Thursday, August 29, 2013

Author Spotlight: Ira Nayman, Author of Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience)

Today's featured author is Ira Nayman, author of Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience). When asked for a bio written in the third person, he responded with: "Ira Nayman is a third person."


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

Speculative fiction, at its best, can illuminate the present, giving readers enough distance from current events to be able to appreciate them more than straight fiction can. The proliferation of military space fiction, for instance, gives readers a view of war (usually against aliens) that might be harder for them to accept if the same story was set on Earth (with human beings fighting other human beings). It can also help us think through issues of the “other;” after all, if we can understand and even empathize with the aliens in a science fiction story, why can’t we do the same for human beings, whose differences from us are not as stark?

Finally, science fiction stories can serve as cautionary tales: by projecting current trends into the future, it can warn us not to keep acting the way we do in the present. You see this most often in dystopian science fiction, but it can appear in any kind of sci fi story.

Why do you write in this genre?

As a satirist by day, I am drawn to the cautionary tale aspects of the genre. But there is an even more compelling reason: one of the fundamental elements of humour is surprise. With most jokes, you don’t see the punchline coming. And, invariably, the more surprising (but, ultimately, appropriate once you’ve had an opportunity to think about it) the punchline, the funnier the joke.

Science fiction, because you can create whole races and worlds, is a playground of the unexpected, with potential surprises everywhere you turn. I find it meshes well with my comic sensibility.

How did you come up with the idea for Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience)?

I found that it grew organically out of other things I had been writing. The chain goes something like this:

1) in 2002, I began a Web site of political and social satire called Les Pages aux Folles.

2) I had written a couple of fake news articles for the Web site when it occurred to me that I could feature fake news from alternate realities. Thus, the Alternate Reality News Service was born; it sends reporters into other dimensions, and has them write news articles about what they find there. (I have self-published five collections of those stories as of this writing.)

3) When I decided, three years ago, that I wanted to write a novel, I knew I wanted to go in a different direction than I had been before, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. I recalled that, in two or three of the Alternate Reality News Service stories, I had mentioned something called The Transdimensional Authority, which monitors and polices travel between dimensions. This seemed like a good starting point: it suggested that the story would involve travel between multiple dimensions (which it eventually did), as well as some sort of crime and investigation. Once I had determined the characters and the nature of the crime, everything else kind of flowed out of that.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

Keeping track of plot details to make sure that they hung together. This was my first novel, and there is nothing quite as complex to create; not only that, but I do have a tendency to digress. Ah, well. I’m sure if there are problems with the plot, keen-eyed science fiction readers will find them!

What are you working on now?

I have finished a follow-up novel, You Can’t Kill the Multiverse (But You Can Mess With its Head), and am currently half-way through a third novel that stands apart from anything I have previously written. I continue to update Les Pages aux Folles weekly with new writing and cartoons; this will soon include new Alternate Reality News Service articles that will eventually be collected into the sixth book in the series. And, when I have the time, I write short stories.

Nothing too ambitious.


About Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience)

This hilarious science-fiction comedy novel follows the first case for Noomi Rapier, rookie investigator with The Transdimensional Authority – the organisation that regulates travel between dimensions. When a dead body is found slumped over a modified transdimensional machine, Noomi and her more experienced partner, Crash Chumley, must find the dead man’s accomplices and discover what they were doing with the technology. Their investigation leads them to a variety of realities where Noomi comes face-to-face with four very different incarnations of herself, forcing her to consider how the choices she makes and the circumstances into which she is born determine who she is.

Ira Nayman’s new novel is both an hilarious romp through multiple dimensions in a variety of alternate realities, and a gentle satire on fate, ambition and expectation. Ira’s style is at times surreal, even off-the-wall, with the humour flying at you from unexpected angles; he describes it as fractal humour. Anyone who has read his Alternate Reality News Service stories will know how funny Ira is. The characters we meet from around the multiverse deserve to become firm favourites with all fans of science fiction comedy.

