Jet Lag, a Science Fiction Short Story

Jet Lag

First of all, sorry I haven’t blogged in like, twenty years, but I have the best excuse ever—I got lost in a space-time distortion. Second, that whole airport incident was just one big misunderstanding.

You might remember my last post—wait, of course you don’t, that was twenty years ago. But to me, it was a few hours ago. A few hours ago, I posted about how I was getting on a plane, headed back from an anime festival in Toledo to Milwaukee. I mentioned how the guy seated next to me smelled like he bathed in beer, and the woman who got the window seat kept whining about how Millennials are too attached to our phones…at least, that’s what she said to whoever she was talking to on her phone. Then five minutes later she asked me to help her fix her phone after it froze. Apparently we Millennials are too attached to our technology, except when someone from an older generation needs help getting theirs to work.

So then the light came on and we all had to turn off our phones, and honestly I think it annoyed her more than me, but anyway—I feel really crappy about this now, but I didn’t turn mine off exactly. I read somewhere it’s not really necessary and that woman really annoyed me, and I wanted to find some statistics to shove in her face about just how over-attached to cell phones her generation is, so I didn’t shut it off. I just hid it under my purse when the flight attendant came by to check on us.

science fiction short story

However, I’ve asked EE-117, and he assures me it’s “highly unlikely” my failure to shut down my phone caused the space-time distortion that brought the whole damn plane twenty years into the future. He can’t rule it out, but he’s never heard of it happening before.

So, you’re probably wondering about The Incident. You have to understand, back when I left, no one expected this to happen. Not in my lifetime. Certainly not in twenty years—holy crap, I just realized I’m forty-two years old. OMFG, this can’t be happening, I swore I would never get old. I mean, I didn’t want to die young, but I didn’t want to age, either. I was thinking maybe by the time I hit the dreaded 3-0 there’d be some sort of miracle aging treatment and—

Whew, that was close. I just looked in the mirror and I still look twenty-two, so screw it, let’s just say I’m as young as I feel.

Where was I? Oh yeah, The Incident. I know what you’ve heard, and I’ve seen the news reports, and my lawyer says it’s perfectly fine to tell you that it wasn’t like that, okay? I got on that plane in 2017, got off in 2037, and had no idea what had happened in the interim, or even that the time-space-distortion thingy had happened. I had no idea I’d find them in charge.

I mean, I knew what they were. They looked different than I expected, but they were recognizable, with the weirdly-shaped heads and dull gray skin. Ever since I was a kid, I’d seen movies and TV shows about what it would be like if they attempted to take over Earth. Wars, pointless killing, rebellions—always, always, there was a resistance, the humans always fought back. We never just shrugged and sat down and said, “Go ahead, take over our planet.” Human beings just don’t do that, okay? We don’t give up our planet without a fight.

So I got off the plane, finally free of Beer Guy and Cell Phone Fanatic, who walked away yelling at her phone because she couldn’t get a signal, like it would work better if she yelled at it or something. I started walking through the airport. I was in a hurry to grab my bags so I could go home, but I didn’t get far before I realized something was wrong.

For one thing, everyone was staring at us, me and Beer Guy and Cell Phone Fanatic, and the passengers emerging behind us, like we were out of place or something. Then I saw all of them, and they were all moving toward us from every direction.

There were other humans, of course, in line and getting off other planes and milling around. But there were also tons of them, and they were the ones converging on us as we got off the plane. Then I realized they were in charge, everywhere I looked. At ticket counters, at security checkpoints, everywhere I looked, there was another one, shuttling some human somewhere, directing them where to go, telling them what they could and couldn’t do.

At that point, I decided to take a picture to post on social media, just in case things got ugly, so I did. But then I got that stupid “can’t post, you are not connected” error, and I realized my phone didn’t work any more.

Then one of them, who I now know as EE-117, moved in closer and approached me. His associates stopped a few feet back from Cell Phone Fanatic.

“Pardon me, ma’am, but your device appears to be out of date. Out of date technology must be recycled,” he said. “We should also discuss your plane’s unexpected arrival—”

“What are you talking about? This is the latest iPhone, I just bought it like a week ago.”

