We’re so pleased to welcome author Natsuya Uesugi to TNA today on the virtual tour for his new graphic novel, grydscaen: dark. Enjoy this short Q&A with him and then be sure to enter the giveaway too.
- Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I write scifi cyberpunk in my “grydscaen” series, contemporary yaoi in my “graphic noiz” series, and dark fantasy in “The Seer of Grace and Fire” trilogy. I move back and forth between the series. Right now I am publishing “grydscaen: dark” and in the middle of beta reading “The Seer of Ice and Sky” which is book 2 in “The Seer of Grace and Fire” trilogy. I don’t find it hard to jump back and forth between the genres. I go with the inspiration. I love my characters, they make it fun for me and all of the series are diverse and contain LGBT and trans characters.
- Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them. I have bisexual, ace, gay, and transgender characters in my books. I also talk about characters in “grydscaen” with mental health issues like Sati Ima a pilot in the Air Force, Lino who struggles with anorexia, and Rom the gay teenager who struggles with homelessness and poverty after the government wiped his memory and threw him out on the street with only the clothes on his back. I also deal with transition and dysphoria with the heroine Ethesian in “The Seer of Grace and Fire” and suicide with her twin brother Timorn in the same story. And I deal with mixed race and multicultural acceptance in the amateur manga artist Noiz which is half Native American/Black and half Japanese in “graphic noiz” and his struggles for acceptance in the art world and in society. These are all difficult topics and I lend my pen to help bring visibility to the community.
- Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I am a part time writer. I have a day job as a systems analyst but I am writing every chance I get and trying to get the word out about my books. I am way better at writing books then marketing my books as I am an introvert.
- Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I am a pantser all the way. I think I wrote an outline for grydscaen: dark and then never followed it. So, definitely pantser.
- Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
I do the cover are for all my books. I start out with pen and paper and make a decision on the character I want to draw and then start illustrating. I studied animation and game design at art school so I think I can draw a little but I call myself a writer before I would call myself an artist. I have released 2 manga in the “graphic noiz” series which I drew the entire 150 pages for those books. It was a labor of love and at times daunting. Back to the cover: I illustrate with pencil, then ink the drawing, then scan it into the computer and fix it in Photoshop for levels and darkness/brightness and then colour it in Photoshop. Laying out a book cover I do in Photoshop and InDesign. If I am doing manga I add Manga Studio into the mix. I prefer traditional drawing and toning to digital.
- What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
With “grydscaen: dark” I wanted to make a commentary about the current state of cyber security and how easy it is to hack into an entity and what kind of game to these hackers it is. Corporations spend millions on cyber security and still get attacked. I am a former white hat/ethical hacker and write about cyber security and social engineering on the grydscaen blog at times and have had speaking events and written articles about protecting yourself online, security, and social media and privacy. I wanted to bring hackers front and center and take away some of the stigma. Hackers are important characters in grydscaen from Jester the gothic hacker who attacks the stock market and hacks cars, to Jazz who hacks the Corporation, and Rom the Level 9 hacker, the most elite hacker you can be who is more curious than not which gets him into systems, to Mage the hacktivist who will do anything to fight the government. These are all hackers. Black hat, white hat. Whose side are you on?
- What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
I would want to explore Jester and Jazz as hackers some more. Jazz comes back later in the series and Jester was already a key player in the story “Rogue” and “Simulatrix” which are both in “”grydscaen: tribute” so he has had some additional exposure before “grydscaen: dark.” Jazz is multicultural so I would like to explore more of his cultural background as it relates to grydscaen which takes place in the Pacific Territories and is influenced by Eastern spirituality and culture as a part of its world building when I created the series. Many reviewers has said grydscaen is “anime-inspired” and that is definitely true.
- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fighter pilot and a writer. I never did become a fighter pilot but I watch anything I can about fighter pilots including documentaries and anime and I even write about fighter pilots in the Air Force in “grydscaen: insurrection” which came out 2 years ago and “grydscaen: desecration” which will come out this year. I even went to work at an Aerospace company so that I could work with Jet Engines. So I got there indirectly. I wrote short stories when I was a kid and I used to write stories from dreams I had. Actually the very first grydscaen character Rom who is featured in “grydscaen: dark” I created in middle school and actually drew five comic book pages with him in the 9th grade which I still have those pictures and hope to publish in the re-release of “grydscaen: tribute” this year. So I became a writer who writes about fighter pilots, I think I got what I wanted when I grew up.
