Fridays 5 with E. P. Clark

E.P. Clark recently released her debut novel, "The Midnight Land (Parts 1& 2)," an epic fantasy set in a Russian-inspired world.  When she isn't writing fiction, she teaches Russian at Wake Forest University.  You can grab a copy of "The Midnight Land" on Amazon and find out more about her and her work on her website, and also by following her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) I'd been thinking about it since I first learned to read and write, but I got serious about it in the sense of sitting down on a regular basis and completing a full-length work when I was 18.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) NOT QUITTING.  Doing it regularly even when I don't feel like it is hard for me but essential.  I like to think of it as a practice, like with yoga.  And like with yoga, I find I just have to get out my props and do it and then most of the time it's okay.  After that, I think the hardest thing for me is probably keeping track of everything.  I tend to write really long, complicated novels, and it can be difficult for me to remember what's already happened or even what characters are called, especially if it's been 6 months or a year or more since I've last encountered them.  I find spreadsheets and lots of editing are helpful in that regard.

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As younger sister to the Empress of all of Zem’ and the only one possessing her foremothers’ gifts of clairvoyance, Slava is both one of the most powerful and powerless people in the Known World. Desperate to escape the intrigue and hostility of her sister’s kremlin, Slava takes off on an expedition to the Midnight Land, the uninhabited, unmapped tundra on the Northern edge of Zem’. But as she travels North, Slava discovers that it is more than just the world of women that covets her gifts, and that fate is pushing her to become a most unlikely hero…

Combining motifs from classical Russian literature with the genre of high fantasy, this book is both a gripping coming-of-age tale and a subversive exploration of gender, morality, and subjectivity.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Exhausted, drained, disbelieving.  Also elated, giddy, and apprehensive.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) Definitely character.  I recently read an article by Gary Saul Morson about how literature is the only discipline that causes us to actively practice empathy, which clarified what for me is the most important thing about reading: understanding and empathizing with another person.  All the action sequences in the world are meaningless if we don't care about what happens to the people experiencing them.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  I'm a university instructor, so it varies by whether it's during the semester or during break, what my teaching schedule is, whether it's a teaching day or a writing day, and what part of the semester it is.  I'm also trying to shift gears from writing to marketing now that I've released my first book, so that changes things too.   But most of the time it's something like: Phase 1) Get up, check email, meditate, breakfast, walk dogs.  Phase 2) If I have a morning class, go to campus, teach, plan lessons, answer work emails, attend any meetings that need attending, teach more classes, etc.  If I don't have class, then I generally spend the mornings answering email and/or writing (sometimes my fiction, sometimes my academic writing or translation work) and doing outreach and promotion, either for my own writing or for my department.  Phase 3) Come home, rest (I have health issues that require an annoying amount of rest), walk dogs, yoga, tackle more emails (dealing with email is a huge theme in my life and takes up hours of my day), do some writing and/or promotional activities, walk dogs, supper (possibly combined with more writing, although I'm trying not to do that), and then--and this is very important--PUT EVERYTHING AWAY AND REST BEFORE I HURT MYSELF.  I'll often read during the evening and I'm trying to read more indie authors and post reviews of their work.

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Twitter: @Andreyev7

Origin Part II

Some things are better left undiscovered.

The door to the cockpit in the wall opposite from where Charlie stood opened, and the pilot stepped into their cabin.

“Any word on when we can move to the camp?” Albert said.

“Looks like it’s gonna be a few hours yet before they have the central section ready for habitation,” the pilot said. “We have coffee if you’d like some.”

“Brandy would be better,” Robert said. He was an archeologist from Berkley and had spent the entire trip wholly engrossed in a study of a recent fossil bed somewhere in the deserts of Arizona. He had the look of one who had spent much of his time outdoors beneath a blazing sun. A deeply tanned face lined and wrinkled with age. Even though he was only forty, the years of exposure to the sun’s rays had left their mark on his leathery flesh.

“I’m sorry sir,” the pilot said, “but alcoholic beverages are not permitted on a military transport.”

Robert gave him a wink and a thumbs up. “Got ya, skipper.”

“Coffee sounds good, I’ll have mine with cream and sugar. Anyone else?” Albert said as he looked around at the others.

