Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Tours virtual book tour for B.A. Bellec’s Dystopian Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller novel, Pulse! Today, I am excited to kickoff the tour by sharing an interview with the author!
You can find our Q&A below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Pulse for yourself, as well as an extra special surprise at the end of the post!!! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts, or check our official tour hub which we’ll update with links throughout the week as each we make each tour stop!
Pulse by B.A. Bellec
Series: The Pulse Duology
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller
Intended Age Group: 18+
Published: December 1, 2021
Publisher: Self Published
Pulse is a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centered around a corporation, a creature, and a music festival. Think Fyre Festival, Black Mirror, and X-Files combined. The story deals with themes of capitalism, consumerism, business, politics, pandemics, climate change, activism, and technology while bouncing between a diverse group of characters sure to entertain almost anyone. The book is already being praised for its fantastic use of horror, engaging world-building, and genre-bending approach utilizing some screenplay-like formatting. This is the first entry in a new series with the sequel well underway.
We’re All Going to Die • It’s the End of the World as We Know It • #notmyproblem
Thank you so much for joining us for this short Q&A! Before we get going, please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Bryan “B.A.” Bellec and my debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award for 2021 Young Adult Book of the Year with its endearing, soulful take on teen mental health.
For my second novel, I changed it up and wrote Pulse, a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centered around a corporation, a creature, and a music festival. Think Fyre Festival, Black Mirror, and X-Files combined. A sequel is coming soon.
I was also awarded a Digital Originals grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to make music. Both my novels feature musicians and I take it one step further by actually producing original songs inspired by my books. You can find that music on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/BABellecsProductionStudio
I want to start things off by asking: what is a great book that you’ve read recently and why should we give it a go?
P.L. Stuart’s The Last of the Atalanteans blew me away. It is a sequel so you have to read his first book as you need the backstory, but it is worth it as the sequel takes everything good about the first entry and dials it up. He has a big idea on A Game of Thrones scale and the second book had some visceral, barbaric moments that I just loved!
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of reading/writing? Do you care to elaborate?
I walk a ton. It’s an extension of my writing as I often take my walks to work on tough spots or use the time as a break to reset. I also jog, but my time has been tight and jogging is the thing that falls from the schedule first. Outside that, I also watch a ton of documentaries. Two or three a week sometimes. I love to look for the storytelling voice inside a documentary and often will incorporate ideas into my manuscript notes. I write fiction but using facts from documentaries helps ground the fiction inside reality. I know that not all documentaries are factually accurate, but they are a good starting place for research.
Tell us about your road to writing. What made you want to become an author?
I didn’t want to be an author. I went to film school and originally wanted to be a director. I had too much social anxiety and never felt comfortable around the idea of organizing a large group of people. The director dream died, but I did learn a bunch about screenplays and writing during my time in film school. Many years later I finally found my storyteller’s voice which is very much fueled by that director idea I packed away deep inside.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
I have a part-time job in the corporate world working as a business system and process optimizer. I am also happily engaged and we have a dog. That is my life. Working, writing, marketing, and spending some time with the fiancée and dog. There is barely a morsel of time left after that. I am fine with that and I am pretty introverted, so operating with a nearly non-existent social circle isn’t a big deal to me. I get most of my social interaction through projects. My songs, my manuscripts, my corporate work.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
Pulse is not my first book. My first novel is Someone’s Story, a young adult coming of age novel about teen mental health. I did use some of my screenplay techniques in that one. The way I like to summarize my writing career is that Pulse was always the project I wanted to try to tackle but the idea was so big I had to do something else first to grow my toolkit. Someone’s Story just sort of popped out while picking up the skills to write Pulse.
More than anything, my marketing improved. When I dropped my first novel I knew nothing about marketing. By the time Pulse came out 18-months later I had found a few things that worked for sure and earned some interesting titles like award-winning and grant-funded.
Do you usually write to background noise, music, etc. or do you prefer silence?
I listen to music. Lately, it has been Mozart. Sometimes I listen to folk playlists or chillstep. I love movie soundtracks and frequent Lord of the Rings and Tron: Legacy. What I like about soundtracks is they invoke emotional responses that bring back memories of the visual medium they were created for. I try to think of my musical creations as complementary to my novels. I would hope that someone who has read my book and then listens to a song has a similar response to the soundtrack response I get where they feel a book moment come to life through the music.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
For Someone’s Story, the book that I kept the closest to me was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I liked that he was a film school graduate that wrote a book and then held onto the idea so he could make the movie. I also like his unconventional approach to writing and that he wasn’t afraid of controversial subjects. In his second novel, Imaginary Friend, he uses some screenplay-style dialogue formatting which is rare to see in a mainstream book.
For Pulse, the book I went to a few times was It by Stephen King. There are some similarities structurally but what I liked most was the scope and scale mixed with the horror. Sometimes you don’t get epic from horror titles. It is one of the most epic horrors I know.
My favorite current writers are all my indie friends: P.L. Stuart, J.P. Jackson, R. Tim Morris, Victor Vahl, T.C. Schueler, Jessica Scurlock, Tara A. Lake, and K.A. Wiggins. I am sure I am missing a few but I touch base with these people every few months on social media and try to stay in the loop with their projects.
