Not too long ago, Luke Reviews took a look at L.M. Preston’s debut novel, Explorer X – Alpha, an enjoyable new YA science fiction novel. With her next book, The Pack, on the way, I decided to sit down and ask her a few questions.
Hello, L. M. Thank you for doing an interview for us here at Luke Reviews!
To start things off with, you have a new novel coming out right at the beginning of August. Can you tell us a little bit more about The Pack? Is it the start of a new series or stand-alone? Is it aimed for the same group of readers that Explorer X - Alpha is?
There were several things that influenced the idea of The Pack. I had originally planned for this character to be a male. I had told my beta team (my kids and husband) about this idea I had about a blind vigilante that organizes a group of misfit kids to fight against a major crime organization on Mars.
My daughter told me that she wanted me to write about a female main character. That it would be cool to have a girl in the role. I smiled and Shamira’s face appeared in my mind’s eye.
I decided that her mission would be to save missing kids, because I wanted to write about missing kids escaping from captivity. Every day at my job, I passed a board of missing children. My heart went out to them, and I always hurt for their loss. Once a former colleague who’d been a police officer told me of a horrible case where he had located missing kids that were captured and being used in despicable ways by their captors who had enslaved them for years before disposing of them. These sad facts were the makings of The Pack.
It is a two-book series that I truly enjoyed writing. It’s aimed at kids 14yrs and up. It has adventure, twist and romance all in one. The true adventure is the building of trust and true friendship that empowers Shamira to become the champion she was meant to be. The Explorer X series was aimed at kids 12yrs old and up.
You have another novel, Bandits, due out next spring. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
Bandits, the first in a two book series, is about a teenaged boy who was raised as a thief and mercenary by his renowned father. His relationship with his father was strained due to his father’s refusal to continue his role as a leader of the Zukar. With his father’s murder, he discovers that his father snatched then hid a treasure that is not only worth killing for – but holds a power beyond mortal control. He sets out with his brother and friends to find the treasure before his father’s murderer does. His time is running out as the killer closes in, and the price to stop the inevitable destruction of his world becomes higher than he could ever pay.
Your first novel, Explorer X - Alpha, just came out a few months ago, and I have been hearing nothing but good things with it (and really liked it myself!). Congratulations! Since you said you are wrapping up the sequel, Explorer X - Beta, can you tell us a little bit about the sequel, and where the series is headed? Do you know how long the series will end up being?
Lol! Explorer X-Beta is the second book in the Explorer X series and will be full of surprises. The world I created for this book has me excited. This will ultimately be a four book series that will come to a climatic end that is so unpredictable yet powerful. I can’t wait. I’ve outlined the entire series and am finishing up the first draft of Explorer X-Beta, which is scheduled to come out Fall of 2011. In Explorer X-Beta, Aadi realizes that it’s okay to make mistakes, that leaning on your friends make you stronger, and that people are not always what they seem. I’ll give you a hint, he’s on his way to save Dakota and Carter, but in doing so, unveils something about the species in which he and the others were created from. The depth of the deception of TECRC becomes more obvious, and the burgeoning power of each character comes to the surface.
What authors/books/non-authors/books have most influenced your writing?
I’ve always loved reading horror, adventure, science fiction, true crime and romance. There’s not much I haven’t read. However, I love the style of James Patterson. He never, ever bores me. I also loved Dean Koontz’s earlier novels. I realized that in order for me to finish a book, I personally have to be excited about writing it.
You write YA science fiction. What do you think of the state of the genre?
I believe YA science fiction is a growing genre. Funny thing is, when I was younger, I skipped the books focused on my age group and read adult novels. Now though, times have changed and adults are seeking out YA novels because they are fast-paced.
What is in the future for L. M. Preston? Beyond your first four novels, what comes next? Do you think you will ever write outside the YA science fiction area, or have you found your home their?
Well, to be honest I have at least ten more series that I’m dying to write. This year though, I’ll be finishing up The Pack (Retribution) and Bandits. Next year I’ll be able to delve into my growing list of book ideas. As far as YA Science Fiction – I’m definitely home.
You write for Phenomenal One Press. Their goal is to write fiction that empowers teens and helps them get through difficult times, which I thinks is a wonderful goal. Is Phenomenal One Press your brainchild, or a publisher you just stumbled upon? What is it like working for them?
Phenomenal One Press, is the brainchild of my husband. I went through several months – okay almost a year – of sending out queries and getting rejected. I take rejection well for the most part, because engineers always have to work then rework an idea that has been critiqued. However, I must be honest - I was getting frustrated. I still didn’t give up and got an offer from a small publisher. I was this publisher’s only young adult author. After receiving the contract, and looking at some of the proposals they made regarding representing my work, I regretfully declined their offer. I knew that my book was part of a four book series. I would write many more books for this publisher, but I didn’t want to give my work away to someone that wasn’t going to properly promote it.
Then I discussed this frustration with my husband. I told him that now I have the writing bug, I can’t stop. That my one and only desire was to share my books with others, and making money doing it would just be gravy. He'd been an owner of several business before and stated that he would be a better publisher to me than one I declined. At that point on, knowing him as I do, I told him sure.
The benefits of working with Phenomenal One Press, a Small Press “Indie” publisher is that I get to have a voice. My hands, feet and body get dirty as I work with my publisher on every aspect of the business. I also get to see the future possibilities of my work that I'd never even considered as an author who'd just started this journey. When I look over any contract regarding the publishing business, I now have the ability to negotiate with the full knowledge of what I'm asking for and what the publisher will and can do for me. I understand the true cost of their investment and what that investment will gain me beyond the vision of my first book. With a small 'indie' publisher, if they don’t agree with the author's proposed changes, they usually state why. I have input in the cover design, marketing, event planning and every aspect of the promotion of my book. For me, a control freak, who was also a business major in school - this was wonderful!
This year my publisher is running a contest for authors that will allow their short stories to be placed in Bandits. It’s the beginning of growth for Phenomenal One Press and I can’t wait to see what the future has to offer. The company has an event coordinator, editor and interns who desire to learn the business. The goal being to teach, educate and empower not only our readers but writers who want to be a part of Phenomenal One Press.
Before we go, any final words?
I want my readers to know, that as a young person you have your entire life in front of you. Even when things look bad, you still have the ability to fight through to make it better. Always blaze your own path and never get discouraged while you are becoming stronger through the battles of life. Imagine yourself as the hero that you are, and you will do amazing things despite your challenges. How do I know this? Well, because I have and I know you can too.
Thank you once again for the interview, L. M. Good luck with your future endeavors!