Thursday, February 21, 2019

by Paul Genesse

Zachary Hill will live forever in our hearts. He will also live on the pages of the many books he wrote and illustrated, and on the canvases he painted. Knowing him was an incredible blessing, and his sudden passing January 15, 2016, left his friends and family devastated and heart- broken.
Zach had so much to live for. He had finally met and married the love of his life, Mackenzie. Only a few days before their one-year wedding anniversary, he collapsed soon after arriving at work. CPR was per- formed, but he did not survive. A large blood clot had formed in his leg and traveled to his lungs. The pulmonary embolism took his life.
None of us wanted his story to end. There was so much more that was supposed to happen. He was only thirty-eight years old, and the best years were ahead of him. He was called back to his celestial home far too early.
At his wake, with tears in my eyes, I stood beside his open casket and made a vow to friends and family that his last book would be published. Six days before he left us, Zach told me he had finished the first draft. I agreed to be the editor, and together, we were going to develop Sakura into the best novel he’d ever written. He was so excited about this book, and his idea was brilliant. Set in a dystopian future Japan, Sakura, a heavy metal–singing android is hacked and turned into an assassin. She fights her programming, trying to stop a secret cabal who is taking over theworld.
Creating Sakura’s unique character was arguably Zach’s greatest literary accomplishment, and her story needed to be told. Eight months after Zach’s death, Joshua Hill, Zach’s twin brother, completed a light edit on the manuscript and sent along the file, which was 378 pages (92,000 words) and had the working title Intellectual Property.
I couldn’t muster the courage to read it for some time. The pain was too raw. Every time I opened the document, I got choked up and was only able to read a few pages, which was Josh’s experience as well.
Also, I was in the middle of finishing books four and five in my Iron Dragon series and used that project to distract myself from the grief. Zach was a fan, and to keep myself going, I would think, “Zach would want me to finish.” I eventually completed book four and was 45,000 words into book five when I realized I needed to stop my project and work on Zach’s novel. If I didn’t, it would be more than three years before Zach’s last book came out.
I finally read the first draft and began the rewrite on March 5, 2017, finishing my first draft on December 31, 2017. I incorporated Zach’s prose and wrote a lot of my own, expanding the summary chapters he wrote into full-fledged scenes. The final novel grew from 92K to 156K. I had recruited my best friend, one of Zach’s great friends, Patrick M. Tracy to help. Pat is an expert on heavy metal, a guitar player, and an amazing writer who writes incredible emotional punches.
Pat and I were in a gaming group and writers’ group with Zach, and we bonded over many hours at Larry Correia’s house, playing samurai in our Legend of the Five Rings role-playing game campaign. Larry has written the foreword and I’m so grateful for his help getting the word out about this book.
I could not do this project alone. Patrick and I forged ahead with the full support of Josh and Zach’s extended family. We read that original draft and brainstormed about our approach to an early version of the manuscript, which explored the meaning of life, artificial intelligence, philosophy, theoretical computing, value higher than self, rebellion, and the true meaning of heavy metal.
The character and story were awesome, but it needed to be fleshed out, expanded, and structured. Zach’s process would have seen him re- write it multiple times, and we had to imagine the directions he would have taken. Over the course of twenty-one months, Pat and I spent hun- dreds of hours brainstorming and working on the novel as we sent it back and forth to each other.
We’ve never worked harder or longer on a book. This was a big deal for us, and we felt our self-imposed pressure to capture Zach’s vision. Some of Zach’s original prose is still in this novel, and the overall story is his, as are the characters, but we had to re-dream the dream, figure out what Zach would have done, and stay true to his vision as we took first-draft scenes and polished them. We had moments of self-doubt, but we persevered in the end.
