Saturday, October 20, 2012

Author Feature: Lugh

Today I'm featuring one of my favorite authors, and a new blogger, Lugh. He recently self-published one of his short stories called Catara. A very interesting story, and one with many unexpected elements, it is definitely worth picking up! Now, it took me months to get to know Lugh, inch by painstaking inch, but for you guys I managed to get him to interview for me!

       What are your current projects?
 §  There are a few actually – Binding, a poetry anthology, and Rhyzomic Transmutation – they are all in various stages of development at this point in time.

 Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 
§  gave me a lot of support when I needed it, however a shout out has to go to OWWW (other worlds writing workshop) where I learned how awful a writer I was at age 18.  They gave me a goal... took a while.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
§  Female characters, but I’m getting better at those.  The next big challenge is making aliens more.... alien.  Humanoid with functioning anatomy just like humans is just too.... easy.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
 §  Toughest criticism – ‘You couldn’t write your way out of a wet paper bag.’
§  Best compliment – ‘Tell me there’s more coming soon.’

Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
§  I pull the blankets up but they aren’t Martha Stewart made.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
§  Scoop of each; mixing things up is what I do best.

How did you come up with the title to your ebook?
 §  Ah Catara... it was the name of the place visited and since the story is mainly a story about the culture of the Catarians from the POV of Math, then it only made sense.

Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
§  Math is a little reluctant.  Katu wants more face time.  It’s possible, I’ve not decided yet.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
 §  Writer... oh I was young, grammar school I guess.
§  Author... when I had my first piece published in high school (even if it was the school paper).

Do you have any writing rituals?
§  Must have tea and pretzels.
§  tv off, music media on
§  always write erotic scenes to Christian pop

Single people work more. Are you single?
§  Single yes, but I have a 5 year old which I homeschool and a 17 year old which I send to institutionalized education.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
§  On it says I’ve written 59, but those are nearly all short stories.  Things over 25000 words about a dozen, most not even on site. Of those, which is my favorite?
§  It’s hard to choose.   I guess I would have to say RT (which is under rewrite now) followed by the Ulfric of Magog or the Wizard of Iz.   

Do you eat your fruits and vegetables?
 §  Yep, love em.  Like my protein too.

What are you wearing?
§  Black and white plaid fleece pajama pants, black boxer briefs, white socks, and a white NASA Kennedy “I need my Space” Center t-shirt.

Thanks for opening up a bit Lugh! Now, read on to find out a bit more about Catara and where you can buy it!

Blurb: It was supposed to be a simple shopping trip, just Math and his mother. However, nothing is ever simple for Danyl’s Idenk. Katu would do anything to avoid joining the temple, and has. Then an off-worlder shows up and the temple doesn't seem like such a bad choice after all.


JUNE, 4, 642 AC
Journal Entry #1
This journal belongs to: Mathew Patlyk Khoury.
Date Started: June 4, 642 AC
Entry 1: I am so excited. I finally got the journal upgrade I’d been wanting. It’s about time, too, I’ve only been asking for it for two birthdays or would that be hatching days? I’ve always wondered about that. I mean since I wasn’t really born ‘of a woman’ like most children are. A life support accelerator isn’t exactly a womb you know?

Anyway, the esteemed Captain and my biological father said no, I couldn’t have it; but Mother said my idenk, Danyl, had one, so I could have one too. I don’t see how they could ever imagine treating us so differently, we are the same genetic material, Danyl and I. Yet he asks and Father usually caves in while if I ask, I have to earn it. I still had to earn this upgrade by complying with medical. They had come up with another round of scans to help determine my suitability and stability for a diplomatic position with the Triumvirate Alliance of Sol before I could get the journal. It was worth it though — every bit.

I’m still trying to determine what they would do if I decided I didn’t want to take a diplomatic position? Just because they’ve been grooming me for one practically since I could walk, I mean, what if I decided to take a planet bound position? Then again, I would miss this — traveling from planet to planet, gathering information, and seeing so many different races. I think it’s in my blood to journey through the stars. I know it’s in my dreams. They’re getting worse, by the way, the dreams. I don’t want to talk about this to the medics, especially Dr. Ethos, but there is a voice in my dreams now. It’s calling to me, asking me to come to it, to be with it. I want to go, but I don’t know where it is.

