The Albatross: Contact is a thrilling science fiction novel. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
Thanks! It’s been a lot of fun writing. I originally came up with the idea for The Albatross Series over a decade ago while working as a wildland firefighter. While not military, there is a similar discipline and grit required for the job. The bond you form with many of your fellow crewmembers is something that I’ve found hard to replicate anywhere else; something I hope comes across in the book. Being a long-time science fiction fan, I looked for ways I could translate my own experiences into an interstellar setting. While a galactic firefighting story was considered, I decided to go with the waaay more original, brutal and complicated war theme instead. I think a bit more universality to it anyway . . . unfortunately.
I’m also a screenwriter and actor, so the first iteration of The Albatross Series was this epic 3 1/2 hour feature screenplay I wrote; a screenplay I always wanted to either direct myself, or kick ass in as an actor. I just want it all, OK?! However, I knew I wanted more space to really flesh out the world, explore the characters, and weave the story, hence diving in and expanding into a novel and series. Finding a way to parallel it with one of my favorite poems, “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” by Coleridge, was a bonus.
I enjoyed the deep world building in your book. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in your universe?
First off let me say again, I love sci-fi: there are so many varied and incredible branches of it. However, I have found there’s a tendency to get lost in the world-building or the actual science of the fiction from time to time. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the world-building, I tried my best to make sure the real eggheady stuff wasn’t too overwhelming and that the characters and their relationships weren’t lost in the universe. An equilibrium. It’s a style I personally enjoy most, and I think the most treasured stories in the genre, old and new, have always found a way to do that. “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, “Starship Troopers” by Robert A. Heinlein; newer books like the “Old Man’s War” series by John Scalzi, or Pierce Brown’s “Red Rising” books. Hell, the “Harry Potter” books if we dip into fantasy. “Star Wars.” “Star Trek.” We’re entranced by these beautiful and creative worlds, in awe of them, desperate to explore and be a part of them; but we stick around for the people who inhabit them. If you don’t have characters that people feel for, that you really give a shit about, what’s the point? What’s “Dune” without characters like Paul Atreides or Gurney Halleck, “Forever War” without Sgt. Mandella, “Starship Troopers” without Rico, “Old Man’s War” without Jane? Because of this, the most important themes ended up being family, connection, love, duality – The things worth fighting for and struggling against. Nothing new or flashy, but transplanted into something . . . new and flashy. Giants and their shoulders, ya know?
The cast of characters were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
The character of Will Reach is about as close to myself as any character I’ve written. Good and bad. Not a facsimile, but similar. I mean, he’s kind of a darkly sarcastic asshole so maybe not entirely like me . . . Anyway, the fun thing about that is being able to really dig into the light and dark as explorations of not only the character, but myself. Dreaming up new ‘what ifs.’ How do I think I would deal in these situations (ideally)? How would I probably screw things up? Each of the three main POV characters are very different from each other, hopefully providing a well-rounded view of this new world, and I love writing each one, but Sarah (oh Sarah, how I love thee) and Arthur are also a lot smarter than Will . . . and by extension me. So, while I enjoy the challenge of writing the others and fully extracting their souls, Will is more natural for me.
This is book one in your Albatross series. What can readers expect in book two, Requiem?
Requiem will crank things up a notch or two. Contact, as the title suggests, is all about the first encounters and setting the stage – with the good guys and the bad. In Requiem, we’ll see the conflict on a much larger scale as our heroes pick up the pieces from the end of Book 1 and become fully embroiled in the war and the mystery of the Forsaken. A new character, who we only glimpsed in Contact, will also be taking the reins for a bit, and establishing herself as a powerful force throughout the rest of the series. My goal was always to leave lots of hidden little Easter eggs in the first book that won’t be fully realized until Book 5; benign clues that mean nothing without context, but along the way and by the time we reach the end of the road, readers will be able to look back and go, “Well, son of a bitch! He hinted at that in Book 1.” So yeah, Requiem will be dark and have some serious shit going on.
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Invasion follows a vampire, mage and a werewolf as they try to prevent an alien invasion. How did you come up with this unique and thrilling idea?