We took on this project because we love Zach and wanted to honor him. It was also a way for us to grieve and come together and bring hope to his family and friends. We did it for them, and we did it for free.
All the profit from this project goes to Mackenzie, Zach’s widow. Zach’s father, George Hill Sr., Patrick Tracy, and I funded this. Many others donated their time and energy to help complete the book, as it takes a team. We were able to hire an amazing artist, Sarah Steigers, who did the cover and interior illustrations, and who spent so much extra time getting things just right. She made Sakura and the characters come to life, and her work is stunning.
Devon Dorrity’s cover design is also incredible, and we are so fortunate for his support, guidance, and expertise. Bradley Beaulieu’s devel- opment editing took this to the next level, and Jennie Stevens’s copyedit- ing was awesome. The layout by Caryn Larrinaga in the high-quality, limited edition, signed, and numbered hardcover will make the entire book a work of art.
The support we’ve received has been wonderful, and this is the best and most important project of my life. We believe that Zach would love all of this, and we’ve felt him encouraging us along the way. He’s probably looking down on us, wearing his trademark “Elvis glasses,” which he wore in Iraq and for years upon returning home. He led a fascinating life, and his experiences led him to this story. His gentle soul and big heart are embodied by the title character of his novel, Sakura. As you read, you may see some similarities.
    George Hill IV, Zach’s eldest brother wrote this passage: “He was an artist, a historian, a teacher, a two-tour combat veteran, and a prolific writer. He was a true warrior poet who always sought peace. He loved to play games and spend time with his family and friends. Zach was also a traveler. He adventured in other countries. He served his two- year mission for his church in Mexico, and he taught English in Japan and spent time in Italy. He served his country in the darkest places in Iraq and was a legitimate war hero. Now he’s gone to the Undiscovered Country. While he’s away from us for the time being, we know we will see him again.”
Until then, we celebrate his life and his final creative work. Sakura: Intellectual Property is a project born of love. This novel brings together fiction and music in a unique way. This is a love letter to heavy metal, and Sakura is always thinking about music. The playlists at the begin- ning of each of the chapters contain songs by bands that Zach loved. We also added tracks that resonated with the story and helped us see the way forward.
Fans of heavy metal who are immersed in the culture may under- stand this at a deeper level, but casual fans will also read the song titles and album names and understand the relational meaning in the text. There are so many little nuggets hidden in this book that relate to Zach’s life, including the numeric designation of the army units he served in, along with music and movies he loved.
Follow the link to the Sakura channel or playlist in the ebook, or on YouTube search for: Sakura the Android Metal Goddess and look at the playlists. As you read, you can listen to the corresponding playlist. Many of the songs are mentioned in the chapter and go along with the text in tone and meaning. For copyright reasons, we were unable to use any of the real lyrics in the book, but we wrote parody lyrics of some songs if they are mentioned at all. We also wrote songs, and Callie Stoker record- ed one of them in the studio of the legendary Craig Nybo. Please listen to it when it occurs in the book.
So many people have given their time and energy to this project, and we are determined to make it an artistic and commercial success—for Zach, for Mackenzie, and all his friends and family. We would love to sell the rights for this to be made into a manga, an anime, or a live-action movie. Any profit would go to Mackenzie. Please get in touch if you can help us or have contacts who could.
Thank you for your support and for reading this book. We need your reviews and especially need you to tell your friends about this. We want to get the word out to everyone who might be interested, anyone who wants to rock and go on a heavy metal thrill ride.
Through his writing, Zachary Hill will always be remembered. We invite you to take this journey to future Japan to find out, once and for all, if rock ’n’ roll can save the world. We believe it can.

