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Welcome to the war. The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it. The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens--their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream. Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war. When Lex's girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Telsa Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It's there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both again.
1. If you could work with any author who would it be?
Sherry- Tyler. Just Tyler. There’s a level of trust when you write with someone. I don’t know that I could work with anyone else.
Tyler – I have to say, being able to work with Sherry has made the writing process more enjoyable than if I were writing on my own. In fact, I would recommend if you have anyone you are close to or have the same interests, get them to be your co-author.
2. Who is your favorite author and is you writing style similar to theirs?
Sherry- I don’t have one favorite. I’m a fairly diverse reader. And I’m not sure my style is similar to anyone else’s. Not sure I want it to be.
Tyler – My favorite author is probably Michael Crichton, and is my writing style similar? No.
3. What's your favorite part of a book?
Sherry- Depends on the book. Usually the climax, right before the end.
Tyler – My favorite part of a book is when ideas that are mentioned at the beginning become revealed as important plot points at the middle to end of the book. Basically when the intertwining storylines come together.
4. When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
Sherry- Yeah. At least for main characters. Sometimes secondary characters don’t get quite as much attention, but in Extracted, it was intense. Every single character (that I got to name, Tyler named all the Hollows kids) was a real person with a real history. I got to re-name them in a way, but yeah. It was a lot of work.
Tyler – No, I did not, except for Lex which was short for Alexei.
5. How do you get started with writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)?
Sherry- It’s different for each story. Extracted was a LOT of what I call book scaffolding. You have to have this intense blueprint of your book, make sure each piece falls perfectly into place. But, for example, my new book doesn’t even have an outline. I’m surprised by every turn it takes.
Tyler – I retire to my office in my house where there’s a big white board and I just start writing down ideas. I take a photo of that and then I use it to create somewhat of an outline. I have a tendency to write my book in scenes versus a linear outline. For some reason when I have a certain scene that is so vivid in my head, I have to just write it so I can move on to the rest of the story.
6. What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?
Sherry – Step away for a bit. Try to take in other things, books, movies, even just wandering around old antique stores helps me. Also, relax. The best ideas come when the brain is relaxed. But never stay away from writing for too long. Once you quit writing routinely, it’s difficult to begin again.
Tyler – I agree with Sherry, stepping away from your writing for too long makes you get out of a routine. I’ve suffered from that in the past. What I like to do is find somebody who has the patience to listen. I like to talk through the certain creative slump that I am in. By default my wife usually ends up being that person.
7. How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?
Sherry – My first book took me about six months to write, and probably about the same to sell. But, that’s not the norm. I’m told things happened extremely quickly for me. Publishing is a long, slow business.
Tyler – My first book took me about a year to write and 7-8 years to publish. The length of time was mainly because I was focused on starting my business and straightening teeth.
8. How did you come up with the title?
Sherry – For Extracted? The editors picked it. The original title was already taken and we discussed a few options before settling on this one.
Tyler – Sherry’s right, the editors came up with it. But it’s so fitting because it’s about young time travelers being plucked from their lives and being put into different factions of a time war.
9. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sherry- With any sci-fi novel, it’s really about escaping to somewhere new. I don’t think there’s any real message we are trying to send, we just want people to enjoy it.
Tyler – I haven’t had the experience writing a book that has specific undertones, most of the novel I write are just to let people escape to a far away land.
10. What books have most influenced your life most?
Sherry- I love books. Each book I read stays with me. I don’t think that one influenced me more than another, but on a whole, I’m very influenced by what I read.
Tyler –I would say every book influences me because I get to discover a unique story in my downtime.
11. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Sherry- Again, I don’t think I could choose one. I will say that I have a great support system of author friends that have been wonderful.
Tyler –I don’t really have a mentor but I would like to hang out with James Dashner or Jeff Savage for a few. I have a lot of questions about the unknown that I’d like answers to. As authors, I’m sure they’ve been through it at one time or another.
12. What book are you reading now?
Sherry- I am actually between reads right now.
Tyler – The Eye of Minds, I just started it. I was reading Andrian Tchaikovsky Black and Gold Empire, I’m excited to read the next books in the series.
13. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Sherry- I’m really enjoying Laini Taylor (daughter of Smoke and Bone). I’ve got her next couple books in my TBR.