“Sounds good to me,” Sandra said.

“I’ll send a steward,” the pilot said before stepping back into the cockpit.

“They have stewards on this flight?” Jenny asked.

“Probably just an airman who never expected one of his duties would be playing nurse maid to a group of geeks,” Charlie said as he settled into his seat, where he turned his attention to what was happening outside.

The wind, which had been mild when they landed, was starting to pick up and the aircraft rocked under its pressure. It howled as it swirled under the wings, driving a line of ice crystals before it, battering at everything that refused to yield to its relentless assault. The steward stepped out of the cockpit with several steaming mugs of coffee, drawing the attention of the group. Steve, Charlie’s partner in keeping the base running smoothly, plopped down into the seat next to him.

“Have you looked at what we came to explore?” Steve said.

“Not yet, why?”

“You need to take a look,” Steve said as he handed him a pair of binoculars.

Charlie held the binoculars to his eyes and focused on the exposed rock beyond the group of penguins. As he adjusted  the dial, the exposed stone leapt into focus and he concentrated on the details as he slowly panned the area.

“What am I looking for?”

“Next to the hill that comes out like a shoulder, on the right side, there is an exposed section of what looks like a tunnel.”

“I see it,” he said, and then became quiet as the realization of what he was looking at slowly dawned on him. There was a band of writing on the wall running the visible length of the tunnel that terminated in what looked like a vast circular room carved out of the solid stone. Several jagged teeth of solid stone hung over the opening, giving it the appearance of a monstrous mouth.

At this distance it was hard to discern its origin, much less what was written, but just the realization that something intelligent had been involved in the construction of this tunnel set off warnings in his mind. They were looking at something man had never seen before, nor would likely ever see again. It reminded him again of the story he’d read by a writer long dead, and the carvings those fictional characters discovered. It was said that life imitated art. Here they stood upon the threshold of a discovery that had been foretold by a writer almost a hundred years earlier. He just hoped the outcome would follow a different course.

Three seats behind Charlie, Albert and Jerry, one of the scientists who’d volunteered for this expedition, were viewing the structure through their own pair of binoculars.

“How large do you make that to be?” Albert asked Jerry, a geologist whose hobby was ancient construction methods.

“I’d say at least a hundred feet from floor to ceiling, almost twice that across at the widest point,” Jerry said.

“I see a trail we can follow to the top,” Jenny said.

“What about the penguins?” Jerry said.

Sandra Falcon shook her head. “Your guess is as good as mine. I can tell you for a fact that they’ve abandoned their normal migratory routes to gather here. Why, is anybody’s guess.”

“They seem drawn to the structure,” Albert said.

“It could be an instinctive memory,” Sandra said.

“Will they bother us if we go near them?”

“The only time one really needs to be careful is when they’re roosting. They shouldn’t bother us, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Give them a wide berth.”


After a few hours of climbing, they reached a small plateau above a field of shattered stone that was quickly being buried beneath a steady snowfall. They were accompanied by a platoon of soldiers who had been tasked with protecting the seven members of the scientific team. Albert was the leader of the group, but when it came to matters of security second lieutenant Stokes could overrule Albert’s decisions. On the plain below them, another C-130 came in for a landing as a ground crew worked against the elements and time to complete the structure the scientists would live and work in for the next few weeks.

As a group, they stopped when the exposed void came into view. The smooth sides of the passageway vanished into the mountain. It looked like it had been carved from solid stone. The narrow passage led into a vast domed chamber

“You’re the geologist,” Albert said, nodding at Jerry, “do you feel the structure is safe to enter?” 

To be continued!

Check out Adversary, book one of the Shadows of the Past series.

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Receive a personally autographed copy of Adversary for only $11.99 with free shipping to the continental United States. Drop me a line at for details on how to order your copy today. 

Fridays 5 with Savio Dawson

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India, who grew up on everything sci-fi. Science Fiction has its own charm of unravelling mysteries, boldly going where no man has gone before [yeah I know it is from Star-trek :)] and to seek and find explanations for the unexplained. This is more or less what excites a true sci-fi enthusiast.

