Mixing fantasy and science fiction, Mariah can do it.
Mariah Avix is the creator of 600 Second Saga. A space for developing authors to explore the realms of science fiction and fantasy in 10 minutes or less every week. Mariah writes magical tales of how technology will change our world, and technologically laced tales of magic, that probably isn’t real. She is currently working on a series of novellas about shapeshifters who fight wildfires, a trilogy about a woman who refuses to admit that she has the M word (magic), and endless flash fiction. When she’s not writing she walks along the rivers and parks throughout her city looking for inspiration.
- Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
Yes! I think the biggest misconception is that it is a singular thing. Or that it is a less powerful thing. Humans have been telling speculative fiction as long as there have been stories. Where did lightening come from? Why does it flood? What are the sparkly things up above us and why do they mostly show up at night?
Speculative fiction lets us explore the unknown, cope with change, and better understand ourselves as we are today. There is something for everyone in speculative fiction. From stories projecting what the applications of future tech will be, to stories with the barest hint of was it magic or was it real? So many love stories have a spark of magic. So many underdog sports stories have a whisper of the impossible come true. It really laces through everything.
2. Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book?
Summer Solace is a love story. All three of the main characters the story follows feel like they won’t ever have the ability to love or trust again and discovering that people are flawed and having to live with it or deciding not to.
3. Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
Right now I think it is Faye. She is a middle aged woman who is sort of a park ranger, a fire fighter, a widow, the person who keeps the shifters in her community in line, and a peregrine falcon. She’s very dedicated to her community and loves the people and animals around her completely. She’s also open to a chance at love again after having lost her husband and son, and she’s willing to struggle but not compromise.
4. Titles have always been extremely difficult for me. How do you come up with yours?
Titles are extremely difficult for me too! In all cases except for 1 I have the same process. When I start the book, I label it the worst possible thing. My current WIP for the first 3 drafts was “Mountain Lion Man” because the story centered around a man who was a mountain lion shifter… The book I just put out was titled “Peregrine Falcon Woman” (I’ll bet you can guess what it is about!) I start fairly early on in the book listing key words, themes, and ideas in a file. As I go along, I start to remix them. Then I’ll talk through my best ideas with a good friend who usually manages to say oh! and remix those ideas in a new way. Rinse and repeat a handful of times until I like something. I’ve had as many as 20 title iterations.
Dangerous Metal is the only title that ever felt easy and obvious. I still think it is a fantastic title for that novel and is my favorite title.
5. What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
Always read your work out loud. It makes a lot of sense to me as someone who does audio work, but it is also partly a throwback to story telling has been around longer than writing has. Humans have told stories as long as they could. Sometimes the story is don’t eat that root because it makes you sick. Sometimes it is the best berries are over there. And sometimes it is look up to the sky and guess what’s out there.
Those stories were told out loud. Passed along. Intended to have rhythm and motion. And that’s still the case for the best stories. Reading your work out loud lets you hear if there is rhythm and motion; it lets you feel the pacing and stumble. If you stumble when you read something aloud, then your reader will stumble. It is a good way to proofread. It is also a good way to fall in love with your own work after a lot of editing. (Though I recommend taking a break before you go right into reading again.)
6. Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Do you have any other books in the works?
I’m working on a couple things right now. I am reworking from scratch a novel about a woman who is very unhappy to discover she might have the m word (magic). It’s an urban fantasy with a lot of magic on technical items (versus technical magic). I think the intersection of technology and magic is a wonderful space for stories.
I’m also working on the next of the Smoke Jumpers series, I have 2 novellas in progress for that. Each of them will feature different lead characters though they are all in the same world.
Where can we find you online?
Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/mariah_avix
Malcolm needs a summer away to decide if he wants to stay with his cheating wife. His daughter Daisy never wants to see the people who betrayed her.
In a cabin as far from the city as they can get Faye, the park ranger, warns them of fire, woods, and wildlife.
Will either learn to love or trust again, or will the forest devour them first?
Daisy frowned and picked up the binoculars by the window. She wasn’t sure but it looked sort of like a wisp of smoke. Looking closer there were no other wisps in the area. It didn’t seem like fog.
She held the binoculars pointed at the wisp and grabbed for the phone. She dialed the park office and Faye answered. “Hi Faye. I think I maybe see something that looks a little like smoke.”
“Where are you?” Faye’s voice was tense and high.
“I’m in my room, I’m looking down–” The line went dead.
Daisy frowned and looked down at the phone, it didn’t seem like Faye to hang up before getting all the details, but maybe she was going to race up the path. She’d done that before, gotten up to the cabin inhumanly fast. Daisy didn’t know if she should try the next number of the list.
She looked through the binoculars again, the wisp was still there, she was feeling more confident that it was fire. A screeching call and a huge bird seemed to fly right at her. She dropped the binoculars. She reached out to grab it but the bird grabbed it in its claws and flew back up to her. The bird set the binoculars down and screeched at her.
Daisy had been looking through the birding books and recognized it as a peregrine falcon as it perched on the window ledge. It screeched and pushed the binoculars toward her. Daisy picked them up. The bird of prey wanted something from her. She’d never been this close to a bird.
The bird called again and used its head to bump her hand, raising the binoculars closer to her eyes. Daisy got the feeling that the bird wanted to know where the fire was. She frowned and decided to play along.
She spotted the wisp again and pointed in the direction. The falcon took off. Daisy kept her eyes focused on the smoke. The falcon was diving into the spot incredibly fast. Daisy stared at the spot for a while longer but all she could see was that the amount of smoke seemed to increase.
Daisy dug out the list of phone numbers that Faye had given her and started at the top of the list. A man who sounded like he’d just woken up gruffly answered the phone. Daisy relayed the last few minutes of the morning to him.
She heard a loud roar that sounded for all the world like a bear through the phone, it got quieter quickly. A younger man who sounded surprisingly calm spoke into the phone. “We are on our way. Call this number immediately if you see anything change. Keep an eye from above. Do whatever the bird wants.”