Title: No Greater Illusion
Author: K. Baskett
Format: Ebook, Paperback
Length: 318 pages
In the very near future, surging advancements in technology have afforded American citizens with a number of conveniences. Of these, most notable is the SmartTag, a microchip embedded under the skin between index finger and thumb, housing all manner of personal information such as bank account details, medical history, voter registration and more.
This tightly-woven tale follows the lives of several very different people – Tealia, a free-spirited and intelligent photographer battling with conflicting emotions for her ex-lover; Mercer & Viera Scott, a power couple barely holding on to their marriage as the priorities of success and parenthood slowly become skewed between them; impoverished single mother, Naria, content with her reliance on both her current lover and government assistance to make ends meet; and the Holton family, wealthy beyond measure, enjoying carefree days of privilege and luxury.
Their status quo, however, is about to be undermined as America reacts violently to the brutal assassination of a highly esteemed female presidential nominee on the evening of the debates. As the entire nation struggles to make sense of the ensuing chaos, fear and distrust ramp up to dizzying heights. The end result is a series of grave consequences that will drastically alter life as they know it, making them all wonder how much of their world is but an illusion.
A captivating story that is at once gripping and dark, this brilliantly painted picture of a dystopian America cautions against the power of technology and the folly of taking anything for granted. Haunting and lyrical, No Greater Illusion is an astounding debut novel with a powerful message that lingers long after the final page is read.
THAT NIGHT, I BECAME an eye witness to murder. The cop who pulled the trigger might have claimed it was “self-defense” or “protection from an imminent threat,” but all I saw was a 90-pound woman brandishing a lug wrench that was almost too heavy for her to lift.
“Conspiracy!” she yelled at the top of her lungs and used all of her might to swing the weapon at a nearby car, shattering the driver’s side window.
“Stand down,” ordered the nearest police officer in a booming voice, as he and countless others surveyed the entire riot scene unfolding before us.
“Never. We want justice,” the lady screamed, successfully breaking out the rear passenger’s side window this time. The officer made a move toward the woman and she turned to him, struggling for purchase as she raised the lug wrench over her head. A crazed expression morphed her face into a vacant wasteland, so that she appeared to be gazing at and through the officer at the same time, eyes and mouth sloping downward, gaping. She looked to be coming straight from the office, dressed conservatively in a pencil skirt and high heels, which I noticed because they were so inappropriate. Skinny as the tool in her hands, she posed little to no physical threat and could have easily been subdued by some other method, so I was surprised when the police officer drew his gun.
“I’m warning you. Stand down,” the officer growled, his eyes two hard pebbles of flint, sparking as he aimed the gun squarely at the woman’s heart.
She moved with no forewarning and surprising quickness. Like a lioness, she pounced, and got close enough to the officer to be able to see the color of his eyes before he fired his weapon. It was nothing like in the movies. His gun made more of a popping sound rather than a loud bang. In all the noise it could have been mistaken for something else, like a car backfiring or a tire exploding. She collapsed instantly, freefalling, slamming to the pavement with so much force her body seemed to bounce once before landing in a final thud, facedown, her fist still clutching a tool used for changing flat tires. Her entire back was a mass of gore from the exit wound, blood so dark it looked black in the low light, soaking her smart silk blouse and pooling around her body in an ever expanding puddle.
Even in the midst of the mayhem, there seemed to be an almost pure silence that descended over the immediate circle of people surrounding the woman’s corpse. Their stillness attracted even more attention than the gunshot and the crowd around the fallen woman grew. The officer began to slowly back up, a look of dread on his face. He spoke into his shoulder radio, “Two-forty-eight requesting backup at Sixth and Watson. Code thirty. I repeat: I need units at Sixth and Watson, immediately.”
The officer’s call for backup shifted the crowd’s focus from the dead woman to him.
“He did it,” someone spoke clearly from the group. “The cop.”
The officer continued to step backward, gingerly almost.
Another yell came from my right. “Ol’ racist ass cop!”
The crowd closed in and began to slowly advance toward the officer. I stood on the perimeter, not sure if I wanted to get involved.
“Fall back,” the officer ordered, pointing his gun into the crowd now, aiming in the general direction from where the slur came.
Various shouts rang out in response, more people getting agitated now and too many of them yelling at once to clearly decipher any one phrase.
“I will not hesitate to discharge my weapon,” he warned.
We see that, I thought. Obviously he was ready to pull the trigger yet again.
The closer the crowd got, the more the officer seemed to be losing his aura of authority, his confidence getting smothered by fear, his eyes now showing uncertainty where before there was boldness. Not a soul had responded to his call for backup. The city’s police force was sorely understaffed and everyone knew that in this chaos there weren’t nearly enough officers to go around. The gun trembled slightly in his hand as he pointed it at the closest target, a young black man in his early twenties advancing to the front of the crowd. He was shirtless, wearing nothing above the waist but several large black tattoos, his athletic body coiled with intent.
