Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Angel Martinez for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from MLR Press Rarely Pure and Never Simple. Prism Book Alliance® recently reviewed Rarely Pure and Never Simple. You can find the review here.
Retro Reads Spotlight with Angel Martinez
We are here today to talk about Rarely Pure and Never Simple. What can you tell us about it?
A science fiction story set on near-future Earth, some folks have described Rarely Pure as a post-apocalyptic book. It’s not. It’s post-some-really-nasty-disasters, but society has cobbled itself back together and things are running about the way they usually run in human governments, neither a utopia nor a dystopia.
It’s the story of a reclusive “locator,” a human GPS of sorts, who just wants to be left alone. The government pulls him out of isolation for one more job, one he can’t in good conscience refuse because it involves finding missing kids. He finds himself teamed with an obnoxious sparker who seems to be an equal opportunity hater, but to save the missing kids, they’d better learn to work together. (Won the Science Fiction category in the 2014 Rainbow Awards.)
Tell us more about our Main Characters?
Damien Hazelwood has good reason in limiting contact with other people. He has severe social anxieties manifesting in OCD behaviors and panic attacks that can turn violent. The reasons for this become clear later in the story, but we’ll just say he does the best he can. Though he’s a loner, he’s still a compassionate man with a sharp intellect that allows him to process information in ways other people often can’t.
Blaze Emerson wears his anger like a battle flag. Snarky, purposefully obnoxious, he delights in irritating people. He’s big and badass, the best at what he does, courageous and brash. But he has a softer side that he keeps well hidden. It’s safer for him that way.
What about Rarely Pure and Never Simple makes you the proudest?
I love this world where humans have been forced to face the consequences of decades of environmental and scientific recklessness. To some extent, they’re still not facing the things they should and reacting to things the way humans always have, with prejudice and short-sighted fear, but in some ways they’ve had to adjust because nature left them no choice.
If you could change one thing in Rarely Pure and Never Simple what would it be and why?
I might find a way to introduce Shudder into the story earlier. He was absurdly fun to write. But then again, maybe not. Anything other than his current entrance would probably feel forced.
What was your inspiration for Rarely Pure and Never Simple?
The impetus for this story was a submission call at Manlove Romance. I’d bee looking for a foot in the door there and had been stalking their sub calls for a bit. The problem with submission calls is that they almost never appeal to me. Too many contemporary-geared ones. But MLR posted one for superheroes. Ha! I had to do that one, though I couldn’t just do regular comic book superheroes. I wanted an explanation for their extra abilities in a science fiction setting.
Rarely Pure and Never Simple is a truncated quote from the Oscar Wilde play, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” (Jack: That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.
Algernon: The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!)
The lines are from a comedy of social satire, but that concept has always stuck with me, that truth isn’t absolute when we’re talking about people and their motives. It’s complicated.
Tell us more about the world in which Rarely Pure and Never Simple is set.
Earth has undergone a series of climactic disasters by the time to story opens. Many of the cities we know are now underwater. The population is severely reduced and almost non-existent in the central parts of the US. The remaining coastal people have adapted and the remaining cities have thrived. Life is good if you’re wealthy and “normal.” For the variant population, those children born with extra abilities, life is a little less comfortable. Mandatory registration and carrot/stick control from the government gives variants few good choices in life.
Will we be hearing more from these characters/this world?
Yes, yes you will. 😉 I do have a start on the next one, though it may be a bit before I can get around to it in the schedule. From the Noblest Motives will continue Damien and Blaze’s story, but Shudder will get to have his story as well.
Tell us about some of your other titles.
Well…you asked for it… I write Science Fiction and Fantasy, both deadly serious and not at all serious.
On the serious side: Endangered Fae series, (fantasy, MLR Press) about Finn the pooka and the issues of the fae rejoining the modern world. The ESTO universe stories (science fiction, various publishers) which includes Gravitational Attraction, Sub Zero, and Vassily the Beautiful. The AURA series (co-written with Bellora Quinn, fantasy, Totally Bound) about mythical and fantastical beings dropping through holes in reality. And Brandywine Investigations (fantasy, Amber Allure) about gods living among us in the modern world.
On the not so serious side: The Brimstone series (SF/Fantasy humor, Mischief Corner Books) about demons in space and their misadventures. Offbeat Crimes series (paranormal humor, Amber Allure) which involves a squad of paranormal cops with broken abilities. The IMP universe (SF humor, Mischief Corner and Wilde City)…um, you have to read those. They defy explanation.