—Paul Genesse, December 2, 2018

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Short Story Writing Presenation June 2015


I'll be presenting on writing short stories.
Meeting Date: Thursday, June 4th 6:30-9:00 pm
Meeting location: Riverton Library, 5380 W Herriman Main St, Herriman, Utah 84096

Links to blogs about previous presentations on Short Story Writing by Paul Genesse:

"Notes on How to Write a Short Story" Friday, October 17, 2014 from Christine Walter


Paul's Presentation on "Creating Conflict" and other story notes on his blog.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Salt Lake Comic Con, September 24-26, 2015

Paul Genesse will be a guest of the con once again doing panels and interviews.

Salt Lake City Steamfest July 17-18, 2015

Photo by Vladimir Chopine

I'm excited to announce that I've been invited to present at Salt City Steamfest again.
Saturday July 18, 2015 probably at 11:00 AM. The panel I know about so far: The Steampunk Rock Opera: Cast and creators discuss the upcoming World Premiere at Salt Lake Comic Con starring Nivi-Nichole Hicks, Scott Tarbett, Eliza Crosby, and featuring music by Rustmonster, which features Craig Nybo and his crew.

 I wrote most of the Steampunk Rock Opera and this is going to be a really fun presentation. Check out one of the stars, below, Nivi Pix.

Nivi Pix, Photo by Vladimir Chopine

Photo by Vladimir Chopine

CONduit 2015

CONduit 2015 Schedule for Author Paul Genesse
Full CONduit schedule for download:

Friday May 22, 2015

3:00 PM (Zion) There and Back again – the Hobbit Trilogy with Paul Genesse (Moderator) Blake Casselman, Robert J Defendi, and Julie Henderson. What do we think about the Hobbit movies now that they have been completed? Our panel of experts will discuss how the trilogy turned out.

4:00 PM (Zion) How to create the best RPG campaign EVER! (Paul Genesse--one man show)
A one-man presentation on how to run a long term role-playing game campaign that will be the best gaming experience the players and game master have ever had!

Saturday May 23, 2015
Our panelists talk about who they owe an Unpayable Debt, and how important a person like that is.

12:00 PM (Zion) “Frank Herbert's Dune” with Paul Genesse (Moderator) Jane Lindskold, Stephen Gashler, and Aaron Lee Yeager. A discussion of the legendary science fiction book series and movies.
A discussion of the legendary science fiction book series and movies.

3:00 PM (Zion) “Choose your own apocalypse” with James Wymore (Moderator), Paul Genesse and Bob Defendi. An audience participation game! Each of three titanic forces have risen to destroy the world. We’re all doomed, but you can at least help decide the fate of humanity. Come prepared to laugh.

5:00 PM (Zion) GOH Presentation (Jane Lindskold interviewed by Paul Genesse)

Sunday May 23, 2015
12:00 PM (Snow) Monster in an Hour (and and half) with Paul Genesse, Cliff Green, Jessica Douglas, Kaitlund Gonzales, Johnny Worthen, Keliana Tayler, Holli Lloyd Anderson.
Audience favorite “Monster in an Hour” meets audience participation game show for an hour and a half of drawing and game show fun.

2:00 PM (Zion) The Golden Cord book trailer--(Paul Genesse)
It’s been a lot of time and hard work, but Paul and company have created an awesome live-action trailer for his fantasy series, let him show you.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


LTUE 2015

These are my notes from the "Disabilities in Genre Fiction" panel I'm moderating at LTUE 2015.

Saturday February 14, 2015 at 10:00 AM 

Disabilities in Genre Fiction Panelists: Mercedes Murdock Yardly, Fiona Wilhelm Ostler, J. Scott Savage, Sarah Chorn, and Paul Genesse (moderator).

Over 50 millions Americans live with a physical or psychological disability, about 1 in 10 being severe.

Panel description: People with disabilities are a vastly underrepresented portion of the speculative fiction readers, writers, and industry workers. Disabilities are prevalent in society and belong in the books we read and write. This panel will focus on talking about disabilities in the books we read and write. How do you write them well? What are some mistakes people make with writing disabilities? How can we talk about this sensitive topic in a way that does justice to everyone involved? Is it important to talk about disabilities when we talk about diversity? Publishing is changing, how are those changes impacting the disabled both in the books we write, in the discussions we have, and in the way books are received by fans?

Sarah Chorn suggested this panel to me and wrote the above text. Here's her bio, and her essays on this topic are extremely popular on SFF Signal and you’ll find some links below.

Sarah is a prolific reader and avid reviewer. She’s been working as a reviewer in the genre for four years, running reviews out of the website Bookworm Blues. She also runs the popular column called Special Needs in Strange Worlds on two time Hugo winning SF Signal. The purpose of her column is to start a discussion and shine a light on the importance of disabilities in the genre. Sarah also worked as a publicity assistant with Ragnarok Publications and can often be found all over the internet writing guest columns, or yammering on about books.

