Thursday, March 5, 2015

Welcome author of REFRACTIONS OF FROZEN TIME, Marcha Fox!

Marcha Fox

Author bio:
Marcha Fox has loved science since childhood with the stars always holding a strong sense of mystery and fascination. Her love of astronomy resulted in a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Utah State University in 1987 followed by a 21 year career at NASA where she held a variety of positions including technical writer, engineer and eventually a manager.  Her NASA experiences included trips to Cape Canaveral in Florida, visiting other NASA centers in Mississippi, Alabama and Maryland as well as trips to the European Space Agency in The Netherlands but the most memorable was the sad task of helping to recover space shuttle debris in East Texas following the tragic Columbia accident in 2003. (You can read more about this experience in her blog at

She writes the kind of stories she enjoys herself which in the Star Trails series include the various exploits of an entire family along with a variety of alien and mechanical personalities trying to survive in a hostile world of scientific and political intrigue. 

Never at a loss for something to do, she enjoys gardening, her Bengal cats and pursuing her study of the heavens in yet another realm, that of astrology.  “Just because the scientists can’t explain how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t.  What they fail to tell you in astronomy class is that Kepler, Galileo, Copernicus and Newton were all astrologers on a quest to obtain more accurate data for their astrological readings and predictions.”  She sees no conflict with modern science other than the fact that technology has not yet advanced far enough to determine how it works with string theory and the Higgs boson opening new possibilites.  Her astrology clients span the globe, accessing her through her website at 

She is the mother of six grown children, grandmother to 17 and three great-grandchildren though she denies being old enough for that to be possible.  She currently makes her home in the Texas Hill Country.

Brief synopsis of your book:
A discovery that links two dimensions of time. . .A prison ship’s dirty little secret. . .Esheron has answers but will they arrive before it’s too late?

This action-packed, hard sci-fi adventure is the fourth and final volume of the Star Trails Tetralogy and finds the Brightstar family more separated than ever before.  Creena believes the time-shifting properties of the new crystals discovered in the caverns can bring her family back together at last.  But before she can finish unlocking their secrets, Integrator forces invade their underground hideout, forcing a harrowing escape loaded with unexpected consequences. 

The dark and lonely days that follow change her brother, Dirck, forever as fate plays out a hand dealt on Earth years before.  Will time relent and give everyone a second chance?  Meanwhile, Augustus Troy is on the move again, this time armed with a weapon capable of annihilating anyone opposed to his despotic goals.

Do the Brightstars have what it takes to survive their final confrontation with the Integrator and his evil proponents?  Or will the family’s longed-for reunion take place in another dimension of time and space?  Find out in this suspense-laden successor to "A Psilent Place Below" and conclusion to the Star Trails Tetralogy.

Book title:

"Refractions of Frozen Time"

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 4)

Current book or project you’re working on:
How did you decide on the title of your novel?
As a science fiction story that centers around the mystical properties of two different types of crystals, i.e. cristobalite and devenite, the latter of which can bend time, the title was easily derived from that.

Please share three interesting facts about the characters from your book that were not shared in your book.
1)  Creena hopes to return to Earth someday and reconnect with Allen Benson.
2)  Win really wants to meet Antara Denale, the young scientist who stood up fearlessly to their Territorial General.
3)  Augustus Troy never got over the fact his wife left him when he was off-world pursuing his career.

Did you plan on writing a series from the very beginning?
No, the initial intent was for the story to be completed in one book.  Clearly, that didn't happen.  LOL!  It didn't take long to discover it would not only become a trilogy but a tetralogy as the plot's complexity grew and the characters not only came to life but took over completely.

What is the most complex issue you dealt with when writing a series?
Consistency!  When you're working on subsequent books you often forget some of the details in the earlier ones.  I went back and read them all to make sure I didn't contradict anything and while I was doing so I found some loose ends I needed to tie up as well.  I also found a few seemingly minor events in earlier books that I could connect with the end in a way that worked very nicely.

