Thursday, February 15, 2018

Interview with science fiction novelist Sherlynn A. Muckelroy

Sci-fi novelist Sherlynn A. Muckelroy joins me today. We’re chatting about her novel Prelude to a Quest, which she describes as romance with a science fiction twist.

As a born-and-raised Texan who currently resides in New Mexico, I consider myself extremely lucky to have a vivid imagination. I tried my hand at storytelling years ago, writing a children’s book for my two young boys who have since grown up to be fine men of whom I am very proud. In 2011, when the eldest son transplanted his family from Texas to Michigan, I took up the pen once again in order to remain in contact with and stir my grandsons’ creativity. After writing a few paragraphs with a science fiction plot, I stopped a sentence midstream and allowed the children to pick up and complete the storyline. Their participation faded, but that did not deter me from continuing the story I had begun. After adding the element of romance to it, I completed the book entitled, Prelude to a Quest, and then initiated a sequel that, two years later, resulted in the birth of an entire five-book series called, “A Quest of the Ages”. I was very excited about self-publishing, Prelude to a Quest, the first in the series (in 2016 it was re-published by Book Venture Publishing, LLC), and hope the readers find as much enjoyment reading my material as I had living it in my head!

Please tell us about your current release.
Prelude to a Quest made its debut in paperback and e-book formats on on April 6, 2015 as a self-published work. In 2016, Book Venture Publishing, LLC re-published it under their brand. This first book in the five-book series (all five currently on Amazon) started out as having fun with my grandchildren, but ended up becoming a challenge to complete the story. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. With pencil in hand (yes, I started with a pencil and a lined pad) the storyline flowed out of me as the movie played out in my head. Soon the characters came to life, which allowed me to place them in situations that amused, threatened, and frustrated each one of them (and me).

Basing the plot in a science fiction setting made it fun to create and experiment with out-of-the-ordinary creatures and planetary locations. The sky was literally the limit. The descriptions for my four main characters in the book – Lander Kahn, Dray Demong, Cally O’Brien, and Avria Rausch – actually came from real friends of mine who graciously gave me permission to use their images. When advised not to use real people - that readers should use their own imagination as to how the characters looked – their recommendation fell on deaf ears. I wanted the readers to know who my characters were right off the bat.

The storyline is set in the future year 2515. Within the Roma Galaxy lies the Visolis Solar System where the colonization process is in its infancy on Planet Zarcon. Tight quarters on a research and development vessel orbiting Planet Zarcon, and even tighter quarters on Zarcon’s surface, bring out the best and worst of the main characters. Naiveté can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. In this book, the characters who believe themselves well-rounded in life and love, fail in judgement on multiple counts. It’s easy to distance yourself from others when on an entire planet, but the distance separating these characters is too close for comfort.
What inspired you to write this book?
It’s not “what”, but “who.” In my desire to spend quality time with my grandboys who had moved 1500 miles away, I sent an interactive story by email to keep us engaged, but they lost interest. Liking the storyline, I decided to work with it a while to see if something would come of it. By that time, the characters took over my inspiration process. I had to see what happened to them, so the writing continued. When this story came to an end, there were four more to follow, creating an entire series.

