Tag Archive | C.L Davies

Author Interview – Cheryl Davies

The Mark 2 fibreglass (Tom Yardley-Jones) Tard...

The Mark 2 fibreglass (Tom Yardley-Jones) Tardis as used in the 1980s – photo taken by me Zir 23:49, 18 May 2007 (UTC) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greetings, Bookworms!

Today, I’m happy to share with you all my interview with Cheryl Davies, author of Automaton!  And since Cheryl has yet to provide me with a picture of herself, I’m inserting a picture of the TARDIS. I’m using the TARDIS because she is from the U.K. and because WHO DOESN’T LOVE DR.WHO?!

Now onto the interview!

The Bookworm:  So tell me where the inspiration for this story came from?

Cheryl Davies:  It came from my own obsession with reality TV – fascinated as I was by a certain summer show, I found myself happily watching the participants even as they sleep! It really got me thinking about our TV and gaming society, and just how far an obsession with either might go. In the book, Amelia takes the baton of such obsession, and really runs with it.

The Bookworm:  Some authors model characters after people they know.  Is anybody you know lurking as a character in your book?

Davies:  Funnily enough, all the characters within the pages are the namesakes of my family and friends – I didn’t want to spend time agonising over name choices, so I just went with names I knew. I had every intention of going back over the work and changing the names, but, er, didn’t really get round to it. But are any of them based on the personalities of my family and friends? No, not really. With the one exception of Cameron, who was based on a lovely guy I dated at University.

The Bookworm:  In my opinion the innate bond between Dean and Lily is the heart of the book. Was there ever a draft or time when this relationship was fundamentally different?

Davies:  I always intended them to be a happy, committed couple. Although (spoiler alert) I did have a different ending for them in my initial draft – I wanted Dean and Lily to escape GameWorld, to live happily ever after in the real world, but when I was trying to write it, it became obvious that it just wasn’t realistic. I couldn’t find a way out for poor Dean, and actually cried when I wrote his final chapter.

The Bookworm:  The relationship between Luke and Amelia is in a way an inverted mirror of Dean and Lily’s relationship with Dean and Lily’s being the more sane/rational one.  Was this a way of showing the reader how modern society is losing control to the entertainment aspect of our lives?

Davies:  Well, I would love to sound super intelligent, and say ‘yes,’ when in actual fact I was just trying to portray the possible insanity of obsession via Luke and Amelia, but I love your take on it! It’s fascinating and brilliant how we all take different things from a book.

The Bookworm:  Well don’t worry about sounding super intelligent, because now I feel like one of those snotty English majors that I went to school with!  Snotty English majors aside, What do you read for pleasure?

Davies:  Anything by Dean Koontz, so long as he’s not being too long-winded, when sadly I skim-read to get to the action. But most of the time his writing is simply scrumptious. Holidaying a few years ago, I got so into Demon Seed that I didn’t leave the hotel room for an entire day, and my despairing partner had to go exploring on his lonesome! Steven King is a favourite too.

Since I started reviewing for Indie authors last summer, I’ve discovered a whole new world of totally amazing authors, many of whom have blown me away with epic debuts!

I love anything sci-fi, set in sparkly Space, or in an imaginative, speculative future. I also love anything that makes me tingle with trepidation, although I scare easily, so can’t manage real horror.

The Bookworm:  What book/character/scene do you wish you had written?

Davies:  Recently I read and reviewed the amazing story Erasure, by A.T.H Webber – about the thrall of the Internet and the effect of it upon our spiritual afterlife, I read it and literally thought, ‘Damn, I wish I’d thought of that!’

Just for Fun

The Bookworm:  Favorite literary character?

Davies:  ‘quIRK,’ the quantum super-computer in T. Gregory’s The ABACUS Protocol: Sanity Vacuum. With a humble wish to see a tree, ordering kittens off the Galactic equivalent of the Internet, he made me cry, made me laugh, and made me think.

