"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Monday, November 26, 2012

Virtual Book Tour: #Giveaway & Interview with author Larry Ivkovich - The Sixth Precept

Welcome to Immortality and Beyond. May I offer you a drink?

I’d like the Witches Brew, please. J

Zar, our Zombie Butler will fetch that for you. Zar…

Thank you Zar.

*Drools* while handing drink over…

*Rolling eyes* You may return to your quarters now. Please don’t mind him, sometimes he just gets so excited when we have guest authors. He’s only ever bitten somebody once, *grins*.

Now that we’re settled in, let’s chat. Shall we? 

Larry will be offering you a chance to win  a copy of The Sixth Precept, signed and in paperback, so be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter below.

BK: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

1982. I remember that date vividly because it was when I took my first creative writing course at a local community college and just fell in love with the art. I used to write and draw comic books on scratch pads when I was a kid but really started taking it seriously as an adult.

BK: Please share with us how your current release came to life...

I had written four short stories featuring the protagonist of my book, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, before I got inspired to write the novel. When I realized I was essentially writing a short story series, I decided to take the plunge for a longer work. I liked my protagonist, Kim Yoshima, a Pittsburgh police officer, and wanted to expand her adventures. I have an interest in medieval Japan and that fit right in with my Japanese-American character. Though I didn’t include any ancient Japanese tropes in the short stories, they became a major source of inspiration for the novel. I incorporated a couple of scenes from the short stories (though changed and rewritten) and added a few new characters. The ancient Japan parts take place during the time referred to in Japanese history as the Muramachi or Warring States Period, which was almost a century of continual warfare among the warlords (daimyo) and the samurai. I felt that was an exciting time to place part of my novel in. It just all followed from there.

BK: Do you let your characters tell the story, or do you often fight with them on the direction it will take?

I often fight with them. It’s true that they take on a life of their own sometimes! For example, in THE SIXTH PRECEPT, one of my characters, a nameless female Shadow-Tracker (an animal/human hybrid) who was only to play a small role initially, became much more important to the plot as I wrote. It was an interesting development and I’m glad of the final results.

BK: How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?

I do use some urban fantasy tropes, of course, like supernatural/mythological creatures existing in our world, an urban or city landscape as the setting and a kick-butt heroine. However, in The SIXTH PRECEPT, I included some science fiction elements (time travel, esper powers, alternate dimensions), horror (the Shadow-Trackers) and even some comic book elements (the Batman-like hero, ArcNight). I call it my “kitchen sink” novel because I have this mix of disparity throughout the story but it flows pretty smoothly and people tell me it all works. I like genre-mixing or mashups.

BK: Which character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?

Kim Yoshima. I feel like I’m able to write from a female perspective pretty well and Kim was actually easy for me to write on the whole. She’s smart, strong-willed, independent, giving and tolerant. She’s not perfect, however, possessing flaws like all of us—being a workaholic and keeping most people at a distant, among others. But that’s what makes her so interesting, warts and all. Plus, if I was in trouble, I’d want her on my side!

BK: Tell us about the one scene you had the most fun writing…

Chapter 9, which takes place in 2010 Pittsburgh where Kim encounters a Shadow-Tracker for the first time. It’s starts out slowly, introducing the hybrid from his own POV and then showing Kim and her friend, Lazo Sibulovich, discussing ancient Japan and Kim’s ancestry but then becomes an action-packed thriller with the Shadow-Tracker attacking a very freaked-out Kim. I enjoy “monster-on-the-loose” stories so it was fun tapping into that interest for this chapter.

BK: If you were stranded on an island, which character in your books would you most want to be stranded with and why, and what is one thing that would be a must-have?

Kim again. Not because she’s female and gorgeous either! J She’s a very resourceful person with experience in all manner of strange situations so I think she’d be a perfect choice to get us back to civilization. The survivors on the television show “Lost” could have used her. As far as the must-have—a crate full of books. I couldn’t get by without reading.

BK: Now for a little fun, tell us a bit about what your office looks like. Do you need silence to write?

My officer is small, actually being one of the two spare bedrooms of our house (the second is my wife’s office). It’s got book cases with still many unread books lining the shelves, a reading chair (which has been taken over by our cats), a small table and my desk and PC. I’ve got a couple of framed Michael Whelan posters hanging on the wall—he’s my favorite fantastic artist. The office is usually pretty messy and unorganized but, honestly, for the most part I don’t know how to work any other way. I don’t necessarily need silence to write. When I caught the bus to work everyday a few years ago, I’d write on my HP Mini netbook with no problem, despite the noise and conversation. But, I’d rather have the quiet.

