Exclusive Interview with Author Tony Bertauski

Today, we're doing something a little different. This is our sixth guest author interview on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and fellow author Tony Bertauski is visiting us. 
Hello, Tony!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here. :)

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?


Foreverland is a trilogy that was completed early in the spring of 2015. The story has been in the works for a couple of years. It started out as an exploration into an alternate reality created when brains were cross-connected with a computer. The story was morphed by the greed of humankind.

I had anticipated it being a series but found that it wrapped up after three books. However, the Foreverland story arc is merging with another trilogy that I’m currently finishing called Halfskin. Their stories and technology will form the next trilogy.

Foreverland Boxed (the entire three-book collection) is available at all the major vendors including Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Google Play.

That's great! So, tell us...is there anything that prompted Foreverland? Something that inspired you? 

When I finished my first trilogy three or four years ago, (The Socket Greeny Saga), I thought I was done as a writer. It was a story that was finally out of me. I cannot remember how Foreverland came along. However, I enjoy writing as a sort of thought experiment, a way of creating scenarios (absurd or not) and seeing where the human condition takes it.

Foreverland was a no holds barred scenario, an accessible world where everything was possible. However, the human element brings the sadness and despair, the hope and victory. And it highlights that even if we get everything we want, life will never be perfect. Or we discover that our image of what perfection looks like needs to be changed.

All right.

When did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours? 

I think I was drawn to storytelling early on, but I couldn’t write coherently. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s or early 30s that I was able to write technically as a columnist and textbook author. I stumbled into fiction. Had the indie revolution not developed with ebooks, I probably wouldn’t have continued due to the difficulty and time required to publish traditionally. This opportunity has allowed me to write passionately on a part time basis, a hobby that makes money.
Sounds like fate to me! ;)

Do you have any favorite authors?  

There’s a certain voice in writing I’m drawn to but can’t quite articulate it. Recently, I read all of Gillian Flynn and was just amazed at her use of metaphors and similes. It takes me an entire novel to accomplish what she does on one page. Right now, I’m reading John Scalzi who is somewhat the opposite of Flynn, relying more on dialogue than narrative to unfold the story. Both authors are equally talented story tellers that inspire and make me want to quit writing at the same time.

LOL. I know exactly what you mean. 
Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?

Morning is probably the best. Lately I’ve been sitting at the kitchen table with Pandora on the stereo. I also write on a treadmill (which I should do more often). I find that the atmosphere doesn’t really matter once I’m in my head.

Ooh, I love Pandora!

So, are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?

Find the love. If you connect with a certain genre or a particular story, dig in and sleep with it. Enjoy the ride. That passion will come out on the page, it will connect with someone. That connection with readers is very gratifying for both people. Once you build a catalog of work, the money will start coming. Network with other authors, too. A good place to start is KBoards Writers Café.

Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?

You can test drive my writing for free. Get my starter library (3 novels and 1 novella) by clicking here and telling me where to send them. This includes the Annihilation of Foreverland, the first novel in the Foreverland trilogy. 

Awesome! We'll be sure to do that! 

Thank you for stopping by on your book tour for your latest release, Tony! :) 

Readers, here is the blurb for Foreverland Boxed Set. 

The Complete Foreverland Saga. 



When kids awake on an island, they’re told there was an accident. Before they can go home, they will visit Foreverland, an alternate reality that will heal their minds.

Reed dreams of a girl that tells him to resist Foreverland. He doesn’t remember her name, but knows he once loved her. He’ll have to endure great suffering and trust his dream. And trust he’s not insane.

Danny Boy, the new arrival, meets Reed’s dream girl inside Foreverland. She’s stuck in the fantasy land that no kid can resist. Where every heart’s desire is satisfied. Why should anyone care how Foreverland works?


Six teenage girls wake with no memories. One of them is in a brick mansion, her blonde hair as shiny as her shoes. The others are in a cabin, their names tagged to the inside of their pants. Their heads, shaved. Slashes mark the cabin wall like someone has been counting.

Hundreds of them.

There’s wilderness all around and one dead adult. The girls discover her body rotting somewhere in the trees. As the weeks pass, they band together to survive the cold, wondering where they are and how they got there. And why.

