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Click image for more from Kashif Ross!

We’re kicking off the weekend early today (says me … I have that power, right?) with Kahsif Ross, who has set records by being the first author in the history of this blog who had to evade the excerpt question. I  know you guys want to see the rest of that story, and one lucky reader will get to see the *whole* story because Kashif brought with him a copy of his book to give away. This is a fantastic interview, so let’s get to it!

Welcome, Kashif! I have to say, I was pretty fascinated to learn BARCODE: THE LEGEND OF APOLLO was inspired by anime. Can you tell us a little of how the story developed?

The way I write is…weird. When I was younger, I was able to read lengthy novels in a day. But as I grew older, the more I read or watched something, the more I wrote things in my head. One day, I was watching Naruto and started creating a villain to oppose him, but he needed a village and certain skills. When I filled in all the parts, I decided to simply give him his own story. I was doing the same thing when watching Bleach. Eventually, both of my characters combined into one body and new story with barcodes and gladiators.

That’s pretty cool — it’s like the characters demanded their story told your way! You were inspired to break out of the norm where, as you put it on your blog, “wizard boy triumphs over evil.” How did you accomplish this?

I hated reading the same books over and over. It’s just my opinion, but once Harry Potter came out, I feel that books became generic. There was no creativity behind them. All stories were either about a wizard that triumphs all or a pretty and sexy vampire with lovely eyes. In a word, I felt grr while reading these.

My story was meant to be different. I made sure everyone that read my first book knew this. Though you’ll get through 90% of the book reading a standard hero’s journey, in the end you’ll see an evil and wicked twist. Sure, I’ll get hell for it and some really nasty reviews, but it’s different. I prefer to write something completely unique and hated than have something generic and praised for being the next best thing to Twilight.

I love the way you think, and I have a lot of respect for anyone willing to take that “let them hate me” chance. Those stories tend to be the best! *grin* Let’s dig into the plot a little. Assuming there’s no major spoiler involved in your answer, what’s the major conflict in the story? (If there is a major spoiler, craftily evade the question, lol).

I would never spoil 😉

The major conflict is the battle to acquire America. Basically, our country is divided into its four geographic regions: East, North, South, and West. There’s a dictator attempting to take them over through unorthodox means. However, one boy is rumored to be capable of standing against him, Spencer Colt. Spencer befriends an enemy, Kode, that wants to motivate him to challenge Helios. It’s when Spencer and Kode clash that things get interesting.

Sounds like they must! Great summary, by the way. ;c) What might readers be surprised to learn about the plot or characters of BARCODE: THE LEGEND OF APOLLO?

There are a lot of characters. A lot! However, I designed the story in a way that you’ll actually know all of them without getting confused. I don’t simply drop someone in, give them a vague description and take them out. Instead, I provide each warrior with their own back story and feed it to the reader slowly. You’ll be deathly attached to anyone that is killed, and hate nearly every villian.

Readers will also be surprised to find out there isn’t a plot. Sure, the ultimate goal is to fight Helios, but there’s really no sequence of events leading to it. I’m a character driven type of guy. I focused more on developing each person versus creating a straight line from A to Z.

I *love* the characters aren’t random throwbys. (I tend to get confused, so I feel you were speaking to me that one, lol.) As for a character-driven story, I really like your outlook on that. It seems you have a fresh perspective all the way around! Okay, let’s have some fun with BARCODE. What’s the first sentence?

Overzealous freshmen continue pouring out of buses and cars, excited for the first day of school.

Wow, that’s a great visual! What’s your favorite line in the book?

Time is limited by the bullet I deserve to swallow.

Intense. That sentence can go so many ways — it’s intriguing like that. *grin* How about an excerpt … three sentences long!

Sorry. I can’t find one that’s suitable for your website.

… And that is equally intriging, LOL. Which scene of BARCODE was most difficult for you to write? Why?

Nothing was difficult to write, I generally do that easily. But editing can be a pain.

There’s a scene where Kode and Spencer receive very powerful weapons. Sparks fly. Grounds rumble. Even lightening strikes. When I initially wrote the scene, I thought it was great, but the language wasn’t descriptive enough. I actually spend on hour on one page alone for that chapter trying to make sure the reader could see what was happening without being confused.

As a reader, I greatly appreciate your attention to detail there. Which scene would you most like to experience for yourself? From whose POV?

There’s a really epic fight between one of the villains and a guardian of Colt Academy. I would’ve loved to have been the villain who gets his butt kicked for the most part, but stands up to the best gladiator on the West Coast.

That’s a unique perspective, lol. What inspired the title of BARCODE: THE LEGEND OF APOLLO?

I always knew Barcode would be the title. The story is about powers omitting from barcodes that are tattooed on people’s skin. There’s a hidden message behind that symbolism, but I don’t explain it in the novel and probably never will.

Legend of Apollo came to me from nowhere. I decided that “Legend” would be best because it gives a clue what will happen in the end of the story. For some reason, readers are still shocked.

You have a really fantastic way of turning every question into a hook, LOL! What’s next for you?

Barcode: Cavern of Youth is in the final stages of editing. The cover art is finished and the betareaders have given their opinions. All I need to do is polish the grammar and format the novel. As a warning, COY is written from the perspective of another character, Kay. However, it is a continuation of the first book.

And speaking of that first book, let’s get to it.


Spencer Colt must return to his last year of Colt Academy–the academic institute for gladiators. The school and arena are run by his father, a wealthy businessman too occupied to remember his son’s 19th birthday. Spencer could care less. He’s a sarcastic jerk that wants to finish his final year without another person mentioning his destiny, to reunite America.

On his first day back, his family’s helicopter plunges nose first into the battlefield. As bloodied and limp bodies are dragged across the stadium, a mysterious boy named Kode emerges.

Spencer hardly has time to show concern for his recovering family members when he and his beautiful nemesis, Michelle Miyamoto, are attacked by a naked and manic Kode. Michelle promises to train with Spencer after they discover the lunatic’s intentions, but she has trouble of her own. She must keep the practice a secret for her friendship to survive.

In this world, humans are born with tattoos known as barcodes. The data contains mythological powers that make arena fights very entertaining. Yet, Spencer’s codes are different. They seem to draw him into a comforting darkness. It’s in this hell that he learns the truth about his corrupt family and how he murdered his mother.


KASHIF ROSS | bio & links

For the past three years, Kashif Ross has been mainly known as a teacher. Yet, he’s managed to pick up very random titles along the way. Previous jobs include Student Molecular Oncology Researcher, Camp Counselor, CGI Animator, Character Designer, and Professional Geek.

Now he’s an author living in California’s Bay Area. You can find posts about his random thoughts and adventures on his blog, www.kashifross.com.

Website / Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon


Ready to see this one for yourself? If you’d like to enter to win an e-copy of BARCODE: THE LEGEND OF APOLLO all you need to do is comment with your email address. For fun (not required), let us know what your secret barcode power would be, and where exactly would you put that barcode tattoo if you had a choice? (Forehead, anyone?)

Kashif, this has been a blast. I’ve really enjoyed your interview, and you totally snagged me with the absent excerpt. (Clever, clever.) Thanks so much for guesting here today, and readers, thank you all for your time. Please say hello to Kashif before you  head out, and have a fantastic weekend!