Thursday, September 4, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Chris Podhola

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?

The story itself decided the genre.  In general I am a supernatural, paranormal lover, so it is natural for me to write things along these lines.  This story, however, is more specifically suited for a younger audience, and that decision is based on the character ages and the story line, which wasn’t a conscious decision.  It’s just the way it worked out during the writing of it.

What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?

Well this story has no vampires, but what does lure me into vampire stories, are the ones that focus on the lure that vampires have.  I think the reality of vampire stories is that they are not the ‘good guys’ (sorry Twilight fans), but are the ones who want to drink our blood, seeing us as food, and forgetting that they were once as vulnerable as we are.  I do, however, like vampire stories with a romantic interest between the vampire and the victim.

What inspired you to write this book?

The twins themselves were the inspiration.  I wanted to write a story about a pair of twins who were originally born in another dimension and were sent to ours, by being born here, forgetting their mission, and having to rediscover their true path.

Please tell us about your latest release.

As mentioned in the previous question it is about a pair of twins (Whitney and Tommy Leighton) who were originally born in another dimension and reborn in ours to complete a mission.  In the other world they are both warriors, neither of them completely human, both of them having different abilities, and each of them with varying personalities.  They are sent to Earth to recover a fugitive but, being reborn on our planet, have no idea of their past.  Whitney can only see and hear when she is piggybacking with Tommy, slipping her consciousness into his, is the only way she can see or hear, and she lives her life in the passenger seat of Tommy’s mind.  (Their only clue of this other world being the dreams of Tommy).  In those dreams he sees his sister differently than he knows her.  In his dreams she is still blind and deaf, but she is also an impressive warrior.  She has tattoos of the infinity symbol wrapped around her eyes, scars on her face and neck and swings a pair of swords like nobody he’s ever seen before, but in the end of his most recent dreams she is killed by one of her enemies.  Some of his dreams are set in another world, but not all of them are.  Some of the alien creatures in his dreams end up in our world and he knows that Whitney must learn to become more like the girl he sees in his dreams, otherwise she is doomed to perish young.  The only problem is that simply telling her of his dreams will only prompt a scoffing laugh from her.

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions? 

For me character’s names usually end up coming by inspiration, much like the character themselves do.  I usually don’t manipulate character names and try to allow one character to name the other.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Any antagonist character is usually difficult for me.  I find it difficult to write scenes in which one character does something awful to another.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

I truly enjoyed exploring Whitney’s character.  She is by far the most unique character I have ever written.

Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

I try to get into my character’s head when I write.  My best writing comes when I accomplish this successfully.  It’s not always easy, but when I do get it right I don’t have to guess what the character would thing or do, because I already know.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

[In this scene Tommy and Whitney have arrived at Camp Tumbling Waters.  Not long before this Whitney has decided not to attend the camp with her brother.  Her argument being that, being blind and deaf, she can’t really enjoy the camp the way that the other teens can, and she will only serve to hinder Tommy from enjoying his week there.  So she decided not to go.  As this cut from the scene begins the rest of the family is standing in front of the Camp Master, Mr. Margraves who is thankful to receive the news.  Their Aunt and Uncle, Blake and Carol Anne, are speaking with him, and Tommy is with them.  Whitney has her consciousness slipped into Tommy’s and she is also listening in.]

