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The Scariest Part: M. Darusha Wehm Talks About CHILDREN OF ARKADIA

Children of Arkadia cover

This week on The Scariest Part, my guest is M. Darusha Wehm, whose latest novel is Children of Arkadia. Here is the publisher’s description:

Kaus wants nothing more than to be loved while its human counterpart, Raj Patel, believes fervently in freedom. Arkadia, one of four space stations circling Jupiter, was to be a refuge for all who fought the corrupt systems of old Earth, a haven where both humans and Artificial Intelligences could be happy and free. But the old prejudices and desires are still at play and, no matter how well-meaning its citizens, the children of Arkadia have tough compromises to make.

When the future of humanity is at stake, which will prove more powerful: freedom or happiness? What sacrifices will Kaus, Raj, and the rest of Arkadia’s residents have to make to survive?

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for M. Darusha Wehm:

Children of Arkadia is a story about a utopia gone wrong. Like all expressions of the ideal, many would argue that the society I imagine in the book was wrong from the beginning; however it is, in many ways, a world in which I’d personally like to live. So I can’t deny that it was difficult, painful, and not a little scary to take my own idea of a better world and make it all fall apart.

The Arkadia space habitat is a double-whammy of wish fulfilment for me: since I was eight years old I’ve wanted to live in space, and since I was a teenager I’ve idly dreamed up better ways of living in community. My background is in political science and I’ve spent countless evenings over coffee or beer arguing about the precise layout of the best of all possible worlds. So it might not be surprising to learn that the first iteration of the novel that would become Children of Arkadia was entirely wish-fulfillment. It was a thin plot with no real conflict that existed solely to prop up this world I’d imagined that was essentially my vision of an orbiting paradise.

It was enjoyable to write but when I finished it I knew it wasn’t a real novel. I knew there was something wrong, something missing, so I put it aside. Years later I returned to that story, those characters and that place, knowing what was wrong. It was that I’d subconsciously come to realize all the little ways in which my lovely utopian society was broken, flawed and utterly imperfect.

It was hard to take this world I’d love to live in and figure out what was wrong with it, but I found that I couldn’t help myself. I don’t know if it was all those years of debating politics and theory, or if the shiny newness of Arkadia had simply worn off, but I was compelled to pick at the seams. I had to move beyond the surface and see what could happen when people of good intentions but different perspectives found themselves in conflict. Can good people do bad things for good reasons? What if people are doing what they believe is right and best, but others disagree? What if you don’t want to be treated the way I want to be treated?

Everyone is the hero of their own story and I realized that even in a world where people honestly strive to be good and kind there will always be conflicts — and those differences could be catastrophic. So I had to make my lovely, perfect space orbital a little less lovely and entirely imperfect.

It’s a scary thing to have to coldly examine one’s own vision of the ideal and see the flaws and pits. But it makes for a much more interesting story. And, ideally, helps to galvanize an idea of how a better world could really be achieved.

M. Darusha Wehm: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Google+

Children of Arkadia: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Powell’s / IndieBound

M. Darusha Wehm is the three-time Parsec Award shortlisted author of the novels Beautiful Red, Self Made, Act of Will and The Beauty of Our Weapons. She is the editor of the crime and mystery magazine Plan B. She is from Canada, but currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years traveling at sea on her sailboat.

Dino Day!

Saturday was Dino Day at the Newark Museum! As a lifelong fan of dinosaurs (they are the gateway drug to monster-loving, don’t you know) I couldn’t resist. Alexa and I went and had a great time!

There was a live birds of prey show, fossils (some of which you could touch), a “sluicing for minerals” exhibit that was a big hit because you got to keep the minerals you pulled out of the water, lots of arts and crafts activities for the kids, and best of all…a live T. Rex from Field Station Dinosaurs!


The T.Rex was puppeteered from within (you can sort of see the puppeteer’s legs in black under the dino) and had two “handlers” dressed like zoo keepers. Its eyes blinked. It whipped its tail over the crowd’s heads whenever it turned around. It roared, growled, and even purred when you pet its snout. Provided you were brave enough to get that close. Kids were screaming their heads off from the second it appeared, responding to some ancient, hard-wired instinct to get the hell away from that thing. Parents tried to bring their little ones forward to meet the dino only to have their kids shake their heads vehemently and try to run away. It ended with a roaring contest between the dino and the crowd. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’ll never forget it.

Click here to see more photos from Dino Day, including more of the amazing T. Rex!

STILL LIFE: NINE STORIES Now Even More Affordable

Still Life: Nine Stories

Good news! My critically acclaimed 2012 ebook collection, Still Life: Nine Stories, is now just $2.99 across all platforms!

Included in several “best of the year” lists, this collection contains seven previously published stories and two never-before-seen originals, with an introduction by multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominated author James A. Moore (Seven ForgesThe Blasted Lands). It also features a peek into the mind of a writer with author’s notes for all the stories. Still Life: Nine Stories is available exclusively as an ebook.

Grab your copy today!

You Have To Make It Happen

I received this tweet tonight and it absolutely made my day. I love hearing from readers, especially when they’ve enjoyed something I wrote. (You’d think readers wouldn’t bother contacting me to say they didn’t like something I wrote, but…you’d be surprised.) Every once in a while I receive these lovely missives from readers telling me how much they enjoy the Trent series and how much they’re looking forward to the third volume. And every time I have to tell them, as I did Mr. McMillan, this sad news:

There will not be a third volume unless the first two volumes — Dying Is My Business and Die and Stay Dead — sell a whole lot better than they have been.

I don’t know why they’re not selling better. The reviews have been almost unanimously raves. I’ve promoted the hell out of them on book blogs, websites, convention panels, readings, signings, and podcasts. They just didn’t catch an audience, for some reason. There’s no way of knowing why a book doesn’t take off. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

But here’s the deal. If you want to see the final volume of the Trent trilogy, or even see it go beyond three books to something bigger, you have to help me get the word out. If you liked the first two, tell all your friends. Tell everyone you know who likes the same kind of books as you, your co-workers, your friends at the gym, the other parents in your children’s classes, your book club, the people who follow and friend you on social media, everybody. Leave reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, anywhere you’re comfortable doing so. Selling more copies of the first two is the only way the third book is going to happen, and I need your help to do that. In other words, if you want it to happen you have to help make it happen — and the best way to do that is by spreading the word!