What inspires you to write and what research do you do for your books?
I've been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil and usually have too many ideas to pursue versus not enough.  I love science, especially the various mysteries yet to be solved, and they definitely inspire me.  As far as research is concerned, I've always wanted to be a science fiction writer from the time I first discovered the genre in grade school.  I wanted to do it as accurately as possible and since I already loved science, I went back to school when I was 35 and had six kids at home to pursue a bachelor's degree in physics.  After graduating, I worked as a NASA contractor in Houston, Texas for over twenty years.  That was the foundation of my research.  Thanks to the internet, specific things that come up beyond my education and experience are easy to look up.

If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
That's a very intimidating thought!  I suppose I would love one of the earlier science fiction pioneers who inspired me as a child to do so, like H.G. Wells or Robert A. Heinlein.

What genre and age group does your book fall into?
Hard Science Fiction suitable for Young Adults.  Since I was so inspired by science fiction as a child I would like to do the same for other generations.  One thing I've tried to do is get into the science a little more so that they are not only inspired but also learn something painlessly in the context of the story.  Thus, these books were written with teens and young adults in mind but adults can enjoy them, too.  They are "clean reads" as well.  My website has a section for parents and educators which points out the parts of the book which they could use to launch discussions on various subjects.  These could serve as ready-made extra credit projects for science and even social studies teachers.

What is the first book you remember reading, that influenced your life?
It's difficult to pin it down to one particular book but as a science fiction writer I would say it was most likely "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells.  On a personal level, I would say "Journey of Souls." by Michael Newton, PhD.

Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1)  Catherine Asaro.  She's a PhD physicist who also writes science fiction.  I love her use of hard science and the wonderful characters and world she's created in her stories.
2)  Michael Crichton.  I love the heavy science in his stories and his ability to build nail-biting suspense.  I have stayed up later than I should have many nights engrossed in one of his stories.
3)  Robert A Heinlein.  His stories are not only fascinating as far as the science and considering what he was able to think up back in the 1950s, but I love how he explores the concept of culture shock like he did in "Stranger in a Strange Land" and also "The Door Into Summer" which dealt more with time travel.  He was in close touch with human nature as well as technology.

Have you ever read a book that had made you think that maybe some science fiction may not be fiction?
All the time.  I know enough about science to realize how much we don't know.  There is still so much to be discovered.  It's amazing to me how far technology has come over the past twenty years and that progression will continue.  There is so much we take for granted today which originally was science fiction such as medical imaging, smart phones, and if you go back far enough, even going to the Moon.

What is your favourite genre to read?
Not surprisingly, science fiction, with non-fiction a close second.  Books that get into the unknown areas and speculative in nature provide me with great inspiration.  Esoteric subjects are particularly stimulating to my imagination as I ponder the science behind it, such as astrology and psychic phenomena.

The process:

How many books have you written?
I have written four published novels, another novel that was never published, and four about astrology, though two of them are only more like essays and only about 25 pages long.

Beyond the Hidden Sky 

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 1) 

Which book is your favourite and why?
Probably "A Psilent Place Below" with "Refractions of Frozen Time" right behind it.  They are so closely tied together it's hard to separate them and I only made them into two books because of the length.  The plot and characters really came into their own in "A Psilent Place Below" as well as the introduction of the crystals which launched the story into the realm of speculative science and the paranormal.

Is there anything that helps you see into space, helps you imagine new worlds?
Reading the works of other science fiction writers is always inspiring.  I am often amazed at how creative they can be.  I also love many of the television shows which focus on science, astronomy and even the many things about the Earth, such as the oceans, which remain a mystery.  The History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and so forth are my favorites.  And of course I'm a big fan of "Ancient Aliens" and Erich von Daniken.

