Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Special Guest: TM Hunter (& Aston West)

Cozies, please give a big. warm welcome to guest author TM Hunter whose latest book Friends in Deed, Book II in the Aston West sci-fi series, is now available from Champagne Books...

Aston West was condemned to life on the prison planet Lycus IV for spitting in a man’s face. Being forced to reside with the likes of murderers and thieves, he owes his freedom to Lars and Elijah Cassus, who orchestrated an escape. Now the twin brothers call in the favor and force him to return with their team to Lycus IV to rescue crewmate Leah Jordan.

Aston discovers Leah’s desire to leave the twins forever, but Lars and Elijah use fear and intimidation to control their group and no one leaves alive. It’s a case of kill or be killed and Aston will need to become more like the brothers than he ever wanted.

First of all, Friends in Deed is the 2nd book in your Aston West series. Tell us a bit about how you came by this particular space pirate?

Aston West actually came from a character I had originally come up with for a different novel (which thankfully never saw the light of day). That novel never really panned out as I mentioned, but I resurrected the main construct of the starship pilot, and developed Aston after the inspiration for my first novel came to me in a dream. I'm a big fan of characters who know when they truly have to do the right thing, even if it's the last thing they want to do, and it was a natural fit for the story behind my first novel, Heroes Die Young.

I'm fascinated by the world-building process. What tools helped you carry Aston's world into Book II?

Well, I do most of my world-building the old-fashioned way, with pencils, pens and paper (sometimes notecards). I drew out what might pass off as maps for locations and such. The prison planet which serves as the backdrop for much of the story actually came about from a brief mention in the first novel. Most of my world-building comes from just random brainstorming. Most of the main locations were derived from some need of the plot, but constructing them all so they flow together is always a trick.

To you, what makes Aston's world interesting?

I figure the same thing that makes Aston himself interesting, the fact that anyone could see themselves in these very places, and doing these very things (well, some more than others...he is a space pirate after all). That it all takes place in a distant galaxy hopefully makes the reader believe that there really are places and people out there just like these I've described.

How will readers be able to identify with Aston?

Aston is everyman, as I've heard many readers say. He's the type of guy who really just wants to be left alone to his own devises, but he's never able to achieve that. Life just has this way of trying to put the bottom of its boot on his throat, and he has to fight his way out of his predicaments. We've all been there.

What inspired you to write science fiction?

I've always been a big fan of space exploration and spacecraft. Anything space-related, I just couldn't get enough of. In fact, I ended up getting my degree in aerospace engineering, which is ironic, because most of the stuff I write violates almost every rule of spacecraft physics there is (but in my opinion, makes it far more exciting).

As I understand, the Aston West books have received praise from reviewers. Here's your chance to plug those review quotes :)

I've had several great reviews, here's a few:

I couldn't put it down - and I was drawn in from the first page on.
- E-book Guru

Heroes Die Young is one of those rare books that you meet, where the character has had a vivid life before and after the book. You just get to ride along during an exciting slice of it, and darn it, you wish there was more.
- Novelspot

This book was great fun to read, exciting and believable... T.M. Hunter is a name to remember for you sci-fi fans out there.
- Midwest Book Review

I usually don't read sci-fi/space age type books, but I must admit that this book piqued my interest. Even then, I thought that once I began to read it I would get bored or not understand what T.M. Hunter was talking about. I was completely wrong. This book is awesome.
- Book Universe

Mr. Hunter has written a refreshing heroic story that promises to build into a spectacular series.
- Coffee Time Romance

What are your plans for future books in this series?

I already have at least 2 or 3 plots lined out for Aston and friends (and enemies). The third novel is currently in work and trying not to give anything away, he finally realizes a relationship that so many had wished for since reading the first book. Beyond that, I plan on him facing off once more against his nemesis from my latest book. From there, it gets a little fuzzy, but I'm certain it will come to me by the time I'm ready to work it.

A visit to Cozy wouldn't be complete without a round of random questions. What is your zodiac? What is it telling you today?

I'm a Sagittarius. It doesn't tell me much most days, as I don't read a horoscope. I'm more a comic strip-type of guy.
I love a good laugh.

If you could be a fictional hero, what genre would your novel be?

Well, my novel would still be science fiction...

What genre would I like to be in? Still have to go with science fiction, though if I wasn't already married, erotica might be a nice touch (or perhaps erotic science fiction...but sorry, I draw the line at anything with tentacles. Guy's gotta have his standards).

