Saturday, 5 December 2015

An introduction to the MANY LIVES Futureverse

Answers to some frequently asked questions about the MANY LIVES FUTUREVERSE
1. How did I conceive Ruby Iyer?
When a young photojournalist was raped in the centre of Bombay in broad daylight a few years ago. It made me furious. But what could I do about it?  Then, I had a vision of a young girl who would not back down; who would follow her instincts, stand up for herself, regardless of consequences. Thus Ruby Iyer was born.
2. Why should YOU read the RUBY IYER DIARIES?
This 10,000 words novelette, is an easy, low commitment way for you to decide if you want to invest more time in reading the series.
4. What is the MANY LIVES Futureverse?
The MANY LIVES Futureverse begins with the story of Ruby Iyer and Vikram Roy in Bombay 2014-15. It extends to their progeny, with stories set in Bombay & London 2035 and Bombay & London 2060.  It also covers the story of Ruby's Ma, Kay Braganza set in the early '90s.

The books planned in the Futureverse include:
  • Elusive Life -The Story of Kay Bragana, Ruby's Ma
  • Secret Life- The Story of Pankaj Mehta. Through his story explore what it means to grow up as a gay boy in Bombay
  • Shoot The Moon, the story of Jai Iyeroy, Ruby and Vikram's son, set in Bombay 2035. This one's an out and out action thriller/love story. When Jai Iyeroy falls in love with Ariana West he must turn his back on everything he is to win back her trust.
  • UnTamed Life -  The Story of Leana Iyeroy, Ruby and Vikram's granddaughter, set in Bombay 2060.  A magic-realist, action, coming-of-age tale. 
  • As new characters emerge, I will follow the thread and unravel their stories too.
5. What connects all the books in the MANY LIVES Futureverse?
Ruby Iyer's story is connected to that of Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese princess in whose dowry Charles II received the seven islands of Bombay. Catherine's sword has the power to control nature if and only if it is used by her direct illegitimate bloodline, for there is no record of her having had children.  As each generation after Ruby comes of age, turns eighteen and inherits the sword, their story is triggered.

6. Is it Mumbai or Bombay?
The city changed its name in 1995. I grew up in Bombay and the MANY LIVES futureverse is also set in Bombay, now a city that does not exist in the real world.

7. Why do I write?
I write to understand myself.

8. What you can expect from my books?
I believe you will find yourself reflected in one or perhaps many of my characters. I hope my stories will help you understand yourself better, help you unravel your own life motivations, just as I peel back the layers of my life when I write.

9. What is my style of writing called?
My style is 'Suzanne Collins meets Haruki Murakami.' Magic realist, fantastical, action thrillers, with young protagonists as heroes.  I have also been called a mainstream Angela Carter
10. What is the suggested order of reading THE RUBY IYER FUTUREVERSE
Each book is a stand alone in the series. 

This is ONLY a suggested reading order
The Ruby Iyer Diaries

Still to come
Elusive Life
Second Lives
Secret Life
Shoot The Moon Series

Now out
UnTamed Life: The Story of Wolfgirl Leana Iyeroy. A stand alone story in the RUBY IYER universe.  Part of the UnCommon Bodies Anthology

11. How can you reach me? 
Receive a free copy of THE RUBY IYER DIARIES when you sign up to my newsletter
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Friday, 20 November 2015

UnTamed excerpt

I am very excited that my short story UnTamed has been picked to be part of the UnCommon Bodies Anthology, a collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Here is a short excerpt from UnTamed a stand alone story in the RUBY IYER futureverse.

Wolf girl Leana Iyeroy, the first hybrid in her family, only ever wanted to be 100% human. An unexpected encounter with the Hugging Saint of Bombay forces Leana to face the wolf inside her. Will she finally make peace with herself? A magic-realist, coming-of-age tale.

Sept 30, 2060. 4pm
"Your stories are very amusing, old man, but now that you know who I am, I have to kill you," I pull grandmother's sword out from its sheath. Everyone in this new world has been looking for this sword and I inherited it a few weeks ago. Me, the first half-human descendant of the woman who destroyed Bombay.
Pulse racing, I rush forward, bringing the blade down on him; but he moves aside and I slide past and bang my head against the railing of the boat. I spring back to my feet and waltz around him, ready to leap.
He's looking at me, arms hanging by his sides. He seems not in the least surprised. Then, he raises a hand and beckons, one side of his lips quirking in a smile. Blood thudding in my ears, I jump towards him, and again he steps aside; only this time he puts out his foot and I stumble over it and crash, face down, right at the feet of the other two, who burst out laughing.
"You sure fight like a girl," the fisherman snickers.
What the—! Is he making fun of me?
Anger blasts through my head, filling the space behind my eyes. The hair on my forearms stands on end, bristling like spears; my nostrils quiver, leg muscles tense and I grip my sword.
"Came to learn from the master swordsman himself, did you?" the baker chuckles.
"What do you mean?" I growl, already swinging to face the old lamp seller.
"He's Aki, the best swordsman in the islands; perhaps in all of this new world. And he's been waiting for you," The fisherman replies.
"Oh! Yeah? Has he now?" I sneer and, pushing the fisherman aside, I lunge once more at the lamp seller. One step, a second, a third, and I leap through the air–Didn't see that coming did you old man?–and fall head down against the wooden floor.
The breath whooshes out of me and my nose slams against the wooden boards. I hear the sickening crunch of it breaking and pain shoots through me, screeching through my nerve endings, so I almost black out. My hands are flung out, the right gripping the sword and I scream as a heavy weight crunches on my palm, forcing me to loosen my fingers.
"No! No! No!" He's wrenched my sword from my grasp and is holding it aloft.
 "Don't you dare!" I grind out through clenched teeth.
He grins and, still looking at me, tosses the sword up in the air.
What the–? I follow the blade as it whirls around and up and up and up, ‘til it is silhouetted against the sun. It drops down, hilt up. Grabbing the sword by the blunt side, he swings the handle towards me. 
A scream boils up, then everything goes dark.

