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Cowboys and spies?

Jamie Dodson Author Interview

Jamie Dodson Author Interview

In the latest Nick Grant adventure story the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

Interesting, during the World War II, Howard Hughes got the opportunity to examine a captured Japanese A-6M Zero. He recognized several innovations he had incorporated into the H-1. Many years later, he told a story about a 1936 break in at his Culver City airport. The culprits ransacked the H-1 hangar and several blue prints were missing. The Japanese were never implicated. I took those snippets of story and wrote Nick Grant into the action.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write?

I enjoy writing the supporting characters as much as I do writing Nick. In each novel, I have introduced news characters – some good – some evil. In Black Dragons Attack my hands down favorite is Brian O’Malley. Without exception, the advance copy readers loved him. Those same early readers asked that I include Brian in future Nick Grant Adventures. Brian is a good hearted cowpoke who has a pivotal role in the story line. Cowboys and spies? An interesting combination that I hope my reader’s enjoy as much as I did crafting the story.

The Black Dragons are working for the Japanese Intelligence Service who are conspiring with the Third Reich in California. How did you develop this twist? Anything pulled from real life?

As a young military intelligence officer, the Army assigned me to the US Pacific Command, Oahu, Hawaii. Several of the old hands told me about their experiences before and during WW II. One retiring Army Counter Intelligence Agent spoke about a concerted espionage effort between the Japanese and Germans. A married couple, who were in fact German Spies, provided critical information to the Japanese prior to the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Another spoke about and effort to steal US Communications codes. A third spoke about a effort in California to infiltrate US aircraft manufactures to steal advanced US technology. Much like the Chinese are doing to us today.

I understand that real people inspired this story. Who were those people and how did they impact you?

Once I saw bestselling author, Homer Hickam, of October Skies fame, wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with the following: BE CARFEFULL – YOU MIGHT WIND UP IN MY NEXT NOVEL. I build my characters around people that I have known in my life. Some are blends of different individuals others are as I remember them but with cover names. As a career foreign intelligence officer I have known many people that would stretch the reader’s belief. One stands out in my mind, the senior intelligence officer of the Army’s Paratrooper Division, the 82d Airborne. Then Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grant – now Brigadier General (Retired) Grant was a huge influence on me. During down time on maneuvers he told me about his youth and burning desire to become a pilot. Like my character, Nick Grant actual comes from humble beginnings. He worked hard to achieve many things in his successful career. I modeled my Nick after General Grant’s steely eyed nerve, technical expertise, and strong desire to take the hard right instead of the easy wrong.

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Book IV. The Black Dragons are back! After their last run in, Nick Grant believes his nemesis, Toshio Miyazaki, is dead. Determined to leave the spy games behind, Nick starts a new life as a Naval Aviation Cadet. During training, famous aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes, lures Midshipman Grant into a mock dogfight. Afterwards Hughes offers Nick a pilot job. Nick’s college dreams stand in the way, and he turns Hughes down. However, their paths cross again in an unexpected way.

In 1936 the Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, remain active in California and have a new partner, the Third Reich! Agents from both countries team up in their most audacious plan yet—steal the Hughes H-1 racer. Their plan—use the cutting edge technology to develop the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

The Japanese plan goes awry when US Naval Counterintelligence becomes aware of their activities. Commander Boltz assigns Nick and Senior Chief Ellis to guard the airfield until the FBI can take over. Together, they foil the Black Dragons’ attempt to steal the H-1 plans but the Japanese regroup with an even more sinister plan. They grab a hostage and demand that Nick deliver the H-1 technical plans and the Navy’s Top Secret Pacific War Plans.

When the Black Dragons attack, it’s up to Nick and friends to turn the tables, retrieve the stolen goods and a fabled katana. Join Nick Grant, Nancy Tanaka, and Leilani Porta in their latest adventure, Black Dragons Attack!

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Black Dragons Attack: A Nick Grant Adventure

Black Dragons Attack, the fourth installment in the Nick Grant Adventures series outdoes the high bar set by the previous adventures. This enthralling pre-World War II story features a superb cameo by American aviation hero Howard Hughes! Readers are transported to the nostalgic war era with the mind-blowing narrative by author Jamie Dodson. Nick Grant starts afresh as a Naval Aviation Cadet that leads to a chance encounter with Howard Hughes that changes the course of his life. Join Nick as he thwarts the Japanese plot to steal the famous Hughes H-1 racer along with his friends Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta for some edge of your seat entertainment.

Jamie Dodson has always delivered riveting story lines, perfect character development, amazing locales, and ultimately an exceptional climax  – in short, each of Nick Grant’s adventures, be it Flying Boats & Spies, China Clipper, or Mission Shanghai or the latest offering Black Dragons Attack never fail to impress readers.

