Interview With “Z”

It isn’t often an author has the opportunity to have a sit-down with one of his or her main characters. After all, these people are pretty busy chasing down bad guys, and getting in and out of trouble. However, I managed to corner one of my main characters in Legacy 627, and the main character in my upcoming novel, Z’s Legacy, for a little chat.

RLM Cooper: Z, tell us a bit about CIMA and the CIB here in Cascadia.

Z: The CIB is rather like the United States’ CIA, FBI, and NSA all rolled into one. Cascadia, as you know, is a small country compared to the larger USA and it was felt we didn’t need so many different organizations. CIMA, pronounced SEE-ma, is the mission wing of the CIB as opposed to the research and information-gathering divisions.

RLM Cooper: Doesn’t it feel odd that your mother, your home, is still in the United States?

Z: Not really. The secession of Oregon, California, Washington, and Hawaii from the U.S. to form our current country of Cascadia happened a long time before I was even born. I always knew I would come here. At least I knew it since I was a teenager.

RLM Cooper: How’s that? Why here when everything you knew was back in Alabama?

Z: Well, it was attached to the United States, you know? Like Mexico and Canada. So I worked my way west until I was at the Cascadian border where my sister Alex’s father noticed me and took me into the country and under his care. He even adopted me even though I was already 18 years old by then.

RLM Cooper: But why leave your home in the first place?

Z: I’d rather not get into that. Things happened. Things I’m not comfortable talking about.

RLM Cooper: I see. We will skip that, then. Did you feel strange being a young Black woman in a white family?

Z: Not really. Alex, my sister, and I couldn’t be closer if we had been twins.

RLM Cooper: You and Alex are both in the #2 division of CIMA, right?

Z: Yes. Along with several other team members. When Alex’s–and my–father was killed, the CIB retired the CIMA-1 designation and CIMA-2 became the number one team.

RLM Cooper: Ah yes! That was a great loss to the CIB and to the country. Tell me about CIMA-2 today. Tell me about your team members. What are they like?

Z: Sorry for laughing, but no one has ever asked that before. Not sure where to start.

RLM Cooper: Well, just start with Alex.

Z: Alex. The beautiful, blonde, spiky-haired Alex. Even the scar on the left side of her face couldn’t mar her. She’s perfect. To look at her you would think she’s just a girlie girl. All soft and pink. But she’s made of some really tough stuff. She’s someone you want on your side playing ball or doing battle. She’s kind. Loving. Strong-willed and very, very smart. She’s our puzzle solver. Why are you smiling?

RLM Cooper: You seem to love her very much and it makes me happy, somehow, just hearing you describe her. Tell me about her partner, Parker West.

Z: Parker! He’s a real character. Good-natured. Always joking around. He comes from a very wealthy family. Two brothers. One, a lawyer. The other in the medical field. Doing research, I believe. Parker was never interested in anything like that. He was the the adventurous type. Always doing risky stuff. Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, climbing mountains, that kind of thing. Just looking for the thrill. He joined the military and was so good at it, they groomed him to be a sniper. He and Alex make good partners.

RLM Cooper: How about your own partner. I believe his name is Gray Hawk?

Z: Yes. Gray. He was orphaned in Arizona and brought to this country by the couple who found him and took him in as their own. I think I can safely say I have never in my entire life seen a more gorgeous man than Gray. He’s stealthy quiet and deadly calm in every situation. He reads people better than anyone I’ve ever met, too. You know how people always say that if a dog doesn’t like someone, you need to think twice about trusting that person? Gray is like that. He has an instinct about people that is uncanny. And, of course, he thinks Alex hung the moon. Do people still say that? Hung the moon? Anyway, I think he loved her the first time he saw her.

RLM Cooper: How about your team leader. He’s called Viking, I believe.

Z: Viking. His name is Erik Larsen, but everyone calls him Viking. What can I tell you about him? He’s huge. Piercing blue eyes and wild beard and hair. He makes you feel like a little girl standing beside the biggest football player you’ve ever seen. He’s someone you trust absolutely. Everything he does, he does for the good of the team. He’s our weapons expert and knows more than I ever will. He’s our alpha-wolf, always bringing up the rear where he can keep an eye on us all. I would trust my life to him in a heartbeat.

RLM Cooper: He sounds like someone I would love to know. You mentioned football. Are you a fan of the sport?

Z: Yes. I have to own up to it. You can, to borrow a saying, take the girl out of Alabama, but you can’t take Alabama out of the girl. I have always loved football. It’s unlike any other sport I know. It’s ordered chaos. It’s chess on a hundred-yard field. Yes. You could say I’m a fan.

RLM Cooper: I seem to recall there is another member of the CIMA-2 team. Tell me a bit about him.

Z: Budgie. He’s on the edge of autistic. He’s our information systems guy. He can find out nearly anything you want to know. The problem with Budgie is getting the information out of him once he has it. It’s not that he doesn’t want to tell you, it’s just that he can’t really find the immediate words to tell you. Alex is best for getting the information because he has a crush on her. She teases him and loves him like a brother. I think he would do anything for her.