Excerpt from Prelude to a Quest:
It’s amazing how a shock like what we just experienced could change the dynamics of the day. One minute we were acting like kids, and the next we were facing death in the face.
There was little conversation as a steadier Cally led the way down through the trees. By her fast pace, I thought perhaps she was embarrassed and wanted to distance herself from us. Whatever the reason, it was obvious the event shook her to the core.
While Dray and I attempted to keep pace with our speedy companion, I reflected on the events that occurred moments before our descent from the mountain. After Cally ran into Dray’s arms, she had remained there only briefly before pulling away. Wiping her eyes with her sleeve, and pushing the tear-moistened hair from her face, she profusely apologized for “blubbering like a woman”. Upon noticing the makeup smeared on Dray’s white shirt, she became emphatic about cleaning it as soon as she got back to base. It was then she had taken off down the mountainside with us in hot pursuit at twenty paces behind.
When nearing the base of the mountain, I once again expressed my gratitude. “Dray,” I said, “you can’t begin to know how much I appreciate your keeping us from ending up at the bottom of the cliff in a heap of ripped flesh and broken bones. Thanks bud.”
Dray tried to play down his role in the near tragedy by passing the credit. “Flash was the one who got my attention and saved the day, Lander. It’s lucky he did what he did when he did it,” and smiling, he added, “but luck or not, we’re alive to see tomorrow.”
“Seems like this lifesaving bit is in your blood. This is the second time you’ve saved someone’s life.”
Dray suddenly turned somber. “Lander, we agreed never to speak about that again, so drop it.”
“You’re right, I’m sorry.” Realizing my faux pas, I brought my thoughts back to the present situation. “Dray,” I asked, “does Cally seem to be acting totally out of character, or is it just because I had the shit scared out of me and I’m seeing things that aren’t there?”
“Funny you should ask, ‘cause I was thinking the same thing.”
“You didn’t know this, since she was behind you, but she lost her balance several times, which seemed odd because there was a clear path in front of her. Stranger still, when I approached her about it, she told me in a very short and unnerving way that she was getting a headache, but otherwise was okay.”
“Really,” said Dray.
“Yes, and when she said it, I noticed the side of her head was very red and swollen where the insect had bitten her. Do you think the insect bite is causing this mood swing?”
“It could be. Noticing these things about her, we should keep a closer watch to see if she gets better or, God forbid, worse.”
As soon as Cally stepped foot in base, she threw her backpack against her tent almost collapsing the whole thing. No sooner did she do this, she rushed off to the rover. Reaching it, but before getting in, she clenched its side to steady herself. That’s when Dray and I arrived on the scene. Having no idea we were watching her from a distance, she rolled her shoulders then stepped in the rover and began throwing items out of the storage cases like a madwoman. In her search, she tossed everything she removed onto the backseat and floorboard until finally finding what she was looking for. From our vantage point, we never did see what she had in her hand before she jammed it into her pocket.
Her next stop was the portable stove where she fumbled for a large pot on its lower shelf. Before picking it up, she paused to rub her head and the back of her neck once more. Still baffled, we silently watched her empty five pouches of water into the cook pot and turn the flame to its highest level. In her movement to gather the empty pouches, she swayed, almost falling to the ground.
Dray moved forward to help her, but I held him back. “Wait, Dray,” I firmly urged, “if she actually falls, we can go to her, but let’s observe a few more minutes and see if she comes to her senses.” I could tell it pained him to wait before getting involved.
As soon as the water started to steam, Cally removed the mystery packet from her pocket and threw it into the pot. Just as quickly, she glanced up to find us watching her. “Dray!” she exclaimed in a forceful tone, “take off your shirt and give it to me! It’s time to wash it!” She didn’t ask, she commanded he do it.
He had never heard her speak in such a discourteous way. “Cally, you don’t have to, really, it’s not that bad,” he insisted.
I had never seen “the look” people say women possess when they get really angry until that moment. Walking up to Dray as calm as a viper ready to strike, she looked him straight in the eye. “Take off your shirt and give it to me,” she growled. When Dray didn’t react quickly enough, hysteria took over. “Take it off, now,” Cally screamed, “and if you don’t take it off yourself, I’m going to do it for you!”
Still calm, yet with a sternness in his tone, Dray reached out for her. “Cally,” he firmly stated, “I told you…” That was all he got out. She grabbed the front of his shirt and tore at the shoulder fasteners in an attempt to rip the shirt clean off his body! Never in a million years did I think a professional and kind-hearted woman like Cally O’Brien could totally lose control like this.
Before Dray could react, I took her by the shoulders and pulled her back in an effort to get her to release him, but her grasp was too strong. To prevent his shirt from ripping further, Dray grabbed her wrists and held them in front of him. The only thing that movement did was make her struggle like a wild animal in a trap!
“Cally!” Dray yelled at her, “stop! Why are you acting this way?!”
He had to stop her flailing, so letting go, he immediately threw his arms around her, pinning her body against his chest. Still behind Cally, I wrapped my arms around both of them, sandwiching her between us.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The second book in the five-book Romance/Science Fiction series, is entitled, Major Discoveries. It has already been self-published and is on as all of them are.
The story of “Major Discoveries” takes place after Dray stumbles through a dimensional portal on Planet Zarcon during a site finding mission for a Primary Complex. From that point on, life changes drastically for Lander and him. After this exhilarating discovery, their directive of finding sites and designing plans for the first buildings erected on the planet surface, falls to this new half of Zarcon called, Major. The thrill and excitement of this change comes with dismay in that Dr. Cally O’Brien and her nurse, Avria Rausch join the Planetary Science Unit medical team accompanying the two Colony Designers to Major. That fact may have exhilarated Dray, but not Lander. Knowing he and Dray are in love with the same woman drives Lander to distraction in trying to rid himself of the emotions he harbors for his best friend’s girlfriend. All four humans face future challenges where friendships are tested, love ignites, dangers abound, and lives are threatened. Only one entity can alter the upcoming events, but since it is an alien who creates the episodes in the first place, nothing will change. The Cementaurian and human Life Guide, Miurtiese, steers her charges toward the phases that will fulfill her Quest, and nothing is going to stand in her way.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After completing the first book, Prelude to a Quest, I wasn’t sure if the term “writer” was appropriate for me. Perhaps a better description would be to think of myself as a storyteller who happened to write the story down. However, when the series was complete, the “writer” status seemed a fitting term.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
When I began Prelude to a Quest in 2011, I was working outside the home. Writing was supposed to be a hobby that I dabbled in here and there when I wasn’t busy doing something else. It didn’t quite happen that way. For the next five years, if I wasn’t performing my job as the Office Manager/HR representative/CEO administrative assistant for a software development company in Arizona (where I lived at the time), I pulled out my writing pad and took my characters to new places and to new heights. My weekends consisted of refilling mechanical pencils and buying more writing pads to keep up with my stories, until deciding to make life easier for myself and get behind the computer. My passion to write filled my spare time. Other than scheduled trips with my husband (where I continued to jot down ideas and set scenes), writing consumed me to the point of obsession.

All in all, it took me two years to complete the entire five-book series, “A Quest of the Ages”. It took an additional three years to edit them (over and over again) one by one and get them self-published using the website, On January 9, 2017, the fifth book, New Beginnings, appeared on The movie playing in my head came to an end, and so did my series.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I suppose it would be my in-depth research on the computer to formulate certain scenes to give them some real scientific value, then discarding much of the reality and indulging more in the fantasy aspect. This story was created in my imagination, so who is to say my inventions are incorrect?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the little cowgirl in the comic strip, “Priscilla”, because she had a saw-horse with a boot on one end of it that she pretended was a real horse. If not that, since I played one all the time, I wanted to be the horse itself!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Time and time again, I hear my friends tell me, “I could never write a book”. Hogwash! Anyone who can tell a story and can type (or at least jot it down on paper) can write a book. All it takes is time, drive and patience. We all have a tale lurking in our brains. Release it from bondage and share it with others. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is part of success. Remember, before we could ever walk, we did a lot of crawling. Take that first baby step with a single paragraph. Who knows, that one group of sentences could draw out the writer in you, and before you know it, you, too may have a five-book series with your name scrolled across the top on each one of them.


Thank you for joining me today, Sherlynn.

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