There are single titles here and there, as well, but that’s the bulk of it.
Rapid Fire Time
- Sweet or Savory? Yes, please. Oh. You mean to choose. Nope. Life requires both of those things.
- Shave or wax? Shave, on the rare occasion that I want to wear a bathing suit.
- Jocks or Nerds? Nerds. So much nerds. Jocks can be nice people, but I don’t find them even remotely interesting.
- Red Heads or Blondes? Red. I have a thing for gingers.
- Hamburger or Hotdog? Hamburger. Maybe. Can it be a veggie burger?
- TV or movies? Movies. I watch so little TV these days in the great seven thousand channel wasteland. But I love movies – old, new, action-y, art films, costume drama, SFF, documentary. Not so much theater going, though. Kinda pricey these days.
- Cat in the Hat or Horton Hears a Who? No, no, no – we can’t be forced to choose between classic pieces of literature! The messages in these are both so important! Horton Hears a Who – tolerance and compassion. Cat in the Hat – clean up before your mom gets back.
- Pasta or potatoes? Potatoes. (Mashed, fried, baked, pancakes…yum…)
- Favorite Color? Black. No, red. No, green. Damn. I’d be thrown off the Bridge of Death.
- Cook or bake? Bake. This one I can answer. Cooking is an art, and I have no talent. Baking is science, and I’m good at that. 😉
What are you working on? What is next?
Currently, I’m working on the fourth Brandywine Investigations series, the story for Dionysus that everyone knew had to be coming. That one’s nearly finished. Next I have a Brimstone story I need to get to for a fall anthology and then I really, really need to get to that Gravitational Attraction sequel…
Title: Rarely Pure and Never Simple
Author: Angel Martinez
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: Lex Valentine
Genre: Science Fiction
A search for missing children throws a misanthropic human GPS and an obnoxious human torch together in a struggle to survive dangerous conpiracies and each other.
Damien just wants to be left alone. Too bad his variant talent as a locator makes him the go-to contractor for the government’s missing person cases. He can refuse, but it’s not so easy when the missing are variant kids. Blaze Emerson is a sparker. People fear him as much for his ability to call fire as his obnoxious, violent temperament. He’s good at what he does, though, and he’s intrigued by the quiet man who can find people with his brain. Conspiracies, treachery, and wild rumors are only the start. First Damien and Blaze have to survive each other.
Can’t Run Far Enough
The ice around the weed bed glowed blue as the sun stretched tentative fingers across the lake. Even the sun was smart enough not to rush out of bed on a cold-as-a-penguin’s-pecker Vermont morning. Damien, however, apparently suffered from some intellectual deficiency since he was out on the lake already with his ice chisel, chipping away at a likely spot for a fishing hole.
His breath ghosted in front of him, every gulp of air biting into his lungs. It wasn’t that he liked the cold or enjoyed the self-sufficient, mountain man lifestyle. He hated it. His hands always hurt. He was always hungry. It took him forever to warm his lonely bed at night no matter how many pairs of socks he put on, the frame rattling with his shaking for an hour or more.
Chip-chip-chip. The ice chisel on six-inch lake ice echoed back to him off his cabin in a strange, one-sided conversation.
The move wasn’t for his health or even part of a dream of a better life. He had left the city to escape. Up here, they couldn’t hound him so easily with every minute need. Up here, anyone seeking him out had to go to considerable trouble to reach him. They knew where he was, of course. The inconvenient locale simply meant they thought long and hard before paying a call and they only showed up now when they had exhausted other options.
So he pretended not to hear the rumble-whine of the snow-crawler engine as it trundled up the hill. Then he deluded himself a few more minutes with the fantasy of late-season sport fishermen. The voices, when they reached him, shattered his careful illusion.
Chip-chip-chip. If I ignore them this time, will they give up and go away? Probably not. Please go away.
“That’s him? He’s kinda puny,” an unfamiliar voice rasped.
They hadn’t sent Cummings? What idiot was in charge now? They sent some stranger to find him, someone who didn’t understand him?
“Variants come in all the usual shapes and sizes, Wirth.”
There was Cummings. Thank God for small favors.
“Is just one guy,” Cummings snapped, obviously losing patience with what had to be a raw rookie.
Footsteps crunched through the snow toward him. Damien tried to block them out but his muscles tensed, the terrible sensation of having someone walking up behind him crawling up his back on millipede legs.
