Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Interview With MECHMAN Author L.J. Garland

I enjoy discovering new-to-me authors and therefore was excited to read MECHMAN (L&L Dreamspell) by L.J. Garland. Before I dig into some tags, here’s the story blurb:

Raven is on a suicide mission. Jex is a biomech on a mission to save humanity. They discover their mutual passion to destroy the enemy isn’t their only desire.

A war against the Darch has raged for years, and humanity is on the verge of extinction. Scientists have created biomechs to supplement as warriors, but it’s just a temporary fix on what appears an insurmountable problem. One desperate scientist injects JXS241, a biomech warrior, with what he hopes is the solution for mankind’s survival. But the biomech is captured by the enemy.

Raven Nirvanni survives on the fringes of a shattered culture. While on a self-imposed suicide mission to annihilate an enemy destroyer, she encounters the imprisoned biomech. Deciding the fate of humanity far outweighs the destruction of a single ship, she rescues him and decides to ensure he reaches his destination.

With the enemy anticipating their every move, Raven is completely taken aback when she realizes she’s falling for JXS241. But can she really love a machine? And if so, can he reciprocate?


Below are some non-spoiler tags that stood out to me as I read this story:

MECHMAN is a novella-length space opera action-adventure romance. It’s a fast-paced read with space battles, chase scenes, some political intrigue, and a bit of social commentary on artificial intelligence and love.

The main impression this story made upon me is that Raven is a heroine who consistently drives the plot forward. While the hero is a biomech, I never felt that his extraordinary quality overshadowed the heroine. To me, they came across equally in terms of ability and appeal.

The romance employed some shortcuts to the HEA, but it’s quite heartfelt and would appeal to readers who are “romantic at heart.” MECHMAN is non-erotic if you’re seeking an SFR on the sweeter side.

I actually borrowed this ebook from a friend, but having read it I would say it’s worth the 2.99 price tag at Amazon.

Having read the story, I decided to invite L.J. Garland aboard for a meet ‘n’ greet:

TGE: Please tell us about yourselves. When did you decide to become writers? 

L.G. Garland: L.J. Garland is a husband-wife writing team who has thrived within their own romance for over 20 years. One of their favorite things to do is get into a hot bubble bath and brainstorm story ideas. Amid their long list of hobbies and interests, two activities stand above the rest. They are both licensed helicopter pilots with hundreds of hours of flight time, and they practice with a variety of weaponry from long bows to high-powered combat rifles. This, along with years of military experience, gives their books a heightened sense of reality. They enjoy their life together in a house filled with love, laughter, and adventure along with their three cats, whistling guinea pig, and three boisterous sons—who conspire to ensure there’s never a dull moment. 

TGE: What was the inspiration for MechMan? Why did you decide to write a science fiction romance?

LJG: The inspiration started with the basic questions: What if a woman fell in love with a machine…only to discover that the machine, which wasn’t supposed to have feelings, had also fallen in love with her? How would they deal with their relationship and what others might think? Would they even care?

My DH and I both have always enjoyed science fiction and read voraciously since childhood. Later, I branched out into romance. I truly loved the happy ever after that it offered…that one way or another, they heroine and hero would end up together no matter how daunting the obstacle. SFR offers a wide cross genre…horror, military, paranormal, time travel, steampunk, the list goes on and on…even westerns, as given by FireFly and Cowboys and Aliens. The possibilities are endless – which is one of the wonderful aspects that attracted us both to SFR.

TGE: Without going into spoilers, what is the role/social status of biomechs in your universe?

LJG: The human race is battling against a horrible, powerful race, and they’re losing. On the verge of extinction, scientists create biomechs (biometric machines) to protect the remaining humans and to fight the war against the Darch. In MechMan, one biomech in particular, JXS241, is sent on a special mission that hopefully will save the human race.

TGE: Raven is a classic kick-butt heroine. Could you share a brief excerpt of her in action?

We’d love to:

“We’ll have to run.” Raven fired across the bay. A Darch tumbled off the platform, his wings crumbling as he fell through the air.
“Yes.” Jex glanced toward her ship. Amber ribbons of fire rained down, pinning them behind a column. “I’ll cover you.”
“Like hell.” She didn’t need anyone risking their life for her. She’d been through that before and didn’t care to repeat it.
“It’s your ship.” He squeezed the wicked golden rod, froze a female Darch skittering across the hangar. Momentum carrying her, she crashed to the floor. Her icy form shattered. “You know start-up procedures, settings, quirks. You can get us out of here faster.”
Damn it. He was right.
“Okay.” She scanned for an opening in enemy fire. “Cover me.”
Raven ran. She fired her plasma gun, adding glowing white balls to his layer of ribbon-fire. Their combined onslaught drove the Darch back and gave her the precious few moments she needed to board her ship.
Scrambling to the bridge, she dove into her seat. With all ship’s functions already routed to the captain’s chair, her fingers flew over the control panels. The engines burst to life. Raven set shields, brought weapons up, and lifted from the hangar floor, rising above the Darch cruisers.
“Eat this, you demon bastards.”
The pulse cannons erupted with a thick fan of fire.

