Author Interview with Nicholas Conley

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing two projects by Nicholas Conley, so I jumped at the chance to pick his brain about his latest novel. Intraterrestrial was a wild ride, and you can find my review of it here.

IntraterrestrialABOUT THE BOOK

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

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The premise of this book revolves around traumatic brain injury (TBI). Can you tell us about your interest in this topic?

So as with my previous novel, Pale Highway, the inspiration for this book came from my years of working in the long-term care unit of a nursing and rehabilitation home, where I cared for people with many health conditions. When I started writing Intraterrestrial, probably my biggest goal was to always make sure that the main character — Adam — is in the driver’s seat from start to finish: he’s always the central protagonist, never just a supporting character in his own story. It was extremely important, I think, to show that Adam’s TBI doesn’t make him into a plot device. Both before and after the accident, he’s a real person, with the same sorts of hopes, dreams, fears, thoughts, and feelings of anyone else.

I also wanted to explore the painful family dynamics that are caused by accidents like this one, which I saw all too often when I was working in that field. When a kid gets thrust into the medical system, their parents have to be intimately involved in every step of the process, and those parents have an insane amount of pressure (and expectations) placed on their every decision. There are no easy answers, I think, so I felt like it was important to look deeply into the pained humanity behind every person in this narrative — Adam, his parents, the medical professionals — to see each person honestly, openly, as human beings instead of caricatures.  Continue reading

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Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

ArtemisWhen the credits rolled on Ant-Man, I turned to my husband and exclaimed, “Marvel made me a heist movie!” When I read the first blurb about Artemis ages ago, I turned to my husband and exclaimed, “Andy Weir is writing me a heist novel!”

Considering I read the book in the space of a solid 4 hours on Wednesday night, the day after the book’s publication, I think it’s safe to say that Weir did not disappoint. (Since this review is coming out so close to publication, it has no spoilers).  Continue reading

Build Report: Women of NASA

Lego dragon selfieI recently took a trip to Orlando, Florida, to attend a series of workshops for the day job. This was not exactly a hardship, because the conference was located at one of the Disney World Resorts. This meant that the first night I was in town, I hopped on the shuttle to Disney Springs to make a pilgrimage to the local (and enormous) LEGO store.

I had no idea what I was going to buy there, just that I was going to acquire something. I was limited by what I could carry home in my suitcase, of course, so when I saw a stack of the newly released Women of NASA set, my decision was basically made for me! Even more special was that the sales person who rang up my purchase mentioned that this was her retirement gig, and that she’d worked for NASA at Cape Canaveral for almost 30 years.

After getting home late Saturday night, I put together this adorable set on Sunday afternoon while watching some Netflix. Yes, I should have been writing instead.

Women of NASA (21312): 231 pieces

My favorite part is definitely the adorable miniature space shuttle, complete with external tank and solid rocket boosters.

I also love the cosmos picture behind Dr. Roman, which was part of the piece and not a sticker (same with the chalkboard and satellite solar panels). Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of each LEGO Ideas set I’ve built so far.

Women of NASA lego set