Thursday, February 13, 2014

Author S.L. Wallace, turning dystopian dreams into literary realities

Note: Today, we start the 14-day Lethal Obsession Birthday Book Blast Tour -- appearances by 14 different authors here at Shandra's Shadow World Blog. Please join us each day for a chance to learn about a new writer, her work, and a few fun facts. We also have a HUGE give-away many of the guests are contributing to.
Today we have writer S.L. Wallace, author of the Reliance on Citizens Makes Us Great series, as well as the stories Dante's Day Off and Retrospection. I may be a little unusual in that I often find a writer's notes about where she comes up with stories as interesting as the actual stories. I think you're going to find some of my guest' answers here absolutely fascinating -- I know I can't wait to dive into more of her stories now!

Now, S.L., thanks so much for taking the time to appear on my blog. Let's jump right in.

Tell us a little bit about the Reliance on Citizens Makes Us Great series.

Wow, that is jumping right in! That was the first story I ever felt a desire to publish. I've enjoyed writing my entire life, but I never before wanted to share my musings with the world. I was inspired to write the Reliance on Citizens trilogy after waking up from an extremely vivid dream and thinking, "I'd watch that as a movie." And as I got ready for work that morning, I kept thinking about it. The fact that the dream didn't fade also led me to believe I had a good solid idea for a story. As soon as I got to work, I sat down at the computer and typed up everything I could remember about that dream, the mood, the setting, the characters. I even kept the main character's name from my dream: Keira. That dream became an early chapter in Price of a Bounty. As we all know, dreams sometimes go in weird directions, and this one was no different. I quickly changed the setting because my dream took place on the outskirts of a renaissance festival. That just didn't fit.

And then a really strange coincidence happened. A few weeks after I began writing Price of a Bounty, the story of a dystopian future world in which there is a huge divide between the Elite (the wealthy and powerful) and the Working Class (everybody else), the governor of my state started trying to remove the rights of public employees. He eventually succeeded, but well before that happened I went to a meeting to learn more about what was going on. A speaker tossed out a couple of statistics comparing the small number of wealthy people and how much they were financially worth to the rest of the population as a whole and how much wealth they had. My jaw just about hit the floor, and I thought, "Oh, my god! We're living in my novel!"

Can you tell us a little bit about how your other stories came to you?

Retrospection is another one that came from a dream. We were relaxing on vacation in a cabin in the woods when I slept in one morning. As I slowly woke, I realized I'd had a very interesting dream about a being that attaches itself to humans through the nervous system but that really isn't
out to harm us. In fact, it plays a very important role that is beyond most people's comprehension. And I thought what if things like non-medicinal hallucinations, ghost sightings, and certain mental conditions such as multiple personality disorder were actually all caused by the same thing, and what if that "thing" was this being that had a symbiotic relationship with humans. I know. I have weird dreams.

Last summer, I wrote a short story called Dante's Day Off. That one was inspired by a news article I read online that talked about how the first successful head transplant was completed on a monkey in the early 1970s but that doctors weren't able to attach the delicate nerves along the spinal column. The article proposed that we now have the technology required to perform such a surgery. Instead of writing a Frankenstein type story, I decided to write one from a more humanistic angle. 

The main character, Dante, is fascinated by that sort of research and news, and he is determined to be on the donor list in case anything happens to him.

Have you found writing a series or writing stand-alone works more challenging?

I think writing a series was more challenging because I worked hard to make sure that each book in my trilogy could be read as a stand-alone novel. Even though each book has its own story arc, there is an overall story arc that is present as well. One of my pet peeves when reading is to have large descriptions of what came before, so I had to be careful to give enough information so readers wouldn't be confused if they started with books two or three, but not so much as to bore readers who were working their way through the series. You see, I want readers to come back for more because they enjoy my work not because questions won't be answered if they don't continue.

In one of the author bios I've seen on you, you say you're a descendant of the legendary William Wallace, but that you fight for freedom and independence with the pen, rather than a sword, and that you've taken a stand against changes in government. Can you tell us a little about that, about what moves you to write?

