Wednesday 13 May 2015

Blog Tour Guest Post & Giveaway - Compendium by Alia Luria

Author: Alia Luria
Genre: Science-Fiction

Book Description:
On the heavily forested planet of Lumin, the Network has slept, dormant, for over six hundred cycles. Only a select few remember that it resides beneath the crust of the planet, waiting, and for them, the battle for Lumin’s future has raged in the shadows.

When Mia Jayne’s path crosses with an ancient volume in the Archives of the Order of Vis Firmitas, this ancient battle moves from the shadows into the light. Compendium opens up a world of knowledge, and, for the first time since arriving at the Order, Mia has the key to reclaim the freedom she has lost. To do so, she must choose between her conscience and her heart. Conceived against an ailing world of fantastical beauty where long-lost technology tips the balance between extinction and survival, Mia must remember that there is always a choice, and that makes all the difference.

Guest Post

The inspiration behind Lumin

Hi! My name is Alia Luria, and I’m happy to be posting here today at CBY Book Club as a guest poster! I am a sci-fi/fantasy writer, and my debut novel, Compendium, first in the Artifacts of Lumin series was just released on May 5, 2015. Some people have asked me what inspired the world of Lumin, a forest planet where all electrical power is derived from the electrochemical composition of the forest that grows out from the deepest center of the planet. Trees and plants are not only food and shelter but also energy. It was a symbiosis that I highlighted deeply in the novel, an amplification of how humanity interacts with our earth.

 In my mind, parts of Lumin remind me of the hammocks of South Florida, parts remind me of South India, parts remind me of Hawaii, and parts just reflect some of the glorious places that I’ve only seen in pictures, like redwoods in California or volcanoes in Iceland and photos of amazing ice cliffs, and places I’ve never been. I have been lucky in my 38 years to travel to a number of lovely places around the world, so I thought I would share where I have been and what I liked and didn’t like and a few places that I have yet to go but really want to visit. 

Where I’ve Visited 

1. Japan: I lived in Japan for a semester of law school, and it was a truly great experience. I speak some Japanese, so when the opportunity arose to spend five months there, I jumped at it. It was beautiful, weird, and very isolating. As a gaijin (foreigner) in Japan, particularly as a female foreigner, you quickly come to grips with the idea that you are packed like a sardine with millions of people, and yet you are utterly alone. It was very surreal. The longer I spent there, the more I started to understand the honmei (bone – true life) of Japan, and that shatters some illusions that Japanese culture fosters so carefully. That’s another story for another time however. Here is some of the best and worst of Japan:


· Food – and not just Japanese. They also have amazing breads and French food, Italian food, and Indian/Nepalese food (although forget the basmati rice! Not allowed to be imported). I also, to this day, miss Japanese fast food like katsu curry, omurice, Jonathan’s restaurant’s omurice with curry (best of both worlds), Mister Donut, and the ebi-fileto at MacuDon (McDonald’s shrimp burger). Also, can’t forget the Japanese favorites like shabu shabu, okonomiyaki, and sushi (preferably conveyor belt style). 

· Kyoto – It’s a surreal place filled with temples, flowers, and so much history. When I was there, I stayed at a ryokan (Japanese style hotel) called the Gion Hatanaka, which was amazing. 

· Sakura Season – There is nothing more gorgeous than cherry blossom trees skyrocketing 50 feet into the air, blowing petals everywhere. Just be aware, it’s not at all like anime… on the ground in Ueno Park, thousands of people spread out their giant blue corporate tarps and have hanami (flower viewing) parties complete with ridiculous amounts of beer, and street festival vendors selling okonomiyaki (at street fairs they are usually kansai style – coleslaw and egg omlette with various ingredients, including tiny shrimp with the shells still on and eyeballs), takuyaki (fried octopus in balls of only mostly cooked dough eaten on toothpicks with mayonnaise and fish flakes), and french fries (yep, normal ones, except you can get curry powder or one of fifteen other flavors on them). Bonus: For weeks before the flowers bloom you get to watch little old men on step stools looking at the buds of the smaller trees with magnifying glasses to try to determine when the trees will flower.


· Food – Unless you have prior knowledge or a good grasp of kanji, you may never know what you are eating. If you are lucky, you find a restaurant with a picture menu or, better yet, an elaborate display of plastic food that mirrors what is on the menu, and that at least allows you to guess more accurately. In the worst-case scenario, you accidentally order raw chicken tendons on a stick or raw beef sushi or something even weirder. Yes, both of those happened to me, and in neither instance was I the one placing the order. It is handy to learn the phrase “Eigo no menu desu ka” (Is there an English menu?) but good luck at most places the answer is no. 