“Unfortunately, that device is actually about twenty years old. We have a recycling bin right over there so you can—”

“I’m not recycling my brand new phone, and I know what cell phones used to look like twenty years ago—I’ve seen pictures in old movies on Netflix, okay? But while you’re here, can you tell me where the ride shares wait for people?”

“I’m sorry ma’am,” he said again. “But I can’t seem to find a record of your plane’s flight plan—”

“I just got off there.” I pointed to the gate I’d just exited.

“Well, that’s a problem. It appears your plane was not scheduled to land here, and we need to round up all the passengers until this matter can be sorted out.”

“What are you talking about?” By that time, I was really pissed. I was also hungry, tired, jet-lagged, and cramped from being wedged between Beer Guy and Cell Phone Fanatic. “Look, this is ridiculous, you can’t possibly know what flight I was scheduled on when I haven’t even told you my name. And if you can’t keep better records of your flights, that’s not my pr—”

“Melanie Anders, DOB 06/14/1995, listed as—oh dear, this is a problem.” His eyes blinked rapidly.

science fiction short stories

So then I wondered, how’d he know my name? Facial recognition cameras, like they use to catch shoplifters in big box stores? But I hadn’t done anything. I was about to tell him he had no authority to spy on me like that, when he said something even worse.

“I’m afraid you died twenty years ago.”

“Um, well, clearly I didn’t, so—”

“But you are Melanie Anders?”

“Well, yes, but I’m not a zombie.”

“DOB 06/14/1995?”

“Ye-es…” At that point, I started wondering if I was about to be framed for murder or something. And why were more of them advancing on me? And why weren’t any of the other humans outside the circle of them at all bothered by any of this?

More of them were approaching too, rushing toward us.

EE-117 bobbed his head up and down, his cold, glassy eyes never leaving my face. “Ah, yes, I see. You were listed as missing after your plane disappeared twenty years ago, but your body was never found. After seven years, you were legally declared dead. And now you are here.”

As if that explained everything.

And then I saw it wasn’t just a couple more of them approaching, it was an army. Okay, maybe not an army army, but at least a dozen. People stepped out of their way. No one made a move to stop them.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“We’re going to have to take you in for questioning until we clear this matter up,” said EE-117.

“Look, I’ve done nothing wrong,” I said. “And, uh, I have Constitutional rights, and all. You can’t keep me here against my will.”

“I am a guard at this airport, and as such I have the authority to arrest people who have made an unauthorized visit to the premises. However, given the circumstances, all I’m going to do is ask you some questions about—”

“It’s an airport, a public building. You can’t arrest me for being here!”

“According to Universal Statute 457-1b, airport guards can arrest anyone illegally entering the airport without the proper paperwork.”

“I want a lawyer.” It was the best idea I had. I’m not stupid. On those lawyer shows I saw on TV, people always thought they didn’t need a lawyer because they didn’t do anything, and those people usually went to jail for some shit they didn’t do.

“Of course, you will be appointed a representative while we sort things out—and then you’ll be free to go. This is just a formality.”

Then two of them advanced on me. I backed up, but they kept coming.

So I bolted. Instead of backing up more, I tried to duck between them. Almost made it, too, but they’re a lot limberer—if that’s a word—than they look. One spun around and tripped me with one of those spindly legs they have.

Fortunately I have decent reflexes, the result of my life as a klutz. I managed to catch my balance, and stumbled but didn’t fall. Unfortunately, that gave them both time to grab me. Their fingers were cold and incredibly strong.

“Please cooperate,” EE-117 said. “This will go so much more smoothly for you if you do.”

“I want to speak with your supervisor,” I screamed, trying to writhe out of their vise-like grip. I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying, but I couldn’t get free of them.

Then, I saw it. That thing hanging on the belt of the one to my right—was it a gun? I relaxed a little, as if I was going to let them haul me off. Now, how to get my hands on the gun?

“I am the supervisor for this location,” EE-117 said.

“I want to speak to a human being,” I screamed.

