#OWSCyCon2019 Author Spotlight
As part of the build-up to OWSCyCon2019, I want to introduce you to some of the amazing volunteers and authors taking part in the event. If it wasn’t for the volunteers, there could be no CyCon, and I’m grateful to every single one of them for giving up their time to make this happen. But by the same token, without the authors taking part in the event, we wouldn’t be able to bring you the amazing events that we have planned. So without further delay…
Meet S.E. Zbasnik
S. E. Zbasnik has a degree in genetics, which means there may or may not be a horde of monkeoctopi doing her bidding to take over the world. She recently won the Top Ten Handmaid’s Challenge on Wattpad where hers was chosen by Margaret Atwood herself. Along with her husband and black lab, she spends a lot of time with her skeletons — don’t worry, they’re only Halloween props.
What Genres Do You Write In?
Why Don't You Start By Sharing A Little About Yourself
I come from the flat water land of Nebraska where I fight off the scarecrow people with my husband and dog. Despite being a black lab, my dog isn’t much of a fighter and would rather curl up in the lap of the murderous scarecrows. Due to that, we’re at a current stalemate until the corn army rises from its stalks.
My background is in microbiology, specifically genetics though I’ve tinkered with cultivating cell lines and bacteria as well. For that reason I shy away from writing any evil mad scientists. Not because I don’t think there are any, but because to me lab life is dull and mostly shouting at people to wear covered-toe shoes.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?
Power is set in a universe where every person on the planet has superpowers. On top of being able to move things with their mind or start fires, humans also grew jewels on their foreheads. Blues had one set of powers, while Yellows the other. This caused all of humanity to sever down the middle.
After generations of struggling to keep the peace, a system established itself to try and contain the varying levels of skills across the country. While most would cling to the hope the system was working, some know it’s not.
That’s where Jaya Foster comes in. Her job is to keep Blues on their side of the city. Being a Yellow, her skill is to open portals and she’s one of the highest levels. That should give her some power and prestige but Jaya stumbles through life in her low-level office job even while earning scorn from the rest in society. When an inexplicable murder the police chief fears might be the work of a Blue terrorizes the city, Jaya’s put in charge of solving it.
She teams up with Rikuto Fujita, a Blue who can command rocks. Together the pair uncover a sinister anarchist underground trying to destroy the bedrock of their teetering society.
Who is your intended readership?
Power is an adult book for people who like their dystopias set centuries after the big disaster. Rather than an underground superhero club, everyone knows about the skills because everyone has them. But that didn’t stop humanity from forming cliques and strata withing society. If any of that interests you, on top of high action fight scenes with fire, shadows, guns, and portals this book is for you.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I entered a contest to write fan-fic for a video game. To my surprise, I won, so I call myself a ‘Sword Winning Author.’ After that, I remembered how much I love writing and that I must be doing something right. I have a sword on my wall, after all.
Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?
My inspirations are all over the map. As an example, my favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo for the intricate plot weaving and characters. But perhaps my greatest writing inspiration is Sir Terry Pratchett. I lean towards the eccentric, often humorist writing while also wanting to chew into meaty topics. To do so requires a delicate touch, and also a chance to create some wild, memorable characters.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Take every piece of writing advice with a grain of salt. Everyone is different, everyone has different things that work for them. Find what works for you to find your voice. The advice helps guide you to it, but don’t bind your hands to fit someone else’s ideal of an author.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?
On top of video games — Dragon Age, Assassin’s Creed, Fallout, and the like — I’m also big into creating halloween props. This involves carving my own tombstones (you better believe I have ones for Commander Shepard and Edgar Allan Poe in my cemetery), adding rotting flesh to skeletons, and making flying ghosts. Prop making is so much fun because you can get the craziest idea and run with it. Since it’s for halloween if it’s not perfect, that’s okay. It’s just rotting on the side!
What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?
I have an epic YA sword & shield story coming on May 14th called Squire Hayseed. It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl who’s caught stealing. She can either become a squire or hang for her crime. Hayley’s set up to fail, but by sheer grit she keeps succeeding. The book follows her struggles as she learns not only how to be a squire and a knight but to learn to belong and care.
Jaya Foster creates portals from across the globe. It sounds impressive, but in a world where mailmen spit fire and secretaries cover their bodies in granite it’s not. With a yellow jewel embedded in her forehead, Jaya’s stranded on her people’s side of the city. Across the scar are the Blues, a division of completely different powers. For that reason, society cut in half. Most go their whole lives without meeting a different gem, but Jaya’s job keeps her in contact with the others.
When a bizarre murder lands in her lap, Jaya teams up with Riktuo Fujita, a dashing Blue. Terrorist bombings, assassination attempts, and more threatens their every step. Yet, even with every brush with death, Jaya can’t stop flirting with Rikuto nor can he seem to stop brushing his hand against hers. If the murderer doesn’t get to her first, the Council of 100 will.