INTERVIEW and GIVEAWAY
(The Reincarnation Series Book 1)
(The Reincarnation Series Book 1)
by R. E. Rowe
Voices, the first book in R. E. Rowe's Reincarnation Series, is currently FREE (if it's not free for you on Amazon, please try one of the other book retailers below). Also available: Whispers, Hack (comprised of Carmina's Diagrams - FREE on B&N, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords - and Carmina's Musings). Coming soon: Carmina.
In a small town in Arkansas, two lives that seemingly have nothing in common will converge and change each other forever. A brilliant but tormented street artist and an ex-track star whose career was cut short by a heart condition.
Book Series Video
Forty-three minutes without a heartbeat—a little longer than a sitcom. About the time it takes for first period at Theodore High. It’d been five years since I’d seen Grams. She looked amazingly happy, considering she was dead.
After waking up from heart surgery, the first words I uttered in the recovery room were “Did my team win?”
“Miracle, miracle,” a nurse whispered. I guess she thought I’d have brain damage.
Another nurse cried. A male nurse asked me if I’d experienced anything strange. He said some patients have what they call a “Near-Death-Experience”—NDE for short. After all, I’d been officially pronounced dead before the doctors brought me back to life.
I told him, “No, nothing worth mentioning.” Lying was easier than telling the truth. There’s no way I’ll ever talk to anyone about those forty-three minutes—especially not Mom or her boyfriend, Hank. What would I tell them? “Hey, remember when I was dead? Well, I hung out with Grams on a bright day at Uncle Pete’s pond.”
Not a chance. I’d get tagged a wacko and locked up at Willowgate, just like the crazy kid from school.
The nurses told me it’d been a miracle that I had survived with only chest compressions until I arrived at the ER. I agreed, of course, but I knew different. Grams had said, “It’s your choice, dear. Stay here or return.”
Being a track star and honor student, I wanted to return.
And so I did.
I blink away these thoughts and slurp in a mouthful of milky flakes while peering at the track star on the cereal box. The glint of excitement in the athlete’s eyes is familiar. But the feeling of adrenaline and winning races is a distant memory.
Gardenia perfume invades the kitchen as Mom scurries in and fills up a travel mug with coffee. She smiles while sinking a teaspoon of sugar into the mug. “Aimee, aren’t you excited?”
I place my bowl in the dishwasher and nod. “I guess. I’m mainly looking forward to painting at Uncle’s pond.”
Mom takes a paper sack out of the refrigerator and hands it to me. It’s been part of our daily routine for as long as I can remember. She sends me into the world each day with a kiss and a packed lunch.
“Uncle Pete will pick you up early, but you’ll still need lunch. The artist must be fed.” She winks.
Her cell blasts some upbeat tune from the ancient past. “Let’s go. I’m presenting closing arguments in court this morning.”
I swim in Mom’s flowery wake as we walk out the door and into the garage.
Mom answers her cell, connecting it to the car’s hands-free device. “I’ll be at the office in twenty minutes.”
As usual, I push in my ear buds to avoid listening to lawyers’ ramblings while we drive. Hopefully, junior year will be better if I get a car, like she promised.
Mom raises her voice. “I’m ready . . . I know, I know . . . it’s our responsibility.”
I gaze out the car window. My pulse quickens and my stomach churns. Even with the music distraction, I still feel Mom’s emotions. I let my mind drift as she navigates morning traffic.
Cancer took Grams’ life five years before my NDE. But when I saw her that day, she looked beautiful, like in the framed picture Mom keeps on her bookshelf. “It’ll be hard, darling,” Grams had said. “But I hope you’ll decide to return. There are still things for you to do.”
A couple of years later and I still have no clue what “things” she meant.
I glance at Mom gripping the steering wheel and feel her nervousness and anxiety. It must be a big legal case for her today.
I remember the day I left the hospital. It was a shock, feeling the energy from things around me. It’s like suddenly feeling hot in an air-conditioned room or feeling chilly when it’s ninety-degrees outside. It’s hard to explain, exactly, how I can feel excitement coming from saw grass swaying in the wind and strength emanating from oak trees baking in sunshine. I’m not psychic or anything, but my intuition is off the charts. It sounds ill and delusional, which is why I’ll never talk about it.
The first day back to school after my heart surgery was the worst. I quickly realized the people around me were crushing me with their emotions. Feelings of worry, excitement, anger, love, and hate swirled the school hallways from my classmates and hung over my head in class. Trying to concentrate on schoolwork while being flattened by so many emotions all at once was impossible in the beginning.