When the governor of my home state started busting public unions, I was a public school teacher there. I wrote letters to the editor and marched around the capitol in freezing winter temperatures in order to try and protect my rights as well as the rights of parks department employees, public health officials, firemen, etc. We lost that fight, as much as we tried, we lost. Many people continue to fight against injustice there, but I chose to move away because of my daughter. If she had been further along in her schooling, I would have stayed, but she's just starting school, and it's my opinion that the schools in that state have been completely ruined for generations to come. I know 
I'm not the only one who made that decision. Not only do I personally know other teachers and other public employees who have left the state, taken early retirement, or changed career paths, I also heard another scary statistic at the beginning of this school year. In a large school district that normally hires anywhere from 4 to 20, new teaches every September, this past school year, they hired 61 new teachers. On top of that, I know for a fact that principals are being asked to fill teaching vacancies in addition to running their schools, positions are being eliminated, and the teachers who stay are being asked to take on extra duties. So what can I do? I can write fiction that gets readers to think about real world issues.

Okay, let's step away from writing for a bit. Let's do some rapid fire  questions. Answer the first thing that comes to mind – no cheating, no pondering, just whatever flashes in your mind first.

All right. I'm ready!

Favorite modern television series?

The 4400. I hope that's not too old?

Favorite television series from any era?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Favorite writer?

Neil Gaiman or Patrick Ness

If money were no object or concern, what sort of car would you own?


If you could live, full time, anywhere in the world, were would it be? Why?

Anywhere in Canada because I have family there, and I agree with more of their political stances such as universal health care.

Favorite food?

Italian. Any Italian food.

Favorite color?

I have two. Bright blue and black.

Favorite novel?

To Kill a Mockingbird

Okay, now, back to the writerly questions. J

Is there any one moment, or one event in your life that made you decide you wanted, maybe needed, to be a writer? If not, can you tell us how you came to the realization you wanted to write?

I enjoy writing. I always have. Writing is sort of like breathing to me. I just do it naturally. If self-publishing weren't an option, I'm sure I'd still be writing for myself, like I did for most of my life.

Tell us, what projects we might see coming from you over the next year.

There is a very short story I recently wrote for a literary fiction anthology that is presently on hold. It's called Rafting the Wolff, and it's based on an experience I had when I was in high school. I'm sure I'll publish it somewhere eventually. You can read an excerpt on my official author website.
In addition to that, I'm working on an anthology of suspenseful short stories and possibly some horror shorts. I'm starting each chapter with a little bit of nonfiction from my past. Then each chapter expands on those particular personal experiences, except I twist and warp them. I plan to release it in October of 2014. It does not yet have a title.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you being here today. Now, in honor of Valentine's Day, let's share an excerpt from Heart of Humanity.

The Reliance on Citizens books are all written in first person point of view, only whose point of view it is changes and rotates between the main characters on a chapter by chapter basis. This very short chapter is from Brody's point of view. He's talking to Aimee who suffered from physical and sexual abuse in her past.

Pale, smooth skin, long lashes, golden hair. Aimee looked so peaceful when she slept. I sighed. Just then, her features contorted as the dream took over. I gathered her into my arms, held her close, kept her safe.

“Aimee,” I said softly into her ear. “Aimee, wake up.”

Her eyelids fluttered open. She curled her body against mine and wept. Eventually, she wiped the tears away, stretched and rolled over onto her back.

I propped myself up on one elbow and peered into her deep brown eyes. “Good morning.”

She smiled and took a deep breath. “Morning.”

This was the perfect time. Not just before, but now. She felt safe with me, I could see it in her eyes, and I didn't want the moment to pass.

“Aimee, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”


“Will you marry me?”

“Brody.” She turned her head away and looked out the window. “You're asking now? With my hair a mess and my stinky morning breath?”

“Your hair is gorgeous, and your breath is—well, it's okay.”

The briefest smile flashed across her face. “What about flowers and a romantic dinner? What about the ring and getting down on one knee? Is this really how you want to ask me?” She was still looking away.

Gently, I reached for her chin and directed her eyes back toward mine. “I want to wake up next to you every morning, just like this. I want to fall asleep holding you every night. I don't want anything about us to change. I just want everyone to know that we've made a commitment to each other.”

Yes, I wanted to ask her here, privately, in a place where she felt safe.

Connect with S. L. Wallace:

Official Author Website:

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  1. Thank you so much for featuring my books!

    1. Ah, you are very welcome. Thank you for being part of the birthday celebration!