Spotlight: Gissel Brito Visits to Talk About YA Dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller, THE UNIVERSE BETWEEN US!

Today, fellow author Gissel Brito is stopping by to talk about her latest book!

Hello, Gissel! As always, it's a pleasure to see you. Welcome to the MLB blog! :)

Hello! Thank you for having me here. 
Of course! So, let me ask a few questions since you're here...

All right.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
The Universe Between Us is a gripping, dystopian Sci-Fi thriller weaving together aliens, conspiracies, power struggles, sibling love, and romance. It brings together two conflicting yet inseparable characters as they both struggle to survive. My main lead, Eliza, a witty and sharp-tongued nineteen-year-old girl, serves as a harrowing alien experiment's raw material. Locked underground on an alien planet, Eliza lives through a tragic event that marks her for life and leaves her traumatized.
Anzu, my second lead, on the other hand, is a young and charismatic space cadet with a secret that could cost him his life. Manipulated and threatened with death by the evil Commander, he is forced into a dark conspiracy that impacts Eliza directly. And when Eliza discovers his secret and coerces him into helping her escape and save Earth, he must choose to betray his people, or die.
My book was published on April 2, 2016, and it can be purchased on Amazon as a Kindle or paperback edition.  
Wow! It sounds quite intriguing.
So, what inspired you to write this book? And how did you get into writing science fiction?
Definitely my love for dystopias, space, and aliens. One of my dearest wishes is to have a conversation with an alien, even if they look like reptiles or big-eyed gooey beings. I don't care, take me out on a date around the universe, please!
Science Fiction and Fantasy have always been my favorite genres. I fell in love with sci-fi when I picked up Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at my school's library. It took me one weekend to read it. I was nine. I'm also a big fan, in the dystopia arena, of Lois Lowry's The Giver. These were the novels that have ignited my passion for the genre. So the moment I decided to write a book, I knew without a doubt that it would be either Sci-Fi or Fantasy.  
So, tell us...what, do you feel, sets your book apart from other books in the genre?
Most alien invasion stories are told from a human perspective. In my book, I gave the aliens, mostly the leaders, a point of view and showed that while their motives were indeed cruel, they weren't all that bad. Furthermore, in my story, the aliens in power are mostly female (the world leader is an ambitious woman with a vision to lead three universes; the Space Commander is a powerful and influential leader, a hell of a strategist too). In fact, it's a female dominated novel replete with tough, determined women. And by tough I don't mean the classic male version of a female--irrational, unintelligent, and emotional. I wanted to create a world where there was no prejudice against women and their capacity to lead. I made sure it wasn't even considered an honor to be a woman and in power; on their world it's as natural as seeing a man in power here on Earth. Nobody is saying, wow, the president of the United States of America is a man, right?
Please give us a teaser or two of the book if you can.
Anzu stood in front of Zaoni’s most dreaded door, ready to enter the jury room and plead guilty for his sickness. A shot to the temple, to him, was better than having Damkina blow him up.
It was the same white door with gleaming aqua lights he and Sief had watched when they stood nervous waiting for a verdict. Centered on the door, it read:

