Long and Short Reviews welcomes Vijaya Schartz, whose latest release Noah's Ark, the prequel to The Chronicles of Kassouk, was released this month by Desert Breeze Publishing. It tells the story of how the first humans crashed on the planet where the entire series is set and is the finishing touch to that series. The other books in The Chronicles of Kassouk include White Tiger, Red Leopard, Black Jaguar, and Blue Lioness. The first four books are available in electronic format everywhere, with the first book, White Tiger scheduled for release in paperback this spring. The other books will also be released in print.
The next book Vijaya has coming out will be from Books We Love. It will be the first of a new series titled Curse of the Lost Isle.
"It’s slightly different from my Sci-fi, because it’s not about the future but the past," she explained. "It's a medieval fantasy, with strong elements of ancient magic, action with swords and horses, love, intrigue, betrayal, religious and political struggles. This new series starts with Pagan Queen, set in 806 in ancient Alba (now Scotland). This saga is based on authentic post Arthurian legends, spanning several centuries, in Scotland, France, Luxemburg, Spain, and the Middle East during the Crusades. It follows a family of immortal Celtic ladies related to Morgane the Fay, and seeking redemption from a curse. There will be at least six long novels in the series, two of them scheduled for release this year. That’ll keep me busy for a while."
Vijaya was born in France, near Paris, but she's not really from there, she told me.
"I consider myself a citizen of the world. Writing sci-fi where I pit humans against aliens, I have to claim Earth as my nation of origin. I traveled a lot and lived in some neat places. India is one of my favorites. That’s where I found the inspiration for Ashes for the Elephant God (not sci-fi, but a reincarnation story)."
Vijaya started writing poetry when she was six and later wrote essays, travel logs, and newspaper articles. She became serious about writing for publication in the early nineties. Her first novel came out in 2000, and she currently has sixteen titles available, with more to be released this year.
She has found that the best cure for writer's block is a publisher deadline.
"When the book is due, ready or not, you write. And as you get into the writing groove, the words start to flow, and the story unfolds," she told me. "In order to make my deadlines, I have to write a chapter a week. Most often, writer's block is the result of fear of failure, even fear of success. Relaxation or meditation are good techniques to get rid of the fear and free the creative juices. For professional writers, writer's block is a luxury they cannot afford. When I feel complacent, I just tell myself, 'shut up and write.'"
"Who is your favorite author and why?" I asked.
"Nowadays, I very much like Linnea Sinclair. She write romantic science fiction with strong women and lots of action. Not unlike my stories, hers contain action scenes, love scenes, strong conflicts, emotional struggles... the whole package. I haven’t seen anything new from her recently, though, she is too busy with her Hollywood movie The Down Home Alien Blues. I hope she releases a new novel very soon."
After many years of being in the business, she has come to the conclusion that what readers like the most is the voice of the author.
"Not the impeccable grammar, not the fancy words or the beautiful descriptions, not even the story or the characters," she said. "Of course, all these elements should always be present, and of the utmost quality. But what makes an exceptional author goes beyond the way the words are strung together. It’s about the kind of music they make, the kind of atmosphere they evoke, and the particular eye with which the author sees his or her world. The details the author chooses to describe, the way the readers feel when they read the prose, these things define the new standards in modern writing. It’s all about the emotional connection."
I wondered, "What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?"
"As unlikely as it seems, the classics of the 1800s and early 1900s influenced my mind when I was a student, and Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), Jules Verne, HG Wells, and all the forefathers of modern science fiction certainly developed my taste for outlandish and space-faring adventures."
When Vijaya first started writing, she was a pantser like most authors—not knowing where the characters would lead her.
"But when you sell a book on a synopsis and three chapters, or you sell an entire series and are given deadlines to deliver each manuscript, it’s a different matter. I had to start plotting. Then I realized that pantsing (writing from the seat of the pants) brought an unpredictable flavor to the story. So now, although I usually know where the story is going, I still let the characters guide me into discovering who they are and what they really want to do."
When it comes to titles, sometimes they will come to her in a dream and prompt her to write a new book for it. Sometimes, when she's writing the beginning of a novel, the title will jump out at her. But other times, they require hard work and days, or even weeks, of brainstorming.
"Several of my books were first copyrighted with a different working title. A few of my re-issued, out of print books, changed titles in the process," she said. "Titles are so important. It's an art to be able to give a feel for an entire novel with just a word or two."
As a science fiction author, Vijaya believes in technology for the future, and she also believes in saving the trees. Most of her new books are only available in e-book format. A few are becoming available soon in print on demand.
"I am not against print. I am against the waste of paper practiced by most large publishers. They print enormous quantities then destroy the unsold books. Most often than not they destroy more books than they sell. It’s a shameful, wasteful practice. Print on demand (POD) prints the books one at a time as needed. This I can condone, because there is no waste."
"What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?" I asked.
"I’m a rebel. I jump out of perfectly good planes, I own a black belt in Aikido and practiced many martial arts, including the sword. The travel bug is in my blood. I used to speak five languages but now only speak fluently English and French... Oh, wait! You said ONE thing? Sorry."
The scariest moment of her life was when she dove out of a plane at 15,000 feet in Eloy, Arizona.
"I’m afraid of heights, but I love thrills," she confessed. "To give you an idea, when my feet finally touched the ground, I yelled 'I’m alive!' And I really meant it. I never felt so alive in my life."
Finally, I asked, "If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?"
"Nothing. I believe that things happen for a reason. Had I been published earlier I wouldn’t have had the solid base upon which to build a successful career. My first book published was the fourth I wrote. Then I rewrote the first three, and they, too, were eventually published."
About the Author:
Find the author online at:
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/author/vijayaschartz
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vijaya-Schartz-Author/109777709045040
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/#!/Vijayaschartz
THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK
Set in a world where a human transport crashed centuries ago, the Chronicles of Kassouk relate the evolution of a human community kept at a level of medieval development to serve a technologically advanced race. Constantly battling to regain their rights, the human population struggles for freedom.
Ariela suspects the king’s death is no accident. And the tyrant who usurped the throne looks guilty as hell. As leader of the Human rebellion against the Mutant rulers, Ariela is desperate for help, and Lord Starro, the handsome Crown Prince of the Star Children, offers the technology the Human faction lacks. But can Ariela trust a spoiled, arrogant foreign prince who never fought a battle, and thinks he is destined to rule the universe? Is she trading one tyrant for another? No matter how kind, handsome, or fascinating, Starro has frightening mental abilities. And this alliance is not safe, especially for Ariela’s heart.
When Trixie's starfreighter, Noah's Ark, drops out of jump space in an uncharted part of the universe, she believes the M-class planet on her viewer represents hope and salvation for her motley crew and the ragtag settlers aboard her ship. Kostas, ex Space Marine, the expert survivalist recruited for this expedition, doesn't believe in coincidences, and knows that when something looks too good to be true, it usually is. Everyone, on this voyage to seed a new planet, is fleeing something, and harbors dangerous secrets... including Trixie, who vowed to never let a man control her life again. As for Kostas, he would get lynched on the spot if anyone suspected who he really is. But on this seemingly abandoned planet, others are watching, herding the newly arrived for evil purposes... and when the truth emerges and secrets unravel, Trixie and Kostas will have to fight for survival, for freedom, and for the right to love...