“Welcome to the Multiverse is a cracking read that almost had me in stitches, fresh and original humour from a comedy genius.” - Antony Jones, SF Book Reviews

Available at:

You can connect with Ira at his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Author Spotlight: Paul Green, Author of Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Rupture

Paul Green grew up in London and studied at Oxford and the University of British Columbia. He has worked in education - notably as lecturer in media at the Royal National College for the Blind - and as a radio presenter and second-hand book operative. As well as  Beneath the Pleasure Zones, his work includes the novel The Qliphoth (Libros Libertad), and his poetry collection The Gestaltbunker (Shearsman Books). His radio/stage plays have explored dream-control, Nazi necromancy, a haunted saxophone, electronic voice phenomena and the mysterious death of occult rocketeer Jack Parsons. He was lyricist/vocalist/sax player for the Riff Power Band and contributes articles and audio fiction to


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

At a time of accelerating change and uncertainty, speculative fiction allows us to explore "he myths of the near future," in the words of J.G. Ballard. It also permits us to use the logic of the dream to question our received paradigms about consensus reality. Speculative fiction is a probe, sometimes a painful one, as in Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition. As for its social impact, ­hard to quantify. But it's interesting that the adjective Ballardian is now part of every journalist's vocabulary.

Why do you write in this genre?

Sometimes I think I'm trying to write out of it. Genres need to mutate and cross-breed to hold the reader's (and the writer's) interest. BPZ incorporates poetry, rap, collage and elements of urban cyber-punk eliding with the paranormal and occult. It seems to me to be the best way - maybe the only way - to deal with the crazy multiplicity of the modern world and the enigma of consciousness itself, where for all our rationalism, we still feel there could be forces and presences lurking at the edge of our awareness...

Writers I admire include William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Nigel Kneale, Michael Moorcock, and M. John Harrison, our best living speculative fiction writer. His Light sequence is outstanding. See my review at:

Others, perhaps more in the mainstream canon, are Thomas Pynchon, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, Lawrence Durrell, Franz Kafka, Louis Ferdinand Celine, Wyndham Lewis, Angela Carter, Don De Lillo, and Iain Sinclair.

The American Beat poets and the French Surrealist poets have always meant a lot to me, too.

How did you come up with the idea for Beneath the Pleasure Zones?

It evolved out of my earlier one, The Qliphoth, in which young alienated Lucas goes through an occultural rite of passage that takes him into a curious alternative world, a sea-side resort thronged with scheming magicians and sexy priestesses. This world is destroyed by malign forces but there's a blow-back on the 'real' world, releasing random psychic energies and subverting everyday causality. BPZ takes the story a few years on, with Lucas struggling to survive on the margins of society.

The metaphysics behind both books owe a lot to good old Aleister Crowley and the Chaos Magick writings of Peter Carroll. I also did some research into artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons. But the trigger for the title was an obscure quote from W.B.Yeats: "the doctors have told us that the dreams of the night are but phantoms of sexual desire - but of what is sex a phantom?"

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

Apart from finding the time, the main challenges were working in the back-story from The Qliphoth without getting bogged down in explication - and then developing a way of conveying a complex story line and the experience of a fractured world without totally bamboozling the reader. I hit upon a technique of using short sections with sub-heads (like Ballard's Atrocity Exhibition but following a more linear narrative). As in The Qliphoth, I also used a number of esoteric techniques to break story-blocks and open up new lines of narrative, like the Tarot, Qabalistic correspondences, cut-ups and automatic writing.

What are you working on now?

I've recently finished a play about eccentric witchcraft historian Father Monty Summers and I've started a new novel, more conventional in form. It includes old sci-fi movies, mad scientists and quite a lot of sex. I'm also working on a long poetry sequence, Shadow Times, parts of which are starting to appear. I enjoy readings, and like collaborating with musicians and media artists. Some of these can be found on YouTube, Soundcloud and Reverbnation.


About Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Rupture

Anomalies erupting from the Polyverse have undermined the UK's reality-consensus and the economy. Urban citizens escape into the virtual reality of the Pleasure Centres while Borderland communities like Leynebridge embrace neo-paganism and magick. Fundamentalist militias - the Heavy Shepherds and the Mo-Boys - battle for supremacy.

In Leynebridge poet/magus Lucas broods over his ex-lover, Carla, while in London Dr. Crowe, a traumatised ex-MOD scientist , seeks work with Pleasure Centres, which also employs Carla, now an erotic virtual-reality producer.

The Pleasure Centres operation is driven by manic mogul Lombard, who conspires to fuse immersive virtual reality with a post-web technology, the Lobe, combining Crowe's top-secret knowledge with energies evoked in the rites of Leynebridge. But Crowe blunders, while Carla loses her secret Mo-Boy lover and her job, only to be hi-jacked by the Heavy Shepherds. Rogue cyber-entities are evolving in the Lobe - the menacing Quantum Brothers. The world-lines of Lucas, Carla, Vivienne and Crowe converge in Leynebridge¹s convulsive Feast of Smoke...

Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Rupture develops the central character and core concepts of the author's first novel, The Qliphoth, but can be read independently. It also sets the scene for a sequel, Beneath the Pleasure Zones - The Polyverse, now completed.

Available at:

You can connect with Paul Green at his website or Facebook.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Author Spotlight: Michael Jeffery Blair, Author of Exit Point

Michael Jeffery Blair is a writer, designer and media artist who is creative director for an award-winning design firm. His novels include Exit Point, The Architect Of Law and Sudden Rivers, and his editorial work has appeared in the New York Times and other publications. He has authored several stageplays and a collection of poetry. Educated at UCLA and the prestigious Art Center College, he has created communications for many of the world’s great companies. They say the strongest urge in the universe is to change someone else's copy–years of writing under extreme pressure contributed to his unique voice.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

A culture is as great as its dreams. It was a long time before people had the leisure moments to speculate at all–they were too busy just trying to survive. History testifies to that. Great examples of speculative fiction fueled their forward progress from early sacred storytelling that survives to this day to the Norse sagas to Greek and Middle Eastern myth to Thomas Moore’s Utopia. It gave men ideas, something to strive for beyond hand to mouth and ideals to remember. The tellers of these tales were revered, their stories passed down verbally from father to son, written down by hand and preserved through the centuries as a testament to how much we humans value speculative fiction.

Today, perhaps the most important issue is our relationship with technology. This has been a classic theme throughout science fiction, but now that we live in that future world people are being swept away by technology as if the Asimovs and Bradburys had not warned us. Asking someone to read your book is asking for a big commitment–especially so in this hyperwired age. Consequently, I believe the best speculative fiction has a role far beyond just entertainment. A good story to me is a palette that embodies enough wisdom to encourage enlightenment. That is the value of reading–good writing has always been the tool of great ideas and the driver of great movements.

Perhaps the mission of the writer in this modern age carries a deeper and more profound responsibility to society. After all, if anyone can write and there are millions of stories being produced annually is it really valuable if it is so common? To me a writer must strive to do the impossible, to do what others cannot–that’s what makes him a writer. This is the tradition of the storyteller whose tales have been treasured throughout the centuries as priceless keepsakes of our cultural heritage.

Where do writers gain such wisdom? It’s a mystery, but somehow they do.

Why do you write in this genre?

I like to believe I’m carrying on that tradition. To me, real life is composed of what one envisions it to be. It’s imagination that is the breathing fire of living and not coming to terms and coping with “reality” as many would like us to believe. Dreams die long before a person actually does, so the revitalization of imagination is vital to life, and I suppose that’s why I write the genre. I am fascinated by the future, it’s possibilities and it’s terrors because we are all caught up in the inexorable flow toward what will happen next. We can have a great say in what that will be.

How did you come up with the idea for Exit Point?

I spent many years doing creative work for the television networks in Hollywood. It is a vast landscape of almost unbelievable avarice and ambition. The true creative forces are so outnumbered and bullied that it is a wonder anything of quality happens at all and is why, with so many talented artists and writers, almost nothing of value comes from television. It gave me insights into the social and economic forces that spawned this gargantuan evolution of broadcast media that envelops most people’s lives overshadowing their own. Exit Point is a story of consequences and character told as an urban fable of the near future.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

Creating a story that was literary while at the same time being exciting and interesting. The story evolves from each character’s agenda and choices based on their inner workings. What I love about the written word and what I believe makes it superior to the dramatic arts is the ability to fully illuminate each individual spirit in its unique and fabulous complexity. Purpose and desire are always in conflict and survival depends on the outcome.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a novel about a burned-out, lower level diplomat stationed at the US Embassy in Cairo. It takes place again in the near future, but in a time when Islamic fundamentalists have gained full political power in the Middle East and the religious right have presidential power in the US. Against his will, the diplomat suddenly begins to gain mysterious powers by which he can heal people, among other things. The local people are convinced he is a prophet destined to bring peace to the world. This of course raises political and religious havoc between the East and the West. I hope to have it completed by the first of the year.


