Welcome, one and all, to another author interview! Today, I’m talking to Teri Polen.
Hi Teri! For those not familiar with your or your work, can you give us a quick intro?
Thanks so much for having me over today, Matt! I’m a young adult author of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. My first novel, Sarah, was released in December 2016, and my second book, The Gemini Connection, will be released May 31st in print, and June 7th in ebook format. I’m currently working on my third book, a YA sci-fi.
Today, I wanted to start by talking about your latest novel The Gemini Connection. This is a Sci-Fi Thriller about teen twins, Evan and Simon. The brothers can experience each other’s emotions and can sense where the other is. The blurb confirms that Evan and Simon live on a dying planet called Tage, and that when Simon disappears, the planet’s salvation may have disappeared with him. What came first, the concept of the twin’s link or the setting of Tage?
I had to go back to my notes to answer this one, Matt – I honestly didn’t remember. Evan and his ability to battle nightmares actually came first. Dreams have always mystified me, and The Gemini Connection has a touch of Inception and The Matrix in it. Simon and the twin link came next, then Tage. While Tage’s struggles are playing out in the background, the relationship between Evan and Simon is the primary focus of the story.
What can people expect from the book? Is there a lot of action, or more of a focus on character interaction?
I’d have to say both. One reviewer commented on the opening scene, calling it ‘a whirlwind of action’, and the action continues throughout the book, but most of the early reviewers have mentioned the bond between Evan and Simon
I loved the concept of Bending – entering people’s minds to clear nightmares and reestablish connections. What inspired this?
I’d watched Inception (again), and started thinking about entering the minds of other people and the roadblocks and challenges involved. Why would characters be in someone else’s mind in the first place? What else could they do while there? It took me a while to come up with a title that fit, but eventually Mindbender clicked, and it felt right.
Genre-wise, this is a change from your previous title, Sarah, which was a horror novel. Was it difficult to switch genres, or was it a natural jump given the differences in story?
It was a natural jump for me. I primarily read horror, sci-fi, and fantasy – that’s what interests me and where my mind naturally goes. I live in the real world every day. It’s the ‘otherworldly’ that fascinates me. I just follow where the characters lead.
Have you always been a fan of speculative fiction?
Absolutely. Bizarre and extraordinary are what capture my attention and make me think.
The aforementioned Sarah follows a boy named Cain as he attempts to help a ghost avenge her death, only to find himself drawn into a world of murder. Being a tale of possession, this of course leads to exorcism. Did you read up much on possessions and exorcisms in preparation for writing the book?
I did a fair amount of research, I guess. I’ve always said The Exorcist was the scariest movie ever made, so there was that, but I also read accounts of poltergeists, possession, other haunting, and how to exorcise spirits. It was fascinating stuff, and I got lost down rabbit holes countless times.
The book was really well received, with not only high scores on Goodreads, but also the honour of being named a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. How did it feel to see readers embracing the book so fully?
I did a Snoopy dance every time I read someone enjoyed Sarah. Horror is a hard sell, and not everyone is a fan. I get that. My hubby won’t watch horror movies, so I wait until he’s out of town to catch up on them. It’s good to know there are still horror fans out there – they’re my people!
Did that lead to you feeling any pressure in terms of matching the quality with The Gemini Connection?
I think most writers have doubts and feel pressure. Will readers embrace The Gemini Connection as much? Will the YA horror fans who enjoyed Sarah follow me to YA sci-fi? I even wondered if I could get Cain and Finn out of my head long enough to let Evan and Simon tell me their story. The early reviews have been promising, and readers seem to love the twins just as much as I do.
Both The Gemini Connection and Sarah are YA books. Why did you choose to write for this age group in particular?
Years ago, a friend insisted I read Harry Potter, and I responded by telling her it was a kid’s book. I’m so glad she insisted, because I was hooked from the first page, and it honestly changed my life. Since then, I’ve read primarily YA. When a story came together in my head, I guess it was natural that it was YA. And it didn’t surprise me a bit that my protagonists turned out to be 17-year-old boys. Having sons, that’s what I know.
Both books are also published by Black Rose Writing. How did you come to work with this publisher, and how has the experience been for you?
Black Rose Writing actually found me. Another publisher requested that I upload my manuscript to Authors.me. I received an email from Authors.me asking if I’d like to put Sarah in ‘Discovery’ free for a month, allowing any publishers access to my book, not just the one who requested I upload it. I thought, ‘Why not?’, and then heard from Black Rose a few weeks later. Working with Black Rose Writing has been a positive experience, and I’m fortunate to be with such a supportive publisher. I’ve heard nightmare stories from other indie authors I’ve met.
Do you have any advice for budding authors still looking to gain a foothold in the industry?
Read in your genre to know the market, study your craft, keep writing, and be persistent.
Moving away from writing for a moment, you’re a big Marvel fan. Have you seen Infinity War yet? How did you find it? What has been your favourite of the MCU films thus far?
Yes, I’ve seen Infinity War – and it was amazing!!! My sons and I have discussed theories about what happened, but I won’t give any spoilers. Asking me to choose a favorite is impossible. I’ll say that some of my top favs are the first Iron Man, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
You’re also a big fan of alternative music. Any recommendations?
My playlist for The Gemini Connection included Breaking Benjamin, Hellyeah, Papa Roach, Kaleo, Ki: Theory, and Thrice. I’ve recently downloaded songs by Asking Alexandria and Signals in Smoke.
Do you have any final message for readers? Where can they go to find out more about you? Feel free to link to anything you want.
Visit me at any of the following places – I’d love to hear from you!