“I don’t see her out here so I hope that this means that your daughter has changed her mind and isn’t tagging along,” he said without returning the handshake that Blake was offering.  Blake retracted his offer.  The camp-master had barely moved his lips as he spoke, which gave the impression that he was a practicing ventriloquist, but it also looked like he needed a lot more practice.  His Hitler style mustache sat perched below his nose and Tommy had to hold himself back from giggling.
Tagging along? Whitney thought to Tommy.  What a jerk!
“I think she may have changed her mind,” Blake answered.
“Well that’s the best news I’ve heard all day, to be quite honest with you.  I have been a little more than worried about this whole situation.  I’ll have you know that I fought tooth and nail against this preposterous notion of having a girl that is both blind and deaf attending this camp, but it seems that your generous contribution to the camp carried more weight than my opinion,” he said.  “I mean to think … a blind and deaf girl … here!  Silliest thing I’ve ever heard of … no offense, but I’m very relieved.”
Silly? Whitney repeated in Tommy’s head.
Tommy looked over to Blake.  Blake’s nostrils were flaring and he was taking in deep and even breaths.  Carol Anne’s hand went to his shoulder and began to gently stroke him.  She was trying to prevent him from blowing his lid right then and there.
“You don’t think she could handle it?” Blake asked through gritted teeth.
“Tah!” he spat.  “What would she really be able to accomplish here?  How would she spend her days?  Sitting in the cabin?  Walking the trails with her brother holding her hand?  Nope!  She would accomplish nothing but keeping her brother from enjoying himself.  Better to just let him enjoy what the camp has to offer and leave her at home where she is safe and can be attended to properly, to be totally honest with you.”
HOLDING MY FRIGGING HAND?! She questioned to Tommy.  Who does this guy think he is?  I don’t need to be ‘attended to properly!’
What Whit! Tommy thought back to her.  He’s essentially just saying what you said earlier.
Oh, shut up!
It was almost as if the man thought that saying things like “to be honest with you” or “quite frankly” softened the blow of his harsh words.  Did he not realize that the things he was saying were not being taken very kindly?
“She is a very capable young lady you know,” Carol inputted.
“Oh I’m sure she is,” he returned quickly.  “I’m sure she is very capable under the circumstances, but this camp is for exceptional … I’m afraid we don’t have much room for capable here.”
That’s it.  I’ve had it!
The door to the S.U.V. opened.  It drew the attention of everyone standing at the gate and they all watched as one of Whitney’s legs dropped down below the door of the truck.  It was quickly followed by the other which was then followed by the sound of the door being slammed shut.  She had her “seeing” cane in her hand and she pushed the button on the side of it.  The end of it shot out and she began hopping it from side to side in front of her as she walked toward the group.
“I have a feeling that someone may have just changed their mind again,” Blake said.  Pride was swelling in his voice as he said it.  “I’ll go get her bags.”  He left the group and headed to the back of the vehicle. 
Tommy couldn’t help but notice that the camp-master’s right eye twitch every time Whitney’s cane tapped against the ground as she approached.  It really didn’t look like the guy was enjoying the sight of her walking up to them. 
Glad you could join us! Tommy thought to her.
I’m not happy about this, but NO WAY am I gonna let this prick tell me what I can and can’t do!
The camp-master stood before them, dumbfounded by the recent change of events, and not sure what to do about it.  A moment before he was getting his way and suddenly he wasn’t.  His entire face went from tan to turnip red.  His eyes danced in his head, and he kept looking back and forth from Carol Anne to Blake, who was at the back of the truck pulling out Whitney’s luggage, as if he expected them to suddenly take his side and demand that Whitney just go ahead and change her mind back to not going.
Blake came back, sat Whitney’s things down next to Tommy’s, and took up residence next to Whitney.  He put one proud arm around her and grinned at the camp-master who was still desperately thinking of a way to change the tides back to his favor.

Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?

In order to get the ‘Cherokee Indian’ parts correct I had to do research on that.  During that research I discovered the ‘Trail of Tears’ and was fascinated by it.  Parts of that, along with some of their language and beliefs, made it into the novel.

Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world? 

Volume 1 is set in modern day Missouri, but Volume 2 will go from there to Messolina and the Black City.  That world is much different.  Everything surrounding Messolina is different and there are many dangerous beings living in that world.  If you are not a warrior, trained to fight from birth, you will not survive long.

With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?

So far I’ve only written the first book.  I am just now beginning work on the second.  I do have short stories along the same story line, and many readers have jumped in at different places within the shorts without complaint.

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Tommy and I both have a love for sci-fi movies, books and the like.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

When I get something wrong in a story.  When that happens the ideas just quit coming and I have to go back and figure out where I went off track.  Once have that figured out I can usually pick it back up.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

The weirdest thing that I do that may be different from other writers is to write the antagonist scenes dead last.

