Thursday, December 4, 2014

Feature: Lance Erlick author of The Rebel Trap

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Title: The Rebel Trap
Series: Rebel #2
Author: Lance Erlick
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Genre: YA Sci-Fi


Voices in 16-year-old Annabelle Scott’s head aren’t God or signs she’s going mad—yet. Despite being a Mech Warrior recruit, she rebels against her post-Second Civil War society by not only refusing to kill Morgan, a boy she’s attracted to, but also helping him escape. 

Annabelle’s commander gives her auditory implants and contact cams for an undercover assignment to investigate her corrupt police captain. Morgan hacks the implants to plead for her help in freeing his brother. As a pawn in a bigger game, can she find a way to help Morgan and discover the link between an attempted assassination of her adoptive mom, the geek institute, and her police captain without falling into a trap, being exiled and separated from family, or getting herself and those she cares about killed?

The Rebel Trap was written as a standalone story, but also follows Annabelle’s adventures from The Rebel Within.

On Sale for $2.99 until December 8th!

The Rebel Within (Rebel #1)–On Sale for $.99 until December 8th!

Rebels Divided (Rebel #3)–On Sale for $2.99 until December 8th!
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Writers seem to follow one of two approaches to storytelling. Some do extensive outlining to the point they know what will happen and when in the story before they begin to write. Others have a sense of where the story begins and ends and explore the story as they write. Both approaches work, though authors often find one fits best with their style and temperament.
I’ve used both. I first wrote Rebels Divided (now the third book in the series) and did heavy outlining. The story involves merging of storylines. Outlining allowed me to make sure they would work well before I started writing. After Rebels Divided, I felt inspired by Annabelle to write her story: The Rebel Within. Because I knew so much about her, Annabelle’s story wrote itself, as if she were narrating the story to me. That’s why the story ended up in first person.
My lesson was that each story might call for a different approach. At a minimum, I need to know where a story begins and ends, and the major hurdles the protagonist will face.

What tips can you give on how to get through writers block?
Writer’s block plagues most writers at least sometime during their writing careers. They stare at a blank page and nothing comes forth. I’ve been fortunate so far to have avoided such stress. I attribute this to my approach.
The human mind has two ways of experiencing the writing process: creative and editorial critique. It’s a natural response to parental, teacher, and peer criticism over the years to have an editor sit on our shoulder. That critic says things like, “That won’t work.” “That’s not the right word.” “That’s trash.”
This editor will stifle our creative process if we don’t turn it off. There’ll be time later to rework and polish our story. Creative writing is like modeling clay. We can’t mold the clay until we get it on the spinning wheel.
Assuming we silence the critic on our shoulder, the other problem I’ve seen is trying to write a story before we’re ready. We get our protagonist into a fix and have no idea how to get him or her out. At times like this, it helps to step back and let the subconscious mind mull the problem. When I return later, the answer often presents itself. Forcing the answer rarely does.
While writing Rebels Divided, I had this problem. The story begins with Annabelle and Geo as enemies. I needed them to meet in such a way that would throw them together despite mutual distrust. Rather than pushing through this dilemma, I moved around it to write other parts of the story. When I returned, the answer presented itself in what I hope readers will find as creative and satisfying ways.

What inspired you to write this book?
The Rebel series grew out of two things. First was all the anger in this country and my-way-or-highway politics in which there was no middle ground. I wondered what would happen if that rage boiled over and extremists on both sides got their way, dividing the country after a second civil war.
While I was imagining what this world would look like, I read about fertility research. To my knowledge, this hasn’t been done—yet. But the research made a compelling addition to the series. It involves taking skin cells from one person, coaxing them into a stem-cell state, and using the resulting cells to fertilize an egg. While it’s intended to help infertile men, it raises the possibility of two women having a biological child, and a society with only females.
These ideas came together to create a society that challenges our traditional male-dominated world to explore the effects of one that discriminates against males.
I wondered what interesting characters would inhabit this world. Instead of politicians, I wanted characters with the most at stake, the young. I considered a male protagonist, but felt a young woman coming to terms with her society would make a more interesting protagonist. Annabelle was born.
The Rebel Trap is the second book in the Rebel series. Readers asked me what happened between The Rebel Within and Rebels Divided. With all the surveillance around us today, I thought it would be interesting to challenge Annabelle not only with being watched, but also with voices in her head from implants.

What is your writing process?
Story ideas strike me when I least expect them—while driving, in the shower, or asleep. Perhaps I should design a self-driving shower that I can sleep in along with writing implements that won’t short out or get soggy.
When ideas, characters, and situations inspire me to where I have the passion to write a story, I’ll look at a tentative beginning, end, and major hurdles the protagonists will face. While I try to flesh out the story, I’ll do necessary research and often find inspiration while not writing to fill in story gaps. In the cast of the Rebel series, I accumulated 60,000 words of notes on the world and story before I started writing. Although to be fair, I often wake in the middle of the night with scenes in my head.
By the time I sit down to write, I have a good idea of where the story begins and ends and the character arc of the story. If I feel the need, I’ll do heavy outlining. If I already have a good sense of the story flow, I might launch into writing, but only if I already know the climax and ending. I start actual writing from the beginning, but often jump around as the story inspires me until I have a complete rough draft.
Then I go through several runs at editing. This is my least favorite part of the writing process, but I believe I owe my readers the best edited stories I can. I take several passes. First, I make sure the story holds together. Second, I look at texture; enough to give the story a good feel without slowing it down. Third, I fix grammar and verbiage. I’ll make a polish run and then have outside readers edit it, readers who have no vested interest in my story.

Have you had anything else published?
Yes. The Rebel Trap, which was just released, has become the second book in a three book series and arose out of reader requests to see what happened right after the first book. While the books were written as standalone stories, they can best be read in order.
The first book in the series is The Rebel Within: Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Scott lives under the iron rule of a female-dominated régime that forces males to fight to the death to train the military elite. When Annabelle resists, her defiance endangers everyone she loves and thrusts her to a place of impossible life and death decisions.
Rebels Divided has become the third book in the series: Geo Shaw is a young frontiersman from the Outlands and a sworn enemy of the female-dominated Federal Union. Annabelle Scott is a Mechanized Warrior for the Union. When each is betrayed by their own government, they have to overcome mutual distrust to rely on each other in order to survive.
In addition to the Rebel series, I have two unrelated science fiction short stories available: Maiden Voyage and Watching You.

What's your next project?
While I have had several requests for more books in the Rebel series, I’m committed to a new series I hope will be available by the middle of 2015.
The protagonist is a young woman condemned to live on the seaward side of Great Barrier Walls intended to hold back rising seas due to abrupt climate change. As an outcast, she faces the storm of a lifetime while pursued by the World Federation which believes her DNA can help them avoid extinction.

About The Author

Lance Erlick grew up in various parts of the United States and Europe. He took to stories as his anchor and was inspired by his father’s engineering work on cutting-edge aerospace projects to look to the future. He studied creative writing at Northwestern University and University of Iowa.

He writes science fiction, dystopian and young adult stories and likes to explore the future implications of social and technological trends. He’s the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he flips traditional exploitation to explore the effects of a world that discriminates against males and the consequences of following conscience for those coming of age.

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