Questions & Answers
Warning: this section is dedicated to questions about the books and may contain plot spoilers. They are in the order they were received in, newest first, and some may predate the release of the second book. As such, they may not have been updated after "The Centaur" was released. If you have a question, comment or concern, or just want to say hello, you can use the form on the contact page.
In order to make reading the Q&A easier for those may have only read the first book, questions are colour-coded according to the book they relate to, with The Kentauride in blue, The Centaur in green, and the third book in red. All generic questions are in black. [Bracketed words or sections] indicate edits I have made for spelling, clarity or in the interest of brevity.
28) Who exactly is the audience for these books?
That is a good question, one that I've been asked a few times, and my answer is typically: "myself." What I mean by this, is that my writing was originally an outlet for excess creativity boosted by my yet-to-be-born son all the while being stifled by my corporate day-job, and was never intended to actually be made public. My mother-in-law, a former English teacher, read a rough draft, and she convinced me to seek publication. A lengthy email exchange with author Holly Lisle convinced me to self publish, and the rest is history. I know that's not what the reader was asking, so I will attempt to define an audience. The books will likely appeal to you if you are interested in technology, enjoy science fiction and pop culture, have ever been called or referred to yourself as a geek, and enjoy books where character development allows you to invest yourself in the cast between dramatic events. If continuity and factual science are important to you, and if you "get" most of the XKCD jokes without having to look them up, you will probably enjoy this series. A couple of readers have said that the target audience is adolescent males, yet much of the fan mail I get (nearly two-thirds) is from female readers. There is a small group of male readers who do tend to be repeat callers however, and these are the ones who repeatedly ask how the next book is coming along. You will probably not like the books if you crave non-stop action, or are unable to follow multiple plot lines; while there is action, sex and violence in the series, they are there to support the plot, and not the other way around. These books will almost certainly offend people who are easily offended, but if the characters may seem offensive at times, I like to believe that it is because they are based on real people, and real people are often misunderstood; I do not believe that most people try to deliberately offend others. If you've read the books and enjoyed them, or better yet, if you didn't, I encourage you to leave comments on Goodreads or Amazon and say why. As much as I'd like everyone to read and enjoy my work, I realize that this series is not for everyone, and would prefer to avoid intentionally annoying those who won't. The best way to do that, IMHO, is to give them ample warning! :-)
27) Is Polybius a real game? I can't find it in the [Apple] apps store.
That's probably a good thing! POLYBIUS was supposedly a real game which suddenly popped up at several arcades in and around Portland, Oregon in 1981. It is alleged to have induced various psychological effects on players, including amnesia, nightmares, and unusual behavioral variations such as sudden loss of interest in specific hobbies. The game manufacturer is said to be a company named Sinneslöschen - who have a website, albeit one that appears to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek - while urban legend claims that the games were actually a CIA experiment with mind control, and that the machines were maintained by government-employed "men-in-black." The joke is that Jacques uses a recompiled version to get Chloe to lighten up and not dislike him so intensely.
26) One of the reviews on Amazon called [The Kentauride] a romance novel for men. Is this [a series of romance novels]?
A: The series should really be categorized as Science-Fantasy, although it does have other elements - geek humour, action-adventure, drama, coming of age, etc. - that could place it in different genres. I suspect that different readers might classify the books differently according to their own preferences, and that the review in question refers more specifically to the topic in question #16 below. One reviewer categorized The Centaur as "a deft mix of intrigue, humor, and science fiction..." for example, while others would automatically place anything with centaurs in Fantasy.
25) What happened to Christopher's Subaru?
A: There was a scene where Lajeunesse drove the car away from Christopher's home and trashed it, but it was removed during editing because it didn't really add anything to the story and parts of the scene were used in the SUV chase scene.
24) Q: Why does Tanita continue to call herself Tanita after she learns her real name?
A: Tanita's mind is supposed to have been completely erased, she's not supposed to remember anything of her past life. Over time, she manages to break down some of the blocks and recover some of her memories, but in her own mind's eye she still sees herself as Tanita. In "The Centaur," she ends up having to use her real name for legal reasons, but to her inner circle and in her own mind, she is still Tanita.You may also want to read the answer to Question 18.
