Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Co. virtual book tour for JCM Berne’s Science-Fantasy/Superhero/Space Opera novel Wistful Ascending! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing an interview with the main character of the book, Rohan!
You can find our interview below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy of Wistful Ascending for yourself, and a chance to win a copy in our giveaway! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the top of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Wistful Ascending by JCM Berne
Series: Hybrid Helix #1
Genre: Science-Fantasy/Superhero/Space Opera
Intended Age Group: Adults
Publisher: The Gnost House (Self Published)
Retired from a career as a weapon of mass destruction for the Imperial Fleet, Rohan wants little more than decent coffee, a chance for romance, and a career that doesn’t result in half a galaxy shuddering at the mention of his name.
When a long-dormant wormhole opens near his employer, the sentient space station Wistful, the Empire takes renewed interest in the system. As scientists and spies converge, Rohan struggles to protect his friends and his peaceful life without again becoming the type of monster that can’t have either.
If Harry Dresden and Thor Had a Baby • The Only Tollywood Inspired Superhero Book You’ve Considered This Year • Dragonball Z with 100% Less Constipation
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Wait, you’ve never heard of me? That’s kind of cold. I mean, I spent years flying around New York, saving lives and fighting supervillains. No, not that guy, that’s Kid Lightning. I didn’t have the hammer, I—no, I didn’t wear a cape. Who had a cape? What are you even thinking of? Is that a comic book? No, I’m not Hyperion. Come on! He was like a half meter taller than me! And white! Yes, yes, I’m the brown guy. You probably shouldn’t say that, though. I mean, don’t lead with that. Makes you sound . . . no, I’m not saying you’re . . . okay, okay. The Indian guy. Who could fly. And punch things. Yes, that was me. Right, Rohan. Of Earth. What? You liked my girlfriend better? Look, to be honest, I don’t blame you, but you shouldn’t tell me things like that. Where have I been? Oh. I left. Ten years ago. You know, travel the galaxy, fight in meaningless wars, catch some PTSD. No, I’m not a psychiatrist. No, I don’t have an official diagnosis. Maybe it’s not actual PTSD. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to trivialize that condition. I just got tired of fighting, okay? Is that better? Do you have anything to drink, my mouth is getting dry. Water? I guess, sure. Anything stronger, though?
What music do you listen to?
You can call me a stereotype all you want, but I love my desi music. Give me those Bollywood hits all day, every day. Stuff you can dance to, you know? What? You want to hear some? Well… my playlist is on Spotify. Seriously. Here you go: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5k5o2evazqip03vIgScjWP
What are 3 items you can’t live without?
I spend a lot of time in space, because of my day job. Yes, I tow ships. Ships come near the station, and you know she doesn’t like ships flying around under their own power nearby. One bad move and there’s a collision and thousands of people are dead and there’s all kind of paperwork to fill out and who has time for all that? So I tow them in. No, I’m not a shuttle pilot, I mean with my hands. Are you not paying attention? Right. But I can’t breathe in space any more than you can. So I have this cool mask. Fits right over my face, single-facet diamond on the front. What? Yes, I know you can’t make a smooth diamond plate like that. Except there is one, right here, covering my face. No, I don’t know how it’s made. Not my job. It seals right to my face, right there, like that, see? Has an air supply, built in communication system, music, all the good stuff. That’s something I couldn’t live without. I’m trying to think of two more . . .
Oh, you were being metaphorical? I know, I know. I was teasing you! Chill. Food and water? No, no, not what you meant. I’m not really much into possessions, you know? I’m actually rich. You can’t tell, can you? I mean, yes, but you don’t have to say it like that. Making fun of my outfit.
I’ll say tequila and samosas. Can I live without them? Maybe. I’m just not sure it would really be ‘living.’ Yep, stick with that.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is one thing you’d like to have with you?
A phone so I could call someone to come get me off the island. But really, I can fly, you know? How am I stranded? What happened to me? Am I badly wounded? If so, get me a regen tank so I can heal up and fly off the deserted island.
This was a weird question. Can I be stranded on a desserted island instead? I could go for that. Island, some pastries, maybe some after-dinner cordials. I’d try some port. I don’t think I’ve ever had port.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
I’m trying to be nicer, in general, and part of that means not focusing on the things that annoy me. How about Nazism? Is that a peeve? Maybe you can give me the exact definition of ‘peeve’ and we can revisit this. I’m really trying to be nicer.
What do you do in your free time?
Who has free time? Actually, my work hours at my new job aren’t so bad, so I do have some free time. I spend far too much of it walking around the station playing pickup frisbee games and sampling the street food of Wistful. I should really get some hobbies! I do like to watch videos of pretty landscapes. And I’m addicted to the serial Swords of Lukhor.
What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
Is that a dig? Are you trying to say something about me being single and having nobody to make me want to stay IN my bed all day? Because, I don’t know, harsh! What did I do to deserve that? I mean, sure I’ve made some questionable romantic choices in my life, but I’m not terrible to women or anything. Seriously. Ouch.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Mom wanted me to become a radiologist. “Stay in school,” she said. “Stay here in Vancouver. We’ll find you a nice girl. Adopt some children. Maybe get a dog.” Did I listen? Of course not. I wanted to be a cape (not wear a cape, that’s different), travel the world, see the galaxy. You know what? I’ve seen the galaxy; walking a dog in Vancouver doesn’t sound so bad.
What do you carry in your bag?
I don’t really carry a bag. I keep my mask in the hood of my jumpsuit. It’s basically got a phone built in, so I don’t need that, or keys, or money. When I travel I bring brushes – hair and tooth – and an extra set of clothes. I don’t need much else.
What’s your favorite animal?
To eat? I’m not sure, there are so many. Cows, pigs, ducks. Do birds count as animals? What about fish? I like a lot of fish. I could go for some roast pork right now. My mom used to make it but she’d always burn it. Stick to medicine, I would tell her. I was a smart mouthed kid. She deserved better. Wait, did you mean as a pet? I always wanted a dog, but I never had one. I have a bunch of bear friends, they’re pretty cool, but you probably shouldn’t call them animals. Yeah, you just did. I won’t say anything, you know, but they might read this interview and then, watch out. Some of them have anger issues. No, I’m pretty sure it was you.
What do you think about [other MC(s)]?
You’re going to have to be more specific. Which MCs? I thought I was the MC? There are more? Hyperion used to be the MC, but he’s… wait, that’s a spoiler. Are we including spoilers? Things are so much easier when the fourth wall is in place. I can’t figure out if other people can hear what I’m saying. Which books have you read? None of them? Then why do you care what I think about anybody else? You don’t even know what YOU think of them. Not yet, anyway.
But seriously, doesn’t this kind of question feel like gossiping? I’m pretty much an open book, you know. I like pretty much everybody who isn’t actively trying to kill me. Which is a much more permissive filter than I’d like it to be.
Do you have favorite saying?
Rudra save me, this question again?
What is your favorite holiday?
Holi. I didn’t grow up religious, but how can you not love a holiday that colorful? With dancing? It’s awesome. Diwali is pretty great because everyone makes a big deal out of it and you get to see family. But Holi is special. Did you know that the word ‘holiday’ comes from Holi? You didn’t?
If you could go anywhere in [the book’s world], where would you go and why?
Dude, I can go anywhere. Who’s going to stop me? Well, not anywhere. I wouldn’t survive a trip inside Toth, for example. It’s a star. Just like Sol. But to be honest, I don’t really want to spend time inside a star, so that isn’t a big restriction. I’d like to have an easier time down on Toth 3. It’s a beautiful planet, and it would be a great place to relax if not for the ten kiloton monsters that roam the surface, killing everything in their path. That’s probably the best answer. I’d like to have an easier time hanging out on Toth 3.
What do you do to relax?
Oh, are you still here? You were expecting more? No, I’m not an alcoholic, but I am bad at relaxing. Wasn’t really a high priority for most of my life. Yes, I do wish I was better at it. My job is actually kind of relaxing. It’s quiet, out in space. Where nobody can hear you—
What is your favorite food?
That’s a hard question! There are so many good foods! I am on record as having a fondness for samosas. With mutton. Or not. I’ll take both, thanks!
What is your favorite season?
Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I experienced seasons? Yes, I’ve been to planets that had seasons, but it’s always land, kill a bunch of people who don’t really want to fight, then back to the ship and on to the next planet. Wistful doesn’t have seasons, that’s for sure. I remember not loving winter, as a kid, but that’s not the same as having a favorite, is it? New York summers were rough. Too hot and, you know New York, you’re always walking or taking the subway. We didn’t have a cool flying car like the Fantastic Four or anything. I’m going to say spring. Or fall. Autumn. Whatever. The moderate seasons.
How would you define happiness?
What am I, a philosopher? You don’t know what happiness is and you’re asking a living weapon of mass destruction to tell you? What kind of life choices led you to a place where this is how you’re spending your time? There are people you can talk to about these things, you know. Smart people.
I’m sorry, I can only think of snarky answers. A warm puppy, maybe? I got that from Peanuts. The cartoon, not the food.
You want to know what makes me happy? I’m still looking for her. Or it. Did I say, ‘her’? Huh. Embarrassing. Excuse me, I need another drink.
What are you passionate about?
Tequila. Have I said that before? That seems to be my answer to a lot of questions. I’m not an alcoholic, no matter what my sponsor says about me. Ha, little joke there! No, don’t talk to my sponsor.
I’m passionate about a few ‘who’s but not as many ‘what’s. If you follow my meaning.
How do you feel about your government?
Wistful? Pretty good! She’s the very model of a benevolent dictator. You can’t really argue with her right to be a dictator, since we live inside her actual body, and you’re going to be hard pressed to say any of us should have any rights to make any decisions about what a woman does with her body. Certainly not me. No sir.
If you mean the il’Drach government, that runs the galaxy, let me tell you . . . I signed some pretty serious non-disclosure agreements where I said I wouldn’t answer questions like that. You dig? That doesn’t mean I approve of what they do, but it also doesn’t mean I’m going to go around talking crap about what they do, because I do not need that kind of pressure in my life again. We’re going to just leave each other alone. For now.
If you could change one thing about [the book’s world], what would it be?
I would love a good source of cheese on Wistful. Earth is closed to trade, for reasons you know all about, and we just can’t get really good cheese.
What’s your biggest secret?
Hahahahahahahahaha. If I told you I’d have to kill you. And everyone reading this. Oh, wait, is this a fourth wall thing again? If I told you it would be a spoiler! Why do you hate your readers? This is awful. Trying to get me to ruin things for people. Shame on you!
What do you hate?
Spoilers! I hate spoilers. Let me read a book in ignorance the way the author intended. Why do you keep asking these questions? I’m sure I hate other things too.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I hate. Embarrassing myself when talking to a beautiful woman? Spilling good tequila?
My whole life is about trying really hard not to hate anything too seriously. Because when I do, things get ugly, fast. And that’s not the kind of life I’m trying to live anymore.
What’s your biggest fear?
I have a few healthy fears. There are people out there tougher than me, and I’m afraid of them getting angry and trying to kill me. Not sure if you’ve heard, but I have a knack for annoying people. But it’s not a fear I live with every day that plagues me. On a daily basis I’m a little afraid of being alone or of disappointing my mom. Oh, wait, I know: my biggest fear is that I WON’T disappoint my father. How’s that? If you knew my dad, you’d understand. You’re better off now knowing, though.
What do you think your best quality is?
I have a really handsome beard. Overall, I have to admit, I’m a good-looking man, but the beard is really, you know, chef’s kiss.
How would you describe the world you live in?
I live on Wistful, a vast sentient space station orbiting an uninhabitable planet in an out of the way star system. She has two million inhabitants with room to spare. She glitters, being coated in diamond plates, and is very, very old. She likes to tease me with promises of promotions or raises but she never gives me either.
The ‘world’ could be a larger context, of course. The sector of space we live in is ruled by the il’Drach, who pretty much leave people alone to live their lives until they don’t. Not a lot of democracy going around, at least not in the larger context. There are all sorts of worlds, with all sorts of species and cultures, and they eat all sorts of different things. Most sentient species are related for reasons that aren’t clear to me but the author assures me there’s an explanation. Or he would, you know, if he existed. Or if I existed. Which side of that wall were we on again?
About the Author
JCM Berne has reached middle age without outgrowing the notion that superheroes are cool. Code monkey by day, by night he slaves over a hot keyboard to prove that superhero stories can be engaging and funny without being dark or silly.
Author Website: https://jcmberne.com/
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