Alright, cat’s out of the bag. Olive K. Aristen isn’t a real person; it’s the pen name of two co-authors [us], Sal Go and Brandi K.S. Endres. Olive and Aristen are the names of their cats; K. stands for “Kitty.”
Brandi and Sal have been friends since they met in kindergarten in 1988. For over 30 years, they’ve moved to different states and countries, but have kept in touch through the writing they once sent back and forth through the U.S. mail. Today, thanks to the Internet, they keep in touch through email and social media and share their stories through Google Documents.
In addition to the Azura’s Chosen series of which THE CITY OF GOLD AND FIRE is book one (they have a total of four additional books at the first-ish draft stage), Sal and Brandi are working together on a couple scifi projects and a YA scifi called “The Drifters,” among other stories that shall remain nameless … (as we haven’t gotten around to naming them yet).
Also, we write #diversebooks.
In addition to listening to lots of records, watching lots of hockey games, nerding out over cinematic TV/film and video games, Sal plays guitar in a proto-punk garage band, and is in the process of writing other speculative fiction novels.
Sal lives in Washington D.C. with her teenage son. After 8 years of serving as Lead Video Producer for Bethesda Softworks, she blew the whistle on corporate injustices, dropped out of office politics, and jumped headfirst into working full time on her artistic endeavors.
Of all the cats she’s lived with throughout her life, only one gave her Lyme disease and chiggers (R.I.P)… Sal writes on the blog as Aristen.
Sal’s Most Influential Titles:
- Slaughterhouse Five/Mother Night: by Kurt Vonnegut: If brevity is the soul of wit, Vonnegut is my gospel. Without wasting a word, his books are a mastery of style and substance.
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick: Along with Man in the High Castle and V.A.L.I.S, Dick’s prolific and poignant visions of the future are the cause of my love for speculative fiction.
- Fear and Loathing is Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson: The king of gonzo journalism, I love the way he turns autobiographical events into political, contemporary satire.
- The MaddAddam Trilogy, By Maragaret Atwood: I’ve consumed a ton of dystopian or apocalyptic scifi, and none of it comes close to Atwood’s skill. Her cutting, dry sense of humor combined with eco-political commentary stands out against the genre, which I find too often overly melodramatic and nihilistic. (Although I do enjoy a Cormac McCarthy from time to time.)
- Recently read: The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood. The prospect of economic collapse is all too real. And the couple in this novel must navigate a systematic ideal of normalcy in order to continue society. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner. I struggled with his style at first, the different voices and unconventional narrative took a lot of back tracking as I read. But I quickly became entranced with how he took me deeply inside the characters’ minds.
On deck: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. 1 gig of “how to write better” e-books.
Brandi “Bee” K. Shaddick
Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Brandi has lived in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston (The Woodlands), Bastogne, Belgium, Syracuse and Watertown, New York, and Northern New Jersey (Newark and North Arlington). After graduating college, the U.S. Army immediately banished her to a desolate Kuwaiti desert, among other popular vacation destinations. Following an honorably served five years on active duty, she attended law school in New Jersey, and currently serves as a government attorney during her day job, perched on the 18th floor of a high rise.
In her free time, Brandi attempts to grow tomatoes in Fort Worth, Texas and adores hot power yoga. She has no children but does own two dogs, Dixie and Mama, and is owed two cats, Nemesis (“Nemie”) and Olive. She also shares her home with the the occasional foster dog(s).
Brandi has also been recognized for her writing several times. Her short story, Christmas in July, was published in Texas Shorts Vol 1: An Anthology of Short Stories Written by Texas Authors. She was also recognized as a Finalist in the Texas Writer’s League 2017 Manuscript contest for her novel The Left Behind.
On the blog, she writes as Olive.
Brandi’s Favorite Titles (undecided order):
- Children’s Book: Catwings, by Ursula K. Le Guin: The book probably started my love of fantasy many, many years ago.
- Classics: Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, was the first book I read as a child/teenager that showed me stories can have more than one meaning: the outward story and the message.
- SFF: The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart, and the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov; I read a ton of his stuff while stationed overseas, and the Redwall books, by Brian Jaques. Old Man’s War (John Scalzi, a debut novel too!), Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card), and Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein) are also three books that I MUST mention—as most, the latter two’s respective movies didn’t do the books justice. Read the books, movies are optional.
- YA: Any of Sarah Maas’s recent books, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor.
- Recently read: Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Somebody told me it reminded them of THE CITY OF GOLD AND FIRE, so I figured I’d give it a read. I see why people think it’s similar, in a good way.
On deck: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell (better late than never?), His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik, and finally, Lovely, Dark, Deep, Joyce Carol Oates (Syracuse grad, gotta support the cause).