So, I don’t know what to do, I mean, why am I having these dreams?

And that one dream where someone is telling me a story is back. I swear, I can recite the story almost verbatim now. It goes like this:

“In the time of chaos, before the age of dreams, the gods spoke and it became. One weary father, El, had seven restless sons. So to occupy them while he did his work, he gave them an orb of cosmic dust and iron ore that was separated from the rest.

Their joy caused intricate symphonies of life to play over its surface as they removed the stuffs they didn’t want, tossing it at each other, creating comets in the process. Heavens separated from earth, and earth from water. Night and day came as one godling spun the orb like a top, the others laughed and kept it spinning for their amusement. Unfortunately, a part broke off but it stayed near their playground, so they left it alone and barren. Another tried to stop it, so it could be repaired, but it wobbled along its cosmic path causing seasons to become.

Grasses sprouted and trees formed as the godlings were hungry and wanted fruits to eat. Singing to the ocean, one created fishes and the things they might eat. Laughing, another brother created sharks so the good fishes would not over-breed. One of the younger sons experimented with things that could fly through the air as the fishes swam the seas while an older one whispered to the dust and brought forth creatures that walked on it.

Needing one creature to have dominion over all, but unable to agree on its form, they decided to have a contest. Each would go off alone and create one creature giving it what it would best need to rule over the rest.

The eldest took dirt, added snow and created it in his own image – alabaster flesh, long limbed, and fair haired with jade for eyes. The second eldest’s creation looked much like his elder brother’s because he spied upon his brother’s creating, but he knew he would have to make his look different so he gave it dark hair and smeared it’s flesh with sienna and used dark topaz for eyes. The third watched the other two and plucked his creation’s flesh from the soot of a volcano, its eyes from the coals, and infused it with fire and passion. Everything about it was dark, except the ivory he used for teeth. The fourth created his from the mud of a river and used two river stones for eyes, while the fifth found some honey, mixed it with sand and ocean water, using black opal for eyes. Pleased with their creations they came to the appointed place and shared them each with the other.

The youngest two were more fanciful than their brother-gods. The next to youngest watched his older brothers and created his to be like theirs, but his were thinner and lighter than his brother-gods’ creations, with slanted eyes of lavender and long limbs infused with strength. Pleased with it he breathed life into it, but being young and new to creating, he did so before he removed the song of creation. Ashamed of his mistake he caused his error to hide within, to lay dormant until awakened by someone who understood the mysteries of life. Then he turned it loose in the world, going to his brother’s empty handed lest they see his mistake.

The youngest had no interest in what his brothers were creating. He cared not one whit about the dominion over all. As the youngest, he knew they would not choose his creation anyway. So, he spent his time creating fanciful beasties: horses with horns, beaver like creatures with duckbills, birds who could not fly but who could swim, mammals for the oceans and fishes for the land, huge lizards that served no purpose but to amuse him, small creatures covered in prickles, peaceful creatures armored for battle. To these he gave life without thought, but the last he thought about and thought about then decided. With his hands, he pulled apart a rainbow and watched as it collected the colors of the torn rainbow. Then he pressed it into his most fanciful creation — a creature with wings, fearsome with its fangs, claws, and armored hide. It became a creature like no other, destined to spend part of its life like an insect, part like a reptile, and part like a mammal. It had the ability to become self-aware, but it had to earn it. It understood the mysteries of life. Grinning he carried his winged creature to his brothers who all laughed at his musings as he knew they would. Six brothers decided all the creatures were worthy of life, created for them mates, and solemnly breathed life into their creations. The seventh just watched knowing his creation roamed the northern wilds.

The youngest grinned as his precious bearers of the mysteries of life took wing.”

