At the current time, I am a gymnastics coach and a writer of many types of fiction. I have a BA in English language and literature from the University of Chicago. I am half-American and half-Scottish. I spent many summers as a girl in Scotland, and moved to England at 16 where I finished high school at Bedford High School.
My first novel, The Last Immortal, I wrote more than twenty years ago. It is the first of six novels in the "Seeds of a Fallen Empire" series that was finished in 2000 and finally published for kindle in 2010-2014 after many years of trying the traditional publishing route. I have also written one fantasy novel, Curse of the Dragon Kings, which was written in 1997 and self-published in 2010.
My other interests are gymnastics, ballet, and hiking. I trained in gymnastics for 9 years intensively and am still bouncing around on trampolines from time to time. I teach gymnastics and love the sport very much. I also love ballet and have trained off and on in ballet. My childhoods in Scotland in the summers instilled a deep love of nature and history in my spirit as well. As a writer, I started out writing mostly science fiction and also fantasy as I so much loved J.R.R. Tolkien as a girl. I also really enjoy historical fiction set in the days of ancient Rome, (and Egypt.) I am now writing more romantic and historical short stories.
As a reader, I enjoy reading English literature, literary fiction, historical fiction, Russian literature, fantasy on occasion, selective science fiction, and good writing in any genre. I also like to read books on political science, international relations, foreign policy, geography, astronomy, and ancient history (Egypt, Sumeria, Rome, Greece).
Another interest I have is in foreign languages and cultures.
on Oct. 05, 2015 :
The Last Immortal(Seeds of a Fallen Empire Book1)by Anne Spackman
I tried reading this a while back and ended up putting it off to the side. When I picked it up again I had to examine it closely to better understand why I put it aside. This is one more novel to place on my love to hate list and that's not always a bad thing, so read on. Which is what I did this time and I'm glad I did read on. This is a book that deserves a five but for me there were some style choices that drop a star just in that the writing style made it difficult to read. It's a long enough novel at over 400 pages; but to have to stumble along while reading it, makes it cumbersome.
I often read the reviews before purchasing and I can see where some people might put this book down easily while trying to get into it; I know I did. My suggestion is to persevere, because the writing is good and the plot is good and the characters are well developed. There is the caveat that the reader has to work extra hard sometimes to understand all of this. Still there are a larger number of people who loved reading this and it does prove itself to be well worth reading. I'll try to explain.
I loved the concept in this novel and once I understood the style of writing and slowed myself down I was able to see the complexity of the characters. In fact; this is an epic story that might have been better split somehow into two separate stories. Yet again that's a style choice and much of the story becomes framed stories that tell the back-story that feeds the basic series plot. The story from which they are framed is the novel story and that fact adds to the confusion and again the need to slow down and absorb the two plots as they both converge and then diverge to reach the end of book one. The science in the novel could be somewhat flawed; but honestly I'm not sure exactly where; still if it was all solid, why then we'd be using it to get all over the universe wouldn't we. It is solid and well established within the story and I think the author holds it to be consistent within the story and it so fantastically neat that it adds to the story.
So then what did I find so difficult about this novel. The prologue starts us out well because there is only one character in that portion; but as soon as we jump into chapter one the problem starts and persists for a period. This is told in a somewhat Omniscient point of view that likes to get subjective quite a bit; and that would work if it weren't for the immediate head hopping that comes out of the mix. Sometimes it became difficult for this reader to keep track of which head I was in. But more so it doesn't help that we dig inside the head then come out and get a full description of the character from some omniscient point above them. This is where the style choices work against the reader. It becomes difficult to feel the characters and see their depth when we keep spinning outside their heads to an unanchored point that gives us a detailed description that this reader often filled away and forgot quickly. Still I can see one reason it was done this way; and that boils down to the fact that the author is trying to give the reader two epic stories in less space than it might take to do that.
The best parts of the novel are when we drop into the frame story that is first person from Alessia's point of view. But it takes a lot of back-story and world building to get the reader up to this point to connect a number of dots to make this makes sense. And even when it drops into the frame story there is another round of world building simply from the point that Alessia is not of the same world as Eiron; although the whole of cosmic history between races strives to bring everyone under the same universal origin. To that end Alessia's back-story is two fold which can again become confusing. Alessia has a past with Eiron's people; but she has a more urgent past with another civilization that could some day intersect with Eiron's people and she has a mission that she's, by all appearances, abandoned.
This is a story about immortals of two varieties. The machine's with downloaded intelligence and the biologicals with extended life; and the oppressive government that comes from having the long lived intelligent machines guiding humanity for so long. Through a horrible accident Alessia is the last of the biological immortals and she is tasked with finishing the task of thwarting the mechanicals; but she sidetracks her mission to a remote colony to look in on some of their normal people who were long ago sent to colonize a planet. While there she lets her emotions cloud her judgment and she creates a monster within a political environment that is already volatile.
