I think The Sightseers Agency is the best book of the Dreadnought Collective, and you did a great job of balancing the characters, conflict, and plot. Knowing that this was the last book in the series what was one thing you wanted to accomplish before the end of the series?
Loose ends to be tied up, conclusively.
The recurring characters are so unique, each with their own set of skills, flaws, and quirks, that it’s a delight to follow them from one adventure to another. What was one character you felt went through the biggest change throughout the series?
The Inlooker, posing as Claude Broadbent.
The Sightseers Agency ties up a lot of loose ends, answers questions, and ends on a hopeful note. Did you always have an idea of how the series would end or did it present itself as you were writing this last book?
It makes me feel uneasy to admit that this is the last book in the Dreadnought collective series, but you’ve put me on the spot! Yes, it makes sense to treat it as such, with infills later, like Bernard Cornwall did with the Sharpe’s series. I always aim to write with previous knowledge of the ending, but cannot claim to stick with it as the story evolves.
What is the next book that you’re writing? Are you working on another series?
The next book is the start of another Sci-Fi series. It involves new technology based on true inventions in the past. It also speculates on what alien contact could be like, when we reduce our population level. It will be a ‘vehicle’ for humor, to lighten the underlying message passed to readers.
Both his fledgling agency and that of The Deaduction Agency are members of The Dreadnought Collective.
The term ‘Dreadnought’ is based on a type of battleship introduced in the early 20th century, larger and faster than ever before and equipped entirely with large-caliber guns.
It applies in this instance because the cerebrally talented agents who enter its portals are expected to fear nobody and be scared by nothing in the performance of their duties.
They pursue those who indulge in criminal and seditious activities in the modern meritocracy using unorthodox techniques.
The Collective will embrace several types of Black Arts as it grows and faces unusual challenges. These once belonged to the realms of Science Fiction but are fast becoming a reality in the emerging new world.
This is a series of Whodunits set in the future.”
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The Deaduction Agency follows a team of psychics, telepaths and remote viewers who investigate several cases of disappearances, murders, and missing persons. This is a thrilling paranormal mystery novel. What was the initial spark for this book and how did that develop as you were writing?
I empathize with psychics, whose skills gained credibility as I read about them in series such as Psychic Detectives. The willingness of the police and detectives to appear in the shows, often after retirement from the force, speaks volumes for their appreciation of the skills of the psychics they employed. What also emerged was the need of the program makers to pad out the stories of psychic detectives with endless repeats of the facts. This is because the crimes are resolved in such a straightforward manner that it makes regular policing look tedious – which it is.
The first case, of a complex divorce, took longer to resolve because it did not require psychic abilities. I used it to contrast the differences in time to describe regular, traditional policing and those cases that require the skills of a psychic.
To my regret, some reviewers failed to understand why this approach was taken.
The book covers several different cases which range from quick and easy to edge-of-your-seat thriller. My favorite was ‘Case of the Prodigal Son’. What was your favorite case?
The same ‘Prodigal Son’, plus ‘The Honey Trap’, where Richard’s possessive and devious nature is revealed to the full.
The psychics at this agency have skills and near-future technology that give them powers beyond what psychics can do now. What were the limitations you needed to keep them believable and what was something that you absolutely had to have for them to be interesting?
I accept psychic skills as they exist now, and have no patience with skeptics who try to fool around with their sensory perceptions, to prove they are frauds and have no special skills. However, in the book they had to be fully capable of reading minds, in order to be foolproof in their assessment of criminals. Even so, some reviewers failed to understand this, and judged the psychic teams to be behaving unacceptably in passing sentence on some criminals. Why, if they can read minds and know the vile nature of the people they are categorizing? It is hardly as if they are executing them! The aim is to re-incorporate them into society, with their souls purified.
This story is ripe with paranormal activity, remote viewing and the powers of the mind. Which power and character do you identify with?
Telepathy, having experimented with it in front of others, as a young teenager. I identify with Richard and Chuck and Joe, in different ways.
A final, general observation on the review itself. The opening scene is criticized for its excess of descriptive detail, That is almost a verbatim criticism made by another reviewer, Marta Cheng in 2015, who stated: In some places, such as near the beginning of the book, there is an inordinate amount of detailed explanation provided as to the set up of the agency’s offices – details that detract from the momentum of the story. In response, I cut down the detail to a mere 360 words, which is hardly inordinate! It also became apparent that Marta (who got fond of changing her surname to put me off the scent) had not read the book in its entirety and was intent on having a dig at another reviewer from the same stable as herself.
To emphasize why it was done, I then suffixed the description with the following sentences:
Richard, the most senior partner in the agency, was busying himself constantly re-arranging brochures on a side table in the waiting area in reception. It was a quirky habit of his that Honey found most annoying. It also reflected his fussy preoccupation with orderliness and exact measurements.