BK: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Reading, watching movies, beer tastings, getting together with friends, going for walks with my wife.

BK: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?

I used to play the accordion when I was a kid and was in a thirty-piece accordion band. We won first prize in a music festival for our rendition of “The William Tell Overture.” I’m not kidding.

BK: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever wanted to write, or have written, even if it never reached public eyes?

I wrote a very, very short story titled “Her Fiend-Like Appendages” where my alien characters just spouted complete gibberish. It was fun to write but nobody liked it.

BK: What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?

Keep trying! If you get a rejection from one market, send it out immediately to the next one. Perseverance does pay off.

BK: What can we expect from you in the future?

I have a second book coming out next year from IFWG Publishing. It’s called MAGUS STAR RISING and is a futuristic science fiction novel. I’m currently working on the sequel to THE SIXTH PRECEPT.

BK: Where can readers connect with you?

Facebook fan/author page - http://www.facebook.com/LarryIvkovich

Larry Ivkovich is an IT professional and the author of several science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novellas, published online and in various print publications and anthologies including M-Brane SF, Afterburn SF, Penumbra, Twisted Cat Tales, Abaculus III, Raw Terror, Triangulations, Shelter of Daylight and SQ Magazine. He has also been a finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and was the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund Award for fiction. His debut urban fantasy novel, THE SIXTH PRECEPT, is now available from IFWG Publishing, Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He is a member of two local writing/critique groups, the Pittsburgh Southwrites and the Pittsburgh Worldrights, and lives in Coraopolis, PA with his wife Martha and cats Trixie and Milo. 

Genre – Urban Fantasy
Publisher – IFWG Publishing
Release Date – November, 2011
The Sixth Precept In 16th century medieval Japan, Yoshima Mitsu, who is gifted with psychic powers, uses her prescient abilities to send her young attendant, Shioko, into the future. There, Mitsu believes Shioko will be safe from the purges of the maniacal warlord Omori Kadanamora, his warrior monks and his half-human, half-bestial Shadow-Trackers. In present-day Pittsburgh, police Lieutenant Kim Yoshima is attacked by a creature out of someone’s twisted nightmare. In the aftermath of that terrifying struggle, Kim finds a young Japanese girl named Shioko, lost, confused and calling Kim “Mitsu” and her monstrous attacker a “Shadow-Tracker.” Wayne Brewster dreams of the costumed hero, ArcNight. But more than that, he feels bizarrely connected to the fictional crime fighter as if ArcNight and his comic book world are real. And in all of his dreams, Brewster sees one constant, one face repeated over and over--the face of Kim Yoshima. Empowered by a mysterious book, The Five Precepts to Enlightenment, Kim realizes her destiny is in the past. Using her own burgeoning esper powers, Kim, accompanied by Shioko and Brewster, travel by means of a temporal rift to feudal Japan. There they must assume different personas to fight Omori and creatures of Japan’s mythological world to fulfill ancient prophesy and modern historical fact. If they fail, history will be altered and the world will change forever.
EXCERPT #2 – Pittsburgh, PA 2010

