Friday, February 13, 2015

Interview & Excerpt: Anna Herlihy

          What is there to know about me?
Well, my name is Anna Herlihy, and I’m an author.
I’m currently working on a science fiction series entitled Clarity. The Watch (Clarity: Book One) was published in January 2014. Ice (Clarity: Book Two) is coming in early 2015, as well as a spin-off series of Clarity and a fantasy epic. I’ve got my hands full with all the writing I want to do, but what’s life without goals, right?
          Aside from writing and reading, I am a student. Not in the traditional sense, as I’m just now, at 21, finally gaining some traction in my college savings account, but in the sense that I dearly love to learn. Instead of waiting idly for the time when I can afford a degree, I teach myself, follow new research, and have made amazing friends in the scientific community. Cosmology and particle physics are my main focus; I also follow regular self-study courses in neuroscience (in support of my developing anthropic principle theory), quantum mechanics, philosophy of science, and the psychology of morality.
          What else is there to know about me?
I run two marathons a year as a rule. I put considerable effort into cultivating a reputable wine pallet. I spend an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest looking for new recipes, hairstyles, and tattoos. I miss my Blackberry.

Favorite reads?
          The best way to see into a writer’s soul is to know what they read, so here’s my soul: Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters, George RR Martin and JRR Tolkien, Harry Potter and The AwakeningCrime and Punishment and Dune. I’ve marveled at the beauty of L’Inferno, In Search of Lost Time, and Othello. I live in my books, and my books have shaped the person I am today. I am Hermione, Arya, and Elizabeth all in one.

Inspirations for the book?
          My biggest inspiration was not being able to find a book I wanted to read. I was incredibly bored and couldn’t find a single book that enticed me past thirty pages, so I decided to search through my notebook of ideas and write the book I wanted to read. 

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
          In a way, I suppose I did. I knew I liked to write little stories and never considered possibly stopping them, but my real dream profession was a fashion designer. It seems silly now, since I never was really into fashion and still don’t change out of pajamas unless I absolutely have to leave the house, but until the age of 10 I used to fancy myself a future designer, writer on the side. Then, I discovered science, but never strayed from writing. So, since 10 and until now, all I’ve ever wanted to be was a part-time professor and write during all the rest of my time. 

Any Pet Peeves?
          Pet peeves in writing or just general ones? 
I don’t think I have any pet peeves in regards to writing, but I think my biggest pet peeve in the ENTIRE WORLD IS SPOILERS. I hate spoilers of any kind. Little hints of what’s going to happen in a movie, even mere suggestions that the ending of a book is good, throw me into a rage.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
          Peanut. Butter.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
          (Sorry, I’m a boring person, I don’t really have an answer for this one :/)

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
          I’m not skilled enough to create a soundtrack to The Watch. Personally, I enjoy listening to a wide range of music. Classical (especially piano sonatas), alternative rock, and acoustic singer/songwriters are my particular favorites. I’m crazy for Iwan Rheon right now.

Do you need anything to write? 
          Nope, nothing at all. Besides the fact that I have to be well-fed, have a full glass of water next to me, be in comfortable clothes, be in a comfortable chair, have my hair pulled back and not in my face, be nice and warm, and have no one around to distract me. 

How long do you write on any average day?
          On the weekends, I make it a rule to write all day long. I may write for four hours and stop to study or run an errand, but I always come back and, in total, put in a good nine hours on a weekend day. During the week, when it’s necessary for me go to a day job, I try to squeeze in two or three hours a day. 

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
          It’s fast, adventurous, and the ending is going to eat you alive!

Author Info:


Earth, 7026: Civilization has been crippled by the Blood Plague. There is no cure, no treatment, and no hope for the infected. Government has long been forgotten. An order of medics known as the Doctors rule over Earth and impose a harsh standard on what remains of human population to prevent further outbreaks. Orphan Ren Grant has been hunted by the Doctors since childhood under the false accusation of being a carrier of the Blood Plague. 