I’ve searched all of TAoS’s databanks for creation myths that might have triggered the dreams and there are none similar. Then I broadened the search to all known humanoid species and again, there are none. So, I don’t know what to do, I mean, why am I having this dream that is obviously related somehow to someone’s creation?

I just don’t understand, but then again, maybe I’m not intended to understand at this point. I’ll figure it out later.

Anyway, Mother and I talked about this journal keeping, and now that I am supposedly entering my young adult years, she says I should keep nothing back. As if it were possible! Doesn’t she realize that every time I enter my KARI unit and link to the IAN the ship’s computer has direct access to my brain via the neurocath? I mean it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if they can implant lessons they should be able to read and alter memories, you know: read/write/erase. How stupid does she think I am?

Well I have to go; an important message is coming through from Father.

Mathew stayed close to Geba while they passed through Customs. The formalities never changed even if the planets did, thought Mathew, as they stood in line. This was his first visit to Catara so everything was of interest; even the breathing apparatus they had to wear to alter the atmosphere to the correct mix for human lungs. In preparation he had studied everything the databank had on these interesting people, it wasn’t much though considering all the times Geba had been here. Besides, Mathew recalled, she ordered me not engage in any form of communication attempt with the Catarians. Nor was I to eat or drink anything on planet. It didn’t make much sense because usually when we visited a planet we had a local meal at the very least and were encouraged to engage with the natives.

However, according to the databank, the Catarian race was so unlike any other race Mathew had seen that some of his mother’s warnings made sense.

Although the information in the databank did not do the Catarian people justice — they were a stunning race, beautiful with their hairless, smooth skin that seemed blue in the dull late afternoon sunlight. Catarians were blue; Mathew wondered how that had been missed in the anthropological information he had downloaded from the ship’s computer, and that made him wonder how much of the other information was incorrect.

The buggy, pulled by a furry, orange, lizard-like beast for which the databank had no name, bounced along the road with others of its kind. Gawking, Mathew tried to take it all in: wild-looking patches of vegetation; clusters of rough-hewn and natural stone buildings; Catarians going about their daily lives. One building in particular caught his attention as it stood apart from the other buildings, with the grass trimmed short around it. It was a small, round building made of smooth blue stone. He thought to ask his mother about it, but at that time the bazaar came into view and all other thoughts were lost.

What seemed like hundreds of Catarians milled around the market dressed in everything from simple sack-like garments to flamboyant wraps and trousers; the mishmash of color made Mathew’s head spin. They disembarked and joined the throng of the marketplace. Bodies jostled against Mathew as he competed for space with Catarians out doing their shopping. The strong musky scent of the Catarians combined with the scent of something foul being burnt assaulted his senses even through the breathing apparatus; he choked back bile.

“Please don’t get gravity sick now,” Geba pleaded as she instructed the driver to meet them on the far side of the market. Then she turned to Mathew. “This is such a bland planet. Don’t you think so, Mathew?”

Math looked around; trying to figure out how she thought the kaleidoscope of color around them could be bland. The colors were vibrant: oranges, yellows, reds, violets, greens, and everything in between. However, the only blue he saw was the exposed skin of the people.
And the noise they made! Hawkers yelled at the passersby extolling the value of their goods over their competitors; passersby called to each other in greeting; live animals, kept in cages and pens, added their various growls, clicks, grunt, and squeals to the general din. It was enough to make his head spin.

“I think it’s marvelous,” Math said with a smile.

Geba turned and looked at him. The expression on her face seemed to ask, “Are you feeling well?”

Math looked away. The databank said the Catarians were tall and slender with a longness about their limbs. It also said they were frail. A small Catarian carrying a seemingly impossible load crossed their path; it was then he decided all the information he had retrieved from the databank was invalid. It had been incorrect about too many things thus far.

Math’s observations were interrupted as Geba turned into a lime green tent and began haggling for what appeared to be trinket boxes in rudimentary Catarian.

Math followed the transaction well enough from what little Catarian he was able to pick up from the databank. The speech patterns of those around him helped considerably, too, as the Catarians went on about their way. He listened carefully though hoping to learn more than was in the databank.