For that, we have to go back to The Underground, to which Invasion is the standalone sequel. I wanted to tell more of Melera’s story (the interstellar assassin) than what was depicted in that first book. So, I have an alien on the run from her nemesis, who is determined to recapture her and possess her battlefleet. When she returns to Earth, what are the high stakes? Does she just resume her existence on her hidden base, doing what she’s fated to do? No, because there’s no urgency. There has to be a clear and present danger from without. And what could be more of a clear and present danger than a potential alien invasion of Earth?
I really enjoyed that each character was unique and well developed, which led to some very interesting relationships. Did you plan these relationships or did they grow organically?
Again, we have to go back to The Underground. The Underground is where those relationships developed. I didn’t exactly plan them; they more or less grew organically. I mean, I had an idea about these relationships, but I didn’t map them out—I simply wrote and watched them unfold. That’s the way I write—I don’t plot anything out. I have an idea where to start—point A, if you will—and I know I have to get to point B and then to point C. How I get to these points is completely unknown to me. That, for me, is the joy of writing, that act of creation.
This novel was fun to read. What was the most fun scene for you to write?
That would have to be the BDSM scene. I had to do research for that one. I read books on the roles of the dominant and the submissive. I learned that to be a good dom is hard work. I also learned the rules of etiquette in group settings, and things like that. I visited a couple of clubs on open house night, where we were treated to a tour of the facilities, mini-lectures and demonstrations. One night, I won a gorgeous, hand-tooled leather spiked collar at a silent auction. Anyway, I met some fabulous people who were more than willing to talk to me about how to write the scene so that it rang true. I even ran it by a couple who gave me pointers. A great group of people, really. Their lifestyle isn’t mine, but it was a wonderful experience that really opened my eyes.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a sequel to a book I wrote a few years ago, entitled The Moreva of Astoreth. It’s funny—I never intended to write a sequel to The Moreva, but so many of my readers strongly suggested that I do so, well, how can I disappoint? I hope to have it finished within a year, maybe by the spring of 2019. My day job takes up a lot of my time, and I’m still working on how to balance the marketing and writing thing. I mean, I’m either all in, or not. I know there’s got to be a better way, a smarter way—I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Kurt, vampire Master of Seattle, Garrett Larkin, mage of Balthus Coven and Parker Berenson, alpha of the city’s werewolf pack, are in a world of trouble. Already divided by love and jealousy, the three discover their auras are inextricably bound, the result of a spellcasting gone terribly wrong. Each one’s aura has been invaded by the auras of the others, and the consequences are both frightening and deadly. Worse yet, Shen’zae Melera, interstellar assassin and Parker’s love, has returned to Earth with dire news: she didn’t return alone. She’d been followed by her nemesis, Mag Beloc, and his fleet of warships. Even if Beloc recaptures her, Melera knows that Earth will suit his purposes, and that his presence may well become permanent. Drawn together by choice and fate while doing what they had to do, can Kurt, Garrett, and Parker now find a way to undo the magick that binds them, and with Melera, stop an alien invasion before it begins?
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A mystery novel that tackles uncomfortable issues with a splash of adventure is what readers will find within the pages of The Vatican Protocol by Brian Gallagher. This book contains all the basics of a mystery: intrigue, conspiracies, subterfuge and best of all, aliens. Whether or not the aliens are real and what relationship they have to the story that is told is up to the readers to discover. It’s a grand journey that crosses over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe in search of answers. Almost Indiana-Jones-esque, this adventure will surely have readers turning those pages to discover just what the relationship is between these aliens and the ever esteemed Vatican church. The answer might just surprise all who pick this up.
We follow our protagonist, Sean O’Sea, as he begins his journey from his comfortable home to Europe where his life is placed in jeopardy several times. It’s not a good action story without some sort of armed confrontation. Sean seems like a regular man with very irregular friends as he pursues his latest obsession with alien theories and whether or not there is any truth to the stories that have been told. He’s a likeable character and his ‘everyman’ flavouring will allow all readers to feel a bit of them in him. This allows readers to connect with the story on a more personal level and demonstrates the clever wordsmithing at play. The cast of characters is easy to keep track of even if it may seem like there are a few more than necessary.
The small downfalls of this book is the dialogue and how convenient everything seems. There are points in the novel when characters are conversing between themselves and their words seem stilted and forced. As if they are speaking just for the sake of speaking. This detracts slightly from the overall tone of the novel, but it is easy to move past.
