By Kristene/Joshua Perron/Simpson
Mint Publishers Inc., $5.66, 502 pages, Format: eBook
Star Rating: 5 out of 5
When Cultural Theorist Seg travels to another world to locate a source of vita, he never expects to be caught up in local intrigue. But after an influential and lecherous man, Lord Uval, attacks Ama, a female boat captain, Seg and his bodyguard, Manatu, step in and violently murder him and his cronies. Manatu is mortally wounded and sent back to his own world. Seg strikes up a deal with Ama to protect her and her family when armies of his own people plan to travel into her world to secure the precious vita.
Between the political intrigue and the adventure plot line, Warpworld is so dense that I couldn’t help but get sucked in. The story was electrified with conflict, starting with the tension between the castes in Ama’s world and continuing with the friction between Ama and Seg. Both Ama and Seg have so much to lose that every chapter drips with their desperation, propelling the plot forward. Both are such interesting characters as well—Ama an almost token “strong female” archetype, and Seg, good at what he does, but lost and somewhat inexperienced in Ama’s world.
While many of the concepts introduced into Kristene Perron and Joshua Simpson’s world were unusual and extremely creative, I never felt as though I didn’t know what was going on. For example, vita, the fuel that powers the warps that allow Seg’s people to travel between worlds, is created when groups of people pray. Seg finds it in places of worship, and he’s drawn to Ama’s world because his equipment detects strong levels of vita where the warp drops him off. Not only is this explained in the beginning of the book, but it is re-explained through Seg’s conversations with Ama. When I delve into a new adventure novel, one of my main concerns as a reader is whether or not I’ll understand the made-up words and imagined components of the story. However, Warpworld delivers enough explanation to satisfy even the most easily confused readers. Even the political tension between the Kenda and the Shasir, two of the story's ethnic groups, is fully explained so that readers are not left in the dark for half the novel.
As I read Warpworld, it reminded me of fantasy author Robin Hobb’s style: an epic adventure with brilliant characters in a vivid world. Warpworld provides a spirited, engaging tale that will suck readers in from start to finish.
Two writers — separated by time zones, international borders and some 3,000 kilometres — may not be the most likely pairing to co-write a five-book science fiction series.
But Nelson author Kristene Perron says collaborating with Joshua Simpson from Texas is what gave her the motivation to sit down and write the first draft of all five books in a mere 18 months.
“I would wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and just write all day,” Perron said, sitting in her home office where she spent all those hours feverishly typing.
A collage of pictures on the wall depict each of her characters and their families (or, more accurately, the celebrity or public figure who reminds her of each character).
The book centres around two worlds — one that has depleted its resources, and one that is resource rich but suffers from political corruption — and characters who travel between them, stealing what they need to survive and escape their enemies.
When they were writing the books, Perron and Simpson divided up the characters and would take turns writing scenes together in a Google document.
“We were writing live, so we could see each other’s words appearing on the screen as we typed, and we’d also have a Google chat window open to tell the other person when it was their turn to write,” Perron explains.
Perron didn’t meet her writing partner in person until last summer. Initially, he contacted her through her blog, asking her advice on how to become a writer, then he asked if she’d work on the project with him.
“He told me his idea for one of the worlds. It was such a good idea, immediately I just said, ‘yes, let’s do this,’” Perron recalls.
She came up with the second world (no surprise hers is the one that is lush and resource rich, like the Kootenay landscape) and created some characters. Then the two writers got to work, weaving their stories together.
“We had a blast writing the first draft,” Perron said. “We’d try to throw curve balls at each other and challenge our characters to get through new situations.”
When the books were finished, they polished the manuscript for the first book (“It takes about 20 drafts to get it right,” laughed Perron) and, with the help of Nelson's Mint Literary Agency, started sending it to publishing houses across North America.
“That’s when all the really nice rejection letters started coming,” said Perron.
They couldn’t find anyone to buy the book, but Perron was determined not to let it sit in a drawer, forgotten.
“I was determined, because I love the story and I know it’s good, I wanted to get it out there for other people to read,” Perron said.
She decided to self publish the first novel, Warpworld, and plans to do the same with the other four.
Warpworld is now available for download onto e-readers and in hard copy through print on demand. Copies are now being sold on Amazon, and the Kindle and Kobo stores.
Since the book came out, Perron has become her own publicist, looking for buyers online and within her personal networks. Simpson is doing the same.
“You never know what can happen with self publishing,” Perron said. “There are authors who abandon traditional publishing because they can do better independently. But it takes some time to build a reputation with readers.”
Locally, hard copies of Warpworld are for sale at Otter Books. Perron is also having a book launch at the Nelson Public library, Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be reading and signing copies of Warpworld and has also recruited a handful of L.V. Rogers secondary school drama students to help bring scenes from the book to life.