Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
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The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.
As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.
Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?
The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.
Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.
All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.
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I really enjoyed the depth of your two female lead characters. How do you continue to develop your characters throughout your series?
Each character must deal with both personal and external conflicts that shape them as individuals. In the fourth and final book of the Beyond Saga, Beyond Existence, Maya must find a way to regain her optimism in the face of the losses she’s suffered and despite the occupation of human space by a group of powerful aliens.
I really enjoy David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Have you read those books? Those books also have a strong female lead. Are there any books that serve as inspiration for your writing?
I’ve read book one, On Basilisk Station. It was good, and it’s flattering that my writing sometimes gets compared to Weber’s. Like Honor, Brooke and Maya are strong female leads. But I came up with Beyond Cloud Nine prior to reading On Basilisk Station, so I can’t say I have too heavily influenced by it.
Collectively, I’ve been influenced by many different books, shows, movies, and video games. I’ve listed some of them on this page: https://www.gregspry.com/influences.php. On the background page for each of my books’ web sites, you can read about what influenced the creation of that particular book.
Here’s a link to the BC9 background page: https://www.beyondcloudnine.com/Background.aspx.
Where does the Beyond Saga takes it characters in the next book and how do you see the story evolving in the future?
The fourth and final book in the series, Beyond Existence, takes everything that’s happened in the first three books and weaves it all together. The aliens that Maya encountered in the past in book three conquer human civilization in a manner reminiscent of Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Maya must travel to different time periods and alternate universes to figure out a way to end the occupation by an alien race so advanced that they’re practically gods compared to humans.
My next book series will be set in the distant future in an alternate universe and different galaxy and will only loosely relate back to the Beyond Saga.
After years of pushing the boundaries of interstellar spaceflight, Commander Maya Davis is ecstatic when she is promoted to captain. But her enthusiasm wanes when she discovers that her new assignment is a one-way mission.
After taking command of the space-time vessel Yesterday, Maya must travel back in time to discover how and why a piece of 23rd century technology appeared 200,000 years earlier. It’s an exciting opportunity–except for the one-way aspect. The best minds of her time say it’s impossible to return to the present.
Trapped in the distant past, Maya must choose between a peace that could condemn humanity to perpetual slavery, or a fight for freedom that involves deception, rebellion, and mass murder. Whatever she decides, her actions may very well erase an entire civilization from history.
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Underlord of the Netherworld once again brilliantly melds age old wisdom and youthful spirit into a daring tale of life after Peter Pan. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I wanted to create something multicultural that would help empower children and young adults around the world. This evolved into explaining life balance and human nature; how forgiveness allows personal growth; and how each one of us has the power to create an immense and lasting change in the lives of others.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of view within the fascinating scope of human experience. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends. Most people have the need to improve themselves and their environment, but it depends on one’s values as to what the outcome will be. Impermanence can be our greatest ally if we focus on the goodness within.
The invasion of Malomen, a swarthy society of bloodlusting sea creatures, has brought with it the tides of war. What was your inspiration for these creatures?
I love the sea, aquariums, and scuba diving. I spend hours next to a large aquarium while I write. Many times I stop and marvel at the marine life. While writing this book, I paused to observe the beautiful designs on the skin of a large plecostomus. It made me think about mudskippers that have adapted to land and sea, and then a race of Malomen was born in my mind.
Underlord of the Netherworld earnestly explores the powers of communication, compassion, and community. What morals did you try to capture while developing your characters?
In Legends of the Pan 1 (Essence of Neverland):
I chose four children to be gifted the power of the Pan. The fairies selected them because they each had a special inherent nature. Kuthanda is endowed with love, Dobráta with compassion, Khwam Glaohán with courage, and Rakaná with creativity, which is the literal meaning of each child’s name in their native tongue. Each child was from a different country, raised in a different belief system, and suffered the loss of loved ones due to a different tragedy. These children found happiness because they chose to move on with their lives, keep an open mind, and lose themselves in the service of others instead of wallowing in self-pity.
