I have previously reviewed ‘The Apocalypse Gene’ (You can find my review here). Today, I welcome to the blog, the authors of ‘The Apocalypse Gene ‘, Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark. They have graciously accepted my request to answer some of my questions about the book and their plans going forward. So without much further ado, let’s jump right in.
Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark
Could you describe your book? What genre would you classify your book as?
Suki and Carlyle: The Apocalypse Gene takes place in the near future during a time of global pandemic. Olivya Wright-Ono is a 15-year old girl whose psychic sight compels her to see auras riddled with the colors of despair, and now her mother is infected. Olivya’s only hope is the mysterious Mikah, a powerful Empath who claims the Pandemic is linked to his clan, the Kindred, and their brooding, monstrous Immortal Lord. With Mikah’s aid, Olivya races to unearth Kindred secrets, desperate to find a cure, only to discover the Pandemic is far, far more than a mere disease.
Genre: This is an urban fantasy/dystopian story with elements of science fiction and cyberpunk. In other words, it is cross-genre and rather difficult to categorize. We were not concerned with genre when we wrote it. We only wanted to produce an exciting read. When it was finished, we had to figure out how to market it and decided that YA Urban Fantasy was the best fit.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Suki: This is a story about belief in one’s talents and abilities, family, and friends.
Carlyle: It illustrates the limitless power of love and hope in a setting of utter hopelessness.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?
Suki: This is a complex story with many twists and turns, all of which were necessary components to the plot. It was a challenge keeping everything crystal clear so as not to confuse the reader, but to astonish and entertain. We also had to do quite a bit of research on such subjects as mythology, the pathogenesis of cancer, street culture, and much more. That was challenging but fun. As for the psychological aspect of our characters – that too posed some challenges. Olivya is a headstrong girl with strong opinions. The challenge was to illustrate her character flaws and still keep her likeable.
Carlyle: One challenge was providing all of the necessary information in an entertaining way without information dumps and also without overwhelming the reader.
What was the hardest part of writing the book?
Suki: The hardest part for me was weaving in the rich backstory, which spans many millennia.
Carlyle: Balancing the gloom and despair with the hope, love, and comedy relief.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and could you tell us what was it?
Suki: I learned how very difficult it is to produce a work like this. The greatest lesson for me was to keep plugging away, bit by bit, and never ever give up. If you believe in your story, if your characters live on the page, the author has no choice but to keep on keeping on until its conclusion.
Carlyle: I learned how valuable it is to write with someone who has a skill that contrasts amazingly with mine. Suki has great powers of description and insight into the minutia of each character’s inner world, and that worked well with my focus on the plot and the pacing.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Suki: I love our book exactly as it is. There is nothing I would change, except, perhaps to root out whatever typos might possibly remain.
Carlyle: What Suki said.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the book you felt stuck?
Suki: I often felt stuck on the most common question an author can ask . . . what happens next? That’s where I relied on Carlyle. He is a writing machine when he gets going. It always impresses me how fluid he is, how free while I am a perfectionist and can labor over a single paragraph for hours.
Carlyle: It was challenging for me to accept that my idea might not be the best idea – such is the challenge of co-writing. We give and take and distill it to the best collaboration.
What are your current projects? Will there be a sequel to ‘The Apocalypse Gene’?
Suki and Carlyle: We are hard at work on the sequel to The Apocalypse Gene. Carlyle is also working on an epic fantasy and a crime novel. I have two other novels in the works – one for young adults and one work of literary fiction, but the top priority is the sequel.
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
Suki: Right now I’m reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s a brilliant story. I’m loving it. My all-time favorite author is Stephen King. I love his workman-like way of unwinding a story, and I love to be frightened when I know I’m safe.
Carlyle: I am reading Theft of Swords by Michael R. Sullivan. My favorite author is Steven Erikson. The sheer scale and scope of his Malazan series is awe inspiring.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
1. I have an outgoing personality and enjoy people. At the same time, I’m a bit of a recluse with little tolerance for people – quite an irony!
2. I have little self-confidence as a writer despite the praise I have received attesting to my talent.
3. If I had to choose a single food to live on for the rest of my life, it would be peanut butter cups.
1. I despise people who drive slowly in the fast lane.
2. I love gatherings, but only those in which you don’t have to interact with people, like movies and the theater.
3. I love Mexican food. I get as many varieties as I can, mash it into one gray amorphous mass, and put hot sauce on it.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Suki: I want to say that most everyone who has read The Apocalypse Gene has been astonished by the unusual story and come away with powerful enthusiasm. I feel quite safe in saying – you haven’t read anything like it before.
Carlyle: I would like to invite potential readers to visit our website at http://www.theapocalypsegene.com, read our reviews, pop over to our blog, and then decide if they want to enjoy the crazy journey we’ve designed for them.
Suki Michelle is a life-long Chicagoan, happily divorced and still good friends with her Ex. She lives and writes with her soul-mate, Carlyle Clark. She has one beautiful daughter, Bree, who is the first reader and critic of The Apocalypse Gene, and without her input, it wouldn’t be nearly as cool! Suki’s other children are of the four-legged type, Dahlia, the German shepherd; Kilala the lazy calico chub-cat; and Koney, the tortoise-shell demon cat from the Seventh Ring.
Carlyle is a burly dude from San Diego. He can look menacing at a glance, but as soon as he opens his mouth, pure intellectual. They are eternally grateful for the day they met at an on-line writer’s workshop. They’ve been together for four years. On the outside, Suki and Carlyle are totally disparate. On the inside, they are the REAL Neo-Twins. You’ll have to read The Apocalypse Gene to find out who the Neo-Twins are, but here’s a hint: They are twisted devils with mirror-melded auras.
As writers, Suki and Carlyle have complementary skill sets. Lyle is plot master and edgy dialoguer. He is a huge fan of Japanese anime, and he draws upon this to choreograph fight scenes. Suki enjoys painting a character’s emotional landscape and writing vivid descriptions. They both have wild imagination.
Suki and Carlyle treasure every opportunity to share their work.