Welcome to Larey Batz: Author of ‘Second Dawn’
Please tell us a little about yourself. – I’m originally from Memphis Tennessee, but I’m spent the last six years in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. I’ve been writing since I learned how to put sentences together. I gave screenwriting a serious go before flipping over to fiction, but I still have projects in both arenas. I’ve been described a number of ways over the years, but I think it can all be summed up by the following: Tall, hilarious, beer-drinker.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. – I don’t specialize in a particular genre. I like to dabble in, combine and redefine genres whenever possible. My current novel is ‘Second Dawn’. It combines a little of everything—alien abduction, dystopian setting, rabid hordes of primal creatures and a wisecracking female protagonist who manages to rub everyone the wrong way. It’s the first book of a trilogy. The soon-to-be-released follow up is titled ‘OBEY: Second Dawn Book II’
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? – I draw inspiration from everywhere—writers old and new, mainstream and indie, film, TV, comics, graphic novels, comedians, musicians, friends, strangers on the street. Whoever and whatever captures my interest, for whatever reason, can be both influence and inspiration. You just have to train yourself to be perceptive.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? – I believe in researching as much as necessary. That said, no amount of research can make you an expert overnight, but I believe the responsible writer should try to avoid as much glaring inaccuracy as possible.
Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? – Sometimes I enjoy it, because learning new things, or debunking popular assumption can be very intriguing. Sometimes it’s just a pain, especially if it’s an obscure variable that doesn’t have much info available. For a scene on a train in ‘Second Dawn’, I actually had to go down to the train station in Philadelphia and interview some of the workers. I needed to find out how heavy that glass was in the emergency window exit and how it would fall if you released the lever. They were very helpful. Chances are, I could have made up something and no one would have ever called me out on it, but it was really bothering me and I wanted to know for sure. Fav resource is probably the same as everyone else—‘google is your friend’. But I will contact people who have real world experience in certain areas if the need arises.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) E-Book and paperback.. Are you intending to expand these? – I’ll expand as warranted, but right now, the main focus is building a platform
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? – Yes. I believe it’s an important skill for any writer to learn and getting practice correcting your own mistakes actually makes you a stronger writer in my opinion. Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Yes Of course. And I would never advise that a writer just stop with self-editing and then publish. The final edit should always be done by a sourced/contracted editor. As a professional courtesy, I just believe you should edit your manuscript to the best of your ability before sending it over to your editor. For one thing, it ensures that the final version is closest to your best vision. Just having someone correct a first draft can lead to a great deal of your own voice being lost. You want an editor to correct mistakes, not re-write your work.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? – I don’t think authors should comment on reviews. It’s a waste of time. No book is going to be universally loved by everyone. Challenging a review or even commenting and trying to take the high road, makes you appear amateurish and insecure about your work.
How important are reviews? – Depends on the quality. When I read a thorough, in-depth review, I can appreciate the time the reviewer put into explaining the reasons why they liked or didn’t like a book. As a result, I tend to give those types of reviews more weight, both as a writer and as a potential buyer of books. If it’s just one of those, “I loved this book! OMG! I couldn’t put it down!” typed of reviews, I don’t pay much attention to those.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? – Activating the imagination. Video and film are rigid depictions. You’re totally at the mercy of your eyes and ears. Books leave room for your imagination to fill in the gaps. In a novel, you don’t have to be worried that Ben Affleck won’t make a good Batman. When we read, the characters look exactly as we need them to look. The explosions sound like we need them too. A hot coffee on a cold day, tastes as perfect as we can imagine. Books are interactive experiences and that’s what makes writing a process of sharing. I share my vision. You interpret and filter my vision through your own senses.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? – 1. Take yourself seriously. You’re your journey. Do what YOU need to do in order to be successful at it. And stop sitting around wait for someone to encourage you. Encourage yourself. 2. Don’t dismiss or accept any writing advice until you fully understand the reasoning behind the advice. 3. BE INTERESTING. No one wants to read a grammatically correct sleeping pill. Grab my attention.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? – Make connections. Get your book in the hands and on the lips of people who can/will spread the word. There’s only so much you can do yourself. You need word of mouth. You’re not gonna sell a billion books by standing out in the middle of the street like a town crier and ringing a bell. You’ll annoy more people than you’ll interest. Let someone else talk about how great you are.
Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? – Indie primarily. I’ve read, enjoyed and developed appreciation for about as many of the classics as the average person, but lately I find myself gravitating toward those undiscovered gems floating around the indie landscape. I run across a few duds too, but the fun is in the hunt.
Do you have a favourite movie? – It rotates. Last week it was ‘Michael Clayton’. The week before that, it was ‘Jerry MaGuire’. This week, it’s ‘School Daze’ by Spike Lee.
Do you have any pets? – No. I’m sure to get a beagle before I die though. Once I get old, bitter and cranky and no one wants to be around me anymore, I’ll need the comfort and loyalty of a friend that I can keep chained to a post in the backyard.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? – I invented the internet. Well actually I didn’t, but I’m so awesome on it, that everyone assumes I did. I also believe, to the very core of my being, that watching ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ with a cup of spirited egg nog, is the best holiday experience there is, was or ever will be.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Amazon KDP: http://www.amazon.com/Second-Dawn-Larey-Batz-ebook/dp/B00E8I95QK
AMZ Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Second-Dawn-Volume-Larey-Batz/dp/1491242094
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/lareybatzauthor
And here’s an excerpt….
“Can I see her?” I asked.
“All business. You haven’t changed.” His perfect white smile grew wider as he looked me over. There was a sparkle in his eyes which almost made them look kind. “Come.”
Neal and I followed him into a smaller hallway. Kline stepped up to the scanner, and a beam of emerald light waved over his eyes. The three-foot thick steel doors separated. They’d switched to retinal scans instead of fingerprint I.D., probably as a precaution after my incident with Sentient One.
“After you,” he said. I stepped forward and he ushered me through the doors.
The first door we passed was the one—the one where I beheaded an alien and lost my job. Nervous energy shot through my gut as we walked by. Neal glanced over at me. I looked away and stared straight ahead while Kline chatted away about some boat he’d bought recently.
Soon we came to the end of the hallway and turned to the right toward an area I’d never been to before. Kline took us through another set of double doors leading to a larger hallway. Wide windows of thick glass lined the left side of the hall, allowing us to see into a huge examination room.
Through the windows, I saw a teen-aged girl chained to a metal bench. Jennifer Thomas’s head hung low. I noticed the clumps of hair at her feet and the reddish patches of scalp they’d left behind. On the bench opposite the girl sat what looked like a toolbox surrounded by various instruments of interrogation. The pool of urine under the bench suggested Jennifer had been introduced to more than a few of them.
I walked closer to the window. Her bruised and blood stained body reminded me how much I despised the aliens and enjoyed seeing them in pain. Even though she looked human, I knew the truth. To a civilian, the scene I witnessed would seem deplorable. I saw it as no less than just.
“She looks human,” I said.
“Remarkably so,” Kline replied. “Even bleeds red. The normal tests identify her as having human DNA. The alien cells are masked, hidden at almost sub-atomic levels—a perfect genetic mixture of human and alien chromosomes. Needless to say, the scientific community has never seen anything like this.”
“We dropped the ball, Doc,” I said. “We should have known they were up to something.”
“Hindsight my darling,” he said. “And unfortunately none of us can reverse the hands of time.”
“What does she know?” Neal asked.
“She hasn’t told me much so far. What we do know is she goes by the name Jennifer Thomas and until yesterday was a recent high school graduate, assigned to a technical services position in the General Communications Office.”
“Shit,” I said. “Aliens who look like us and can blend in with population. That ain’t good.”
“No.” He paused and watched Jennifer through the glass. “I’m afraid it isn’t.”
“Has she gone primal since she’s been here?”