It is with our thoughts and volition that we create our personal worlds. It is up to each individual to decide which path will be taken. Even if one discovers the chosen path was a mistake, he or she can change direction at any moment, learn from the mistake, and continue to grow, which is what Captain Hook, Chief Najoshi, and Chief Adagash managed to do.
In Legends of the Pan 2 (Underlord of the Netherworld):
Tolerance of others different from oneself permits the exploration of different points of views within the fascinating scope of human experiences. Appearances can be deceiving, and people can change. Friends can become enemies, and enemies can become friends.
Reichi’s innocence gave him the compassion required to save all of the islanders above and below the sea. He could not be swayed to commit an evil act or cause harm since he had never been tainted by the negative affairs of men.
After many years Najoshi had learned to forgive past trespasses, and have compassion for all living beings, tempered with wisdom. He had decided to remain steadfast in his beliefs, even in the most dire circumstances. The chief, his queen, and their children understand the connectivity of all things, the great power found in unity, and that education is the path, which leads away from ignorance and primal instincts.
Will there be a book three in your Peter Pan series? If so, where will it take readers?
Yes, I’ve started writing Legends of the Pan 3. It begins ten years after where we left off in book two. The Merpeople, Malomen, and humans have thrived through cooperation and education. However, several things from their past, which originated in book one and two, are about to come to light to haunt them.
Peter is gone, causing the decline of Neverland and a struggle for power. This once abundant world of dreams come true, soon converts into a place of violence and evil without the positive influence of the Pan. Many have gone missing and none can escape its shores. Neither pirates, nor Indians, or Merpeople and fairies have the magic it takes to defeat the demonic darkness that threatens the very existence of every man, woman, and child living on the island. Can anything save them from this pending doom before it is too late? What can prevent Neverland from becoming void of any hope as it turns into a barren wasteland eventually consumed by the sands of time? Perhaps the answer lies within the essence of this mystical isle, inspiring the hope and motivating the action needed to save them all.
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Greg Spry’s Beyond the Horizon is the second in his Beyond series. The focus of the plot is split equally between Maya Davis’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore interstellar space over a period of three years and her aunt Brooke Davis-Sommerfield’s inner turmoil regarding a past she would rather forget. Maya, an extraordinary student in her own right, has just graduated second in the Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy class of 2265 and is one of the fortunate citizens boarding New Horizons. Maya’s fate as an integral part of the success of the mission of New Horizons, strangely enough, seems dependent upon the decisions of Brooke as she battles the Vril in Maya’s absence.
Greg Spry has created some truly memorable characters within a phenomenal setting years in the future. One of the most striking aspects of Spry’s work is the effort he has put into describing the technological advancements he envisions. The ease and speed with which travel takes place and the vessels used are quite amazing. The author’s descriptions are more than adequate to effectively draw in the reader. In fact, I became more than fascinated with the many uses of the “i-cite,” a device which takes the capabilities of a smartphone and magnifies it by thousands.
Spry has outfitted his group of futuristic characters with the means to alter themselves in an instant. Perhaps one of my favorite scenes involved Brooke avoiding discovery by spontaneously changing both the length and color of her hair while she walks amid passengers on a ship. This, one of many other details, set Spry’s work apart from the science fiction tales I have read recently. The ability to instantaneously alter one’s appearance takes the story to another level within its genre.
In addition to the incredible devices used and the modes of travel detailed by Spry, I was enthralled by the description of New Horizons, an entire community created for a three year space journey. Self-sufficient and immense in size, the vessel was almost too imposing to comprehend. Spry breaks barriers within science fiction with settings filled with incredible planets, ships, and astonishingly advanced day-to-day living.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither Maya nor Brooke were standout characters for me. Both women are strong, determined, and remarkably intelligent. Their struggles are typical for books steeped in action and suspense. I felt Brooke revealed much more of the struggle within herself than Maya, though both were faced with demons–real and imagined. Brooke has taken the trauma of Maya’s youth on herself, and it is evident throughout her plotline. My chosen character–the one I looked forward to within each section dedicated to Brooke–is Zeke. His combination of innocence and the ability to manipulate thoughts was intriguing. The explanation for Zeke’s fast-paced growth fits well with the plot and the fear surrounding his abilities.
