Title: Atlas: A Novel
Page Count: 376
Genre: Mystery Science Fiction
Kindle Edition: $3.99 Paperback: $14.00
Link Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-A-Novel-Benjamin-Smith/dp/1469995646/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1
Link Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0070O5OXW
Can you tell me something about yourself Benjamin?
I am an American Playwright and novelist. I live in the Great Plains region of the United States and hold four degrees in Journalism, Creative Writing, Education and a Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting. I was a 2003 recipient of a Scholastic American Vision Award and a 2009 Nominee for a David Mark Cohen Prize from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Wow, very talented! Can you tell us what inspired you to write?
From a young age, I was encouraged to read by various members of my family. Books and stories are an important part of my life and writing them has been a natural means of expression for me since an early age.
Who are you favourite authors?
Christopher Moore, Lee Child, Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Raymond Chandler, A.C. Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Christopher Durang, and (recently discovery) Magnus Flyte.
Can you tell me something about your latest book?
Atlas is a blend of detective mystery and science fiction centered around Victoria Rhodes, a police inspector who works long hours as one of the last clean cops on San Francisco’s crumbling police force. When a double murder claims the life of a city prosecutor in the exclusive covenant community of Atlantis, Rhodes is assigned as liaison between the SFPD investigation and the investigation run by the private security force known as the ASM.
Public Prosecutor Katherine Radcliffe was the face of local politics, fighting to resurrect the fallen city of San Francisco by bridging the gap between the private wealth of Atlantis and the forgotten populace of the public sector. Found in the arms of her ex-sensual companion turned corporate psychologist lover, her death resonates with Rhodes and the people of San Francisco on a personal level.
With tensions building between the classes and evidence mounting, Rhodes finds herself delving into the past of the man at the top of the ASM corporate ladder, an inexplicable mercenary turned upper-class messiah, known as Atlas.
When she discovers that his past bears resembles her own remarkably, she can’t help but force a confrontation that brings her face to face with a man she cannot understand, a suspect she knows she has to pursue, and a truth she knows she may not want to uncover.
This sounds like a great book! How long did it take you to write it?
I wrote it in just under 2 years.
Can you tell us something about the writing process, do you have a set time for writing, and did you do any research or anything else of interest that was involved?
At the time, I began writing this novel I worked in a 24-hour bakery and café. On slow nights I started fiddling around with dialogue and soon developed a character I liked. Victoria was an independent and strong female protagonist. I had read many mystery novels with female protagonists before and I was struck by how very many of them in contemporary fiction were formulaic stories that had romantic overtones and in which the female detective eventually ended up in trouble and in need of rescuing by what I called a male “co-tagonist.”
With characters like Bella Swan and Clea Raymond brainwashing readers into thinking abusive and unstable male characters were the answers to the prayers of moody, thinnly-developed female characters, I decided I would go against the trends and try to write something better.
The problem with writing speculatively, of course, is that you don’t really have time. Most writers who aren’t lucky enough to get advances and representatives fighting for their rights have to steal writing time while working “real” jobs. I’m proud to say that I was able to show up a little bit early and stay a little bit late at my job at the bakery and use that time to add little bits here and there to my story. I also used note-cards in the early stages to keep track of ideas and shuffle them around into some semblance of an outline.
I think a great number of authors will empathize with your struggle to write and publish. What do you think readers will come away with when they have finished your book?
I don’t have any higher ambition than entertaining my readers, but I will say that a lot of work went into writing a quality mystery novel set in a believable science fiction world. I would hope readers would come away thinking I satisfied them enough to draw them into reading a planned sequel and that they would help me in my efforts to promote the novel and recommend it to friends and fellow bookophiles.
Would you share an interesting paragraph or two from your book?
As she came to the top of the stairs and looked at the large plush red leather sofas arranged around a coffee table, she could not help but admire the classy homage paid to the middle 20th century. Paintings in black and white showed smiling faces of silver screen gods and goddesses long forgotten. A spindle- legged sideboard offered a selection of premium liquors under crosshatched racks of wines arranged in varying shades of gold and rouge.
This was a league of prostitution all its own.
Off the small open gallery, a hall led into the bedroom. Victoria followed past the smiling faces of Greta Garbo and Vivian Leigh into a master suite of rooms.
Another smaller sitting area, this with a single Parisian-style settee and matching empire chairs of worsted silk, adjoined a large bedroom, only a sliver of which she could make out between the broad shoulders of two ASM troopers holding position, restricting admission to the crime scene.
“So glad you could join us.”
The man who spoke sat with legs crossed in one of the worsted silk empire chairs. He sucked on the plastic filter of a smokeless cigarette, a dark-blue three-piece Savile Row suit making him look distinguished. His voice, Victoria recognized instantly as that which had chastised her over the SMART system intercom. His hair was graying from what had once been a light shade of brown and his eyes seemed small in proportion to the rest of his elongated face.
He stood, nodding coolly as she approached him.
"You must be Detective Rhodes. I do hope you will forgive us. We’d expected you much sooner."
His voice was resonant with a slightly affected English accent. She nodded, shaking his hand before looking past him at the two troopers.
"It’s Inspector, actually," she said. "First grade; top drawer and all that, old sport."
"Yes, of course," he said, annoyed at her mimicking his accent.
Victoria took another glance at the room beyond. A singleword jumped out at her, scrawled in blood over the headboard. "Dykes,” Victoria said. “Charming.”
“Yes,” the stiff Brit, conceded. “Quite appalling. We’ve never had a hate crime within our sector. Not since the liberation.”
Victoria stiffened at the Atlantian word. The rich alwaysspoke as if they’d freed themselves from the burdens of the poor.
“Is that why we were called. You boys don’t know how to handle it?”
The Brit stiffened. “As Chief Operations Officer of ASM, “I’m here to inform you that your liaison with our firm was engaged without my consent and I deem it unnecessary. I and my staff are perfectly capable of handling such a situation.”
“I’m pleased to hear that.”
“Our man Atlas,” the Brit said, haltingly. “He felt that as one of the victims is not a citizen that SFPD held some jurisdictional authority. Under the auspices of the Private Security Compact, I’m afraid that is not the case.”
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