An Interview with Athena Grayson, author of Scandal
In a tweet (140 characters), please tell us a bit about yourself.
Answer: Athena loves smart, sexy beta heroes, kickass heroines, and bending tropes. She also believes you’re never too old for unicorn hair.
Please tell a bit about your journey to becoming a published author. What’s been the best things about it and the worst?
Answer: I’ve been writing professionally for over twenty years (I started in the womb – that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!
The best thing about it is the “Indie Revolution” that has removed many of the barriers between authors and readers. I love being accountable to readers first, being able to experiment with story ideas that are a little off the beaten path, and mashing up genres like Gossip Girl and Bladerunner (my latest release mixes celebrity scandals and galactic empires).
Tell us a bit about your latest release. What inspired you to write it? Why should fans of Second Run Reviews consider reading it.
Answer: My latest release is Scandal: Scions of the Star Empire #1. When a princess who’s no stranger to scandal runs afoul of the secrets of the most powerful cabal on Landfall, even her crown can’t protect her from the consequences.
At the exclusive Landfall Cultural Academy, privilege is a prison. The heirs of Landfall’s elite noble Houses compete to elevate their status high enough for the Cultural Trust to grant them the coveted title of “Scion” – and the freedom to make their own way out from under their parents’ machinations. The only way to earn the title of “Scion” is by carefully managing the social influence markets that rank them according to their accomplishments. And if scholarship won’t get you there, a good scandal will do.
I’ve always had this repelled fascination with celebrity gossip. I’m an extrovert, but only in controlled doses and I’m super-uncomfortable in the spotlight when it’s all about me, so I don’t really “get” people who are driven to seek the spotlight…and then go do something bone-headed where everyone can see!
Scions came about when I was following about the fifth former child-star public meltdown in as many months, and Ione appeared, wanting to tell her story. Around the same time, this internet tool called “Klout” came out, which rated everyone’s Twitter handle on how much social media influence they had (like a credit score for social media) and everyone suddenly became obsessed with their Klout score.
Of course, I jumped straight to “how would people go overboard with this?” and the Probabilities Index was born. People will bet on anything, and on Landfall, if you’re a young noble, the futures market isn’t about orange juice, it’s about you. Who you’ll marry, whether or not you’ll achieve more than your older sibling…how long before you’re caught on camera being publicly intoxicated. What emerged was a world of high-stakes financial markets built around reputation, where every move was documented and broadcast by gossip feeds, and bet upon by traders eager to make a quick credit off a young person’s poor choices. And of course, since it’s me, I realized that in their world–as in ours–all that celebrity gossip is really just a distraction from much bigger goings-on.
Second Run Reviews readers who thrill to this current renaissance period of good TV shows (and who love binge-watching them) will like the way I tell a story. If you like a little Gossip Girl thrown in with your Bladerunner, you will enjoy meeting the Scions. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like if Facebook or Twitter dominated even more of our lives than it already does, and if (OMG) Perez Hilton or TMZ were at the controls, you’ll get a kick out of this story.
What types of books do you enjoy reading the most? What three books to you find yourself recommending to your fans over and over?
Answer: I love speculative fiction, magical realism, and a good space-cowboy tale. I love them more when there’s a little romance thrown in, but I’m very picky about my romance genre reads. William Gibson helps me make sense of the near future with his cerebral futurism, and Jennifer Crusie plays with story the way Picasso played with little specks of color.I really love books that take the mickey out of something–give me a good trope-turner and a cup of coffee and you won’t see me for hours. Terry Pratchett is my go-to author for recommending, because not only does he know and deeply love the epic fantasy genre enough to spank it, he also knows and deeply loves people and modern civilization enough to spank it, too. And modern civilization can always use a good spanking. I am *always* recommending Small Gods, Hogfather, and Witches Abroad for spiritual and philosophical growth. And if a person hasn’t already fled in terror, I’ll shove the Ankh-Morpork City Watch books into their hands as they run out the door.
What is your current obsession? Any secret obsessions you would like to share?
Answer: Right this minute, my current obsession is binge-watching Riverdale. I read Archie comics and watched the Saturday morning cartoons as a kid and didn’t expect much from a series based on teenagers in a small town, but the show runners have taken a number of the “teen drama” tropes and lampshaded or subverted them, and gave the series a delightfully creepy, “Twin Peaks-y” feel.
What is one question you wish I would have asked, that I haven’t? (And please answer it!)
Answer: Where can readers find you?
You can find me on my website, or like my Facebook page. I’m also on Twitter, but if you really want to get the buzz, I’m most at home with my Private Readers Group. My private group gets access to all sorts of behind the scenes extras, undercover sales and deals, and first crack at early reads.
Any final thoughts or wise words you would like to share?
Answer: Thank you for hosting me here today! If I had any wisdom to impart, it would be to do that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t let fear keep you from doing something new or different.
Scandal (Scions of the Star Empire #1)
Genre: Sci-fi dystopian with romantic elements, New Adult/Adult
Release Date: March 23, 2017
Synopsis: Nothing infuriates Princess Ione Ra more than having someone else take control of her reputation from her, and her old nemesis–gossip journalist Jaris Pulne–is poised to do just that with pilfered pics of her caught in a compromising position with her power-couple partner. As someone who’s no stranger to manipulating the markets on her own social life, Ione knows the wrong scandal means social suicide.
For the other half of the power couple, Den Hades, his survival has depended on staying in his powerful father’s shadow in order to protect his secrets. But on the very night of his one chance to earn a shot at becoming a Scion–and freedom from his father’s ambitions, scandal threatens to tear him from Ione, or worse–force them together before their time.
Damage control turns into danger when their attempts to retrieve the images lead them both into the dark underbelly of the glittering city-planet, exposing secrets of both friends and foes that could lead to more than just social suicide.
About the Series
They can have anything they want…except a future.
The children of Landfall’s powerful nobility have all the wealth and privilege of their family status, but there’s only one thing that will give them true freedom–the title of Scion. The only way to earn it is by carefully managing the social influence markets that rank them according to their accomplishments. At the exclusive Landfall Cultural Academy, the heirs compete to elevate their status high enough for the Cultural Trust to grant them the title and the freedom to make their own way, and scandal is as good as scholarship.
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