Kim heard the shot just as she was putting her briefcase into her car. She didn’t think twice, her instincts taking over. She pulled her Sig P228 and an extra clip from her backpack, threw the pack into the back seat and headed for the lot’s exit door.
The door had a special keyed locking system on the outside to keep possible intruders out. From within the parking lot, it was essentially an emergency exit. She looked up at the security camera stationed above the door and thought about contacting Joe, Lazo’s security head. No time, she decided. Besides, there was no need for two people to be in a possible line-of-fire. Once she took stock of the situation, she’d call for backup on her cell phone. She punched the button and as the door shussed open, exited the lot.
The humidity was all over her; heavy, moist air settling on her skin like a hot towel. It had stopped raining but the streets steamed; the glow of the streetlights cast an eerie luminescence throughout the empty block. She blinked, creeping into the shadows at the side of the garage and then, quickly, opened the section of gating outside the emergency exit and jogged out into the street.
No sounds. Nothing. The street was devoid of life.
That was when she saw the figure walk out into the light.
It’s her. The Yomitsu. The Eminent Lord be praised!
The shadow-tracker felt a thrill of another kind as he saw his target, gun in hand, crouching across the street. Her scent, even at this distance, filled him to the bursting.
I can take her, he thought, his head throbbing as he blinked the spots from his eyes. I can bring her back to the masters myself! The hell with their rules! The situation had become something entirely different. She was so close! Why shouldn’t he take advantage of this? The masters would know then, that despite his miscalculation on the three gang members, despite the wound he had incurred as a result, that he had still served his purpose.
Yes, he thought, rising to his feet. He would make his mark, no matter what. He walked out of the alley.
The silhouette was tall, lean, moving like a dancer, sinuous and mincing. The muted light revealed some kind of tight-fitting garment clinging to its body. Its hair was long, knotted into thin corn rows. Its eyes reflected the light as…yellow?
Something sharp glinted from the tips of its fingers.
What in heaven? Kim raised her gun. The figure stopped, its form backlit by a wavering glow from the alley behind it.
Trash fire? This one doesn’t look like your typical street person.
The figure began to move again, loping (yes, loping was the right word) toward her, its motion controlled and precise like a gymnast.
Stop right there!” Kim cried. “Police officer!”
The figure entered a pool of streetlight, its face briefly illuminated.
It was the face of an animal.
Freeze!” Kim yelled, a chill running up her back. “Stop or I’ll shoot!”
The creature speeded up, suddenly charging like a sprinter on overdrive. Kim fired once over its head. No effect. It was only a few feet away now, its arms and legs moving in a whirlwind of motion. My God! Kim thought, her fear building. She aimed a kill-shot, straight at the creature’s head.
The thing shifted to its right, dodging the bullet as if the deadly projectile was moving in slo-mo. It reached a clawed hand out toward Kim, its suddenly visible face stretched into a ghastly parody of a smile.
Kim threw her body sideways. She fell, rolling on her side, the pavement smacking her hard. She felt a crunching pain on her waist.
She pulled herself to her feet, breathing fast, holding her luger with both hands extended in front of her.
Her breath caught in her throat. The creature was down.
Kim blinked. The thing was fast, unnaturally fast. It should have had her. She was positive it had dodged her bullet.
Yet, it lay facedown on the street, struggling to get up. This close, Kim could see the blood on the side of its head.
And that face. Inhuman features glared up at Kim. Man? Dog? It looked a combination of both—exaggerated bone structure, sharp teeth, high cheekbones, sloping forehead, yellow eyes.
Kim fell back a step, a sudden, unreasoning fear taking control. What is it? Both her hands shook as she tried to hold the gun steady. What—?
The creature suddenly leaped to its feet and flung itself at her, arms wide, mouth open. Kim fired and fell back, flinging her arms up over her head.
What? Kim looked wildly around her. The thing was gone. Where had it vanished to?
Have to call for backup! she thought frantically. And surely Joe saw what happened on the security cams! She started back towards the garage, hoping the gate would open again as she fumbled at her belt for her cell phone, looking over her shoulder. The fear was like a burning fire running through her system.
A low moaning floated through the night air. Kim stopped and turned back towards the alley. Someone’s hurt, she thought, licking her lips. Probably by that dog-thing.
Taking a deep breath, she jogged back toward the alley and stopped at its entrance, the skin between her shoulder blades tingling. If this dead-ends, I’m trapped. And yet I just can’t leave someone in there if they’ve been injured.
The moaning increased, a desperate sound radiating pain and confusion. Kim got her cell phone off of her belt. Got to call Lazo, she thought. Have to get—Damn! She stared dumbly at the cracked casing of the now-useless phone. That’s what I felt breaking when I hit the street. Cheap shit! The Captain’s going to hear about this!
She snorted. Listen to me. Come on, Yoshima, get your act together!
Darting another look back towards the street, Kim took a few tentative steps into the alley. “Who’s there?” she called, her mouth dry. “Are you hurt? I’m a police officer!”
A gurgling, wet sound answered her, a barely recognized imitation of speech. Gritting her teeth, Kim entered the alley.


Unknown said...

Great to learn more about you.

Larry Ivkovich said...

Thanks, Rebecca. The tour has been a real educational experience for me also! I'm really enjoying it. Thanks to BK for hosting me.