‘ALL GONE’ by S.K. White: A Review and Author Interview

I am SO excited for this release!!! So without any further review, ladies and gentlemen, meet my teammate from Black Velvet Seductions, S.K. WHITE!!!

Blurb

Are the newly discovered crop circles an invitation to the second coming or a first contact? Investigative reporter, Paige Martin, finds herself thrust into a perilous mystery. The search for answers takes her on a wild adventure of survival, betrayal, and romance. Join Paige on her search for answers and the adventure of a lifetime.

Review

I haven’t read a good science fiction novel in years …

Enter ‘All Gone’, by S.K. White! It’s a rock-solid tale, written in the tradition of H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m a bit surprised that it was published by Black Velvet Seductions—a romance imprint. ‘All Gone’ has a strong romance element to it, sure, but as far as I can tell it’s straight-up science fiction.

Which makes it AWESOME!!!

I found the lead characters quite relatable. Not only did I find them relatable, but I also found them to be very balanced. One of my pet peeves is characters with one-sided personalities, whether that personality is too sappy, or too hard-nosed. The best character is one in which strength and softness strike a balance. In that sense, Paige and Nick are amazing characters. Both have an edge, a strong—or in Nick’s case, even violent—streak, but their strength doesn’t tarnish their inborn sense of compassion. They’re tough, sure, but they’re still good people. They treat others with courtesy and respect, and I love them for that.

And then there’s Logan …

I can’t comment on him for spoiler reasons, but I don’t like him at all. Which is also good writing. You can only dislike a character if his or her story is told well.

We’ve all read ‘alien abduction’ tales before. It’s difficult to put a new spin on an old genre, but S.K. White figured it out. Okay, so the aliens make legions of people disappear. We’ve read that before, but it’s the ‘why’ of the matter that makes this tale truly shine! And that’s all I’m gonna say. No spoilers! But yeah, this story does have a strikingly original approach to the ‘alien abduction’ genre.

I will point out that some readers might dislike the secular-humanist viewpoint of some of the characters. A few of them seem to hold the unspoken assumption that those who look at the mass disappearances from a faith-based perspective must somehow be superstitious rubes. Also, the sociology-political philosophy of the aliens is disturbing as well. Some would call it ‘environmental sustainability’, while others would refer to it as ‘Eco-Fascist genocide’. It is a testament to S.K. White’s writing prowess that I haven’t the foggiest idea what her politics or religion are, and to be honest I don’t care. Inserting one’s obvious sociology-political leaning into a novel is a ham-handed faux pas, and she certainly does not. This story is just told with an acceptance of modern reality, for better or for worse, and that’s what makes it resonate so well with the reader.

It feels real, ya know?

I hafta admit, I kinda bludgeoned S.K. White for this script. I’m like that. I’m smugly pleased to have access to books that the general public hasn’t seen yet …

So here’s my message to the general public: YOU’RE GONNA LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

‘All Gone’, by S.K. White. Give it a read!

Author Interview

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I first started writing in high school in a creative writing class. It was there I discovered a love for short stories and poetry.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

I had my first poem published in one of my high school annuals. Later, I received third place in a poetry contest. Of course, the winners made it into the local paper. It’s funny to look back on the writings I did in high school and college. After college, I had other poetry published in anthologies throughout the years. The first book I published was a children’s book when I was teaching. That was a fun experience. I did assemblies in schools and visited classrooms throughout the state.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

Balancing is hard. In the early years, when my son was at home, I had to squeeze it in whenever I could. Now, I have more time and do most of my writing at night.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

I think my characters are a combination of many people I know. Nora Ephron always said,‘Everything’s copy’. Meaning, we take our experiences, parts of ourselves and the people we know, and then take all of those perceptions and create the characters and worlds they live in.Everything that happens in your life usually ends up on the pages in one form or another; we’re the product of our experiences and our writing reflects that.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

Yes, I have one family member who is kind enough to read and edit for me, but most of my friends and family just lend-an-ear on a new idea for a book. As far as marketing, friends and family promote my books to everyone they know and do what they can.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Yes, I do. I have a whole book of ideas.So, when the mood strikes, I can pluck an idea from my book and roll with it. Fortunately, the good ones seem to bubble up to the top just at the right time.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

