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Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Stratus Estate

New Sci-Fi Fantasy Novel Explores Life in Utopian World
Author M. Coté Warner introduces readers to the World of Tarkenwore


EAGLE RIVER, Alaska – Author M. Coté Warner has released her debut novel, “The Stratus Estate,” a science fiction and fantasy tale that takes place in the utopian World of Tarkenwore. The first of a planned trilogy, the story is told through the eyes of main character Phillip Stratus who lives in the very distant utopian future.

There is something different about Phillip – he lives with his large, quirky, adoptive family, all of whom are powerhouse players in the City of Tarkenwore; and he is best friends with Vive Tarkenwore, the heir to the prodigious throne of Earth. Vive is the conceptual child of Queen Nacthelian and King Hasamelis, very tall supernatural beings that have ruled the planet for 2,000 years.  Phillip and Vive have many unusual adventures together before the age of 14. However, they soon begin to discover exactly what makes Phillip different from all other Terrans.

The compelling story not only entertains, but also delves into philosophies of morality and economics, the future of technology and physiology, and what it might be like if a perfect being were the puppet master.

Warner, not just an author but also an accomplished artist, has spent more than 10 years of imagining, drawing, conceptualizing, and writing to bring “The Status Estate” to life all the while battling an extreme illness she is still recovering from.

“There have been tears of sadness, tears of joy and tears of apathy,” said Warner. “But through all the tears, Phillip and Vive’s story has finally been brought to the world.”

Inspired by the works of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling, Warner is excited to introduce readers to her own science fiction and fantasy world and looks forward to continuing the adventures of Phillip Stratus in upcoming installments of the trilogy.

“The Stratus Estate”
By M. Coté Warner
ISBN: 978-1-5434-1063-1 (HC), 978-1-5434-1064-8 (SC), 978-1-5434-106204 (E)

About the author
Morgan Coté Warner was born and primarily raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She is an alumna of Soldotna High School, a well-regarded academic institution located in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Dissatisfied with the real world, it was at UHH where Warner began to imagine and build the world and characters of Tarkenwore. She moved back to Anchorage from the Big Island a couple years after finishing college and resumed a career in the human services. Despite a promising career, she was diagnosed with a severe and devastating chronic illness in 2010. After many years of sickness and being unable to work at much other than writing and creating a large portfolio of digital art, “The Stratus Estate,” her first novel, is her reintroduction to the world of healthy, functional people. Morgan now lives in Eagle River, Alaska with her boyfriend and two goofy dogs. To learn more about Warner please visit www.deinoncote.com.

Interview
Welcome to my blog Morgan.  Please tell my readers more about your new book and yourself.

Q:
Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
Title: The Stratus Estate
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy for ages 13 and up.

When I was 20 and in college at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, I was primarily studying psychology, but I also took courses in philosophy, anthropology, literature, history, biology and geology.  Between studying, I was doing a lot of reading for pleasure.  I found the world to be a disappointing place, and the human species to be largely unsatisfactory.  We’re too greedy, and mean, and prolific.  The greedy and mean cling to the majority of the world’s resources with their boney, demonic claws, while brainwashing the rest of us so that we work work work, and proliferate, and bleed, and die for their profit.  Books like the Harry Potter series, and The Chronicles of Narnia series were an escape into worlds where there was a clear evil that needed to be defeated, and the good and kind always prevailed.

It was at this time in college that I started to imagine my own world – a utopia called Tarkenwore.  Many philosophers and writers have imagined utopias before.  In my utopia, the system of government and the economic model are important, but not nearly as important as the fundamental changes I made to the human species.  Every historian knows that an intelligent human can imagine the perfect form of equitable government, so that power is restricted and everyone gets a fair shot at a fulfilling life, just so regular humans out in real life can corrupt it.  So instead of focusing on how a governmental system might look on paper, I focused on fixing humans.

There are some problems with fixing humans that makes my utopia unrealistic, and therefore within the realm of fantasy.  A notable historical figure who believed in eugenics is Adolf Hitler.  In my book, it is humans who destroy themselves, which could become reality in my lifetime, and a god-like being from the realm of fantasy, the Queen Nacthelian, saves a select few she deems worthy before returning the Earth to its pristine, un-polluted form.  These First People are compassionate, empathetic, intelligent and diligent by nature.  Although not entirely incorruptible (enter conflict).

