Thursday, February 19, 2015

Got A Weed Problem?

Hello everyone! I hope you're all surviving the last throes of winter. Hang in there East Coast! The sun is coming soon!

Got a problem with weeds? I've got the author for you. As always, I'm excited to bring you today's awesome author. I recently discovered Tam Linsey and read her amazing and clever...yes that's my favorite word for great books...novel Botanicaust. So today I give you...***drum roll please!***...Miss Tam Linsey!!!
Isn't she cute?!
Tam, welcome to Dream Weaver Novels on Blogger! Let's start off by telling readers a little about yourself.
Hi, Su, thanks for inviting me.
Like many writers, I’m shy when talking about myself, but I’ll give it a shot. I’m a lifelong Alaskan who went out of state to college intending to major in Biomedical Engineering. After a stint at Lawrence Berkley Laboratories, I decided I didn’t want to be tied to a lab eighteen hours a day, so I swapped majors to English, of all things. Now I write science fiction, which means I still get to read tons of scientific papers for research, and find myself holed up in my office eighteen hours a day… wait a minute. I just realized that. D’oh!

After graduation, I dragged my husband home to my High North homeland. Alaska is in my blood, and in spite of the harsh climate and hugely variable seasonal daylight, the rhythm works perfectly for me. During the summer, I’m an avid gardener, hunter, fisher, and all-around gatherer. (My goal is to be able to provide enough food for my family to sustain us year-round when TSHTF--can you tell I write post-apocalyptic fiction?)) During the cold and dark winter months, I write speculative fiction and create gluten free recipes for cookbooks.

I've read Botanicaust and that's the reason I sought you out for an interview. I found it very clever and original. Here's my review: 
'I have to say I loved this book!! Tam Linsey is a smart and creative writer. The story had just enough science-fact to make the science fiction believable. It's easy to become invested in her characters and the story was action-packed from beginning to end. I was skeptical at first with the use of Bible references and such, but Linsey was careful not to step over the line of being too preachy. What scriptural references she employed were necessary for 'fleshing out' her characters, vital to the development of the characters and the plot. I have a feeling she is a very intelligent woman and look forward to reading more of her intriguing stories in the future!'

Can you explain a little about what the Botanicaust is?

Thank you for that lovely review and support! The Botanicaust is basically what is called an Extinction Level Event; a rogue genetically modified (GM) plant escaped the lab and interbred with wild variants to create the mother of all superweeds. Long story short (I’m writing the “long story” right now in the form of the prequel, titled Amarantox) these weeds wiped out pretty much all competing plant life on earth, including the crops needed to feed humanity.
Of course, there wouldn’t be a story without survivors, so I came up with a list of mechanisms people might use to survive a situation like this. Cannibalism, of course, is what most post-apocalyptic zombie-like scenarios would call for, so the majority of surviving humanity turned to this. But I wanted more diversity than a typical horror-type PA. I thought perhaps communities like the Amish, who still rely on hand weeding fields, could survive if they protected their crops from the marauding cannibals and hungry animals. And I created scientists who genetically engineered photosynthetic skin so they don’t need to eat. Finally, I needed a really “bad guy” society, so I made up a group of scientists who’ve discovered the secret to immortality.

Where on earth did you come up with the idea to write a...plant apocalypse story?

This is the question I’m asked most often. As a certified Master Gardener, I am very attuned to the plant world. I think my time in the garden fighting weeds was the beginning of the idea. (If you’ve ever battled an overgrowth of chickweed during the continual drizzle of an Alaskan summer, you know what I mean. Rotten, pernicious weeds!) And then there’s the issue of invasive species. I watched invasive sweet clover creep along the edges of our Alaskan highways for years. One day a stand appeared on my street, and I was aghast. Eradicating a weed like this one takes constant vigilance, which is impossible on a governmental level–Alaska simply has too much land to cover. What would happen if these weeds were bioengineered, making them even more difficult to control? Botanical holocaust = Botanicaust! 

Your covers and Amazon Author image are lovely! Who does the artwork?
Thank you! I created my own covers using GIMP software. For my cookbooks, I used images of the food I’d actually cooked. For my fiction, I purchased stock images and combined and altered them for a sci-fi feel. My first few attempts were ghastly, so if any new authors out there are reading this, I strongly suggest hiring out your cover art. Prices have come down considerably since I first published Botanicaust.

I love the simplicity of this image!
The “leaf girl” illustration I use for much of my online presence is another image I purchased but didn’t alter. I don’t mind having photos of me taken, but I’m horrible about remembering a camera when I go places. And when I try to use my phone for selfies, the image is always blurry (maybe I need to work out more so I don’t wobble so much!) 

I see you have more books out, a couple that aren't fiction. Tell us about those and what's next in the creative mind of Tam Linsey? 