Not really. If the muse speaks, then the challenge is on.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

Absolutely. From the very start, I challenged myself to write one story or book for every age group; and I have done that, but not all of them are published. However, early in my writing career, I found a publisher that chose one of my children’s stories about a visually impaired Native American boy on a vision quest. Fortunately, that children’s book fulfilled all the age groups all at once, so the pressure was off. I’ve shared that book with every age group—from readings in senior centers to small children in public libraries. I even shared a copy of the book in braille (that a member from the Commission of the Blind embossed for me) at the K-12 schools that I visited. Working with the Commission and members of the Nez Perce Tribe was deeply rewarding.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

I did. I started my autobiography or memoir. Problem is, knowing when to cut it off. Also, having the courage to write a tell-all and resisting the urge to turn it into fiction. Fiction is easier, there’s not as much blow-back or the risk of hurting the feelings of the people you know. 

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

Well, I’m not normal, so I must be the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type. One might describe me as a recluse. I’m the weird lady on the corner,happily tucked away in a quiet corner of the world, writing in solitude.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

I did enough in my younger years. These days I’m pretty much a teetotaler. Perfectly happy with a hot cup of tea with a splash of cream.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

Yes, I’m married. I probably drive my husband crazy;I’m always reading a paragraph to him or pondering a new idea. He’s learned to just listen and nod. Being married hasn’t affected the way I write love stories at all. I remember one time, after my first manuscript, my husband read it and said, “I hope I’m Evan (the hero) and not the villain. After that first manuscript, I still get the attentive nod, but once in a while, it’s accompanied by a raised eyebrow. And that arched brow usually tells me this passage or draft is pretty good. Fortunately, no matter what, upon the publication of one of my books, he gives me a hug and says, “I’m proud of you.”

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

That’s interesting. When I write, I visualize my character like they were in a movie. The way they speak, react, and move. You might say, I write scene by scene. Sometimes I’ll watch a show or movie and think a particular actor or actress would be a great Nick or Paige from All Gone or a great Whitney or Jason from Bounce. Therefore, it’s easy for me to picture Bounce and All Gone as a movie. As-a-matter-of-fact, I’ve had people tell me both would be great movies. Not likely, but a girl can dream.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

I think everything I’ve been through: the good, the bad, and the ugly, has influenced everything I write. All those lived experiences and the things I observe filters into the characters I create and the worlds I construct around them. 

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I just tell the story and let the story determine where it fits. I let the story speak.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

Always. Music is often the inspiration for some of my creations; and although some songs change as I edit, they all become the soundtrack behind the scenes I write. I have an eclectic playlist that I use and constantly add to it.

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

I wrote a story called, “Messy Danny.” The story centered around a student I taught in middle school that had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-Active Disorder). The story chronicled his experiences in elementary and middle school. Many of the quirky qualities the teachers displayed in the story were from educators I had as a child and those I taught with. In “Messy Danny”, Danny had earned that unfortunate nickname from one of his teachers, and that nickname carried on through his elementary and middle grades. Of course, there was one teacher who understood his disability and changed his life. The story ends with a list of recommendations and lessons on study skills. 

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

Absolutely. In “All Gone,”some of the challenges we currently face filter into the story. In fact, many of the characters tackle some of those challenges head-on, and the consequences of their choices are fully realized—both good and bad.

In my first published adult novel—written around 2014—called,“Bounce,”the real-world events snuck into Whitney’s life; and those events set the stage for the alternate worlds I created in Whit’s and Annie’s reality.First, Whitney bounces into Whit’s world and discovers a more advanced society,then later is thrust into Annie’s brutal world and experiences being ruled by an autocratic dictator called, “The Founding Father.” His ruthless military regime forbid any free thought or expression. This difficult situation required Whitney to navigate Annie’s reality with extreme caution because the consequences for her were dire.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I try to write every day, usually in the evening; but if it’s really flowing, then it becomes a full-on-bender.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

It’s after the final round of editing,when I look down at the last page and push send. That satisfaction of completion is gratifying; but, even better, is dreaming of all the possibilities afterward.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many and it keeps changing. However, there was one book that changed my life. One of my amazing high school teachers suggested I read it. So, the book that opened the world to me was called “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. If an author can crack open a reader’s limited view of the world and expose them to new experiences, that’s an amazing accomplishment. One I hope to achieve someday.

