I’ve received some interesting questions over the past few days about my new short story release THE LOST DAY. These are those compiled together. Feel free to ask your own questions in the comments section, and I’ll be sure to answer and share.
Q: What is your new short story about?
Rick: A man who wakes up in a reality that isn’t his own. He’s a character from my books that changed history, and upon returning to his own time realizes that nothing is as it was. Everyone around him knows who he is, but he knows nothing about this new reality. It becomes even more of a nightmare for him when he is captured to be studied, and he realizes that his very existence puts the future of mankind at risk.
Q: Should I read the novels before reading this story?
Rick: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I wrote THE LOST DAY to be a stand alone short. Yes, it’s a spinoff, but only to fill in the gaps for any readers of the novels that have a question about what happened to him. For newcomers, there is a total disconnect with the novels in this short, so it was intended for all audiences.
Q: There’s an interesting take on the antagonist in the story. What gave you the idea for such a character?
Rick: I don’t really see the story as having a true antagonist. I mean obviously there is that character, but it isn’t “bad.” It’s doing the thing that it thinks is right. If anything the main character is sort of the antagonist. The idea for the creature that you are referring to though came from current events. If you look back to what life was a few hundred years ago versus today, there is a difference. For the most part all races are reproducing together, and human sexuality goes beyond just straight and gay. So for a point in the human evolutionary scale, in the far future, there very well could be a grey skinned and asexually reproducing person.
Q: Do you think this approach to a character will cause controversy?
Rick: Not really. It’s done in a manner that is respectful to all people of orientation and race. I also think that it is something that could be plausible in a few million years. If it does stir controversy I’m all for it. Any type of chatter will bring others to read it. Just look at what Dan Brown did, and he’s become an outstanding well known author.
Q: Where do you stand with your beliefs on the topic of interracial breeding and sexual orientation?
Rick: That’s a touchy subject that I try to avoid, but I can say that I believe it isn’t our place to judge others. People have their own right to love who they want, but it’s when they force their beliefs on others that it becomes a problem. The same goes for the reverse point of view. If something bigger and better is out there, whether it God or aliens or both, then we would be a disgrace to a superior being with all of the turmoil we create amongst our own human species. Let the higher powers judge our own actions. My thoughts are don’t judge and don’t push agendas no matter where you stand.
Q: Do all of your books have a message like this?
Rick: Real life inspires a lot of my writing, but I want my stories to be enjoyable to a wider audience. I might have underlying themes throughout them, but there is never a message that I’m trying to push at all. I just want everyone to be able to relate and understand each other to some degree. We don’t all have to agree on everything, but understanding each other is a step toward a greater future.
Q: It seems like you think a lot about the future.
Rick: Having children does that to you. I used to be very carefree in all that I did. I took life for granted for a time. Now I realize how precious it is, and when I’m gone I want my kids, their kids, and their kids kids, and beyond to be able to be role models and be part of a greater future.
Q: How does this short-story relate or differ to your other shorts?
Rick: Other than it following the groundwork laid out in THE LOST HOUR…. THE LOST DAY is entirely self sustaining.
Q: There is a little bit of a cliffhanger at the end. Will we see Don Blake again?
Rick: I plan on it. I think there is a responsibility as an author to wrap up all loose ends. Even if it is a simple one liner in a future book that says “Don Blake’s remains were found,” or have him cameo in a minor role, or be a major character. Don Blake will return. I promise closure on that.
Q: Tell us about the cover idea. Who did the art and design?
Rick: I did the design and layout. Originally I wanted to have a sundial, but the pocket watch was my wife’s idea. It was also an element that I threw into the story at literally the last minute before sending to the editors.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE LOST DAY?
Rick: It’s available at Lulu.com in print and will eventually be on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as part of my next trilogy release.
With every new release I get a handful of questions from readers and during promotions. Here’s some of the ones I’ve gathered so far for “THE THIRST OF CAIN”. Feel free to ask any that you have in the comments below or send me a message.
Q: Tell me about your new novel.
Rick: Francis Murphy wakes from a night’s sleep to discover a horror. His blood-stained hands reveal his darkest fears. With each passing minute the submerged half of his personality comes one step closer to total control. Realizing he has only days to find a cure, he must search throughout history to discover the origins of his curse. From the beginning of humanity to modern times, the mark of Cain has influenced many. What is that mark? How far will one man go in order to piece together clues to the puzzle? At what lengths will he go to save himself, and at what cost?
Q: Cain was a primary character in your earlier novels. What made you bring him back?
Rick: Reader feedback was my ultimate driving force. So many people loved the character and he slowly faded into the background as my novels progressed. I felt it was time to bring him back to the heart of the story, and see the side of him that the novels prior to this didn’t fully address.
Q: Does this go against your “I’m not going to write the same type of novel twice,” or do you feel it is a different approach?
Rick: This is a much different approach. It’s true I didn’t want to do another book involving vampires, or time travel. Both of those things sort of take a back seat in this even though they are there. It’s less a book about either of those, and more a book about discovering history in reverse. Cain is in his prime in this novel, so he’s more villain than before… he just happens to be a vampire. Murphy’s journey through time is more about solving the mystery of where his curse came from than the sci-fi element. He just uses time travel to trace the lineage back. So, this is a much different novel than BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING or A COURSE FOR HUMANITY.
Q: There are a lot of historical refences and tie ins in this book. How much research did you have to do?
Rick: When it came to overall research it wasn’t too extensive, but I wanted each time period in the story to have actual historical significance. I didn’t really know when specifically each chapter would take place until I found some dates with events that would fit the narrative. Finding those pieces of information did consume a few weeks of my time in order to get the story right. The research actually had me rewrite my outline four or five times to better fit where I wanted the book to go.
Q: You and your family were recently featured as a cover story in your local newspaper. How does that feel and factor into what you do?
Rick: It was really a moment that made me so proud. To be called, “the Dynamic Duo” was a surprise. People have said that we are a power couple and inspiration for those who want to prove that hard work will help you reach your dreams. I’ve always been flattered by that. The interview was a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect us to be the cover story. Needless to say we framed the article and have it hanging in my office. Things like that just make me want to go above and beyond my goals even more, and it helps me to push myself harder to attain those goals.
Q: How long did it take you to write THE THIRST OF CAIN?
Rick: The concept has been in my mind for about eight years. Every few months I’d come up with ideas of where to take it, but it was shelved for my other works. Once I finally started to sit down and write it, it took about eight months from outline to draft, then to edits and final copy.
Q: Do you have a team of early reviewers? If so how did they respond to the new book?
Rick: I had 20 beta readers for this book. Of those, a dozen gave their feedback which I value immensely. The response was all very positive with one reader claiming that they wanted another few pages in the epilogue to explain what happens next. To those readers I just have to say, it will be worth the wait to find out, but the hints are there.
Q: You do a decent job of writing each novel as a standalone, but also tying into the whole series. How hard is it to do this and keep the continuity?
Rick: It becomes tedious at times. I have to explain some things in back story, which makes me go back and reread previous plot points over and over to preserve continuity. I really like the idea of having a series that gets better with each installment since the beginning, but can also be a starting point for any new reader to my works. The balance is sometimes tricky, but not an overall difficult task.
Q: I’ve read the book, and have one question… That ending was totally unexpected. What? How? Where is this going?
Rick: You’ll find out in the next novel CONSUMED BY WAR. The reset button has technically been hit, so where THE THIRST OF CAIN finds the character going backwards in time to different periods, the next installment will be the opposite, except without the time travel element. There won’t be any more vampires, just two immortal beings “The Destroyer” and “The Redeemer.” There will also be a short story spinoff that will reference the events in THIRST called THE LOST DAY, which will also come out later this year.
Q: Tell us about the cover idea. Who did the art and design?
Rick: My brother Dan, did the art and design for it. My concept was to have Stonehenge as the center of the cover. It plays a significant role in the plot as far as what its true purpose was. Having a river of blood coming from it was an idea I pitched to my brother, and he immediately went to work with a few pictures in photo editing software. When I received his final copy for approval I was blown away. I think it’s my favorite cover to date.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE THIRST OF CAIN?
Rick: It’s available at Lulu.com in print for $7.99 and on Amazon.com in digital format for $3.99.
sCrypt Publishing and readers have asked a few questions about my new short story THE LOST HOUR. Here’s a compilation of those questions in an interview like form. Enjoy and feel free to ask your own in the comments section. I’ll answer as quickly as possible.
Q: This is your first short story that doesn’t involve multiple different plots. What made you take this approach?
Rick: I’ve done nine shorts before this. They all had multiple stories because they were intended (and some were) for graphic novel form. The novel that this was based on, A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, was less about separate stories intertwining, and more about one narrative. I figured I could focus on one plot and make it more powerful by doing the same to the short.
Q: You mention the novel from which this was set. Where exactly does THE LOST HOUR take place in the series?
Rick: Chronologically it exists between DEVOURED UNIVERSE and A COURSE FOR HUMANITY. It fills in something referenced in the latter novel. It is meant to be read alone though, so it works if you are completely unfamiliar with the series.
Q: Why continue to do short story spinoffs between novel releases? Are there plans to bring back more graphic novel forms?
Rick: I never say never, but right now there are no plans for more comics. The reason I continue with the short stories is because they are cheaper for readers. It seems to be that once a newcomer reads the short story, they are usually interested in the novel it’s associated with. I’ve gained quite a few readers that way.
Q: Samantha Clayton is your main character in THE LOST HOUR. What made you choose her?
