Spotlight on Stephen Penner, Author of Scottish Rite and Mars Alpha Station

Thrillers, Chillers and Darn Good Books

Today’s spotlight is onStephenPenner, an author and artist fromSeattle. Stephen is a contributor to the DEADSHOESOCIETY short story anthology. In addition, he has just released a science fiction novel, MARS STATION ALPHA, and a paranormal mystery novel, SCOTTISH RITE. If you haven’t sampled his writing yet, this is your chance to get a sneak peek and discover a great new author.

Genres:  Science Fiction, Thrillers, Paranormal, Mysteries, Children’s

You have a continuing character in your novels. Give us a bit of background about him/her:

My science fiction novel, MARS STATION ALPHA, is not a series book. I love the characters, but the strength of the book lies in the immediacy of the crises they face. That book stands alone.

However, in my paranormal mysteries, SCOTTISH RITE and BLOOD RITE, there is a recurring protagonist, Maggie Devereaux. She is an American graduate student in languages, who travels toScotlandand discovers a lost book of ancient, but dark, magic. In SCOTTISH RITE, she has to unlock the magic to stop a serial killer. In BLOOD RITE, she uses it to save a kidnapped child. In the third book, DARK RITE, she’ll have to use it to save herself.

Sci Fi appeals to a wide variety of readers. What is your favorite part of writing science fiction?

I really like the fact that no matter the setting, it’s the human nature of the characters that carries the day. The challenge is to write something a little bit futuristic, a little bit speculative, but still keep the characters approachable. In MARS STATION ALPHA, the adventure takes place on Mars, but the characters are regular people in an extraordinary situation.

Tell us a little about your books:

MARS STATION ALPHA is a science fiction thriller.

SCOTTISH RITE and BLOOD RITE are paranormal mysteries.

“Lady Justice Wears Heels” (from THE DEADSHOESOCIETY) is a legal thriller.

I’ve also written (and illustrated!) a series of children’s books titled PROFESSOR BARRISTER’S DINOSUAR MYSTERIES.

Novel Excerpt:

Here’s the opening scene to MARS STATION ALPHA:

Stantonspied a glint of metal on the horizon of the otherwise barren planetscape.

“We have visual,” Commander Mtumbe announced as he steered the Antares through the poisonous atmosphere. “Mars Station Alpha.”

Mtumbe slid his hand across the control glass, lighting up everyone’s personal digital monitor with a magnified image of the space station, overlaid by a data stream from the ship’s scanners.

“I see no activity,” Petrov observed. “This means no one is alive perhaps?”

“Or it means simply that all shields are working, Aleksandr,” countered his fellow Russian, Oksana Rusakova, “and so we cannot see the activity inside.”

Mei-Zhu Lin,Stanton’s hand-picked tech expert, provided the answer.

“Diagnostics confirm that all shields are on full power,” she reported. “We will not see inside with scanners.”

Captain John Stanton sat silently in the co-pilot’s chair, his eyes fixed on the approaching space station. He had known they wouldn’t see anything with scanners. They were going to have to go inside. What he didn’t know was why—or what they would find.

“What happened to you in there,Ferguson?”Stantonwhispered to himself.

As the ship lurched into its steep descent toward the space station’s runway, Lieutenant Nils Dekker, the mission’s sole representative of the moribund European Space Agency, pointed out his starboard portal. “What the hell are those?”

“What are what?” asked Petrov.

Stantonfinally took his eyes off the station to turn around and see Petrov craning to look out Dekker’s side portal.

But before Dekker could answer the Russian, Lin pointed to an indicator light on the ship’s instrument panel and announced, “We have received a new communication from Earth.”

All eyes turned to Cassandra Gold. A last-minute addition, Gold wasn’t even an astronaut. On Earth, she was a Special Agent from the United States Department of State. On Mars—and on the ship—her title was ‘Communications Officer.’ By direct order of President Akira himself, she outranked evenStantonon all issues of communication with Earth.

Gold pressed a button on the arm of her chair and the message played for everyone. It was President Akira.

“Don’t screw this up. The whole planet is watching.”

That was it.

Typical, thoughtStanton. Akira had just been reelected on his reputation for plain talking—and his promise to get to the bottom of whatever had happened to the Mars colony.

“Shall we send a reply message?” asked Rusakova.

“No,”Stantonsaid simply. “We’d be in the station by the time the message reached Earth. Let’s wait till we have something to report.”

Then he turned and nodded to Gold. “If that meets with your approval, Agent?”

He still couldn’t quite bring himself to call her officer—any type of officer, even Communications Officer.

Gold returned the nod with a curt one of her own. “Approved.”

“We should tell him to stop bothering us,” joked Dekker, obviously trying to lighten the mood a bit. “We’re trying to land a spaceship.”

No one laughed.

“I’m the one trying to land this spaceship,” Mtumbe snapped. “So everyone just be quiet for a minute. I didn’t train to land this thing alone. There was supposed to be a ground crew talking me down.”

Stantonstared straight out the cockpit glass again. “The first crew did it without any help, Daniel.”

Mtumbe smiled tightly. “I didn’t say I couldn’t do it. I said I didn’t train for it. Now everybody shut up and hold on. We’re coming in and I’ve only got four hundred meters to bring this thing to a complete stop.”

What can your readers look forward to? Do you have an upcoming new release?

I expect to release two more novels in early 2012. The first is titled THE GODLING CLUB and tells the adventure of 15-year old Jeni Tanaka as she travels the world in search of her kidnapped mother, and trying to reclaim her lost-before-she-knew-she-had-it birthright as a “godling” to one of the ancient goddesses of creation.

Then, a bit later, I’ll be releasing a legal thriller titled AGGRAVATING FACTORS. It stars the same characters as in “Lady Justice Wears Heels”, the short story from the DEADSHOESOCIETY anthology. Prosecutor David Brunelle is tasked with convicting a heinous killer, but he has to overcome both legal obstacles and personal peril.

Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

The best place to read about my work (and see a few of my paintings!) is my website: http://stephenpenner.com

You purchase Stephen Penner’s books on Amazon, in both kindle and paperback format:

MARS STATION ALPHA

SCOTTISH RITE

BLOOD RITE

THE DEADSHOESOCIETY

PROFESSOR BARRISTER’S DINOSAUR MYSTERIES

You can find out more about all these books, and Stephen, on his Amazon.com page: http://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Penner/e/B002YE2C6A

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About Lori Gordon

Lori Gordon has created stories since childhood and has the notebooks to prove it! In recent years she’s written paranormal, science fiction, a family novella, and thrillers. She has had short stories published in a variety of anthologies. When fate dealt her an unexpected twist and Lori found herself among the millions of unemployed, she decided it was now or never and wrote her debut thriller State of Panic. She is currently working at work on her second novel featuring Detective Andi Lawson, which will be released in early 2012. She enjoys writing unique, multi layered characters, and loves to both read and write character driven stories. Lori has taken turns in sales, as a marketing executive and entrepreneur and is now focusing on her writing. She lives in Chicago and in her spare time loves to garden and spend time with her pets.
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