Greg Spry draws out a complicated plot and satisfies readers of all types with relatable characters, amazing images of the future, and action sequences which are spaced effectively throughout the book. I recommend Beyond the Horizon to fans of the science fiction genre and anyone seeking to explore the genre. Spry is an author who, without a doubt, delivers a punch.
Pages: 366 | ASIN: B01BBIA9DC
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On a trade visit to Malta, Orfeo – in line to the throne of Pylos – is kidnapped by mysterious strangers. The net is spread far and wide, with heroes from all over the Aegean joining forces in the quest to find the lost prince.
Is Orfeo in danger, though? His captors seem to have strange motives, what exactly do they see him as? A prince, a prophet, a political pawn, or something more? Only one thing is for certain, nothing is as it appears on the surface, and Orfeo must keep his wits about him. This wonderful work of historical fiction will amaze and engage you in equal measures.
With The Wanderer’s Last Journey, Murray Lee Eiland Jr. has woven an astounding and complex tapestry. It has all the makings of a classic fantasy epic, as the rich and evocative world he creates is as intriguing as it is intricate, whilst the narrative constantly keeps us on our toes. Eiland Jr. clearly has an eye for important details, as his simple use of language is restrained and mannered. He writes much like any of the great classical fantasy writers, with simplistic, well-constructed sentences forming the framework for a complex and sprawling narrative. Where he does choose to go into detailed description, he paints for us a clear and colourful picture. The milieu of The Wanderer’s Last Journey, whilst mostly serving as a stage on which to set the players, is perhaps one if the novel’s most astonishing features. This mythical, magical Mediterranean is exotic and enticing, and we are left wanting to learn more about it. As the story expands and speeds towards its thrilling crescendo, its setting is left unexpanded, and one wonder’s whether the novel might have benefited from going into greater detail in this regard. In many ways it is unfamiliar from the Ancient Greece we know and are familiar with, yet it verges upon Virgil and Homer. The Iliad is an obvious reference, and Eiland Jr.’s love of this period is clear on the page.
This novel sets Eiland Jr out as an author of great scope and intention, however one who isn’t afraid to create a world of great depth and complexities. He cleverly weaves multiple storylines and, for the most part, manages to keep on top of this, and keeps all the strands of his stories working together. There are moments, though, where the machinations of the plot seem to get the better of him. The action tends to flit between one character’s perspective and another’s, and whilst this serves to provide us with a huge wealth of storyline, it occasionally distracts from it. It also means, at points, that we aren’t given long enough in each character’s story to form an emotional bond with them, and we are left wondering who exactly our protagonist is. This is perhaps to be expected, though, with a story so vast, and one with so many strands, and for the most part The Wanderer’s Last Journey works well as a rich, entertaining fantasy epic.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B018RHOIRI
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Book 1 of the Dreadnought Collective series begins in Spain, where Sebastian Cage and his younger brother Bart arrive to spend the summer with their grandparents. Terry and Sandra Tumbler have plenty for them to do, with sporting activities and swimming to keep the boys active and burn off their boundless energy. Despite this, the rivalry between the brothers starts to fray their grandparents’ nerves, so Terry devises a plan. He enlists thirteen-year-old Sebastian as his research assistant for a secret project. Terry has noticed a larger-than-average number of little people in his town and is convinced they are aliens.
Seb’s intelligence and tenacity are put to good use. Seb and Terry’s set out to observe and follow people under five feet tall as they move about town. The pair’s activities are noticed, and a man named Skip approaches Seb and Terry and confirms their suspicions. Skip and his organization – the Sombrella Syndicate – aren’t hostile at all. He invites Seb to join their summer campus to learn special skills and advanced technology. Terry is skeptical, but he can further his research than getting the information straight from the source, even if he has to get the data by tricking his grandson.
