Monday, May 28, 2018

Spotlight Post and Author Interview: Redemption by Mike Schlossberg

Redemption (The Spades Trilogy Book 1)
by Mike Schlossberg
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Twenty young people wake aboard the spaceship Redemption with no memory how they got there.

Asher Maddox went to sleep a college dropout with clinical depression and anxiety. He wakes one hundred sixty years in the future to assume the role as captain aboard a spaceship he knows nothing about, with a crew as in the dark as he is. 

Yanked from their everyday lives, the crew learns that Earth has been ravaged by the Spades virus – a deadly disease planted by aliens. They are tasked with obtaining the vaccine that will save humanity, while forced to hide from an unidentified, but highly advanced enemy. 
Half a galaxy away from Earth, the crew sets out to complete the quest against impossible odds. As the enemy draws closer, they learn to run the ship despite their own flaws and rivalries. But they have another enemy . . . time. And it’s running out.

Buy Links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Author Interview with Jessica & Melissa:

1. To start off this interview I'm going to ask you the age old question, what inspired you to write Redemption?
That's easy: My own experiences with depression and anxiety. I remain floored by how embarrassed people are to talk about mental health issues - one in five adults actively suffer from mental illness, and one in two will over the course of their lives. Yet, we refuse to discuss mental illness in the same manner that we do physical health. No one is embarrassed to say they have the flu; no one should be embarrassed to say they are depressed. I wrote Redemption to entertain and to inspire - I want people to know that they can have mental health issues, that they can struggles and fail, but still overcome.

2. While writing your book was there a particular scene or chapter that was fun or challenging to write?
Huh. I never thought about this before! Certainly the most fun was the ending - I sat down at my computer for days on end to finish it off. But the most challenging, yes. Without giving too much away, there are certainly scenes where the main character struggles to the point of near paralysis. There are certain moments that rang too true.

3. Diversity in books and the publishing industry is a huge topic so I'm curious about your thoughts on it. Whose voices do we see? Whose voices do we need more of? How can authors address that?

This is a great question and a necessary one. I'm a white male, I grew up surrounded with largely other Caucasians, and my experience as a parent and elected official has taught me that this will not be my children's world. That's a great thing - America is changing and we need to change with it. In my book, I went out of my way to include as diverse a cast as possible, including ethnicity and sexual orientation. Authors have to do that. At the same time, we have to be able to write credibly. I don't want to write a character and slap an ethnicity on them that doesn't ring true. This gets really challenging, because we are all limited by our own experiences and perspectives (again, hi, white guy here). A good author can make the character ring true to the real world and the universe of the story, and I hope I did that. 

At the same time, the one thing I do know is that this book directly addresses mental health in a way that I think is very true to life - it shows the experiences, doubts and thought patterns of someone who struggles. That much I know I got right, and I think it's important that we strive to make sure that the voices of the mentally ill are present in all genres - particularly genres that don't typically feature individuals. All to often, books are "all or nothing" - they show someone who is perfectly healthy or someone who is institutionalized. For most people with mental illness, that's not real. Most of us live our lives in the shadow of this pain. That's what I was trying to capture here, and I hope I did it justice.

4. One of our favorite questions to ask is, what is the best advice you have received as an writer or just in general

Saw it on Twitter: "Write like the wind. Edit later." Get everything on paper, get out what's in your heart and head, and then polish it until it shines.

5. If you had to pick a theme song to your book, what would it be?

This is a bit of a weird one that requires explanation: "If I Could Change Your Mind" by Haim. They are my favorite band (I AM SEEING THEM LATER TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME AND CANNOT CONTAIN MY JOY), and I love this song. That being said, it's actually about getting back together with an ex, as best I can tell. So, why this song? Three things. First, it describes someone's journey of personal growth - and that makes it connect with Redemption. Second, sorry, I just love the damn song. It makes me want to go on my own personal journey. And third, the title, ahd these words: "...change your mind." That's something people with mental illness are always trying to do. I even snuck in a reference to the song in one of the book's last scenes, so that was fun.

6. Now we have come to the end of the interview, our last question to you is, if you had to describe your Redemption in 3 words what would they be?

This is a difficult one, but I think I got it. My full-time job is to serve as a Pennsylvania State Representative. So i'm an elected official, and one of the more prominent ones in the state to talk about their own mental illness. I once spoke about it on the floor of the House of Representatives, and the line most people remembered from the speech was towards the end: "As long as you breathe, there is hope."
So: "There is hope." That's the message of Redemption.
About the Author: 

Mike Schlossberg has been a writer since he wrote his first short story in eighth grade, a Star Wars fanfiction. While he claims it was terrible, the creative passion followed him into adulthood.

Serving as a State Representative in Pennsylvania, Mike has had the chance to make a difference. The problem closest to his heart is mental health, where he strives to break the stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental illnesses and give them hope. For Mike, this issue is personal, as he has been treated for depression and anxiety related disorders since he was 18. It was this desire to help which drove him to write Redemption, his first novel, but not his first book. That honor goes to Tweets and Consequences, an anthology about the varied ways elected officials have destroyed their careers via social media.

When not writing, Mike plays video games (both modern and old school), watches anything related to the Muppets (specifically Fraggle Rock!), reads, attempts to get to the gym, and calls his constituents on their birthdays.

Mike lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with his wife Brenna and his two wonderful children: Auron, born in 2011, and Ayla, born in 2012
Contact links: Facebook * Twitter Website
Pa. state Rep. Mike Schlossberg tells his own story of battles with depression and anxiety as the House unanimously adopts his resolution recognizing May 2015 as Mental Health Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

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