{{{ AUTHOR INTERVIEW }} Brett Armstrong, Author of 'Day Moon' @BArmstrongWV #Christian #Dystopian


Brett Armstrong, author of the award-winning novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, started writing stories at age nine, penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire.  Twenty years later, he is still telling stories though admittedly his philosophy has deepened with his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing.  His goal with every work is to be like a brush in the Master artist’s hand and his hope is the finished composition always reflects the design God had in mind.  He feels writing should be engaging, immersive, entertaining, and always purposeful.  Continually busy at work with one or more new novels to come, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son.
His latest book is Day Moon (Tomorrow’s Edge Book 1).

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About the Book:

Title: DAY MOON (Tomorrow’s Edge Book 1)
Author: Brett Armstrong
Publisher: Clean Reads
Pages: 389
Genre: Christian/Scifi/Dystopian

BOOK BLURB: 
In A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare's complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled "Day Moon". When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Day Moon’s inception came about while I was in my last semester of my undergrad years. I was in my capstone creative writing course and was given an assignment to go out around the campus and do a “writerly scavenger hunt”. That is, look for certain people, places, and items and do some character sketches. It was raining that day so I ended up standing under the portico of the English hall looking out on the campus. There really weren’t any other people out, so what caught my eye was the campus library across the street. It has huge glass windows and looked bright amidst the dreariness. So, I began my sketch with a student doing the same thing, which led me to some questions. Why is the student looking at the library, what is the library’s significance? As I began to fill in those questions a few things in culture were also swirling around in the back of my mind, among them the debate over whether print was dying and some controversies in the sports world where some fairly notable achievements of the past were essentially stripped from the record books because of the indiscretions of the sports figures in the present. Things began to coalesce into this sharp image of a teen living in a future where print was dead and the library was a superficial monument, pretending to be relevant.
I let the beginning scene sit for some time and over time observed the trends of fake Facebook wisdom and the increasing value of a site like Snopes and had the fully formed premise. The details that fleshed it out turned out to be a pleasant exercise in discovery.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

This was really one of the easiest books to write that I’ve ever done. When I started on the novel, really started, it took less than a year to have a polished draft. It was just so timely and so much a story that lived in me, it just poured out. I think if I could have talked to myself before publishing it and had any advice for those writing in the future, be very conscious of your target audience. When I write a story it has to be about something really deeply moving to me or I can’t stick with it. Day Moon has a lot going on under the hood and really has a style that is more akin to the older dystopian classics (1984, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451) than newer entries (The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.). Because of the character at the center of the story and the fact that it is about family dynamics the book slides neatly into young adult and new adult space. I think a lot of readers though expect it to read like The Hunger Games, and by that I mean careening like a race car. But it doesn’t. It’s more literary than thriller and I would caution anyone trying to write something with as many layers as I tried to work into Day Moon to be aware of the expectations of your audience. It seems obvious, but if possible give a few copies of the manuscript out to beta-readers in the audience you expect to be reading the book. Make sure that it’s going to fit their notions of its intended genre. Based on the feedback you can adjust accordingly, whether that is the manuscript or who you seek out as readers.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

My publisher is called Clean Reads.  It’s a small press that I had been considering when I went searching for a publisher, because of its fantastic cover art and specialization in young adult books.

I was pretty sure early on I would rather go the route of a small press with the book, just because it was so dear to me. The title, the themes, the whole thing was a package deal and I knew from talking to other authors that larger presses don’t necessarily respect that or feel obligated to complete a series. Which I’m not trying to naysay larger publishers, because they have their reasons for what they do and much of this is my impression of their policies. But that is digressing, so to the point, I’m awful at query letters. In person, I can be very enthusiastic and I’ve been told I write well, but to compose a very business-like correspondence that feels as much a defense of my right to seek publication as offering to partner with a publisher or agent on something mutually beneficial…I’m awful. So, when I heard about Twitter pitch parties where you write a tweet that is similar to the tagline or sales hook of a book and then a host of publishers and agents can look it over and request you submit to them, I thought I found a good match for me.  As it turned out I got several likes for my pitches and among them was Clean Reads. Since I had already been interested in them and an agent advised me that my book was niche enough that I should give serious thought to a good offer from a small press, I happily signed with Clean Reads.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I suppose just about every aspect of the publishing process. But, in particular, the vast landscape of resources, outlets, and services available out there to help get a book out there and just how many books are out there. I had been living a “sheltered” life of books that came through the local library or bookstores and had been oblivious to the myriad of books out there through digital marketplaces.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

Day Moon was originally meant to be a standalone book. It was only as I crossed the 100k word mark that I realized there was no way I could get the story completed with a length that would be of interest to a publisher looking at a rookie author with no social media presence/platform. It seemed that as a trilogy it would be manageable, so I broke it up and am currently deep into the second part of the story arc, which I’m calling Veiled Sun. Though, it has to compete with a fantasy epic series that I’ve had in the planning for almost ten years and I feel is finally coming to a point of being ready to share with the world as well. That series is tentatively named Quest of Fire. When will either be available? I’m hoping mid to late 2018 for one or both. I can dream right?

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

There are probably a few small things. First being I hadn’t read Fahrenheit 451 when I first got a hold on Day Moon’s premise, even though both are essentially about worlds where the wisdom of the past is lost. Maybe a more interesting note is that since this was a family story on some levels, two key characters drew parts of their names from a family member on my mom’s side. Elliott and John got their names from my grandfather John Elliott Carroll.  And the little town, Lewisville, is modeled off of the town in Kentucky my mom grew up in, though I named it after CS Lewis, because I feel like he was particularly adept at weaving in really deep concepts in deceptively simplistic packaging and that’s what Elliott’s grandfather has done.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

I chose the title Day Moon, because I felt like it was most symbolically fitting for the themes of the book. There’s this kind of obliviousness we have about where the moon is in the day, and most people don’t realize it is visible for most of the day. It came to be emblematic of truths that we could see if we chose, but ignore for distraction or because we have preconceived notions that never let us grasp what’s plain to be seen. Over time I developed a term I feel sums up the mindset of the book: surreality. It’s the idea that we at times choose to live in a surrogate reality, one of our choosing that allows us to get by. Whether intentional or pushed upon us, the things that are hard or unpleasant or undesirable get buried and we go along as though reality itself need not be addressed. The world of Day Moon is overcome with that mindset. I think part of it is, because we make choices without fully comprehending the costs incurred. For instance I was driving down the road to work one day and got stopped. That’s when I noticed that particular part of my drive was absolutely scenic, but I had always cruised through with no notice. Modern life is full of opportunities to ignore reality and I feel like the impending integration of newer technologies explored in the book (like self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, etc.) there is the potential to further loosen our hold on what is real. Truth really isn’t a moving target, but we treat it like it can be one. That’s dangerous, particularly in a world where we define our reality based on what digital sources tell us. It becomes exceedingly difficult to grasp something firm when everything you have and know is in a medium highly susceptible to erasure, manipulation, and is  really intangible.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

I feel very blessed to be able to write. Often I find myself relating to the sentiment attributed to 1924 gold medalist Eric Liddell, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” So, I never write without purpose. You can pretty much sum up my philosophy as fiction should be immersive and escapist, but a novel should also be written such that by the book’s end the reader is better able to face reality.


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