I have the great pleasure of introducing new SF Brigade member, T.K. Toppin. Please join me in welcoming her on board!
Welcome, T.K. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in Barbados and I’m of Japanese descent. I still live here, can’t think of any place else to live. I have a husband, two geriatric dogs, and a strange half-human cat. For the last twenty-odd years, I’ve been a graphic artist who probably dreamed of writing a book because I’ve always scribbled stuff down. Half-hearted attempts here and there. Some stories, I doodled with ideas of creating comic strips or graphic novels, but never quite completed them. In 2008, after receiving a good swift kick of motivation from a good friend, I just dived in and started writing seriously. I think she got tired on me yakking on about it. Three months later, I had the first draft of my very first manuscript! But, I couldn’t end there. Trilogy came to mind. Since then, I’ve completed the second and third in the Lancaster series, which I’m currently self-editing now, trying to get them ready for submission.
Tell us a little bit about your book, Lancaster Rule?
It’s basically about a young woman who sleeps in a suspension pod for 300 years. She awakes to find a completely different world from the one she left behind. The world is now run by a totalitarian government. She then has to learn to survive in this new and quite terrifying world, encountering all sorts of dangers and adventures along the way. She learns to survive, she helps uncover deadly plots to take over the world, she finds her true self, and, she finds love.
The story is the first in a trilogy. What can you tell us about the upcoming books?
The second in the series, The Master Key takes place a few months after the first book ends. Just when our heroine thinks her life is finally normal, she’s thrown back into her past where she uncovers the real truth about her family and why she wasn’t resuscitated and left to sleep for 300 years. All the questions she thought were lost through the stretches of time, have now come back to smack her in the face. A few characters/villains from the first book come back to weave the story together, with some pretty surprising twists. And, in The Master Key, she gets to go into outer space!
The third, The Eternal Knot, pretty much continues where the second left off…again, a few months later. All the remaining unanswered questions come into play in this one. Again, her past plays a key role in the story, but there is the definite feel of a final showdown—where she can finally bury her past and live a normal life in her new future. The little loose ends are neatly tied up as well.
Are you published in print, electronic formats or both?
At the moment, The Lancaster Rule is in electronic format. It will eventually be published in print format. My publisher is Champagne Books and can be found at http://www.champagnebooks.com. Just click the ebook link and search for the book.
You mention on your website that you began as an artist, do you think that has helped you as a writer? Does the visual artist ever conflict with the author?
I am an artist, yes…still am. That’s the day job that pays the bills (groans dramatically). I can’t say it helps or doesn’t help since I never really thought of it that way. I think it’s more of an extension, another arm of self-expression. Whereas art is visual and the end result varies depending on the viewers thoughts or perspective, writing, I think is a very literal way of ‘getting the point across.’ So, yes, maybe it helps because I can combine the two fairly harmoniously. It’s like advertising, depending on the copy that goes with the visual, the results will vary and a product will or won’t sell.
Does it ever conflict? Not really. When I’m writing, I retire the artist.
Lancaster Rule has a very unique premise, can you tell us where your inspiration came from?
Hmm, good question. Well, I’ve always liked adventure, science fiction, fantasy and a little mind-bending realities. I basically wanted to tell a story that was fun and had aspects of all the above. But it had to have some form of realistic base. I mentioned before in another interview that I unless there’s some realistic aspect, I immediately start to question it. Like suspension pods can happen, the way science is progressing. But I’m not so sure are cryogenics. Sleeping you can wake, but to me, frozen mean very dead… So, with that in mind, I used that a suspension pod as the vessel to carry my heroine into the future. I researched a lot online to get some basic facts, but the rest, I just made up as I went. As to what inspired me, well…I just wanted to create a future that was exciting, dangerous and hopefully, unforgettable.
How much time did you spend on worldbuilding?
It did take me some time, after I completed the first draft, filling in bits and pieces to build the world I wanted to create. I had to make sure I put a lot of futuristic elements into the story, but write it like it was nothing new to the people living in it. Of course, the heroine discovers these new things as the story goes along, because well, they’re new to her, but I didn’t want it to dominate or get too technical. I concentrated more on the interactions between people, since, I’m guessing that even in 300 years, basic human behaviours will still remain the same—unfortunately. From good to bad, even a millennia hasn’t caused people to really change that much.
You have an exciting promotion coming up! Tell us how we can win a copy of Lancaster Rule?
Yes, I do! I have another book review coming out July 22 as well as a guest blog post to go with it. Everyone will have a chance to win a free PDF copy of The Lancaster Rule. All you have to do is leave a comment, or even ask me another question that’s on their mind (I will answer it, of course) and there you go. A chance to win a book! So click on over to Reading, Reading and Life – http://www.readingreadingandlife.blogspot.com