Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review and Q&A: Smasher by Scott Bly

In this riveting suspense thriller, two children race the clock to stop a futuristic murderer and his plan to enslave the world.

In thirty days, a cold-hearted corporate tycoon will unleash a deadly biological computer virus on the entire world. As the public eagerly awaits his invention that promises ultimate relaxation, harmony, and community, the evil big-business sorcerer plans to put an end to freedom.

Can he be stopped? The world's only hope is if Charlie, a math genius with otherworldly skills, and Geneva, a robotic girl from the future, can team up to track down some very dark secrets. With a method that uses atomic particles, Geneva and Charlie use "Smasher" to break through the walls of time. They travel to find an unlikely solution. But will it work?

Fresh, unique, and gripping, this page-turner also celebrates the power of love, hope, and friendship as it also raises provocative questions about technology, progress, and the nature of persecution.

This book has some great elements.  Great characters, some good some evil , mixed with an interesting and original plot with short chapters that made for a fast read.  I believe that kids grades 3-7 will find this book entertaining and fun to read.  I applaud  Bly for writing for the kids and giving them something special to read. 3.5 stars

Scott Bly
Scott's website
Q.  What inspires your writing?
A.  I have always been a lover of stories.  From my childhood, the opportunity to get lost in a world, in an exciting tale, has been my favorite thing to do.  As a kid we would play imagination games, which developed into role playing games – all of which take place in the shared mental picture of the players.  Those worlds that we created to pass the time informed the imagination of my writing as an adult.  I was always interested in technology as well – I was a nerd way before it was cool!  So as a techie, blending the worlds of the possible and make-believe involves a lot of hypothetical thinking about what technology might be able to do, and what are the limits.  The inspiration for me comes from the stitching together of all these elements into a compelling narrative with interesting characters.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. Having the opportunity to share a story that never existed before -- to have taken a blank page, that blinking cursor, and sweating out all the details that result in an adventure for a reader -- to be able to discuss the story and the intricacies with them and be asked questions that never would have occurred to me – those are the things that keep it exciting for me.  I love the feeling of flying in uncharted territory as the story comes together.  And there’s a big similarity when I’m put on the spot and asked questions about that world – you just never know what could come next.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A.  The blank page and the blinking cursor!  It’s a very cold and unforgiving sight that constantly reminds you of the inadequacy of your imagination.  “The page wouldn’t be blank if you knew what you were doing,” it seems to taunt.

Q.  If you could not be writer, what would you do/be?
A.  I own a computer consulting business, which occupies a lot of my time.  I enjoy solving the technology problems that people encounter in their daily lives.  So I currently do that, and I anticipate continuing to do so.  I’m also a musician, and I do very much miss the rehearsing, performing, and recording process.  Unfortunately there are only 24 hours in any given day, and about a third of that time has to be spent asleep (although I average more like 5-6 hours a night).  So, when I had someone offering me a book contract instead of a record contract, I knew that I needed to focus my creative energies on writing.  I’m thrilled to have this opportunity as a writer.  But I also miss the immediacy of performance and the instant feedback from the audience.  You can tell right in the moment whether you’re connecting with someone on an emotional level.  With writing, or filmmaking (one of my other former lives) there’s a lot of work that goes into everything ahead of time for an extended period, in total isolation, and you get your connection back from the audience much later.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
A.  Shotguns vs Laser Beams – how one dude who loved to do everything at once had to learn to focus before he could cut through the noise

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
A.  Come on, that’s no fair!  What’s yours?  There are so many.  Like movies and bands, there are the top ten lists that fluctuate.  There are good elements and great elements in so many!  My favorite right now, at this moment?  Probably Stephen King’s THE DRAWING OF THE THREE from the Dark Tower series.  I really like the larger story arcs from an entire series – when someone can pull that all together like THE LORD OF THE RINGS or a TV series like BREAKING BAD (Yes, I have dark sensibilities) it just blows my mind.  I think King accomplished that in a really unique and mind-bending way with the Dark Tower series, but I recall feeling that THE DRAWING OF THE THREE felt the most foreign, and the had the most raw emotion as the characters struggled to grapple with the otherworldly nature of the experience.  I’m sure tomorrow I’ll feel completely different.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A.  Probably Hiro Protagonist from Neal Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH -- Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world.  I also used to deliver pizza for the Mafia.

Q.  What character from all of your books are you most like?
A.  I’m definitely most like Charlie in SMASHER.  His smart mouth and his differences get him in trouble with the bigger kids.  Although we don’t see much of his lippy quality in the book, that’s what’s happening “off screen”.  And his struggle to make something of himself, to make the strong choices and be brave – those are the choices I try to make.  Although, I’m also a lot like Gramercy Foxx, since I’m obviously trying to take over the world.  Who is your master?

Q.  Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A.  Great question – I wish I had a great answer, but I’m drawing a nearly total blank.  SNOW CRASH again, with the digital virtual reality stuff seems pretty cool.  But you know, Middle Earth is pretty fantastic, especially the New Zealand version of it from the movies.  So, THE TWO TOWERS would be a great weekend vacay.

Q.  What is your favorite season?
A.  Nationwide -- fall.  Although here in LA there kind of aren’t seasons, and the weather is almost perfect year round, which isn’t nearly as awesome as it sounds.  So my favorite season here is any day it’s a little cool and overcast without being smoggy.  Those are pretty common in Santa Monica because of the marine layer and stuff.

Q.  What inspired your book cover(s)?  Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A.  My book cover was inspired by Charlie’s descent into the world of The Future – I saw one reviewer mention that the event on the cover actually happens, which I guess in a manner of speaking it does, but I always pictured it as a little less literal than that.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
A.  Well, this is my first book, and my first interview for that book, and my first real promotional effort for the book aside from just spouting off on Twitter.  So, I think the funniest thing that has happened in this interview is me saying that I’m like Hiro Protagonist.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
A.   Yes, I’m over halfway through with the follow up to SMASHER.  So hopefully the world is interested in reading more.  I’m also developing the ideas for a third.  And there’s a totally separate teen dysfunctional romance ghost story that deals with mental illness and eating disorders percolating.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read, well, anything at all!  Flappy Bird is very difficult to put down, so I understand the challenges facing the modern homo-sapien.  Please buy copies of SMASHER so that Scholastic will let me write another book.  And remember to tip your waiter or waitress – if you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip well.  

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