Do you write in different genres? Yes.  This is an urban fantasy, but the next story I plan to write will have fangs in it, and I think that there are definitely sci-fi stories tucked away somewhere in my brain.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?  Sometimes.  I usually only try to write the stories that I’m feeling inspiration for.  That inspiration helps a lot.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

I knew that I wanted to write from a very young age but, unfortunately, I went about it the wrong way in the beginning.  My first attempt at writing came at about the age of thirteen and it was horrible.  I was trying to, and expecting to, write like a pro.  When I read what I had written and saw that it wasn’t that great, I thought that I didn’t have what it took and I didn’t write another word until I was an adult.  But the desire to write never died.  That flame continued to burn within me.  I made more attempts at different times in my life and each time I went back to it, my writing seemed a little better to me.  I didn’t consider myself to be a writer, however, until about four or five years ago.  By that time I was occasionally letting someone else see what I had written, watching their facial expressions with my breath buried deep in my lungs, and relieved when I would catch a glimpse of a smile, or a nodding of their head as they read along.  That’s when I knew that I might just be able to pull it off.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

Craft beers.  I don’t drink often, but when I do I like something quality.  I like different tastes, something strong, heavy and bold.  I’ve been known to spend as much as twenty dollars on one single bottle of beer.

What was the last amazing book you read?

I just finally got to reading Hunger Games.  I had avoided reading it because I had read a very unfavorable critique of it.  Then I read another critique that tore it to shreds and I got to thinking, if it’s that bad, then why is it selling so good.  I read it myself to find out, finished all three novels in three days, and realized that critiques aren’t always what they are cut out to be.  I loved all three novels.

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

Anywhere quiet.  It doesn’t matter where because, as long as it’s quiet, I end up somewhere else entirely anyway.

What can readers expect next from you? 

Volume 2 of the Twinfinity series.

Twinfinity: Nethermore
Volume 1
Chris Podhola

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal,Urban Fantasy

Date of Publication: May 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499625035

Number of pages: 411
Word Count: 107,000

Cover Artist:

Book Description:

Whitney Leighton has a secret.  She is both blind and deaf but that’s not what she’s trying to keep hidden.  Her secret is that she can both see and hear through her twin brother Tommy.  They call it piggybacking because she can shift her consciousness into her brother’s mind.

Whitney’s not the only one with a secret; Tommy has one too and it’s Whitney that he’s keeping it from.  His secret is that Whitney isn’t who she’s supposed to be.  He has dreams of her, but in his dreams she has tattoos, battle-scars on her face, and a formidable look of determination.  If Tommy’s dreams come true then Whitney is in serious trouble and so is everyone else.  The simple Whitney that is, doesn’t stand a chance against the evil that exists in his sleep, and the world will be thrust into chaos.

The teen twins end up at Camp Tumbling Waters and Lake Amicolola where something is waiting for them.  Something as dark as Whitney’s vision and as insane as Tommy’s dreams and IT needs Whitney to escape the prison that IT calls … Nethermore.

Available at Amazon


This excerpt is from Chapter 10 of Twinfinity: Nethermore.  In it the main character, the blind and deaf Whitney Leighton, is preparing to make a physical statement to her summer camp peers.  They are all gathered at the obstacle course located in Camp Tumbling Waters and the group is divided.  Half of the campers blame her for the recent troubles in the camp, and the other half believe that she is the solution to those problems.  Whitney knows that she needs to prove a point to all of them in order to unite them.