Looking at the items she wanted to purchase, his mother approached the seller,

“How much for that worthless thing?”

The Catarian quoted a price and Geba shook her head, stating a lower price for a large number of them. This continued, quietly and with little emotion on either side until they reached a mutual price and amount along with a delivery time.

“Thank you for your generosity,” Geba told the Catarian as she paid him.

“You have fine tastes in trinket boxes,” the Catarian told Geba as he packaged the display item to go. Once they reached an agreement, they both nodded their heads once and parted. Never once had Mother looked the Catarian in the eyes nor smiled. Her facial expressions stayed neutral the entire transaction.

Journal Entry #2
Having this journal so easily accessible now makes recording my thoughts so much easier. I was concerned that maybe Mother could be wrong about the Catarians but to watch her trade with them, maybe she is correct. The one craftsman never even attempted to look her in the eye, and while I stared at him, he ignored me totally. They haggled, but it was done so quietly they could have been discussing the weather, which is perfect by the way. I don’t know what I’m trying to explain here, except that the other vendors and hawkers are so loud its beginning to make my head hurt, and this one was loud too, until he dealt with my mother. Then he went quiet. I just don’t understand it. What are the Catarian’s hiding? Are they hiding anything? Maybe it’s just me over-reacting. I’ll have to think on it some more.

As they headed deeper into the market to find a booth that sold the material, silqween, Mathew noticed his mother was more tense than usual.

“What’s the matter, Mother?” he asked walking beside her.

“Nothing is the matter Mathew, except that you are here. Your father seems to think you will not embarrass the TAoS, but I just somehow doubt it. Danyl couldn’t manage and you won’t either.”

“I’m not Danyl, Mother, you should know that.”

“I do know it. That’s the problem. Danyl did what he did because he’s irresponsible; you will get yourself in trouble because you are not Danyl. You are different. You can’t be different here Mathew.”

“I’m no different here than you are,” he replied slightly confused at her accusation.

“Mathew you are different anywhere you go. Like that Izoparana, you’ve not yet given it up, that makes you different.”

“I thought it made me responsible. I’ve not lost it.” He countered sliding past a family of Catarians to keep up with her. “You could have taken it away.”

“No, I couldn’t have. It was given to you.” She sighed. “I think you will find what you want over there.” She indicated to the left with a thrust of her chin.

Mathew looked and saw several booths to choose from, each of which offered a different design or pattern. Mathew found one he liked and pointed it out to his mother.

“How about this one instead, Mathew?” She indicated a shirt of a slightly different cut.

He looked at it and shook his head. “I like the color in this one better.”

“Math, they are both the same color,” she insisted.

“No, they’re not. Don’t you see it? That one has more red and this one has more green.”
Geba blinked, “Mathew, they are both gray. Different shades of gray, but both gray.”
Mathew looked from one shirt to the other. They were definitely not the same color and neither was gray.

“No Mother, they’re not. I think the green will bring out the color of my eyes better.”

“Mathew Khoury, don’t you dare argue with me here. They are both gray, understand?” she practically growled at him.

Mathew gulped and nodded. “I still like this one better,” he finally replied, wondering what was wrong with his mother that she could not see the colors.

They were clear as day to him.

His mother made the purchase, selecting the shirt that Math did not want for Danyl. While she was discussing price, Mathew found a woven belt with a pouch on it for incidentals. Many of the Catarians wore them and it seemed like a good idea to him as well. He chose one that would complement his shirt

“I would like this too, please.”

Geba did not question how he spent his money and added the belt to his purchase. When she was finished, she handed Math the bag to carry. He took it without a word and they continued on their way through the market until a leather shop caught Mathew’s eye. “I’d like to look over there, please.”

“What do you need there?”

“New boots.”

“Of course you do. You do understand they probably will not have any that fit your feet.”

“We can look though, right? These are almost too small and the ship’s stores don’t have the next size I will need.”