Rick: We’ve sort of seen her grow throughout the novels. She was a young girl, then an adult, and then an old woman. We know there’s a lot of secrecy to her that remains to be uncovered. There is only reference to her in the novel and how she laid the ground work for the Continuum organization. She made rules for them to follow with time travel, so I wanted to get into why she made those rules. Something had to have gone wrong for her to do so.
Q: What is it like writing about time travel?
Rick: It’s different than all my other books. I love and hate it. This trilogy gives me a headache, even though that’s not the focus. I have to make it believable and understandable to the reader at the same time. Sometimes I’ll write a scene and then have to edit the hell out of it because it gets so wordy that it bores me. After numerous edits it comes out being an easy and comprehendible read, but getting to that point is the challenge.
Q: What is your next release and when?
Rick: THE THIRST OF CAIN will be my next novel in early 2018. It’s not only a direct follow up to A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, but will serve as the same to BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING.
Q: So vampires and time travel then?
Rick: Yes. I had such good feedback on BLOOD, that I felt like revisiting some of that. Plus I had this thing going on with the character of Francis Murphy in COURSE that the plot sort of set itself.
Q: Are you saying Francis will meet Cain?
Rick: Cain is such a loved character by fans. He’s the penultimate villain. He’s wicked, but also has a reason for the path he’s chosen. Time travel enables me to really go back to his early years and have Francis confront him then. He wants to be cured of his own curse, so finding Cain is his main priority.
Q: I’m confused. Won’t that technically interfere with the plots of the remaining books because time travel is involved?
Rick: Oh yes. I can’t say much, but THE THIRST OF CAIN will alter everything. We will sort of see a different history as an outcome. It’s something touched upon in THE LOST HOUR about how time travel can create alternate worlds.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE LOST HOUR?
Rick: It is available on www.lulu.com in print. It will be available as part of the next trilogy release for Amazon and Barnes and Noble when that is completed. And if you buy the print from lulu you also get a digital copy to download.
My wife was interviewed on a radio station here in Philly. During the segment they chat briefly about my books. Give it a listen at the link below. Skip ahead to the 16:30 mark to hear her spot. Follow her on social media @homemadedelish, on facebook @RobertaPipito, and on her site at http://www.homemadedelish.com
With each new release I always post questions I’ve received from fans or collective media outlets. Here are a few of the ones I’ve received so far for Planet ATE, and I’m sure I’ll post more as they come in.
Enjoy, and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments below.
Q: Planet ATE leaps across genre boundaries for you. Was there any hesitation in doing this?
Rick: It was the logical course of where to go next. Everything in the prior books were horror centric, but since Techno Feast began the sci-fi step for me, and Genetic Morsels further grounded that, it was time to make the full on transition.
Q: Your books are very grounded in reality with that fantastical element added. Do you find that it is difficult to combine the two?
Rick: I find it more difficult to NOT combine realism with fiction. Everything that influences me is in real life, whether it be my own experiences or history itself. I’ve always tried to make explanations for the strange things this world has to offer. Genetic Morsels had a political theme underlying the main plot. With Planet ATE I chose to add government conspiracy to the list.
Q: Government conspiracy and aliens in one story seem to go hand in hand. Did you use the X-Files as inspiration at all, and how do you not step on the toes of other current works?
Rick: You know it’s funny you say that. I loved the X-Files growing up, and always wanted to do an alien related novel. It was after I started writing this book that I found out about the new season coming out, and I went into panic mode. I said to my wife, “Damnit, it’s happening again!” We laugh about it. When I was writing my first three novels the subjects were zombies, vampires and werewolves. Then the Walking Dead, and Twilight series became popular shortly after. The beauty of writing is that you can acknowledge what is there in a way by avoiding certain key elements. I’ve never had any problem staying unique in my approach and keeping it fresh. I think the stories that flop (whether in movies or book form) are because they aren’t unique enough.
Q: What makes Planet ATE so unique to alien fiction?
Rick: Aside from research on fact I spend lots of time watching and reading what is out there to keep something totally separate in mind. Planet ATE is nice because it tackles the ultimate question “Why do we exist?” We can go to science, faith or any other means to find the “truth”, but this incorporates that and goes beyond. It takes a look at fact throughout history and ties it together into many supposed sightings of UFOs etc. This book gives an answer as to the why, but then opens the door to figure out what it all means.
Q: Before each chapter you have a quote by a famous person or a fact. Are these real and what made you do it?
Rick: They are real quotes and references to historical fact. I wanted that realism in there to bring the reader back into the real world and really make them wonder about life in the universe. The amount of quotes to find the right ones was exhausting, but well worth it in the end.
Q: The title of your books blends the topic with food. Why the capital letters in this title?
