THE COMPLETE CHECK YOUR LUCK AGENCY
by K. S. Augustin
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
After the tragic death of her parents, and with nothing left tying her to the United Kingdom, Ursula Formosa returns to her homeland and a job with the eccentrically-named Singapore firm, “The Check Your Luck Agency”.
What begins as an attempt to stave off boredom turns into a new way of life as the scales drop from Ursula’s eyes and she tentatively enters a realm that contains vengeful ghosts, toyol, demons, pontianak and curses, not to mention old-fashioned fraud and larceny. As she befriends bomohs, mediums and a young woman already centuries old, Ursula’s ideas of friendship expand into a fresh view of the world that surrounds her.
But she isn’t going to be left to ease into things. A criminal mastermind, who is also a powerful sorcerer, is gathering mythical creatures to help him possess every living soul in Singapore, and he isn’t about to let the members of The Check Your Luck Agency stand in his way!
“What made you take a job with Fiona Li?”
“I think it was Fiona who chose me,” I laughed. “She had the craziest ad in a newspaper one weekend, and I was mulling my options at the time. It was a fortunate confluence of circumstance, as she’d say.”
“You mean you didn’t train to become a paranormal investigator?” he asked with a smile. It dented his cheeks, giving him dimples to go with those liquid eyes, smooth voice and engaging manner. I swallowed. I was in serious trouble.
“I don’t see myself as a paranormal investigator,” I corrected him. I knew Fiona’s views on the Agency’s work and my own differed markedly, but I wasn’t going to lie to the smooth-skinned, extremely handsome man seated across the table from me.
“I’ll admit I’m the sceptic of the company,” I began. “In fact, in every case I’ve handled in the past six months, not a single one ended up being attributed to supernatural causes.”
“Not one?” He was clearly incredulous.
“I certainly haven’t seen them,” I demurred. “So far, ten out of ten times, the ‘bad luck’ dogging our clients has been down to greedy relatives, unscrupulous business practices or malicious ex-lovers.”
“Not one case of hauntings or possession or things that go bump in the night? Not one instance where you’ve seen something you can’t explain?”
Yes! Tell him!
I looked him straight in the face. “No. Nothing like that at all.”
~Buy THE COMPLETE CHECK YOUR LUCK AGENCY:
AN INTERVIEW WITH K. S.
-What made you want to write?
That's a difficult question to answer. I could always write stories. When I was in primary school, a story of mine was printed in the school annual. In secondary school, I was the school paper's editor. After I graduated from Uni, I began as a computer programmer then segued into technical writing. And now, for the past seven years, I've been writing fiction. I can't really remember what exactly prompted the whole thing; my love of writing's always been a part of my life.
-What draws you to science fiction and fantasy?
The possibilities! I write SF and fantasy and it's the possibilities that appeal to me, the way you can turn something on its head, think “what if” and write what occurs to you. The other thing I love is that several writers can be confronted by the same situation and yet approach it in entirely different ways. SF&F allows for a diversity of perspectives, and that's something I appreciate about both genres.
-Name a fun fact you learned researching this project.
I learnt that Buddhism can be very metaspiritual, and that was a surprise for me. You know how, when you visit a hotel, there's usually a copy of Gideon's Bible in the bedside drawer? Well, in this part of the world (south-east Asia), you're more likely to find the Buddhist Bible! It's a complete surprise because Buddhism has no formalised dogma and yet here you go. A bible! And, having read some of it, I can tell you it's pretty sexist. But that's not actually what's interesting. In researching The Complete Check Your Luck Agency, I found out that various feelings and emotions could incarnate as demons. My protagonist, Ursula Formosa, finds this out at the most inopportune moment and, well, if it wasn't for a friend watching out for her, she would have come to a sticky end.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
The person I admire most from the series is Evelyn Long, a woman who has managed to turn the most frightful fate imaginable, the worst tragedy that can befall a woman, into a strength that's both formidable and intimidating. But I'm afraid that I'd be too frightened to have a couple of drinks with her.
My coward's choice, then, would be her husband, Alfred Long, the calm bomoh (or witch doctor) of the series. Alfred is very down-to-earth, with a droll sense of humour and an open mind. He could use his abilities to make lots of money yet, despite his seemingly careless demeanour, he's a man who takes his spiritual responsibilities very seriously. I think it would be both fun and educational to have drinks with him. And he wouldn't say no, either.
-For aspiring writers, any tips?
Read, read, read! Read within your genre, read outside your genre. You never know what will spark an idea.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I should learn by now never to say never but if I had to choose one genre, I think it'd have to be horror. I think it's because I tend to over-analyse as a writer and if there's one thing that should remain mysterious and visceral, it's definitely horror!
ABOUT K. S.
KS "Kaz" Augustin loves writing human stories, whether set on Earth or out among the stars. Malaysian-born, she has travelled a goodly portion of the world and lived to tell the tale! Her urban fantasy release, The Complete Check Your Luck Agency, consists of five books, exploring the myths and legends of the melting-pot that is south-east Asia. Come for the food, stay for the monsters! (Ghosts included at no extra charge.)
As if all that's not enough, she's also Chief Editor of the free online quarterly magazine, Sci-fi Romance Quarterly. Kaz's website is at KSaugustin.com and a list of her books can also be found at Sandal Press Online. She occasionally tweets as @SandalPress.
Join me in thanking K. S. for an awesome interview!
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