TGE: Regarding the villainous Darch, I smell an homage to THE BEASTMASTER, specifically the falcon-worshipping dudes. Am I right, or am I right?!

LJG: LOL Well we’ve both seen The Beastmaster. The thing I remember most are the pecking birds. Brrrr. The thing my DH remembers most is the heroine, Tanya Roberts. Go figure! LOL As far as the Darch and falcon-worshipping dudes, I can see some similarities. It wasn’t intentional, but since we’ve seen the movie and the subconscious works in unexpectedly groovy ways, who can say? ;o)

TGE: If Raven and JXS241 started a business together, what would they do?

LJG: They would be perfect as a government courier team. Any secret messages, packages, people…anything that needed to be taken from point A to point B. These two would get it done. Nothing would stop them!

TGE: Please describe a few of your favorite science fiction romance books, films, and/or television shows.

LJG: Linnea Sinclair is probably one of my favorite SFR authors. I can see her worlds and love the romances. Another wonderful SFR author is D.L. Jackson. I love the humor she injects in her romances. 
Television and films? Pretty much any and all of it. SG-1, SGU, SG Atlantis, FireFly, Serenity, Star Trek (all of ‘em & the movies), Star Wars (my middle boy is a fanatic), Cowboys & Aliens, The Matrix, Futurama, Alien, Warehouse 13, Eureka, Farscape, Battle: Los Angeles, Dr. Who, Torchwood, Battlestar Gallactica, Life on Mars, 4400, Quantum Leap, Adventures of Brisco County, Fringe….gracious, the list goes on and on.

TGE: According to your bio, you’re both licensed helicopter pilots. Describe three little-known facts about helicopters.

LJG: 1. If the engine quits, helicopters don’t generally fall out of the sky. They autorotate, meaning the main rotor overhead keeps spinning similar to a gyrocopter. Although…some do come down faster than others!

2. Hollywood has stretched the truth about how long it takes to get a helicopter off the ground from start up. In the movies, the good guys are being chased by guys with guns, right? They have just a few seconds to get off the ground… Uh, no. LOL Rotor blades are big and it takes a few minutes to get it spinning. Once you get them up to speed, the pilot has to wait until the engine comes up to temperature. Then, there is a list of pre-flight checks that must be performed to insure that the craft is operating smoothly. Sooo…this takes quite a few minutes. Not to mention is your tanks are empty and you have to gas up! So, it’s not like a car where you can just hop in, start the engine, and fly.
3. That you can just strap in and fly your first time out. Again, Hollywood has stretched the truth on this one.

      “There’s a helicopter. You’re a pilot.” Bad guy brandishes gun. “Fly us outta here. Now.”
      “I’m an airplane pilot. I don’t know anything about helicopters.”
      “It’s all the same. Now do it.”

And they get in the helicopter, and two minutes later, they’re in the air.

Waaaahhhk Wrong answer! Helicopters and airplanes operate nothing alike. An airplane goes forward. A helicopter can maneuver in all directions, stop mid-air, and spin. If you ever decide to take an intro lesson in a plane (which I highly recommend…very exciting, liberating!), the instructor will most likely give you the yoke on your first time up. S/he will probably put their hands in the lap and look out their window while you pilot the aircraft. Yep, right off the bat, you’re flying the plane! So, cool!

But helicopters? The instructor will tell you to put your hand on the cyclic (the stick that guides the heli forward, back, and side-to-side) and say, “Follow me.” They never remove their hands (or feet) from the controls, and they continue to operate the other controls as well. AND they do all this near the ground. Why? Not as far to fall. LOL Helicopters can be very twitchy—especially the smaller ones. One wrong move and you’re spinning out toward the trees? Me? Yeah, did that a time or two starting out. LOL But you get better at it….

TGE: What else can readers look forward to from you?

LJG: We’ve got a romantic suspense, Sins of the Mind, co-written with the wonderful Debbie Gould, coming from Decadent Publishing. It’s a story about a woman who after years of therapy from a horrible incident, decides it’s time to live again…but then all the people she loves start being brutally murdered one by one.

The other story is a short (12K) SFR, Dead or Alive, coming from Decadent’s 1Night Stand series. It’s about a guy who is falsely accused of murder ends up turning toward the one woman who can help him, a bounty hunter who’s been after him for years. Together, they uncover conspiracies on both Earth and their homeworld, use some fun high-tech gadgetry, and even visit Area 51.

TGE: Where can they find you online?

LJG: We can be tracked down at www.lj-garland.com. Or we can be caught at http://www.garland-and-gould.blogspot.com/ where we blog, chat about stuff, and interview other authors. Or, we can be emailed at mail@lj-garland.com - We love hearing from people who have enjoyed our stories.

L.J. Garland, thank you for your time, your art, and for the cool 411 about helicopters!

Joyfully yours,