I am pleased today to introduce friend and consummate storyteller Linell Jeppsen. She’s here to talk with us today about her apocalyptic science fiction novel Story Time, one of my favorite recent books.
Tim Greaton: Linell, you’ve had a fascinating life, which I think our readers would love to hear about. I’ve heard you’ve been in some tight but exciting scrapes. Could you tell us about one or two of them while you’re giving us some insight into your past?
Linell Jeppsen: All right… who have you sent to spy on me? LOL! Actually, I’ve had a fairly normal life, although I hope most of the younger set does NOT follow my example as they muddle through their teenage years! (child of the sixties…er-hm).
One of my favorite stories involves my childhood. I was about nine years old and LOVED TV. My mother was studying for her Master’s degree and got so sick of hearing the television blaring away in the living room, she hid the TV from me. When I got home from school that day I screamed, “Where’s the TV?” She said it was broken and being fixed (with a straight face). I said, “Well, what am I supposed to do now?” She said, “I suggest you read something.” I said, “whaaaaat?” She answered, “Try this book…it’s good.” It was Gone With The Wind…and it really was good.
Three years later the TV magically re-appeared, but the damage was done. I started reading, and writing that very day, and haven’t stopped yet!
Tim Greaton: What made you decide to join the world of scribblers? And how has it influenced the path you’ve taken and plan to take?
Linell Jeppsen: I told my husband one day, about twenty- five years ago, that I wanted to write a book about vampires. He said, “Okay, do it.” I answered, “What if I’m no good?” He said, “You’ll never know until you try it.” Well, frankly, I wasn’t good at it- not then, anyway. I wrote my novel, The Hunt, and put it in a box until about a year and a half ago. When I pulled the manuscript out of the box and blew the dust off, I knew what needed to be done with it. Time- experience- more education, and maturity helped me become a writer. Since then I have written an award- winning short story, another novel called Story Time and am about half- way through my newest work, entitled ONIO.
Tim Greaton: Since we’re talking about writing, what has been the high point of your career so far?
Linell Jeppsen: Well, there have been highs AND lows since I picked up the pen (so to speak!) I was thrilled to be picked up by a publisher, but terribly disappointed with the results so I went Indy with my work. I’ve been having a blast! It’s a great feeling to have a total stranger say that Story Time brought tears to their eyes or have a reviewer tell me that they look at life differently after reading my novel.
Tim Greaton: Story Time is an amazing science fiction novel. I’ve heard that you’ve had a science fiction kind of event in your life that readers might find hard believe.
Linell Jeppsen: I DID! I used to live in a log cabin up on the tippy-top of a mountain. The house was a little run-down and shabby but it had windows that wrapped all around it so the views were amazing! One night I was sitting in my living room reading. It was very quiet and my three dogs were sprawled around the floor snoozing… like dogs do. Suddenly, the whole room filled with a bright green light. All three of the dogs jumped up and ran to the far window barking and growling. I ran to the window and looked out at the night sky. There was a giant green ball of light moving very slowly across the horizon…I mean really, really, slowly! The dogs were having a panic attack and so was I at this point, so I called my husband at work. “There’s a U.F.O crawling across the sky!” (I screamed). My husband said, “What am I supposed to do about it? Lock the doors!” The U.F.O. sailed blithely on…
Tim Greaton: Most of our readers won’t realize just how busy your life is, given your hectic home life and your store duties. How do you ever find time to write such amazing novels?
Linell Jeppsen: Sometimes it’s hard, I admit it. I run a bookstore and try to write at least two chapters a week. I also have a house to maintain and a husband who will eat nothing but potato chips if left to his own devices. Writing is a labor of love though. Once I get a story running through my head, its clamoring to get out. Writing can be infuriating, frustrating, challenging and, in the end, the most rewarding thing in the world.
Tim Greaton: Our goal today was to talk specifically about your Story Time novel, which is one of my top favorite recent science fiction books. In a few minutes, I’m going to throw out my twisted view of your book, so this is your last chance to tell our readers the truth about this amazing tale and how you came to tell it?
Linell Jeppsen: I live in Washington State, quite close to Grand Coulee dam and the Hanford nuclear reservation. There has been a lot of speculation about what would happen if a mighty earthquake broke the dam. I sketched out a series of possible scenarios, tossed in some people- (good folks and some terrible, criminal types), sprinkled them with some aliens and tossed it all into a big post-apocalyptic salad bowl. To be honest, emotion started to take over at some point so the characters came alive for me. When I finished writing Story Time I put my head down on my desk and sobbed.