Tyler – Renee Collins, just got her first novel published and I was able to read it and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s has a very strong heroine but in a dude’s world, which is the wild, wild, west. There was a great balance of girl romancy stuff and action.
14. What are your current projects?
Sherry- I’m right in the middle of a new YA project called Haunting Zoe. I hope to have more news about that soon. And I’m editing a book with Harlequin and working with Tyler on early edits for Prodigal, the next book in this series.
Tyler –I am working on editing Prodigal, the second book in The Lost Imperials series. Also I’ve totally switched gears and am writing Chemika, a young adult novel set in a post apocalyptic society.
15. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Sherry- SCBWI has been amazing, but by far I’ve gotten a ton of support from my publishers and friends.
Tyler –I have to say my friends and author friends rally behind me. My patients and their families really make me feel like I have a huge support group.
16. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Sherry – Defiantly not. I think the process has been amazing and even in the tough parts, I’ve really grown and learned. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Tyler –I agree with Sherry. I’m really satisfied with my writing career at this point.
17. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Sherry – I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing. I think that’s only natural for people who love reading.
Tyler –Yes. I was watching Oprah, and Nicholas Sparks was on. This was way back. He mentioned that he was able to pay off school loans with his writing. Because I had a lot of school loans from dental school and because I had a ton of stories floating around in my brain, I decided to give it a try.
18. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sherry- Sure. Here’s a teaser of Haunting Zoe:
“Who would want me dead?” he whispers.
I raise my hand.
He glances up and laughs.
“Why am I not surprised by that?”
Lowering my arm I pick at my fingernails.
“Well, you do irritate me.”
“Yeah, but did I annoy you when I was alive?”
I think about that for a second. “No, I suppose not. It’s hard to annoy someone who doesn’t even orbit the same planet as you. Or maybe you’re just annoying dead?”
He smirks, “Well I never had any complaints while I was alive so, maybe. Then again, maybe you just bring out the best in me.”
I pucker. That’s entirely possible. Lord knows Carlos has called me abrasive more than once.
Changing the subject I stab a piece of chicken and hold it out to Logan.
“Ok, experiment time.”
He looks around the fork at me like I’ve lost my mind.
“Lick it.” I say.
“You lick it.”
I sigh, “Seriously. If we are going to work with the whole ghost thing, I’d like to know the rules. I want to see if you can taste it.”
“Why? Are you planning on having me lick things often?”
I thrust the fork forward, “Just do it.”
Reluctantly he leans forward and sticks out his tongue, making a licking sound like a dog.
“Anything?” I ask hopefully.
“Maybe just a little? But I might just be smelling it through my mouth.”
I stare at the fork for a second, debating whether to eat it or put it back in the box. I mean, he didn’t get his germs on it or anything, did he? Do ghosts even have germs? Ghost cooties?
He’s watching me with an amused expression. I shrug and take the bite, stuffing the empty fork back in the carton. He grins, obviously pleased.
Tyler - Glowing florescent lights reflect off of the smooth glass ground beneath Crick’s feet. He has been in Nanosaic’s experiment for a week and is loving every minute of it. Walking in his new environment has a learning curve. The boots of his pure glass suit stick to any surface like gecko feet. Microscopic hairs interact with the polarization of the glass environment and make walking less slippery. In addition to the glass boots, his suit is equipped with the same feature on the knee joint and hands.
It has taken him weeks getting used to running, jumping, and moving in the glass suit. Ultimately he has learned the various limitations when it comes to wearing it. Since moving to the Residue Fields inside of Nanosaic’s glassware experiment, Crick and his squadron have been sent on multiple training missions within the all glass environment. Today they have been sent far from the Residue Fields to fight off a deadly strain of bacteria.
“I love bacteria for breakfast,” Crick says in his com device mounted inside his glass helmet. His team starts high fiving each other. This is just another test mission for Crick and his buddies and the last few they have had quite a bit of success. As they continue to complete different missions they are rewarded by an unknown source. The last mission was to ward off a clump yeast spores and they were rewarded by adding another sticky cycle to their already existing fleet of vehicles.