“It comes and goes, usually when I get rough with her. She doesn’t seem to be able to control it at will, otherwise I fear I’d be wearing a few scars on my lovely face.”
Kline smiled. Even after all I’d seen him do, I wondered how someone so polite and cordial could be so systematically ruthless in the art of inflicting pain.
“She’s crying,” I said, as I watched Jennifer’s tears splatter against the metal floor.
“Yes,” Kline said. “But in my profession I’ve seen a vast number of people cry. I don’t ever think I’ve seen tears as empty and as devoid of soul as hers. Almost robotic.”
“So what happens next?”
“They want her alive when I’m done. That’s all I know.”
“I wanna talk to her,” I said.
He glanced at Neal then returned his smile to me. “Access is restricted for now. But I’ve posted my preliminary findings on the server. You’ll have my full report when I’m done.”
“We’ll have to catch up, when this is done,” he said. “It’s been too long.”
Kline extended his naked hand and I reached for it. He surprised me by pulling me into a tight embrace. He held me for several seconds before whispering, “Don’t close your eyes darling, not even for a second.”
He ended the moment with a quick kiss on my temple.
I watched him walk away and enter the door at the end of the hall. Seconds later he appeared in the room with Jennifer. The girl looked up as Kline fished through the toolbox. They were in a soundproof room, but the look of panic in Jennifer’s eyes and her muted scream assured me Kline’s report was about to be updated.
“You hungry?” Neal asked.
“If the Buffalo wings are as ruthless as I remember, I’ll pass.”
We took the elevator to the second floor, level “B’. As the doors closed behind us, Neal led me toward the small office at the end of the hall known as the ‘Broom Closet’, a location where agents were individually de-briefed after missions, or given psych evaluations. It was a necessary step before my reinstatement could become official.
Once inside, a burly agent with hairy arms jutting from his rolled up sleeves pulled out a wooden chair from beneath a metal table. He motioned for me to come forward. I noticed a pulse monitor polygraph on the table.
I turned to Neal.
“You know the drill.” Neal walked toward the door. “Hopefully this won’t take too long.”
“You’re not staying?”
“I’ve got to go get prepared for the briefing. I’ll send someone to get you when they’re done.”
I sat in the chair and placed my arms on the table. “Let’s get this over with, Cupcake.”
As the door closed behind Neal, I felt the man’s thick fingers clamp around my wrist. He wrapped a blood pressure gauge around my bicep and pulled it tight before securing the Velcro. As I adjusted to the tightness of the strap, the agent pressed my palm flat against the table and slid a plastic sheath over my ring finger.
My eyes followed the wire leads from the sheath up to the base of the monitor. The agent pressed a button on the device. After a few seconds, a pair of rectangular screens jumped to life and waves of thin lines began flowing across the panels from left to right.
Meanwhile, the agent reached behind the monitor and lifted a small syringe filled with a rust colored fluid. With a blank expression, he leaned in, lifted my right elbow and hovered over the bulging vein. Just as the needle punctured my skin, a light flickered on at the rear of the room. I made out a shadow of a person sitting on the other side of a window. A speaker clicked on, followed by an electronic hum. The burly agent left the room and a woman’s voice echoed through the audio system.
“I am going to ask you questions and you are going to answer truthfully. We have injected you with a chemical agent that will help facilitate this process. When this is over, you will most likely not remember what was asked or what you said. But in compliance with Agent Neal’s request, a video transcript of these proceedings will be made available to you after we have made our assessment. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“What is your name?” The woman asked.
“What is your agent CID?”
“What was your last assignment?”
“Have you killed for this agency before?”
My eyes grew heavy and my vision blurred. As the warm liquid snaked through my veins, it became more and more difficult to focus. My mind felt unhinged, like my brain was floating in a thick fog and I no longer felt in control of my thoughts. As I struggled to put words together and form a clear response, the woman’s voice boomed over the room again.
“Have you killed for this agency before?”
My lips began moving without my consent.