UNDER ANOTHER SUN: A Horror Novel
by D.M. Siciliano
Narrator: Katrina Medina
Length: 12 hours 7 minutes
Released: March 10th 2021
Publisher: D.M. Siciliano
"A crack in time saves 99.”
But what do those ominous words mean? Ray is about to find out, whether he’s ready or not. His "deceased" twin sister, Ravynn, is warning him of impending disaster, but Ray can’t seem to convince himself, or his wife, that he’s not crazy.
But Ray isn’t the only one communicating with his sister. Ravynn’s surviving daughter, Amelia, seems to know things that defy reason, in a time when reason is slowly slipping away.
When Ray’s brother-in-law offers evidence of something terrible coming in the form of prophetic journals Ravynn wrote before her death, Ray can’t doubt the truth any longer. The world is falling down.
The family struggles to hold themselves together as the world they once knew and understood begins to collapse all around them, leading up to a cataclysmic end.
Can Ray save his family in time?
DM is a lover of all things creative. From the moment she could speak, growing up in Massachusetts, she had a passion for flair and drama, putting on concerts for anyone who was even remotely interested (and even for those who were not). A storyteller by nature, she first pursued her young dream of becoming a singing diva while living in Arizona. She soon found that stage life wasn't the only form of storytelling she craved, so she dropped the mic and picked up a pencil instead. She still hasn't given up on her diva-ness, and hopes her pencil stays as sharp as her tongue. A dark sense of humor and curiosity for haunted houses and things out of the ordinary led her down the path of completing her first novel, Inside. Several other projects are constantly floating around in her head and her laptop daily, and sometimes keeping her up much too late at night. Occasionally, those projects are so dark and twisted, she needs to leave a nightlight on. She now lives in Northern California with her two fluffy furbabies, Cezare and Michaleto.
Q&A with Author D.M. Siciliano
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- This was my first time navigating the world of audiobooks on my own, as my debut novel was through a publisher and this book was self-published. It was extremely fun auditioning narrators for this project, and narrowing the field down to just a couple of artists. Honestly, when I heard Katrina’s audition, I was almost certain she was the one, but I wanted to wait to make sure I had the perfect candidate- which I did.
- As she completed chapters and sent them to me for review, I grew more and more excited about the project, and could see it all unfolding into an amazing audiobook that I am so very proud of and hope everyone will love.
- You released a book about the end of the world during a pandemic. Was this on purpose?
- No, not at all. Remember, this book took about five years from start to finish, and I just really wanted to get it out in 2020, a year after my first release. I think it was about January of 2021 when I completely finished everything and realized I could release it in October 2021. A couple months later, we were in the middle of a global pandemic, and some people were calling it ‘The end of the world.” I don’t know if it was good or bad timing in releasing my end of the world book, but it’s just how things unfolded. Under Another Sun isn’t about a superbug anyway. But… there are a few strange events that happened in the book that have happened in real life since. I have friends that call and text me playfully saying, Darklene, (my horror nickname of my real name) why did you make X thing just happen in real life? Haha. If only I could predict the future. Hmm, maybe I should write about me winning the lottery next.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- There’s never a point when writing that I am contemplating the audiobook, as I think it would distract the writing process, in general. Did I always know I’d make this book into an audiobook? Yes. I mean, I even dream of it on the big screen.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Katrina was really easy to work with and extremely intuitive with the scenes and all of my characters, so I didn’t need to provide her with much guidance. I gave her a run-down of the characters and their relationships and certain things I wanted to stress, and she ran with it. She even added an awesome touch whenever Ravynn spoke from ‘beyond’. I’d tell you, but it’s just better if you listen for yourself ;)
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I don’t think there’s ever a ‘real-life’ inspiration, but a medley of things that set me writing a particular story. With Inside, it was a combo of a ghost story I’d heard, the song Hotel California by The Eagles, and me twisting the idea of King Philip’s War into a ghost story, along with who knows what else…
- With Under Another Sun, it was inspired by (as I mentioned above) a combo of the movie Take Shelter, the show The Leftovers, my newfound fascination with earthquakes after moving to California and then further running with the idea of what the end of the world might look like-- how it might unravel.
- For both, and all stories I write, most of the motivation comes from the characters themselves.
- Have any of your characters surprised you?
- With Inside, Reid surprised me so much. I never meant for him to be so full of life, pain, and redemption.
- With Under Another Sun, I think perhaps Ravynn surprised me the most. We see most of the story of her through Ray’s eyes and his perception of who she is to him, but underneath there’s a coolness, maybe even a darkness that no one ever saw coming.
- Who are some of your influences and favorite authors (past or present)?
- Shirley Jackson was an absolute master. Something about her writing made me very uncomfortable and always touched upon a psychological and almost disturbing part of the human psyche. Her short, The Lottery, will haunt you long after you finish it. The Haunting of Hill House was also enthralling, and her use of the unreliable narrator is fantastic, keeping you off-balance.
- Lesser known and less genre specific was Graham Joyce. He crossed several genres but his prose is just stunning. He could capture moonlight with a single pen stroke, and paint a vivid picture with just a few words. Often, I find myself reading and re-reading paragraphs of his in awe. The Silent Land, in my opinion, was his finest work.