At first, my friends had been supportive when I needed my space. But soon they realized I’d changed for good. Gossiping about Kelly’s ridiculous shoe purchase and texting about Sharon and Roger hooking up after a Friday night football game became boring. Going to a pep rally to wait for the crazy kid to attack another mascot turned into a ridiculous waste of time. What’s the point of rushing around, worrying about what people think, or worrying about saying something stupid? All the little things used to stress me out. Not anymore. Now people do.
Mom drives the car up to the curb and stops in front of Theodore High School in the heart of Franklinville, Arkansas. Waves of anticipation and excitement from kids walking through the school gates roll over me.
I hesitate before pulling out my ear buds and fight the overwhelming urge to run. I’d usually pretend I was sick and ask Mom to take me home, but today is the last day of the school year.
I can do this.
A man’s voice from Mom’s office blasts from the car speakers.
Mom mouths to me, “I’ll call you later.” Then she leans over and kisses me on the cheek, exactly like she always does.
At the start of freshman year, I’d been the girl who set track records. I was the popular girl with friends, the fashion trendsetter, and the designated shoulder to lean on.
I was all of that before I died.
But I was none of it after the doctors brought me back to life.
Two voices moved into my skull six years ago and stayed. Not the fun, imaginary-friend kind. These voices are distinct. Clear. Talking whenever the hell they want. I’ve tried to make them leave, but nothing works. They just get more intense and argue, like I don’t exist. Telling me what to do, what not to do.
Dr. Stewart talks to Mom as if I’m not sitting two steps away on his examination table inside Willowgate Psychiatric Hospital—the oldest building in Franklinville.
“Let’s increase Reizo’s dosage for six weeks.” He pronounces each word with a heavy Russian accent. “We are dealing primarily with auditory hallucinations.”
Stewart likes to use big words, but I know what he means. He thinks I’m crazy.
“I will clear Reizo for the last day of school, but he must be monitored...”
Dr. Stewart rubs his shaved head and shifts his lanky frame from one black shoe to the other. “There is a possibility it is hereditary...”
I want to punch something when Mom’s almond-shaped eyes well up with tears.
“Based on old family stories, Reizo’s third great-grandfather had issues,” Mom says. Her voice wavers like a slide guitar as she twists her brown ponytail with three fingers. “His name was Wesley Rush. He was one of the first settlers in Franklin County.” She pauses as if to search for the right words. “When my husband was alive, he told me his Grandpa Wesley had been committed to a psychiatric hospital back in the late 1800’s.”
Mom clears her throat with a quick cough and adjusts the floral dress over her slim figure. “He heard voices too.”
The doctor looks up from his clipboard and stares at Mom with cold blue eyes straight from Siberia. “I see.” He scribbles something on a paper without looking.
From experience, I know distracting myself is the only way to get through the exam. I force a long deep breath and gaze at the only splash of color inside the white exam room and let my mind drift.
Just as I calm down, two voices start up in my head. In a failed attempt to get them to shut up a few years back, I named the lady voice Honesti and the guy voice Bouncer.
“I told Reizo the meds would make him worse,” Honesti says in a soft voice.
No kidding. I straighten my back and readjust myself on the sheet of paper covering the exam table.
“Poor Reizo. He was scared, wah,” says Bouncer in a husky rasp. “Baby man is weak, ain’t that right? He’ll never be ready. Pathetic. Just tell Stewart to take a hike. Grab a needle. You know what to do.”
What a jerk. I nearly tagged his voice “Mobster,” but decided “Bouncer” was more accurate, since he pushes words in and out of my head whenever the hell he pleases.
I focus harder on the framed, crimson rose hanging at an angle as if it were wilting. Tracing the length of the petal edges with my gaze, I explore the picture like a honeybee searching dark voids for nectar.
“Wesley died after an accident not long after he was committed,” Mom whispers to Dr. Stewart.
Bouncer continues. “Don’t blow it, pretty boy!”
“Died? Oh, I see.” Stewart writes again on my chart and mumbles a series of big words. “Maybe we’ll try a new medication for a few days.”
Taking Stewart’s constantly changing pill assortment has been the biggest mistake of my life. My world crumbled. No more voices, just hissing static, dizziness, and drowsiness. At first, the silence worked for me, but not long after, more side effects kicked in and my creativity turned to mush. The meds nuke my talent. I have zero energy. I’m dizzy all the time. I can’t concentrate, sketch, draw, use spray-paint to make three-dimensional masterpieces with “wildstyle” writing, or anything else artistically worthy.
