Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Maria Hammerblad

STEPH: I'd like to welcome guest author, Maria Hammerblad to The Writer Limits today. Maria, your latest book with Desert Breeze Publishing is Kidnapped, a science fiction romance. When did you know you had a love for science fiction?

MARIA: I've been fascinated with space and the stars for as long as I can remember. Other little girls played with dolls, and I found a cardboard box and pretended it was a space ship... I don't know where it comes from. My mom says they took the baby version of me to an exhibition in Stockholm and saw... I don't know what rocket or spaceship it might have been in the early 1970's, but she used to joke my space-craze came from her changing my diaper in an actual space craft. It might just be a story, true or not, it's cute. :-)

STEPH: What's your favorite Star Wars movie and why?

MARIA: Of the old ones, Return of the Jedi, because it was the first one I saw. I was too young when Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back came to theaters, and my parents wouldn't take me to see them. With Return of the Jedi I was eleven or twelve, and could go on my own. I loved it! If we count the new movies as well I like Attack of the Clones. The Jedi are still strong, there's hope for Anakin, and even though I know there'll be a disaster I can still think everything might end well.

STEPH: Who is your favorite Star Trek character and why?

MARIA: Data, definitely. I love the way he's super smart, but still innocent and fascinated with the world. There's one episode when he's trying to teach his cat some manners. "Spot, this is up. Up is bad. This is down. Down is good." Hilarious!

STEPH: You grew up in Sweden. What city? Can you share a tidbit about it?

MARIA: I come from Falun, it's a medium-sized Swedish city with about 50,000 inhabitants. It's far up north, not quite enough to have the midnight sun, but during summertime the sun just goes down to the horizon and bounces back up again. In the winter it's dark except for a dusky light between noon and three... It's a very old city. It contains the world's oldest copper mine - mining started some time in the year 600 - it's the home of Stora - the world's oldest corporation - and so on. It gives a different perspective on history.

STEPH: What science fiction author or movie/TV series made an impact on you?

MARIA: When I was six or maybe seven years old my dad watched Moonbase Alpha and Jason of Star Command. The tiny version of me found the former a little too weird, but was madly in love with Jason. He had a tiny robot called Wiki. Oh, did I want one! I read everything science fiction I could get my hands on, and if a science fiction channel had existed in Sweden at the time, I would probably have developed square eyes... Nowadays I still watch everything scifi. I can't believe how few TV shows feature aliens and space.

STEPH: Where did you find the germ of the idea for Kidnapped?

MARIA: That is a good question. I started writing the very first draft when I was a teenager, and I watched a lot of British science fiction shows at the time. Put some stuff like late 1970's Dr Who in an imaginative mind, mix in some cartoons, like Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, and out comes a story! Also, ever since I was a toddler I've expected a UFO to land right in front of the car to bring me home to my "real" family, and the beginning of the story probably stems from that.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

MARI: A couple of months or many years, depending on one's point of view. :) Once I remembered the story I wrote as a teenager and decided to re-do it with an adult perspective, writing it down didn't take very long. I already knew who the characters were and what would happen to them. After that, I pottered about with it for a couple of years, adding and withdrawing things.

Every character in the book has a vivid life in my mind, and I've written one short prequel to Kidnapped. It's called "Courage and Retribution" and will be available for free around Christmas time. I have another planned in my mind too. Maybe some time next year...

STEPH: Did you have to do any research for the novel?

MARIA: Yes. Once I decided I wanted to be a science fiction writer, I did a lot of research. I took college classes in Earth and Space Science, and in Astrobiology. Even if I make things up to fit the stories, it's nice to have some knowledge to fall back on. As an example, will the spaceships have artificial gravity? Definitely. Lacking gravity would be really inconvenient. Do I know exactly how it works? Nope? Do I care? Not really. I mean, it's entertaining to brainstorm how it might work, but when it comes to a novel I think both the readers and I are more interested in what happens to the main characters, and if I wrote down all my ideas of how the space ship works it would bore people to tears.

STEPH: What's the appeal for you in writing a science fiction story?

MARIA: I love imagining other worlds and civilizations. There aren't any limits.

STEPH:Did you see the Battlestar Galatica remake in the 2000's? If so, what did you like about the series?

MARIA: I wasn't aware of the show until I moved to the US in 2008. It might have been on Swedish TV, but if it was, I missed it. I saw the last couple of seasons, and once I got to know the characters, I enjoyed it. It would probably have been a little less confusing if I'd followed it from the start...

STEPH: Are you a fan of George Noory and Coast to Coast AM?

MARIA: The who and the what? Am I missing out on something cool? I'll have to google him.