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
My screenplay styling. It is probably unlike anything you have seen in a novel. My dialogue doesn’t have traditional tagging. I also do these omnipresent scene starts sort of like a director holding a camera. Some people are put off by it for a few chapters but usually grow into it. I am also very careful early in my books to not get too crazy. The screenplay styling is a bit of a gradual introduction so as to not overwhelm the reader. I slowly walk them into the idea and with Pulse, some of the stuff that happens in the back half of the story is earned through the reader getting comfortable with the style. I like to think this writing style leads to some of the fastest writing you will experience. The speed and pace I put up in the back half of the novel is something else. The screenplay style really starts to shine later in the book.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I start with a spreadsheet. I break it down into the scenes. I also have another tab for characters, and another for places. I brainstorm all of them at the same time. Then I break the scenes into four or five action bullets. Once I feel the words starting to bubble under the surface, I write. I will often have up to 200 action bullets written before I start major writing. However, after my first couple of drafts, I stop plotting and I morph into a pantser. I try to find what the story needs after the bones are built and let it come organically to fill in the blanks. Those last few chapters are not planned on paper but might have been old ideas or obvious explanations that I already had in my mind and then a beta reader points at a spot where I just realize I need to write the idea I had all along in my mind because the in-between of the story arc wasn’t as obvious as I thought.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
So much. There are pieces of me in all my characters. I also write the people close to me into my stories. They say write what you know. Well, I know myself, my friends, and my family. I also bring my work into the mix. I work in the corporate world and all my books have an undertone of the business world. For Pulse, the technology is absolutely a reflection of my work as I often find myself as the system person on jobs utilizing technology to get tasks completed. My 2040 world has some fun technology and the roots come from my day-to-day work with developers and programs.
For those who haven’t read Pulse, give us the elevator pitch.
Pulse is a plot-driven multi-POV dystopian sci-fi horror thriller set in 2040, centered around a corporation, a creature, and a music festival. Think Fyre Festival, Black Mirror, and X-Files combined. Oh, and there is original music that is Hollywood-level!
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
breakneck, mysterious, different
Were there any specific challenges with writing Pulse? Or, did you find anything to be easier?
Too many characters. My cast got a little bigger than I anticipated and I had a heck of a time cutting a few of them to stabilize it. The final version is still packed with characters and that is after we took a few out. I am finding the sequel to be easier from a character standpoint as I did so much work setting up and balancing the cast with the first novel. The sequel is action from the moment it starts because I don’t have to introduce new characters and give the backstory. People are going to love the sequel because I start just like I finished. I would say the first 200 pages of the sequel are almost locked right now and they continue the tempo I had going near the end while also handling an increase in scale that widens the story significantly. I also refused to let myself add many characters in the sequel. I few do show up but I kept my cast tight as I wanted to make sure we pay off all those plotlines and characters we built with the first entry.
They say to never judge a book by its cover and maybe that’s true in the philosophical sense, but it certainly happens with books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Pulse?
I do lots of my own cover work and almost entirely did the Someone’s Story cover myself. The Pulse cover is a combination of a few different ideas. There is a massive silhouette of the creature almost lurking over everything. In the middle is a pixel art music festival which is a nod to “Limitless”, my original pixel art animation music video. In particular, I like the use of white screens to draw the eyes to the center. I also used a blood-red sky which fits the horror genre and makes the cover more attention-grabbing as the red then shows up on the spine. Although I can’t take credit for the individual pieces, the final assembly was largely done by me.
One of my favorite things is highlighting quotes that really resonate with me and sharing them in my reviews. Do you have a favorite quote from Pulse that you can share with us?
I used some famous quotes in the book.
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Deepak Chopra
That one is pretty early and sums up what the reader is about to see…chaos. It’s also a great reflection of our last few years with all kinds of chaos in real life.
As for my own writing. I find it weird to quote myself. I think a quote has to come from someone else to be effective. So rather than pull from the pages, here are what a few people had to say about Pulse…
“Signs of a major voice in contemporary literature”
Grady Harp, Current Top 100 Amazon Reviewer and member of the Amazon Reviewer Hall of Fame
“Bellec is a freakishly talented writer”
P.L. Stuart, Author of the Drowned Kingdom Saga
“Bellec’s descriptions are phenomenal, brutal, and heart-stopping. There were parts that made my skin crawl, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away… I needed more!”
Jessica Scurlock, Author of the Pretty Lies Series & Pulse Beta Reader
What can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you?
My Pulse sequel. It doesn’t have a release day yet but maybe it will by the end of the summer. I am editing away and fixing a few spots with a goal of beta reading in August. I also have another four or so original songs. This next batch of songs is strong. I like to think I keep evolving so with each song and book I am trying to build on everything that came before it and deliver something better.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! I always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
A few years ago I knew nothing about the indie book community. These last couple of years have been crazy. I can’t thank the people on social media enough for helping me get these projects exposure. Blessed and humbled by all the support that comes from total strangers. If you want to check anything out, please start with the music: https://www.youtube.com/c/BABellecsProductionStudio.
“Requiem” is a crazy video. I spent months working with the editor on that one. “Perduto” is also something else. Any Linkin Park fans? A dream of mine was to cover “Crawling” and I finally got to do it. So proud of the team on that one and it is backed by a proper mechanical license. I had never done a proper mass-market cover song and learning how to do it legally was neat. I think we managed to pull off a dark dystopian version of “Crawling” that is haunting and chilling. That one is coming soon so stay tuned!
About the Author
Bryan “B.A.” Bellec’s debut novel, Someone’s Story, won the Reader Views Reviewer’s Choice Literary Award for Young Adult Book of the Year. Someone’s Story is a coming-of-age novel about teen mental health. One of the aspects that makes Bellec’s projects unique is he includes musicians in his novels and then he actually produces the songs as his book goes through the editing stages. You can find that music on his YouTube channel. His second novel, Pulse, was released in 2021 and has been receiving strong reviews. That novel is a genre flip with dark dystopian sci-fi horror peppering the pages. Pulse is the start of a new fictional universe Bellec will write in for years to come!
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If there’s one thing better than books, it’s free books! B.A. Bellec has graciously made Pulse available for free through the link below, so if anything you’ve read so far has piqued your interest, go grab a copy! Oh, and if you love it, pay the author back by leaving a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon!