Monthly Archives: January 2014

An Interview ~ With Sirena Robinson on Devil’s Dilemma

SirenaEvery so often I like to talk to an author friend and get their impressions on the story they wish to tell and what motivates them to tell it in a particular way.  As it happens, Sirena Robinson is a colleague of mine at PDMI Publishing, LLC.  As our team has worked through the production of her book I have become a bit familiar with the author, the tale and some of the motivations.  I asked Sirena to answer questions about what I saw that was different in her story.

To give you a short background, Devil’s Dilemma is about Griffin, a young woman born on the cusp of history and, consequently, marked for a purpose.  A purpose she does not choose. She is destined to make a choice for all of humanity.  If she chooses life, it will be an eternity of hell for her and all of mankind; if she chooses death she will save the world.  Sirena has built a cast of characters that both support Griffin and hinder her in battles of the heart, mind and soul.

Reviewers have noted that the book can be rather intense at times and is definitely adult material.  It is described as a highly original story that combines religious themes in a world of action and mystery that never slows down.  Griffin grabs the reader and never lets go.  Which is where I started with my questions.

Why, Sirena, did you choose a female lead?  Does she bring something different to the question of saving the human race?  Why did you choose a current time period for your tale?  And what was your motivation in choosing companions for Griffin and her journey?

First, the question of why a girl. I wish I could say I set out to write a piece empowering women and staying true to the feminist ideal of being equal in all things, but truthfully, I just went where the story took me. When I thought about the character of Griffin, I wanted someone that was both weak and strong, both hard and soft. Who could suffer and triumph. Who would embody fear and bravery at the same time. To me, the character always felt female.

I do think she brings something different. Biblically, Griffin is much more Mary Magdalene and much less the Virgin Mary. She isn’t perfect, she isn’t pure, and she carries around a lot of baggage. This is an imperfect heroine. I didn’t want someone who was perfect. Griffin is flawed. She’s selfish, she’s impulsive, and she’s emotional. She’s HUMAN. I wanted to create a character that every reader can see themselves in. I wanted you to go on her journey with her, and at the end, I wanted you to feel what she felt. For that moment, I wanted the reader to BE Griffin.

Why the time? I wanted this to be something that could be happening right now and no one would know. It’s not set too far in the future, and a good portion of the book happens around now. I wanted to be able to recognize the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels. They’re some of my favorites, but for me, since I have a story so rooted in fantasy, I wanted to ground it with familiar surroundings and a realistic setting and time period. Also, having it start in 2000 was important to setting up the Chosen, so it evolved organically around the story.

Why the companions for her? I had originally thought about organizing the story a bit like a solar system with Griffin positioned as the sun. There would be other characters and subplots orbiting around her, but never interacting. At first, I wanted it to be HER story and nothing but her story. It didn’t work.

Alaria and Gabriel evolved from peripheral characters in the first draft to main characters in the final because their characters spoke to me. They had a story, dammit, and it needed to be told! Michael and Gage were much the same. Initially, Gage wasn’t in it at all—he was planned for the later books in the series—and Michael was in only one scene.

The rest of the characters were plugged in because I needed them to drive the story. Let’s be honest—as much as I love Sam, and I’m sure you will love her, too—her story doesn’t change the book. Alaria’s does. Gabriel’s does. Braxton’s does. So while the other characters have a lot of development, and they’re important to the plot, they weren’t deliberately brought in to change something in the story, but to make it work the way it needed to be told.

Now that I’ve written way too much, I want to thank you all for reading along with me. If you want to leave a comment with your opinion, you can be entered into a drawing for one of five free e-copies of Devil’s Dilemma, or the grand prize of a goodie basket filled with e-books from other PDMI authors, including Clay Gilbert, Tracee Ford, Greta King, Daven Anderson, and Stacey Garrett!

So, there you have it.  Freshly published and sure to be a solid success.  In fact, Sirena has a growing fan base ready for the next installment.  Check her out in her own cyber-lairs.


Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction

The Way We Think ~ Objective vs. Subjective

Courtesy Diane Lynn Gardner

Courtesy Diane Lynn Gardner

This is a new type of post for the Reading Alcove.   It is a corner devoted to talking about the tools we use to think.  The ways in which we determine what we choose to believe, and what we should require to change those beliefs.