Whitney had been a little surprised by how clearly her course could be directed through her imagination and memory.  Every step, and every move had been based on what she remembered from when she was piggy-backed with Kat, but she had been able to lay everything out in her mind with near perfect clarity.
She had been sitting on the bench brooding over her conversation with Kat.  She was mad all right, but little Mike had changed her mood.  She couldn’t see the fear in his face, and she couldn’t hear if he had said anything, but she had seen his shadow approach the wall and she had waited with anticipation for his shadow to ascend into the air.  She might not be able to see it with her eyes, but she would have still felt pride for him as he succeeded.  She could see that climbing it was important to him, and Kat had insinuated that it was so important that he had spent a year trying to get himself ready for it.  His body appeared to be weak and frail and Whitney had searched Kat’s mind for an explanation for that.
He had an accident when he was younger--a tragic accident that had broken many bones and left him in a wheel chair for years.  He was just getting to the point that he could walk again.  And, according to Kat’s memories on the subject, climbing that wall was his motivation—his driving force.  It was the thing that he talked about last year that inspired him to work so hard in his recovery.  He wanted to do it, but he was afraid.
Like she was afraid.
He backed off and someone else was approaching the wall in his place.  She didn’t want to sense someone else climbing the wall.  She wanted to sense him doing it, and she didn’t think it was right for everyone else to just shrug it off.
When she first got up from the bench and started walking toward the group her intention was to find a way to convince Mike to make his climb.  She was only vaguely aware of the clarity with which she could visualize her course.  She could see every clump of dirt, every stone that could make her stumble, and she could even remember seeing a Twix candy bar wrapper as she walked by it.
Her mind was more focused on how to convince Mike to make his climb.  By the time she got there she had figured it out.  She would lead by example.
It was after Kam had put the safety harness onto her and attached the safety line onto the clip on the back when she knew she had to take it off.  It was doing its job.  It was making her feel safe.  There was no danger.  The spotters were trained to make sure that she wouldn’t be injured if she slipped.  It was crazy, but she didn’t want to feel safe.  She wanted every handhold and every foothold to be risky and she wanted to feel the danger of it. 
Most of all she wanted to rely on others to catch her if she did fall.
She had been playing it safe all of her life and for once she wanted to leave safety behind her.  She had never let herself rely on anyone but Tommy—who she depended on vigorously for help in almost everything and she was done with that too.
She had chosen the members of her net the way she did because she wanted to show everyone that she trusted them even if they didn’t really trust her.  She didn’t just want to convince Mike to make the climb.  She also wanted to find a way to bring the group back together again.  She had divided everyone, and so she’d have to be the one to link them back together again.
She was a couple of levels off of the ground when the idea of the teambuilding element began to form in her mind.  The concept was simple enough.  You had to trust in the members of the team to catch you if you fell backward into them.  That teambuilding element was about a three foot drop into the arms of your team.  What if someone did it from the top of the climbing wall?  It was a scary idea, but if that didn’t make an impact on the crowd than nothing would.
Whitney ascended the wall.  Despite her nearly perfect memory of every hand and foothold her fear was a very tangible and real thing.  Slipping off and falling was still extremely dangerous even with the group below her because she might not be able to control how she landed and a broken leg or arm or even both was a probability.
She reached up and grabbed the next handhold, brought her leg up, and hauled herself up another level.  She had made it halfway up and she could feel her nervousness increase with her height.  She was about fifteen feet off of the ground, and her limbs began to betray her.  She was getting tired and her muscles were beginning to tremble despite her desire to remain steady and calm.  She was no athlete and it was beginning to show.
This was stupid she thought to herself.
If she fell from that distance and they didn’t catch her she may or may not break a limb.
Just do it now her mind begged.
And she knew she could.  She could steady herself, lean back, and fall into the arms of her safety net.  She could do that safely and no harm would come to her.  Her point would even be made pretty clearly.
But wasn’t Erik’s speech, as corny and predictable as it was, about just that?  Wasn’t it about pushing past your fears even though they sometimes seemed like an impenetrable wall?
She could make her leap from that point but if she did wasn’t she still relatively safe?  If so then was she really making her point?  Wasn’t her point to go beyond safety and to leap when the outcome wasn’t predictable?
She reached up for the next grip-hold and brought herself up to it.  Her nerves began to betray her even more.  She had never been this tired before in her life.  She had already exerted herself beyond exhaustion and she knew, from that very moment, that she needed to start training her body for more endurance.  She was never again going to let herself tire out this easily.  So much for being lazy, because she knew that those days had to be over.
She was three quarters of the way up but her muscles were aching and she was losing her breath.  On top of that she wasn’t sure if making it to the top was even going to be possible.  No matter how bad she wanted to get there.
She sucked in a deep breath, gathered her determination, and made two more handholds in quick succession.  Her fingers began to throb and go numb.  Her leg muscles were screaming at her to stop and her arms felt like rubber bands stretched out to their maximum.
The only good thing was that she only had three levels to go.

About the Author:

The author is a 43 year-old United States Air Force veteran of the first Iraq War.  This is his debut novel in the Twinfinity urban fantasy series.  He was born and raised in south-eastern Michigan and served his country in California, Germany, and Turkey. 

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