As for the convenience of everything, this could just be a story element to help solidify the conspiracy flavour of the book as a whole, but it seems contrived in some areas. Our protagonist just happens to have a summer home that is looked after by a man who just happens to have worked with the CIA on top secret missions. Our protagonist also just happens to make friends with some very influential people during his travels and just happens to uncover a massive plot while being an ordinary man. Perhaps this is what makes a great conspiracy tale, however it felt a little too easy. But these are minor and don’t take away from the joy of reading.
For readers who enjoy reading conspiracy theories that involve the church and global cover-ups, you will definitely find an enjoyable read in The Vatican Protocol by Brian Gallagher. This action story knee-deep in such a controversial subject is entertaining to read and the twist at the end will have all readers questioning exactly what transpired in the pages of the book.
Pages: 286 | ASIN: B01G0Y8ZFG
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Invasion, by Roxanne Bland is a blend of werewolf, vampire, fantasy and sci-fi genres, set in the modern world. We follow Kurt, a vampire, Garrett, a mage, and Parker Berenson, the alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack. They become bound together, despite their struggles and differences in the face of an alien invasion that brings Melera, an old flame of Parker’s, back into the mix. Mag Beloc bursts onto the scene as the real cause of the invasion, who commands a fleet of warships in pursuit of the intergalactic assassin, Melera. And so all the pieces fall into place that make for an interesting narrative as the comrades deal with the magic that binds them and the insurmountable odds of an alien invasion force on Earth.
Roxanne Bland’s novel blends many genres but, overall, follows similar beats that are pretty familiar to science fiction adventure novels. This story stays colorful with it’s interesting use of vampires and werewolves, but at the core of the story, you still have a tale of heroes struggling against one another and the external forces lining up against them.
The novels strengths lie with it’s well developed characters and their relationships rather than the premise. Kurt, Garrett, and Parker are all fun and dynamic characters. Whether it’s spicy dialogue or intriguing interactions, the well rounded characters are the most appealing aspect of this novel. Although the plot left me wanting more, these character can be anywhere and still be interesting.
The novel has a lot of telling rather than showing as well as descriptions that tend to weigh the action down, making the overall pacing slow. This is something that many readers revel in, but with a plot that involves vampires and werewolves battling aliens! I thought it would faster. I will say there are some really great action scenes as well as a steamy sex scene, so if you consider yourself mature, then this novel is for you.
All in all, if such a wild blend of genres is your thing then this is the book for you. Science fiction fans may find themselves most at home in this world, but fantasy fans will want in as well. Either way, Invasion is sure to please pulp readers of all stripes.
Pages: 305 | ASIN: B0774LYZT9
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H.A.L.F Origins written by Natalie Wright is the third book in the H.A.L.F series. This book will please fans of the series, which is aimed at young adults. It takes a look at the characters that fans know and love, Tex, Erika and Jack Wilson. Tex and Erika are on their own adventures, running for their lives against the deadly alien virus that is spawning an epidemic around the globe. As well as predators attacking Europe and an organization whose conspiring to profit from chaos and forge a New World Order. It seems like these two have their hands full.
Tex and Erika need help from a Navajo healer when Tex falls gravely ill The healer is their only chance at helping Tex live. Thankfully, Tex emerges from the experience with vital information which will help stop the predatory M’Uktah from overtaking the human population. Sounds crazy, hey! Very intense.
I really enjoyed that this book had a pronunciation and definition guide at the start of the book otherwise I would’ve had trouble keeping up with whose who.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the sweet acknowledgment at the start of the book, as many acknowledgments are at the back and I didn’t realize that she had written so many words (300,000 to be exact).
The story is really fast paced and throws you immediately into the deep end of the action. The writing is really clever and immerses the reader immediately into the world of the characters. You can really tell that the author has crafted these characters with care, as they’re all very different and have a different tone. I’ve noticed with some of the other books that I’ve read, authors tend to just reuse personality traits, but that was not the case with this book at all.
With The Makers and predatory creatures who want to enslave the human race, I found this book to be very enjoyable and action-packed. It was very sweet to read Erika and Tex’s budding romance, as he’s half-human and she’s into someone else. That was relatable as hell, I mean, apart from the fact he’s half human. These two broke my heart again and again. Why did they make everything so complicated!?
The complexity of the characters within this story is what kept me on the edge of my seat. Although I generally like it when characters are undoubtedly good or bad, it’s refreshing for me to read characters that aren’t always like this. This was the case with the main characters within this book, as you learn more and more about them as time goes on.