Tim Greaton: I’ve said it before, and it deserves repeating—your novel is unique enough to be a successful movie. Have you read a lot of science fiction which might have fed into your vision, or are you just one of those geniuses who wakes every day with a million-dollar idea?
Linell Jeppsen: I would love to see Story Time made into a film. I like the message it sends: that we are in this life together and despite our differences, we should try to love one another, as a species. And yes- I think every sci-fi movie I ever read or movie I watched contributed in some way to the novel.
Tim Greaton: I was hoping you might tell us which scene was your favorite to write? How long did that one take you?
Linell Jeppsen: Okay- this is going to sound hokey, but the hardest stuff for me to write is romance. I fretted and moaned about a love scene I knew was coming up. I had to write…and write some more…and delete everything I wrote. Finally, I chickened out entirely and just kind of jumped over it! LOL- you Know what I’m talking about!
Tim Greaton: You and I have dozens of friends in common, and everyone says that you’re one of the kindest, most helpful people they know. Does that come naturally or is it just an act? (For the record, Linell has thrown two pencils and heavy, leather-bound book which barely missed my grin) Seriously, do you think your kindness or other personality traits are reflected in your characters?
Linell Jeppsen: I DO try to be kind. I think that common courtesy is lacking in today’s society and I think that those of us who try to be good, decent people will be rewarded…even if it IS only with a cheese-head award!
Tim Greaton: Can we look forward to a Story Time sequel?
Linell Jeppsen: If I do a sequel for Story Time it will be a ways down the road. First, I have to finish my Sasquatch novel, Onio (which is HUGE, BTW), and go back to finish my haunted western, Deadman’s Lament. In addition, I might be doing a joint effort later this fall with a good friend of mine, Bryden Lloyd!
Tim Greaton: Just for fun, if a national advertising firm offered you a free promotion to drop flyers from hot air balloons over New York. What would they say?
Linell Jeppsen: “It’s the end of the world as we know it! Squeeeee!” LOL!
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly purchase your books.
Linell Jeppsen: Thank you- go to www.linelljeppsen.com, or directly to Amazon:
Tim Greaton: After our time together, I expect that a number of our readers are probably searching online bookstores for your novels right now. I really appreciate you spending so much time with me today…but, probably more importantly, I truly appreciate you writing the fascinating novel called STORY TIME. It has been the highpoint of my recent reading list. Thanks for spending time on the forum today, Linell.
Linell Jeppsen: Thanks so much Tim for reading Story Time and taking the time to review it and give me an interview on your blog-site. One of THE MOST IMPORTANT gifts I’ve received since becoming a published writer is the friendship and support from people like you.
Tim Greaton: Here’s my review of Story Time…
One of the best Sci-fi stories I’ve read in years…
The apocalyptic novel Story Time by Linell Jeppsen shines with intelligence and reads with the clarity and speed of an action movie, shaming works by some of the best-known science fiction writers of our time.
In 2015, a young teacher is asked to return to her parents’ ranch in Kettle Falls, Washington to spend the week with her seventeen- and twelve-year-old brothers while her parents vacation in Hawaii. None of them could have known that their world would begin to crumble that very week. As earthquakes and volcanoes lay waste to inland cities, tsunamis, hurricanes and floods obliterate the coastal areas. Horrified, Naomi, Zack and Josh are forced to watch the destruction of their world, first through television images and ultimately by firsthand experience. Because their parents’ ranch encompasses 1200 acres of timber and prime farmland, complete with livestock and a greenhouse, they fare better than most and ultimately find themselves taking in survivors, first by the handfuls and then by the dozens.
I can best describe this book as a more tightly focused “The Stand” or even a more gripping and believable version of the movie “Independence Day.” Either way, I encourage every reader to delve into this hair-raising account of a future that seems so convincingly real that I can still see the horrific and emotional scenes unfolding as I write these words. Through the shifting vantage point of the overwhelmed young teacher Naomi, the reporter Steve Cummings, and the giant basketball player Michael Anderson (who resembles Michael Jordan in my mind’s eye), we witness the utter destruction of planet Earth, an event which has apparently signaled a free-for-all among ruthless alien races who arrive to harvest the magnetic energy beneath our soils. Blood coats the ground as alien ships strafe what remains of our dying planet. In the midst of it all, Harmony Ranch’s population swells into the hundreds and becomes the target of a radical religious group known as “The Angel’s Sword.” It’s truly a battle of good versus evil as the last vestiges of humanity struggle to survive.
To tell you how these events unfurl and culminate would steal away half your fun, but rest assured your eyes will be riveted to the very last page. I give Linell Jeppsen’s Story Time a colossal FIVE STARS.
Reviewed by “Maine’s Other Author”TM Tim Greaton