The Mariya Suzuki Collection
by Allison Spector, Dean Moses, Shannon Barnsley
ROOM WITH BOOKS encourages our readers to follow the tour and leave comments.
GENRE: Novellas, literary fiction, American Gothic, Humor/Magical realism, historical fiction and folklore, sci-fi horror elements
Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter!
by Allison Spector
Trouble’s brewing in the Evergreen Jungle. When controversial author Rex Jupiter plans a visit to a Bellingham bookstore, news of his arrival attracts the attention of the mysterious Paladin, who plans on leading a mob of rioting housewives against him. But the Paladin has competition. Sleuth-extraordinaire Marian Krause has her own bone to pick with Jupiter as she scrambles to solve the death of a woman who has stolen her identity. Rex may think he has the situation under control, but when the wrath of the local Druids is incurred, pitchforks and torches may be the least of his concerns.
“Druid zealots, conservative Christians, busking jugglers, hipster baristas—every group, subgroup, and underground subgroup finds a home in a little town known as the City of Subdued Excitement. And while life in the Evergreen Jungle usually means butting heads with a variety of vegans, hippies and ladies’ pinochle club-goers, there is one person that can bring them together: the most insufferable man in the Pacific Northwest. Using her sharpened wit, Spector invites readers into a world rife with scrumptious satire, slightly ruffled feathers, and utter madness.”
-Elise Portale, Editor
A Stalled Ox
by Dean Moses
An isolated religious cult has reportedly been consuming meat while the rest of the planet has been forced to live a life without it. Presuming this sect has resorted to cannibalism, two agents from an organization known simply as The Agency are dispatched to investigate. Will they find evidence of humans eating one another? Or is something even stranger taking place?
“In the tradition of Serling and Bradbury, A Stalled Ox is a gruesome, yet beautiful story that wraps a complex morality tale in an engaging and fast-paced horror story with a touch of espionage. Crafting a world where no one is truly innocent, Moses invites the reader to follow Agent Howard Harrington as he discovers what true evil is.”
-Shaunn Grulkowski, Editor
Beneath Blair Mountain
by Shannon Barnsley
All her life, Lara Rae Brecken has dreamed of the fey folk exiled beneath the earth. But in Logan County, West Virginia everything belongs to the coal company and the only world below is the mine. So Lara and her childhood friend, Barrow, escape to New York. But between the World War, factory fires, and the unforgiving streets, Lara wonders if she’s traded one underworld for another. Spirited away to Boston by an Irish rebel, it seems her luck may have finally improved. That is, until she finds herself face to face with the fey folk one cold October night.
“Lara Rae Brecken, a young woman raised on the Irish fey stories passed down by her ancestors, dreams of the magic that lives just outside her normal perceptions. In bringing together tales from the homeland and life in an industrial society, Barnsley creates a layered world where the line between the harshness of reality and mythological impossibility is blurred. Written in a tone that is subtly haunting, the novella urges us to imagine that things are not always as they appear.”
-Rebecca Johnson, Editor
Excerpt from BENEATH BLAIR MOUNTAIN
It was Gate Night, the night before All Hallows’ Eve. Distant memories of the old stories nagged at me. During All Hallows’ Eve the veil between the world of the living and the world beyond was lifted. Our world and their world all blurred together like ink running on a page in my old primer when we schoolgirls would try to run home in the rain, shrieking and splashing up mud all the way.
Gate Night was when the veil began to thin. Things bleeding through in the corners or fading in and out. I wondered if Cavan believed that or if he’d left the old tales back across the ocean when he’d come to America.
I stood, match in hand, as the gas sputtered into life. Cavan was in the other room. Since the war for independence had broken out back in Ireland, he had had quite a bit more “business” going back and forth between Boston and New York.
He never told me exactly what it was he did. On good days I believed that it was to protect me. The less I knew, the safer I was. On bad days, I worried he just didn’t trust me enough. Though Cavan never said, I knew he was helping move something and bringing it to men who could smuggle it into Ireland and into IRA hands. My guess was guns, but I couldn’t be sure. Apparently, the police could.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Allison Spector author of Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter!
Hi Allison thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Well, first of all I want to thank you for hosting me on this New Year’s Eve edition of Room with Books! I feel like I should have brought a party hat and a noisemaker with me as I’m writing this!
You want to know more about me…hmm….what to say?
I’m a New Jersey expatriate living in North Dakota, although I spent six beautiful years in the Pacific Northwest, which was the inspiration for my book. I’ll soon be returning back to the region and delighting in the redwoods and waterfalls.
My day job is in the energy/environmental industry which is a ton of fun, and very fulfilling. I also have two awesome kids, a great husband, many, many cats, and an electric uke. All of the aforementioned keep me very busy!
What were you like at school?
On the plus side, I did well at school and loved learning about pretty much everything! I was reading crazy early so books were totally my friends! I must have read thousands of them, which is very helpful as a writer.
Were you good at English?
Oh, yeah! But I didn’t really bother with spelling or comma rules until later in life. I just wrote, and wrote, and analyzed, and pondered, and created—and wrote some more. It seemed to work well for me.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’d like to finish my work-in-progress, the Fringers and get that to print. After that I might work on a sequel to Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter! I also have the basic outline for a YA novel about a gender fluid teen in the Midwest called Sonny Moondog Kisses Boys. My ambition is to keep writing, keep getting books into people’s hands, and working at the pace that brings me the greatest happiness.
Which writers inspire you?