***One of our panelists was qualifying to be an Olympic swimmer and was a shoulder injury away from making the Olympic team. (Who? Sarah Chorn!)

The Special Needs in Strange Worlds column was inspired by a book: The Wild Hunt by Elsbeth Cooper. (Go read the original post). All her characters are broken somehow. It’s a short post, but this was the genesis of Sarah’s column.

Sarah’s goal is to make people read, write, talk about disabilities. How are people going to fit into the community if we don’t talk about it?

Fiona Ostler suggested these questions, which we will I’m sure address as well.
1) Why do you write or want to write about people with disabilities?  2) What are some things that we need to be careful with, and what are some stereotypes to avoid?  3) Where do you go for help or research to be authentic?  4) Why do people shy away from writing about people with disabilities and what do you think would help them be more confident?

From J Scott Savage: One of the things that I've heard from lots of kids with disabilities who have read my books is that they appreciate the fact that Marcus has disabilities but they did not define him. It isn't a story about a boy in a wheelchair. It's a story about a boy. That boy happens to be in a wheelchair. It's a key part of the story but it doesn't define the story or the character. (Read Farworld, Book 1, Waterkeep)

Below are some links to a few of Sarah’s posts that she emailed to me. I pulled several quotes from them and put them in the notes below the links.

I Am Not Broken: The Language of Disability - the most popular thing I’ve ever written in the history of ever writing things.

A Discussion of Disability in Lock In - second place to the one above

And I just posted the top 10 posts of 2014 for my Special Needs in Strange Worlds column. You can check ‘em out here:

I also did an interview with my disabled brother last year, which kind of really kicked this whole thing off.

Okay, I pulled the text from Sarah’s blog posts, as I thought they capture what I think we should be talking about on the panel. Sarah confirmed this covers the core of our upcoming discussion.

Special Needs in Strange Worlds: A Conversation With My Brother

SARAH: For you (her brother Rob), it seems like being isolated is part of your disability. Seeing isolated characters in novels is important to you because you relate to them.

ROB: Asperger’s is an entirely social issue. It’s how I deal with the outside world. Most of us with Asperger’s are home a lot because the outside world is a problem. We’re self-isolated, but it is the only way. Those isolated characters in books, like Fitz from Assassin’s Apprentice [by Robin Hobb], whose family doesn’t want anything to do with him, suffer because the whole world turns their back on them. It is important to see characters that are like that.

This is an important subject to talk about because you can’t live my life or understand how I see the world. You read about these problems and these characters, and learn more tolerance, understanding, and sympathy through reading. We need more of that.

SARAH: Do you think people in the genre talk about disabilities enough? Do you think discussion about disabilities is important?

ROB: I don’t think they talk about disabilities enough, and it is a very important thing to talk about. It is an important because it is real. You can witness the life of a person with that problem. If the character is well written and the disability is an in-depth part of that world, it is very good for people to witness, and for people like me to read. It needs to be there more. There aren’t a whole lot of people writing these characters. They are hard to write.

SARAH: Do you think authors are intimidated to write disabilities?

ROB: Yeah, they are. Not everything is easy. If you don’t have any problems, it is hard to put yourself in that place. You have to put yourself in an uncomfortable place to make the disabilities real in your book. Like The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, how do you write about leprosy if you don’t have leprosy? How do make it real? It’s hard to write those characters well, if you don’t have that problem, so people avoid doing it.

SARAH: What do you think that discussions about disability in the genre could accomplish?

ROB: I hope these discussions shows authors that it is important to include disabilities in their worlds. I hope that this interview, and your articles, show others that there are people like me that they can build on, or use as an influence from character building. That’s important. It’s not just for me to read about, though that’s important. Reading and talking openly about disabilities helps people understand what it is like to have a disability, which helps them understand and respect people like me

A Discussion of Disability in Lock In by John Scalzi

October 30, 2014

Language is powerful, and I’ve addressed that topic before so I feel no need to tread on that ground again. The point is, language can supercharge situations and bring out strong and justified feelings on both sides of whatever line. The word “cure” in the disabled community and the many reactions to it is just one example of the power of language and its potential to divide and upset/please and bring together. And Scalzi addresses that in various forms throughout the novel.