Rick: This title was difficult to settle upon. The word “ate” is my connection to that food world for consistency, but it goes beyond that. Not only is it a culinary term, but it also is the 8th book (eight), and it is an acronym in the book. ATE stands for Alien Threat Elimination. It is the government agency created to take out the antagonist of this book.
Q: This series can be read as individual books, but how far do you want to take it as a series?
Rick: The next book ends the current run with a follow on trilogy that will acknowledge what has already happened. At the end of all 12 books it will sort of make the reader wonder. While all questions will be answered it will allow me to begin writing other things in the same universe as these books, but not be tied to them in any way.
Q: You release compilations in trilogies. Will you release a complete volume of all twelve?
Rick: I write in trilogy form (Eden’s Order Trilogy dealt with monster like creatures; Pandora’s Chaos dealt with the supernatural). After book 9 the Beyond Human trilogy will be released. Then another after books 10-12 are all done. At some point I would like to release a limited edition hardback of everything (the 12 novels and spinoff stories). It is already in the works for down the road, and will be called the ETERNAL HUNGER SAGA.
Q: What is the status of the spinoffs in graphic novel form? Will you be working on more with your brother?
Rick: Dan is automatically involved in whatever I do because he does the cover art. As far as sCrypt Comics goes the future is uncertain. I’m not saying we won’t do any more. In fact we both want to, but it is very time consuming and difficult to manage. It is hard enough to juggle our own schedules let alone getting nine other artists involved in each release. For now we will be focusing on sCrypt Publishing as a whole. That includes graphic novels, but isn’t the main focus. Those stories are written and being written though for the comic book spinoffs so that they are already done when we are ready to go on it.
Q: Tell us about the cover of Planet ATE?
Rick: The last cover featured a mock chalkboard with calculations pertaining to DNA and genetics. This kept with that theme and is a dry erase board. We figured we would add a few grainy UFO pictures Dan created as Polaroid shots hanging by magnets. Think of it as the research board that the characters may be using in the book.
Q: What will the cover be for book 9? Is it something similar?
Rick: My lips are sealed for now.
Q: Politics have come into play in your books without straying too far in either direction. How do real life scenarios and politics play into your writing?
Rick: As I mentioned previously my experiences in life truly come into play in some form in my writing. It could be a simple situation or something more complex that I may tweak and throw the characters into. Politics in general are entertaining. We in the U.S. have a two party system that is honestly becoming a joke. Both sides have candidates that are in my opinion dangerous leaders. I stay up to date with current world events as much as one can, and it makes for great writing in a sense. Politicians are often like the villains of books with their schemes and agendas. I take that into account and try to find a middle ground in which to present my writing in non-biased ways. As an author I can vent my feelings on paper with both sides being accused without actually spilling my opinions on who is right or wrong. People are always going to disagree, but the world today needs leaders who are just and stand for the people, and at this point it’s difficult to see who that is at times; if at all.
Q: Controversy seems to be everywhere in today’s day and age. Everything has to be “politically correct” or be geared towards a certain audience? How does this affect your writing?
Rick: I definitely keep it in mind, but also don’t let it hold me back from creating realistic characters or situations. You have to be careful which lines you cross, but there are ways of doing it without making it seem like those are things that you believe. A prime example is in my BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING. I wrote a section that dealt with the Chicago mob in the early 20th century. There are things the characters do and say that are flat out unacceptable whether by today’s standards or in general. It was difficult to write because I in no way agree with the things the characters did or said, and I think it was done tastefully to the point where the reader realizes it is just a work of fiction and not my personal thoughts. BLOOD is still considered a fan favorite so I guess I manage my approach fairly well.
Q: How do you juggle your busy schedule? What’s a day in the life of Rick Pipito?
Rick: It’s become such a routine, that I barely notice it anymore. I spend 8 hours every day brainstorming my thoughts. During car rides I record dialogue into my phone (the people driving by must think I’m crazy). Then at night I write after my kids go to bed. Once I sit down at the keyboard the thoughts are ready to be put on paper, so it just flows out of me. I also spend time helping my wife with her business, and the kids with homework and daddy time. It’s a full plate for sure, but I love it. It would be nice to have an extra hour or two in the day (or for sleeping at night for that matter).
Q: What can you tell us about that you are working on?
Rick: Well like I said I’ve officially called the saga the Eternal Hunger Saga. Book 9 is in the works and is called DEVOURED UNIVERSE. That will be released later this year. Dan and I are also putting the final touches on A LITTLE BOY IN THE LAND OF SLEEPLESS KNIGHTS. My prior children’s book was a success and it seemed little girls loved it, so since I wrote that one for my daughter, this one will be geared towards boys and is written for my son. It will be coming out early this summer.
Q: Where can someone get a copy of your books?
Rick: All of my novels are available in paperback at www.lulu.com. They are also available for the Kindle at www.amazon.com. My comics are at www.indypress.com and Audible and itunes also have my first audiobook translation, and hopefully more to come soon.