The cookbooks are gluten free recipes I developed to feed myself when I discovered I was celiac, long before going gluten free was a fad. I had so many hand scribbled recipes, and received so many compliments from guests, I decided to compile them into cookbooks and share them. I have a stack of pancake and waffle recipes I plan to make into another cookbook this year, once I find time to photograph them. (Around here, everything gets eaten before I can set up my “studio” to snap a picture!)
My true writing passion, however, is science fiction. I mentioned above that I’m working on Amarantox, the prequel for the Botanicaust series. It’s about the woman who accidentally set the weed free, and is scheduled for release in April 2015. Here’s the working blurb:
Vegetarian eco-activist, Jaide Acosta, will do anything to stop the spread of corporate control over nature, with a capital N. She pulls invasive weeds, pickets herbicide factories, and has even been known to break into a genetic test greenhouse to sabotage corporate computers. But when genetically engineered weeds invade Earth’s croplands, she learns nature isn’t the benign force she imagined it to be. Struggling to survive with her teenage daughter, she discovers just how far the human race can go, and must come to terms with the ugly side of her own true nature.
You can read a sneak peek of the first chapter on my website.
Once I’ve finished Amarantox, I need to decide if I want to write the “other” prequel (how the Fosselites came to be) or if I want to begin another series that has been poking me in the brain about aliens.

Where did the scriptural elements and the German (Amish?ish) come from? You seemed very comfortable working them into your story. 
I have family in the Midwest, and always loved to visit the Amish settlements there. Their peaceful, rural, self-sufficient lifestyle appeals to my Prepper side, although not necessarily their dogma. (I am a Christian, but in a spiritual rather than a religious way.)
I was a little nervous about releasing a first book with such a strong undertone, but the scriptural elements are important in the first book because Levi’s religion defines his life. His religion IS his struggle. It is part of the world-building, not an attempt at evangelism. The second book in the series, Doomseeds, doesn’t have a POV character who is Christian, but one of the secondary characters is, and I’ve had quite a few readers tell me they love him.
As far as the German, I used Google Translate a lot—lol! Since publication, I’ve been taking a German language course, and was mortified to discover that the German in Botanicaust is grammatically incorrect in at least one place. Ah, well. Maybe the language went to hell 400 years in the future, right?

Ooo! This guy's a creeper!
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about you and/or your books?
I produced Botanicaust as an audio book late last year, and it recently got accepted into the Whispersync for voice program. What that means is that if you purchase(d) the Kindle version, you can then buy the audiobook at a steep discount (like, 90% off!) and it will “sync” with the ebook while you read it. I listen to a lot of audio books while gardening or cooking, and I love to have the option to swap between listening and reading without losing my place. You can listen to a sample of the audio here:
I hope to be able to produce my other books into audio versions in the near future.

Okay, let's have a little fun.

If I gave you a piece of chalk, a red candle and a grape vine, what kind of story would you write? (You can give it a title too if you want.)
Fun! I love brainstorming! Let’s see…
In a steep, rocky cliff, about fifteen feet up, I see a depression I think might be a cave. Grasping a nearby grape vine, I pull myself up to the ledge. Broad leaves shade the crevasse, but behind them, the deeper darkness of empty space. I push back the leaves and a waft of dank air brushes my cheek. Someone has been here before me and left the stub of a red candle just inside on the floor. I pull my lighter out of my pocket and ignite the wick before venturing inside.
The walls are covered with drawings, cabalistic shapes and disturbing images. The red candle flickers, making the shapes warp and bend. I’m an artist myself, but these are not art. These pictures vibrate with something different. Something sinister.
I didn’t think the stories about the witch and her curse were true, but a tingle runs down my spine like a mild electric current. Maybe this explains the sickening flocks of sheep around the artist retreat.
I rub a palm over the nearest image, but the lines don’t even smudge. I think they might be drawn in blood. Another shiver passes through me. A take a step deeper inside, ears keen for any hint of sound. Something tells me I must eradicate the drawings, but how? Fishing inside my pockets, I discover a nub of pastel chalk left over from the morning at my sketch pad. I apply the chalk to the nearest drawing and quickly rub it out…
Well, you get the idea.

If you had to choose one of your characters to survive the Botanicaust with, who would it be and why?
That’s a hard one! Everyone is in danger! But if I had to choose, I’d probably choose Tula so she could give me pretty green skin. And if I had to live in the Protectorate with her, I’d find a way to change conversion policy, much like she did, only without needing to run away from cannibals.

Do you have a dream cast picked out if your book was to be made into a movie?
I don’t, sorry. But I’d be delighted if someone optioned it!

Tam, thank you so much for visiting Dream Weaver Novels and our great readers, today.
Thank you for hosting me!

I highly recommend Tam's book Botanicaust if you're looking for a well-written, and very original story. Here are the links to all of her books:

And if you'd like to connect with her and learn more her and her books, here are the links to get you to 'everything Tam Linsey'.

As always, I'd like thank all of you so much for coming by. I hope you'll check out Tam's books and give her interview a shout out on your social media. If you do, leave a quick note in the comments below.

And as always...
Dare to Dream!

PS...Have a daring day!!