“Making people change because you can’t deal with who they are isn’t how it’s supposed to be done. What needs to be done is for people to pull their heads out of their asses. You say ‘cure.’ I hear ‘you’re not human enough.’”
– Lock In, John Scalzi

Scalzi addresses the fact that just about every walk of life has suffered from the disease, and everyone will be impacted in one way or another. Much like cancer, this is one of those diseases that the whole family seems deal with.

Special Needs in Strange Worlds: An Interview with Mercedes M. Yardley

MMY: I love how you brought up how people with special needs can completely alter lives. It’s true. This isn’t how I imagined my life would be, really. I don’t think any child studies the clouds and plans to have a child with special needs. But I do think my life is much richer and fuller because of Niko. He does force me to take stock of what is important, and not too many people really get that privilege.

(The above link is a great interview with so much truth. Read it.)

Corinne Duyvis on Minding your Metaphors

As for the importance to keep things like this in the genre, I think Corinne Duyvis says it best in this week’s Special needs in Strange Worlds:

SFF features countless heart-wrenching scenes featuring protagonists who decide to “mercy kill” a loved one who underwent a terrible ordeal. It’s meant as a poignant, tragic show of compassion and mercy. The characters will give reasons like: “They can’t even talk.” “They’re drooling.” “They’re not the same person they used to be.” “They wouldn’t have wanted this.” “They can’t even look after themselves.” “It’s unnatural keeping them alive like this.”

What does that imply about the millions of disabled people who fit those descriptions?

Similar problems arise with other parallels. Characters may be disrespected, treated as burdens, or wallow in their own misery in ways that echo problematic portrayals of disabled people. For all the interesting questions tackled in SFF, I wish I saw more questions of informed consent. Or questions of treatment, of assistive tools, of accommodations, of community. Characters rarely adapt to their situation and move on with their life to the best of their ability.

While I don’t think disability metaphors are sufficient disability representation, I do think that they’ll come up naturally in many texts, and that they’re relevant to the discussion of disability in SFF. For authors, it’s important to be true to their plot, their world, and their characters … but it’s also important to consider how their narrative may resonate with and impact disabled readers.

I Am Not Broken: The Language of Disability (Sept 10, 2014)

I was at work yesterday talking to a coworker about my upcoming surgery when I mentioned, laughing, “I’m broken,” with a shrug. My coworker laughed, and I laughed and she moved on and I stayed right there, rooted to the floor, thinking about the words that had just slipped into my dialogue. I meant them as a joke, and that’s how they were received, but in that moment while I was watching her walk away, I realized just how profoundly I had degraded my own situation.

Perhaps I am feeling particularly touchy about this topic because earlier this week I had the absolutely horrible experience of watching an elderly woman reduce a teenager with Down syndrome to tears by calling him a “retard” in a public, crowded store (don’t worry, I yelled at her). Days later, I’m still moved to tears thinking about that teenager, who was telling jokes and laughing, absolutely shattered by one woman’s thoughtless remarks.

These words, these horrible, degrading words, slip into our dialogues at the worst possible times, and often we don’t even notice them. I’m not broken. I’m not bent. I’m not incapable. I might not work the same way everyone else does, but that doesn’t mean I’m unable to accomplish those things others can accomplish.

We are not broken; we’re just a different kind of normal. We are not incapable or unable; we just get things done a little differently.

The world we live in isn’t defined by two versions of reality. There isn’t the “normal” reality for all the normal people, and the slightly skewed reality for all of the rest of us who yearn for normalcy. Our fiction should reflect that. King George VI wasn’t any less of a powerful speaker or ruler for all of his stuttering. Odetta Holmes wasn’t slowed down by her wheelchair.

I’m not broken and neither are you.

There is real power in the words we use, and the way we convey ideas. Speculative fiction is a genre of the imagination. It’s progressive and plays with ideas and themes that aren’t always commonplace in our world yet. We like to think of ourselves as cutting edge, ahead of the times. We are unafraid to ask “What if?” and then find out just what would be if that “what if” was a reality. We take incredible ideas and make them bite size. We get thoughts brewing, and progress rolling. We dare to look at the world we live in differently. Isn’t it wonderful? There is so much to love about this genre. So very much.