23) Q: Is Tanita's picture [on the novel cover] based on the actress who plays Paige on [the television series] "Scorpion?"
A: It is rather uncanny how much she resembles actress Katharine McPhee (see: http://katharinemcphee.net/), but no, there is no connection (Ileana's drawing predates the television show.) Tanita, as drawn by Ileana Hunter for the book cover, is not specifically based on an actual person. She was inspired by several famous people, most notably American actress Rachael Leigh Cook.
22) Q: Will there be additional information about Tanita's life expectancy in book three?
A: Yes, book three is planned to wrap up the series, and should tie up all loose ends.
21) Q: When is book 3 coming out? Does it have a title?
A: Book three is tentatively planned for late 2016, and has a working title of “The Dragon.”
20) Q: Are you the mayor of Albertville in Quebec?
A: No, I am not, but I was amused to learn that we share the same name :-)
19) Q: What exactly is a PDA?
A: As used in the novel, a PDA is a Public Display of Affection, basically holding hands, kissing, et cetera, in a public place, or in front of others.
18) Q: Why does Tanita act so dumb sometimes and how can she be so smart other times?
A: Well, we all have our bad days! :-) Tanita's mind is supposed to be completely blank, she's not supposed to remember anything of her past life and she's not supposed to be able to speak. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for Tanita) there are glitches in the Bio Clay software. This is why she can be so childish at times and entirely mature at others. In my late teens, I had a friend who had a serious degenerative disease and was confined to a wheelchair. Tanita is, in part, based on her. She had incredible strength of will, convinced that she could overcome the damage if she only wanted it hard enough, and we used to talk ad nauseam about the Porsche 911 Cabriolet that she planned to buy when she got better. There were times when she would lose faith and feel sorry for herself, and I always wondered if it was the disease attacking her memory. Since I had been told her days were numbered, I pretended not to notice, preferring to remember her as a positive, happy person. This is where the inspiration for Tanita came from, only in the book her stubbornness allows her to overcome some of her programming and do things she's not supposed to be able to do, like use her upper lungs and speak. As to to the childish outbursts, imagine for a moment that she is trapped in a wheelchair instead of a horse's body, and the emotional roller-coaster may make more sense.
17) Q: When is the next book ["The Centaur"] coming out?
A: Update: The Centaur was released on June 21st, 2014.
16) Q: There are some pretty explicit sex scenes in the book that don't seem [appropriate to the format of the book], why is this?
A: This appears to be the most controversial element in the book, and that really surprises me. The book is aimed towards older young adults, and in that light the scenes are actually quite tame, nothing that the average YA in their late teens/ early twenties hasn't most likely done themselves. I find this particularly fascinating, as anyone who has read "The Hunger Games" is offered violence that I personally would not want my son reading until he is in his late teens, yet I recently read an article where a mother celebrated the violence in the movie and found it appropriate for a twelve year old! Isn't it bizarre that we allow our children to read about things we would never want them exposed to, yet we don't want them reading about what many teens are already doing? The reason I chose to include these scenes was precisely to show that the acts are quite innocent; these are not adults with experience in relationships, they are teens, learning as they go and discovering themselves. They never go beyond "second base," and I wanted to make that crystal clear to the reader; this is not about fetishes, it is about young love, and the fact that love rarely considers social boundaries in its choice of partner. If you found the scenes inappropriate, I would humbly request more information; what did you find inappropriate, and why? Any responses will be kept entirely confidential, if requested. As well, I might suggest reading the book a second time with this new knowledge in mind.
15) Q: Why is Chloe such a [b***h] to Tanita and Mark? Why is Tanita such a wimp?