- What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
I am a cosplayer and hand make my own costumes which means I hand sew them and not use a sewing machine. Takes longer but there is more love put into them. I write poetry and song lyrics which I use for the various bands in the grydscaen world like Painbox the goth band, and Athens the glam band. And I draw manga as a traditional indie mangaka writing about a half Japanese and half Native American amateur manga artist working with a bestselling Japanese writer to create the Fissure manga based on the writer’s scifi novel in the graphic noiz series. My manga like “graphic noiz 2” is a 100 page yaoi manga which came out in December of last year. I am currently working on the script for “graphic noiz 3” and hope to start working on it next year.
- My writing jobs: Line editor, copy editor, editor, writer, poet, journalist. blogger
- My artist jobs: graphic designer, graphic editor, UI designer, web designer. Concept artist, game designer, art producer, voice actor for animation
- My translation jobs: Japanese to English translator, English to French translator
- My corporate jobs: human factors engineer, systems analyst, software engineer, business analyst, , technical analyst, cyber security analyst, ethical hacker
- My cyber security and hacking jobs influenced the grydscaen series and specifically “grydscaen: dark.”
- My artist and writer jobs influenced the series “graphic noiz.”
- Which of your own characters would you Kill? Fuck? Marry? And why?
I would have sex with Faid Callen the leader of the Packrat hackers who is also a host (high class prostitute) who has been inoculated against all sexually transmitted diseases. He would sneak me into the City in the grydscaen world illegally and we would have a fabulous time using money he stole from one of his hacking jobs. He would show me the town, we would slip into a high class hotel room, have a night of it and have sex until the sunrise. Faid is known in the series as having an AA+ rating so he is the highest class of host there is and he is hot and a model as well as being a cyber terrorist.
- Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
Visit the future. grydscaen takes place in 2055 and I would like to see the culture and if I described it correctly and then see beyond. The past is overrated. Keep it in the past I want to keep moving forward. Onwards and upwards.
- What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
“grydscaen: dark” is out soon. I am working on edits for “grydscaen: desecration” and also revamping “grydscaen: retribution” for its second edition. In addition I am in beta with “The Seer of Ice and Sky” book 2 in “The Seer of Grace and Fire” series which is going into production in the next month. And I am interviewing voice actors for episode 3 of the grydscaen “A Storm’s Coming” anime which is based on the short story by the same name from “grydscaen: tribute” and features the homeless teen Rom who is one of the main hacker characters in “grydscaen: dark.” What else, since there is so much the last thing is I am working on a booster pack of 5 trading cards for the grydscaen RPG Trading Card game which is also a Tarot desk. The game is about hackers attacking the government mainframe and cyber security trying to stop them. Artwork for the booster pack should be done in next few months.
About the Book
Author: Natsuya Uesugi
Publisher Buy Link: PageTurner
Release Date: Thursday, June 21 2018
Is This Book Romance?: No
Word Count: 55k
Cover Artist: Natsuya Uesugi
Genres/Categories: Sci Fi, dystopian, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic, techno thriller
Keywords/Categories: gay, LGBT, hackers, tech noir, techno thriller, hacktivists, cyberpunk, sci fi
Series Title: grydscaen
Position in Series: this is the 8th book released in the grydscaen series. grydscaen: dark is a backstory book which features the hackers in the series
Necessary to Read Previous Books: No, But It Doesn’t Hurt
Blurb: A clandestine meet occurs in the Echelons under cover of darkness where Top Secret intel on the stock market changes hands. The insider tip gets the gothic hacker Jester engaged in a high tech game. Parliament votes to lower harsh stock market regulations fueling the Corporation’s bottom line, a payoff from ministers who were propped up by illegal corporate campaign donations. Ordered by Jester, the teenage hacker Rom infiltrates the largest high volume brokerage house causing wild gyrations in trading. When Jester triggers an insidious stock market payload, all hell breaks loose threatening the pristine City. Will Zoon, the leader of the Triumvirate, get roped into the fray? Can Raven, the government hacker, put the cryptic clues together before the market crashes? Find out in grydscaen:dark. Whose side are you on?
Lino just wanted peace. All he got was war.
In the year After Colony 2055 there was the Great War. SenseNet government scientists harnessed their knowledge of nuclear weapons and created a new form of energy. This kedek energy was a natural found occurrence that existed in pools far inside the planet. Harnessing this energy into weapons called kedek bombs, scientists warned these weapons were unsafe and should never be used.
