Available in Kindle Unlimited!
🌟 Please join me in welcoming author M.F. Sullivan to Stories That Make You Smile! M.F. is here today celebrating the release of her epic cyberpunk fantasy novel, The Hierophant’s Daughter. She’s generously provided an excerpt and giveaway, and sat down to answer a few questions about her new novel and her process in writing it. Pull up a chair and enjoy! 🌟
The Hierophant’s Daughter by M.F. Sullivan
Dive into the first volume of a bleak cyberpunk tahgmahr you can’t afford to miss.
What would you sacrifice to survive?
Series: The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy (book #1)
Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing
Cover Artist: Nuno Moreira
Release Date: May 19, 2019
Length: Novel / ~100k words / 298 pages (paperback)
Heat Rating: 1 flame (A romantic relationship between the couple but no intimate scenes or sexual situations are described in the book. The book fades-to-black before any love scene.)
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): LGBTQ Cyberpunk/Horror, Sci-fi/Fantasy (Adult)
By 4042 CE, the Hierophant and his Church have risen to political dominance with his cannibalistic army of genetically modified humans: martyrs. In an era when mankind’s intergenerational cold wars against their long-lived predators seem close to running hot, the Holy Family is poised on the verge of complete planetary control. It will take a miracle to save humanity from extinction.
It will also take a miracle to resurrect the wife of 331-year-old General Dominia di Mephitoli, who defects during martyr year 1997 AL in search of Lazarus, the one man rumored to bring life to the dead. With the Hierophant’s Project Black Sun looming over her head, she has little choice but to believe this Lazarus is really all her new friends say he is–assuming he exists at all–and that these companions of hers are really able to help her. From the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute with a few secrets of her own to the outright sapient dog who seems to judge every move, they don’t inspire a lot of confidence, but the General has to take the help she can get.
After all, Dominia is no ordinary martyr. She is THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER, and her Father won’t let her switch sides without a fight. Not when she still has so much to learn.
The dystopic first entry of an epic cyberpunk trilogy, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER is a horror/sci-fi adventure sure to delight and inspire adult readers of all stripes.
☆ Author Interview ☆
Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?
Thank you so much! The Hierophant’s Daughter is Book I of The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy, an LGBTQ cyberpunk/horror series being released throughout 2019 and the beginning of 2020. By 4042 CE, Earth has been overrun with the Hierophant and his cannibalistic army of genetically engineered humans: martyrs. That same year, his daughter, General Dominia di Mephitoli, flees the Holy Father’s evil regime in a globetrotting gambit to resurrect her dead wife. I love the story—I think it’s a powerful adventure and it’s the kind of book I wish somebody else would write so I can experience it as a reader! The dark megalopolises and grim dystopian atmosphere really get me excited. Here’s to hoping it’ll be a Netflix series or movie trilogy someday, so I can enjoy it as a viewer!
It’s hard to say who’s my real favorite character in the whole trilogy—as the author you sort of have to pick two. Your favorite character to write/read, and your favorite character as a person. Favorite character to write would have to go to the story’s villain, the pedantic Hierophant who pops up around every corner and generally casts a very black shadow across the books. But favorite character as a person? Hard to say. I love Dominia and in the end she is probably my favorite—who doesn’t love a one-eyed widow General (former Governess of the United Front, at that!) trying to restore life to her wife—but Miki Soto, the foulmouthed Japanese prostitute, is absolutely incredible because I feel like she just came rocketing out of nowhere to give the story a kind of vibrance I couldn’t have intentionally created if I tried. She’s with the cabal of working girls known as the Red Market, yet she’s probably the most moral character in all three books—and if that sentence doesn’t tell you about the vibe of the trilogy, I don’t know what will!
What was the inspiration for your latest story?
There were a lot of inspirations, but mostly I wanted to give LGBTQ readers an adventure that was ‘theirs’. I feel like a lot of modern queer literature is still hung up on presenting being gay as some kind of dilemma, whether it’s a YA novel about how hard it is to come out or an M/M romance novel with ‘taboo’ undertones. It’s a kind of literary microaggression that I feel nobody’s fully acknowledging. What happens to these gay characters after they come out? After they’re together? Don’t they have other concerns in life than attaining self-awareness of their orientation and being in love?