On the other hand it's the story to two worlds on the brink of war while approaching a moment of impending doom that could take them both. It's also a love story and that's another piece I had some difficulty with. There are two love interests for Alessia and the first she rebukes for reasons I couldn't clearly define, though as the story works out it becomes apparent that he would be a bad choice. The second love interest felt as though it occurs too quickly and since the union is integral to the continuation of the series plot it almost seems a bit contrived. The whole dynamic created between the two men is made more interesting in the long run; though the realization of consequences of Alessia's actions plays a greater part in rounding out the story.
This is good SFF for those who love the epic fiction and have the patience to carefully sort through the multilayered plot presented through the back-story framing. There are some elements within the story that reminded this reader of the long story behind Battlestar Galactica.
(review of free book)
on Nov. 18, 2014 :
Get ready to expand your mind! This thoughtful and provocative novel explores themes of time and space travel (in fascinating scientific detail that makes it seem tantalizingly possible); the origin of life in the Universe; evolution; immortality and soul; free will, destiny, and mind control; politics, power, and greed; corruption and cruelty; virtue, honor, and compassion; destruction, loss, and despair; love and hope. The story weaves together pieces of history spanning all of space and time (and beyond) to set the scene for the next 5 books in the series, and though this book has a story line that is able to stand alone, I am definitely excited to keep reading and see what happens next!
(review of free book)
on Sep. 19, 2012 :
A solid and riveting base carrying the imagination through a filed of dreams
(review of free book)
on July 26, 2012 :
I found about this book on a British website where the reviewer listed it as his favorite book:
But one of the reviewers here said this book was wordy and gave it one star- that made me laugh because I remembered how my mother hated Tolkien because she thought he was too wordy, yet he is one of my favorite writers. To me, that review signaled that it might be my kind of book after all, and it is. I don’t see how anyone could give this book a one star review, because for me, having read through it and through books 2 and 3, this is one of the best series I have ever read. I don’t mind that it leaves you hanging at the end of book one, because as a series, the first book is not supposed to be the end. In fact, I recall the Fellowship of the Ring did the same thing, leaving Frodo somewhere at the beginning of his quest with the Fellowship having just been formed, and some people didn’t like that as an ending, even though I’m not sure why.
Another reviewer here said that the science made him cringe. I don’t agree- I took a year of astrophysics in college and still read new physics books occasionally, although I don’t claim to be a physicist, and I think maybe you’d need to be to be able to properly evaluate the science in the book, sweeping statements aside. But even if there were licenses taken in the book to bend science, the book is science fiction and not a college physics textbook, so I think perhaps there is some room for imagination to diverge from reality.
In any case, I completely agree with the first reviewer who liked the “style and depth of the culture the author sets up… something actually thought-provoking.” To me that is what makes a book enjoyable, and I rarely find it in books these days, which to me have often become trite the more they have become commercialized. Here, I found the flashbacks actually more effective in making one full of longing to find out what happened to the original explorers who were supposed to be immortal, but suffered a gruesome fate, all save one. And I actually think that the flashbacks are reflective of how it really is when you meet someone new, and slowly over time form a picture of what happened to them, while you share experiences in the present, and this is the technique that the author uses to gradually draw out the mysterious Alessia. Meanwhile the characters and situations in the present day Tiasenne simultaneously hold my interest, especially as history starts to repeat itself and one seems to fall prey to the same tragic fate of the original explorers.
(review of free book)
on July 25, 2012 :
This book has an interesting plot and tells a complex story. However, a lot is told in a flashback. I liked the basic premises and ideas, though it takes a little while to really get into the book and understand what is going on. The book is original, and the characters are well-fleshed out.
I don’t have a degree in rocket science, but the book is enjoyable to me. Anyone with a physics background may see errors in the science used within the novel. I don’t know. I tend to be more forgiving of minor errors when the overall plot is good. And as for me, I liked the style and the depth of the culture the author sets up here. It’s not typical, but different, if you are looking for something different. Something actually thought-provoking. I see shades of the history of the Soviet Union under Stalin in the culture of the planet Tiasenne.
I really liked the main heroes in the novel. This book could perhaps use a bit of polish, and it is a shame that it has an ending that leaves you hanging since it is part of a series. But otherwise, a good effort.
(review of free book)
on July 25, 2012 :
I really wanted to like this book and worked hard at it.
The good basic premise and story line kept me searching for the book within the book. I made it 2/3 of the way through book one, started scanning book two and three and had to stop.
It's way wordy and repetitive with too much exposition, almost self indulgent.
The science (lots of known physics/math errors) made me cringe.
(review of free book)