· Rush Hour – I love the Japanese train system. It allowed me to live there without a car for months, traveling all over the country, and rarely ever needing a cab. That said, I advise anyone to avoid it at all costs during rush hour unless you are one of the millions of people who have to commute to work during that time. Those amusing photos and videos of people being stuffed onto a train by rail workers are not a fabrication or even an exaggeration, and they are not nearly as funny when yours is the face pressed against the chest of a strange salary man studiously trying to ignore you. You have been duly warned! 

· Roppongi – I hate, hate, hate Roppongi. It is considered the “foreigner” part of Tokyo. Some of my classmates loved it for clubbing or bars, but I couldn’t stand it. Every time I walked down the street, I remember being accosted by giant bouncers that tried to “entice” me into the nearly empty clubs. Nothing good seems to happen in Roppongi. Unless things have significantly changed since I was there in 2008, I would advise against it, unless you want to be drugged and have your wallet and I.D. stolen by yakuza thugs, in which case… zehi! I may be biased about Roppongi, and to each their own, but it’s one of my least favorite parts of Tokyo and Japan generally.

I could go on forever about Japan (maid cafes, akihabara, love hotels, shopping, kinokuniya, karaoke, Shinjuku station, etc.), as I have a ton of funny stories and a lot to both love and hate about that country, but I will move on for now…

2. India: I visited family friends in India with my grandmother in 2006 about a year after my grandfather died. We traveled to South India and spent time in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. We didn’t take a separate plane flight up to Agra, so I will have to go back to see the Taj Mahal. My time in India was interesting because we basically had friends to take us around and arrange things for us. It was not at all touristy in some ways, and in other ways, it was exhausting, because we spent a lot of time meeting family of our friends, all of which wanted to feed us. I spent a lot of time uncomfortably full and probably offended more than one well-meaning family friend, but at least I didn’t have bacterial stomach issues like my grandmother and sister.


· Food – This is probably obvious, but (*gasp*) you can get the best Indian food in India. I particularly loved the tandoori paneer, the egg curry, and the fresh fish that I had in South India. I wasn’t a fan of the dosa, as they are a bit spongy for my taste. I did have my fill of hand-boiled ginger masala tea, though. Also, they had the best dang bananas I have ever had in my life. They were half or less the size of American bananas, but they had about four times the flavor. 

· History – The amount of history in India is amazing. While I was there, we visited the Sri Gomateshwara, which is a monolith residing at the top of a giant hill. It is an idol for the Jain religion, and every twelve years, Jain followers make a pilgrimage to the idol and “color” it by dumping coconut milk, orange juice, mango juice and flower petals over the top of the statue. It turns the entire monolith a beautiful orange. I was privileged enough to be there a month or two after the official coloring in 2006 and witnessed the unofficial ceremony as Jain monks and the faithful continued to color Gomateshwara. It was amazing to behold. 

· Mysore – I absolutely adored the city of Mysore. We barely got to spend any time there, but it was gorgeous. Bangalore, back in 2006, was overcrowded with people, having infrastructure for perhaps half of its residence. Mysore was majestic, clean and lovely by comparison.


· Mosquitoes – This is probably pretty obvious, but the mosquitoes were a terror… They actually swarmed around the ceiling of the Bangalore airport in a giant mass, greeting us as made our way into the city from the plane. On top of that, the malaria medication made me ill, so I stopped taking it two weeks into my trip. Definitely not one of the best parts of the trip. Don’t worry; I didn’t catch malaria! 

· Stares – I got plenty of stares in Japan, but they were always veiled. In India, I would get open stares, blown kisses, and lots of winks. I definitely felt like a spectacle there, so keep that in mind if you plan to visit. It was a relief to get off the plane in Atlanta and just be a random person who draws no attention whatsoever. I’m not a celebrity, but it certainly gave me some perspective as to how they must live every day. 

· Communication – I know that if I hadn’t been with family friends the whole time, communication would have definitely been much harder. Everyone in India learns English in school the way that we learn Spanish or French. Just because you take it in school doesn’t mean you’re proficient. Communication is not just difficult for foreigners in India. Even some Indians have trouble communicating. At one point during our trip, we required a friend of our friend to accompany us, because my grandmother’s friend did not speak Bengali, and the shop owner we were visiting only spoke Bengali, and his English-speaking employee was not there. Our friend who spoke Kaneda and Malayalim had to speak English to her Bengali friend, and then her friend translated from English to Bengali for the shop owner. It certainly made communication complicated!

3. England: At the beginning of this year, I traveled to London with my partner to spend a few days before the first residency of my MFA in Wroxton, England. With all my travel in Asia, I had never been to anywhere in Europe before. Apart from what I consider to be unreasonable cold (we went and January and we came from Florida), England was great. We only got a few days before I had to travel to Wroxton to read and attend writing workshops in an old Jacobean mansion in the country, which itself was pretty great. During our time in London, we managed to visit Speedy’s (as big Sherlock fans), get Indian takeaway twice, and visit the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio Tour.