“Crooked cops,” the young man stated passionately, as a matter of fact. “I fucking hate the police.” He glanced back at the others and raised his voice with that last statement.
They thundered their hearty agreement.
“So what we gonna do about this racist motha fucka?” the young man snarled, having assumed leadership of the crowd by their earlier assent.
“Don’t try me,” the officer shrieked. He made another useless call for backup, panicked and on edge. The crowd had backed him into a wall and like any cornered animal he was ready to attack.
“Grab him!” The suggestion came in the form of a growl.
The young man sprang forward, all that tension uncoiling from his chiseled muscles in a single smooth leap. With a wild look in his eye, the officer pulled the trigger. In his agitation, he actually missed the young leader and instead his bullet found someone else who screamed out in agony as their flesh was torn. This indiscriminate shooting incited the crowd even more, and in the time it took the cop to fire another shot into the group, he was completely buried under a pile of angry bodies, swarming around him like bees to the hive.
Author K. Baskett was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and here’s what she had to say…
1- Would you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I love to read almost as much as I love to write. No Greater Illusion is my first novel.
2- Which project are you currently promoting?
My debut novel, No Greater Illusion.
3- Can you tell us what the book is about?
The book is set in the very near future, where technological advancements have afforded American citizens with the SmartTag, a microchip embedded under the skin between index finger and thumb. SmartTags house all manner of personal information such as bank account details, medical history, voter registration and more. In the story a number of unacquainted adults, from various walks of life, are suddenly forced to cope firsthand with the “domino effect” of America’s violent reaction to the assassination of a promising female presidential nominee. As the ensuing chaos ramps up to dizzying heights, they all quickly realize that America – as well as their own lives – will never be the same.
4- How did you come up with the title for this book?
I wanted something that sounded strong and poetic, and at the same time would hint at the underlying theme of the novel.
5- What inspired you to write this book?
The core concept of No Greater Illusion is an idea that I have toyed with for many years. I remember in college, I used to always start debates by asking hypothetical questions to other people, presenting them with various scenarios and trying to learn more about them and their viewpoints based on their responses. It always interested me how people could be so sure about something that they have absolutely no control over. Consider this: Are you sure the sun will rise tomorrow morning? If you are, think about why. Just because the sun has always risen each day, doesn’t mean it always will. And what would you do if it doesn’t?
Without giving the story away, the events that take place in No Greater Illusion are situations that really are not far-fetched. I wanted people to see precisely how their worlds could be turned upside down, despite any comfort and assurance they are fortunate enough to have presently.
6- Did you have the main character’s names already picked out before you began to write?
Character names are extremely important in my novel. They are significant because I make sure to align the meaning of the name with the personality traits of its owner. For example, Viera is a “lively woman”; Dyer means “a creative man”; Quinn – “a woman who is queenly”; Circe, of Greek mythology, was a nymph and enchantress who, literally, changed men into pigs! 😉 And those are just a few examples. I feel strongly that the character’s name should be a perfect fit; therefore, I consider meanings and lineage when deciding. I always choose names before I begin writing anything at all.
7- What can you tell us about your main characters?
Each character’s story and perspective is uniquely imperative to the overall theme of No Greater Illusion. I break myself into pieces and infuse one small part of me into each and every character that I write about. Take the “right” trait from each character, and you could combine them to come very close to knowing exactly what sort of person I am. However, I am not going to tell you which of the traits in each character came from me. Where is the mystery in that?!
8- Did you have to do any research in order to help you with the writing of this book?
Although I really do not research before I start writing, I research constantly during the process. Google makes it easy to look up places or things that are unfamiliar to me, so that I am able to include them in my novel appropriately. Let’s just say that Google and I have a very… intimate relationship. LOL
9- What made you decide to become a writer?
I have no choice, it has always been inside of me. It wasn’t a decision that I made. It’s just who I am; who I’ve always been. Writing is a pure love for me, and the greatest joy outside of my family.
10- What genre do you generally write?
Honestly, I did not choose to write a Dystopian novel. I just had a story that I wanted to tell. As part of the publishing process, I had to select a genre, and I mulled over that for more time than you would believe, vacillating back and forth between Thriller and Science FIction. Yet, neither one seemed quite right. When I came across the Dystopian categorization, I knew right away that it was the best choice for No Greater Illusion. So I guess you could say that I didn’t choose the genre: it chose me!
11- Are you interested in writing other genres?
Yes I am. In fact, the novel I am currently working on would probably best be described as a thriller. And in the future there is a strong possibility that I may try my hand at a fantasy.
