Miles Nelson’s Riftmaster…is a new work of adventure and out-of-this-world phenomenon you should read. Why? Let Miles tell you himself in this excerpt 3 of his blog tour via his publisher Elsewhen Press.
If you missed the previous excerpt here it is on the blog of Mark Iles www.markiles.co.uk/blog
EXCERPT 3 of the RIFTMASTER
How do you hold on to hope when you’re being repeatedly wrenched between worlds?
College student Bailey Jones is plucked from his world by a mysterious and unpredictable force known as the Rift, which appears to move people at random from one world to another. Stranded on an alien planet, he is relieved when he meets a fellow human, the self-styled Riftmaster, who is prepared to assist him. Although curious about his new companion’s real identity, Bailey hopes that, with years of experience of the Rift, this cosmic traveller can help him find a way to return to Earth. But first, as the two of them are ripped without warning from one hostile planet to another, Bailey must rely on the Riftmaster to show him how to survive.
Riftmaster, an adventure, an exploration, is concerned with loss, and letting go, while still holding onto your humanity and identity, even when life seems hopeless.
Extract: Bailey watched, the quiet growing into an uncomfortable awkwardness. For a moment his gaze flicked to the mountain-dweller’s tail wiggling with concentration, the next he was watching the expressions across his four-eyed face. Struggling to think of something to say that would break the tension, Bailey sucked in his breath and finally, warily, nudged the elephant in the room. “Do you know how I got here? Am I even still… on Earth?”
“Rift brought you here. And… no. Our world has no name, but your kind do not live here.”
“The Rift? What’s that?”
“All I know is what Riftmaster told me. Rift takes things from one world and puts them in another. At random.”
“How do I get back?”
The bowl over the flame had begun to steam. Seven-horn transferred some to another bowl, this one slightly less charred. He offered it to Bailey.
End of excerpt.
Next: Wow. the fourth excerpt can be reached at the blog of Sarah Udoh-Furthner here
Miles Nelson was born and raised in the distant north, in a quaint little city called Durham. He studied video game design at Teesside University, graduating in 2018. Since then, he has taken a step back from coding to work on his writing career, and has since led several masterclasses with New Writing North.
He has been writing all his life, and although Riftmaster is technically his fourth novel, he likes to pretend the first three don’t exist. Whilst he is primarily a sci-fi writer who loves long journeys, strange worlds and all things space and stars, he has also had brief flings with the genres of fantasy and horror.
He often writes stories highlighting the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and tries to include themes of empathy and inclusivity in all he does. Even then, though, Miles stands firm in the belief that this is not the defining element of his stories. And although he tries to represent his community as best he can, these themes are never the main focus; because he believes that (in most cases) a person shouldn’t be defined by their deviation from standard norms.
Outside of scifi and fantasy, he has a deep-rooted fascination with natural history, and collects books told from unique perspectives (be they animal, alien, or mammoths from Mars). The older, the better; his oldest book is just about to turn 100!
He currently lives in Durham City with his husband, Chris, who so far seems unworried by Miles’ rapidly growing collections.
Questions from Geoff for Miles.
Miles! Before you inhabit my blog and further, you are required to provide the correct password. In this case the password is a set of responses to my piercing questions.
1) Everyone is said to have a book inside them. Is Riftmaster that book or is a limbering up for something quite different?
In a way, yes. Riftmaster is a story many years in the making, and it features characters and storylines I have known about for a long, long time. At the time I wrote it though, Riftmaster represented a lot of heavy feelings that I was carrying. It allowed me to think about, and put all my feelings into a new perspective, and eventually lead to me seeking treatment for depression. Now that Riftmaster is finished, though, my heart is filling up with new stories. So I wouldn’t say it’s the only one, nor will it be the last.
2) Lockdown should have made writing easier in some ways. However, we’ve not been able to go off travelling to a retreat to concentrate on writing without domestic distractions. How has it been for you?
For me, Lockdown hasn’t changed much. I work part-time in a supermarket, so I’ve still been going to work! In addition, we don’t really go on many getaways, at least not with the purpose of writing. Other than that, I’ve had plenty to do: freelancing jobs have been popping up here and there to keep me going, I finished two more novels, published Riftmaster along with another few short stories, and I illustrated my first book! Keeping myself busy encourages a feeling of normality, so I haven’t really stopped since the beginning of it all.
3) How has your fascination for Natural History found itself in your fiction? For example I have a butterfly become a character. Not a speaking part, obvs, or is it obvious?
I’ve actually got some books about talking insects! But that’s just my bizarre collection. My love of natural history manifests itself in a lot of ways, mostly small. Firstly, a lot of people have said that I write fantastic animal/alien characters, even those without the ability to speak. In addition, my creature designs are heavily influenced by creatures found in the real world in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
The Mountain-Dwellers are a fantastic example of this. At a glance their inspiration seems obvious; they are based on mountain goats, and with their short muzzles, thick fur, and squat body type they are perfectly suited to their cold environment. However, they have a tiny pair of extra eyes above their regular pair. Why? Well, these eyes are for sensing light alone, and by detecting even the faintest traces of sunlight, they can find their way even in the worst blizzard. Many small creatures living on Earth, such as triops, have a third eye with a similar function, helping them find their way through the sediment in muddy ponds. The Mountain-dwellers also possess large, padded feet which act as snowshoes and prevent them sinking into hard-packed snow. And in a world where stone and flint is buried beneath thick snow, their horns (which shed frequently) can be used to strike fires and craft tools.
Generally, I also have a few different creatures for each planet designed so that I can have the reasonable skeleton of a food web, and so that each world seems somewhat populated, thus leading us nicely into our next question.
4) Your character, Bailey, is transported to other planets. How much science goes into making those worlds credible?
Although the creatures are meticulously designed for their environment, the process of planets in Riftmaster are slightly less exciting to talk about. In order for Bailey and the Riftmaster to survive on the planets they find themselves on, there had to be some rules at play. Firstly, the Rift only takes them to life-bearing planets, meaning that they’ll never find themselves on a barren rock with no possible food sources. The climate, water quality, and the structure of life there, however, can vary wildly. I generally come up with answers for a few questions before I know what the planet is going to look like. Generally, I’ll ask questions such as: what’s in the soil? What color is the sky? What’s the climate like? Where can they find food/water?
Generally, when I know the answers to these questions, the plants, animals and terrain of the planet follow quickly.
In some rare occasions, a planet is simply based on a cool fact I heard once, rather than being scientifically credible. For example, did you know it supposedly rains diamonds on Neptune? The Riftmaster claims to have visited a planet where such a phenomenon took place. While their version of events is definitely embellished, the pressure on such a planet would have no doubt killed them in an instant, if the carbon-rich atmosphere hadn’t first.
It might not seem very scientific, but if it’s fun to read about, then it’s perfect for me.
5) How tempted were you to make the Riftmaster a Riftmistress?
Although a lot of people see ‘master’ as a specifically gendered term, I (and by extension the Riftmaster), chose it because it is a lot more neutral than its feminine counterpart. As you likely already know, the word ‘master’ is often used to describe someone who is highly experienced in a trade or art, regardless of their chosen gender. A woman can be a master blacksmith, for example, but the term ‘mistress blacksmith’ sounds quite strange, at least to me!
As the Riftmaster says in chapter 3: “I chose this name because it’s easy to translate between intergalactic tongues.”
Besides; the blurb, as well as all excerpts shown in this blog tour, seem to portray the Riftmaster in a relatively neutral light. So… Who’s to say the Riftmaster isn’t a woman?
Excellent answers. Thanks for inhabiting the Geoff Nelder blog.
Miles Nelson Links
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