I wrote The Stratus Estate because Tarkenwore already existed in my head, where “Compassion, Wisdom and Achievement through Science,” is not only the reigning philosophy, but also ingrained in every human’s DNA.  I had started writing short prose about Nacthelian and her daughter Vive in college, but it wasn’t until a few years after graduating that I began imagining Phillip and his journey, and the adventures and conflicts he encounters.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
Q:
What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A:
I just started writing the first book, and I was fortunate enough to be able to hire an editor to help me get my story in order.  As I begin to write the first sequel to The Stratus Estate, I need to compose an outline.  I left a lot of doors open in The Stratus Estate that will be addressed in the next book.
Q:
What kind of research was involved?
A:
I did a lot of internet research to ensure certain scientific topics are authentic.  That’s not to say I didn’t just make some stuff up.  I’m not a pure sci-fi empiricist, nor am I a transcendentalist.  I think both schools of thought within science fiction have their place.  Without a unified field theory, or even a firm grasp of quantum mechanics, I did make up some technology that sounded plausible to me.  I relied heavily on much of the research I did in school to write papers, and the training I received in order to do good research.  I also read a lot and watch a lot of documentaries, so there’s quite a bit of information in my head that I turned useful by incorporating it into my story.
Q:
How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A:
There’s a little bit of me in most of my characters, but I relate to some of my characters much more than others.  Phillip is not me, but I relate to him heavily, and I hope there are kids out there who are seen as different, or have their own internal struggles, who will relate to Phillip as well.
Q:
How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A:
I don’t know that I’ve done a very good job of balancing writing with the rest of life.  I should be writing more, but I’m very hopeful the next book won’t take seven years, like the first one.  I’ve been struggling with illness for many years, and it’s sucked up a lot of my life.  It hasn’t been just one illness, but several related illnesses, like a domino effect from a very unhealthy culture.  I’m in a committed relationship and I take care of the home and our two dogs, but during business hours I still try to focus on my book or my art.  This is still difficult as I experience frequent flare ups and setbacks.  I remain hopeful that I will regain my health, or at least feel pretty good most days, but the prognosis is a little murky.
Q:
Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:
Gene Roddenberry was my first influence, although I haven’t read any of his works.  I grew up watching Star Trek with my dad, and the idea of a culture advanced enough that they have enormous resources to spend just on space exploration and interplanetary diplomacy is deeply ingrained in my subconscious – so much so, that I’m just now realizing how much Star Trek influenced my story.  I feel that science is indispensable when it comes to the intellectual and physical advancement of humankind, and this is reflected in my novel.

J.K. Rowling’s whimsical story-telling and ability to mature a story and a character also had a great influence on me.  She’s been an inspiration, not just with her writing and the world she created, but also in the perseverance she showed in her life.  She used her writing to raise herself up after utter hopelessness, and now she gives joy and inspiration to millions of people every day.

Orson Scott Card’s intelligent writing style and ability to weave science, technology and culture into a story has also had a great influence on me, as has J.R.R. Tolkien’s world building and character development.  And there are many more, including Richard Adams’s Watership Down, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and D.M. Cornish’s Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy.
Q:
Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A:
Q:
What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A:
I have started book two of what I hope to be at least a trilogy.  It is titled The City of Tarkenwore, and will hopefully be released sometime this century.  I’m also working on a new art piece called 4 of the 7 in collaboration with manga artist Brett Uher, which should be done some time in July.
Q:
Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A:
I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in December to help publish and market The Stratus Estate.  I was very lucky to have my mom’s help with marketing that campaign.  She just about knows everyone here in Alaska, and we have a lot of good friends and family who want to see me succeed.  My mom, Shirley Coté, also frequently acts as my agent and is helping me get readings and get on author panels.  I have pages on Facebook that I use for occasional advertising, and I’ve hired a couple publicists to get my work out to media outlets and reviewers.  I’m also pounding the pavement here in Anchorage, Alaska, getting my book into shops, doing readings and events.
Q:
What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A:
What first came to mind is something very cliché, like “Never give up.  Keep writing.”  Clichés don’t exist for no reason, but what I think is more relevant is to take criticism.  Get criticism from other authors and editors wherever you can.  Internalize it, work with it, and use it to become a better writer.  As Phillip learns, sometimes you need to tear yourself down in order to become the best version of yourself.
Again, thanks Morgan for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

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Lauren Dickerson
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