Be an honored citizen and save us from social havoc
For Zaoni, by Zaoni

Below this, the images of recent citizens that had gone through an honorable execution glowed. Anzu imagined his image floating on this door too, and swallowed.
With sweaty hands, he remembered when he and Sief, both fourteen cycles, fled to a remote island near Zaoni's South Pole. They had planned to live on that island forever, away from the stupid rules and regulations. But they were followed and processed.
He shook his head at the memory, looked around, and sat on a nearby glass bench to reflect a little more about taking this decision. Standing in front of the door was not proper. It would raise suspicion.
He sat with his shoulders bunched, his chest tight, for he still remained unsure if he should indeed confess. Then he rubbed his forehead and ran his hand through his hair. Eliza hated him as much as he hated himself. If only she could understand him. But asking her to comprehend him remained ridiculous; he had lied to her, out of fear, after all. Moreover, she didn’t even have to talk to him, and if she desired to kill him, he well deserved it. He’d bow and let her cut his head off. 
As he stared at the door, citizens walked past him. Citizens who deserved their lives, for they were free of emotion. Then he closed his eyes and put his hands on his face, but the whoosh of air near him drew his attention. Glancing up, he saw Baak standing next to him. Anzu's stomach twisted, and he fought to hold on to his composure.
"Anzu," Baak said, taking a seat next to him. "What brings you here? I thought you were on active duty somewhere near Ral, I believe."
Anzu looked him in the eye and clenched his hands. "Not today." Anzu cleared his throat. He had to speak up. "I am thinking about this thing called life. I sometimes fee— I sometimes wonder if I deserve it. If we deserve it."
Baak narrowed his eyes. "Now, do you?"
Anzu glanced at his hands, the same ones that had taken Luvia’s life away and almost Iris’s. He became marked for life. With a hurting heart, he said, "Yes. You see, I have been watching how your experiments take away the happiness of a being who needs that happiness to live..." Anzu met his gaze, holding his tears, jaw clenched. "We are doing something wrong." He paused to catch his breath. "Terribly wrong. We were emotional once, weren't we? Why did we choose not to anymore? Why is it illicit to feel, and why must we execute those who do?"
Baak listened to him attentively, in silence.
Anzu glanced at the confessions door. "I despise the society I belong to."
Baak clapped Anzu's shoulder. "Change it."
Anzu heaved a breath. "How? I have no power. But you do."
Baak pressed his lips together, his eyes kind on Anzu's. Anzu looked him in the eye, wondering if he should let Baak know of his sickness. It would make no difference if he confessed or if he didn't, when all was already lost. So Anzu spat his situation, his torments. "You don’t need to test me like we had coordinated. I feel, Baak. I feel," Anzu admitted, feeling a bitter type of relief and, at the same time, a heavy heart incapable of beating, of pumping blood, of giving life back to him.
“Hm. I see.”
Anzu looked at his hands and fidgeted with them. "Living with feelings and not having the liberty to express them is like committing suicide and failing to die." He met his gaze. "But even worse is watching those who suffer and empathize with them, and yet I am powerless, unable to help them, because somehow, my life belongs to someone else, to the one with the real power."
Baak gripped Anzu's shoulder. "Must you die?"
"Are you sparing my life?" Anzu asked.
"Wrong question."
"I am already dead inside," Anzu said, rubbing his hands. "I am a murderer. What difference will it make if I’m alive or dead?"
Baak eyed him in silence, then he said, "Me and Uziel designed you, Anzu. I always knew you felt."
Anzu glowered at him, shocked at his confession. "What?"
Baak held Anzu's hand down. "Like Eliza, you are nothing more than a scientific experiment.”
Anzu opened his mouth to speak, but Baak waved his hand in the air, and said, “Listen. Eliza is free to feel, you aren't. Both somehow suffer, thus I have proven most emotions are useless while others are necessary."
Anzu closed his eyes, his face burned, jaw clasped. Hate inflamed his heart, hate for his people, who used science for nasty social experiments. He was alive! Conscious. His being, bleeding. And for the sake of science, Baak had observed Anzu throttle himself in treacherous ways?
Anzu glared at Baak and bristled.
Baak smiled at him.
"You are sickening," Anzu said, controlling his reactions but desiring to punch him in the face.
Baak heaved to his feet, and his eyes bore into him. "No, no. Thanks to you, I will find a cure."

Let's try another question, okay?

I'm sure readers are curious about your next writing project. Can you tell us what you've got cooking up now or is that a secret?
Absolutely. I'm currently half-way through The Universe Between Us's sequel. There's going to be a lot of action and, as my fans have requested, much more romance (which is making me nervous!).

Great! Sounds like it's right up my alley! ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about The Universe Between Us, Gissel! 
Thank you, Marie, for having me on your blog! 
You're welcome! It's always a pleasure!

Readers, you'll just have to pick up a copy of this riveting dystopian sci-fi thriller!
Here is the blurb for The Universe Between Us.
 Aliens, conspiracies, power struggles, sibling love, and romance!
  In another universe, a high-tech alien empire works on a secret experiment. But there’s double espionage, and an intriguing conspiracy brews.

One side seeks universal dominion. The other craves to overthrow the government.

Both forces rely on Eliza, the witty nineteen-year-old girl the aliens abducted for experimentation.

But Eliza is not stupid, albeit her harrowing situation, imprisoned in an underground facility and subjected to torturous experiments, she discovers Anzu, the charismatic alien who flew her to her nightmare and can’t keep his eyes off her, has a secret, one that could cost him his life. But that’s hardly Eliza’s problem. Especially after she finds out she’s mankind’s last hope.

So, determined to stop the evil Commander from eradicating all life on Earth, Eliza uses Anzu’s secret as blackmail to coerce him into helping her save Earth. And Anzu must now choose to betray his people, or die.
Sounds like an interesting read! 

About the Author:
Gissel Brito was born in Miami, Florida, to an Ecuadorian mother and a Portuguese father. She grew up in Ecuador, the country that inspired one of the settings of The Universe Between Us. Gissel is currently living in Florida, where she is working on her latest book's sequel and on a middle grade Sci-Fi adventure.
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