Set in 1936, Black Dragons Attack continues the Nick Grant saga as he believes his arch nemesis Toshio Miyazaki, is dead and starts afresh as a Cadet in the Naval Aviation Academy. It takes no less than a chance run in with the genius billionaire aviator and movie producer, Howard Hughes to lure Nick back into another deadly spy game.

The Black Dragons, working for the Japanese Intelligence Service, turn out to be secretly active and conspiring with a new partner, the Third Reich in California! As the Japanese hatch an elaborate plan to steal the Hughes H-1 racer to reverse engineer and build something even more advanced, US Naval Counterintelligence uncovers their activities. Nick is tasked with foiling the plans of the Japanese with the help of Nancy Tanaka and Leilani Porta.

As much as Nick impresses with his heroic show of patriotism and daredevilry, the Hughes H-1 steals the show with its sheer technological prowess and revolutionary functionalities that are years ahead of anything that existed in that era, precisely why the fascist regimes of Imperial Japanese and Nazis were so obsessed with it.

The setting of pre-world war II provides a poignant background wherein Jamie Dodson successfully manages to capture the mindset of people in a war torn country. Howard Hughes, albeit in a sort of guest appearance, manages to shine and awe the reader with his larger than life personality. The character sketches of Nancy, Leilani and Toshio are spot on and do justice to their role in the plot.

Overall, Black Dragons Attack, the fourth book in the Nick Grant adventure series is a pleasure to read.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: 1938667549

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Beyond Yesterday

Beyond Yesterday (Beyond Saga, #3)

Beyond Yesterday, written by Greg Spry, is an intergalactic space adventure that sees Commander Maya Davis rise through the ranks to earn herself a spot driving her own space-time vessel. But the excitement is short lived as she discovers she is to be sent on a deadly mission due to a 200,000-year-old piece of tech that has unexplainable connections to her past. With her superiors informing her that she may never be able to return to the present, Maya must make decisions that could have terrible consequences for herself and the entirety of mankind. Will her choices erase the human race forever?

From the first page of Beyond Yesterday, I was instantly transported to space, to a world where vibrant colors glow atop of the islands, bots and AI’s make the majority of decisions and exotic algae and mold thrive. In the midst of space travel, there are humanistic problems such as allergies and drug issues which provide an almost humorous side to the in-the-future styled plot line.

At times the language was a little confusing as the entire world created in the novel was completely unique. However, once you got your bearings, it was easy to be lost in the new world and I quickly began to understand the locations, and labels for objects, plants, and people. One of my favorite futuristic parts of the storyline was how your health/body was instantly analyzed if you were injured and then you would automatically be injected with numbing agents or medications. With these advances, it’s no wonder their average lifespan is now 200 years. Imagine if we had this in the real world!

The battles against the Grey’s are fast and furious and they hit hard and heavy. There were aspects that reminded me a little of Star Wars and Stargate as they battled with androids and AI’s, commanders and advanced technology. Greg Spry’s ability to describe the mechanics and functions of technology in the future was impressive and I felt as though I was in the cockpit beside the characters as they battled in space.

It was refreshing to have two females leading the plot line in bravery and ambition, compared to the usual male domination presented in these styles of stories. Brooke is a sixty-year-old woman, a determined, head-strong admiral and accomplished fighter pilot. Her strength and focus is admirable as well as her ability to keep calm in situations of crisis, making her one of my favorite characters. Commander Maya Davis (Brooke’s niece) is clever, crafty and capable of strong leadership and guidance. She’s made incredible sacrifices to be in her position of power and continues to put the safety of others before her own- even if it comes at an irreversible cost.

I would recommend this for all lovers of space adventures and futuristic styled novels. It’s hard not to get lost in the book as you leave Earth to explore the world beyond.

Pages: 336 | ASIN: B073DY3QSZ

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Dynamic Conflict

Greg Spry Author Interview

Greg Spry Author Interview

Beyond the Horizon follows Ensign Maya Davis during humanity’s first interstellar exploration. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

Both / all of the above. Before I start writing a book, I always have a premise in mind. I usually have a good idea about how the novel will start and end. I pretty much know where I want to go because I have a high-level plan for the themes I want to explore in a given book series. However, even though I’m pretty clear on the beginning, end, and a handful of scenes in between, I don’t often know how I’m going to connect the dots until I’m in the act of writing.

For example, in Beyond the Horizon, I knew I wanted to use some clever aspects of time travel to drive and resolve some of the conflicts in the book. However, it actually wasn’t until the second or third draft that I came up with Maya’s clever realizations that help save the day. The rough draft of the story had a number of unresolved plot issues.

Maya gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore interstellar space while her aunt Brooke suffers with inner turmoil regarding her past. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?

One of the fundamental tenants of my writing is to craft conflicts that pit morally-ambiguous agenda vs. morally-ambiguous agenda. I don’t write about good vs. evil because, in my opinion, that’s not representative of real life. Plus, good vs. evil is too black-and-white–too straightforward. Writing about the gray areas of life yield much more dynamic conflict.

