-Watcher and Firebird-
written by Orren Merton
published by Darkling Books, 2016
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About the book – from Goodreads:
Firebird Alex didn’t know much about the Nephilim until they assassinated her friend in the United States government, kidnapped the man she considers her uncle, and tried to murder her—twice. Now she’s learned that they, and their leader “the Watcher,” will stop at nothing to kill her, everyone she loves, and every Seduman on Earth.
Alex must stop their murderous plans even if it means compromising the heroine she’s become.
About the author:
Orren Merton started writing fantasy and science fiction at an embarrassingly young age. In high school, he picked up guitar and start playing up and down California in a few bands, culminating in his industrial rock band Ember After. During that time, magazines, developers, and corporations began to pay him to write and edit music software related articles, manuals, and books. Since then he has written the urban fantasy novel The Deviant and the science fiction novel Skye Entity before working on The Sedumen Chronicles, his current series of urban fantasy YA novels. He lives in Southern California with his family, pets, collection of sci-fi/fantasy memorabilia, and curiously large stuffed animal collection.
IT’S ALL ABOUT FOUND FAMILY
My novels usually deal with numerous themes, issues, and problems that are on my mind at the time. We writers do that a lot—we use fiction and fantasy to try and work through deep seated questions about ourselves, and the world around us. I tend to find ways to comment on elements of society that are interesting or troubling, hopefully in ways that are both obvious and don’t hit you over the head with my personal opinions.
The Sedumen Chronicles sees Alex dealing with a series of tough issues, but through all the novels, one theme reaches across the entire series: building and maintaining her family. Throughout the novels, Alex creates her own “found family” of fellow Sedumen, humans, beloved freaks and geeks, angels and demons. Much of the tension and drama in Watcher and Firebird is that their lives are in immediate danger, and they look to her to save them.
The theme of “found family” is prevalent in my novels because it’s near and dear to me. I’ve always believed that we have two families; the one that we’re born into, and the one that we painstakingly build ourselves over the course of our lives. So much of our lives is making friends, meeting people, forging relationships, and ultimately choosing those people who we dare to let into our hearts and souls, the people who we choose to share our lives with and reveal our deepest and truest selves.
Our found families are as much a part of who we are and how we see the world as our birth families—in some cases, even moreso, as with Firebird Alex. She would do anything for them, and they would do anything for her. It’s a theme that drives Watcher and Firebird, drives the The Sedumen Chronicles—and in so many ways, drives me, too.
MY GREATEST INSPIRATION: “WHAT IF…”
Inspiration hits me anywhere, from everything, and seemingly all the time. It could be something I watch on TV. Perhaps it’s a bit of news, either good or bad. Maybe I read an article. Or someone says something to me, that makes me think. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere, and the environment will inspire me. Or maybe it will just inspire me to think, and my own thoughts trigger me. But no matter what it is or where I am, the common denominator is two words: “what if?”
The ideas for every piece of fiction I’ve ever written has ultimately stemmed from me thinking “what if…” and building up a story, and sometimes an entire universe, from there. With the Sedumen Chronicles, it was a couple of different “what ifs” that resulted in both my heroine, Firebird Alex, and the entire spirit universe of Sediin.
I knew I wanted to write a series that was more geared toward young adults than my previous urban fantasy and science fiction, and I was thinking about all the heroines I knew from comics. I felt that nobody had really done a teenage girl who was half-demon very well. So I started asking myself, well, what if I invented a teenage heroine? What would her powers be? Her weaknesses? How would she feel, trying to fit in as a normal girl? Would she be able to have normal friendships? What would other people think of her?
Separately, I’d been thinking about parallel universes, and how they could be different than ours. What if, instead of being composed of matter, like ours, it was a universe entirely of spirits? What would that be like? Who would live there? Why would they want to cross over into our world? What would that be like? Would they be kind or cruel? Or both?
When I combined the two “what ifs,” I began to create an entire mythology, along with my heroine: Firebird Alex. And The Sedumen Chronicles was born, all leading up to Watcher and Firebird now.
And that’s the best advice I can give as far as inspiration go: wherever you are, whatever you do, whatever you see and feel, ask yourself “what if”—and be ready for wherever your imagination takes you.