engineered her own rise. It is probable that she was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. As a favourite great-aunt of mine used to say, well-behaved women rarely make history – and because getting what she wanted necessitated, uh, “bad” behavior, Theodora was damned. For existing. For being. I have no doubt she had to have been just a little – how do we put this delicately – flawed, in character, in order to survive what she survived and become what she became – but hers is one of the great love stories of all time, and if you push Procopius aside and look behind the curtain, well, she was a woman who deserved her story told. So I put her avatar into a historical fantasy frame… and “Empress” was the book that was born of it. It’s very much hers. From beginning to end. This is the story of the woman… who dared.

6. Rothaide (Empress)  Rothaide is also based on a historical character, the daughter of the Visigoth king whose options in life got narrower and narrower until they left no more room for her existence – but who would have been a fine leader of her people if she had been permitted to be one (and she wasn’t – because she was A WOMAN). Because of the handicap of her gender, she made unwise decisions, married someone whom she thought she had an arrangement with (he would reign – but she would RULE…) right until he betrayed her, because he could. Her relationship to my Empress is historical, to a point – but because both these women are my characters they changed accordingly. And Rothaide became a true queen, with dignity and courage, who bowed her head for destiny in the end – but not in submission. In acceptance. I love this character. In truth, she really deserves a book of her own…

7. Amais (Embers of Heaven)  in a lot of ways, Amais is myself. A lot of her mother, at least in the beginning of the book, is my mother. Amais and I are both children of two worlds, with a foot uneasily in each, being made daily to choose between the two in a hundred ways that to an outsider might seem small and inconsequential but to her (and me) are hugely important decisions because they literally govern who we will be today. Amais’s commitment to her cause mirrors my commitments to my own. And I am – as always – hard on my characters, where she is concerned, but I also gave her a great love which is at once inconvenient, impossible, utterly fated, and beyond her powers to refuse or step aside from. It hurts her, that love – it damages her – but it is also the thing that forges her, and through that love she succeeds in the thing she sets out to do although it doesn’t’ end up being in the form that she intended that accomplishment to come about. Amais is a bridge between worlds. That is a tough ask. She manages it. With grief, with grace, with passion, with loyalty. I only hope I would have done as well, under those circumstances.

8. Coyote (the Worldweavers Series  Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) – He started life as an avatar – as an archetype – the Coyote of the folktales of the peoples of North America – the Trickster character who was introduced to be precisely that, the boulder in the stream, something to derail the story into different waters and make it grapple with issues which it might not otherwise have encountered. But oh my, he grew. Like a true Trickster my Coyote character – known as Corey, sometimes, in these books – becomes… yes, once again, I am given to this… REAL. By the time we say goodbye to him, in “Dawn of Magic”, it is possible to love him. And I do. Fiercely. He is the very embodiment of chaos and it is his JOB to make the lives of people like me difficult – but there is so much nobility in him, so much stature, that I freely offer him what he demands of me. He keeps me on my toes, and always will. I was privileged to meet him, in the scope of this story, and I am grateful that he allowed me a glimpse into his hidden self, and let me tell some of the untold story that is his.

9. Nikola Tesla (the Worldweavers Series  Gift of the Unmage, Spellspam, Cybermage, Dawn of Magic) – historical and real, of course, but I made him into something very special in these books. He is, in my books, the acknowledged Wizard of the West, the only Quad-Elemental Mage in human history (with mastery over all four Elements, Earth, Water, Air and Fire). He is a knight, a gentleman, someone who has lost much and is capable of exquisite sacrifice of self for the needs of the many. There are dozens of biographies about him and you can read them all – but in these pages, in these books, I like to think that you are going to glimpse Nikola Tesla’s soul. I might add that I spent a night in the New Yorker Hotel in the room where Tesla lived and where he died. I am saying just that, and no more. We may have… met.

10. Rohese  I haven’t written her book yet, but she is a character who haunts me. I have a few scenes written in the story in which she appears, and in one of them she reveals something from her childhood to me – she was the little girl who sat, enchanted, on the side of a courtyard fountain pool looking at the reflection of the moon in the waters… and wanted it… and reached out to take it… and of course disturbed the surface of the still reflecting water and lost what she desired. But she learned from that – a lesson that getting what she wanted might not always be easy, and that there would be obstacles and illusions in the way. It did not stop her from wanting the moon, however. I look forward to writing the rest of this woman’s story.

The Parada had been lost for almost two hundred years before they recovered the ship, drifting in stygian interstellar darkness, and brought her home again.

But that was not the miracle.

The miracle was that the crew was still alive.

That was also the problem.

Six crew members went out on the Parada, Earth’s first starship. All contact was lost, and the ship vanished for almost two centuries. When the Parada’s successor found the drifting ship and somehow managed to bring it home, the six crew members were not only still alive but barely older, due to the time dilation effects of near-FTL travel. Their return was a miracle – but it could not be revealed to the waiting world. The problem was, six individuals went out to the stars. More than seventy fractured personalities came back.

Psychologist Stella Froud and Jesuit Father Philip Carter were recruited as part of the team assembled to investigate the mystery, and to try and help the Parada’s crew understand their condition and possibly reverse it. What they discovered was a deepening mystery, and very soon they found themselves forced to take sides in a conflict that nobody could have possibly predicted. Their world would never be the same again.

You can purchase The Second Star at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALMA ALEXANDER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of THE SECOND STAR by Alma Alexander.
JUNE 5th FRIDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST


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