When an old man arrives with a teenage boy, the girls learn of a faraway island called Foreverland where dreams come true and anything is possible. But Foreverland is dead. In order to escape the wilderness, they’ll have to understand where they are.

More importantly, who they are.



Tyler Ballard was in prison when his son created a dreamworld called Foreverland, a place so boundless and spellbinding that no one ever wanted to leave. Or did. Now his son is dead, his wife is comatose and Tyler is still imprisoned.

But he planned it that way.

The final piece of his vision falls into place when Alessandra Diosa investigates the crimes of Foreverland. Tyler will use her to create a new dimension of reality beyond anything his son ever imagined—a Foreverland for the entire world.

Danny, living outside of Spain since escaping the very first Foreverland, begins receiving mysterious clues that lead him to Cyn. They are both Foreverland survivors, but they have more in common than survival. They become pieces of another grand plan, one designed to stop Tyler Ballard. No one knows who is sending the clues, but some suspect Reed, another Foreverland survivor. Reed, however, is dead.

Everyone will make one last trip back to Foreverland to find out who sent them. And why.

Here is an excerpt from the trilogy.



The walls inched closer. Reed gripped the bars of his shrinking cell.

His legs, shaking.

The cold seeped through his bare feet. The soles were numb, his ankles ached. He lifted his feet one at a time, alternating back and forth to keep the bitter chill from reaching his groin, but he couldn’t waste strength anymore. He let go of the bars to shake the numbness from his fingers.

He’d been standing for quite some time. Has it been hours? Occasionally he would sit to rest his aching legs, but soon the cell would be too narrow for that. He’d have to stand up. And when the top of his cage started moving down – and it would – he’d be forced to not-quite stand, not-quite sit.

He knew how things worked. 

Although he couldn’t measure time in the near-blackout room, this round felt longer than previous ones. Perhaps it would never end. Maybe he’d have to stand until his knees crumbled under his dead weight. His frigid bones would shatter like frozen glass when he hit the ground. He’d fall like a boneless bag, his muscles liquefied in a soupy mix of lactic acid and calcium, his nerves firing randomly, his eyes bulging, teeth chattering—

Don’t think. No thoughts.

Reed learned that his suffering was only compounded by thoughts, that the false suffering of what he thought would happen would crush him before the true suffering did. He learned to be present with the burning, the cold, and the aches. The agony.

He couldn’t think. He had to be present, no matter what.

Sprinklers dripped from the ribs of the domed ceiling that met at the apex where an enormous ceiling fan still moved from the momentum of its last cycle. Eventually, the sprinklers would hiss another cloud and the fan would churn again and the damp air would sift through the bars and over Reed’s wet skin, heightening the aches in his joints like clamps. For now, there was just the drip of the sprinklers and the soft snoring of his cellmates.

Six individual cells were inside the building, three on each side of a concrete aisle. Each one contained a boy about Reed’s age. They were all in their teens, the youngest being fourteen. Their cells were spacious; only Reed’s had gotten smaller. Despite the concrete, they all lay on the floor, completely unaware of the anguish inside the domed building.

They weren’t sleeping, though. Sleep is when you close your eyes and drift off to unconsciousness. No, they were somewhere else. The black strap around each of their heads took them away from the pain. They had a choice to stay awake like Reed, but they chose to lie down, strap on, and go wherever it took them. They didn’t care where.

In fact, they wanted to go.

To escape.

Reed couldn’t blame them. They were kids. They were scared and alone. Reed was all those things, too. But he didn’t have a strap around his head. He stayed in his flesh.

He took a deep breath, let it out slowly. Started counting, again.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…10.

And then he did it again. Again.

And again.

He didn’t measure time with his breathing. He only breathed. His life was in his breath. It ebbed and flowed like the tides. It came and went like the lunar phases. When he could be here and now, the suffering was tolerable. He counted, and counted and counted.