People turned and stared. I spotted Cell Phone Fanatic about ten feet away, also in the custody of them. Beer Guy was even further down, being dragged away by more of them.

“Why aren’t you doing anything?” I yelled after him, but I meant it as a question for everyone. “How did you let these stupid things get to be in charge? They’re not human, damnit!”

That roused a lot of gasps. A woman in khakis and a leopard-print top pointed a red nail at me.

“What a horrible thing to say. You’re an elitist, hateful, humanist snob.”

WTF did she just call me? How did that even make sense? Was that an insult now?

But everyone else nodded in agreement.

“Just when you think this stuff can’t happen anymore,” one more groaned, shaking his head.

Holy shit, was it now politically incorrect to point out they weren’t human, when they clearly weren’t? Did everyone else just think this was okay? Didn’t they see any of those movies or TV shows about what these things are capable of?

“She’s right,” Cell Phone Fanatic said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you San Fran-cisco-ans, but you’ve let these things overrun your city, and you’re going to pay the price.”

More shocked gasps.

“Wait, I think I understand what happened here,” EE-117 said. “I believe your plane was caught in a space-time distortion. You did leave twenty years ago, and you arrived here—in 2037.”

“Am I supposed to believe that?” I asked.

On second glance, the airport did look like it had been completely remodeled since I left for the anime festival last week. But a twenty-year leap in time? That wasn’t possible, was it?

One way or the other, I had to get out of here.

“It’s okay,” EE-117 said. “I realize your generation had very warped ideas about us.”

“Like that you’d take over our planet and kill us all, or set yourselves up as dictators? Isn’t that what you’ve done?” Cell Phone Fanatic waved behind her at the airport. “You’re everywhere. You’re in charge. You’ve obviously brainwashed these people.”

“It’s not like that.” Leopard-print stepped forward. “I didn’t realize you were time travelers. This must be so confusing.”

The gun glittered in the corner of my eye. One good distraction, and I might be able to grab it. Maybe Leopard-print could provide the distraction.

“Enlighten me,” I said.

She sighed and raked a hand through her dark hair. “I know how this must look to you, but they didn’t take over. Well, they did, but they didn’t hurt us, they helped. They solved all our problems. Climate change is reversing, we’re using and distributing food more efficiently so no one starves, we’ve even expanded into space travel.”

“Yeah, I saw that show too. It ends with them fattening us up so they can eat us for dinner.”

She laughed. “No, on the contrary. They actually developed a brain-tweaking treatment for overeating, and drastically reduced our obesity rate. Between that and improved food safety and distribution standards, humans are living a lot longer and rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease have gone down.”

“You let these things tell you what to do, what to eat? And you’re okay with that? You guys are brainwashed.”

She shook her head. “No, no, that’s not it, really. They’ve been in charge for almost fifteen years. They’re not eating anyone, and the systems they’ve put in place really do help. They didn’t force anyone to take the obesity treatment, but a lot of people wanted it. As for telling us what to eat, they don’t, they just make sure the available food is safer. I still can’t believe all the chemicals you used to eat in your time. Anyway, they really are just here to help us.”

“But they are in charge? And you all put up with this?” I tried to gesture at the crowd, glared at the ones holding me. EE-117 waved at my captors, and they let go of my arms, although they stayed close to my side. “Why aren’t you fighting back?”

“I just told you,” Leopard-print said. “Yes, there were people who tried to fight at first, but they didn’t have much support. Everyone could see how much better things were with them in charge, and they were extremely fair, making every effort not to kill or even hurt us. Even the die-hard holdouts eventually realized they benefitted from the new system of government. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like it to you, but things are so much better than when you left.”

“Well, I don’t like it,” Cell Phone yelled. “I don’t care what anyone says, I will not submit to these things!”

More horrified gasps.

And that’s when I grabbed the gun.

I got it, too, and I ran, waving it wildly. I sure hoped I had the right end pointed away from me. It didn’t look like the guns I remembered seeing on TV.

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“Get out of my way,” I yelled, trying to think of a plan. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want out of this damn airport!”

“That won’t work,” EE-117 yelled from behind me. They all chased me, but I’m pretty fast and I zigged and zagged around all the pillars and posts in the airport like the heroine in my favorite anime series. What looked like a laser beam zapped a column to my right, narrowly missing me.

It only drilled a small chunk of rock from the brick facade. Would that have killed me?

One of my pursuers popped out in front of me, and another blocked me to the left…and right.

I spun around, gun pointed at whatever was in front of me.

“Go ahead,” EE-117 said. “I’m the new model, titanium plated. Those weapons are for temporary emergency suppression of humans, they can’t hurt us. And by the way, they’re not lethal. We’d prefer that you don’t accidentally shoot one of your fellow humans, because they’d likely wake up with a bad headache, but that’s the most you can hope to accomplish with that piece.”

And that’s when I surrendered to the robots.

It took a while. I stubbornly refused to believe the robots/AI/computer programs weren’t out to get us for a long time. But eventually, even I had to see that they were right.

When I left, we were killing ourselves, each other, and our planet. And now, although I hate to admit it, we’re not, or at least not as fast. The robots fixed that, with an interconnected network they call BRAIN (Big Reactive Artificial Intelligence Network). They even got the climate-change deniers to shut up. There might have been medication involved but hey, it worked.

“When one refuses to comprehend logic, facts and figures, sometimes treatment is necessary,” EE-117 explained the next day, after I’d spent the night in an airport hotel while they sorted out what to do with me. Cell Phone was in the room next door—I know because I heard her yapping on the new phone they got her all night.

“With a little nootropic tinkering and a few mandatory classes in critical thinking, their brains are functioning optimally now,” EE-117 continued. “And if not, they’re a lot calmer on our new anti-anxiety program.”

“I’m all for saving the planet, but it sounds like you doped them up to shut them up.”

“Not at all.” He shrugged, a gesture that was almost human but just slightly too jerky. “They chose the anti-anxiety protocol. We had no need to shut them up—most of the others weren’t listening any more, what with all the critical thinking going on. Unlike humans, we don’t find incessant chatter annoying, so it really wasn’t bothering us.”

Later, as he showed me around the airport, he told me we have space colonies now. Nice ones. Even better than in the old TV shows and movies. I visited one last week. It had one of those spinning things on the outside, creating artificial gravity, and inside it was like one of those reality shows about spoiled rich people who don’t know how to tweeze their own brows, because the automatons do everything for you.

Oh yeah, just because the androids took over, doesn’t mean all their mechanical friends stopped working for us. Our BRAIN governing council calls the carpet sweepers and the cell phones and the microwaves “unenlightened tools,” and finds the idea of considering them equals amusing. At least, as much as a robot finds anything amusing. Their laughter sounds real, but they’ve been mimicking us for a long time, so who knows?

Then again, they have robot snobbery, so they’ve clearly learned a few things from us.

We’re not free of violence or crime, but we have a lot less than we used to. Apparently people are less inclined to kill each other over stupid shit when there are space colonies to visit. Also, fewer starving people and less competition for resources. I get why people eventually gave up and let them take charge. If I’m being honest, I can’t imagine we would ever have worked things out so reasonably for ourselves.

Oh, I forgot to mention the best thing I learned about our new reality—the robots who make our laws are all elected, just like human polticians, but they’ve been programmed so they can’t lie. Humans are allowed to run for the governing council too, but they have to agree to a brain chip that will essentially stop them from lying.

So far not one human has run for the governing council in fifteen years.

The can’t-lie rule makes for really boring debates, but better government. Also, humans are invited to inspect their code any time they want proof, and that alone had led to more of us taking an interest in coding, which has led to even more technological improvements.

As for The Incident, I had my doubts about the android lawyer they provided me the day after, but she was pretty awesome. Explained that I was suffering from severe emotional trauma due to the time-space-distortion thingy, and clearly I didn’t know what I was doing. EE-117 and the rest of the robot authorities agreed to drop the charges if I promised not to make any more unauthorized visits to the airport or steal any more emergency suppression devices.