“We can look; just don’t get your hopes up.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Mathew waited while his mother talked to the dark blue skinned craftsman and then tried on the two pair of boots that he suggested after looking Mathew’s feet. The second pair fit as if they had been made for his foot with a little room to grow.

Smiling and speaking directly to the craftsman, Mathew said, “These will do.”

For a moment he totally forgot his Mother’s orders. The craftsman did not smile back. Math was confused at first. Why had the Catarian not smiled back? Was it really taboo or just not a custom of these people to smile during business transactions? Mathew sighed as Geba paid for the boots. Then he put them on, placing his old ones in the bag with his other things. Then he carried everything without a word so they could continue on their way through the market.

“Whatever possessed you to speak in there?” Geba snapped at him as soon as they were out of earshot of the booth. “You were told not to speak, not to make eye contact, and not to smile. Can you not follow the most simple of orders, Mathew?”

“Yes ma’am I can. I just forgot is all. Why is it so wrong to smile or to look them in the eye? They are a beautiful race, Mother.”

“It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just not done, Mathew. The trader that first brought me here taught me what was allowed and what was not allowed. I’m trying to teach you. IAN says you are intelligent, yet you can’t seem to grasp a simple restriction on interaction with one race.”

“So, you’ve never smiled at them?” Math walked docilely beside his mother as she headed to the far side of the market and the other booth she needed to visit.


“Nor made eye contact?”


“Then how do you know it’s wrong?” Mathew asked.

“Because I was told it was and that’s all I need, Mathew.”

“I’m sorry, Mother, I just want to understand, and I can’t seem to understand if I’m not allowed to do the things you demanded of me. It doesn’t feel wrong to smile at them, nor to look them in the eye. It does feel wrong to do what you are doing and refusing to accept their differences as good.”

On this side of the market, the crowd was thicker due to the goods being of a more everyday nature, including more foodstuffs.

“It’s those differences that will get you in trouble Mathew. They are not human.”

“No, they’re not, but we should at least treat them as if they were something other than a creature deserving our contempt.”

“I don’t despise them, Mathew; I just treat them how I’ve been taught to treat them.”

Finally, after a search, his mother found the booth she needed

“And I can only treat them how I feel is right, Mother; you way feels wrong.”

“I don’t want to hear another word. Here is the shop I need. You will wait out here and stare at your new boots, understand?”

“Yes Mother,” he sighed and stood outside the booth, off to the side, trying not to look at anyone or anything specific.

The yellow and indigo striped awning of a booth caught his attention. It sold large, dark red, melon-like fruits. Mathew’s stomach growled; it had been a long while since breakfast and he would not be allowed lunch until they returned to the ship. Against his mother’s orders, he slyly watched the Catarians as they passed by, while appearing to be looking at the booth. A few spoke apologies for pressing against him too closely, and he responded in kind. The rudimentary Catarian in the database included a few words of nicety as well as words directly related to trade. However, Mathew was learning more from the Catarians as he heard them speak. Besides, he considered, it would not do to be rude even if it went against his mother’s direct orders. The database at least had been correct in the rudimentary Catarian language module.

Growing tired of holding his bag, he sat it down between his feet, and continued to wait for his mother to return.

As he pretended not to watch, one small, light blue, Catarian fell down practically at his feet. Without thinking of the consequences or his mother’s orders, he offered his hand to help it stand back up. Accepting, the child placed her hand in Mathew’s hand. It was delicate, more drawn out than a human’s hand, and when it touched Mathew’s, her gratitude flooded his mind. Once she had gained her feet, she thanked him verbally before scampering away. Only now, her “thank you” meant so much more. As their hands touched, her emotions conferred the depth of her thanks and he was better able to understand the depth of their language. It was no wonder the TAoS agents couldn’t learn to speak Catarian. The language was only partially vocalizations, thought Mathew.

Math considered this new development while he kept watching the booth with the red fruits. If the Catarian language was only partially vocalizations and partially transferred emotions then it would explain why most traders could not grasp even the rudimentary Catarian in the database. However, it would not explain the orders to not attempt any contact with the Catarians, unless someone, somewhere had made full contact with the Catarians and did not want it to happen again. Mathew sighed. He would have a bit to discuss with his father when he arrived back aboard the ship. And maybe the PRD too, they were always on the lookout for telepathic and empathic races, especially if they could interbreed with humans.