Another way to say it is, you’re not going to get many straight, heterosexual white males reading LGBTQ books like those, which is unfortunate because that is exactly who should be reading those books. So, in order to promote sensitivity to readers across the board, I think it’s vital that we as a society begin to ‘graduate’ our gay literature from its coming out phase to its living phase. Time to step up queer literature’s focus on its proverbial Maslow scale. I think we as a society are infantilizing ourselves with this YA obsession to begin with. If we want to expand our minds with books the way fiction is intended to expand our minds, we need to start contemplating higher level concerns than those we contemplated in high school or even college.
Tell us about something you learned while writing and/or researching this story.
I learned a whole hell of a lot about the electromagnetic spectrum, and even more about black holes! I feel like between the research I’ve done for The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy and the research I’m doing now for another upcoming LGBTQ sci-fi/noir series I’m working on, I’m getting prepped to write some kind of physics thesis!
What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?
I was writing all three books at once, editing all three books at once, just generally working constantly on them in every way, shape, and form from the word ‘go’. I never felt ‘ready’ to write this series and in fact when I started I didn’t realize it was a series. I just felt the urgent push of inspiration and knew I needed to fulfill it, so I sat down and started writing the first page, and the next, and…on it went. It was exhilarating, but exhausting. The climax of Book I involves a marathon—that was actually a second draft addition, because Book I needed a bit of reworking after I figured out it was a trilogy instead of one novel. I feel in retrospect that the marathon got in there because it was such a powerful symbol for my duty to Dominia and her world—I’ve been running this marathon with her, this long, slogging race from the first time I sat down in April of 2017 to now, as I finally get to watch the release of the trilogy I’ve loved—and sometimes loathed—to write. It is an exceptionally dark series, even for me. A lot of tragedy happens to a lot of people. But I knew what the very last chapter was going to be from very early on, and the knowledge of that chapter, the genuine need to reach it, kept me from being tempted to stop.
Tell us a little bit about your work(s) in progress!
Last year my short story, “The Remedy”, received an honorable mention from L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future competition, which was very exciting because by that time I was already hard at work on expanding in into a full-length novel that I’m kind of describing as The Big Lebowski meets Blade Runner. By now I’ve somehow expanded those plans into a rough arc of six novels! Still not sure how that happened, but I’m excited to get more deeply into them once Book I of The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy is out. I’m halfway through with writing Book I of this new series, but I’m holding off on devoting myself to it until I can take a break from calling bookstores and designing marketing material!
What is your favorite underappreciated novel?
Waiting Period by Hubert Selby Jr. It’s a very troubling but very interesting novel written from the perspective of a man who buys a gun with the intention of committing suicide, but during the waiting period decides the better choice is to stay alive and become—well, a vigilante or a terrorist, depending on who you ask. I find it an extremely powerful story, especially in this day and age where we’re seeing so much homegrown alt-right terrorism. It’s a book worth reading for anybody trying to understand this sort of mental illness.
What do you find to be the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Maybe this is a rude response, but I’ve just never had trouble with that and always been surprised that people do. I think that could be because I was raised mostly by my single father and had a lot of guy friends in school, so I know how men are, and also know that ultimately they’re just people. In fact, I take a lot of pride in my male characters and sometimes I find them even more organic and lively than my female characters! Building a character from a starting point of “are they male or female” is wrong thinking. Writers do best when they open-mindedly invite whatever character will best represent the theme they’re thinking about, or when they just stumble upon a character and become interested enough to follow that person through a story…or three, or six.
Werewolves or vampires?
Meet the Author
M.F. Sullivan is the author of Delilah, My Woman, The Lightning Stenography Device, and a slew of plays in addition to the Trilogy. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her boyfriend and her cat, where she attends the local Shakespeare Festival and experiments with the occult.
Find more information about her work (and plenty of free essays) here.