Escaping their land’s destruction, the Kaptarish, Drontas, Verbaren, and Ninfires have reached the island of Gambir. The last families with talents like mind-reading, extraordinary force, burning with their hands, and flying, hope to find refuge in this place.
Yarisha, the only mind-reader in the Verbaren family, will fall in love with Malakay, the most arrogant sibling in the Ninfire family. She knows the young man’s mother and the matriarch of the Ninfires, Mandely, will never consent to this relationship since she considers the Verbaren family inferior to them.
None of the members in the families expect to find a land full of secrets where those with the darkest looking-skin have better chances to survive and where the leader, Ian, is planning to take wives by force.
4 out of 5 (very good)
THE LAST FAMILIES is a post-apocalyptic fantasy in which the earth has been destroyed and those surviving have left by boat to reach a safe place. Unknown to them, they go through a wormhole and end up on a different planet, one with unknown dangers to them.
This story is told from multiple perspectives, giving the reader a well-rounded view on what's happening. It moves at a fast pace so prepare yourself. I found I needed to concentrate on the story as otherwise something would happen that I might miss which affected the whole timeline.
I'm not sure if this is the first book in a series as there seems to be questions left unanswered and open-ended storylines. However, saying that, this was a great read about their time in Gambir and the people who lived there.
There are some errors where the wrong word is used (but correctly spelt) but this didn't have too great an impact on my enjoyment.
Definitely recommended for all post-apocalyptic fantasy fans out there.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My full name is Carla Doria Medina Rojas and I’m from Cochabamba, Bolivia. When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, learning to draw/paint, and taking pictures for my bookstagram. I’m also into yoga, meditation, taking long walks, jogging, and biking.
Do you have a Day Job as well?
Yes, I do. I’m a Happiness Engineer and provide customer support for people building their websites with WordPress.com. I’m a writer with a techie side. You could say that building the website for The Last Families was the easiest and most fun thing to do among all the book promotion/launch stuff.
When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
I always thought that sooner or later I was going to be a writer. Even if that meant writing in my seventies or eighties. When I envision the old version of myself in the future, I see myself writing in front of a pretty cabin in the forest or in front of a lake.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Writing full time.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
As a voracious reader, I read almost anything and I read in all genres. But fantasy and science fiction have a special place in my heart. However, reading fantasy and science fiction is not for everybody. Good fantasy and science fiction invest a lot in world-building. If you read Tolkien, Asimov, Hubert, and others in these genres, you come to see these writers have invested quite a deal in describing the backgrounds and characteristics of their worlds. When I started writing as an adult, I knew I had some great stories in mind in these genres, but I didn't think I was good enough to write them. I thought that writing a contemporary story was going to be easier for me as an aspiring writer. After all, I'm still a good reader of thrillers by John Grisham, Lee Child, and others. Therefore I began with a technological thriller about five years ago.
But after some time, I understood that it doesn't work that way. Writing a thriller is also hard. You have to make sure to research well your location. Since it is a real location, you have to really know about it. You have to make sure your characters talk and feel like they are people from a specific location. It actually became tougher than I thought.
Therefore, I came to the conclusion that for me specifically, imagining the whole location, and better yet imagining the whole world made sense. I have a very good imagination after all.
Where do you get your ideas?
