Friday, March 12, 2021

Pixeldust by T.K. Arispe - Book Blitz


Maria Elena thought she’d sworn off gaming forever. But she hates her new internship, so her brother Balt convinces her to play Heroes of Avonell, a cutting-edge virtual-reality video game with such complex programming that it’s like the non-player characters are self-aware.

Disappointed with the usual cliché job class offerings, Maria Elena’s character Quinny stumbles through a glitch in the game and ends up in Caed Dhraos, a strange city populated with friendly monsters. Quinny decides to work for the resident dark lord as part of his magic personnel, but she can’t tell anybody she’s playing in off-limits areas of the game—not even Balt. Soon Quinny finds herself getting to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an ancient demon and why Caed Dhraos is suffering from the Blight.

But the artificial intelligences in the game really are self-aware, and some of Avonell’s so-called “heroes” have decided they don’t like humanity very much. The game has gone out of control, and Maria Elena and her new friends have to find a way to set things right. Can she save Avonell – and Earth – while juggling her real job and trying to salvage her crumbling relationship with her brother?

Pixeldust is a dive into a fantastical, fun virtual world where the universe may be made of data, but the dangers, friendships, magic, and lessons learned are very real.

Purchase Links (ebook) (paperback)

Author Q&A
1. What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?
I like writing unique stories, but sometimes that’s a double-edged sword because I have difficulty marketing them within the constraints of society’s book marketing rubric. If I write a science fantasy, do I market it as sci-fi or fantasy? If I write something with no intended age range, does it go in the YA, middle grade, or adult section? And what about when my cover looks completely different from what covers in its genre are “supposed” to look like? All of these things would be a headache for any traditional publisher, which is why I went indie.

2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Have more confidence in yourself and your stories. If you like writing, there is a place in the world for your writing. And you’re a better writer than you think you are.” One of the reasons why it took me so long to start taking my writing seriously was because I didn’t think I could actually be a Real Writer, and now I regret not starting to write sooner.

3. Favorite childhood memory involving books?
Going to the library and checking out as many books as I could carry. I always had so much fun browsing the shelves. So many books, so little time!

4. If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?
Probably Gandalf. I feel like any amount of time spent hanging out with Gandalf would be amazing.

5. What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?
Dinotopia. Not only is it an incredibly fascinating and beautiful world, but it’s remarkably safe as far as fictional worlds go. Some fictional worlds are really interesting to read about, like the Wizarding World and Middle-earth, but you always get the feeling you’d be in mortal danger every five minutes while you were there!

6. Did you want to be an author when you grew up?
In elementary school, I wanted to be a paleontologist or a marine biologist. In high school, I wanted to draw graphic novels. I didn’t decide on being a novelist until after college.

7. What is your most unusual writing quirk?
I binge-write excessively. If I get really into a story, I have been known to spend most of the day writing it. This leads to books getting finished faster, but boy do my shoulders hurt if I forget to take breaks and stretch!

8. What’s one movie you like recommending to others?
Castle in the Sky, one of Hayao Miyazaki’s first films. It’s a shame that it’s a fairly obscure film outside of Japan, because it’s really a masterpiece of steampunk fantasy adventure. And the animation is absolutely stunning, especially when one considers that it came out in 1986 and was produced without the aid of computer graphics.

9. If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?
Totally a T-rex. I’m not entirely sure where I would keep it, but that’s beside the point.

10. Have you ever met anyone famous?
I met James Gurney, the author of the Dinotopia books, when he was giving an art lecture in my area. I shared some of my dinosaur sketches with him and he was super nice about it. That was fun.

11. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Depending on the length of the book, it will usually take me 2 to 3 months for the first draft (barring any interruptions). Because my first drafts tend to already be pretty polished, editing moves fairly quickly after that, usually taking about a month tops.

12. How do you select the names of your characters?
For “realistic” names, I often consult a baby naming website to find names with meanings that fit the characters, or pay homage to family and friends, as I did with Pixeldust. For fantasy names, I keep a Word document with a list of names that I either made up while playing with syllables, or are real, but very unusual names that I come across in my research. When I’m making a new fantasy character, I’ll go down that list until I find a name that I feel fits them best. For example, Zaragoz’s name comes from Zaragoza, the name of several places in Mexico, to tie in with Maria Elena’s Hispanic heritage.

13. What creature do you consider your "spirit animal" to be?
Probably the qilin, the Chinese dragon-unicorn. It’s like they combine the best of both dragons and unicorns!

14. If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?
I would go live with the animals. I think we’d get along swell.

15. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what you like and don’t try to fit it into anyone else’s mold. You have a unique writing voice and unique ideas with the potential to change the world for the better.

16. What is your favorite genre to read?
I love science fiction and fantasy with creative ideas.

Author Bio –

T. K. Arispe is an illustrator, gamer, and unashamed nerd with a background in animation and webcomic production, including the webcomic Trainer Wants to Fight! which somehow got its own page on TVTropes. She loves interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy. Most of her story ideas come from random research binges, usually in the fields of theoretical physics, computer science, or oddly enough food history. She lives in California, where she enjoys not having to deal with snow because it is terrifying.

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