The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray
Mother Athina by Danny Estes
Game Over by Derek Eddington
Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry
The Second Sphere by Peter Banks
Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean
Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak
Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller
The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke
“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste
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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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