· Indian Food (outside of India) – England isn’t known for its native acumen in the culinary arts, but I will say that the fish and chips in Stratford-Upon-Avon and the tapas in London were great. That said, however, my favorite thing was being able to order Indian food right to our hotel room at practically any hour of the night. It was better and cheaper than what we get in Orlando by far. I would have eaten from a different place every night if it wasn’t completely crazy to go all the way to England and just binge on Indian takeaway. 

· Harry Potter Studio Tour – This was amazing! We got to see a ton of the original sets, costuming, props, animatronics and more. I couldn’t believe how great it was. We spent probably six or seven hours wandering around. I have a bunch of photos posted on my blog and Flickr account. It amazed me that the British guests complained how expensive it was. It would be about $200 for two people to go to the Harry Potter experience in Orlando for one day. It was GBP40 for us to spend the whole day with the original sets. I would go back again in a heartbeat. 

· Cider – I’m not a big beer drinker, but I absolutely loved the dry cider in England and must have tried four or five varieties while I was there. I definitely went into cider withdrawal when I got back. The U.S. cider is just a bit sweet, not as refreshing. I highly recommend getting a pint of cider if you are of age and find yourself in England.


· Tube – This is probably a function of the fact that I did not get to spend much time in England getting used to the Tube, but I will say that I felt perpetually lost on the London Underground. I kept expecting to end up in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. I even got horribly lost trying to find my way to a talk I had to give. It was mortifying to be late! That said, I love public transit generally and the Overground was very useful for getting around outside of London. It doesn’t help that my sense of direction is fantastically bad! I hope next time I visit London, I will be more oriented. 

· Cabs – London cabs are so cool, but they are crazy expensive. I love how nice and roomy the back is, and I love the convenience, but I felt like I couldn’t get anywhere in London for less than GBP20 via cab. It was nuts! 

Where I Want to Visit 

· Italy – my family is Italian, and I really need to get there and see it for myself, especially Florence and Venice and Rome 

· Scotland – it just looks fantastically scenic, and Scots have the best accents (I will just have to wear three pairs of long underwear at all times) 
· Iceland – there is a particular volcano that I thought about when I created the Compound of the Order of Vis Firmitas, and I really want to see it in person 
· New Zealand – Lord of the Rings, and that is all… 
· Asia – I want to see more of it. I’ve seen Japan and India, but I really want to see Thailand, Cambodia, China, and other places.

About the Author
Alia Luria resides in Orlando, Florida with her partner and two Pembroke Welsh Corgis. When she is not busy writing her epic sci-fiction/fantasy series, she is very, very busy practicing law as a corporate mergers and acquisitions and data privacy attorney. Apart from writing and reading voraciously, she really enjoys travel and photography and mixing the two. She also spends an inordinate amount of time enjoying fountain pens.

Author Links: 


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  1. I LOVE travel and my dream is that when my kids are older I can spend my years traveling the world. I've already started planning! So anything about travel is fascinating to me. I loved hearing about India because my assistant lives there so I find myself soaking up anything about the country. But it really did fascinate me before I ever even knew her. There's something about the Indian culture that resonates with me. I'm not so sure I could visit though. SO MANY PEOPLE. I want to, but I guess I'm a bit afraid it might just be too much for me.
    England. I have been dying to go for my whole life. I've really always been drawn there and I also want to visit Ireland and Scotland at the same time.
    My aunt lived in Japan for quite a few years and I think I'd like to visit but once again the crowds scare me a bit. I mean I can handle a crowd (sort of) but these are just beyond that. I've seen the videos!

    Thanks so much for hosting a tour stop Alecia!

  2. Thanks for sharing your travels with us! ~ Danielle D.

  3. Congratulations on your debut release! I can't wait to find out more about your book!

    I loved reading about your travel experiences especially about Japan Right after my college graduation, I was set to go with a friend to spend 4 weeks in Japan and 2 weeks in Hawaii but it never happened because the day before we were to leave I crashed my bike while wearing flip flops, shorts and a tank top. I'd been having trouble with my chain sticking but figured I'd take care of it when I got back! Then I was 30 minutes late meeting my parents so I was booking as fast as I could go! I lost so much skin from my face to my toes with a broken elbow, broken blood vessel in the eye, etc, etc. etc.

    I always look back on that with great regret cos it would have been great! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the intro to a new author for myself!

  5. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. I enjoyed the guest post! The one place I really, really, really want to visit is Switzerland, so I can see the beautiful Alps in person! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!