I really enjoyed this book. Is it the last one in the series? I hope not.
Pages: 377 | ASIN: B07263P84J
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The Inlooker follows Thomas as his life changes when his daughter’s cat dies and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul inhabits the body of another cat in the house. This is one of the most unique story setups I’ve read in a long time. How did this idea develop into a story for you?
It is an event that actually happened. We had three cats at the time, each of which died in quick succession and had a unique personality, unlike those of the others. It was a wonder to behold, as each of our pets transmogrified into another way of behaving, which only lasted a couple of days before reverting to the original personality. That was over 30 years ago, but it led me to believe that animals possess spirits like we do.
Thomas works to enhance his powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people. What was the biggest challenge you faced in developing the character along with his powers?
Dispassionate research was needed into reincarnation, spiritualism, poltergeist activity and the possibilities of bodily possession by others. I could not even begin to start this monumental task until retirement. The most profound findings were actually in reincarnation, where much evidence exists and has been documented, especially involving children.
I enjoyed the narrators voice, it’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. Was this an intentional part of the story or just a facet of your natural writing style?
It was deliberate and based on the style of an old-time English actor called George Saunders. I can’t honestly say if it reflects my style in general. There’s a touch of Terry Pratchett in there too, plus the zaniness of P.G.Wodehouse.
What is the next story you are working on and when will that book be available?
I’ve recently issued The Sightseers Agency and am working on another in the Sci-Fi vein that will be ready by June 2017. All my books are near-future speculative and most of the contents are based on what is possible in key areas of science.
The magical World of Science Fiction is dominated by stories about individuals with outlandish costumes, fantastical skills and superior strength. They compete energetically for attention, and capture our imagination in the most unbelievable of ways.
But what if in real life, there were to exist a force that could take on any of these mythical beings, without needing to possess similar or opposing strengths?
Thomas Beckon wields that force, in much the same way that a contagion can wipe out most of humanity, from within. For Thomas is an Inlooker, perhaps the only one as far as he is aware, and is truly capable of invading any person’s soul that he chooses.
Luckily for those around him, Thomas is a benign individual who chooses a path through life that barely creates a ripple in his wake. At least, what he does is so undetectable that any malevolence in his actions is hardly ever recognized, even superficially.
Pity those who cross swords (or should I say souls?) with the Inlooker, for he can take anyone down, or initiate a chain-reaction of catastrophes, regardless of a person’s super abilities, or position in life.
Then he becomes less benign, and begins to focus on changing the society in which we live. Thereafter, he focuses on the world.
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In Beyond Cloud Nine Ace fighter pilot Brooke Davis stumbles upon a conspiracy involving terrorists, aliens, and the highest levels of government. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The plot of BC9 was born of two initial premises.
First, as a kid, I loved anything with fighter planes, especially fighter planes in space. Many shows and movies featured the brash young male fighter pilot of which we’re all familiar, but few works of fiction starred a female lead pilot. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced a female lead would give a story a different feel, and it hadn’t been done nearly as often, so I rolled with it.
Second, we’re all familiar with the standard alien invasion story. Powerful aliens hover their gigantic motherships over our big cities. The human military is powerless against them, can’t punch through their shields, etc. Just when all hope seems lost, we humans find the one glaring weakness that will defeat these intelligent yet negligent invaders and hallelujah! The world is saved and everyone bands together in harmony. Can I get an eye-roll, please? With that in mind, I thought to myself, “How can I turn that premise upside down and leverage it to my advantage?” I thus had the antagonists in BC9 use a seemingly cliché alien invasion in a very non-cliché way to push their agenda.
I felt that the technology and science in Beyond Cloud Nine were delivered in such a way that anyone could understand it. Was this by design?
Absolutely. I seek to make my writing accessible to as wide of an audience as possible. I try to take after Arthur C. Clarke, who was a master of taking complex scientific concepts and simplifying them into an easy, breezy read.
The editor of BC9 deserves a lot of credit for teaching me the difference between telling, showing, and experiencing. We’ve all heard that an author should show rather than tell–most of the time; there are instances where telling makes sense. Don’t just write that something happened (telling). Write descriptive language that demonstrates it happening (showing). However, there’s another level beyond showing that better speaks to readers. Don’t just show something happening. Show how it affects the character, physically, mentally, and emotionally (experiencing). Rather than bogging readers down with the technical details of how something works (a pitfall some hard science fiction authors fall into), I try to place my focus on how technology and events affect people.
