Thursday, September 29, 2011

Author interview with Katie Bridges and review of Warriors of the Edge: the Search for Stone

     Katie Bridges is the author of Warriors of the Edge: the Search for Stone. Her website can be viewed here.

1. Can you tell us a little about your book and yourself?

I’ve been writing stories since I was seven years old. My mother keeps reminding me that I was telling stories years before I could write. I must have been a born storyteller. Even when I write directions, it comes out as a story, with all sorts of curious details for people to ponder as they make their way to my house. I’ve tried my hand at all sorts of stories, romance, mystery, animal stories. But I always return to what is most comfortable and delightful for me, science fiction.

My book contains all the elements I love most about science fiction: futuristic cities, technological wonders, scientific experiments, dimensional life, and robots. I absolutely love robots, especially the cute kind. I imagined the kind of future I would want to live in and developed my ideas from there. Since I’m a huge fan of Disney parks, my future world needed to have some kind of theme park, only more advanced than anything we know of today. And so I came up with the Maze of Desires, a dimensional wonderland that utilizes space-splitting technology.

2. Throughout your novel, you created and explained the concept of "wit" games, types of programs that were installed in the brain to make learning less difficult. How did you come up with this concept? Can you further detail this technology and its purpose?

The idea for wit programs (wit stands for wired-in-teaching) came from my lifelong struggle with learning disabilities. These learning disabilities are tied in with my diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism). They involve difficulties with retaining new information, following instructions, and making sense of written and verbal communication. There have been times I wished for some kind of implanted program that would make learning easier for me. Once during grade school, I tried sleeping with my textbook under my pillow, hoping I would learn by osmosis. All I ended up with was a stiff neck. As a child, I thought it unfair that learning should come with such struggle when I was usually the one student in class most eager to learn. And so I invented a way for the students of the future to have an easier time of it. A student merely has to visit a wit clinic, get outfitted with a specialized cap, and within an hour or so, their brain is functioning at a higher level than before. Of course, no wit program can make a student want to learn. If the lessons are boring, no studying will get done, and the wit program will go underutilized.

Children typically have their first wit program installed in their brains within the first six months of life. The programs are easy to install and most have no side effects. Sometimes, with the more complex programs, the brain will get revved up too fast and thoughts will become jumbled, but this problem usually dies down over time. There is no limit to how many wit programs a brain can handle. The only deterrent to someone getting additional wit programs is cost. They’re very expensive. The more elaborate they are, the most expensive they can be. Some people have been accused of buying their way through medical school, simply because they can afford the kind of wit programs that guarantee they will pass every class. The one thing wit programs can’t do is lead to moments of creativity. It’s one thing to be able to recite facts quickly, it’s another thing to be inventive with those facts. But when an already creative mind is able to take on more facts through a wit program, amazing inventions are often the result.

3. If you were a player in "Warriors of the Edge", what do you think your game name would be?

My game name is Bridges. I create bridges, all sorts of bridges. I create bridges so that people can pass safely from one dimension to another. I create bridges linking one generation to another, making it possible for people to be more understanding of one another. I create bridges to the future, helping people see the possibilities that lie before them.

4. Do you feel like the characters in your novel are always moving "forward"? When are we, as individuals moving "backward"?

Sometimes my characters begin to drift backwards without realizing it. But as long as they have a sense of their destiny, it will pull them in the right direction before long. We run the risk of going backward when we stop looking forward. When all we can see are the problems we’ve just come through, we lose sight of what we can yet do with our lives. It can be a struggle to get moving forward after a disappointing defeat, but the forward march holds great promise of bringing us fulfillment again. Forward is always an exciting way to go.

5. I absolutely loved your book; can we look forward to seeing a sequel? Are you going to be appearing anywhere online or in person in the near future?

I am hard at work on my sequel. My first scene will take you to the capital of Interspersia, where the senators work. It is a place with amazing inventions not seen anywhere else in Interspersia. I have done an online interview with the Autism Society and am in the process of doing an interview with AWN (Autism Women’s Network). These interviews can be found on my website. I have not yet been scheduled to appear in person. But as soon as that happens, I will leave notice of it on my website.

6. Thanks so much for letting us review your book and spending your time answering these questions. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

When I write my first draft of a scene, I think of it as being like a flat tire. A flat tire needs to be pumped up so the vehicle can get moving. If I give the tire only a little bit of air, it will make for a bumpy ride. The more air it gets, the smoother the ride will be. I must keep pumping my scenes up with more details, more suspense, more unanswered questions, more tension, more danger, more inventions, more humor, more witty dialogue, and more fun. I think to myself, “My scene is flat. What can I do to put more air into this scene?” And just when I think it’s got enough air, I add a little bit more. I don’t want to add so much air that it explodes into a mess. Then my vehicle will crash and it will be difficult to sort out all the pieces and see where they belong. But I do want to make that tire as full as it can be. My advice for writing is to pump it up. Keep adding air. You’ll love the results.

     Reviewed by: Caressa
     I give it: 4.8/5 stars

     After searching for a book to review online, I found Kate's Blog(a blog with review requests from authors). I read the synopsis for Warriors on the Edge by Katie Bridges and fell in love with the description. Katie provided a copy of her novel free of charge, but everything from this point on is solely my opinion. ;)
          This novel was both unlike what I expected and anything I've every read before. I absolutely loved it. Bridges has found the perfect balance of plot and description, twisting and turning the story every second so that you can't look away and taking time to explore the worlds so clearly you can see it in your imagination perfectly. The passage of time was realistic without feeling too slow or fast AND the story still managed to feature a plethora of full supporting characters!I am very much in love with books that have epic, original plots (like this one!!) and characters-- supporting, main, and antagonists-- that feel like they belong in your English class, not a novel. This story had both. All the characters were real and developed.
          This story also felt pretty realistic, or at least romantically so, in certain regions. Kids were obsessed with video games, especially after a year of being unable to pass the first level. Without spoiling, the huge increase of players felt brilliant and interesting, really helping to close up the novel. The psychology, however, demonstrated in characters such as the freelance teacher Miss Jade and the lack of school curriculum felt a little far out there, even to me. I'm not sure we as people will be able to evolve that far for a long, long time.
          The cover art was also a little confusing, but I didn't really connect it with the novel at all. Even with the exceptional writing it took me a couple chapters to catch up to the narrator, but after I did I read through the rest of the book in one sitting. The interactions between the two worlds really connected a lot for me. I was left with a lot of anticipation for the next book in the series. There were so many questions and subplots through the novel I left satisfied with almost all of questions answered, and continued to create twice as many questions as there were originally.
          I recommend this novel for every sci-fi geek out there. I almost guarantee this will earn a place on your favorite books shelf. If you're not a fan of science fiction or the future, there's a lot of substance in the characters and relationships, and I think it'll be a fun read. I know I'll be suggesting this book to a great amount of friends. What about you?

          Thanks for joining us Katie! What would your game name be viewers?
          Player's names in the game Warriors of the Edge say something about them and their destiny (Ex. Stone, Butterfly, Friend).

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