The Bookworm:  Favorite Jell-O flavor?

Davies:  Orange, preferably in my mum’s homemade trifle at Christmas. (hehe, had to check on the Net that Jell-O is what we call ‘jelly,’ or that might have been one weird answer!)

The Bookworm:  James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Ethan Hunt?

Davies:  Perhaps shockingly, I don’t know who the last two are, so it’d be Bond. But if it were a no-bounds choice, it would be Nicolas Cage every time!

The Bookworm:  Guilty pleasure?

Davies:  Can I say Nicholas Cage again? No? OK, reality TV. I’m a Celebrity, Big Brother, X-Factor.

The Bookworm:  If you could live in any period of time in any part of the world, where would you live and why?

Davies:  I’ve had to spend a couple of days thinking about this one. Right, I would live in the present, because when I think about the past, it’s always in black and white (does anyone else do that?), like a newspaper world. Strange, I know. And when I think about the future, it’s too bizarre, with disembodied heads ‘living’ in tanks, the sky blackened from some chemical incident or whatever, and it’s too unfamiliar. So where would I live? I love my little IOM, but would like to move nearer to the sea – with hermit aspirations, I dream about looking out the window and seeing nothing but a blue expanse. Doesn’t that sound nice?

I just want to add my thanks, Erin, for taking the time to support debut novelists like me. Your interest really means a lot. And thanks for coming up with the best questions ever!

The Bookworm:  Thank you for the kind words, Cheryl.  Readers!  Be sure to check out Cheryl Davies’ Blog as well as our review of Automaton!

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About the Slush Pile and the Indie Author

Finish Line

Finish Line (Photo credit: jayneandd)

The amount of review requests that come in on a weekly basis is actually staggering. I had never realized the amount of indie/small press authors out there trying to get some recognition. But one thing I noticed is that a lot of requests simply read “Here’s my book. Please review.”

That’s it. No pride. No drive. No initiative. Just a poorly worded email that probably took more time for me to read it than for them to write it and send it. I’ll be honest. It could be the greatest story ever told and it wouldn’t make it out of my slush pile. If the author isn’t excited about the book, then why should I be?

Then there are books that at first glance, I have no interest in. Maybe the synopsis just isn’t grabbing my attention. Maybe I’m burned out on that particular genre at the time. It could be one of a million reasons. But whatever the reason, I’m just not interested.

But what happens when these books come from a passionate author willing to bleed to sell you on the idea of their book? Well you might just get me interested. Take Automaton for example.

Automaton is the debut novel of Cheryl (C.L.) Davies. At my first glance of the review request for this book, I was initially going to put it in the “I’ll Get to it When I Get to it” pile. The initial idea didn’t really intrigue me because this idea had been done before in a variety of ways.

One of my favorite movies is The Truman Show and the premise was somewhat similar. Notice I say, somewhat. I admit that I didn’t really do my due diligence when first presented with this book.

Cheryl Davies was different from those authors. She is one of authors who fights tooth and nail for every review. Instead of the usual boring, generic request for a review, Cheryl gave a wonderful pitch in which she said it was something akin to “the Sims on crack” (I don’t remember the exact words and am too lazy to go recheck it).

That sold me on the book immediately because let’s face it: Who doesn’t like the Sims?! Oh, you don’t like the Sims? Well you must be a completely soulless demon of some kind. Seriously.

Beside the fact that it convinced me to read the book, my conversations with Cheryl illustrated one of my issues with some indie authors. I noticed that a good portion of them think that their job is done once the book is written. It is almost as if they believe the book will sell itself.

They see the whole process as a 40 yard dash and once they cross that finish line, they can sit back and enjoy the roar of the crowd. What they fail to realize is that independent publishing isn’t a 40 yard dash. It is a marathon that starts with the concept of your book and you cross the finish line only after you have decided that you have sold enough books.
And if one is passionate about writing, you can never sell enough books.