One of the specific questions that underlies the theme of the books in the Beyond Saga is do the ends justify the means? It’s not a new dilemma, but it’s one that shall never have an easy answer.

The one thing that matters to Brooke as much as her career or flying is her niece, Maya. Thus, Brooke will stop at nothing to rescue her niece even though she has to take some morally questionable actions to accomplish that goal.

As for the Vril, the surreptitious terrorist organization manipulating things behind the scenes, they seek to ultimately save the human race. It’s not only a noble goal but a critical one. However, if the Vril intend to sacrifice another intelligent race to save mankind, is that taking things too far? Do humans deserve to survive any more than any other race? The catch phrase for the novel, “Extinction or genocide . . . us or them?” encapsulates this question.

In the face of all the moral ambiguity, Maya embodies the not-so ambiguous side of right. Shielded from the darker sides of society all her life by her Aunt Brooke, she believes in the good in people. She’s optimistic and excited about the future. The rest of the Beyond Saga is about her illusions being shattered. She has to find a balance between her optimism and doing what’s necessary when morally questionable acts are required for survival.

One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the effort you put into describing the technological advancements. They were all interesting, ingenious, and well described. What was your favorite tech to write for and what was the inspiration?

There are quite a few pieces of fun yet plausible tech in the Beyond Saga. One of the reasons I write science fiction is because real possibilities for the real future are what get me excited.

For now, I’ll pick the wave gun. The handheld tool/weapon is definitely a next gen type of device. Powered by an antimatter battery, it’s capable of destabilizing/shattering matter at the molecular level, using sonic levitation to make things float, causing objects to spontaneously combust, and much more. The gun gets its namesake from how it uses different wave effects (sound waves, gravity waves, electromagnetic waves, etc.) to achieve its results.

The wave gun helps Maya out of some sticky situations in book 2, Beyond the Horizon. In book 3, Beyond Yesterday, the gun gains even greater significance because of what its capabilities could’ve been used for by aliens in Earth’s past.

Where does book three, Beyond Yesterday, in the Beyond Saga take readers?

Beyond Yesterday picks up ten years after the events of Beyond the Horizon. After Maya earns a promotion to captain, she takes command of the space-time vessel Yesterday and travels 200,000 years into the past to learn the origins of the piece of ancient human technology she found on an alien world (in book 2). Meanwhile, the consequences of Brooke’s spark (drug) use finally catch up to her. And the level of conflict between the two women reaches new heights as they take opposing approaches to the dilemma in the book.

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Beyond the Horizon (Beyond Saga Book 2) by [Spry, Greg]

Humanity’s First Interstellar Exploration

Ensign Maya Davis has had her sights set on the captaincy of a starship since she launched her first toy rocket into Earth orbit as a child. After four years of study at the new Interstellar Expeditionary Force Academy, Maya achieves her lifelong dream of exploring the stars. She earns a commission aboard humanity’s first deep space exploration vessel, New Horizons.

˃˃˃ A Desperate Situation

Not long after New Horizons departs the solar system, sabotage cripples the ship killing a third of the crew and stranding the expedition light years from home under the siege of hostile forces. Only junior officers are left to command the ship. Without knowing who she can trust, Maya must risk her life to get the crew home and prevent the genocide of the very exospecies New Horizons set out to contact.

˃˃˃ The Conspiracy Back Home

Forty-two-year-old civilian flight instructor Brooke Davis, Maya’s aunt and former UN Aerospace Defense pilot, receives a disturbing visit from a covert operative. The visit prompts Brooke to head to the Martian south polar ocean, where she learns how a secret society known as The Vril manipulated the current political and social climate into being. She also uncovers the society’s nefarious agenda regarding New Horizons’ voyage. With time running out, Brooke races to save her niece light years away.

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Recollections of the War

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Heidi Fischer Author Interview

Swallow follows a young German woman during WWII as she struggles to follow her dreams and become a pilot. What was the inspiration that made you want to write such a humanizing story?

I was flicking through some old magazines in a medical waiting room a few years ago and came across an article on WW2 ace fighter pilots. It was a fascinating read, so I took to the internet and was blown away by the material on this subject. I found the story of a young German pilot, Hans Phillip, particularly inspiring, though tragic. It was heart-breaking to read about and see the many images of these young men yet to live their lives. Many of the photographs were candid, showing just how very ‘human’ they really were.

Gabi is a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway. What guided you through Gabi’s development?

I like a strong, female protagonist determined to get her way! Much of Gabi’s development is drawn from personal experience. I was once a young business graduate struggling to get on in what was predominately a man’s domain. I jumped at any opportunity to get ahead, as does Gabi. She’s emotional, stubborn and insecure, facing the same challenges that we all face at some time in our lives: life and death; love and loss; hope and despair. Sadly, the harsh reality of war makes this natural transition through life profoundly tragic for Gabi.

