grydscaen: beginnings” by Natsuya Uesugi
“Evolution of a Character: Julian “Blue” Iskafiin”
When I was in the ninth grade, the idea for grydscaen which had been floating around in my brain solidified and became a real story. The very first character created was a hacker named Rom but the first character with a back story was named “Blue.” At the time Blue did not have a real name. That came later along with the full backstory for him.
As I went to college and explored my own gender identity and sexual orientation I found that the character Blue changed with me. Blue evolved from a kid to a fully formed asexual and transgender clandestine psychic operative. As Blue grew on me, he gained a bigger part in the story and after having published multiple books in the grydscaen series, Blue became real to me. And that meant he needed to be more than just a government operative who had been trained since age five. He needed to be the 16 year old transgender teenager he really always was.
Blue likes punk and new wave music, he likes to ride his motorcycle, and he likes Faid Callen, the cyber terrorist hacker who had been captured and became his psi partner while they were both test subjects at the Psi Faction.
With non-binary and asexuality becoming more visible, I wanted Blue to be the showcase for non-binary. Blue is transgender and the government operated on him making him what they called “gender neutral” so it didn’t affect his psychic power. He is a damper which means he can absorb the power of other psychics and neutralize them. The government thought gender would affect his ability to follow orders and relate to those emotionally he was absorbing power from. With Blue having feelings for Faid more as a friend then sexually, I was able as a writer to explore Blue more and how he faces the world. The character Blue also brings up the rights to your body and the government mutilating him which harkens back to intersexed individuals “normalizing” surgeries against their consent as infants.
As Blue became closer to Faid after he escaped from government capture, it was only then that Blue started to have more volatile feelings in the story. Though he would never act on his feelings, he still had them and needed to channel that into his work as an operative and grow to understand himself. Since Blue is only 16 in the story, he is young and still finding his way. He is sheltered and has only known the home of the Psi Faction, the military organization. He identifies as non-binary and usually wears androgynous clothes but for work as an operative he goes on missions sometimes as a boy and sometimes as a girl. In later books in the series we see this behavior more on his missions, the government uses him because they can.
Blue grew on me as I matured as a writer and I wanted to explore a teenager’s wild emotional swings and his struggle with finding his identity. Blue is special to me because he is both someone who grew with me as I grew up and he matured as my writing matured. When Blue first showed up he was an operative with no emotions. Now, he has feelings, and wants and desires even though the only life he knows is the government-run Psi Faction.
Non-binary and asexual characters are important to showcase as they are sometimes marginalized or ignored. I wanted to make sure Blue had a voice, and a loud one that played a critical part in the grydscaen story.
Natsuya Uesugi has a new queer sci fi book out:
Faid Callen is tired of life on the run in the Echelons trying to keep his psychic power in check. He founds the Packrats, a group of cyberterrorist hackers. A young powerful Psi Faction operative, Lino Dejarre, is sent on a mission to capture Faid. Wanting to keep Lino under control, the Psi Faction kidnaps his half-brother, Riuho, and they take him prisoner, experiment on him, train him, and subject him to mind control.
When Lino is assigned to a high stakes diplomatic mission to reveal a traitor, he finds another psychic operative in play, causing him to question the Psi Faction’s motives. Can Lino rescue his brother before more blood is shed or will Faid step in and destroy the Psi Faction’s plans?
About the Series:
Lino just wanted peace. All he got was war.
In After Colony 2055, the Atlantea Federation, a draconian power had taken over 75% of the world’s territories and launched a nuclear attack, the Dionysis Effect against the insurgent Pacific Territories. In a single brave act, the Pacific Territories retaliated in a battle known as the Blood Red Incident. The untested weapon’s radioactive fallout created Codess which manifested as psychic powers.
After the initial destruction, people struggled to survive and some developed psychic powers as others fell to the pervasive radiation sickness. Civil war ripped at the heart of society with cyberterrorist hacker groups rising up to fight the government. The son of the Viceroy, Lino Dejarre had psychic power. He joined the Psi Faction as a clandestine psychic operative tasked to capture Faid Callen the leader of the Packrat hackers.
Separated at age nine and banished from the royal family, Riuho Dejarre’s hatred for his brother Lino grew as he tried to scrape out a life in the slum level Echelons. Stripped of his citizenship, Riuho vowed to get revenge and thwart Lino’s every move as the young operative tried to govern and keep his people safe. With Faid and Riuho using the Packrat cyberterrorist hackers to attack the government even as the Atlantea Federation increased the threat trying to destroy the remains of the Pacific Territories and their allies, the war took a dire turn.
The Atlantea Federation attacked brutally on the ground and threatened the Pacific Territories’ space colonies. Lino and his Psi Faction team were roped into global diplomacy, inter-colony politics, covert missions, battleship scurmishes, jet fighter sorties, and space battles facing the Atlantea Federation head on. When Riuho once more entered the fray, his high stakes game of manipulation and lies threatened to destroy everything for which Lino had worked.
With threats to the fragile Pacific Territories coalition and the fate of the world at stake, can Lino, the Viceroy of the City, the Echelons and the Zone lead the Pacific Territories to a victory? Intrigue, fast-paced action, clandestine psychic operatives, hackers, the oppressive Zone Police, and shadowy government conspiracies, the situation couldn’t be riskier. Will Lino ever see peace and an end to war? Find out in the dystopian grydscaen series. Whose side are you on?
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“Why is there a child here?” asked Jai.
“He will be staying here now. He has psi potential. We are giving him to Dr. Ren as a test subject,” said Gailen as they walked down the hall to the Controlling Chambers in the Psi Faction building.
“Where did he come from?” asked Jai.
“His mother sold him to the Psi Faction for a cit card,” informed Gailen.
“People actually do that?” choked out Jai.
“His mother was a prostitute. She sold him and was paid a hefty sum and given a cit card. The child has very high psi potential. We would have requested him if she had not offered.”
There was a maintenance crew in the hall. They were fixing up a room in the back of the Controlling Chambers to make a day care center, a playroom. It was to ensure there was some age appropriate place for the child to be kept during the day. Dr. Ren was in the Controlling Chamber area when they got there.
“How is it going?” asked Gailen coming up to him.
“Oh Gailen. Come in. Come see. It is going rather well. I think this room will be adequate,” said Dr. Ren.
There was an electrician at the wall installing an electrical panel and he handed Dr. Ren a remote control. The electrician finished up and placed the face plate of the panel at the wall and told Dr. Ren the panel was all set.
“The room has a damper, a psi shield and other features that will help to control the child. He has been here for almost six weeks now. We have just started the first level of his psi conditioning. He has been very receptive so far. Would you like to see him?” said Dr. Ren.
Dr. Ren walked with Jai and Gailen to the living quarters. They went to the main observation room with four rooms along the wall with glass windows. Each room had a bed and a dresser and a chair. There was a child in one of the rooms sitting in a chair. Gailen, Dr. Ren and Jai came into the main room with the lights out. The child could not see them through the one way glass.
The child had dull ash brown hair that kind of looked like it was blue since the colour was washed out. The child was rocking back and forth in the chair with his hands on his head.
“What is he doing?” asked Jai.
“We gave him an initial dose of nanomachines to see how they would take. He is reacting to that,” said Dr. Ren.
“Is it a girl or a boy?” asked Gailen.
“It’s a girl. But when I ask her she says she is a boy,” said Dr. Ren.
“She is transgender then?” asked Gailen.
“Yes, that is what it looks like. I did a whole psychological work up on her. We should start calling her he and just get used to that. She also refuses to wear dresses. One of the nurses in the infirmary tried,” said Dr. Ren.
“What is her name? I mean his name,” said Jai.
“Julian Iskafiin,” said Dr. Ren. “But he said he wants to be called Blue.”
“He is only five. How does he know what he wants to be called?” asked Gailen.
“Julian said his mother called him Blue.”
Jai looked over at Blue in the chair. The child stood up and went to the wall and started banging his head on the wall. Dr. Ren lifted up his arm and tapped out some buttons on a metal arm band he had on. A nurse came into the room and started comforting Blue.
Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and white hat hacker who has worked in the design of aerospace, semiconductor and financial systems. With an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese, Natsuya uses his Japanese, Black and Native American heritage to paint his stories, keeping an eye on diversity.
By night, Natsuya is an author and manga artist weaving stories in his cyberpunk grydscaen world, his dark fantasy universe The Seer of Grace and Fire, and his contemporary yaoi graphic noiz which takes place in New York City. He studied animation and game design at the Art Institute of Phoenix where he learned sequential art and traditional animation that fueled his childhood dream of creating manga and anime.
To date he has created four manga and two episodes of the short anime grydscaen: A Storm’s Coming based on the teenage hacker Rom. He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, manga, World Cup futbol, watching French news, eating ramen and anything with matcha, watching anime in Japanese, and writing poetry.
Author Website: http://www.grydscaen.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/natsuya.uesugi
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The Boys of Summer by Tucker McCallahan
Hi! My name is Tucker McCallahan, and I'm the author of The Boys of Summer, the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga. I'm so grateful to Elizabeth Noble for hosting me today! Lead singer Ash Redvers needs a drummer. When Dustin Davis shows up, ready, willing, and able to play - not to mention gorgeous - Ash thinks it’s going to be the best season yet. But Ash has never had a boyfriend, and Dust isn’t willing to be a quick hook-up. As the summer heats up, they’ll have to decide whether all they can make together is music, or if there’s something more for them after the Boys of Summer are gone.
Of all the themes I used in writing this novel, I think my favorite is nostalgia for days gone by. Don Henley, who recorded the song "The Boys of Summer" in 1984, has spoken many times about that aspect of his lyrics. They evoke a time when things were new and fresh, and in reliving that memory, nostalgia for what was and what might've been saturates the song. My goal as I was writing the saga was to recreate a similar series of emotions. In order to accomplish that in the first book, I ended up focusing on a "first time" of sorts.
First love, and the stumbling, bumbling, awkward attempts at forging that first relationship, are pretty powerful memories for almost everyone. Simply stated: we all remember our first boyfriend or girlfriend. My two main characters have completely opposite experiences where first love is concerned. Dustin's had several serious relationships, while Ash has never had a relationship. It makes for some interesting situations.
From The Boys of Summer:
Practice continued until the set ended, and then the guys left and Dustin went up to shower. The new bed had been delivered that afternoon before practice, so when he got out of the shower, he went into his dark room, shut the door, and dropped his towel, ready to slide between the fresh sheets he’d put on the new bed.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. The Boys of Summer is the first book in the Dust & Ash Saga and is available now on Amazon and Smashwords. The second book is scheduled to come out in the spring; there are six books in all.
To celebrate the first release in the saga, I'm sponsoring a giveaway! There are three ways to enter: like my author page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or – if you're already following me on FB and Twitter – leave me a comment about your favorite music to listen to at a wedding reception. I'll be giving away three gift cards, and the winners will get to choose what they'd like to receive! Winners will be announced on my blog on September 30th.
Once again, I'd like to thank Elizabeth for hosting me and the Boys today. Turn on some music and enjoy the end of your summer!
About Tucker McCallahan:Tucker McCallahan has been lots of places, seen lots of things, and is still learning new stuff on the regular. Multi-published, bisexual, polyamorous, and slave to a big black cat named Emperor Inka, Tucker is also married, a parent, a long-time member of the LGBT community and a proud educator/activist.
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