Hell, when I’m on Stewart’s meds, I can’t even draw a simple oak tree. At best, I can barely manage a throw-up tag. Visualizing scenes to paint is impossible. Painting in 3D? No way. Drawing in two-dimensions? Hardly. I really had no choice—now I palm and flush the meds.
Some people do calculations in their head for a distraction. Rhyming words and poetry is what I do during examinations to distract myself. Lately it’s been the same poem, over and over.
I am alive. I am dead. Dreams strive. Feelings shred.
“Keep your cool,” says Honesti. “Dr. Stewart is almost done.”
Keeping my mouth shut, I stare at the thorny rose stem and imagine it puncturing my skin. The last thing I need is Stewart suspecting I’m not taking his ridiculous pills.
Dr. Stewart continues. “He will need to be committed again if there is another incident of violence. You know this, yes?”
Hello! I can hear you, jerk wad.
Mom reluctantly nods as I press hard on my temples. Dammit. I can’t spend my entire life with voices rambling all the time inside my head. But no way am I going to take Dr. Stewart’s meds either.
The sun rises. The sun sets. The dark prizes. The unpaid debts.
Adding color to the old brick and concrete around the city is my life. Creating works of art on public buildings and sidewalks is what I do. It’s who I am.
The time passes. The light goes. Lifeless masses. Spirit froze.
I refuse to lumber around like a creative zombie with no skills. I’ve been through all the possibilities.
Why should I care? Why do I cry? Spirits glare. Hopeless sky.
There’s only one way to evict the trespassers.
Praise for the Book
"The characters are interesting and easy to relate to, the story keeps you captivated. I like the connection with today’s technology and how reincarnation is explained. Brilliant concept! My teens found it fascinating. Really good writing!" ~ JoAnn Ruhl
"The characters are really true to life. The subplots are realistic, the mystical aspect is toned down. If those parts were gone this book would still be an 'on the edge of your seat' thriller. However those mystical bits are weaving another layer into the story that is just as nerve racking as all the rest. As the beginning of a trilogy, this book reaches out and grabs you by the imagination and won't let go." ~ duchesscjay
"Made me cry and left me wanting more more more!! There is something special with characters you get close to and hate to see the story end." ~ Tamlet35
"This book is a beautiful love story between two 'imperfect' young people. It's wonderfully written and shows a deep understanding of the unknown beyond our known reality as well as an insightful understanding of the human condition. The edgy writing is compelling and appeals to the internet savvy in all of us. Well done Mr. Rowe! Can't wait to get into the next two books in this fascinating trilogy." ~ Marianne Naes
"Voices by R. E. Rowe is a spine tingling, riveting novel! and also with a love interest! I recommend this book." ~ Linda C. Holladay
Interview With the Author
We're joined today by R. E. Rowe, author of Voices. When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to read, listen to podcasts while working out on my treadmill, and read about the latest scientific discoveries. I'm basically a geek inventor at heart. I'll see a problem and work out how to solve it. An interesting part of inventing is that it requires world building. The inventor solves the problem by imagining the world with and without the invention. I apply some of these same techniques to my novels. I'd say the world building process is my favorite part of developing a story.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm on the mailing list of a number of websites specializing in getting the word out about new ebooks. Sometimes I will do keyword searches on Amazon to search for a particular genre I'm interested in reading. Or I'll look at the top books in the book categories I'm interested in at that moment. I also use Goodreads to learn about what my friends are reading.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do remember it. I was a freshman in high school. I wrote a short love story. I shared it with a few of my friends. They encouraged me to write more, but I became side-tracked with football and karate. Fiction took a back seat for a lot of years. Early on, I focused on non-fiction writing. Mainly science and technology papers and patent applications. I received my first patent when I was 20 years old for a tester device to test out circuit boards from avionics systems. US4472677. I told you I was a geek!
What is your writing process?