LOL - If you were a mixed drink, what would you be?

Pina colada...pasty white and tasty.

Cute :) What recent read would you recommend?

I'd recommend Blade Dancer by K.M. Tolan. He has a great knack for world-building that really draws you into the story. I have another of his books, Rogue Dancer on my to-read list.

Thanks! What's your favorite smell and what makes it significant?

Haven't really thought about it too terribly much, but I'd have to say that jet aircraft exhaust (burning kerosene) is right up there. In addition to spacecraft, airplanes have always been one of my favorite things. Smelling exhaust on an airport ramp is one of the finest smells I can think of.

What a unique answer - definitely haven't heard that one yet! If you looked into the Mirror of Erised, what would you see? (This object of Harry Potter lore reveals the deepest desire of a person's heart. Orphaned Harry sees his parents, friend Ron sees himself distinguished, and Albus Dumbledore claims to see a new pair of socks.) And, just for fun, what would Aston see?

Aston would see an endless supply of money and Vladirian liquor. The man's not hard to please.

Nice! Would you like to share an excerpt from Friends in Deed with us today?

Certainly...here you go:


Even in the depth of my nightmares, Lycus IV was a formidable hell. The scenery misled one to think of mighty grandeur. Lush green trees lined the banks. Sporadic cloud cover offered broken views of a pale blue mountain range.

The prison planet's terror was not found in its natural surroundings, but from its unwilling inhabitants.

A wide, slow-moving river flowed in front of me over a deep bed of rocks. My filthy clothing was ripped and shredded, and exposed bloody skin. I gazed back across the clear, inviting water.

A bellow filled the air and I turned. A pale, naked giant rumbled through the brush, stil yelling at the top of his lungs. High above his head, he gripped his makeshift mallet, a boulder strapped into the fork of a tree branch. I jumped aside as the weapon crashed down.

He stared with one wide eye and the other glazed over. Saliva dribbled from his lips.

"I am King of the wooded realm! You dare invade my territory?"

This wasn't a fight I planned to stick around for. Psychotics were the worst type of violent.

He hoisted his club and swung it at me. I stumbled back and it came so close I felt the breeze. I turned toward the opposite bank and sprinted across the riverbed.

"Your punishment is death! Vengeance is demanded!"

I high-stepped through calf-deep water while the beast screamed bloody murder. I dared not look back, because there was no doubt he gained on me with every step.

My foot caught a cluster of rocks under the surface and I splashed down, drenched by the cool, clear water. I flipped over and faced my attacker as he left me in a cold, dark shadow. Milky-white foam oozed over his lower lip.

"Prepare to meet your maker!"

He raised his mallet high above his head. At least death would be quick, but I couldn't say much for painless. I closed my eyes and waited for the crushing blow.

A whistle filled the air and the giant beast gasped and choked. My eyes flashed open as the beast dropped his weapon into the river behind him.

Only one object stood between me and oblivion, a homemade arrow buried in his neck. He couldn't pull it from the front, so reached back. His mind gave up hope as soon as his fingers probed the stone tip. The monster's eyes rolled up out of the way, then his body fell backward.

The corpse splashed down and huge waves rolled past me. I scrambled around and gazed at the opposite bank. There, a bow in his left hand and more arrows strapped to his back, stood the man who'd saved his life.

Elijah Cassus.

Thank you, T.M., for sharing with us today! As a new fan to sci-fi, I can't wait to check Aston's books out!

Readers, T.M. has kindly offered one lucky commenter a copy of Friends in Deed. Contest will be open until Thursday noon EST and the winner announced shortly after.


AstonWest said...

Thanks for having me! Can't wait to give away a copy of my book to one lucky commenter. Would have been here earlier this morning, but storms rolled through and knocked out any chance I had of getting on the internet...fun times.

clairewhill said...

Always good to hear from you. Keep writing hon, your mind is amazing :-)

AstonWest said...

Not sure I'd use the word amazing (perhaps neurotic or troubled), but thanks! :-P

Lucy said...

Please count me in.


AstonWest said...

You're counted, Lucy! ;-)

Alex Flynn said...

Hello. I'm entering myself into this contest to win an awesome book from an awesome author. :-) hairypiglet5@hotmail.com. :-) thanks. Keep writing!!

AstonWest said...

Thanks for stopping by!

I'm not sure of the protocol here...Amber, were you picking the random commenter?

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Aston, I'll post the winner sometime today!

TKToppin said...

Oh crap! I'm always late for the party. Missed out again...oh well.