Today I'm re-interviewing Cyrus Keith, author of the science fiction thrillers BECOMING NADIA and UNALIVE. I had the honor of interesting Mr. Keith when my blog was just starting up.
Though his work has previously received strong reviews, he recently was recognized by the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition with an EPIC Award for Best Suspense/Thriller for BECOMING NADIA. Oh, and that book just happened to be his debut novel.
1) Tell us a bit about your award-winning book.
Well, J.A.. May I call you J.A.? Anyway, it's a book. And it's award-winning.
Seriously, though. BECOMING NADIA has won two awards so far: A Top Ten Finisher in the Preditors and Editors' Reader's Poll. It has also won honors as Best Thriller at EPIC's eBook Awards.
I could give you the standard blurb, but anybody could click my buy link and get that, so I want to go a little deeper here, if that's all right. BECOMING NADIA is a story about the nature of identity. Think Heinlein's Friday or Bladerunner. Only with a gawdawful twist or two that makes most readers clutch their Nooks and Kindles closer and scream, "He did NOT just do that!" It's also about spirituality and redemption, interspersed with all the stuff that makes a thriller... thrilling: bullets flying, bodies dropping, and people running around screaming at each other.
2) What was the inspiration for this story?
I had this dream one night, in one of those moments where you're not awake but also not really asleep, where I met Nadia. I didn't know her name, but I knew who--and what--she was. She was destined for a horrible death, at the cost of so many more besides her, and she looked at me with lost, tearful eyes and said, "...but I don't want to die!" I snapped awake, and knew I either had to write her story down or she would melt my brain until I did.
3) Your story is a science fiction thriller. Both of those genres are quite well known for combining excellent entertainment with insightful critiques of modern society and geopolitical realities. What sort of critiques and explorations of society and the world do you explore in BECOMING NADIA?
Besides the deeper explorations of identity and the soul, I'm taking a look at people who always seem to know what's best for other people, in spite of what those people want. I'm not answering any questions or sermonizing, really. I just want people to think about life, and what it really amounts to. There's one scene where Nadia, sensing the end is near, sees a rather dreary, rainy day in a whole other light, where each and every breath becomes a precious moment in and of itself.
4) The amount of time to write a novel varies wildly based on on style. How long did it take you to write the book, including editing?
Too long. Wa-a-a-a-ay to long. The rough draft poured from my brain in only fifty-five days, but then I had to learn how to transform from just a storyteller to also being a writer, and there is a world of difference between the two. I began on October 29, 2007, and I submitted it to Muse It Up Publishing in May of 2010. In between those dates, there were sumbissions, rejections, revisions, rejections, edits, rejections, critiques, rejections....you know the drill.
5) So, have you purchased any business cards yet with "Cyrus Keith, Award-winning author" or maybe just the more elegant, "Cyrus Keith, Epic Author"?
"Buy?" My good man, I do not "buy." I print my own. And I just joined EPIC. And "Multi-talented, award-winning, freaking AWESOME!" is taking a while to figure out how to fit on one of those tiny lil' thangs. Something tells me, though, something simpler may make a better impression.
6) In all seriousness, how did it feel to receive this honor?
I heard my name being called, and my brain exploded in my head. I knew I had a good chance of winning (at least one in three), and I've seen the other novels I was up against, and they were good. So winning was just girly-squealing awesome. I'm just not used to good things happening, and this made up for a whole lot of the crap I've been through in my life.
7) There was even a formal awards ceremony. What was that like? Have you attended a function like that before?
I've been to professional conferences and seminars before. Never an awards ceremony, though. But EPIC gave me a great first impression, and all the members I spoke with were very real and approachable people, without a single prima donna to be seen. You can see all the pictures on my Facebook page. It was awesome and fun.
8) The sequel, UNALIVE, is already out. When will the third book in the series drop?
CRITICAL MASS has been submitted to Muse It Up Publishing, and I should hear back from the acquisitions team within ten weeks. From there, it's about a nine-month journey to the release date on the average. If you enjoyed BECOMING NADIA and UNALIVE, then you'll love Critical Mass. It's the final chapter of the saga, and will make you look at some things in another way as well.