The natives kept pressing close, but his mother still had not concluded her business. Just as he finished logging the information for future reference, another Catarian caught his attention. The Catarian was shorter than the others around it, but still as tall as Math was, and its skin was a bit darker than those around it were — nearing indigo. The Catarian walked as if it were trying not to be noticed. Math looked away, unsure if he should be watching, but there was something about the Catarian’s movement that kept drawing Math’s eyes back. Slinking up to the table of red fruit, the small Catarian picked up one in front of the merchant, who did nothing to stop the action. Mathew watched all this unfold, ignorant of the local laws, unsure if the Catarian was stealing or if it was within its rights to take the fruit. When Math looked over at the Catarian, thin, almost nonexistent lips parted showing small, black, sharp teeth. It was a grotesque imitation of a human smile. Mathew smiled back, his mother’s warning ringing in his mind. Math wasn’t sure what that gesture meant in the Catarian culture, but he just couldn’t help himself.

The Catarian walked toward Math, a wicked looking blade in its hand. Math looked around for help — for his mother — anyone. He did not know what the Catarian’s intent was. Was it going to cut the fruit or something worse?

As if sensing Math’s growing fear, the Catarian lifted the fruit and sliced it open, the juice spilling out over its hand as it offered the cut fruit to Math. Their eyes met. Math’s breath caught in his throat and there was an unfamiliar tightness in his chest as he gazed into the molten silver pools that rippled between the shores of the Catarian’s eyelids. He took the gift, and while their hands were still touching, conveyed his thanks with an empathical, emotional pulse.
The Catarian nodded and pulled its hand away to slice off another piece. They chewed their fruit together. Math found the juice was slightly bitter but the flesh was chewy. It is good. Mathew thought as he realized he had disobeyed another of his mother’s orders and did not care one whit; he had been hungry.

The Catarian gave Math a second piece. Its fingertips brushed Math’s hand, and Math felt heat rising to his cheeks. Something raw passed between them that Math could not explain, but he knew he did not want the Catarian to leave.

The juice dripped off Math’s chin and the Catarian reached over to wipe it off. Mathew turned his head ever so slightly and the Catarian’s fingers came in contact with his lips. His tongue flicked out and he tasted the fruit on its fingers. The Catarian smiled again and Math leaned forward, invading its space. The musky scent of the Catarian did not even bother him as they stood a breath apart sharing more than just the fruit. Images flooded Math’s mind: images of Catarian life on the streets, life as a young Catarian lived. Its name was Katu. It had a mother, father, and brothers. One of Katu’s brothers served in the temple of the Gahpa. The feelings came hard and strong with each image, a strong sense of awe and fear of the Gahpa, as well as respect for those who served.

So in tune were they with each other that they did not notice the pall over the crowd nor people back away from them until they were both being picked up and dragged away. The large Catarians — Peacekeepers — came the name of them from the memories Katu had shared, moved quickly through the crowd, half carrying, half dragging a kicking and screaming Math and a limp Katu. Math’s outraged yell carried across the market alerting everyone in earshot — including his mother — to the situation. The crowd parted before the Peacekeepers as puzzlement rolled off Mathew in waves. Was what he did wrong somehow? If so then, why did it feel so right?

Mothers grabbed their children and no one looked directly at the scene as it occurred.
Geba ran out of the shop, the memory of Danyl’s run-in with the Peacekeepers suddenly fresh in her mind.

“Stop!” Geba yelled after the two Peacekeepers. “Blast it, drop my son!” she continued yelling, knowing they would not obey her. She ran to keep them in sight, having to fight the crowd that closed in behind them. “He has immunity!” She tried one last time before barreling through the crowd, fighting to keep them in sight while her mind frantically tried to figure out how to get Mathew out of this mess.

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Lugh's Blog: Land of the Fey

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