Brittany Ziegler - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Romance Series Starter With Satisfying Twists
Brittany Ziegler was born in California and currently resides on the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii. She studied marine sciences and biology at the University of Hawaii, as well as dabbled in creative writing and photography. She’s married to the most patient man in the world and spends her days herding her two daughters on sunny beaches, kayaking with humpback whales, photographing sharks, and writing about impossible circumstances. Make Me Exist is her first fiction novel. As our Author of the Day she tells us all about this book.
Please give us a short introduction to what Make Me Exist is about.
Make Me Exist is a series starter. The first of a four-part science fiction/fantasy saga that follows our protagonist Valerie, later known as Cyran, as she discovers who she truly is, fights for her family, and evades bounty hunters who are after her. Cyran has spent too long thinking she was Human, only to have her memories reawakened and with that, the knowledge that she is the last pure-blooded female Jatorrian. The last female to an alien race, an alien race that has discovered her whereabouts and will hunt her to the ends of Earth. Make Me Exist is action-packed, steamy, and different from anything you’ve ever read.
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?
I have always been an avid poetry writer, and once in a while dabbled in short stories… more than anything I was an insatiable fantasy reader. I loved the vampire tropes, time travel, and if a bit of science fiction was mixed in, even better. When Covid hit in 2020 I was in the process of studying for a marine biology degree at the University of Hawaii. To compensate for all of the math and science courses I took up a creative writing class. That single creative writing class unlocked the doors to an entirely new world of writing, and the Corona Virus lockdowns gave me all the time I needed to write my first fantasy/science fiction novel.
Tell us more about Valerie. What makes her tick?
Valerie/Cyran has been a challenge to write for, and I am writing for her, she is a completely different ‘person’ from me on almost every level. She is a fierce, fearless, warrior of a mother with a raging temper and the mouth of a sailor. The entire series is focused on how much she loves her family and what lengths she is willing to go to in order to keep them safe. She is a mother first and above all else in the story, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting incredible battles, traveling through time, and finding unexpected love.
Why did you pick a sixth birthday party as the catalyst for your story?
Charlotte, Valerie/Cyran’s daughter, is gearing up to celebrate her sixth birthday when her family's life is changed forever. I chose to start the events on a small child's birthday due to her parents being divorced. Valerie’s relationship with her ex-husband, the father of her daughter, is a true show of character for our protagonist, and having the ex-husband and his new wife involved in this series felt immensely important. There are not many occasions where we can get a split-up family together in a mundane setting, so we centered it around a birthday party!
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Writing is and always has been my true passion and calling in life. That being said, I live a blessed life filled with love and adventure. I live in Hawaii and spend my days in the ocean, whether under the water scuba diving with sharks or above the water kayaking with whales, every morning you can find me with ocean wildlife covered in ocean salt. My main source of income is my underwater photography, although I do hope one day to be an everyday name in the book world.
This book has some twists and turns. Did you plan them all out before you started writing, or did some of it just "happen" along the way?
This entire series kind of snuck up on me. I’d never imagined writing from the perspective of someone like Cyran and it has been a serious adventure! I did sit down before writing any of the initial manuscript and mapped out how exactly I wanted the whole series to go. It’s a very twisty series that keeps readers on their toes, but I can promise you every oh my gosh moment is intentional and leads to somewhere in the end.
Make Me Exist is the first book in the Lost in Time series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
The Lost in Time series is definitely meant to be read as a whole. Although, Make Me Exist does end in a soft cliff-hanger and it does wrap up some of the major plot dilemmas, there is so, so much more to the story as you continue on!
Why sci-fi? What drew you to the genre?
This is a fantasy/science fiction mixed genre, which I intentionally did. I absolutely love fantasy tropes and storylines, but sometimes the magical world is too unbelievable for me. With this series, I have managed to have a whole lot of that magic, with a lot of it being explained by science. There are brutal fights with flying and unique abilities, but I try to balance it out with the science of how this could be possible. There are spaceships and a brand new society of beings that are introduced, yet I keep the magic in the story with spirituality and impossible odds.
You also deal with some incredibly serious and difficult topics in this book. Why did you find this important to do?
Valerie/Cyran’s story is of a tale of a savagely powerful woman who gives it her all to keep her daughter and family safe. This isn’t a young adult tale told by a teenager, Valerie/Cyran is a thirty-year-old mother being hunted for breeding purposes. Knowing that, it was appropriate to tackle certain situations that may be triggering to some. These triggers include sexual assault and violence in the first novel and are fully conductive in furthering Cyran’s plight.
Readers say this book was really hard to put down. How did you pull this off?
I’ve attempted to write a book with a plot that’s never been done before. I’ve incorporated aspects of the fantasy world (think vampires, Fae, etc) and mixed them in with something believable, something intently human. Nothing in this series goes as planned, and oh my gosh, I mean nothing. If you think you’ve got the story pinned down, you’ll turn the page only to realize you’ve been way off.
Should this be made into a movie, which actors would you picture as your main characters and why?
As an author, I would be incredibly honored to see my story on a screen! It’s more than I could ever hope for! I think there is enough action, suspense, and all the other things that make for good cinema, so it’s a possibility for down the road! As far as actors or actresses? I haven’t thought too far on that, but I can say my inspiration for Valerie/Cyran’s appearance is the actress Liu Yifei (the gorgeous woman who plays Mulan in the live-action Disney movie).
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I don’t have too many author friends, so I’m not sure what would be considered interesting. I personally think my writing habits are a little odd. As an underwater photographer during the day, a mom in the afternoon when the kids are out of school, and a wife when my husband gets off work at night; I am really only left with the late hours of the night to get things done. I generally hang out on my couch under a blanket with loud music playing, and writing until one or two in the morning. I know, I know, super boring.
What are you working on right now?
2022 will be my last year working on the Lost in Time series, but it’s been an ongoing and fantastic project to have over the past two years! Currently, I am working on the final novel in the series, the fourth book, Death of Time! This will wrap up Cyran’s incredible journey and give us the ending we’ve all been waiting for. To say I am excited to share the last chapter with my readers is an understatement.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
All of my novels are available on Amazon. I am in the Kindle Unlimited program, as well as having paperbacks and an awesome audiobook per novel! As far as interacting, I have a blog site where I add updates and excerpts from the upcoming novels- https://makemeexist.wordpress.com/
My main form of communication with readers is my TikTok platform, where I post what books I am reading as well as my highs and lows of being a debut author. It’s an easy account to find, BrittanyZieglerAuthor
Thank you for your time!