If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?

Probably Cate Blanchett. I’d like her to narrate,“All Gone.”I’d want a female voice to represent Paige’s voice.She’s the main character and is an investigative reporter.

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

It’s hard to pick one because I love them all. But if I had to choose… In “All Gone”,it’s definitely Nick.He’s complicated and so fun to write. I would pick Ben Robinson from (ANIMAL KINGDOM) or Luke Grimes from (YELLOWSTONE) to play his character. Nick’s a ruggedly handsome guy and complex; both actors could do an amazing job. 

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

Even on vacation, I jot down notes. I’ll see something or hear something I think I can use and have to write it down. I’ve even pulled my car over to write down that perfect sentence. Also, I’ve crept out of bed in the middle of the night to scribble a phrase or idea on a notepad.No rest for the obsessed.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I choose different types of stories. If it piques my interest, I read it.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I don’t know how quirky it is, but my friends tell me that if they tied my hands down, I couldn’t speak. It’s true. My hands flail around when I talk. I’m very animated and expressive with them.When I taught a hearing-impaired student in one of my elementary classes, I learned a little bit of sign language. I taught my students the alphabet and a few signs just for fun. In fact, I almost studied to be a speech therapist twice in my life. Once, right after I received my B.A. in Education; and then later, when I worked for a school district. But I ended up teaching Title 1 Reading instead.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Dragonfly. That’s the one movie I can watch over and over. It gets me every time. Okay, it doesn’t hurt that Kevin Costner is in it(I’m a fan) and the amazing Kathy Bates.Or that it deals with the afterlife—which is a fascinating topic. It also has all the makings of a great movie and checks several boxes: thriller,mystery, suspense, and romance.

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

I’ve done both; but currently, it’s online.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I love this question. Yes, for “All Gone,” I researched several science-related theories, military procedures and weapons. There was extensive research for Bounce in science as well. With Emily’s Cabinet—a complex time travel novel— (unpublished) there was a great deal of history required for different time periods.It was extensive and exhausting, but rewarding. I loved every minute.

What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

I can’t think of any. Your questions are pretty thorough. Thank you for putting all the time and effort into this interview. It has been a treat to go down memory lane on some of your questions. It brought up things I haven’t thought about in a long time.

THANK you, S.K. White, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! Here’s hoping for a bright literary future for you!

Feel free to stalk S.K White: https://linktr.ee/skwhite

13 thoughts on “‘ALL GONE’ by S.K. White: A Review and Author Interview

  1. What a great interview! I love science fiction and believe that aliens do exist, so All Gone sounds like something I would really enjoy. I can’t wait to read it!

  2. Once again, I would like to thank you for the awesome job you did on the interview. It was wonderful looking back on old memories and answering questions I haven’t thought about in years. I’m profoundly grateful for all the kind words in your amazing review of All Gone. I want to take a moment and talk about your talents and gifts. Being a talented and gifted writer is one blessing you’re gifted with, but another is writing blogs, hosting and doing chats like Off-The-Rails (which I’m a huge fan) is another. You make all this look easy because you’re a natural, but it is not. I hope one day to be one of your guests on a podcast in the future. You’d be great at it. (hint, hint) Thank you for all you do!
    S. K. White

  3. Brilliant review! Loved to find out more about you too. I have had the same thing said to me re: “tie my hands down and I can’t talk” . Either that or they think I’m half Italian! We are kindred spirits… 😀

    1. Same here. My dark hair, flailing hands, and olive skin adds to the Italian remarks. Their convinced, even if I’m half Norwegian with blue eyes, and 29% Irish. They believe there must be some Italian in there somewhere. lol

  4. Wow that was one heck of an interview. It was so great getting to know F Burn so up close and personal. Can’t wait to read All Gone.
    Callie

Leave a Reply to Richard Savage Cancel reply