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Janet Stilson | Conversations in Character with Shakespear (Shake) Cardinale

Universe of Lost Messages
Janet Stilson




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The Charismites #2

May 2024
On Sale: May 13, 2024
ISBN: 1774000628
EAN: 9781774000625
Kindle: B0CSPS7BGM
Paperback / e-Book
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Also by Janet Stilson:
Universe of Lost Messages, May 2024
The Juice, February 2021



Character Name: Shakespear (Shake) Cardinale


How would you describe your family or your childhood?

Mind-blowing, on both counts. My life began in the greater Boston area a couple of decades after the time you’re living in, during the 2040s. My family was really poor, and very close knit. We became friends with a certain rebel named Jarat, who had some powerful enemies. Our house was attacked by the people who were trying to destroy him. The only person who survived was a terrified four-year-old kid—me.

Thanks to Jarat, I was adopted by a lonely woman named Petra. She happened to be the CEO of one of the most powerful media companies on planet Earth. It was a kind of pauper-turned-prince situation for me, and really weird at first—not only because of the wealth, but I was deeply traumatized.

Around the time when I started to feel relatively stable, life got a lot stranger. My little sister, Izzie, arrived. Izzie isn’t normal. She is what’s known as a Charismite. In other words, she has extremely powerful gifts of charisma and can get people to do almost anything with very little effort.

As a kid, Izzie was a pesky little sprite—getting the hired help to do things like stand on their heads while eating a banana split or drinking all the booze in the liquor cabinet. It took some doing, training my brain not to let Izzie influence what I thought and did. Our mother was constantly frustrated, trying to deal with her.

Izzie can be a major pain in the neck, for sure. But she sees things in people that nobody else can—what makes them special, what they could become. There’s a sweetness about her. And I guess that’s why she’ll always be my best friend.

When she was a teen, Izzie became a performer. And she’s turned into the most famous celebrity alive, by a long shot. Then she was abducted. I would have done anything to find her, to save her—not only because I love Izzie so much, but because the people who took her wanted to use her mind-twisting gifts to control the thoughts of everyone on Earth.


What was your greatest talent?

Some people might say it’s blurting out stuff that would better be left unsaid. But besides that, I grew up to be an entertainment producer, thinking up new kinds of shows and games that excite people. I kind of have a knack for it. One of the shows I produced is called Space Ace. I cast five of the world’s top airship racers to take off from the dwarf planet Ceres. Their finish line was on the planet Mars.


Significant other?

Nope. I have a lot of fun with various ladies. But that’s all it’s been, fun. There’s this one person that might turn into something more: Cheeta. She’s really scrappy, kind of a street tough. That’s not me at all—not after years of living in Elite society. But even so, Cheeta and I have some things in common.

As a kid, Cheeta was even poorer than I was—homeless for a time. And she was saved from all that by a senator, Miles Morelli. She became his assistant—before the senator was abducted by the same people that snatched my sister. He had a lot of secret intelligence that could do serious damage to a lot of very powerful people.


Biggest challenge in relationships?

A lot of the women I’ve dated are obsessive fans of Izzie. They’re always fixated on Izzie’s latest performances. Some of them tried to keep track of her every move—travel schedule, latest lovers, when she raised her left pinky. You name it.


Where do you live?

In Los Angeles and New York.


Do you have any enemies?

Hell, yeah. The people who abducted Izzie. It was a mystery, figuring out who they were.


What’s your favorite place on Earth?

There are a lot of places that I love. But I guess my favorite is the home of our family friends, the Ellingtons.

Jarat Ellington is the rebel who saved me. He’s a real whiz at technology and helps head this underground organization that’s fighting against some bad actors in really powerful positions. He married a woman, Luscious, who has the same charismatic powers as Izzie. They have a son named Tristan, who’s about Izzie’s age. He’s also a Charismite.

They’re all recluses—protected from the world at large by an immense biodome, kind of an isolated “bubble” filled with wildlife and beautiful vegetation. That is, it was protected until the bastards that took Izzie and the senator broke through the dome and abducted Tristan, too.


Do you have children, pets, both, or neither?

Neither. Maybe kids will make sense down the road, if I get into a lasting relationship.


What do you do for a living?

I’m in the middle of a career reset. As I mentioned before, I’ve been a producer. But it never felt like it quite fit who I am.

Cheeta—that feisty woman I mentioned—is giving me an idea about what I might turn into, eventually. She introduced me to this crazy metaverse that she calls the Universe of Lost Messages. It looks like a vast orange cosmos. Instead of planets and stars, it’s filled with millions of bubbles. And each one contains a message that never reached the people who were supposed to get them. The messages are trapped in a kind of limbo.

