Monday, October 24, 2011

Are they out there?

 Given my town's -- Sedona, Arizona -- reputation for being Woo-Woo Central, I suppose it’s inevitable that some visiting smart alecks ask, “So…any spaceships land here lately?”

I usually answer with the straightest of faces, “The mother-ship lands every afternoon in the parking lot, but I wouldn’t advise taking it, since it’s the local, not the express.”

The usually just stare at me then, and I’m never sure whether they think I’m crazy, or if they are. I’m honestly surprised by how often we get that question — really, too many times to count. I don’t even know where it comes from. I associate Sedona with crystal stores and psychics, along with such non-metaphysical avenues as hiking and great views. Not aliens.

I’m not one of those people who has ever seen evidence of alien visitations. If E.T. popped up in my kitchen, I think my heart would stop.

And yet, as a lifelong science fiction fan, I love the idea. I was weaned on it. Who can forget how, in The Day the Earth Stood Still, Michael Rennie instructed Patricia Neal to give the robot Gort the command, “Klaatu barado nikto,” to keep it from destroying the Earth?

So it’s not a surprise that a sci-fi strain has found its way into my writing in the forthcoming second adventure in my Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty Magical Mystery, Magical Alienation, which will debut shortly. 

For a writer, fantasy of any kind presents the ultimate “What if…?” situation. The most exciting aspect is when the writer takes actual facts and/or widely accepted urban legend, and mixes in a giant helping of imagination, to create something that nobody has ever seen before, but which feels as if it really could happen right in our world.

The first book in the series, the Lefty Award-nominated for Best Humorous Mystery, High Crimes on the Magical Plane, introduced fake psychic Samantha Brennan and genuine Celtic goddess/FBI agent Annabelle Haggerty, along with Angus, the ever-hot ancient god of youth and love and laughter, who becomes Samantha’s love-slave, as well as leprechauns, banshees and other mystical beings, who shake up Samantha’s view of the universe.

Magical Alienation picks up with High Crimes on the Magical Plane left off, introducing new gods and goddesses, including Fiona, Annabelle’s secretive goddess mother, and the trickster gods of Lugh and Taliesin, responsible for such real present-day phenomenon as bizarre weather patterns and crop circles. There is a reason why Allyson James, the national bestselling author of Stormwalker called Magical Alienation, “…a hilarious tangle of gods and goddesses.”

It explores what may have happened in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The craft that crashed there then — which the U.S. government has always insisted was a weather balloon, but which local residents at the time insisted was an alien aircraft, with actual alien inhabitants — and the persistence with which this rumor has continued to circulate to this day, has always fascinated me. In all likelihood it was a weather balloon, but what fun is that? That’s where the “What if…?” scenario and imagination comes in. Magical Alienation not only explores that crash, it probes the mysterious Area 51 in Nevada. And if you think you know what those places are all about, you’re in for a whale of a surprise in Magical Alienation!

In science fiction, particularly the old films, earthlings are often depicted as the buttheads of the universe. We’re seen as beings so careless with our own environment and theirs that other creatures have to come from planets across the galaxy to give us a collective slap on the wrist to keep us from messing up all of space. You have to admit that Michael Rennie as Klaatu seemed the ultimate universal diplomat in The Day the Earth Stood Still, while we savage earthlings sure proved him right when we shot him.

Some of the characters in Magical Alienation can’t dispute that butthead-theory, including Rand Riker, the bad boy of Rock ’n’ Roll, who’ll do anything for eternal youth, Kenny Campbell, the junior senator from Arizona, with his curious definition of “family values,” as well as a rouge militia unit whose form of domestic terrorism has a decidedly magical twist.

Throw in a horrific harmonic convergence and the darkest night the planet has ever seen, and it’s not clear which of these characters can possibly survive it.

That’s why Darynda Jones, author of Second Grave to the Left, wrote, “It’s intriguing and IMPOSSIBLE to put down! Get this book. You will not be disappointed!” And why fantasy author, Jeff Mariotte, author of the Dark Vengeance series, described it as: “…fearless, frenetic, and funny. Kris Neri's tale of gods and rock stars and fake psychics has more twists and turns than a French braid, and she employs all her mystery-writer's chops to keep readers spellbound from beginning to end, wondering who’s really who and what’s really next.”

I just call it the most fun I’ve ever written. And let me remind you, as Samantha discovers, when Celtic gods are involved, nothing is ever as it appears.

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