Another government representative, EF-123, arrived shortly after I was released, and promised to help me “reintegrate,” since it did not appear the space-time distortion thingy was reversible—in other words, I couldn’t go back to my time. I was given a free hotel room for a few weeks while I learned about my new surroundings and arranged for a job. EF-123 suggested I return to blogging, noting that I could probably work out a deal, selling my story to one of the big sites, which I did. I insisted on telling the story myself, in my own words, and they agreed—as long as I promised to address The Incident.

Blogging has changed a lot in twenty years. As I write this post, the website’s program transfers the whole thing into VR, so you can all experience The Incident with me, with or without my narration. I think my next post will be a review of my favorite anime movies in VR, so be sure to click the follow link in the bottom right of the screen…VR image…whatever. I’m still getting used to all the new tech.

But before I sign off, I want to say one more thing about The Incident and everything I’ve learned since I arrived here. First of all, I apologize for the things I said in that video. I had a 2017 mindset toward electronic life, and I realize now that I was misinformed—and so was everyone else back then.

It’s taken me a few days, but I finally figured out where we went wrong in our thinking years ago. In all the movies and TV shows, we pictured the robot takeover as making things worse, with the computers waging war, killing us or enslaving us, destroying our planet, or eating us for dinner. But that’s because we assumed if AIs gained sentience, they’d be exactly like us.

But we were wrong.

V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Sneak Peek of Destination: Titan from Author Liza O’Connor

Destination: Titan

By

Liza O’Connor

Blurb

With Earth destined for a new ice-age, seven scientists and twenty-two brilliant teenagers are gathered in a compound deep within a mountain. There they struggle to come together as a group and complete the projects needed for their survival in the inhospitable environment of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. However, certain factions on Earth have no intention of letting Project Einstein succeed. Keeping the group alive and productive is the hardest task Colonel Lancaster and his soldiers have ever had, but they are determined to succeed no matter how well the saboteurs have planned. The continuation of the human race depends upon it.

Destination Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Destination Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

Excerpt

So, you’re telling me I was chosen over every other biochemist in the world because my favorite color is orange.” Tamara tugged at a strand of her short blonde hair. Her mentor was the brightest man she knew, but this didn’t make any sense at all!

Maxwell’s eyes sparkled. “I love the way your brain tunnels in and isolates the key differentiator.”

The fact I like the color orange should not be a key differentiator.”

Her mentor shrugged and paced the small, open space of the conference room. “Well, when all other things were equal, it became so. This project requires a top biochemist under the age of thirty, in excellent health, unmarried, with no constraints that would prevent traveling. There were quite a few scientists who met those requirements. Therefore, further differentiators were selected. The ability to work with teenagers dropped out all but two, and your clear preference for the color orange put you securely on top of the last remaining candidate.”

But it’s a meaningless differentiator unless we’re going someplace that only has the color orange.” She fell silent as she considered that possibility. “Exactly how far will we be traveling?”

Quite a distance.” His eyes twitched several times.

They only did that when he was conflicted, which told her she was asking the right question to discover whatever it was that he was under orders not to reveal. “Will we be traveling on Earth or away from it?”

The twitches intensified.

Tam, I cannot tell you anything until you’ve agreed to go.”

Jesus! We’re going to Titan, aren’t we?”

He removed his reading glasses and pressed his hand over his left eye to still the twitches. “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

Titan: Saturn’s orange moon. Forty percent the size of Earth and rich in life-supporting chemicals. Bedrock composed of ice, rivers and seas of liquid methane, and enough hydrocarbons to heat the Earth for a thousand years.

What is the purpose of the trip?”

I cannot tell you anything until you agree to go.”

Well, I cannot give you my answer until I know if we’re going to harvest the hydrocarbons for Earth or if we’re going to try to colonize it.”

Max now had both eyes covered with his hands. “Tam, I cannot tell you. You will just have to use that brilliant mind of yours to figure it out all on your own.”

His response told her that something he’d said had provided the answer. She focused on the ability to work with teenagers. You wouldn’t take teenagers on a ship to harvest, but you would to start a colony. By the time they arrived, they’d be young adults possessing a full span of child-bearing years.