The draconian Atlantea Federation conquered more than half of the world’s territories. A group of islands and nation states formed the Pacific Territories and in a single brave act retaliated in a battle known as the Blood Red Incident. The Atlantea Federation responded with wrath releasing the kedek-based Dionysis Effect nuclear bomb stolen from the SenseNet. The untested weapon’s radioactive fallout created Codess which manifested as psychic powers.
Pacific Territories’ society was segregated into citizens and non-citizens. Only citizens could reside in the pristine City. Non-citizens were left with poverty and strife in the Zone where the bomb had gone off, or in the Echelons with the Red Light District, drugs, and crime.
A group of hackers rose up to combat government oppression and injustice by the Zone Police. Enforcement squads rounded up psychics nightly taking them to work camps in the toxic kedek mines. The Terror Hack used guerrilla warfare to fight the Elite government. The Packrats, a cyber terrorist organization vowed to regain control and free society through cyber revolution. Run by the elite hacker Faid Callen, he created the Packrat Sprawl and set up the Runners, Wastes, Acolytes, Hosts, Prophets and Mobile Command. Each faction possessed deadly skills and laws in the Packrat Code that ruled their actions. Civil war ripped at the heart of society.
The son of the Viceroy, Lino Dejarre had psychic power. All he wanted was peace. He joined the Psi Faction as a clandestine psychic operative and was tasked to capture Faid Callen and quell the violence. When the Atlantea Federation attacked the City, Lino found himself once more answering the royal edict and forced to become Sub Viceroy and rule as war raged around him.
Separated at age nine and banished from the royal family, Riuho Dejarre’s hatred for Lino grew as he tried to scrape out a life in the slum level Echelons while Lino lived in the pristine City. Stripped of his citizenship, Riuho vowed he would get revenge and did everything in his power to thwart Lino’s every move. From his first encounter with the Atlantea Federation, Riuho found his place and the resources to get what he desired.
The Atlantea Federation attacked brutally on the ground and also threatened the Pacific Territories’ space colonies. Lino and his Psi Faction team were roped into global diplomacy, inter-colony politics, covert missions, battleships, and space battles where they encounter the Atlantea Federation head on. When Riuho once more enters the fray, the high stakes game threatens to destroy everything for which Lino has worked.
Intrigue, psychic powers, clandestine operations, treaties, politics and a hacker revolution. From space battles, to kidnappings and assassinations, and battleships off the coast, grydscaen is filled with in depth characters and richly detailed storylines that peak your interest and keep you coming back for more.
Chapter 1: Dot Hack Stock
“Not here. Hide the data till we are off the street. This way,” Toapfyl hurriedly motioned to the data messenger in the blue military coat, dark cargo pants and combat boots who followed him off the sidewalk and down another alley. He was wearing the typical garb for a data messenger which made Toapfyl comfortable when he met the stranger in the alley leaning against the wall, easily identifiable.
Toapfyl, a Level 3 hacker, was wearing maroon jeans and a zippered black hoodie pulled over his ebony half shaved head, exposing a slap of dirty brown dreadlocks gathered in a ponytail at his forehead hiding his right eye.
A prostitute wearing a pink miniskirt and fishnet stockings kissed a businessman in a black suit under a sickly yellow streetlight. Toapfyl and the data messenger were once again shrouded in shadow by the derelict buildings as they passed leaving the two to their pleasure.
Toapfyl pushed in a dilapidated door at the end of the alley, grime from the street creating a dusty haze in the air leaving a putrid stink. They entered a staircase. There was no light as they descended. Toapfyl sparked up his aegis to his hand, the manifestation of his psychic power, and lit a path to the basement.
He pushed in the door onto a dimly lit room and revealed Jester, the leader of the Jester hacker guild sitting in a rickety folding chair in the center of the empty room smoking a cigarette from a long black holder. A soft haze filtered over him from a light fixture dangling precariously from ceiling wires, the glass cover filled with dead moths that had happened their way inside and lived out their final days circling the artificial sun. The wan flickering light cast shadows that danced at the corners, the bulb swinging back and forth, moved by the basement door opening.
Legs crossed, Jester was wearing black patent leather platform boots, a shiny mahogany lace skirt, skintight black denim jeans, and a slick dark vinyl blouse with embroidered crimson roses, He sported an elaborate olive short coat with a high collar and dark cuffs and epaulets. A monocle optical sensor over his right eye, he was wearing a green top hat with a scarlet rose perched at the brim. His pink straight, shoulder length hair shined in the light.