While some of these authors are sitting back wondering why their book is not selling, the passionate ones are marketing their books, listening to feedback, and most importantly writing the next one.

I guess the whole point of this rant is to say that if you aren’t passionate about writing, if you aren’t willing to pour your heart and soul into your novels, if you aren’t willing to bleed to make your book successful, maybe just maybe you are in the wrong business.

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Automaton by C.L. Davies (Book Review)


Automaton by C.L. Davies

In the not too distant future, after the huge successes of role-playing games, virtual worlds and reality shows, it was only a matter of time before somebody took the next step.  A remote island: a population existing only to entertain. Their lives broadcast around the clock and around the globe. Their actions dictated by their owners. It’s the world’s biggest game played by thousands. Welcome to Gameworld.

Dean 3012 is a good guy living on the Island. He loves his girlfriend, Lily, to pieces. With their first baby on the way, life is perfect. But when things take a sinister turn, the couple are plunged into a world of darkness and despair. Dean must somehow find a way to take control and fight for all their lives.

Amelia watches the game, given the gift of a Gameworld Character when she was but a small child. However, when her character’s happiness is threatened, how far will Amelia go to protect her?

The Bookworm’s Summary:

Clocking in at 200 pages, Automaton follows the story of Dean and Lily as they enjoy their blissful existence.  They live fairly normal lives except for a couple of weird laws:  No one can be out after curfew and when they turn in for the night, they must wear sleep masks.  Violating one of these laws will result in death. But these are small prices to pay to live in the world that Dean and Lily live in.  Crime is non-existent.

Things begin to change after Dean meets a woman who works as a bartender.  When Dean wakes up the next morning, Dean finds himself against his will pursuing this woman.  He tries to stop himself but nothing he does works.  Dean doesn’t know it but his controller has programed this desire into him.

When Lily’s controller, Amelia, realizes what is going on, she starts taking steps to counteract this.  She can’t understand why Dean’s controller would do this to Lily.  Amelia thinks that perhaps she can reason with Dean’s controller.  The problem is that controllers are anonymous.  Once Amelia finds Dean’s controller, things begin to rapidly spin out of control.





The Bookworm’s Impressions:

This book is very well written.  The characters pull you in immediately.  There were times when I would forget that Dean and Lily were “characters” in Gameworld and not part of the outside world.  In fact, it wasn’t until the very end of the book that I remembered that Dean and Lily were robots and not human at all.

Cheryl Davies does an outstanding job of taking the reader on the Dean’s journey.  I shared in Dean’s joys, cheered when he attempted to fight his programing, lamented in his inability to do so, and ultimately understood the heart-wrenching sorrow that would overtake him.

The characters on the outside world were just as intriguing as the characters within the Gameworld.  Being a reality-tv show junkie (Though I must say that I am not as bad as my mother.  Boy, can that woman suck down some reality-tv!), I can totally understand the obsession of Amelia and the other characters in the outside world.

Of course this comes from a woman who occasionally creates friends/co-workers on The Sims and throws them all into a house together a la Big Brother to see what happens (So what if I keep preventing that witch a couple of offices down from going to the bathroom so she ends up wetting the floor.  It’s funny.  Don’t judge.).

I think one of the things that I loved the most was the intricate layering of plots.  The outside world had control over Gameworld but in its own way, Gameworld began to influence the outside world.  There were so many threads woven beautifully together:  e.g. Dean and Lily, Amelia and Luke, the individual rebellions in Gameworld against “Big Brother”, the fight to overcome one’s programming (I might characterize this a mind vs. body type of fight), and the eventual total humanization of Dean.

This book is a quick and enjoyable read.  I would highly recommend it.

The Bookworm gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars!

To learn more about Cheryl Davies, check out her blog!  Check out some of our other book reviews!  Check back over the weekend for an interview with Cheryl Davies!

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