Seb Cage is intended for middle-grade readers and offers a fantastic, “what I did on my summer vacation” adventure story. Seb must cope with discovering and controlling abilities he never knew he had, making friends with his fellow students and focusing on his education. He must also work in tandem with his partner Maisie, and develops a crush on her.
His uncertainty and awkwardness over Maisie, coupled with constant teasing from his younger brother, makes it easy to sympathize with Seb. He faces some issues that tween and teen readers will be familiar with. He’s essentially joining a new school and is soon surrounded by a group of young people his own age who come from all over Europe. He must learn to deal with embarrassment, mistakes, and successes, as well as bond with his classmates and learn from mentors who are very different from any teacher he’s had before.
The humor in the book is delightful, with a distinctly British feel. Some of it is word-play, with funny scenes (mostly involving Seb’s grandfather, Terry) that range from misunderstandings and mishaps to literal bathroom humor. Since the students and mentors are telepathically linked, the occasional stray thought slips through to hilarious effect. This kind of comedy plays through the whole story, keeping the mood light and the story moving.
The students visit real historical sites, and the descriptions of these monuments, battlefields, and triumphs of ancient engineering are wonderful. The author provides an appendix of links to some of these fantastic places that inspired the story.
Seb Cage Begins His Adventure is well-suited to readers from 9-14. It’s full of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy and will also appeal to youth who enjoy sports and exploration. The novel features strong themes of friendship, discovery, and learning to care for others and the planet Earth as well.
Pages: 382 | ASIN: B00VVCVNYI
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When three alien species detect the complete dissolution and waste of a planet in a neighboring solar system, they send out their top specialists to control the out of hand situation that is running rampant over this foreign land. A group of highly skilled teenagers stands at the forefront of the mission, ready to put down these animals and save what they can of this planet. But after diving into the intricacies of what makes this planet’s inhabitants so unworthy to possess their home, will the damage to this place and its inhabitants be too much to save? Or is there hope for this hell world?
“Where are all of their superheroes and gods now?” opens chapter 15 of n o o n e’s Hell World. A story of a group of alien teenagers’ invasion of a planet so vastly different from their own challenges the idea of what it means to be merciful to creatures who are viewed as less intelligent.
From the beginning of the story, the author starts to create a visual of this “hell world” through lengthy description. What the author lacks in brevity of description is made up in original, outside the box, analogies to describe the “animals” which control the world.
Because of the excessive description, it appears at first that the entire story will be nothing but a manual of what the hell world includes, who the inhabitants are, and how they could theoretically be destroyed. Thankfully, the book takes a turn for the better by introducing characters that break up the large blocks of text with dialogue.
Descriptive phrases in the book will not be lost on earth’s inhabitants as the author strays from creating their own words or dialect for the original alien characters. Quite often, the description in the book is a bit unnecessary. Two paragraphs discussing a female character’s need to urinate seems out of place and hinders the story from flowing as organically as it could. Passages like that are littered throughout the story.
There are definitely some moments of light when it comes to the description. When the aliens are up close and personal with the inhabitants of the hell world, the manner in which the author describes the “animals” is well done and presents visually alarming images for the reader as the description of the removal of an infant leaves an imprint on the readers mind.
The author’s creativity comes into play by creating and establishing three different species of aliens. However, the description of these alien species and their differences are lost in the large chunks of text that make the book feel more like a stream of consciousness reading instead of a structured story.
The overall message of this book is not lost by any means. In fact, the purpose of this story is blatantly written on almost every page without apology. The author wants to show the dangers of how the inhabitants of this “hell world” are mistreating the planet that they’ve inherited. From treatment of their own species based on gender or skin color to the murdering of “lesser” animals, the author condemns most practices that the inhabitants take part in.
The promise of hope offered to the reader and the animals of the hell world is one that will not easily be forgotten.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B016UN94DE
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