Interview with Kirsten Streicher, Kick-ass Heroine of “The Blight”

theblightMeet Kirsten Streicher, kick-ass heroine of The Blight, another nail-biter, suspense thriller by John Reinhard Dizon. First, a little about Kirsten and her story:

Kirsten Streicher is an Iraq War veteran assigned to the Supercop Unit in St. Louis. The elite unit has been successful in combating the Blight, a plague of poverty-driven crime that is overwhelming the city. Only a genocidal sociopath has declared his own war against the Blight and is conducting a campaign to eradicate the undesirable elements within the community. The death of one of her partners and the suspension of another portend the breakup of the team. Kirsten is forced to deal with a major change in her career path once the man called X is brought to justice. She is also involved in a romance with a UMKC professor, Kurt Franz. He takes her to a new reality amidst the protests of Brad, who is still hunting the killer despite his suspension. Brad reveals his love for her and places her in the middle of a love triangle. Making matters worse is evidence indicating that X is focusing on Kirsten, which makes her a potential target.

MF: Welcome, Kirsten. It’s a pleasure to have you here today.

KS: I’d just like to thank the interviewer for being so patient in allowing me to put my thoughts together. This has been a harrowing and traumatic time in my life. I’m finally able to articulate my feelings and my reflections, and I hope they might inspire young people out there trying to make the world a better place.

MF: I understand. The aftermath of such a time is often the most difficult, and you’ve had several such experiences in your life. Looking back to those that made you who you are, did any particular experience you had while serving in the Middle East have a life-defining effect?

KS: It had to be in Afghanistan when we took out that insurgent Taliban unit in preventing an ambush of American soldiers. We found out they were just high school kids who had been brainwashed into fighting for someone else’s cause. During the Blight, I saw the same thing in the teens who were recruited by drug gangs to advance the ulterior motives of others. Kids are so idealistic and easily influenced. Society has a tremendous obligation to raise our children in a moral and principled world.

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MF: That is so true. Kids are always going to reflect their environment and how they’re raised. When parents fail, often law enforcement is forced to fill the gap. As such, what do you find the most satisfying part of being a cop?

KS: The chance to make a difference in society and defend the oppressed and underprivileged. It was the same thing we tried to do in the Middle East. We tried to do it here but we never dreamed we’d be dealing with the same kind of evil. At least we had the battle experience, and I hope that other veterans will be able to use their skills and knowledge to change things here at home.

MF: It’s so sad that our veterans come home to that, but it’s true they can definitely make a difference here as well. Nothing is simple these days. Do you see crime in terms of black and white or are there shades of grey?

KS: That is such a hard question. Good is good and evil is evil, that’s your black and white. Only the effect it has on others is where your shades of grey come in. It’s so hard to deal with victims of crime, especially in gang-controlled neighborhoods where they live. The Blight nearly immersed the city of St. Louis in the darkness. It was a miracle that we were able to help its citizens find their way back to the light.

MF: Yes, it truly was. And it certainly wasn’t easy. If you were “Queen of the World” for a day, what would you change?

KS: I would eradicate drug trafficking by any means necessary. It is what empowers drug gangs, poisons its victims and destroys communities. Cut off the supply, put dealers away for good and do everything possible to rehabilitate dependents. It is the singlemost terrible problem the people of the world are dealing with.

MF: I couldn’t agree more. What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?

KS: Waking up Christmas morning to find goodbye letters from the two most important people in my life. It created a void in my heart, in my existence, that I may never refill. I can’t even remember a happy time. I think readers of my story will fully understand why.

MF: I hope with time that some level of happiness and satisfaction will come your way as you recognize how many lives you have changed in a positive way. They say what doesn’t kill us outright only makes us stronger. In that context, what did you learn from your experience with “The Blight”?

KS: Well, let me take back that last statement. Seeing the people of St. Louis unite to keep the murderers from destroying Christmas was the most wonderful thing I ever saw. Black and white, rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, it didn’t matter who they were. We all became neighbors, we shared and shared alike. The citizens of our city decided they had enough of the Blight and made it go away. Americans have that in common, we stand together in times of trouble. It makes me so proud to be an American and a Missourian. I hope my story helps other people feel that way.

MF: Thank you so much for being with us today, Kirsten. The world needs more people like you in this crazy world we’re living in. I wish you all the best and that you’ll be blessed for all the good you’ve done.

Be sure to pick up a copy of The Blight so you can put Kirsten’s comments and insights into context. You can grab your copy from Amazon here.