Brooke Davis is an interesting and well developed female character. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
With Brooke, I definitely indulged my inner pessimist. I took everything that annoys me and magnified it tenfold. Also, as discussed earlier, I tried to create a lead that contrasted with the typical suave fighter jock. Brooke is anti-social. You won’t find her in bars tossing back shots.
The guilt of believing she killed her father taints her perception of everything.
A main story arc that’s every bit as important as whether the antagonists are defeated is her journey to work through that guilt and grow.
I find a problem in well written stories, in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Where does Brooke Davis’s character go in the second novel?
The sequel, Beyond the Horizon (Beyond Saga Book 2), was published in May 2016. It stars Brooke’s niece, Maya, as the girl embarks upon humankind’s first interstellar mission. Brooke plays a critical supporting role even though she remains in the Sol system. “Demoted” to a civilian flight instructor because of her actions at the end of BC9, Brooke seeks to earn her way back into a cockpit. When she learns of the tragedy awaiting the interstellar mission, she takes a series of bold actions to try to get out to Gliese 581 to save her niece and the mission.
While we’re on the subject of sequels, I just sent Beyond Yesterday (Beyond Saga Book 3) off to the editor. The third installment in the tetralogy should be available in the summer of 2017.
Ace star fighter pilot Brooke Davis lives for pushing hundreds of gees in orbital combat, but she’d give it all up in a moment to become the first human to fly faster than light. When Brooke stumbles upon a conspiracy involving terrorists, aliens, and the highest levels of government, she finds their goals seductive but their methods abhorrent. With the moral core of human civilization hanging in the balance, she must risk her shot at history, her family, and her life to prevent the schemers from forcing their nefarious brand of salvation upon the solar system.
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Those who love a good, solid science-fiction story won’t be disappointed with Greg Spry’s Beyond Cloud Nine. Spry maps out a futuristic Earth where humans have expanded their reach and colonized other planets. Our protagonist is Brooke Davis, a young fighter pilot who is the best of her generation. A child born from a Japanese mother and an American father, Brooke has faced discrimination her entire life. Add to the fact that she suffers from a disorder caused by gene therapy before her birth and Brooke screams protagonist. It’s almost as if she knows she’s the star of the novel but what Brooke has to overcome before she can confidently say she has saved the day is both tragic and exhausting. Expending all of her faculties to uncover a surprise conspiracy while reconnecting with her estranged twin sister and niece, Brooke powers forward in this exciting tale where science meets fiction.
Despite first appearances, Brooke is not a strong female lead. She’s battered, bordering on completely broken in both body and soul. Never forgiving herself for the hand she played in her father’s death our protagonist runs away from the things that she can’t handle. This includes her twin sister, who she left behind on Earth six years before the book begins to pursue her profession as a pilot for the United Nations. While she is good at what she does, it is not without a cost. We discover quite early on that Brooke is addicted to illegally enhancing her body with a drug referred to as “Sparks”. It is only after breaking a colleague’s nose Brooke returns to her sister and attempts at reconciliation.
There are many ways a science-fiction tale can go wrong. Over exaggerated feats of science and unrealistic explanations of technology have doomed many a series. Beyond Cloud Nine does not suffer from either of these faults no doubt in part to Spry’s real life experience with engineering and space systems. His control over the craft of story-telling uses these skills and experiences to explain what is happening in an amateur-friendly fashion. No over the top jargon or complicated explanations to detract from the story at hand.
During Brooke’s journey from almost-washed up pilot to practical savior of the planet readers will watch her grow and develop into something that resembles a human being, complete with feelings and emotions. In the beginning Brooke is too broken to connect properly with those around her. Even when she first reconnects with her sister after a six-year absence she has troubles interacting on a human level. She’s angry, confused and as lost as a teenager trying to figure out what makes them, them.
Readers will surely enjoy this first installment to the Beyond saga penned by Greg Spry. Brooke overcomes some of her faults while retaining others and that allows readers to feel more connected to her; because she’s real. Beyond Cloud Nine delivers with action, compelling character development and realistic explanations for technology that doesn’t quite exist yet in our present time. Or does it?
Pages: 360 | ASIN: B00NOFZ16Q
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