STEPH: Yes, Google George Noory and Coast to Coast AM. I LOVE his show. He's not afraid to tackle any topic including aliens, ghosts, shadow people, and reincarination. Now, tell us about your upcoming release "Undercover."

Undercover is a contemporary romance, released September 11. It's about a quite ordinary young woman, Jenny Moore, who falls helplessly in love with a visitor from Russia. Unfortunately, Alexei Roshenko comes with a complicated past, and the couple encounters problems with everything from Russian intelligence officers to the CIA.

STEPH: Can you share an excerpt of Kidnapped with us?

MARIA: I'd be delighted to! And, thank you for having me on the blog!
The room was small and sparsely furnished. Besides bare walls, she saw a narrow bed, a metal table, and two metal chairs. Not until the door closed behind her did Patricia realize Travis hadn't followed her in, and she sank down on the edge of the bed, finding it anything but comfortable. "This place really sucks. Oh, you can probably hear me, can't you? I mean, don't get me wrong, it's much better than the cell, and I am grateful, I guess. I mean, the cell is even scarier than YOU are. Is there a shower? Why didn't I ask if there's a shower?"

The sound of her own voice was somehow comforting, and she got back to her feet, wanting to find that closet filled with clothes from possibly deceased strangers. Travis picking out clothes for her seemed creepy, but investigating would give her something to do.

When she approached the first wall, it didn't move at all. The second turned out to be a completely unresponsive computer terminal, and the third opened to show a small and peculiar restroom. Her next attempt rewarded her with a long row of clothes approximately her size, of very different colors and models. Holding one up against herself, she muttered, "Does he really expect me to wear this?"

After tossing the dress to the side, she ventured over towards the little restroom, where she poked the peculiar faucets and controls, wondering what they might do. Over to the side stood a metallic tube attached to both the floor and the ceiling, and when she stepped closer, the front part slid to the side. "Hmm, I wonder if you're the garbage disposal or the sauna?"

She jumped when the metallic voice she'd once heard on the bridge echoed in the little room. "Please remove your clothing, step into the personal cleanser, close your eyes, and hold your breath."

Looking around, she was both surprised and relieved not to see anyone. "I thought you weren't real. Who are you? Where are you?"

As Travis's words of them being completely alone on the large ship surfaced in her memory, she added quietly, "Are you a figment of my imagination?"

The voice offered no explanation; it just repeated its command. "Remove your clothing, step into the personal cleanser, close your eyes, and hold your breath."

Standing in a steel tube didn't seem appealing, especially not if it required closing one's eyes and holding one's breath, but personal cleanser did sound a little like shower, and she felt disgustingly dirty. She stuck her hand in cautiously and wiggled her fingers. When she withdrew the hand it was still there, and she decided to obey, dropping her clothes in a pile on the floor.

As soon as she stepped in, the opening in the tube closed automatically behind her, and she was trapped. She barely had time to remember closing her eyes and holding her breath before a smelly solution attacked her from all sides, spraying her from top to toe. Less than a second later, it was sucked off with enough force to make her hair stand up, and another solution drenched her.

She wanted to cough, or maybe scream, but there was no time. Hot air blew over her, drying her off with near hurricane strength. It only took a few seconds after she entered the tube before the door opened to let her out, and she staggered back into the restroom, gasping for air. "Personal cleanser? That's a freakin' carwash!"

Taking a look at herself, she made a little face of reluctant approval; she was clean. She lifted an arm up and smelled it, and even if the scent wasn't exactly coconut, it was acceptable.

Bending down to pick up her clothes gave a little shock; they were no longer there. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them again, but every little piece of clothing, every trace of everything that tied her to the person she once was and to the world as she knew it was gone. Not even a thread of her old self remained.

She yelled, "What the hell! Who took my clothes? I was only gone for like five seconds!"

No one answered.

Buy-link Kidnapped:

Review snippets:

"The fact that the story is set in the stars, takes place across the span of over a year versus a few weeks, and even ends with a refreshing knot all lend it an added uniqueness that is rare in many novels today. I happily recommend this to most readers if you’d like a well-crafted story of both love and dependence, life and death, and overall, redemption." -- Megan, Night Owl Reviews

"Intrigue and oddities populate this entertaining sci-fi romance. Instead of getting mired in elaborate details of UFO technology, Hammarblad opts to focus on the human drama — to great effect. And with an occasional love scene thrown in to spice things up, readers will definitely find this novel to be an absolute gem." -- Amy Lignor, RT Book Reviews

"I love a good sci fi adventure romance and this was definitely a good one... I definitely recommend this story if you love a good sci-fi adventure tied into a fabulous romance!" -- Christina Snow, Smitten by Books

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