Vera Nazarian - Stories of Intense Wonder, True Love, and Intricacy
VERA NAZARIAN is a two-time Nebula Award Finalist, 2018 Dragon Award Finalist, award-winning artist, a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a writer with a penchant for moral fables and stories of intense wonder, true love, and intricacy. She is the author of critically acclaimed novels DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE and LORDS OF RAINBOW, the outrageous parodies MANSFIELD PARK AND MUMMIES and NORTHANGER ABBEY AND ANGELS AND DRAGONS, and most recently, PRIDE AND PLATYPUS: MR. DARCY'S DREADFUL SECRET in her humorous and surprisingly romantic Supernatural Jane Austen Series, as well as the Renaissance epic fantasy COBWEB BRIDE Trilogy, and the high-octane adventure YA/teen dystopian apocalyptic science fiction Series THE ATLANTIS GRAIL that has been optioned for film, and is in development as a major motion picture franchise or TV series. After many years in Los Angeles, Vera lives in a small town in Vermont, and uses her Armenian sense of humor and her Russian sense of suffering to bake conflicted pirozhki and make art.
Please give us a short introduction to what Qualify is about.
QUALIFY is the first book of The Atlantis Grail, a high-octane, cross-genre, internationally bestselling series, now optioned for film. In a nutshell, it’s ANCIENT ALIENS meets THE HUNGER GAMES, including nail-biting action and world-class competitions. However, once you fall down the rabbit hole of ancient mysteries of Greece and Egypt, the story takes off and it’s so much more.
The story is a drama about friendship, love and the bonds of family, a sci-fi thriller, a space opera, a historical mystery revealing the truth of the myth of Atlantis and the origins of humanity itself. At the heart of the story lies a grand, over-reaching theme of human and alien wonder and exploration that’s truly epic in scope, spanning eons and galaxies.
It all begins with an extinction-level asteroid about to hit Earth, and Gwen Lark—nerd, klutz, loser, awkward smart girl from a small town in Vermont—whose uncanny ability to solve problems just might hold the key to everyone’s survival. Geek power! And then the aliens arrive….
What inspired you to write Qualify. Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?
I sat down, back in 2013, with the intent of writing a universally accessible young adult series that blended exciting adventure with thoughtful science fiction and ancient history. Years later, with the main 4-book series arc complete, and Dawn of the Atlantis Grail, an offshoot prequel series in the making, plus a standalone, follow-up, fifth novel, and numerous character novellas coming soon, I think I’ve created something magical here, and so many readers agree!
Why did you pick 2047 as the backdrop for your story?
I wanted to explore our world in the near future. This could happen to us, our next generation, and it could be plausible.
Why did you pick an extinction-level asteroid as the catalyst for your story?
The asteroid sets events in motion, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Who is Gwenevere Lark? What makes her tick?
Gwen is both utterly ordinary and extraordinary as a heroine. She’s a smart, unathletic girl who gets bullied in school and has a hopeless crush from a distance on a popular boy. And then the asteroid threat appears, and the aliens come, offering global rescue to a select few. All the teenagers worldwide must compete in grueling survival tests to Qualify for rescue and then endure a long space journey to a colony planet Atlantis that was settled by ancient Earth residents of the original Atlantis, 12,500 years ago.
Suddenly Gwen must struggle and fight not only to save herself and her siblings but her entire family. How in the world can this clumsy nerd girl manage? To everyone’s surprise, Gwen reveals a sudden weird talent in an area that no one expected.
What makes Logan Sangre so special? What about Aeson Kass?
Logan is Gwen’s first crush. He seems to be the perfect boy in her high school, but is he? And what secret is he hiding?
Aeson is the ice-cold commanding officer of the Atlanteans who ends up training Gwen in the compound where the teenagers are taken for the Qualification process. Is he more than he seems?
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
In addition to being a writer, I’m an artist, musician, and have a knack for languages (Russian and Armenian native speaker, and studied English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and German). When I was eight, my Armenian-Russian family and I immigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States, by way of Lebanon and Greece. I learned English, fell in love with it, and started to write at a very early age. My first professional story sale was to the Sword and Sorceress #2 anthology, when I was a senior in high school.
This is the first book of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
The Atlantis Grail is a single complex story arc, and each book needs to be read in proper order. There are no individual cliffhangers in each book, but the series itself creates a long, mind-blowing story that must be resolved by reading all books. Think of The Lord of the Rings, that’s the kind of story it is, in terms of continuity.
Readers say they found this book hard to put down. How did you pull this off?
I love to surprise the reader and manage it pretty well by creating unexpected twists and turns. Also, I tend to write fast-paced chapters that end with compelling unanswered questions. To find out what happens next, you must read on, or lose your mind!
Why sci-fi? What drew you to the genre?
Science fiction, or speculative fiction, is the genre of “what if,” of grand ideas and mind-blowing exploration of the way things are. But let me tell you a secret—part of the appeal of this series is that it’s true cross-genre. It manages to incorporate sci-fi, mystery, action adventure, romance, astrophysics, and historical mysteries into a single thrilling cocktail, suitable not for just young adults but for readers of all ages.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
All of my character do that! I am a “pantser,” meaning that I write by the seat of my pants with only a most barebone bullet-point outline and let my characters arrive at the final destination however they please, surprising me with their wild antics at every turn.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I am a slow writer who writes novels that are huge, epic doorstoppers. I write in bursts, in absolute silence (no music or sound of any kind, I’m easily distracted), and prefer to complete scenes. I do “roiling edits,” which means I edit my previous day’s work the next day, so that I produce very clean near-final drafts in one try, requiring very little final editing. In reality, they are the result of meticulous daily “massaging” and smoothing and tweaking of the previously written material.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am putting the finishing touches on the novella AESON: BLUE which is the first of many character novellas I have planned, by popular request from the fans. These novellas are spinoffs from The Atlantis Grail series and are written from the points of view of favorite characters.
As soon as it’s done, I will begin writing EOS, the first full-length novel in the prequel series Dawn of the Atlantis Grail, which takes place 12,500 years ago in ancient Atlantis and explains some of the mysteries explored in the original series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Be sure to visit my official Author Website: http://veranazarian.com
Subscribe to my Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/hKaeo
The Atlantis Grail (TAG) series website: http://theatlantisgrail.com
TAG fandom website: http://tag.fan
TAG Fan Forum: http://atlantisgrail.proboards.com/
Astra Daimon and Shoelace Girls (Facebook Fan Group): https://www.facebook.com/groups/adasg/
The Atlantis Grail (Facebook Page): https://www.facebook.com/AtlantisGrail
Vera Nazarian Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/VeraNazarian
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/veranazarian-tag