He looks up into the sky and sees a large purple black blob plopping its way down an enormous hill of crusted residue. Crick jumps behind a large pile of pale brown filtrate debris right in front of him. Not trusting the strength of the glass suit yet, he quickly gets up checks it for cracks or damage. Near him, his other team members get into position waiting for instructions. Having only been there three weeks, Crick is one of the best and brightest being promoted quickly to the rank of captain. He wears a yellow spandex suit under his glass armor indicating his rank. To his left ooze spewed from a smoking hole in the mound of dried residue hill. Drawing in a deep breath of recycled air from his heavy suit, he could feel beads of sweat trickling down his face on the inside of his facemask.
Crick motions for his team to all move forward cautiously. He watches the only girl on his team, Hydra. With every training he makes sure that she is safe and in the most indirect area of an attack. Without letting his squad know his intentions he says, “Hydra you ready? I think they are coming your way.”
Moving together and looking around for anything that is moving, they stay on high alert. Along side him is a large beast of a boy, Mortar. He is about as wide as he is tall, build like a tank. Mortar is all muscle mass and Crick was pretty sure he could bench press a sticky cycle at any given time. Crick always wonders how he ever fits into his suit. Waddling like a beetle, Mortar is agile as a spider.
To Crick’s left, Hydra sat crouched ready for a command. Even though Crick is in charge, Hydra and Mortar are second in command. She’s fit and about the same height as Crick. More often than not, when Crick would visit her bunkhouse in the Residue Fields she was always doing some sort of Yoga or circuit training. Always able to make quick decisions and think outside of the box, Hydra is one of the smartest soldiers on the team.
Crick looks over and gives her a wink. She smiles and advances forward to position herself under Mortar.
19. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sherry- I have a hard time with pacing sometimes, though it’s getting better. And blocking a good physical scene is challenging.
Tyler – My most challenging part is putting emotion into my characters, especially the male characters. With that said I have really honed in on this weakness and am becoming pretty good at giving everyone feelings.
20. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Sherry- That’s impossible to quantify. I love so many authors. This month, I’ll go with Phillipa Gregory. I’ve been in a deep historical fiction mood this month. LOL. Can’t imagine why…
Tyler – Probably the late Michael Crichton. It changes though every week.
21. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Sherry- Edits make me want to die. Seriously. It’s so hard. You really have to develop this detachment from your own work. That’s hard.
Tyler –I think editing also is the most mind numbing for me. I am trying to find a love for it though.
22. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Sherry- I learned that I get really grumpy during edits (sorry Tyler) and that sometimes, it’s all right to do things the absolute wrong way. Sometimes.
Tyler – I learned I have a bad diet coke addiction. LOL. I learned a lot about character development and writing in first person. That tense is a really tricky but powerfully fun way to write.
23. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Sherry- Just keep writing. Don’t get discouraged and don’t sell your work short. It might not happen overnight, but if you love it and you stick with it, it will happen.
Tyler –With perseverance you will find luck. Finish your first draft and don’t be too critical about your early works. Write for you not for the market trends.
24. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Sherry- Just a BIG HUGE thank you! Without the readers and bloggers support, we would never be where we are today. You guys have been so supportive from day one, before we had a cover or anything. We could not have asked for a better group of fans. LOVE YOU!
Tyler – You all are the gas that fuels my writing fire. The response from all the readers and bloggers have keep me going in some of harder editing times. I am grateful for all the support we receive each and every day.
25. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Sherry- There was a truly mind boggling amount of planning and research than went into this series. With time travel, you have to be so careful and so precise, it’s very much like surgery. For us, we had to know every single detail before we wrote a single word. It was intense.
Tyler—We had to come up with many rules from our research. We promised each other that we wouldn’t break the rules. Many things are obviously made up but we tried to figure out the science behind it so that it would make since before we wrote the scene. Sherry and I had many brain storming sessions and I think a challenge for both of us was juggling family life and planning/editing sessions. But in the end everyone was supportive and we appreciate it.
Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer and internet radio show host with more mouth then good sense. She has a serious book addiction, but continually refuses treatment, much to her husband’s chagrin.
Tyler and Sherry met one fateful day and bonded over their love for books, science fiction, and donuts. Their first co-written novel came shortly after. Now, they still do all those other things, but also go to various steampunk conventions and events under the guise of ‘research’. They can often be found lurking on the Lost Imperials Facebook page or over on the official website, www.thelostimperials.com.
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