RLM Cooper: I understand that when Alex turned thirty, she claimed a legacy and that legacy took your team on a wild ride through the American south a couple of years ago. You were wounded on that mission, weren’t you?

Z: Yes. It was really nothing. I’m fine.

RLM Cooper: I also understand you just recently passed your own thirtieth birthday and also claimed a legacy. Can you tell us what it was?

Z: It was a blue stone in a brooch. I don’t wear much jewelry so I gave it to my mother.

RLM Cooper: You just returned from that trip, is that right? Want to tell me about it?

Z: It turned out to be more than a visit, but no. I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

RLM Cooper: Well, let me know when you are ready. I’d love to hear all about it. Meanwhile, I have to say you have the most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen. What do you do to keep it looking like this?

Z: Soap and water and aloe vera gel. Not very glamorous, I’m afraid.

RLM Cooper: Whatever it is, I’m trying it. Thank you so much, Z. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Z: My pleasure, as well.

Cover Reveal!

The cover of the sequel to Legacy 627 has been decided and the design is complete. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It perfectly captures a scene near the end of the book. I hope you will like it as much as I do. (The book, itself, will be published early next year).

Symbolism in Fiction

In school I always wondered about the professor’s comments regarding symbolism in fiction. In the short story, “The Blue Hotel,” I distinctly remember the prof pointing out that the color was important in that it symbolized something sinister. Something “off.”

“Who paints a house or hotel blue?” she asked.

The answer today, of course, is: lots of people. My best friend’s house was blue. My cousin painted her house blue. There was nothing sinister about either. This, of course, is not to say my professor was wrong. For the time the story was written she was likely correct.

Symbolism in our own work, and in our own time, sometimes escapes even ourselves. Yet, often, it is there.

In my novel, Legacy 627, there is a young man named Paul. He is the friend of one of my protagonists. It is no mistake that we see almost nothing from Paul’s point of view. We come to know him only through Rachael and her journal. He is an important character: sensitive and intelligent—a brilliant conversationalist. He is alone and sad, having lost both his partner/friend and his mother. He is also gay.

It is no accident that he lives on the periphery of my novel just as he does in his fictional life. His deliberate placement on that periphery is symbolic of what society has done — and continues to do — to him and to people like him. He is marginalized by those homophobes and xenophobes whose righteous bigotry would have him not exist at all, and he ultimately dies at their hands.

Why was this character in my novel at all? Because I have something to say. Sometimes you find the “saying” so important you must write it. Sometimes what you have to say — and what you do say — is so important and so timely you find a way. And sometimes symbolism is the best way, owing to the impact it can have.

Hitting the reader over the head isn’t nearly as powerful as reaching into his/her depths and finding that one nerve, that one chord of compassion that resonates and turns on an inner light, however dim.

Symbolism, I believe, accomplishes by stealth what shouting cannot ever hope to do. So whether you use symbolism directly or indirectly, it is a powerful tool when you have something to say. And, as a writer, you should always have something to say.

Sequel to Legacy 627

I’m happy to announce the sequel to Legacy 627 has been completed and is now at the publishers awaiting a read, an okay, a contract, editing, and ….we hope….publishing.

It was such fun to write. A continuation of the Cascadian team of characters along with some new ones I hope you will find both interesting and entertaining.

Cover reveal as soon as publisher gives okay.

Hang in there with me. This one is a good one!

The Inheritance

My flash fiction story, “The Inheritance,” has been published today in the Galaxy 2 sci-fi anthology published by Clarendon House. It is available now at Amazon

This is a strange little tale and a departure from my usual style. I hope you will consider purchasing this volume as your purchases support the many authors who work very hard to entertain. And I hope you will enjoy my small contribution as well.

Legacy 627: An Excerpt

Gulf of Mexico
USA Central time 12:45 a.m.

Gray leaned against the bulkhead and peered out the window at the water below. Under the full moon the surface of the Gulf appeared to shimmer beneath a silvery glaze. The weather report had warned that a hurricane was just beginning to whip up southern waters down by Cuba, but it didn’t appear the outer reaches had touched the major area of the Gulf as yet.

He hoped the weather would hold off until everyone was out of harm’s way and safely aboard. Avoiding chaos and danger was always high on Gray’s list of preferables.

The tiltrotor had been in the air for less than fifteen minutes. They wouldn’t arrive for another three hours at best. He knew the CIMA-2 team was the best in the CIB, and he had every confidence they would be there when he arrived. Still, he was finding it difficult to put it all out of his mind. He needed to sleep while he could. He would be needed when they reached the target area.

But what if they weren’t there? What if he arrived too late to save them?

~~~****~~~

You can get your copy today at Amazon and other booksellers.

ITW Member!

I am very excited to announce that I am now a member of International Thriller Writers. My book, Legacy 627, has been entered by my publisher into their annual Thriller Awards Best First Novel competition!