“Wirth, hold up! You don’t want–”
Something touched Damien’s elbow. The millipede crawling up his spine leaped into his brain and exploded in a thousand spiny pieces. He whirled, snarling, and swept the ice chisel at whatever had put a hand on him without permission.
“Holy fuck!” A dark-haired man leaped back from the ice chisel halberd. He fell on his ass and scrabbled backward on the ice, eyes cow-patty huge in shock.
“I tried to warn you,” Cummings said calmly from the bank. A squared off man with salt-and-pepper hair, he was the perfect bland-faced federal agent. He stood with his hands in his trench coat pockets, stance relaxed and non-threatening. There was a reason they usually sent him alone. “Maybe you’ll learn to listen now.”
“He tried to fucking kill me!” The intrusive man, presumably Wirth, still scrambled backward as he failed to get his feet under him.
“No. You invaded his space without warning. You don’t do that. I might kill you if you don’t stop acting like a jackass,” Cummings grated out, shaking his head. Then he gave a nod to Damien and said more evenly, “Hazelwood. Good to see you.”
“Thanks. Can’t say the same.” Damien lowered his weapon. “Is this important?”
Of course it was. They both knew that. Cummings wouldn’t be standing there otherwise. “Kids, they tell me. It’s about kids.”
“Fuck.” Not much he could say to that. If they needed him to find kids, it was bound to be bad. “Sandwiches?”
“In the vehicle.” Cummings caught his hapless partner under the elbow and dragged him onto the bank. “Go do what you have to. We’ll wait in the snow-crawler.”
Damien closed his eyes and heaved a careful breath, willing the terrible emotional whiteout away. He couldn’t even call it rage or panic. These sudden overloads shorted out every neuron, left him dangerously detached as if his humanity had been peeled off and stuffed in a trunk while he stood shivering in nothing but naked instinct. God, he hated it.
The understanding he had with Cummings over the past five years at least made these summons easier. The first few times he’d had to argue with agents who didn’t understand and he’d even had a fistfight with one that resulted in them dragging a bound Damien in hissing and spitting.
The Guild had enough bright minds to figure out that he was more useful in a cooperative mood.
He cleaned off the ice chisel and returned it to its place on the rack by the door before he started his rounds. Once inside the cabin, he tugged a few invisible wrinkles out of the perfectly made bed and made sure his moccasins lay perfectly aligned on the floor, parallel to the headboard. Then he began the circuit. Three steps from the door to the stove. Check to see if the propane was off. Two steps to the solar-powered fridge. Check for perishables on the nearly empty shelves. Four steps from the fridge to the root cellar door. Unfasten the latch and fasten it again. Repeat twice. Three steps to the chest of drawers. Open the top drawer to be sure everything important was in place. Vid chip of his mother, two antique leather-bound books, a palm-size German Shepherd made of yarn, neatly folded socks, all in the proper spots. Four steps back to the door, always parallel to the wall.
Sometimes when the agents had upset him, it could take as many as ten circuits before he felt calm enough to leave. This time, it only took six. If they ever decided to uproot him completely, to force him to move back to the city, he would have to re-establish the routine somewhere else, but as long as he had a stable place that was his, he could move about the world with this spot as its center, this spot he had grounded and rendered safe.
He changed his ratty work coat and gloves for a more respectable set and closed the door behind him. There was no lock, no need for one up here, and no need to take weapons. If they had him traveling this time, they would supply such things.
Cummings moved over to give him room on the bench seat and he slid in, grateful at least for the warmth.
He glanced down at the brown paper sack between them. “Roast beef?”
“With horseradish. I’m not senile yet, Hazelwood.”
Damien opened the bag and let the scent hit him, savoring it a moment before he seized the top sandwich and sank his teeth in with a grateful moan.
“You’re a good man, Cummings.”
“Nah. Just a clever, manipulative one.”
Wirth drove, apparently happy to be in the front seat far away from the feral variant. The snow-crawler lumbered down the hill, away from the peace of solitude and safety of seclusion.
About the Author
While Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres, she writes both kinds of gay romance – Science Fiction and Fantasy. Currently living part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware, (and full time inside the author’s head) Angel has one husband, one son, two cats, a changing variety of other furred and scaled companions, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
One commenter will be chosen to win a copy of Rarely Pure and Never Simple (winner’s choice of ebook format.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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