Kurt Vonnegut, Mary Norton, Ursula Le Guin, Henry Kuttner, George Orwell, Francesca Lia Block, Lois Lowry (she signed my cast when I was 8), Neil Gaiman, Diane Duane, and I’m sure there’s many more that influence my subconscious.
Give us an insight into Marian Krause. What does she do that makes her special?
Marian Krause is a detective that learned everything she knows from film noir. She’s witty, resourceful, and slightly delusional. I love her because she doesn’t really care what people think of her—she just does her thing and lets the world respond as it will. She has the luck of fools and babes so she’s nearly immune to the dangers others in her field would face. If Marian was real, I think she’d pretty much be my best friend.
What are you working on?
My work-in-progress is called The Fringers. It’s a wry dystopian novel in which a paranoid, xenophobic security state butts heads with a corporate fascist empire built on the backs of indentured reality stars. I’m currently posting it one chapter at a time on JukePop.com so if you want to see my drafting process before it goes to print—and discover many other talented authors—then you’ll have to come visit the site!
Which actress would you like to see playing Marian Krause from Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter!?
I’m not up on Hollywood pop-culture, but I do know what whoever played Marian would need to be tall, statuesque, and have curly brown hair. She’d also have to be able to attain a vague-but-thoughtful expression and an androgynous (brain-in-a-jar) demeanor.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing something?
I’ve be writing “somethings” since I was at least eleven, but I didn’t start writing full-length books until after college. My husband and I both wanted to publish, so we’ve been blithely competing with each other ever since.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I usually write in the evenings between about 7pm and 1am, but it’s catch-as-catch-can on the weekends.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! I’m the Mars Rover of literary inspiration—I arrive on new soil, encounter strange beings, and collect samples in form of opinions, snark, observations, commentary, hopes, anxieties, and daydreams. Then I take it all my samples—my social bullion cubes—and distill them into stories.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I start with a basic outline and bridge the gaps between Point A and Point B as I go. So I have something that grounds me to the story, but allows me to improvise as needed.
What is the hardest thing for you about writing?
Keeping momentum going can be hard. My head is always full of ideas so there’s always a temptation to start a new project before completing one that I’m working on. But I know that it’s not worth it if I don’t finish, and that I can reward myself with new projects when I’m done.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Traditional books—definitely. Nothing on earth could possibly beat the physical sensation of turning pages, and the smell of newly printed-on pulp. It’s a sensory delight!
What books are you reading at present?
I’m currently reading Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, by Timothy Snyder; A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab; and The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter! is part of the Mariya Suzuki collection published by 1888/Black Hill Press. Mariya is an incredibly talented international artist and having her design my cover was part of the prize for be one of three novellas selected to be published through this project. I’m honored that her artwork graces my novella. To see all her amazing work, check out http://www.mariyasketch.com/.
As for the concept behind the cover, we wanted to play up the “stalking” element, as well as the core eccentricity of the tale, and the fact that it takes place amidst ferns and evergreens. When you’re done reading the book, you’ll have to go back and see if you can recognize whose feet are whose…
Do you have a video book trailer?
Yes, and it was a blast to create! I’d love for you to check it out.
How do you relax?
- Cuddling with my kids
- Writing, writing, writing
- Being out in nature surrounded by forests and waterfalls.
What is your favorite quote?
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” ― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
What is your favorite movie?
The Man from Earth
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
You can check me out on GoodReads, JukePop, Twitter @inspectorallie and on allisonspector.com
Any final words?
I’d like to encourage readers to check out the entire Mariya Suzuki Collection which is comprised of myself, as well as the lovely and talented Shannon Barnsley and Dean Moses. Their stories- Beneath Blair Mountain, and A Stalled Ox are available now at 1888.center! You’ll be so glad you checked them out!
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you so much for hosting me! I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful New Year!
Allison Spector (Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter!)
Allison Spector was born and raised in the hedonistic playground of the Jersey Shore, but finds herself oddly allergic to spray tan. She is a proud graduate of Goucher College, and started her environmentally-focused career in Washington DC in 2005. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2008, and fell in love with its beauty and people. Allison is currently on a Midwestern Adventure and is determined to live as much life as possible—to accomplish her dreams one at a time—and to nurture her loving family, and blaze a trail of wit, whimsy, and eccentricity wherever she goes.
Dean Moses (A Stalled Ox)
Dean Moses was born in England in February of 1991; however, he never truly felt at home, so at the age of nineteen he moved to New York City, where he hoped to fulfill two of his longtime dreams, marry the love of his life and become an author. For the past five years, he has written for newspapers, including the New York Amsterdam News and the Spring Creek Sun, as well as transcribed for the New York Times’ Lens Blog. He has also written a serial story for the website JukePop Serials. He currently resides in Queens with his wife and two cats.
Shannon Barnsley (Beneath Blair Mountain)
Shannon Barnsley is a writer, poet, and folklore devotee from New Hampshire, currently living in Brooklyn. She holds a degree in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion from Hampshire College. Since graduating she has been found giving tours at an 18th century Shaker village museum, translating English English into American English for a publishing company, and wandering in the woods.
(the wonderful artist the collection is named after. She is designing our covers!)
Info from her website: Mariya Suzuki currently works as an illustrator in Tokyo, Japan. She was born in Nara and studied illustration in Long Beach, CA.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on http://www.instagram.com/mariyasuzuki
Allison Spector, Dean Moses and Shannon Barnsley will be awarding a copy of each of the 3 books in the collection, with at least 2 being signed, to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.