Philosophy (love of wisdom) is not some academic exploration of questions that few have time to deal with.  It is a study of how we reason, how we discern, how we sort out what is right or wrong.  Even if we start with the assumption that the reader is open to exploring alternative ways of looking at something, how do you present information so they can make an objective decision regarding the value of your contribution?  What, pray tell, constitutes objective data?  Is an encyclopedic knowledge of a subject necessary in order to arrive at a useful point of view?

This is an important question.  Too often I see a great deal of hullabaloo made over some sound bite that may or may not have any basis in fact.  The source is unknown, the information is sketchy, and it all comes wrapped in an emotion-packed caption or blurb.  And yet people get emotionally committed to the wonder or horror of it all because it fits with their own perception.  Here we have what would be called a subjective opinion.  It is based almost entirely on the reader’s emotions, perceptions, and general desire to see things in a certain way.

Now the other end of the scale: the objective opinion.  This is an opinion that is supposed to be constructed based purely on facts.  No emotions allowed.  It is built on reason and rational thought and knowledge of all, or substantial relevant data.  I am sure there are persons who firmly believe that they are, without exception, objective thinkers.  Philosophers of today tend to differ, quite adamantly.  They do so for this reason:  there is no feasible way that a human person can look at data and see it without the influence of their past, their own knowledge, and their future intentions.  Different philosophers deal with the conundrum differently.  Friedrich Nietzsche described something called perspectivism which is the idea that all knowledge comes from some perspective and, therefore, can’t ever be objective.

Thomas Nagel, author of The View from Nowhere, describes this issue differently.  Rather than viewing the two extremes as opposite “sides” of something (such as a coin) he suggests that we look at the terms as two extremes on a continuum.   In other words, there is no way to view something from nowhere; we all have viewpoints from somewhere.

Does this mean that there are no absolutes?  Absolutely not.   What it does mean is that for each idea, each thought, each motivation whether small or large, we have to decide what part our own peculiar being plays.  If we are going to learn, to grow as a person, we have to be open to new ideas.  But we should not sacrifice who we are at the most fundamental level unless there is a real an unavoidable reason for doing so.

So, how do we decide to decide? Even “facts” can be tainted by the prejudice, or inattention of the provider.  Statistics are wonderful tools, if allowed to speak for themselves.  Sometimes critical information is left out that lumps apples and oranges together and renders the information useless and best and dangerously misleading at worst.  For example, when comparing accidents between truckers and passenger vehicles it is only useful if miles driven, road conditions, experience of the driver and class of each vehicle is taken into consideration.  If you see a picture and it has a caption, do you know the source of the picture?  Is the caption valid?  If you are presented with material that is outside of your experience but which could have an impact on the way you view the world, how do you assess its value?

In my opinion all decisions start at a subjective point.  Somewhere you have to decide that whatever the issue is it is important enough to you to learn, to explore, to understand.  The colors of a rainbow are beautiful and almost always cause us to stop and gaze at what is really a fairly common sight.  However it is interest in such phenomenon that led us to learn about reflection and refraction.  The beauty drove the desire to know the facts, the science that made it all happen.  It all starts with wonder, with imagination, with why.

Always be a seeker.  Always question.  Just keep sight of your own lighthouse.  I hope you enjoy this new exploration.  Philosophy is one of my favorite subjects and I thoroughly enjoy taking apart the ways we think and how we learn.  Join me know and then.


Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Journey with Job

Refections ~ The Shapes of Reality

The sky is green
The grass in blue
It’s lunch at 9
And dinner at 2

If we’re hungry
It must be Monday
I’m sure there’s a word
Must be in the laundry

Did he, him or her
Take us to the store?
Am I he, him or her?
I haven’t a clue

Where did it go?
Just a moment ago…
Give it a week
I’m sure it will show

To bed with the sun
We’re up with the moon
The cow ran away
The fork is a spoon

Courtesy WANA Commons, Some rights reserved by cellar_door_films

Courtesy WANA Commons, Some rights reserved by cellar_door_films


Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Poetry