Past Life Strife

Past Life Strife - Christina McMullen

Many of the books that I enjoy reading are enjoyable because I'm on the outside looking in, like some sort of voyeuristic presence, watching over the people who go through troubles and out of this world drama. But occasionally, and I mean, only occasionally, I stumble across a book that makes me desperately wish I could hop within the pages and live within the plot for a few days or weeks. 

One of these rare books is Past Life Strife by Christina McMullen. She has created a world that is both thrilling and sarcastically fun with a very enjoyable dry sense of humor. 

The plot is not one that is known to me, so I found the idea of the Discordants very unique and entrancing. I'm anxious to learn more about this world. . .er. . .small town of Blackbird. 

What really entertained me, throughout the entire book, was the relationship and interactions between Desmond, Bogie, and Seth. There is such a high level of sarcasm and snarkiness that I couldn't help but fall in love with all three of them (combined). They're a trio of main characters that I sincerely hope will never be separated. 


Some Bio Information

Christina McMullen is a science fiction and fantasy author who dreams of flying cars and electric sheep. She currently resides in Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband and three dogs. When she isn't writing, Christina enjoys travel, vegan cooking, modern and classical art, and of course, reading.

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Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Robert Asprin’s Myth series, which was a satirical take on the epic fantasy genre. I’ve always enjoyed humor and wondered if it was something that I could write. A while back, I was looking through some old notes and started to cobble together an idea that spiraled into several books.

2. Who’s your favorite character? (It’s Bogie, isn’t it? And, is that a fedora he’s wearing?)

Bogie is certainly one of my favorites. He’s definitely the most fun to write and he comes up with such interesting ways to mangle the English language. My other favorite would be Myrna. She doesn’t have a lot to do in the first book, but as the series progresses, we learn a lot about her (very colorful) past. 

3. Did you create this world as you wrote or did you already have an idea about how this world of Discordants worked? 

The entire series came out of a couple of very different ideas and drabbles I’d written many years ago (some dating back to the last century). Seth and Desmond were actually the stars of an atmospheric Gothic horror that served as the bones for Past Life Strife. It had a very different tone, especially in terms of religious views. It was more black & white, Heaven & Hell oriented. Unfortunately, I can’t find the original of that one. Another source story, which serves to set up the second book, Splitsville, was a more lighthearted and campy story about two teens who discover they are dead and are going to be guardian angels. As far as the rules of Order and Chaos go, they were mostly set when I started writing, but each book introduces a new aspect, so it’s always a challenge to introduce a new idea without contradicting myself.

4. How would you describe your writing style? 

Chaotic. I write what’s on my mind and stitch the pieces together later on. Unfortunately, this leads to pages and pages of unused words that I hoard away for potential use elsewhere. Sometimes they end up as bonus material on my blog and sometimes they end up incorporated into other stories, but mostly, the cut scenes are just boring bits that don’t work, so I really have no excuse for hanging on to them.

5. Is there a character within your book that particularly irritates you?

In this series, it has to be Seth. He started out simple enough. He was never meant to be the main character, just the catalyst for the events of the first book, but he keeps trying to worm his way into more scenes and he is TOUGH to write. Of course, he is part of a larger story arc that goes through the series, but this is an ensemble cast series, Seth, we can’t make it all about you!

6. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

Hmm… Do I have a writing process? I wake up, I turn the computer on, and I write. I definitely try to see a project through to completion. I don’t like to start new projects in the middle of a series, but every so often, an idea will pop into my head that is hard to ignore. If I don’t at least type out a synopsis, I might as well not bother working on anything because it will bug me until the idea is out of my head.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Ultimately, I’d love to see all of the ideas floating around my head through to completion. Seemed like a pretty simple goal for a while, but these days, it seems the concepts come to me faster than I can type. 

8. How do you respond to the accusations that you like to dress up as a robot and terrorize Barnes & Noble, shoving indie books in patrons’ hands? 

Well, what was I supposed to do, dress up like myself and shove indie books at people? Everyone would think I was insane! No, best to go with the robot costume. Everyone trusts a ro-buh… What? I mean…. What are you even talking about? I would never… Next question!

9. You suddenly wake up and find that you’re living in Blackbird. Who are you and what’s your Past Life Strife?

Well… here’s a little secret: Blackbird is based on a combination of the small, economically defunct, post-cold war industrial city that I grew up in and the small college town that I currently live in. I’m an anonymous patron at the Five Penny Pub whose soul has teetered on the edge of lost a few more times than she would like to admit. But a trip to HomeGoods and some cheddar biscuits can go a long way toward finding balance. ;) 

10. What couldn’t you live without while writing?

Coffee!!! That’s the cliché author answer, isn’t it? But it’s so true. Between giving up sweets, drinking, smoking, and not having a drug habit, it’s my only vice and if author clichés have taught me anything, we need a vice.