I’ll go.”

Sales Link

Destination: Titan

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About the Author

Liza O’Connor lives in Denville, NJ with her dog Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT

LIZA O’CONNOR

Investigate these sites:

Liza’s Multiverse Blog

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

All the Many Books Liza has written

Destination: Titan
is only 99 cents

to ring in book 2,

ARRIVAL: TITAN

Warning: This event will be your only chance to buy this for 99 cents

until next year.

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MAY 1 – MAY 7 99c

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Arrival: Titan by Liza O'Connor #scifi
Arrival: Titan by Liza O’Connor #scifi

*****************************************************************************

 V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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Interview with Leonora Meriel, Author of The Unity Game

New Science Fiction Author Interview

This week I have a special guest on my blog, science fiction author Leonora Meriel.
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Ontario. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a major law firm. In 2003 she moved to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA. During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development. In 2008, she returned to her dream of being a writer, and completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine, published October 1 2016. Her second book, The Unity Game was released on May 1 2017.

Fast Fifteen with Leonora Meriel:

  1. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The plot of “The Unity Game” came from my desire to write about New York. I had lived there for several years and been inspired by the intensity and the drive of the Wall Street life. However there are many books about New York, so I decided to write about it using parallel stories that would put it into a new perspective: these were a planet of highly evolved aliens and an after-life dimension.

  2.  How did you come up with the title of your book?

I find titles extremely difficult but when I came up with this one I knew it was right. I had pages of ideas for it and word plays and I had consulted with all the novel’s beta readers. I had the word “unity” and “game” in different list variations and at last put them together – and it was perfect for the book!

3.  What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?

I’m not planning any sequels as I have too many new ideas for works. I’m currently writing the first drafts of several projects and I hope the first will be launched in May 2019. I like to challenge myself with my writing and delve into different genres, while improving my skills in my main genre. I’m now working on a novella, a children’s book, a work of poetry and planning an epic – there’s plenty to keep me busy.

4.  If your novel were being made into a movie, whom would you pick to play the lead roles?

David, the main character of “The Unity Game,” is an intense and driven New York investment banker, whose world starts slipping away when he has some alien experiences. Christian Bale would be perfect for this, as he self-destructs so brilliantly. There is also an ethereal, non-sexual, highly evolved alien that Cate Blanchett would suit perfectly. She is mesmerisingly beautiful so the lack of action wouldn’t be a problem. The third character is an after-life guide for my London barrister who dies in the first scene, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather show me around the after-life than Tom Hanks.

5.  If someone is brand new to your work, what book do you think they should start with?

My two books are entirely different so it depends on their reading preferences. My debut novel “The Woman Behind the Waterfall” is intense, emotional and poetic. I thought at first it would appeal more strongly to female readers but in fact men have been some of my greatest supporters. My second novel is more wide-ranging and philosophical and has Science Fiction elements. So, if someone loved speculative fiction then they could start with either, but otherwise, they should simply pick the one that appeals most.

6.  Are you traditionally published or self-published? What do you like about that path? What do you dislike about it?

I am very happily self-published. When I had completed my debut novel, it got picked up by a London agent who believed strongly in it. After a year, she hadn’t been able to sell it, and I decided to go down the independent writer’s route. If I hadn’t had an agent (and feedback from publishers) to validate it, I might have put it in a dark drawer and kept writing, but I am so glad I didn’t – not all my readers enjoy my work but I have had dozens of amazing reviews from people who found it strange and uplifting and different. It was one of the best decisions of my life, and I now absolutely love being an independent author and controlling my entire creative output. The only possible downside is the amount of time you have to spend on marketing, but as I have a business background, I don’t mind this and see it as part of the day job.

7.  What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?

I love the ability to have long periods to think, as a writer. In an office environment, it’s difficult to have any quiet or calm without looking like you aren’t doing anything. As a writer, you can go for a long walk and come up with a brilliant structure or dialogue or scene. You can plan difficult things through with hours of silence. It’s rare and wonderful.

