Artificial Gods is the last in the Night's Dream trilogy, following We Shadows (4.5 stars) and Danse Macabre (5 stars).
All Jasmine wanted was a calm summer in Pine Bush. When she sees a UFO her first night home from college, she is willing to brush it off as swamp gas reflected off Venus, until two men arrive at her door to harass her into silence about a picture she did not take. Soon she realizes Men in Black may be the least of her worries and that ignoring the Grays and their plans for her will only embolden them. If she doesn't figure out why she is so interesting to aliens, Men in Black, and a mysterious man who seems to brush off harm, she may not have an autumn to look forward to.
Here are Thomm's answers to my author interview questions:
In a lot of ways, this was one of the stories I was always meant to tell. I was a voracious reader of the paranormal from the time I learned to read—I have no idea why—and becoming a fantasy author seemed one of the better uses of this knowledge. When I was five or six, I remember having seen of the one Great Hudson Valley UFOs (frequent sightings of massive, triangular ships in the sky in the 1980s that aroused international attention). I was terrified, but also gratified. Now people would understand how weird the world truly was.
My parents insist they have no recollection of this object and it does seem like the sort of thing that would stick out in one's mind. That experience, especially how baffled people are when I mention this sighting, was seed enough to inspire this book.
My upcoming book, Flies to Wanton Boys, marries the aftershocks of Artificial Gods and Danse Macabre. The daemons—the catch-all term for those children of mythology that quietly roam the earth—are growing more brazen in their interference with humanity and they attract the worst kind of attention.
I sketched out the rough idea, but it was nothing more than world-building. I needed a protagonist who could realistically inhabit and surmount this world, but everyone I tried to insert felt wrong and the story wouldn't coalesce around them. Around this time, a friend of mine killed himself. I coped by writing a story about it (“So It Passed,” which was featured in my anthology Find What YouLove and Let It Kill You), which I submitted to my local newspaper's short story competition. It was rejected outright, lacking both cheeriness and horse-riding, but I couldn't get the main character out of my mind. I slipped her into the world and suddenly it bloomed. This shy, damaged young woman who retreats into fantasy trying to cope with a death was exactly the sort who could succeed in the universe I created.
3. Panster or Plotter? Or in between?
In total, I think I have probably sent out a hundred query letters over the years and have gotten back perhaps thirty form rejections.
I have just posted an anthology of my shorter works to Amazon, called “Find What You Love and Let It Kill You.” Given the subject matter, I am making the ebook free on the Kindle on Valentine’s Day (as well as during No Such Convention, from February 21-23).
Thomm Quackenbush (1980-present) was born in Beacon, New York. He is a novelist and teacher in the Hudson Valley, where much of his Night's Dreams series takes place. He has been published by Double Dragon Publishing, Cave Drawing Ink, The Journal of Cartoon Over-Analysis, Broken City Magazine, The Toucan, and Paragon Press.
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