We need to talk about how ableist thinking doesn’t reflect the world we live in. We need less of it in the books we read and the media we are tuned to. We need to look at our history, at the popular mindset, and dare it to change. Isn’t that what speculative fiction is all about?

This is a link to an article about “Ableism”

Ableism is so pervasive in the language we don’t know it’s there.

(Stop ableism 2015 is a thing on Twitter)

Random note: SARAH’S story about her brother being in the WC. He’s as whole as he’s ever been in the WC.

I Am Not Broken: The Language of Disability
By Sarah Chorn

(I’m planning on having Sarah read this next passage as the finale of our discussion on the panel. I think it’s truly powerful stuff).

Reading helps us become more empathic, more tuned in to those around us. I want my daughter to love literature, regardless of what genre(s) she ends up enjoying, but I want her to learn from it. Ableism is history. We deserve the books we read to reflect this. We owe it to ourselves, to our society, and to our progeny. We owe it to this progressive, fantastic genre. The way we think and talk about disabilities needs to change. Period.

We are not broken. We are not bent. We are powerful, capable, beautiful people. We are important. We are normal. Our normal might be a little different than yours, but it is still normal. We’re no better or worse, more capable or incapable than anyone else. Just different, and shouldn’t we celebrate that?

We belong in your books, and in your discussions about diversity. We deserve language that uplifts and equals rather than divides and demeans.

Words are such small things that are so incredibly powerful.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Q&A with Author Lawrence C. Connolly about his Veins Cycle Novels

Gentleman, musician, husband, father, and friend to many, Bram Stoker Award nominated, Lawrence C. Connolly is the acclaimed author of the Veins Cycle. I’ve loved his incredible short fiction for years and recently binge read all three of his novels, Veins (2008), Vipers (2010), and Vortex (2014), in one awesome weekend.

Author Lawrence C. Connolly

The books are hard to classify, but I’ll call them modern fantasy set in the environs of a rural Pennsylvania coal mining town. Imagine the graphic novel/movie/TV Show, Constantine, crossed with the movie/novel, No Country For Old Men.

Yes, there are gangsters, angels, petty criminals, an Indian wise woman, a young man searching for path in life, and hit men—but most importantly in this case, a hit woman. There is a heist gone wrong, and supernatural factions that have been manipulating people for years as they advance their separate agendas to destroy the world. Are evil angels causing all this? Or are they not angels at all, but rather Native American spirits of the Okwe tribal mythology trying to protect the land? It all depends on which character’s point of view you’re in.

When I finished reading the books, I wanted to know more about this unique body of work. Mr. Connolly graciously accepted my request to ask him a few questions. There are some minor spoilers below, but you know you want to keep reading.

Question: How do you describe the way your three novels, Veins, Vipers, and Vortex fit together?

Lawrence C. Connolly: The Veins Cycle is not a trilogy, nor is it a series in the traditional sense. As the title states, it is a cycle, and as such the books can be read in any order.

True, the overarching chronology of the 24-hour period that frames the story begins in Veins, continues in Vipers, and concludes in Vortex. But the events are not always sequential. No character lives exclusively in the moment. Like us, they experience the world through a prism of memory, experience, and anticipation--a coexistence of past, present, and future.

A reader beginning the series with Vortex will encounter a different set of mysteries than the one who begins with Veins or Vipers. Nevertheless, in the end, the adventure will be the same. Different on ramps, same path.

Question: The Veins Cycle is filled with Native American myths, and Biblical references, including demons and angels. Will you please explain some of your sources and inspirations for the novels. Revelations welcome, good sir.

Lawrence C. Connolly: The Veins Cycle is about perceptions and the ways people view phenomena through filters of personal experience. One of the questions running through the story is: How much of what we see is a projection of each character’s psychological baggage? The character Axle, for example, attempts to understand his encounters through a prism of the Okwe stories passed down to him from his great-grandmother. Likewise, Sam views the mysteries through the veil of her mother’s religious fanaticism and her own sexual repression. These were things I was keen in exploring in the three books.

