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 almost 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 draft stage), Sal and Brandi are working together on a scifi project that is called simply “Big Black Empty,” or BBE for short, a YA scifi called “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, Sal’s favorite thing to do is travel to new countries in order to find delicious things to eat. She plays guitar in a proto-punk garage band, plays video games, enjoys boxing, and is in the process of writing other speculative fiction novels.
Sal lives in Washington D.C. with her teenage son. She clocks in during the day as the head of Video Production for Bethesda Softworks, snugly locked away in a climate-controlled, soundproof editing suite. 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 Fifth Gate, by N.K. Jemisin: Unique narrative structure, fresh voice and interesting world. Loved it. A Court of Air, by Stephen Hunt. Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie: A fun return to the world of the First Law Trilogy, one of my favorite new fantasy authors. And I dug the serial storyline sprinkled throughout the collection of shorts.
On deck: We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Daywatch, by Sergey Lukanyenko, The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin, Anarchism and Other Essays, by Emma Goldman, The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood, Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner.
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 two cats, Nemesis (“Nemie”) and Olive. She also shares her home with the the occasional foster dog(s).
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 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.
Currently reading: Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. What? I never read it.
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).