Author Lisa Pell has a new release today that may appeal to readers who enjoy quirky, humorous, and outside-of-the-box sci-fi romances. The book is DYSTORTIONS: 100 HUES OF PURPLE. The book’s press release was chock full of information about the book, so I’m posting excerpts from it with permission so you can learn more about it. First, the blurb:
In Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple, the protagonist, Addy O’Malibul, is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop – a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth’s image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths. There’s just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible– and enough saucy romance to keep things hot.
Q&A With Lisa Pell
What’s the story behind Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?
Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple is a tale of mystery, murder, and love in a parallel universe, with a bit of humor. The protagonist, Addy O’Malibul, is a former journalist who is convicted of murder and imprisoned on a planet called Malaprop, strikingly similar to Earth, but with a few twists and many Dystortions in translations of data transmissions from a planet known as Hearth. Glitched up radio communications are bombarding Malaprop – a world where fearful national security analysts, politicians, and P.R. flacks re-write history and distort facts to recreate their reality in Hearth’s image. The Dystortions in those radio communications sometimes appear to twist words backwards and create opposite meanings, but maybe also reveal underlying truths. There’s just enough good science and wacked-out myth-busting to make the story hauntingly credible – and enough saucy romance to keep things hot. It’s much warmer and more colorful than any shades of grey.
What inspired you to write Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?
Just before Christmas on December 23, 2002, it was the anniversary of my late mother’s death, my husband had open heart surgery that turned out to be more harrowing than expected, I was recovering from a miscarriage, my business was a shambles due to the recession, and I was deeply in debt, making mortgage payments for my townhouse with credit cards. I was distracting myself from my troubles by watching late-night comedy and listening to the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour during the commercials. After Paul McCartney’s “Your Mother Should Know,” which always makes me think of my mother, comes John Lennon’s “I am the Walrus,” with its trippy otherworldly swirl of crazy lyrics and juxtapositions. Then, back to late-night comedy, came a joke about a politician speaking in amusing malapropisms. I thought, wonder what it would be like to be someone else, in a different world where malapropisms rained, er, reigned, on a planet named Malaprop? So, with a few mal-appropriate thoughts in mind, I decided to escape down that rabbit hole, feverishly writing all the way. I hint at, but wildly exaggerate the situation and those feelings in Chapter 24, entitled “December 23, 2502,” but delve deeper into the rock ‘n’ roll music angle in my next novel in the series, Dystortions: Purple Haze. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll mystery in a parallel universe.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It took me about a year to write the first version, originally titled Planet Malaprop, mostly in late 2002 and 2003. It was way too long, 800 pages, and I became distracted by my Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? book project. Then in 2013 I lost my job during the government shutdown so I picked up the series again. I split it into three novels, added some new inspirations, and changed the name, which more precisely describes the key themes of the series. Each of the novels can stand on its own, but the world building for planet Malaprop in Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple applies to all three, and the latter two novels build on the story line to enrich the context and provide for some wild conclusions and future adventures.
What are the key themes of Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple?
- The inescapable nature of distortions in society and how glitched up communications and screwed-up translations of various writings can pervert the original intent of authors and manipulate perceptions. Once something is out there shining on across the universe, the great and lesser thinkers of thoughts lose control of how those thoughts might be interpreted and changed. The mish-mash of misinterpretations can lead to all sorts of trouble, but people always seem to muddle through.
- History repeating itself and the need to learn from history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past is also a major theme. In a distortion of famous quotes and song titles on planet Malaprop, Carlos Santayana writes, “You can’t change your evil ways,” but people can change, change all the time – that’s part of life. People can learn from their mistakes and those of others, and society as a whole needs to preserve and learn from history.
- Bondage. As you might see from the cover, many types of bondage are explored – physical, mental, and cultural. As Addy O’Malibul struggles through incarceration for murder, the reader will see not just physical bondage, including sexual peccadillos, but the sometimes restrictive bondages of truth, history, and reality.
Are the characters in Dystortions: 100 Hues of Purple based on real people?
No. Any resemblances of any characters in this work of fiction to any real people here on Earth are purely coincidental. Of course, most authors write about what they know and I am no exception. As a former news reporter, and later as a member of a county corrections board, I’ve spent time meeting with inmates in jails and prisons and have covered all manner of trials, political campaigns, and funny and poignant feature stories. In this series of novels I have taken a lifetime of observations of people, borrowed bits and pieces from some of the highs and lows of their stories for various characters, and, as the title suggests, distorted them.
What is in your future as an author?
Manuscripts for the next two installments of Dystortions are complete. Look for Dystortions: Purple Haze (a rock ‘n’ roll mystery in a parallel universe), and Dystortions: Purple Reigns (the mystery of celebrity in a parallel universe) in the next year or so. I’m working on a fourth, Dystortions: The Spy Who Wooed Me, and have outlined two more: Dystortions: The Tweet Bounced ‘Round the Universe, and Dystortions: Game of Bones. Then I may move on to something else – or just keep going with possible morphs of Dystortions. With recent and ongoing news of space missions to observe Mars, Jupiter, Pluto, asteroids, and other celestial bodies, the discoveries of water and other elements that could support life, and the increasing attention to commercial space travel and complications posed by space junk, the Dystortions series continues to feed my curiosities. I get such a kick out of writing these stories and feel passionately about the subject matter – the vagaries of language, the value of history, and how personal freedoms are constrained or set free.
About the author
An award-winning former newspaper, radio, and television journalist, Pell has spent most of her career in the communications business. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Who’s Your Daddy, Baby? (Aberdeen Bay, 2012), was selected for a Virginia Federation of Press Women award. Born in North Carolina, Pell was raised in Virginia, is a graduate of George Mason University, and attended Harvard Business School. She has strong roots in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, and has lived in Tennessee and West Virginia, where she covered news stories in Kentucky and southern Ohio. Connoisseurs of well-told stories, rock ‘n’ roll music, impressionist art, golf, tennis, oysters, and fun people, Pell and her husband, the self-styled Agent Provocateur, JonRe Pell, live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.