I'm part plotter and part pantser. I used to love to start off with a concept without a plan. My writing took me all over the place. Sometimes it was super cool. Other times it was very frustrating. After writing a bunch of novels and tossing them in the recycle bin, I decided to start off with a short synopsis. That soon turned into a basic outline. Then I decided it was time to establish my cast, my plot, and setting before writing. Next, I blend all of that together into a story that I want to read. This is important since I will most likely spend months in that particular world with those characters. For example, in The Reincarnation Series, I start off with a tagger who hears voices and an ex-track star who experienced a near death experience. I defined the world and the challenges they'd face. I even detailed out the world: see Hack: Carmina's Notebook and Carmina's Diagrams. From that point, I let my imagination take over and write. Sometimes I adjust the outline if my characters insist. So I guess you could call me two parts plotter, one part pantser.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I enjoyed The Hardy Boys when I was young. Then Isaac Asimov's Robot series books. A little later, I read Larry Niven's Known Space books and fell in love with science fiction. After reading all of his books, I was hooked on reading. Eventually, my reading journey broadened to many different genres. I soon found that I could enjoy any genre if the writing was good. I'd have to say that reading as much as you can is far better than any how-to class on writing. Reading the work of others, writing, and discovering one's voice is more fun than inventing!
How do you approach cover design?
There are a number of great cover designers out there I use depending on the type of cover I need. I recommend looking at covers of released books. Decide what style you like, then figure out what you want it to convey about your novel. Do some research to figure out who created it. Sometimes there will be credits given in the front matter of the book. For most of my covers, I use one particular cover designer I really like. (you can find her info in the front matter of some of my books). Other times I will use 99designs.com to run a contest for a new design. This is what I did for Carmina (The Reincarnation Series Book 4). See if you like it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's not a fair question. My fave keeps changing as I read awesome work from authors. So let me answer that by sharing the titles of my most recent favorites. 1) The Coldest Girl in Cold Town - I never really liked vampire stories until this book, the writing is so awesome it drained all my blood (in a good way). 2) Shiver - I never really liked werewolf stories until this one; I was immediately sucked into a world that was both romantic and exciting. 3) The 5th Wave - cool sci-fi story; more specifically, I really enjoyed the journey of the book's protagonist, Cassie Sullivan. 4) The Universe Versus Alex Woods - who wouldn't like a story about a kid who gets hit in the head by a meteor? 5) The Rithmatist - I found the world very different and super cool.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't limit myself to one e-reading device. I use my iPhone, Kindle Fire, Kindle Voyage, iPad, and reading apps on my laptop. It just depends where I am and what I'm doing. It's a tool that allows me to read. So if I'm on the beach, it would be a Kindle Voyage (small and easy to read in the sun). Reading at a coffee shop, it could be either the Fire or iPad.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'd say I started to enjoy novels in my 20's after four years in the US Air Force. I loved to go to bookstores and hang out. I also took some teaching classes and discovered UC Berkeley and the surrounding area. It felt good to be a geek. Natural. Exciting. At that time, I read mostly technical books. But occasionally, I'd read science fiction novels. I suppose you might say, the more reading I did, the more I wanted to read. These days, I probably consume a novel per week. I used to update Goodreads, but now I just use Goodreads to discover other new books. Reading is just as important as writing to me.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I started the series off with two simple questions that have been explored over the ages. 1) Why do innocent people suffer? 2) If the afterlife is so awesome, why are we here? These simple questions sparked a ton of other questions. I started reading everything I could on the topic. I soon discovered hundreds of near death experiences and realized there was a common experience in most of them. I found professional studies on the topic of NDEs. I discovered the story I wanted to write and quickly realized it would span over a number of books. But most important to me, I wanted to write the series without focusing on any existing belief systems. After all, I was writing fiction. So, I spent time building the world using a variety of inspired ideas. An author friend of mine suggested I share the world. I dreamed up a bunch of interesting characters and let them loose in my fictional world. Each book explores key aspects of the two main questions. For example, book 1 (Voices) is all about innocence. Then book 2 (Whispers) takes off in a fun, fast-paced paranormal thriller and doesn't look back. I promise all lingering questions will be answered in line with the fictional world. So I encourage readers to stick with it. There may be some questions that linger from book to book. But in the end those questions will be answered. It was so fun to write! Check out the book trailer to get the overall concept of the series. Maybe it will be a movie someday! *hint hint*
About the Author
When Rick isn't dreaming, you'll find him trying to discover why, figuring out how, uncovering ancient mysteries, writing a crazy fun middle-grade or young adult novel, inventing something seriously cool, or learning something new. He enjoys participating in science camps, writing conferences and talking to groups about creative topics such as the process of inventing, building worlds for science fiction and fantasy stories, and the importance of dreaming big.
Rick is a lifelong inventor and a named inventor on over one hundred patents. He has degrees in Avionics Systems Technology, Computer Science and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. His experience includes a wide range of engineering, technology development and management roles ranging from aerospace systems to gaming systems. He is a proud member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Delta Mu Delta Honor Society, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
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