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eric1513/123RF Stock Photo

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Star Trails Tetralogy Character Interview: Win Sendori

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Win Sendori first appears in “A Dark of Endless Days” and proceeds to become a major player from that point on.  He’s one of those characters that authors love.  He showed up on the scene as what I expected to be a minor character but he had such a strong personality from the git-go that he quickly worked his way into the story and never left.  When I was putting together my “Dream Cast” I found the picture you see at the top but there was no reference to who it is.  Anyone who can tell me with sufficient proof what his name is will get a free ecopy of the book of your choice!  If you want to see him in action, you can grab a copy of “A Psilent Place Below” for only $0.99 USD until April 7, 2015 using coupon code KR89P at Smashwords using this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/511348 

You can find out more about the series, book trailers, and so forth at http://www.StarTrailsSaga.com.  That said, let’s get on with the interview!

Q: What was your first impression of the Brightstars when they walked into the Supply Depot (SD) where you worked as a clerk?

WS: It was like being hit by a lightning bolt. I felt I’d either known them before or that they’d be important to my life in some way. That first time I looked Laren in the eye I knew we were bonded in some way. I sensed his intelligence and importance immediately and that we’d do something big together. Of course much later, when I discovered we were both in the Ledorian Order, it made even more sense. Dirck immediately felt like an old friend. I could see he felt a little lost and having been there myself I could empathize.

Q: You seem to know a little about just about everything, perhaps what is referred to on Earth as “a jack of all trades and a master of none.”   How did you learn so much more about life than most people your age?

WS: Going through the Academy on Mira III helped me develop a good memory. If I read something once, it sticks. When I’d get bored, which was a lot, I’d pick a subject at random and learn all I could about it. It was almost weird how often those things would eventually be something that got me out of a bad situation. I’m also good at learning vicariously from other people’s experiences, especially their mistakes. When I’d watch Concurrency Reviews, which we call CRs and you Earthlings call “the news,” I’d always put myself into the situation and think about what I would have done that would’ve resulted in a different outcome. When people got out of line on Mira III they always got caught and then the Directorate made an example out of ’em. I would always ponder why they got caught and how they could ‘ve gotten away with it, whatever it was. That fault tree exercise Dirck and I went through for the prison rescue was a natural process for me. I just never knew it had a name.

Q: Were you fully aware of how much trouble you would have been in if you’d gotten caught helping the Brightstars?

WS: [Expletive deleted.] Yeah. I totally knew. When I worked for that creep at the Territorial Tower I saw what those people with even a little political clout could do. I not only saw it but it was my job to enter it into the records, which would set supposedly appropriate consequences in motion, deserved or not. At first I thought these people had done something horrible and deserved it. Until I knew one of them personally and was fully aware the charges were fake. That did it. I got so reeked it’s a good thing my boss was on TDY to some other planet because I know I would have done something stupid like demand an explanation. After I calmed down and thought it through, I understood I could do more to undermine it by keeping quiet. He’d check on my work from time to time, though, seeing if the person he’d targeted had been arrested or whatever, so I had to put the stuff in there like he said. When the billet opened for that position at the SD I knew that was a place I could make a difference. I knew I’d be doing a whole lot more than handing out plumbing supplies. But to answer your question, while I knew what would happen if I got caught, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be, that I knew enough to operate covertly and get away with it. I saw it as an opportunity to make a difference, not a risk.

Q: What about that wild ride through Guipure Canyon? Any comments on that?

WS: [Laughs] I’ve never told Dirck, but there were a few moments I doubted we’d survive. But that’s one thing about being Ledorian, you’re not afraid to die. Death is just a threshold to another plane of existence. If Dirck had died it would have been really bad, though, leaving his mother and brother on their own with his father an eppy in the Epsilon lockup. And that made me feel that somehow we’d be okay. Sometimes you get in a situation that’s so bad it has to be fate and all you can do is hope you didn’t make a huge mistake. It was really the turning point for Dirck. He started to get it after that and really leave Mira III and all its culture-based compliance crap behind. I think it takes looking death square in the eye before you really understand life.

Q: So now that things have settled down, at least on Cyraria, what are your plans? Find a nice girl and settle down? Or more adventures?

WS: [Smiles.] I don’t know, maybe both. To be honest, I’m getting a little bored. Things are too quiet. And while things have settled down here for a while, I don’t think it’ll last more than a cycle or two. There’s still a lot of crap going on out there galactically. They’ll be back, especially now that this place is turning into a halfway decent planet. Laren promised Sharra he’d stick around, at least ’til Deven’s raised, but he’s pushing for me and Dirck to go to Esheron and really get into this Order thing. And I gotta tell ya, I’d love to meet that gal, Antara, who stood up to Spoigan. That’s my kind of woman. So let’s just say only time will tell.