He made an irritated gesture with his hand. “Don’t keep me waiting. Where is it?” Jester took a long drag from the cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke. He waved as Toapfyl closed the door.
“Not until I get paid.” The shocked data messenger prompted pulling out a red etched credit sized data card shaking it.
“Do the needful,” ordered Jester raising an eyebrow. He turned his back to them as he continued to smoke his cigarette taking a long drag.
Toapfyl pulled a platinum credit card out of his back pocket. The data messenger pulled his. They locked the two cards at the long end, pins embedded in the technology. Toapfyl typed out the amount of 55,000 credits on the virtual keyboard appearing on the face of his card. The cards chimed signaling the encryption key matched and the credits transferred from Toapfyl’s account.
The data messenger released his card and ran it through a handheld confirming the amount. He nodded stashing the handheld in his chest pocket.
“Done,” responded Toapfyl.
Jester turned back around not witnessing the exchange purposefully and stuck out his hand with his black lacquered fingernails in the knitted fingerless gloves. The stitching was coming apart at the seams on the thumb and index finger, the gloves covered in little white pills. Where everything about Jester’s appearance was immaculate, the gloves gave away an underlying confusion or sloppy disregard for his perfect veneer.
Jester was one of the hacker guild leaders who almost never showed his face in public. It was well known that Jester did not make meetings with data messengers or low level hackers, like a Level 3. He couldn’t be bothered with them. The fact that the data messenger insisted, and that Toapfyl made it happen, kept the data messenger on guard. He placed the red card in Jester’s palm and turned to leave.
Toapfyl jerked raising a gun to the data messenger’s temple. He touched skin. “No one leaves until the data is confirmed.”
Rom, the teenage Level 9 hacker, emerged from the shadows behind Jester. Eyebrow raised, he was annoyed with Toapfyl. Rom pulled a handheld out of his tan trench coat as he came into the dim light. His dull blonde unkempt hair gleamed with a blue streak at the front. He took the data card from Jester and swiped it in the port on the handheld reading the file as the system ran the security check. He typed on the deck triggering an encryption key prompt as the handheld’s computerized female voice spoke the request.
“The data is encrypted? Why didn’t you mention that?” questioned Toapfyl suspicious. He pushed the gun barrel closer taking a step in and made the data messenger move his head back.
“No problem,” interrupted Rom. “Most data messengers are Packrat Runners smuggling data from the City into the Echelons. It should take a Packrat decrypt key. I have access to the Packrats’ archive of one-time, pre-shared obscure keys. What I need for this, right?”
“That is why I wanted Jester at the meet. Toapfyl, all data messengers use encryption. If you don’t know that, you are an idiot. No self-respecting hacker attached to Jester would even ask the question you did just now. Only a Level 9 can penetrate. Jester would know a Level 9. Rom is one of the best in the business,” the data messenger revealed his disgust with Toapfyl and yanked the gun out of his hand pointing it back at the hacker.
Toapfyl blanched confused how he had been disarmed and lowered his eyebrows at the disrespect. Rom shot him an angry glare silencing him.
Jester smirked giving Rom permission to engage and waved the data messenger off. The messenger lowered the gun handing it back to Toapfyl.
Toapfyl opened the basement door and motioned the data messenger out accompanying him up the stairs leaving Jester in the room with Rom.
About the Author
Natsuya Uesugi is a systems analyst and ethical hacker by day and a manga artist and a writer by night. With an MBA in International Management and a minor in Japanese, Natsuya insists on showcasing diversity in his writing using his Japanese, Native American and African American heritage.
He studied animation and game design in art school and has published the grydscaen manga “A Storm’s Coming” which features the LGBT teen Rom from “grydscaen: dark,” and two manga in the yaoi series “graphic noiz.” Two episodes of the short anime “A Storm’s Coming” is available with a third episode planned. Four counseling centers are currently using the “A Storm’s Coming” novelette to help LGBT homeless youth and troubled teens with self esteem.
He is author of the dystopian cyberpunk “grydscaen” series, the dark fantasy trilogy “The Seer of Grace and Fire,” and the yaoi novels and manga “graphic noiz.” He enjoys skydiving, cosplay, watching anime in Japanese, watching French news, World Cub futbol, eating ramen and anything with matcha, and writing poetry.
Social Links: Website || Facebook || Facebook Author Page || Twitter || Goodreads || QueeRomance Ink || Amazon
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1 thought on “Interview and Giveaway: grydscaen: dark by Natsuya Uesugi”
I’m impressed with all your skills and interests. Creativity is an amazing gift!