Somebody’s got to get them out, somehow. I’m still not entirely sure that I’m the right person for that.


Greatest disappointment?

Never been too keen about the way I look. Most people in the Elite class have golden skin—the blending of all races on Earth. I don’t mind that I was born into the lowest class, which tends to have a darker skin tone. That would have been fine, if that’s what I had. But I ended up with a kind of blotchy light-and-dark look—like a frickin’ stable pony. Izzie says it’s hot, but I don’t see it that way. At all.


Greatest source of joy?

Making other people happy.


What do you do to entertain yourself or have fun?

There’s this place in El Salvador on the beach that’s pretty remote and the surfing is superb. I can really relax there.


What is your greatest personal failing, in your view?

That I didn’t see Izzie’s abduction coming. At the time she was taken, she was visiting me. She felt something was really “off” and hinted at that. I was so distracted that I didn’t pay attention.


In the past, what’s kept you awake at night?

The terrible things that might be happening to Izzie—along with Tristan and the senator.


Why do you feel like you need to find the prisoners? Why not rely on the FBI or other official investigators?

Well, in the time that I live, they really can’t be counted on to do much. It’s been up to the band of people who love the prisoners to figure things out. And we’ve had some help from Jarat’s connections to that underground group I mentioned.


Is there something that you need or want that you don’t have? For yourself or for someone important to you?

I have this aching need to help people, the way that Jarat helped me, or the senator helped Cheeta.


Why haven’t you done that already? What is in the way?

Producing entertainment is just so much fun. I’ve needed to get that out of my system—and find my sister and the others before something truly catastrophic happens.

I’ll figure it out eventually. I’m determined.


The Charismites #2

Universe of Lost Messages

What if your child has special powers and can get people to do almost anything? What happens if the child is abducted?

Izzie and Tristan were never mere humans. They are Charismites, with almost god-like powers of magnetism. And they couldn’t be more different. Izzie is a reckless, playful megastar whose popularity far exceeds that of any other celebrity. Tristan is a nature-loving recluse, almost completely unknown to anyone beyond a protective biodome.
Their worlds explode when they are abducted by The Fist, a power-hungry political group with a master plan to control the hearts and minds of all people on Earth and satellite colonies beyond. But the plan only works with the help of Charismites.

Their families don’t have much to go on until a feisty, street-wise teen, Cheeta, discovers clues about the Charismites within a strange metaverse filled with millions of missing messages. But will they actually find them? And can they destroy The Fist before they take over the planet?

Filled with an eclectic cast of characters, a slow-burn romance, humor, and wonderful descriptions of a sensual and sometimes violent world, Universe of Lost Messages is a stand-alone sequel to Janet Stilson’s beloved novel, The Juice. Fans of William Gibson, Margaret Atwood, dystopian novels and science fiction thriller books will devour this masterful adventure.


Fantasy | Suspense [Dragon Moon Press, On Sale: May 13, 2024, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781774000625 / ]

Buy UNIVERSE OF LOST MESSAGESAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Walmart.com | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Janet Stilson

Janet Stilson

Janet Stilson lives in two worlds. On one hand, she is a journalist. On the other, she writes scripts, novels and short stories that largely fall in the grounded sci-fi and fantasy genres and illuminate the human condition in provocative ways.

Her work has been selected to be part of the Writers’ Lab for Women, which is funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Stowe Story Labs also selected one of her scripts to be part of its intensive mentorship program in 2018.

She wrote and produced a short film, “The Beauty of Disaster,” which screened in Los Angeles and New York several times; was honored with an award; and licensed to a cable channel.

As a journalist, Janet got her “chops” at the storied showbiz bible “Variety.” She has traveled the world, chronicling the business of media and entertainment. It afforded her many busman’s holidays in places like Shanghai and Paris, for which she is forever grateful. Along the way, she interviewed lots of executives about many aspects of showbiz – most notably, where the heck we’re all going. That work inspired her futuristic novel, “The Juice.”

Janet has been an artist in residence at Dorland, a retreat in Southern California; the Julia and David White Artists’ Colony in Costa Rica; Odysseys, also in Costa Rica, and La Muse in southern France.

Today, Janet lives in New York with her husband and two opinionated cats. It's a world away from her childhood home in Franklin, a gorgeous upstate New York village. Cars pass through Franklin in almost the blink of an eye, and she hopes it stays that way.





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