Intrigued? To read more, buy your copy of UnCommon Bodies HERE
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Friday, 13 November 2015

Never Saw It Coming

Because I'm trying my hand at short fiction ...  

Never Saw It Coming

"He spent his last £30 on a plate of oysters and a glass of champagne."
"But he's vegetarian!" I exclaim before I can stop myself.
"Is he?" Kieran frowns, "He downed the oysters in one go." He takes a swig of his pint.
Why would he lie to me? Has he been lying to me all this time? Something else niggles at the edge of mind, but the thought is gone before it's fully formed.
"I've always been vegetarian. Have vegetarian genes," I say.
"I tried to be vegetarian." He says and when I look at him, surprised, and he adds quickly, "A few years ago." 
I half nod. People always have to share their trysts with vegetarianism, with me.
"It's one reason I look younger." No, shouldn't have said that. Damn. And he of course picks up the cue.
"How old are you?" He asks.
I smile and shake my head.
"Go on, you can tell me." He opens his eyes wide, places his chin on his fist, and leans forward. I see the spots on his face, the uncombed hair hanging over his eyebrows. He's younger than I thought he was. His eagerness is a turn on, though, and I want to sleep with him. Just to taste him.
 "I'm not saying." I say sharply and his eyebrows arch in surprise.
Stop overreacting Ariana. It's just a simple question.
"I can be any age you want." It just slips out and I swear inwardly. I didn't just say that. I didn't. Forget it move on. But before I can say something more, he asks "When we meet, I'd like to spank you, is that okay?"
Ah! Well, he's changed the topic and quite neatly too.
 "Never been spanked," I say lightly. "But I'd try it. Once."
"Spanking's good for circulation" he grins. "Keeps your skin supple."
I bet!
"Where was he flying to?" I ask.
I jerk at that and stare and he clarifies, "Mongolia."
"Yeah! Yeah! I know that." Ulaanbaatar? Couldn't he have picked Rio or Bermuda? What game are you playing this time, dear husband? "No oysters in Ulaanbaatar," I mutter. "Only horse meat and porridge."
He wrinkles his nose.
"Not too bad once you add vodka to the porridge ... for dinner, of course." I add hastily.
"Of course!" Kieran smirks, then, asks, "So have you decided when?"
I look at a spot somewhere above his shoulder and mumble, "Need to plan it out."
"Much longer and my wrist will fall off."
My cheeks grow hot and my fingers slip into my bag, curling around the little bottle. "You sure he got on the flight?"
Kieran tilts his chair back and nods, "He signed off on the house, and the sale has gone through. The money should be deposited tomorrow."
Hated that place. Still it was home for a year, so guess it's okay to feel some regret.
"He took it on his chin. For a man who lost everything overnight, he was remarkably even-tempered." I hear grudging admiration in Kieran's voice.
"You did good," I tell him, "He never saw it coming."
"You didn't see me coming," He retorts.
"No" I agree, "you took me by surprise."
"A welcome surprise?" He's close enough for me to see his eyes widen. The chair legs hit the ground with a thwack, and he stretches towards me. He brushes his lips over mine, and I go rigid.
 "Relax," he runs his hand through my hair, and when his fingers touch my scalp, I shiver and pull back hastily, "You are a better con man than a PI." I sip my now-flat beer.
"Thanks to you," He raises his glass, and I watch as he chugs it down. "And now I don’t have to be either."
The glass slips from his hand, and I am already up and moving away as his head hits the table. En route to the airport I click open the just arrived e-ticket. It's for Ulaanbaatar. 
That sodding bastard.
I am about to delete the ticket, then pause. No, I'm going to go over there and get my share of the money first. Maybe even keep it all for myself. I stretch my legs out and watch the sun shine off my stockings. Time enough to plan.

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Friday, 9 October 2015

We are all migrants and refugees

A while ago, I put up a FB post asking if we weren’t we all migrants in some form? I found this to be an emotional topic and not everyone agreed with exactly who/ what a migrant is. 