This story takes place in Germany during WWII. What research did you do to make sure the history and locations were accurate?

Some of the history/locations came from personal sources. My mother was born in Königsberg, East Prussia and fled to Saxony as a war refugee during WW2. Many of her recollections of the war and this part of the world have been incorporated into the story. As a child, I also visited relatives in East Germany several times and can still remember towns such as Meissen and Dresden quite vividly. But my primary source was Google. There is so much material about WW2 and the Luftwaffe on the internet. Admittedly, not all sources are reliable but with some cross-referencing, you get a good feel for what’s legitimate. My biggest issue was deciding what to include and what to leave out as I didn’t want to bog down the story with superfluous detail!

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a prequel to SwallowThe Sparrow and The Peacock, covering the early years of Max Richter from his childhood through to his romance with Mary Dehaviland and the birth of Gabi. Like Swallow, it’s set in Germany and covers historically significant periods such as WW1 and the stock market crash of ‘29. I’m aiming to have the book published sometime late 2018 – early 2019.

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SwallowSet against the dramatic backdrop of World War II, Nazi Germany, Swallow is the story of a young woman destined to fly. Gabriele Richter, the daughter of an ambitious German general, connives her way into the Luftwaffe, becoming Germany’s only female fighter pilot and ‘ace’. Flying like a swallow, she defends the Fatherland with the gusto and fearlessness of youth, confronting death on every sortie and living by the Luftwaffe edict “Fly till we die”.

On the cusp of womanhood, Gabi also learns about love. She shares her heart with Heinz, a young, impulsive ‘fledgling’ pilot set on becoming a war hero. She bares her soul to Hans, an ambitious flight commander whose love is troubled with demons of self-doubt. She gives herself to narcissistic Kurt and his scar fetish, comforted by his unwavering loyalty. She confides in RAF Wing Commander Arthur Wilson, living in hope to love again…

But, after discovering her beloved father, General Max Richter, has been implicit in horrific war crimes against humanity, she turns her back on the Fatherland, helping the enemy restore and fly Germany’s latest weapon, the Me-262 fighter jet.

With the end of war imminent, Gabi’s tragic destiny is fulfilled, leaving General Richter to face retribution. 

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Swallow

Swallow

There are many words that can be used to describe the tale of Swallow by Heidi Fischer. Gripping. Moving. Heart-breaking. This fantastic story about a young woman in World War Two era Germany humanizes those who fought in the war in a way that is unexpected. Our story follows Gabi: a fierce, bright woman who stampedes her way onto the runway where she acts as an engineer and pilot. In a time where woman were beginning to make their mark on the world; a time when relations are strained and many outside the Nazi mantra failed to truly understand what was happening in their country. Gabi finds herself in all of this. The bright young woman who had her life altered so horrifically at the tender age of seven. The young woman who wants to do her father, a general, proud. Gabi shows us a Germany that many of us wouldn’t have believed existed. The desire of a young woman to fly.

This book starts off with a bang and just doesn’t stop. Fischer hooks her readers from the first chapter and we become entranced by the story. Gabi survives a horrific event that many young women today struggle to overcome. While it haunts her as she ages, she preservers and moves forward with her dreams. Lying her way into the military where she can work as an engineer and eventually a pilot shows how determined she is to reach her goal. You can’t help but root for Gabi and hope that everything she wants will come true. Alas, we must be reminded that it is not all sunshine and rainbows in this world. Especially not during World War Two. Gabi will achieve, and she will lose. She will love and it will be lost. Even as she struggles with despair she never gives up that which keeps her going: hope.

Not only do we get to see the world from Gabi’s point of view but we also get a few glimpses into the minds of the men in her life. Most notable is her father. A strong, silent and stoic man who gives away few smiles for his daughter. While he disagrees with her choice, there is no doubt that he is proud of everything that she accomplishes. There are three loves that Gabi will have: Heinz, Hans and Kurt. Each one different from the other and each love comes with its own prescription for pain. Gabi pushes on, becoming a role model for all young German men and women who get wrapped up in the war.

While the book doesn’t focus too heavily on the actual war itself, it is difficult to get away from it completely. Gabi is a pilot for Nazi Germany and she does kill those known to her as the ‘enemy’. There is no refuge from guilt, however. It serves as a stark reminder that there were human beings involved in that atrocity. Not all of them agreed with what was happening. Heidi Fischer uses Swallow to tell us a love story wrapped in a piece about humanity. This is an excellent read and picking it up will add emotional depth to any library.

Pages: 255 | ASIN: B06XRRK75N

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She Killed Her Father

Greg Spry Author Interview

Greg Spry Author Interview

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.

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Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga, #1)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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