Brian Terenna - Fantasy That Takes Readers to Exciting, Unexpected Places

Brian Terenna - Fantasy That Takes Readers to Exciting, Unexpected Places

Brian Terenna is a dystopian, sci-fi, dark fantasy author. He grew up in a land of possibilities. He saw a path to all of them, but could only pick one. Now, he creates worlds, where fantasy is reality and reality is anything you make it. Brian has a strong preference for complex, mysterious, imaginative fiction, with intellectually powerful characters that achieve amazing feats. His favorite authors are Brandon Sanderson, Pierce Brown, Mark Lawrence, and Patrick Rothfuss. And loves dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic or dystopian sci-fi, and historical fiction. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, The Astral Hacker.

Please give us a short introduction to what "The Astral Hacker" is about.

In 2120 a brilliant hacker girl's world spirals into chaos as a mysterious tragedy befalls her foster mother. Her investigation unveils a sinister conspiracy endangering New America. She could enhance her brain with the Evo implant, but she promised her dying mother she never would. Lethal battles and devastating consequences will challenge her vow.

The protagonist, Fae Luna, possesses exceptional hacking skills and navigates a futuristic world filled with advanced technology and political intrigue. What inspired you to create this character and explore themes of rebellion, loyalty, and personal sacrifice in a dystopian setting?

I always liked reading dystopian novels and decided to try my hand at writing a trilogy. When I first imagined the series, I was considering a futuristic post-apocalyptic novel with a brilliant, but severely shy main character, who gains confidence as she goes. I love brilliant or at least clever characters who make good decisions and drive the plot forward. Fae is a gamer with programming skills, which she uses to hack later on. I thought it was an interesting way to set up the story and also a useful skill for her to have.

Fae is described as feeling like an isolated prisoner despite living in New America, a world leader in technology and individual freedom. How does her journey reflect the struggles faced by individuals in society, and what message do you hope readers will take away from her experiences?

Most people in New America are better off than they are now. They are more free and on average have more money after the Second American Revolution, which rooted out tons of corruption. Fae, however, has had a difficult life while bouncing around in foster care. She has never had friends. I’d like readers to experience Fae’s path from loneliness to eventually connecting with others and having friendships.

The book incorporates elements of science fiction, including humanoid robots, brain implants, and genetic engineering. How did you approach world-building to create a believable and immersive futuristic setting, and what challenges did you encounter in envisioning this world?

It’s always tough to imagine how future technology might turn out. It’s even more tough to balance the technology so that it doesn’t create plot holes. A lot of the technology is based on common futuristic technology in sci-fi books and movies. Some of it I created, like the clothes printers, the style of hologram hacking, Brandon’s wrist drone, and other things. I think I’d write fantasy novels next so that I don’t have to keep balancing the technology. I kept running into issues with cloaks and detection methods throughout the series.

Fae forms a close bond with her humanoid robot companion, Sunny, who provides both support and companionship throughout her journey. What role do you believe companionship plays in Fae's development as a character, and how does it contribute to the overall narrative?

Every foster child in New America is given a robotic foster buddy to help keep them company. They aren’t very smart since artificial intelligence is banned, but Fae upgrades Sunny with Advanced AI so she can have a friend. He’s her first friend since she started foster care. Sunny adds some humor to the novels and also keeps Fae going with his support. He also saves the day on several occasions. Without Sunny, Fae would have had a much harder time navigating the disaster in The Astral Hacker and the following novels.

The story explores the consequences of technological advancements, such as brain implants and artificial intelligence, on society and individual freedom. How do you balance the excitement of futuristic technology with the ethical implications and dangers it poses?

The entire Cryptopunk Revolution trilogy is a warning about the risks of brain computers. It seems inevitable that the world will eventually have them, and people will want them. It’s similar to how everyone has a smartphone because of the usefulness of them. The main risks of cell phones are privacy issues, which for politicians, can lead to blackmail. With brain computers, we could lose free will itself. We risk becoming a hive-mind world at some point in the future. AI is also a risk to society. The risk has been explored in many movies and novels. In my novels, AI is banned after an experimental one attacks a bunch of people in a military base.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I was a school counselor before writing and have a master’s degree in counseling, so I know a lot about human psychology. My knowledge of psychology and my meditation has allowed me to nearly illuminate my anxiety and depression. I explore these ideas through most of my novels. I’m also really into learning about new technologies, studying technical analysis and charts, and hunting for fossilized shark teeth.

Fae's journey involves navigating a complex conspiracy and challenging the established power structures of New America. What inspired you to incorporate these elements into the plot, and how do they contribute to the overall tension and suspense of the story?

Throughout history, there have been many terrible conspiracies, which inspired me to write about one. I wanted to use a conspiracy in my novel to start of the mystery of what’s going on and who is doing it. This leads to eventually finding out who the main adversary is. You find out more as the trilogy progresses. Everything is then revealed at the end of the third novel, The Ethereal Nightmare, which will be released later this year or early next year.

As an author, you explore themes of trust, independence, and digital friendships through Fae's experiences. How do you balance these character-driven elements with the fast-paced action and technological aspects of the narrative?

The entire series is fast-paced with a lot happening. I’ve always enjoyed shows and novels that are more like that than the slow ones. Still, I wanted to spend a lot of time developing the characters and show how everything is affecting them. All of the main characters have detailed character arcs where they grow and change. Trust is a huge theme in the novels. Fae has several people that she trusts and it helps her navigate the disasters. However, there are also several betrayals in the novels. I wanted the characters to feel realistic and also grow as they struggle. A couple of them even wrestle with mental health issues. Throughout the series, the characters play word games to reveal more about their pasts and to connect as well.

"The Astral Hacker" has been described as a blend of young adult fiction and mature science fiction, tackling complex issues while maintaining accessibility for a wide audience. How do you approach writing for both younger and adult readers, and what do you believe sets your book apart in the genre?

I originally wanted to write a young adult novel and planned it that way. Fae Luna is 17, which was fitting for YA. Some of the themes and events might be a little mature for YA, so I eventually started labeling and categorizing the novel as a sci-fi mystery or adventure, but not YA. Older and younger people have enjoyed the novel, but I didn’t want to upset younger readers if they are sensitive, so I removed the YA designation. My novel and trilogy are set apart from others due to the deep exploration of political systems, advanced and new technologies, the human mind, and the idea of manifestation. I also think I did a great job of building the characters and creating an advanced plot throughout the trilogy. People may have to read the series again to catch everything.

Looking ahead to the future of the series, what can readers expect from upcoming installments of the "Cryptopunk Revolution" series?

The Cryptopunk Revolution is exciting throughout the series. There are major shocks, disasters, love, and betrayals. I’m working on the third and final novel of the series now. It’s called The Ethereal Nightmare. It’s named after their adversary. The first book The Astral Hacker is named after the main character Fae Luna, and the second novel, The Cyborg Anarchist is named after Fae’s best human Friend Naveha Jain. Readers can expect a more fantasy feel for the third novel as Fae develops and new elements come to light. Although I love the first and second novels, the third novel is going to be the best novel I’ve ever written. I’m extremely happy with how everything gets wrapped up and how the backstory and mystery is resolved. I’m currently copy-editing the third novel and receiving some more feedback from beta readers.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I have a website with some of my short stories, articles, and other novels. It’s called Readers can also follow my X account at TheBrianTerenna or my Facebook account Brian Terenna Author. I always enjoy hearing from, and engaging with, readers who like my novels.

Maria Grace - Tatzlewurms, Wyverns, and Darcy
FEATURED AUTHOR - Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, #1 Best-selling Historical Fantasy author Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets… Read more