Posted by Literary Titan
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.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Don’t Call Me Chip, by Neil O’Donnell, is the story of one determined chipmunk and the battle he undertakes to save his human and the creatures who share his yard from an ill-intentioned family. Mikey, an eccentric old man and former Marine names the adventurous chipmunk Timothy, provides him with a small store of seeds, and thus steals his heart. Timothy, having lost his home, takes up residence in Mikey’s yard and makes it his job to protect and serve as a way of showing his gratitude and love for the old man–his new friend.
I have to say, I did not expect to fall in love with Don’t Call Me Chip–but that is exactly what happened. O’Donnell has masterfully captured the thoughts and feelings of the wild animals in his work and presents them in a way not seen in any other book or short story. Timothy, telling his own story for the majority of the book, is boisterous, cantankerous, and contemplative. The reader is privy to all of Timothy’s thoughts as he evolves from a suspicious chipmunk to a loving and protective pet.
All really great books have those little moments that take your breath–moments that seal the deal for the reader. For me, that moment arrived when TImothy refers to Mikey as his new friend. It seems a small and otherwise benign line out of the many more humorous and action-packed passages, but it carries a hefty weight for me. Timothy, a loner like Mikey, misunderstood and underappreciated, makes a lasting connection in that moment.
The shift from first person to third person at the end of the book threw me for moment, but I enjoyed the change in point of view. O’Donnell gives readers the feeling of an age-old story by backing up and giving a broader picture of Timothy’s final ordeal.
I am giving Don’t Call Me Chip a solid 5 out of 5 stars. I truly loved the characters–big and small. Mikey, who could be anyone’s elderly neighbor, is lovable and the obvious underdog. Resilient and focused, Timothy makes for the perfect main character and, in his own right, tiny hero.
Pages: 85 | ASIN: B079GTSKZR
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