Distracted, he looked up at the fan. The blades had come to a complete stop. The air was humid and stagnant and cold. Around the domed ceiling were circular skylights that stared down with unforgiving blackness, indifferent to suffering. Reed tried not to look with the hopes of seeing light pour through them, signaling an end. Regardless if it was day or night, the skylights were closed until the round of suffering was over, so looking, hoping and wishing for light was no help. It only slowed time when he did. And time had nearly stopped where he was at.

1, 2, 3—

A door opened at the far right; light knifed across the room, followed by a metallic snap and darkness again. Hard shoes clicked unevenly across the floor. Reed smelled the old man before he limped in front of his cell, a fragrance that smelled more like deodorant than cologne. Mr. Smith looked over his rectangular glasses.

“Reed, why do you resist?”

Reed met his gaze but didn’t reply. Mr. Smith wasn’t interested in a discussion. It was always a lecture. No point to prolong it.

“Don’t be afraid.” The dark covered his wrinkles and dyed-black hair, but it couldn’t hide his false tone. “I promise, you try it once, you’ll see. You don’t have to do it again if you don’t like it. We’re here to help, my boy. Here to help. You don’t have to go through this suffering.”

Did he forget they were the ones that put him in there? Did he forget they made the rules and called the shots and forced him to play? Reed knew he – himself – he had gone mad but IS EVERYONE CRAZY?

Reed let his thoughts play in his eyes. Mr. Smith crossed his arms, unmoved.

“We don’t want to hurt you, I promise. We’re just here to prepare you for a better life, that’s all. Just take the lucid gear, the pain will go away. I promise.”

He reached through the bars and batted the black strap hanging above Reed’s head. It turned like a seductive mobile. Reed turned his back on him. Mr. Smith sighed. A pencil scratched on a clipboard.

“Have it your way, Reed,” he said, before limp-shuffling along. “The Director wants to see you after this round is over.”

He listened to the incessant lead-scribbled notes and click-clack of shiny shoes. When Mr. Smith was gone, Reed was left with only the occasional drip of the dormant sprinklers. He began to breathe again, all the way to ten and over. And over. And over. No thoughts. Just 1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3… 1, 2—


Reed locked his knees and leaned back as the cell walls moved closer. Soon the fan would turn again and the mist would drift down to bead on his shoulders. Reed couldn’t stop the thoughts from telling him what the near future would feel like. How bad it was going to get.

He looked up at the lucid gear dangling above his head.

He took a breath.

And began counting again.

Ooh! Now I want to know what happens next! 
Folks, here is the universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B00UGTDC8C

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Author Bio  

During the day, I'm a horticulturist. While I've spent much of my career designing landscapes or diagnosing dying plants, I've always been a storyteller. My writing career began with magazine columns, landscape design textbooks, and a gardening column at the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC). However, I've always fancied fiction.

My grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but he was a voracious reader. I remember going through his bookshelves of paperback sci-fi novels, smelling musty old paper, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died?

I'm a cynical reader. I demand the writer sweep me into his/her story and carry me to the end. I'd rather sail a boat than climb a mountain. That's the sort of stuff I want to write, not the assigned reading we got in school. I want to create stories that keep you up late.

Having a story unfold inside your head is an experience different than reading. You connect with characters in a deeper, more meaningful way. You feel them, empathize with them, cheer for them and even mourn. The challenge is to get the reader to experience the same thing, even if it's only a fraction of what the writer feels. Not so easy.

In 2008, I won the South Carolina Fiction Open with Four Letter Words, a short story inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer's Disease. My first step as a novelist began when I developed a story to encourage my young son to read. This story became The Socket Greeny Saga. Socket tapped into my lifetime fascination with consciousness and identity, but this character does it from a young adult's struggle with his place in the world.

After Socket, I thought I was done with fiction. But then the ideas kept coming, and I kept writing. Most of my work investigates the human condition and the meaning of life, but not in ordinary fashion. About half of my work is Young Adult (Socket Greeny, Claus, Foreverland) because it speaks to that age of indecision and the struggle with identity. But I like to venture into adult fiction (Halfskin, Drayton) so I can cuss. Either way, I like to be entertaining.

And I'm a big fan of plot twists.

Author Links:  

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/449366.Tony_Bertauski
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101737846847736903518/posts

Tony's Books: