Sarah Mankowski is the author of Echo’s Voice and the Phantomworlds series. She is the owner of WordThunder Publications and IFLit.net. The following interview was created using the interview template designed for IFLit contributors.
Tell us about your current project, Sarah.
Currently, I am developing a science fiction series called Phantomworlds.
Actually, this project began with a stand-alone novel called The Warrior Clans of Tranquille. That story is about the descendants of a group of settlers marooned on a primitive planet called Tranquille. The survivors leave some helpful hints about forming a harmonious society for their descendants. Unfortunately, language has changed so much through the generations that meanings have become obscured. Worse, the distorted hints now carry the weight of commandments. If nothing else, Warrior Clans pointed out the direction I wanted to go.
What did you learn from the experience?
I learned that I really love world building. More than that, I love inventing alien beings that humans may not fully comprehend. Also, I would need an entire series to fully explore the diverse planets and lifeforms envisioned.
In Warrior Clans, my characters learn to communicate with an alien presence that is revealed as mist over the waterways. At the end of the book we learn that this is a technology used by the secretive beings of that world, used to observe and manipulate remote locations.
This is our first encounter with phantom technology. But who or what are the phantoms? What do they want? Why do they hide behind the nanotechnology commonly known as hex? These are some of the questions to be answered in the Phantomworlds series.
The Misfits of Kiftre Deep is a sequel?
Misfits is set in the Phantomworlds universe, but it is not a sequel. It tells the story of three orphans from peculiar backgrounds, and about their relationship with the Hawthipian, Ambassador Admorc. The huge rodent-looking ambassador is on a mission to stop the phantom-encroachment into the Alliance. Their technology is so desirable that many species are willing to make dangerous agreements.
Nychols, Cress and Briella, all being sixteen Earth-years of age, seemed right for the series. At the end of Misfits their adventures have only just begun.
Who is the target readership?
The series can best be described as Coming of Age or Young Adult. I want these stories to be accessible to anybody who enjoys an imaginative adventure.
When will the next book become available?
The next in the series—the working title is Ga’it Time—should be available this summer. This one will be told by Cress. For anybody who has read Misfits, you can probably imagine how much fun I am having writing from her POV. In the meantime, I plan to publish some related short stories right here at IFLit. The essay by Cress at the end of Misfits was well received. Her next assignment with be to explain the Alliance, as only Cress can.
These books are only available through Amazon Kindle?
Currently, yes. If enough interest develops, I will take the series into print. Kindle is an excellent way to get feedback, and to introduce my writing to new readers. All the same, with the overwhelming amount of material out there, it can be extremely challenging.
Why do you write?
I suppose it is the quickest way to get rid of the nonsense inside my head.
When did you first start writing?
About the time I learned to write. Before then I made up stories to tell to my sisters while we were supposed to be napping. These were derived from whatever my current favorite story happened to be. I recall making up Doctor Dolittle adventures even before I started school.
Did books and reading influence your childhood?
Absolutely! All of us are readers in my family. Once we could walk, my mother walked us over to the public library every week. Each of us picked out a book. We were very poor, financially speaking; although, how can you be truly deprived when you have a library card? The books provided fantastic adventures and delightful characters that became something like playmates.
Reading meant everything to my childhood. I always loved fantasy. From Doctor Dolittle and the Oz books I went on to The Chronicles of Prydain, the Narnia books, The Once and Future King and too many others to list. If I had to name one early favorite, it would be The Secret Garden. On into my teen years, I discovered Tolkien. I started babysitting at age twelve, and about every cent I earned went to buy books.
Do you have other interests and hobbies?
Gardening, mostly. My degree is in horticulture. Early on I developed a love for herb garden, which satisfies all my senses. Herb gardening led to butterfly gardening and edible landscaping.
Gardening and writing go well together for me. I can work out plot points and dialogue while pulling weeds, mowing or pruning.