Question: I still haven’t quite figured out the true nature of the two opposing “angel” sides in the Veins Cycle, especially in book three, Vortex. Axle’s side tended toward being more “good”, but they were still quite gray. Both sides appear not to care much for the humans. Will you please elaborate, spoilers very welcome, on the two sides and explain their motivations?

Lawrence C. Connolly: The notions of “good” and “evil” are perceptions that the humans bring to the conflict, with each character convinced that he or she is working for the good of mankind and the world. Fittingly, the Cycle’s spiritual entities play on these notions as each side strives to achieve dominance.

You’re correct that the creatures do not seem to care much for the humans. To them, the humans are pawns, and we get the sense as the story moves along that the creatures are enjoying the game, finding clever ways of manipulating the humans to achieve some mysterious, cosmic end.

But to return to your question about which side has the moral high ground. I think we have to acknowledge that Axle, though flawed, is the nobler character. Although he starts the cycle by taking part in a heist, he does not like hurting people. Sam is quite the opposite. She causes harm, inflects pain, brings death. Nevertheless, her motivations often seem justified, an impression that is enhanced when one of the entities appears to her as a radiant angel.

Do you sense what I was going for here? Playing on expectations and preconceptions? I was trying to keep the reader grounded at the character level. There is no omniscient narrator in the Veins Cycle, no all-knowing voice to say, “This is how it is” or “I want to let you in on this.” The books are about the limits of human perceptions and the things we see when confronted with unknowable forces. That’s what fascinated me at the outset, and it’s was I endeavored to explore over the course of the three-book cycle.

Question: There are so many great characters in the Veins Cycle, but Sam, the female sniper, truly an Angel of Death, had to be my favorite. Will you tell us about how you crafted her, and was she your favorite as well?

Sam Calder in Veins by Star E. Olson
Lawrence C. Connolly: My goal with Sam was to create a character who is at once likeable and reprehensible. We should not care for her. She’s flawed in terrible ways, does terrible things, works consciously at putting walls between herself and other people. And yet we feel drawn to her. It’s a dynamic that I think echoes the duality at play in the book’s spiritual forces.

She’s fascinating, but she isn’t my favorite character. I suppose I could repeat that oft heard comment that my character are my children, and like any good parent I have no favorites. I could say that, but it wouldn’t be true. Some parents, in spite of themselves, have favorites.

My favorite Veins Cycle character is probably Maynard Frieburg, a.k.a. Bird – the rich kid on the hill who toys with the idea of leaving his mansion and finding enlightenment in the wilderness. He’s smart, funny, self-serving, and probably the most affable character in the book. If you met him on the street, he’d wave and invite you to have a drink (as opposed to Sam, who would probably turn and go the other way).   
Maynard "Bird" Frieburg in Vortex by Rhonda Libbey

Question: When you started writing the Veins Cycle, did you know from the beginning how it was going to end?

Lawrence C. Connolly: Yes. I knew the story needed to begin and end on the misty asphalt of Windslow Road, with the conclusion cycling back on the beginning like Ouroboros swallowing its own tail. The trick of course was dramatizing all the things that needed to happen in between. It took six years, and now it’s finished. Time to turn the page . . . and begin again.

Conclusion: Thank, Mr. Connolly, for your time and words. It’s been an honor and your last answer gave me chills. 

Thank you all for reading this post and if you haven’t already, please put the Veins Cycle on your reading list.

Lawrence C. Connolly’s books include the novels Veins (2008) and Vipers (2010), which together form the first two books of the Veins Cycle. Vortex, the third book in the series, was released in November 2014. His collections, which include Visions (2009), This Way to Egress (2010), and Voices (2011), collect all of his stories from Amazing Stories, Cemetery Dance, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Twilight Zone, and Year’s Best Horror. Voices was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. He serves twice a year as one of the residency writers at Seton Hill University’s graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction. 

Visit Lawrence C. Connolly's website