Welcome to YA Books Central's "Indie Superstars" column. This monthly event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.
You don’t want to miss out on these talented authors
This week indie manager and staff reviewer, Melissa A. Craven interviews David R. Bernstein, author of the Influence series
Melissa A. Craven: In your dystopian series Influence, humans have developed “Pushing” abilities, which allow them to shift and influence the reality of those around them. As far as superpowers go, that’s pretty spectacular (and unique). Tell us about your inspiration for Kaylin’s pushing ability.
David R. Bernstein: The whole concept of altering reality (pushing) came from the theory about collective consciousness and how we all might share in creating our existence. What you give is what you get! Kaylin and other Influencers can tap into the creation of reality and affect how others experience life.
Melissa: Influence was a great introduction to your world, but I also really enjoyed the origins novella, Humanity’s Protectors. It was really interesting to go back and see how it all started. Who came first in your mind, Leeyah or Kaylin? They are very different characters with similar experiences. Tell us about their individual journeys and how you came to develop their stories?
David: Kaylin came first for sure. Even though Humanity’s Protectors takes place 30 years before Influence, Leeyah was brought to life to help bridge the gap between the two timelines. Humanity’s Protectors was written to either be read before or after Influence, but it SHOULD be read before book two in the main series when it comes out. It plays a big part in the current series.
Melissa: The world in Influence is desolate and harsh! What three things would you take with you to survive the world you’ve created?
David: Good question! The sectors in the Influence world are controlled by group’s who use Influencers to control those who wander to close to their borders. Because of this, I would think being able to do your own hunting of foraging would be vital to avoid getting caught up in a sector group’s web. So, I would for sure bring a hunting rifle (even though I would never hunt in real life, ha!). A wild edibles book would be real helpful too! The last thing I would bring would be a push block implant! Normally getting something implanted would be horrible, but if you can be shielded from an Influencer’s push, you must!
Melissa: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only the most diligent readers, or close friends will find?
David: For sure. A lot of the naming of people and places have meaning in my life. The ruined Walton hub in the Influence book was named after the Walton family (Wal-Mart heirs). Let’s just say I’m not a huge fan! 😊
Melissa: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book or series?
David: I like to outline my books out in pretty good detail before I start writing, but most of the research comes as I go. I’m a science nerd, so most of the concepts and science come from my head!
Melissa: The world of Influence is definitely not an easy one and your character’s go through so much. What was the most difficult scene for you to write?
David: None of the scenes were too hard to write, but I know that some of my action scenes can get brutal at times. Trying to write the scene in the ranger post was tricky at times. I had to tone done the gore or it could have become real gruesome!
Melissa: Have you ever gotten reader’s block? Does the writing and editing process ever make it difficult for you to enjoy reading for pleasure?
David: I actually have a slight learning disability that made reading hard when I was younger. Even today, I struggle to stay focused on content that is long. My mind wanders and I think too much, which makes me get lost easily. Because of this, I tend to do my reading in the form of audiobooks! Is that reading? Ha. Plus, the most free time I have is at the gym or driving, so it’s perfect.
Melissa: You teamed up with several fellow YA authors to publish a journal for YA readers. Tell us about your inspiration for that and where we can get our own YA book journal?
David: I really wanted to create something that inspires young people to get immersed in their reading. Something that sparks the imagination. So, I came up with the concept of the YA journal to really help expand your reading experience. It’s great to share your thoughts with others and truly feel like you are a valued reader.
It was fun working with the co-creator Jenetta Penner on this project. She is very talented and gets things done! In between the cat gif battles on messenger that is!
We really wanted to get other YA writers involved, so we networked a bit and got a bunch of talented authors together to help expose their books to potential new readers.
Melissa: What’s up next for you?
David: Um, a lot! I am hammering out book two in my Influence series now while I also co-write a new series with Jenetta Penner, author of Configured. This new series will be a sci-fi, dystopian fairytale retelling/crossover with Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid. This series will have lots of action and lots of witty banter!
My audiobook of Influence should be out in the middle of April as well! That was a fun process.
There are some other projects I’m working on as well. It should be a big year for me! Very productive.
David R. Bernstein is an author of sci-fi and young adult fiction. After several years in the Pacific Northwest, he recently returned to his native southern California to focus on writing.
David has three wonderful children and has been happily married to his beautiful wife for over ten years. When he's not writing or researching his next story, you'll most likely find him wrestling with their kids around the house, working out at the gym, or hooping it up on the local basketball courts.
If you could manipulate reality, would you?
Seventeen-year-old Kaylin has been on the run, hiding her untapped abilities for six years, but rescuing a mysterious guy risks exposing the depths of her power. The manipulative sector groups hunt her kind. Life has never been easy, but resisting is even harder. This harsh, new world will no longer allow her to remain hidden.
In a future where greed and corruption has torn society apart; these relentless sector groups prey on powerful youths to mold the populace to expand their reach. Young people with the ability to shift the mindset of others are high-value targets. War is waging to expand and control this new world. Influencers, as they're called, hold the key to humanity's future.
Will fighting back cost Kaylin everything?
One winner will receive a signed copy of Influence (David R. Bernstein) ~ (US Only)