About Exit Point

An enigmatic genius discovers it. A woman obsessed with power exploits it. One man will risk everything to find the answer behind it, but he could never have been prepared for where the truth would take him

It is Los Angeles of the near future. People are dazzled by technology driven by an insatiable demand for virtual excitement. Secretly, network executives employ a fantastic new technology that causes people to lose touch with reality. This hidden influence suddenly affects everyone in sinister and unexpected ways. Soon the social services are overwhelmed with these mysterious cases not knowing what is happening or why. Exit Point is the odyssey of Nash DeCoucy into the dark landscape of the near future as he desperately tries to unravel the mystery while struggling with his own crisis in belief.

Together with a brilliant woman who has prescient powers, an illustrious emergency care physician and a cynical investigator from a cyber crime unit known as VOX, he begins to unravel the mystery. Even his friends become victim to bizarre, unexplained behavior.

But the forceful specter of Mostafa Al-Razio overshadows them all. The supreme network provider has a secret agenda–fueled by revelations. Roxanne, a ruthlessly ambitious network programmer feeds on his power and is key to his mission. The fateful crossing of their lives brings the city to crisis.

At the source of it all lies a rumored archive of unimaginable wealth hoarded by the last remaining church and a legendary golden disk with mysterious powers.

Available at:

You can connect with Michael at his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Author Spotlight: Tara Maya, Author of The Unfinished Song Series

Tara Maya is the author of The Unfinished Song series. She has lived in Africa, Europe and Asia. She's pounded sorghum with mortar and pestle in a little clay village where the jungle meets the desert, meditated in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas and sailed the Volga river to a secret city that was once the heart of the Soviet space program. This first-hand experience, as well as research into the strange and piquant histories of lost civilizations, inspires her writing. Her terrible housekeeping, however, is entirely the fault of pixies.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

We’re constantly being told to think “outside the box” but the truth is there are few situations in life where we are actually allowed to stretch our imagination past possible to amazing. Many people think of spec fic as a genre for children, but to me it’s even more important to read it as we are entering (or trying to survive) the “adult” world, because that’s when everything else is conspiring to crush our creativity—and also when we most need to free our imagination. Imagination is the leaven of risk.

Why do you write in this genre?

Think of genre like a camera. Some genres keep specialize in close-up shots of the actors—quiet, character-based stories. Some genres take a broad shot of world-changing action—thrilling, political adventure. The advantage of speculative genres is that the author can zoom deeply into one soul, and—in the same book!—zoom out to show the world-shattering consequences of one person’s journey.

How did you come up with the idea for The Unfinished Song?

No story comes together until several ideas collide and coalesce. So there are a couple of different, disparate seeds I could point to. There was a Polynesian myth I read that I wanted to explore in a longer form. But that alone wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere, since it was just an intellectual idea. The heart of the story came from an experience I had in high school. I was a cheerleader, but then I found out I had to wear a back brace for scoliosis. Although I didn’t have to wear it when I danced, so it had no affect on my dancing ability, suddenly, I was treated like a pariah, and never allowed to perform. The only job I was allowed was to look after the props of the other girls. Some scenes of things that happened to me are described in the series, thinly disguised by the alternate culture. The emotions she feels are what I felt. Like Dindi, I belonged to the squad without belonging.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

The Unfinished Song is an epic, and epic means a vast, complex story. That’s a challenge. I originally wrote the story as a single book. I decided eventually to break it up into a number of smaller books. I thought that would be a snap, and boldly promised my readers that I would have the twelve books out very quickly. That was a foolish thing to boast. The story grew as I worked with it. The biggest challenge, besides writing it quickly, is that it is still, at heart, one continuous story, which has a pre-ordained ending. Although I am often tempted to go off on tangents, I have to discipline myself to write faithfully to that ending. I trail a lot of story-lines through the epic, and I must never allow myself to forget how they are all going to tie together.

What are you working on now?

One of the crucial keys to doing any sort of creative work is to avoid burn-out. So although my main energy is still finishing The Unfinished Song, I sometimes take breaks to work on other projects. I have a military SF series I’m also working on, the first book of which is already published, called STRAT. I sometimes write books for my young children (for instance, “Don’t Eat Poop,” “Tiny Tim,” and “Little Black Cat”). I design book covers. Then I go back to The Unfinished Song.


About The Unfinished Song - Book 1: Initiate



Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.


Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.

“…a fascinating, original world full of fairies, magic and dancing.” - One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Available at:

You can connect with Tara Maya at her blog, Facebook or Twitter.