What I’m Reading (And You Should Too!): The Alloy of Law

If you are familiar with Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, you may also be familiar with Brandon Sanderson. A few years ago Mr. Jordan passed away before finishing the series and Mr. Sanderson stepped in to give all of us fans an ending. I remember when this was announced thinking “Brandon who?” but I wanted to give him a fair shake and decided to check out his other books. Among them was an unfinished (at the time) trilogy called Mistborn. It was a very unique fantasy novel. There wasn’t a hero that came of age and found out he was bound for greatness. Instead it’s an ensemble cast and the first book is a heist job, sort of like Ocean’s Eleven. I really liked it, ended up buying even the hardcover of the final book (Hey I didn’t have a Kindle yet, so sue me) and also checking out an earlier book of his called Elantris. In addition to these he also has a Children’s Series called Alcatraz. In 2010 he released the first book of his epic fantasy series, The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive). At the moment, however, I have recently started reading his newest book, The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel.

If you’ve read the Mistborn series, this is not a continuation of the story. The characters from those books are long in the past and are part of legend and religion now. This is a whole new story, set far into the future of the same world. I’m certain that most fantasy readers are used to their fantasy novels being set in a medieval or semi-medieval setting. With the exception of “urban” fantasy or horror like fantasy that is. This is completely different, it’s a fantasy novel set in a turn of the century type setting. Train lines are being extended, electricity has just become available in homes, and some people are rich enough to own horseless carriages. It’s an interesting concept and I love the idea of taking a well loved genre and changing one little thing like the period of the setting. Awesome.

So far I’m just about to chapter three and so far, I’m really liking this book, just as I’ve liked Brandon’s other books. I did get to meet him a few years ago. His home town is not far from where I currently live and a few years ago a local book store was able to get him to come by for a signing. Where I live at the moment is NOT on the usual book signing tour stop, trust me. He was a really nice guy and had remembered an email I sent him about a year prior that he had even responded to.

If you are looking for something to read, I highly suggest checking out any of Brandon Sanderson’s books. If you’re a Wheel of Time fan who’s been unsure of this “new guy” you can trust me, the novels are in good hands, he’s an excellent writer.

Indie SciFi/Fantasy Author Spotlight: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

This week I’m starting what I hope will be a recurring segment here on Oh, A Girl Dragon, a spotlight on an Indie SciFi/Fantasy author. This week we start with author of Lyon’s Legacy, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. She is a founding member of BroadUniverse and a long-time member of the Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her current day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

Tell us about your current published book(s) and anything upcoming you have.
I currently have two published works: a science fiction novella called Lyon’s Legacy and a fantasy short story called “The Book of Beasts.” They are both available as e-books, and Lyon’s Legacy recently came out in paperback too. “The Book of Beasts” features a university student, an uncanny girl, and a contaminated wasteland that can kill the student unless he gains the trust of the girl. Lyon’s Legacy is about a scientist-in-training named Joanna who’s persuaded to travel through a wormhole to an alternate universe so she can steal her great-grandfather’s DNA. Her ancestor was a famous musican, and her uncle wants to clone him. However, Joanna hates her ancestor and thinks her uncle will mistreat the clone, so she attempts to sabotage the project. Will she succeed, and at what cost to herself?

I’m currently revising Twinned Universes, the sequel to Lyon’s Legacy, and I just finished the first draft of Scattered Seasons, which is set in the same world as “The Book of Beasts.”

Where did the spark of inspiration for this/these book(s) come from?
I am a diehard Beatles fan, and my favorite is John Lennon. When a friend of mine wrote a story about a girl watching the Beatles perform, I was inspired to write something similar–with a science fiction twist. Hence, the girl became a time traveler bent on obtaining Lennon’s DNA. For Lyon’s Legacy, I changed the setting and some other details to make Joanna’s ancestor musician less like Lennon.

As for “The Book of Beasts,” that story was originally written for an anthology centered around unusual books. However, the world in which the story is set involves a quartet of female magicians (Scattered Seasons tells their story), and I got the idea of the quartet from the Beatles. You can see a pattern here (grins).

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
As my bio mentions, I did write a bit as a young girl, but I didn’t start writing stories for publication until my twenties. I think I finished my first novel in graduate school or shortly afterward. I’m not sure if I still have a copy of it somewhere, but if I do, I don’t want to read it.

How did you choose the sci fi/fantasy? What make the genre so special?
I’ve read a lot of genres, but fantasy was a favorite of mine since I was a child. (I didn’t read much SF until I was a teenager, or maybe later.) I’ve always had an interest in science, so that’s part of the draw of SF for me. Both fantasy and SF allow you to play with ideas and imagination in ways other fiction genres can’t, and they let you escape from everyday life.

In Lyon’s Legacy your main character, Joanna, is a scientist. Did you base her at all on yourself or is she a reflection someone else entirely?

Yes, Joanna is a geneticist, and she got her love of science from me. She does mention Rosalind Franklin, a scientist whose pictures of DNA helped Watson and Crick figure out its structure, in the book.

Where can we find you and your book in real life or on the internet?
You can find the books online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
Blog: http://ulbrichalmazan.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.sandraulbrich.com

Upcoming Con Appearances: WisCon, Madison, WI Memorial Day weekend, and ChiCon, Chicago, IL, Labor Day weekend.

Thanks for having me on your blog!

And thank you, Sandra!

If you or someone you know is a SF/F author and would like to be spotlighted on Oh, A Girl Dragon, please drop me a line.