From a little notebook :D I’m quite imaginative about situations in life in general. If I hear news on TV about a specific happening, I’m already imagining a whole turnout of events. Believe it or not, I also get many good ideas from dreams. My dreams are strange enough to give me quite a variety of ideas. With time, I’ve learned to write them down immediately as I wake up or even in the middle of the night.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes, but I think I’ve gotten better with time. If I don’t know where else to go in the story, then I start writing about something else, a different scene, an alternative ending, a point of view from another character, etc. That usually brings me back on track.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m a plantser. I actually have a method: I plan a bit, then let myself write as much as I can without any more planning. Then I stop, review, plan a bit more, correct my path, and repeat.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Finding my way around self-publishing and getting reviews. I made my fair attempt with traditional publishing but I had no luck. Self-publishing was a different monster though. I wrote a three-part post in my personal blog about all the challenges that I faced only to select a print-on- demand service and distribution. Being located in Bolivia made things a bit complicated too when it came to shipping/receiving printed proofs, getting paid, and facing US-centric tax treaties that don’t benefit most international authors. However, I never thought that getting reviewers would also be so hard. I’m extremely thankful for any person that was kind enough to review my book. I came to realize that getting reviewers/bloggers is as hard as getting a literary agent.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have two manuscripts halfway. None of them is still in a publishable state. But I do certainly love the stories that are waiting dormant there. I’m already working on driving one of them to its completion. At least now, the self-publishing route won’t be as daunting as before.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Social media and bloggers. In the fantasy genre, it really works well having a blogger/reviewer talking about your book. Social media is also a good point of start, but it has its limitations beyond your own social contacts. I’ve started a Bookstagram (currently in Spanish but working on getting the English version) since I’ve been doing book reviews in Goodreads for a long time. I’m trying to get a bigger following through this account and use it as a way to promote my book too.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
It is located in a futuristic era in Bolivia. A virus and a vaccine have changed the world (Does it ring a bell?) but of course with some interesting twists. It is a dystopia about a new world government order with an 18-year-old girl and her brother that will soon shake things for the better. No super powers in this one. But a couple of dystopian ideas that I’ve been juggling for a long time.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I believe all my characters have a little bit of me: personality traits, insecurities, mixed with dark sides that I might even have.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The love story between Yarisha and Malakay.
How did you come up with the title?
Oh my God. That was so hard. I suck at titles. Since the story talks about these families and they were the last families to escape their land, that was the first idea that came to my mind. I wasn’t able to find a better title.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I always believed there is room for a second part in The Last Families. What is the next adventure on White Island?
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Make sure to have people looking at your writing as soon as you can. As starting authors, we terribly self-doubt ourselves - the infamous impostor's syndrome. We feel too ashamed to show our writing to others. We are afraid somebody will say "you should work on your writing" "or the story is really poor". With The Last Families, I had some people take a look at my story, and of course, somebody helped me edit it, but I wished I had had more beta readers. Sometimes we focus too much on getting help with editing that we forget it is also important to have somebody looking at your story from a developmental point of view. We need somebody who will point out plot holes and tell us that a specific scene or dialogue doesn't make sense, or that a character feels too flat. Also, those beta readers then become a point of contact when you are about to launch your book "your launch team."
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
That my characters felt flat. That was five years ago by a reviewer of my first manuscript in the technological thriller - one of the manuscripts that is halfway. Since then, I’ve been paying too much attention to how my characters develop throughout the story.
What has been the best compliment?
That my characters were good. That was by a reviewer in The Last Families. I guess that the first criticism made me better.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than other? Racy? Love? Action?
Action. It is really hard to describe in detail fights, movements, escapes, and those types of situations, and keep good pacing. I don’t want to be the author describing these scenes in such detail that you lose the reader. I’ve been there. I tend to get lost when I find one of these scenes in an action-filled book. But I don’t want to have a poorly-written action scene where readers won’t be able to get the thrill of what the characters went through.
Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?
I guess a romantic novel. I suck at relationships :) so I don’t think I will be the best to narrate a beautifully written romantic novel.
Do you have any strange writing habits? Like writing in the shower?
I use an online reader to read to me when I’m reviewing. I tend to skip some basic writing issues when I read by myself. Only when I hear it, I can tell.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation – who would you choose for which character?
I guess we could get a nice redhead for Yarisha, but I don’t have any names for the other characters, they would all need to dye their hair.
How important are the names in your book?
They are important. The name has to fit the personality of the character. Malakay could never be named something else.
What is your least favourite part of the writing or publishing process?
In The Last Families, two specific issues:
Editing. Of course, I had people helping me edit it. But you still have to go through at least a couple of rounds of your own editing before presenting the manuscript to somebody else. When I review, I tend to rewrite and rewrite in a never-ending process.
Accuracy of events. At some point, I got a bit lost with the timeline of The Last Families. Since the book is told from different points of view. I had to make sure that events were happening in the right order at the same time another character was narrating his or her own part of the story. I remember thinking at one point, how much time has passed since they arrived at the Island. Is it day or night? and going back to change chapters so many times to fit a coherent timeline.
Carla Doria was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia where she currently resides. Graduated as an Industrial Engineer, she decided to acknowledge her lost love from childhood: writing. She spends her time working, blogging, writing, traveling, doing yoga, biking, running, and enjoying the good life in the city valley of Cochabamba.