Ren’s hiding place is finally discovered, but not by the Doctors. Rian Sloan and his group of vigilantes discover and kidnap her. Instead of turning her in to the Doctors and receiving their ransom, Sloan and his group take Ren with them on their mysterious journey for one reason: the Watch Ren’s mother entrusted to her before dying, the Watch that is the only missing element in Sloan’s plan of escaping Earth.

What follows is an adventure full of Doctors and plagues, of flaying knives and space travel, of the consequences of heritage and blind trust, of hope restored and love sacrificed.

Ren left the ship on a day when the setting moon was barely a sliver in the sky. The Doctors made their rounds in the village only when the moon was full. Ren should be able to make it there and back without being discovered. Just in case, she slung a gauzy white scarf around her neck and pulled it over her head like a hood. It never did much against the heat of the day, but it hid her face and kept strands of her hair from flying away in the wind. 
A great spear of rock drove through the center of her ship and kept it from tumbling down the cliff and into the sea. Ren thought it was an odd place for a ship to be, all alone and broken, closer to the coast than the sea, and liked to waste a lot of time daydreaming about how her ship could have been beached. The cliff almost completely surrounded her ship, except for a tiny sliver through which a view of the sea peeked. It was quiet place, like her own personal hole to hide in.
Ren wouldn’t have found her ship at all if she hadn’t been climbing down the cliff, desperate to find a cave, and lost her footing on a loose rock. She had fallen off the cliff, eyes slammed shut with the certainty of death, and had landed right on the stern deck. Her back had ached for a full moon cycle after that, but that bit of pain was nothing compared with six years of refuge. 
Climbing the cliff had not gotten easier with time. She was continually dislodging streams of crumbly brown stones to patter against the stern deck and echo through the barren air. The wind beating against the cliff face was determined to blow her away each time she began her clamber to the coast and had been the cause of some particularly bad falls during the first year on her ship. 
Pulling herself onto the coast was the hardest part of the climb. It required more faith in the strength of her arms than Ren possessed. There was this moment, when half her body was folded over the cliff edge and her feet dangled in open air, that Ren doubted whether she could pull herself the rest of the way up. The moment happened with every climb, and no matter how much Ren prepared herself for it, her stomach plummeted straight down below her feet each time without fail. 
The coast was mostly barren, the ground a mix of gray rocks, tired brown dirt, and sad little clumps of white grass. The only break in the flat horizon was a small cluster of low hills to the north. Ren turned her attention to her left wrist where she wore a circlet of clean, black metal. Her mother’s Watch. Tapping it with her right index finger, the Watchface lit up and displayed a series of pulsating, squiggly symbols. Ren couldn’t read them, only knew to press the third one from the left in the top row to access the compass. 
Following the northwest directions displayed on her wrist, Ren jogged towards the village. It was beyond foolish to be risking a trip to the village for something so trivial, but this desire had stewed into an obsession. She couldn’t reason it away any longer. She went to the village for food as often as she dared; this trip shouldn’t be any more dangerous than her regular visits. Six years without indulgence required a reward. 
The village came into view just as the sun yawned over the horizon, its harsh light chasing away the calm night. Ren slowed to a walk as she approached the edge of the village and leveled her racing heart with long inhales of dusty air. The village was a single line of metal buildings bordering a beat up road that sprouted up from the dirt at one end of the village and disappeared at the other end. A few of the villagers were already up and milling about outside, enjoying the sun. Ren kept a wary distance from them all, making directly for the pub at the center of the village. The shopkeep looked at her expectantly as she passed him, and Ren nodded in greeting as if he was her friend. She often pretended that he was, when she was on her ship with nothing to do all day but think, and it somehow made her feel less lonely. 
The pub didn’t have a front wall; the tablets and chairs spilled out onto the roadside and the roof was nothing more than an immense piece of brown fabric tied down to the side and back walls Her footsteps rumbled the metal sheet that acted as a floor and announced her entrance. She hurried to an empty table with her head down, overly aware of the wary faces turning to watch her. Her desire to be among people again had been intense enough to evidently make her forget that she would always be an outsider in this village. What good was being alone in a room full of people? Coming to the pub was so stupid, so unbelievably stupid, that Ren suppressed the urge to slap herself across the face. 