- The great Stephen King must be mentioned, as well, as he has also been a huge influence. The first book of his I read was The Eyes of the Dragon, and I was forever changed, and hungry to read more. The Stand and 11/22/63 are my favorites of his.
- Currently, I think Paul Tremblay is really killing it in horror. Cabin at the End of the World and Survivor Song are both masterful. He also has a tendency to write endings that leave a bit up to interpretation, which is a style I absolutely love, and tend to do myself.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- Not a particular part of the story, really, but a couple of characters. There’s a few scenes when Amelia, Ravynn’s daughter,sings a song she learned from her mother. It’s an unnerving end-of-world type song, and Katrina really knocked that one out of the park. I remember getting goosebumps when I heard it the first time. Also, as I mentioned above, when Ravynn speaks, there’s a beautiful and eerie resonance, both figuratively and literally in the narration.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- If I could use the power without any repercussions or altering time or hurting anyone else, I definitely would. As far as the time, one recent time-frame I’d love to visit would be the late 1930’s-1950’s. As you may know, music is a huge influence on my life, and during those decades, my favorite singer of all-time, Ella Fitzgerald, was growing in popularity, as was the Rat Pack. I’m a huge fan of Dean Martin and grew up listening to my dad sing all his songs.
- Also, any time during the Roman Empire would be amazing as well, 27BC-476AD.
- And, of course, I would not be a decent speculative fiction writer if I didn’t wonder about traveling into the future, say a thousand years, and see what’s become.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- I’ve had Michael Shannon on my radar for Under Another Sun since its creation. There’s a movie called Take Shelter starring him, directed by Jeff Nichols that I love dearly. That movie was a partial inspiration for my book. Shannon’s technically not age appropriate, but I’d love to see him as Matt. Justin Theroux would make an amazing Ray. (He starred in the show The Leftovers, which was also a partial inspiration for my novel.) Jennifer Connoly would play his ethereal sister, Ravynn.
- How long did it take you to write Under Another Sun?
- I actually wrote about 95% of it before I ever dreamed of Inside. But then the idea for Inside was born, and pushed all creativity and desire for Under Another Sun away until I completed my haunted house story. Once Inside was completed and published, I picked Under Another Sun back up and realized how little work it actually needed to finish. A bit more writing, another few rounds of edits, beta reads, etc., and it was ready to publish. All in all, I think it took about five years to write both, though I wasn’t truly serious about writing for the first few years.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- Often, when I’m stuck on a particular manuscript or project, I put that one down and try writing something else for a while. I also try reading a new book to distract me. Often, getting out in the California sun and going for a walk is enough to get things rolling again. As for reading, I will often start one of the many books I have yet to read, and read a few chapters, then put it down. I’ll do this until I pick up a book that just feels right as far as the timing of what I should be reading.
- Have you always wanted to be a writer?
- Yes and no. Since I could speak, I wanted to be a singer. That’s all I ever really wanted. I used to write lyrics for songs I made up, and occasionally write stories as well. I took some creative writing courses, but was just so blinded by music that I couldn’t even see my talent and desire for writing-- until I stopped singing. Then all of a sudden, I found a pen in my hand instead of a microphone, and I couldn’t stop. It’s similar to singing in that it’s like breathing for me. It’s something I have to do, something inherent. Something that lives deep inside my soul. It’s not even a choice.
- “They” say, write what you know. Do you believe this and do this in your writing?
- In part, yes. I grew up in New England, so the setting for Inside, takes place in a New England town. There are a couple little things that are based in reality, but most are obviously made up. Do I know about ghosts and demons and haunted houses? Not really, but they intrigue me to no end! (Can you imagine writing about something that you find boring?)
- With Under Another Sun, I’m now living in California, so it made sense to set this tale here in the West near the sea. The idea of parallel worlds and psychic bonds are really enthralling, and I just had to write about them. One thing I do know are humans, though. I try to write characters and relationships as realistic as I possibly can, and hope that comes through in my works.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- One big piece of advice I have is NEVER delete. If you are creating, and later on realize that what you wrote doesn’t go with the story you’re working on, cut it, and put it aside safely somewhere, maybe in a file called “?”. I’ve done this a couple of times, only to realize what I wrote is actually part of something I hadn’t really dreamed up or created yet. Years later, a new story idea came to mind, and I realized a section of my “?” file actually was part of that story.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Be patient. Don’t hurry through the process. Make sure everything is right, and you find the right narrator for your project.
- What’s next for you?
- I’m writing a novel with the working title, “Shape of my Heart”. It’s a story about a woman named Dahlia who wakes one morning like she always does, and takes the dog out in the backyard. A thick fog rolls off the mountain and over Dahlia, and she disappears within it for ten years. When she returns, her wife Sarah is relieved but in disbelief. Even though the ten years have passed and Sarah has aged, Dahlia hasn’t aged at all, nor does she remember where she’s been. Worse yet, there are some really ghostly things that keep happening. But has Dahlia really returned, and if so, is she herself or a ghostly version of herself? Or is she just a figment of her wife Sarah’s grieving heart?