A: I was hoping this would be clear from the novel, but I'll try to shed a little more light. Chloe is not a happy person; she is competent, intelligent, and athletic, but she is not at all satisfied with herself. She is in the cooldown/breakup phase of a relationship, her partner is moving on without her, and she feels rejected and inadequate. Mark is her little brother, and she sees many of her own shortcomings reflected in him, which annoys her; anyone with siblings has probably experienced this type of behavior at some time. Mark's tentative relationship with Tanita obviously bothers her, and she struggles with her own feelings about it. She is in a relationship that her mother and her Church would not approve of, yet she finds herself judging her little brother's actions based on her own prejudices. This makes her feel hypocritical, which is in conflict with who she perceives herself to be. Tanita, the root cause of much of this self-doubt, is a Centaur. Chloe expects her to behave a certain way, and is disappointed when she doesn't. Imagine meeting your favorite actor as a five year old and discovering they are mean to animals, or beat up their younger siblings. Tanita is the most incredible thing to ever happen to Chloe, and yet she fails all of her expectations. Needless to say, this doesn't improve her disposition when added to all of the above. As to Tanita, I should reiterate that she is barely a week old, at least in terms of being conscious, during the first part of of the book. Her mind is blank, her body surging with growth hormones, and she is functioning without anyone to teach her (with the exception of "the voices," who aren't very helpful, but are there to prevent her from killing herself through ignorance); imagine yourself in her place, would you behave much differently? I might also suggest reading the response to the fourth question from the bottom.
14) Q: How did you get the nickname Gonzo?
A: Long story, and it really depends on who you ask. Mostly it's because I am a fan of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and used to quote passages from "Fear and loathing," but my wife would say that it has to do with a certain muppet...
13) Q: You mention in the book synopsis on Amazon that the science in the book is real. Are you claiming that multi-terra-byte USB drives and the nanobots in the story already exist today and [that] a real centauride is possible?
A: The multi-terrabyte USB device is easily possible today, but it simply wouldn't be cost effective (just look at the die of a Micro-SD card). The thumb drives in the story are metal clad, and this is because such a device would generate significant amounts of heat. The nanobots have been around for several years in labs, still at the experimental stage, but as far as creating a centaur, I'm pretty sure that we aren't there yet, although scientists have been splicing human and animal genes for at least ten years now (See: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/01/0125_050125_chimeras.html for an example.) That is why the book is, in my opinion, science-fantasy, although others have disagreed. How would you rate the book, what category would you put it in?
12) Q: You posted that you wanted to make sure your book  pass[ed] the Bechdel test, what do you mean by this? Isn't that only for the movies?
A: Well, one can only hope, right? But seriously, according to Wikipedia, "The Bechdel test (/ˈbɛkdəl/ BEK-dəl) asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man." I believe that "The Kentauride" passes the Bechdel test because Chloe and Tanita, both female, spend a lot of time talking, and while they do on occasion discuss Chloe's brother Mark, it is a topic they tend to avoid.
11) Q: Is it true that [you're] a private [investigator (I assume this is the meaning intended)]?
A: I'm not sure how this relates to the book, but no, it isn't true. I did hold a private investigator's license at one time, but it is long expired and I currently have no plans to renew it.
10) Q: Where does Summer come from and why does she have an Australian accent?
A: We learn more about Summer in the second book, "The Centaur." Summer's accent was, I'll admit, a bit of a flight of fancy on my part, a sort of "dart thrown at the map" decision. All of my characters are inspired by real people, or by characters portrayed in film or television. She was originally based on River Tam, Summer Glau's character in "Firefly" (yes, I am a browncoat), dispensing gloom and sound advice, but I decided that I wanted her to be more upbeat, an annoying-nanny-slash-babysitter type character, dispensing pop-culture wisdom and nattering constantly. She is there to help fill in the blanks in Tanita's damaged memory, and also to act as something of a mentor to keep Tanita from killing herself through ignorance. I eventually settled on Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins to be her template. Unlike Ms Poppins, Summer doesn't drop sound classic advice like "well begun is half done," but rather has the morals and concerns of a modern soccer mom (and perhaps a tiny smidgen of my own mother for good measure!), worried about too much television and not enough exercise. She is at times big sister, conservative friend and annoying relative house-guest in Tanita's mind, helping her make decisions and avoid pitfalls.
9) Q: I loved the book ["The Kentauride"] but I hated the ending. Will there be more of Mark and Tanita in the next book?
A: They both return in "The Centaur." Tanita desperately wants to be a normal teenager, and Mark gives her that, as well as fulfilling her every whim. Because of this, she tends not to live up to her full potential when Mark is present, so it was necessary for Mark to be removed for a while in order for her to grow.