What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1)  I often write scenes that won't occur until much later in the story and placement an be a challenge.  Sometimes it's a lot like putting a puzzle together and trying to make sure nothing winds up out of sequence.
2)  When you have your characters in different reference frames where time is passing at different rates, it's difficult to keep story action coordinated.  I've heard authors note it was difficult to keep timezones straight, which is nothing by comparison.  Keeping relativistic effects in synch can be a major challenge.  I tend to be obsessed with accuracy and details and there have been times I've just had to let it go and figure the majority of my readers are not going to do the math, anyway.  If they do, more power to them and I hope they tell me what they find out!
3)  Creating Cyraria with its figure-eight orbit around two stars, plus having its axis of rotation on its side.  This is what created the planet's extreme weather.  I based it on an actual binary star system in the constellation Scorpio so used those figures as a baseline.  Having some actual calculations actually added additional situations to the plot.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the two suns would look like during different seasons.  Most people hardly notice the changes our Sun makes in where it rises and sets and its different seasonal elevations.  Add another sun and turn a planet on its side and what you see in the sky is going to be quite different and not always easy to imagine!

What is one of your favourite sources for research and why?
I still love print books.  When I discover a subject or author whose work I want to explore I tend to look for a used print book to buy.  I love my kindle for fiction, but when I'm reading nonfiction I like to be able to highlight sections, dog-ear pages and naviagate around it more easily than I can on an electronic copy.  Of course the internet is a wonderful source and especially Wikipedia.

How would you define the dystopian genre and what are your thoughts about it as a reality in the future?
I think its inevitable.  The popularity of dystopia is certainly a clear reflection of how people see the world these days and where it is headed.  I think it serves a very useful purpose for getting people's attention, motivating them to do what they can about changing it, or perhaps simply preparing for the worst.  This could be extremely important for today's youth and the world they may face someday.  My books have an underlying dystopian theme as well, particularly "A Dark of Endless Days" which goes into the difficulties of surviving a harsh environment with various other political pressures as well.

Was there a time when you felt possessed by a character when you were writing? If so from which book and which character?
That is such a frequent occurrence for me it would be hard to pin down.  More often than not I feel as if the characters are revealing the story to me versus being their creator.  I came up with the initial players, the Brightstar family and Augustus Troy, but most of the others just appeared.  Win Sendori is the most important one along with Bryl Woeyel.  In "Refractions of Frozen Time" a couple new ones simply popped up, i.e.Bernie and Antara.  As an author I love that when it happens.  If I'm surprised by certain developments I assume my readers will also be entertained and kept in suspense!  Often I wonder how my characters will get out of a given mess and just wait for them to figure it out themselves.  They have never let me down.

Do you take part in creating your book covers and if so what do you find the most difficult part of that process?
I initially tried to design my own covers but finally realized I needed a professional.  I really enjoyed working with him and seeing his interpretation.  He was fun and easy to work with when I would request tweaks and changes.  Oddly enough, I have created covers for other authors but I've learned a lot more about Photoshop and stock photos since I tried to do my own.

What part of expressing a deep emotion and fiction becomes the most critical for you?
Of course you want your readers to experience what the characters are feeling which entails getting them into their viewpoint and the situation.  Of course if the reader has ever experienced a similar emotion then it is easier for them relate.  The real challenge is when they have not directly experienced something where the author has to immerse them in the character's world such that they can feel it vicariously.  This is where the "show, don't tell" admonition becomes critical.  The books we connect with emotionally are the ones we remember.  If a book can make me cry and laugh I will always remember it.  Those that don't, not so much.

Do you use beta readers?
Yes, I did for this last book.  Prior to that I wasn't in contact with as many fellow authors where I could do a beta exchange.  I really enjoy doing that because I truly value the input from someone else and likewise have a lot of fun getting into another author's story and characters as well.

