Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blog Tour - SYNTHETIC ILLUSIONS + Giveaway

Hello, everyone!!  I hope you are having a wonderful Thursday :)  Today I am honored to have author Mary Fan here on my blog.  She's making her rounds for her Synthetic Illusions Blog Tour and I am one of her first stops.  A really nice lady and someone great with words, I was psyched when I found out I would have a chance to have her on.

Haven't heard of Synthetic Illusions?  Well here's a little bit about it (and make sure you check back in tomorrow for my review):

Title: Synthetic Illusions
Series: Jane Colt
Author: Mary Fan
Release date: 12.31.2013
Pages: 331
Goodreads  Amazon  Barnes & Noble 

Summary:  Illusion is the only reality.

Jane’s new career as a composer is a dream come true, but her blossoming relationship with Adam is marred by his terrifying nightmares. When Jane receives a warning that a shadowy agency is targeting Adam’s seminary school, she rescues him in the nick of time, but the only way she can protect him from such a powerful enemy is to run.

In a shocking betrayal, her brother wasn’t the one who warned her about the attack on Adam. Instead, Devin was leading it. As Jane struggles to keep one step ahead of Devin, Adam’s exhaustion gives way to horror: His nightmares have begun to touch the real world.

Jane can’t abandon Adam to a fate worse than death, and far more than Adam’s life hangs in the balance. As Jane pushes further into the dark unknown, she must challenge everything she once believed in, and she faces the most wrenching decision of her life: choosing between the two people she loves most.

Hi, Mary.  Welcome to The Gal in the Blue Mask.  Let's start off with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I live in New Jersey with a crazy kitten who likes pouncing on my keyboard and spend more time than I should drinking in stories.  Mostly sci-fi and fantasy - I have a hard time reading anything too realistic!  And I usually have three books on the go at once - an e-book, a paperback, and an audiobook, which I listen to when stuck in North Jersey traffic.

These days, I write books, but I used to write music.  I was a composer in college, and I still scribble songs from time to time, although between the day job and the writing, there just aren't enough hours in the day!

 What is the first book you remember reading?

Oh goodness, I don't know!  The Secret Garden, maybe?  I have a memory like Swiss cheese and can barely remember what I did last weekend.  I know I read a lot of kid books ... I owned pretty much every Boxcar Children book that existed back in the early nineties.  And abridged versions of the classics.

 What made you decide to begin writing in the first place?

I used to write a lot in middle school and high school.  I don't remember exactly why I started, but I think it had something to do with boredom.  The first time I remember sitting down to write  a book, I was about 12 and spending a year abroad in Hong Kong, where I didn't really know anyone.  I'd always been a big reader, and I'd always make up stories in my head to entertain myself, so one day, I decided to try writing them down.  Once I started, I had to keep going.

But then I stopped.  Not long before I went off to college, my brain decided it wanted to focus on music instead of words - hence the composing.

Then, about two or three years ago, a friend of mine who's a writer wanted to exchange writing.  I was once again trapped in China (Beijing this time) and bored, so I said, "Sure, I'll play."  So I dusted off the old storytelling skills... 

Do you  have a special place you like to write?

Someplace cozy - usually my couch, with my cat curled up on the armrest.  I've never been the coffee shop type, though I do love coffee.  I find the noise too distracting, and I like to be in my own element.  And alone, since I often find myself yelling at my computer or pantomiming actions.  

Which of your characters do you think is the most like you?

They've all got a little of me in them (except religious nice-boy Adam, who remains a challenge to write even though I've spent two books with him!).  The most obvious character is Jane, since she's a young woman and a composer.  I'm not nearly as nuts as she is, though.  Steer a starship into another starship?  No thanks!  I'm also a bit like the  hacker Riley, being a dork who never leaves my computer.  I only wish I had his computer skills!

What books have most influenced you?

It's hard to say, since I don't really look for tips or anything when I read, and the books I read are quite varied.  Mostly, I absorb things, and they all kind of mishmash together in my head.  I did borrow a few traits from Scarlet O'Hara for the character of Jane Colt, so I guess you could say Gone with the Wind influenced me a bit.  Also The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for mystery elements and twists.  And a bit of Asmiov, Philip K Dick, and Gibson for the cyberpunk elements.

See what I mean?  A mishmash.

What inspires you the most?

Usually, an idea or concept will grab me, and the more I think about it, the more the idea snowballs into something bigger.  For the Jane Colt series, I was fascinated by the idea of artificial intelligence, which then got me thinking about other issues, such as questions of humanity, consciousness, and control.

I also get a lot of inspiration from the setting of my story.  I always choose a setting first, before the plot even begins to form, and that will affect how the story turns out.  For instance, with the Jane Colt series, I knew I wanted to set it in space, and that affected how the adventure unfolded.

Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

The most challenging part of writing is keeping track of all those little bits.  I have a ton of support documents around the Jane Colt series - locations, character bios, etc - to help me keep things straight.  Often, when I'm writing, I just want to focus on the main plotline, but the fact is, there's always going to be a million things going on around the central story.  And these little things often end up affecting how the story goes.

What do you think makes a good story?

In my opinion, for the story to be good, one has to have characters a reader can care about.  It's  hard to care about what's going to happen to someone unless you actually have some kind of emotional stake in that person.  I also personally prefer stories that have a clear plot, but still take time to smell the roses.  And happy endings are very important to me.  I know there's a lot to be said about the beauty of tragedy and the realism of ambiguity and whatnot, but I, as a reader, go into a story looking to see how a character I care about is going to get what they want. And if they fail, well, then I just feel cheated. 

What book(s) are you dying to read when you have the time?

If  you'd asked this a week ago, I would have said the Earthsea series, but I cracked the spine on the first paperback this past weekend.  I also want to go back and reread some sci-fi classics that have all but drained from my sieve of a memory.  And I've got a bunch of books by fellow Red Adept authors that have been sitting neglected on my Kindle for ages!

What kind of things do you do when you're not writing?

I still compose from time to time, and while I'm not much of a performer, I do practice my instruments (violin and classical voice) just for fun.  I also kickbox when I have the chance.  And I like going to the opera.  A bit too much.  

What can we expect from you in the future?

A lot of things!  I've got four different projects in the works at the moment.  There are two more books planned for the Jane Colt sci-fi series, and I'm planning a potential biopunk spinoff that takes place in the same universe.  I also have a YA fantasy/dystopia series called "Flynn Nightsider."  The prequel novella will be coming out in April, and Book 1 (Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil) is scheduled to be released in Spring 2015 by Glass House Press.  I'm also working on something else for Glass House, but it hasn't been officially announced yet...

Wow!!  Sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the moment.  Thank you for stopping by and please, feel free to come back again.  :)

About Mary:
Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently working in financial marketing.  She  has also resided in North Carolina, Hong Kong and Beijing, China.  She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition, from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as much as writing stories.  She also enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things - she'll try almost anything once.

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Mary Fan said...

Thanks for having me! :-D

Meghan H said...

Anytime, Mary. Anytime. :)