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A Strange Combination

David K. Hulegaard Author Interview

David K. Hulegaard Author Interview

Icarus details the captivating account of P.I. Brinkman’s investigation into the disappearance of young Jane Emmett. What was your inspiration behind this story?

I’ve suffered from night terrors since I was a child, and sometimes the dreams can get pretty intense. Over time, I’ve learned how to use this to my advantage, and I keep a notepad and pen on my nightstand to scribble down as much as I can remember. The first seeds of Icarus began there, and then I started to fill in the rest over the next couple of months. I’d say the concept is a hybrid of influences: the TV series Lost, the video game series BioShock, and the movie Battle Royale. It’s a strange combination of things that really shouldn’t fit together, but I still somehow felt they could.

This story is set in West Virginia in 1947. Why did you choose this time and place as the backdrop?

I wanted the story to take place in a fictitious location, but still feel believable. I love it when people tell me they’ve googled Ashley Falls trying to find it on a map. 😊 I guess I’ve always been drawn to small towns. I love the sense of community, and the whole “everyone knows everybody” atmosphere. Ashley Falls is a sleepy little town nestled away in the woods, but close enough to big cities so that it’s not completely cut off from the rest of the world. I ultimately chose West Virginia because of its proximity to key places I thought would make for a great setting.

As for the decade, it was the perfect fit for what I was trying to accomplish. I’m fascinated with urban legends and conspiracy theories, and some of my favorites are from the ‘50s and ‘60s. I thought it would be fun to pull some of that mid-century paranoia into a post-WWII world and see what it might’ve looked like. I mean, if people reported seeing men in black in the ‘60s, how much earlier were they in existence before they were actually noticed?

One thing I found exceptional in this novel was the characters, especially Miller Brinkman. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating his character?

Thank you! I really appreciate that. What I ultimately wanted for Miller was to be relatable. When you look at some of the most famous detectives in literature, you start to see a lot of the same characteristics. I wanted to create a character who was different. He’s not a big city P.I., and he doesn’t have much experience dealing with things like kidnapping and murder. Although he’s a logical and capable sleuth, Miller’s still sort of getting his feet wet and learning on the job. I wanted readers to come along on his journey and hopefully be invested in his growth.

It was also important to me to find the right balance in his character. He’s not Superman, but he’s not bumbling either. No answer comes to him easily. I wanted him to work hard for every inch he advances in the case.

Icarus is the first book in the Noble Trilogy. What can readers expect from book 2 in the series, The Invisible War?

The Invisible War is a bit of a departure from Icarus. It had to be. Miller couldn’t have gone through the events of the first book and come out the same man, so I really wanted to explore his mental state, and what that meant for his future. He made some powerful allies in Icarus, and those relationships open the door for him to explore a new opportunity working with the F.B.I.

In Icarus, we see Miller working somewhat in a silo. In The Invisible War, he’s handed a rather sinister case that’s going to require more help, and he’s put in charge of a special task force. Miller’s never had to lead before, so this is an opportunity for him to evolve even further.

However, something else is changing inside Miller at the same time. He’s becoming stronger. Faster. Bloodthirsty. Something dormant inside of him is beginning to bloom.

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It’s the winter of 1947 in Ashley Falls, West Virginia, and a teenage girl has gone missing. Local private detective Miller Brinkman takes the case, quickly uncovering a string of bizarre clues. A hidden diary, cryptic riddles, and buried secrets all pique Miller’s interest, but one key detail gives him pause: the girl’s parents haven’t reported her disappearance to the authorities. As the case deepens, Miller’s investigation begins to poke holes in the idyllic picture of his beloved hometown. No longer certain whether anyone in his community can be trusted, Miller dives headfirst into a desperate search for the truth that extends far beyond the borders of Ashley Falls. He soon discovers that his missing persons case is not an isolated incident, but part of an otherworldly mystery—one that, if confronted, may threaten the very future of humanity.

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Game Over

Game Over (A Series of Ends Book 1)4 StarsGame Over begins inside a virtual world created by Sybil, an AI that rules over the virtual world of Elysium. Ekko Everlasting spawns into what seems to be a video game, armed and ready to fight, although he has no memory of who he is or why he’s there. He knows only his name and his innate ability to survive in a kill-or-be-killed environment. This skill helps him win his first match in No-Life, the most popular game in Elysium.

Flush from his win and mobbed by fans, he’s saved from an imposing cyberman—and potential deletion—by Ridley Scott, who tells him that Ekko is an important asset to the resistance. Ridley and his boss Dadgar recruit Ekko for their mission to find the central core of the Sybil system and free what’s left of humanity on Earth. Dadgar tells Ekko that Elysium was created to solve humanity’s problems, including illness and death, so millions of people were uploaded into the system. If humans in Elysium don’t live up to Sybil’s standards, embodied by the No-Life game, they are reprogrammed or deleted by the cybermen. Deletion brings death in the real world.

There’s a lot to like in this novel. The stakes are as high as they get: life or death for not only Ekko but humanity itself. The games he plays, No-Life, Myth and Magic, and The Test, bring the kind of exciting combat and split-second decision making that will keep you on the edge of your seat. His adversaries and allies are experts at the game, and the scenarios Sybil pits them against are both elegant and deadly.

There’s also a throwback to the “choose your own adventure” books that were popular in the late 1970’s and 80’s. At several points in the story, readers are given a choice for Ekko’s next action, and the wrong choice can lead to the words: Game Over! If you follow the right choices, it leads to a surprising conclusion with an interesting twist on Ekko’s mission—and his identity. His journey through the different levels of the game reveals the lengths that the elite will go in their quest for power. In this case, literal power measured in watts instead of mere credits.

A few things didn’t go over well. Every scene that ends with a choice of adventure has an obvious “opt out” spoiler, so it’s too easy to avoid the “game over” choice. I was also a little confused about the cyberman, Naraku Carbon. The author gives him an entire chapter and backstory, but after that chapter, he vanishes completely. His only contributions to Ekko’s story were brief encounters that could have been fulfilled by any anonymous security drone.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy gaming, tense action scenes, and life or death adventure. Though it borrows a few concepts from popular movies like Battle Royale and The Matrix, Game Over offers an interesting take on what might happen if life really is a simulation.

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01KNJ8WB6

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