Do you have any ideas for your book(s) and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Yes, I have put together my "Dream Cast." (Picture attached)
Laren Brightstar:  Josh Brolin
Sharra Brightstar:  Wendy Benson
Creena Brightstar:  Taylor Dooley
Dirck Brightstar:  Jason Behr
Deven Brightstar:  Preston Bailey
Jen Brightstar:  Gerard Butler
Bryl Woeyel:  Senna Guemmour
Augustus Troy:  Ben Bass
Win Sendori:  ???  I found the picture online that is definitely my concept of Win, but it didn't include a name.  I am willing to give an ecopy of one of my books to anyone who can identify him for me!

I really like the music I used for my videos composed by Kevin MacLeod.
Which book to movie conversion is your favourite?
I think they did a great job with the Harry Potter series.  The characters were exactly as I imagined them and Hogworts couldn't have been better.

What would you tell someone who was deciding to write their first science fiction or dystopian novel?
Don't neglect your character development and focus too much on the science or dystopian conditions.  They are important to create imagery and the physical setting but it's through your characters and what they go through that these have meaning.

What helpful hints would you suggest for an author to think about when writing a series?
Depending on how inclined you are to detail, if I were to do it again I would keep better notes on key scenes and their location in which book.  For example, I'd keep track of when new characters come on the scene, note events which will require explanation or closure later, and things like that.

What, who, and when, first inspired you to write?
My muse, Kalliope.  Astrologically, the asteroid named Kalliope, muse of writing, is on the ascendant of my natal chart a.k.a. horoscope.  I have felt her influence my entire life in the desire to write, yet only relatively recently discovered she was there.  Up until then I could never understand why I was so obsessed with writing.

Personal favourite info:
Drink –
Riesling from the Mosel River Wine Country in Germany
Food –
High quality Mexican food.
Vacation -
TV show –
Ancient Aliens
Movie –
"The Visitors"
Animal –
Bengal cats (I have two)
Sport –
Olympic Ice Skating
Book –
Impossible to name one!
Comedy –
The old sit-com, "Alf"
Struggle –
Addiction -

How can people connect with you?


of Frozen Time 

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 4)

Beyond the Hidden Sky 

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 1) 

Moving to another planet is never easy. It’s even harder when you never arrive… 
Laren Brightstar knows he's a target since refusing to work for Augustus Troy. Accepting the chief terralogist position on the other side of the galaxy seems like the simplest solution. Getting there, however, isn’t. Not with a teenage daughter like Creena. 
She’s Intelligent. 
She’s a rebel.  
And now she’s missing. 
In deep space. 
Was it an accident? Or abduction? 
Either way he has to find her. Before Troy does. And somehow he knows life will never be simple again.

Create Space (Print copy):

A Dark of Endless Days 

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 2)

Things are never so bad they can’t get worse. For the Brightstars they just did.  
Dirck Brightstar knows his family’s in serious trouble. If his father doesn’t finish building the heat exchanger before Opposition’s heat sets in they’ll all perish. Then what little money they have is confiscated and his father is hauled off to prison in a midnight raid.  
And it all started because his missing sister, Creena, couldn’t follow the rules. 
Unaware of the chaos left in her wake, Creena only wants to get back home. The planet where she hopes to find assistance complicates her situation instead, stranding her on a backward world where evil forces find her wherever she goes. 
Can this family survive long enough to ever be together again?

A Psilent Place Below 

(Star Trails Tetralogy Book 3)

At risk of being cooked alive by Cyraria’s extreme heat season, Dirck Brightstar & his family find refuge underground. It doesn’t take long, however, to sense that this network of caverns emanates a strange and mystical presence. Where did that mysterious dream come from? And how is it possible that his mother shared the same exact vision, right down to the remotest detail? Its message that they orchestrate a prison break to rescue his father is so formidable that even his indomitable friend, Win, claims it’s impossible. But if they don’t the result is unthinkable. All around them, Integrator forces are on the verge of world domination, with the Brightstars not the only ones who are doomed. But if Dirck’s next vision plays out the consequences will be even worse.

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