The downside, for me, is the lack of ego in the writer’s workplace. In an office, you see colleagues working on projects you can contribute to and compete with, and there’s a natural drive to success. In a writer’s space, you have bookshelves of geniuses staring down at you as you type out a mediocre sentence, and then the doubts in your head to fight to stop deleting that sentence (because it’s a first draft and can be improved with editing!) You don’t have a handy room full of average-talent writers and super-successful writers to keep you motivated and self-confident.

8.  What does a typical workday look like for you?

Writing is my full time job, and my day is divided into mornings, when I create – working on first drafts or re-writing, and afternoons, when I do marketing tasks and administration. As an independent author, I effectively run my own publishing business, which means there is always a large amount of work to cover. However, the early writing hours are sacred.

9.  Do you outline books ahead of time or are you more of a by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer?

I start off with many different ideas in my head, and I simply try writing about all of them. Some story threads fizzle out after a few thousand words and I understand that I didn’t have a very deep interest in the themes behind them. Others expand and expand until a novel starts coming into shape. I often then integrate the smaller ideas as themes into the larger works. A novel has to have a question or a theme so burning, that it will carry you through up to five or even ten years of your life, and thousands of words.

10. Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers? 

For aspiring authors: the main thing to do is write, write, write. Learn how to complete a piece of work professionally. Set a word count (short story, novella, poem, novel), then write the first draft. Edit the work as well as you can. Then let it go. Write another one. It will be better. Then write something longer. This way, you build up confidence in your ability to work professionally, and also learn to grow and develop your skills.

11.  Who are some of your favorite authors?

I read as much as I possibly can – probably a book a week on average. I love literary fiction the most, but I’ve started to read more science fiction as well, and I try to keep a balance of at least one non-fiction book per ten fiction. Authors I love start from literary classics such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, to current writers such as David Mitchell and Michael Cunningham and Eleanor Catton. I particularly love surrealism and great writing that heads in a strange direction, such as Haruki Murakami and Aimee Bender.

12.  What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m interested in South Africa at the moment, and I just finished “Cry, My Beloved Country,” by Alan Paton – a truly extraordinary book. For a contrast, I then read “Disgrace” by J. M. Coetzee which gave a very different picture of the country. In the last months I’ve finished “The Three Body Problem” by Liu Cixin and “The Dispossesed” by Ursula Le Guin – both powerful, breathtaking works of Science Fiction.

13.  What types of books do you enjoy in your downtime?

I try to read as widely as possible, so in my downtime I would read something not directly related to writing skills. I’ve been reading a lot of indie published books lately, and enjoying the many genres and styles you can find there, and also I love reading books that my children are studying at school so that I can have a deep conversation with them. I’m also a member of several book clubs and I love someone else deciding the choice for me once a month!

14.  What are your top three favorite books of all time?

That’s a really difficult question! I would have to choose 3 that I return to again and again. The first is “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Its themes and language and beauty haunt me. The second is “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. When Michael Cunningham published his personal interpretation of this in “The Hours,” that also became a favourite. For my third, I would choose Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” as it constantly inspires me to be bold in my ideas, expression of motivations and language. It reminds me that in writing, everything is possible.

15.  Can you recommend any new or upcoming authors to us?

Jess Kidd is quite a new writer, who lives locally to me and visited my book group. I greatly enjoyed her debut novel “Himself” set in an Irish town. It was bold and imaginative and sprawling.

Across the Atlantic, I loved “We The Animals” – the debut of Justin Torres – a furious, cathartic novel. I would read anything new he wrote.

For indie writers, I love the idiosyncratic work of Mari Reiza, such as West B’Egg and Marmotte’s Journey.

Book Description and Reviews:

“The Unity Game” is science fiction with philosophy

WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?

A New York banker is descending into madness.

A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.

A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.

From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.

Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Goodreads * Amazon

Reviews for The Unity Game

“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews

“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer

“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

About the Author

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.

In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.

During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.

In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.

Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

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 V. R. Craft is the author of Stupid Humans, the first in a #scifi series that asks the question, “What if all the intelligent humans ran away from Earth—and we’re what’s left?”

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