Leaving right away would be too suspicious. She had to order something first, to act casual and unhurried before someone decided to question who she was. A grizzled old barman was limping to her table with cautious eyes. He was frowning and Ren could imagine quite clearly what he saw. Filthy clothes, layers of dust settled into her very skin, and the sleek black Keeper’s Watch that shone out so differently from the rest of her haggard appearance. 
“A glass of water, please,” Ren said calmly. The barman nodded and made his slow way back to the counter. The rest of the pub’s interest in her was starting to wane as everyone returned to their breakfasts and tall, luxurious glasses of water. Only low grumbles of suspicion remained from a table on the far side of the pub. 
Ren twisted her hands together under the table. The barman was taking much too long to get her a simple glass of water. What if he has reported her? She hadn’t touched anything yet, the Doctors wouldn’t be able to trace her fingerprints if she left. She was just rising from her chair to flee without her drink when a group of people entered the pub. 
They were four in number, two men and two women. The rising sun illuminated a cloud of dust surrounding them as they entered. The man in front was haggard and stomped through the pub with a scowl. He wore cargo pants, a white shirt, a scruffy leather jacket, and a thick black belt off of which hung twin pistols and a short, jagged dagger. The woman on his right side had a massive rifle twice as tall as herself slung casually across her back. It was made of wood and brass, shone like diamond, and held an assortment of knobs and scopes poised atop the barrel. Something like that cost more than everything Ren had seen in her life combined, including a book. The barman stood up straighter and stepped behind the bar, knife in hand. 
The group, talking quietly amongst themselves and indifferent to the stares of the villagers, chose to sit at the table next to Ren. Shaking, Ren kept her eyes fixed on her hands. 
“How many more days?”
“Can’t be more than two, no?”
“Don’t get impatient, you were the ones who wanted to go out of our way to get a drink,” said the man in the leather jacket. 
Ren glanced at the table. The two women sat facing Ren, the two men with their backs to her. The barman, appearing at Ren’s other side with his knife still clutched firmly in his free hand, thrust a small glass of water under her nose. She thanked him, slid a triangular bronze coin across the table in payment, and brought the glass to her lips. 
The water was like a breath of clean air. Her teeth sung at its chill and she swished it around her mouth with relish before swallowing. Compared to the silt-filled water she collected from a stream near her ship, the comfort of drinking clean water was enough to make this trip worthwhile. 
One of the women from the next table pointed at Ren and said, “Sloan, look.”
Before Ren could put her glass down, the man in the leather jacket had spun around and seized her wrist. Startled, she let the glass slip from her grasp and shatter on the table, its precious contents wasted. Sloan had both of his rough hands around her left wrist. He nearly pulled her arm out of its socket as he yanked her towards him. 
The entire pub had fallen silent, some of the smarter villagers hurrying outside. Terrified, Ren kicked the man in the chest as hard as she could and toppled backwards off her chair when he let go of her wrist. She scrambled to her feet and barreled through the empty tables of the pub, cradling her left wrist to her chest. She heard the scraping of heavy chairs against metal behind her as she flew onto the street, frantic to keep this last remnant of her mother’s memory from petty thieves.
Instead of sprinting for the coast and the sanctuary of her ship, Ren skidded to a stop just outside the pub, her already tangled nerves screaming at the sight that awaited her. At the entrance of the village stood three disturbingly tall figures clothed in black. Their cloaks hung loosely around them and encircled their heads. Long lacquered masks in the shape of a beak covered their faces. They slunk into the village, shifting their beak masks back and forth, each one holding a bioprobe in their freakishly long, gloved hands. A small blue light blinked on the tip of the bioprobe as the Doctors swept the street for signs of infection. 
Head spinning and stomach churning, Ren ducked into a lean alleyway between the pub and the house next to it. The Doctors had to know she was there, why else would they come to the village so early in the moon cycle? She fumbled to tighten the white scarf around her hair. The only fingerprints she had left behind were those on her glass of water. It had shattered, so the bioprobes shouldn’t be able to pick up her trail. But what if a strand of her hair had fallen out? They would find her…finally catch her…

1 comment:

  1. Best parenting audiobooks for new parents, Wow, cool post. I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real hard work to make a great article... but I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though.