Savio is one of the enthusiasts too and he is presenting his own version here. Mystery surrounds us in many ways and it is mammoth in proportion to what we know. No one knows what lies beneath the ocean; no one knows what lies beyond our solar system; no one knows how vast the universe is; no one knows if any other extra-terrestrial form exists, but still the pursuit of knowing the unknown will continue unabated and will continue to excite us. This excitement is what Savio attempts to bring out in his books.

Savio is blessed with a supportive family and has a day job in India. Writing is his passion and he also writes for many blogging sites. When not writing and not working, which, of course, happens a lot of time, Savio likes to while-away and watch sci-fi movies.

1.) When did you first get serious about writing?

A.) Actually, it was quite an interesting episode. I was working with a telecom company where there was an offsite program planned for the senior leadership team, and as part of the offsite program, a logical reasoning game had to be designed. I was part of the planning team and one of the members suggested that I should come up with two stories to make the game work. I gave it a shot and it ended up being quite a hit. That was the first realization that I could write a story. Thereafter, I started with blogs for three years and understood the nitty-gritty of online writing and that was followed by my novel. So, the novel came by a lot later from the time I really started writing and now I believe this a passion which will continue for a lifetime.

2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?

A.) The hardest part about writing is to stay committed to writing. It is quite easy to put away writing to another day when there are things happening around us. The problem is when I have such breaks it usually extends beyond one day. I find more and more reasons to stay away or continue to delay further. Getting back is then a herculean task. You have to get yourself back in the groove, re-read the plot, understand the flow and then write. This is much like warming up before starting the book. Precious time is lost in such “getting back” to writing episodes. So, I usually try to avoid them. The mantra I follow is to write at least 100 words a day, even if they are too little for a novel length book. That way I make this a habit and stay in touch with the characters.

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A chance discovery leads to unearthing a plot against humankind; a plot to steal the very fabric of human creation.

Mark is in the middle of a spate of abductions by two different sets of extra-terrestrials. Around the same time, the U.S military unwittingly discovers few alien vessels in Earth’s atmosphere while testing a new technology called GAM. The knowledge of the alien vessels around the periphery of Earth drives a team comprising of Mark, an agency called XTRA-T and the security agencies to unearth the intentions of those aliens.

In the pursuit of truth, some bone-chilling revelation of Earth’s history comes to the fore. Unexplained events like Tunguska Explosion and many others are answered but nothing compares to the one that is in store for Earth. Mark and team have to find a way out and in many ways invoke the assistance of unexplained powers to redeem them at the time of need.
3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) The most important victories in life often have very few words or at times no words to describe them. My book falls in that category. Joy was obvious, feeling of accomplishment was obvious, proud of having created something was obvious, but then there were many more mixed feelings; all the good ones, that is. So even today I would find it quite difficult to speak about. That said, my wife was always around during this journey. She was the only one who knew about my writing side. All my family members and then friends came to know about the book only after it was released. My dad was shocked to know that I could even write a book.

4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?

A.) These two are usually related. The best way to visualize the link between a story and character is through movies. You decide the genre and think of a movie you like the most. Chances are you like the story and the character. My favourite is Terminator – 2 (Judgement Day). I like the movie because of the story - of how the world was saved from the Terminators - and the fact that a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) saved the day for the humans. Now, which one of the two do I like the most? Hard to tell. Of course, there are permutations and combinations of some stories being really good and would do well despite the characters and the other way round too (very rarely). But the best of the best will have a strong story and one or more strong characters. To answer your question, both matter to me and I give them equal importance.

5.) What is a typical day like in your world?

A.)  Well, I am yet to become a full-time author. I still have a day job, then my time with my family and then the writing. Now you probably can relate why I see my commitment to writing as the biggest challenge. Chances are that I am quite busy with work and, therefore, postpone writing. Here my wife plays a crucial part, and she kind of takes care of things at home, leaving me enough time to write. Let’s not forget that she herself is working too. My Dad was always there and helped in ways he wouldn’t have known. I did mention that he did not even know about my book until it was released.

Mostly, I prefer writing in the morning before getting on with things or a bit late in the night. During weekends, I can give more time to write my book. So, that’s in a nutshell about my day.

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