Naturally, he was the architect of the office layout, which Honey was often tempted to rearrange, solely to unsettle him.
Love scenes soon followed as well! Some of this preoccupation is revisited later, as part of Honey’s tangled love life. What more can an author do?
Witness at first-hand a group of specialist investigators, as they set up and run a new, innovative crime fighting agency. They are dedicated to the resolution of criminal cases using paranormal assistance. This will be a new, innovative and emerging brand of policing designed to protect the citizens of our country.
Read how they deal with the anti-social, disturbed behavior of a wayward, divorced husband, who is on the verge of destroying the lives of his ex-wife and their two young sons.
Read how they identify the members of a murderous ring of pedophiles from relatively few clues, and bring them to justice.
Read how they move from ineffectively resolving one case at a time, and onto tackling multiple cases with far more beneficial results to society.
Read thereafter how they clear the penitentiaries of criminals, starting with the most dangerous inmates, using novel means to cleanse their souls of sin, and equip them for new roles in life in special clearing centers. The objective is to reintegrate them into society, rendered capable of performing straightforward tasks and genuinely purified, via the novel process of atonement.
Read how they find one talented young man who was lost, presumed dead, and reunite him with his family. Thereafter, as agents of change, they help launch him on the path to stardom.
This is not a simple, gory, two dimensional book, but an exploration into the timely use of mediums in crime detection. It can pay dividends in assisting the fight against crime.
They use the latest techniques and technology in a future world that is not far removed from that which exists today.
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The Time Slipsters spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. What is the funnest part about imagining and writing the future?
The fun is in seeing things that are commonly regarded as Sci-Fi beginning to happen. I believe that research on the web reveals what a wonderful world we live in. If you look for articles on medical research, the motor industry and technology in general, it also indicates where the human race is heading.
We are already seeing Nano robots being used for keyhole surgery, drugs being tailored to combat and kill cancer cells, and the early diagnosis of dementia, to name but a few. Plus the whiff of flying cars and free power is in the air!
Imagine a world where the health service does not feel overwhelmed by an aging population, because old people are no longer suffering the ‘ravages of old age’. Why would that be? The answer is: treatment of their various sufferings is being mastered, until death they do part! By the way, I come into the latter category.
Envisage a world where travel is from home to destination, in minutes. No airports, no connecting flights or trains or buses or taxis. No squandering of natural resources, no electricity costs, no power stations needed, no pylons or towering wind vanes blotting the landscape. Much of what I describe has been available for over a century, if it were not for intervention of vested interests.
The characters end up traveling through time, and like many stories, their actions in the past affect the future. What was the most interesting part about writing a time travel story?
Getting into the heads of the characters on both sides of the experience of time travel. Drawing word pictures of the experience and conveying mental images to readers was fun too. It challenges my imagination to run riot. By the way, unlike Professor Hawking I do not believe that the death of an ancestor caused by a time traveler would have any impact whatsoever on his or her descendants.
The threat to Earth is revealed by uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate. What was the inspiration for the Sombrella Syndicate?
I once worked for a Lloyds of London group of insurance syndicates, so am familiar with the concept. The deserted brickworks near where I live in Spain was an ideal undercover location for an alien base, but not big enough to house it, on the surface. Who better to man it, underground, than dwarfs, who have a reputation for mining and gold!
Time Slipsters is book three in the Dreadnought collective. Where does book 4 take the characters?
Book 4 takes the characters in an entirely new direction that totally engrossed me for a while. I took great interest in the feasibility of psychic involvement in crime detection. This added another dimension to the evolution of the Dreadnought Collective. The various characters in all the books are intertwined in book 5, the Sightseers Agency, which is now run under the auspices of the U.S. government, as is the entire collective. The individual agencies in the collective instantly become more effective as the two genres are mixed.
A group of friends who have drifted apart decide to reunite and take a trip together. It is the near future, and their intention is to travel on the latest type of transport, in order to visit the ancient sites in Turkey.
They want to do this in luxury, and the travel company they selected has done its best to accommodate their desires. They are lost for words when they first cast their eyes on the spectacular, gleaming new vehicle waiting for them. It is in fact alien in technology, and far more of a futuristic craft than a mere ground-hugging coach.
Unwittingly, they are entering a world where time travel is a reality and machines can cater for individuals as well as the masses.
Soon, they embarking on a sightseeing tour like no other they could have imagined, and meeting a time-travelling stranger who takes them under his wing.
More than one person has a hidden agenda, as they realise when reach a highly protected secret location. It contains hybrid creatures on which the Gods of mythology are based.
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