8) Q: Why does [Tanita] have two stomachs? Isn't that like eating her own [excrement]?
A: Not really, many animals have multiple stomachs. Cows are one example, they have seven stomachs! Tanita was created with two sets of lungs, two hearts, and two digestive systems in series (i.e. what she eats and drinks passes through both digestive systems.) The two hearts beat at different rhythms, and her body temperature is slightly off between both ends. In Tanita's case, food collects in the first stomach, which begins the digestion process and determines what may be harmful to the host. This allows her to either break down (as in the case of chocolate) or reject (vomit) those things that she can't eat, for example certain animal proteins found in meat. It also limits how much she can eat or drink at once, thus forcing her to be a "grazer" true to her equine body rather than being able to eat her fill all at once. Once the first stomach is done, food is passed along a very short intestine to the second stomach, which retains the equine one-way valves as described by Chloe in the book. From there on, the rest of the digestive system is purely equine.
7) Q: The copyright notice says 1993-2013, why?
A: I began writing this story as part of a technical writing course I took in 1993. It was resurrected around the time I moved to Ottawa when I needed to find a copy (electronic or otherwise) of my resumé and began searching a stack of old DDS tapes. I found the original draft, and the rest is history!
6) Q: Tanita devotes a lot of her attention to her breasts, less than her horse body even. Don't you find this improbable?
A: While she does appear to obsess over her breasts somewhat, I would respectfully disagree that she spends less time discovering the rest of her body. The reason she is so focused on her upper body initially is that, in the first book, she is very much in denial about her “equinity” and goes to great effort to ignore those portions of her body that do not fit into her mental vision of herself. As Mark is a somewhat breast-obsessed teenager, Tanita quickly realizes that her bust is an incentive for him to stick around. This aspect of her character is based on a friend who once boasted about "the power of cleavage." Follow up: As to the sensitivity of her breasts, I would recommend watching Mary Roach's excellent TED Talk, "10 things you didn't know about orgasm." The video can be found here: http://www.ted.com/talks/mary_roach_10_things_you_didn_t_know_about_orgasm.html As obvious in the title, it may not be safe for normal workplace consumption unless you are a medical professional.
5) Q: Did you have anyone in mind as a model for [Tanita’s] human body?
A: Yes, initially she was inspired by British actress Kelly Brook. Over time, my vision of her face changed, but her upper torso remains that of Ms Brook.
4) Q: Tanita doesn't do much for most of the book, weren't the kentaurides supposed to be fierce warriors?
A: While it's true that she is somewhat helpless at first, you must remember that she's barely a week old at that point, and even if she was 100% horse, she would still require a few months to be self-sufficient. Events in "The Kentauride" show her evolution to be faster than that of a horse, and much, much faster than that of a normal human. This is the first book of a trilogy that will span approximately a year of actual time, and she still has some growth ahead of her before achieving her true potential. Keep an eye out for the sequel, coming soon!
3) Q: Who is the model used to create the cover artwork?
A: Tanita, drawn by Ileana Hunter, was inspired by several famous people, most notably American actress Rachael Leigh Cook. She is not specifically based on any actual person.
2) Q: When will there be a paper version of the book?
A: The paper version will most likely be released after the second book is published in the spring of 2014, but those are estimates only.
1) Q: Why are there so many formatting errors in the Kindle ebook?
A: I am hoping that they have all been corrected in the current version of the file, but if there are any typos please let me know via the form on our contact page. It's a long story, but in a nutshell it has to do with how Kindle accepts documents for submission. The original version was submitted as a PDF that I, the author, spent weeks getting right. Formatting did not carry over, so a backup copy had to be used, and unfortunately it was based on an older draft version saved as an MS-Word document. As I don't normally use MS-Word to write, there were words missing from the custom dictionary and formatting errors that, in my haste to publish, I must have missed. I take full responsibility for any errors, and have already hired an editor to prepare "The Centaur." Note that by going to "Manage Your Kindle" and selecting the option to turn on Automatic Book Update, you should receive the corrected file. The corrected file has Guylaine's name spelled correctly (Régimbald) in the credits.