When I met fellow author Jule Owen, we got to talking about this and she said that not too many people in the UK today can claim to be ‘pure’ British for most are migrants in some form. Coming from someone who I perceived as being as close to 100% British as possible, I was intrigued and asked her to write about it. This is what she said:

JULE OWEN: There’s been a lot of discussion recently about migrants and refugees, with wildly differing sentiments and opinions on how to handle the refugee crisis mainly caused by the situation in Syria, but augmented by political and environmental crises in many other countries.

London is full of migrants. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing a representation of the many faces of the world. I grew up in a white northern working class environment, which even before I understood what I really felt, I found stifling and limited. Personally, I have benefitted hugely from the melting-pot diversity of London. I have made friends who have enriched my life with their different stories of the places they grew up in, their families and their cultures, different to mine. I experience that difference as something that adds to, not detracts from my own story. But I also find a ridiculous amount of common ground, shared beliefs and experience. We all share the same basic emotions, hopes and fears and we all have the same basic needs. The difference has always been like spice to me. Homogeny is something I find at best dull and at the worst frightening.

But many people find this diversity threatening. Some people, a sizable minority it turns out, want to shut down the country to new-comers altogether.

I’m not going to debate the particular issue of the Syrian refugees here, but the issue has acted as a catalyst for a debate that was already brewing through the general election. I happened to be travelling throughout the south of England during the election and I was dismayed to see the amount of UKIP signs around. The reason for the trip was partly to start to find somewhere other than London to live. And I realised that these places, with the UKIP signs, could never be home to me. I am a white, middle class British woman, and I find UKIP Britain a foreign country. What’s more so do my other white, middle class friends. London does that to you. It changes you for life. In this particular way, I wish the whole world could be a bit more London.

This whole experience has made me really think about what is going on when people want to return Britain to being British. Do they mean return it to being “white”? UKIP doesn’t seem to like central and eastern Europeans either, from what I understand. So is it some kind of family tree thing? Do you have to have a purely British family history to avoid deportation? I have a very British family tree, but a number of my best friends are descended from German Jewish migrants, or have various Europeans in their ancestry. And how far back do we go? Four generations? Ten? Who decides?

Perhaps it’s because I have a leaning towards science and history that the notion of a “pure” Britain irritates me. There’s simply no such thing in fact. It’s nonsense. Britain is a country made up of migrants. As is every other country in the world, barring, ironically, some small communities in Africa, where people haven’t actually moved much for tens of thousands of years.

We all came out of Africa, in several waves of migration. We moved about over thousands of years. The first human settlers to Britain were Neanderthals, not Homo sapiens. The first settlers of our species relocated from what is now the coast of Spain. People buried at Stonehenge, have been DNA tested and a proportion of them came from Europe.

There was a surprisingly large amount of travel from Europe to prehistoric Britain, in varying numbers. One of these latter groups, settled only a few hundred years before the Romans came. We call them the Celts. Many of us like to think of them as the true British people. But they were migrants too.

The Romans stayed here for five hundred years, their soldiers were from all over their Empire, including, get this, Syrians. Inevitably, their soldiers stayed and married and had children with the locals. So some fine “British” people are almost certainly walking around with the blood of ancient Syrian soldiers pulsing through them.

Then there’s the Saxons from Germany, and the Angles from the small strip of land between Denmark and Germany, from where England gets it’s name and the term Anglo-Saxon comes. So our names for ourselves are even European.

Then there were the Vikings, of course, from which large numbers of people on the Eastern side of the country are actually proud to be descended even though they were slave traders, psychotic thugs, common thieves and rapists.

Then there was the Norman invasion and the language of government became French for four hundred years – hence the “English” language having over 100,000 French derived words in it. Things settled down after that, but there has always been a steady stream of incomers.

In the sixteenth century, England took in Huguenot (French protestant) and Flemish refugees, fleeing religious persecution. Their arrival caused an economic boom, as they brought superior lace making skills with them. Dutch settlers to East Anglia, brought land drainage expertise, which turned swampy ground into highly productive arable farms.

Should we have turned away Nathan Mayer Rothschild, a German Jew from Frankfurt, when he came to Manchester at the end of the eighteenth century? Not only did he start a business empire that made his family – at its peak - the richest in modern history, he also financed the Battle of Waterloo.

Last year, the CBI Director General, John Cridland, drew attention to the hard economic benefits of immigration to Britain, saying that it had actually helped keep economic recovery on course. Research from UCL shows that migrants from the EU, make a positive net contribution to the economy of £2,732 per year.

Angela Merkel may have come across as the most compassionate politician in Europe recently, but I really don’t think her decision was just about morality and German history. I think she understands that Germany needs educated, self-motivated young people to help its economy, especially as its own population is dwindling. I think she understands migration is essential to the health of a country. Personally, I just think it’s what we do as humans. We are all migrants.

About Jule Owen
Jule Owen
Jule Owen was born in the North of England, somewhere between Snowdonia, the Irish Sea and the Pennines, and now lives in London, UK. She spent many years working in online technology, latterly in the video games industry and is fascinated by science, technology and futurology. Her books are her creative response to the exponential growth of technological innovation in the era of climate change. Find Jule Owen on her website
Buy her new scifi, time-travel novel, The Boy who fell to EarthAmazon US and Amazon UK