12- Do you follow a routine when you begin to write a scene or chapter?
No routines for me. I write when I can, wherever I can, however I can. There is no room in my life to stick with a solid routine – I have to be flexible.
13- How long does it usually take for you to write a book?
It took me 3 years to complete No Greater Illusion. However, my current project is moving along at a much faster clip. It seems I may have learned a thing or two along the way! 🙂
14- Do you have a general idea of what direction you want the plot to take ahead of time or does it come to you once you’ve started writing?
I knew exactly where I want to take the plot, thanks to my handy-dandy outline. I believe I was able to finish No Greater Illusion because I had a clear destination in mind and I mapped out how to get there. The only thing left to do was just fill in the details. I have a full outline for my Work In Progress too. It’s always the first thing I do.
15- Are there any authors you admire?
Thomas H Cook – his prose is amazing and he has mastered the art of tension and suspense. He is well-respected and highly established both in his genre, and as a writer in general.
16- Have you written any series? If not, are you planning to write any in the future?
Because of the way No Greater Illusion ends, I’ve been asked numerous times if I have plans to write a sequel. I do not. NGI is a standalone novel, and it tells the full story I set out to share. I think when people ask me about a sequel, it is a testament to how involved they’ve become with the characters and their experience throughout the course of the novel; so it is actually a question that makes me feel good. My work in progress is a standalone novel as well.
17- What other projects are you currently working on?
I am currently about a third of the way through the first draft of my next novel, Envelope: Red, about an engaging, likable young man who is facing some large obstacles in his life and chooses an unconventional way to solve his problems. During his journey, he will be forced to make tough decisions while his integrity and moral code is tried at every turn. What he ends up doing may surprise you, but as the reader you will be with him from the start.
I also write short stories. Do What Must Be Done is the first one, and can be found on Smashwords. It explores what happens when mild curiosity about someone else turns dangerous. Additionally, I am working on a second short story called The Golden Visit – still in the very early stages; but I can tell you it is about a man who is willing to do anything for his wife. All of my short stories, will always be offered as free downloads.
18- Once you begin to work on a new MS, do you have the ending already mapped out or do you envision it as the story progresses?
The ending is already determined before I start writing, and included on my detailed outline. Without my outline, I just freeze up, so it’s a must for me.
19- Did you self-publish? If not, is that something you will be willing to consider in the future?
I did self-publish, by choice, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
20- What is your least favorite part about getting published?
Exposing so much of myself to the public. No Greater Illusion is dear to my heart, and offering it up for general consumption feels like I’m revealing a portion of my soul to the world. That’s rough. So many times people read your fiction novel and they believe it is saying something about “you” the author, or that the actions and thoughts of the characters are the author’s own deep-seated desires. It’s just fiction!
21- Was the road to publication a long one for you?
It was daunting at first – the sheer amount of things that had to be done was simply overwhelming. As an independent author doing everything myself, it felt a bit impossible in the beginning. I knew from the start that I wanted to self-publish because I strongly believe that a writer shouldn’t have to sell the rights to their labor of love in order to get it in front of readers. Still, it takes an awful lot of work to get a manuscript from a laptop to a paperback. Even so, I would not change a thing about the experience; and looking back on it now, it really didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would to get everything done; only a matter of months. The first time I held the finished copy in my hands gave me a sense of accomplishment like nothing else I have ever experienced in my life. I call No Greater Illusion my single greatest achievement and my contribution to the world. And sometimes I laugh when I say that last one, because I don’t want anyone to think that I have delusions of grandeur… but in my heart I know it is true. And so, with a humble spirit, I offer my contribution up for your enjoyment, or your scorn; but either way the experience is now yours.
22- Do you use a pen name? If so, why?
Yes. In my other life, I am a technical professional and a part-time college level instructor. I have no desire to mingle my different worlds. Furthermore, I want my literary works to stand on their own merit, without any affiliation to the professional connections I have already established in my career field.
23- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still pursuing my dream as a writer, but full-time as opposed to “whenever I can”.
24- What is the best advice you can give to a new author?
Honestly, I know this is so cliche, but the only thing I would say to a new author is to Never Give Up. Believe in yourself and don’t let anything or anyone stop you from realizing your dreams.
25- Where can the readers find more information about you?
I have profiles on GoodReads, Amazon, Smashwords, and Independent Author Network.
I am very active on the following social media sites:
About the Author:
Jack of all trades, master of none – save for the art of procrastination – K. Baskett lives by the motto, “”Never do today what can be put off until tomorrow.”” K. firmly believes that you aren’t really interested in the author’s hometown, spouse, children or pets, and has therefore decided to spare you the details. No Greater Illusion is the author’s debut novel.