An otherworldly adventure awaits readers in the pages of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby. The third book in a series starts off with a bang as readers are introduced, or reintroduced, to our protagonists Sydney and William. Theirs is a story for the ages as they defy distance and fate to be together. This epic saga will take readers on a journey through the stars and intertwine between lives and destinies. Come along as we watch our protagonists face their fears, develop who they are and take on what could be seen as an impossible undertaking. They aren’t alone and their friends will be there to help and support them every step of the way.
For those who are new to the series, the first few chapters might seem a little overwhelming. It’s clear that some major world-building was established in previous installments in the saga. There are some circumstances and terminology that readers will feel goes over their heads when they first bite into it. Not only does the story take place in outer space for a large portion, there are legends and transformations at hand that require a solid understanding about what has happened, in order to understand what will occur. The story is engaging and invites young readers to see themselves in the characters. We all go through some sort of metamorphosis as we develop into our adult selves. The transformation that Sydney undergoes could be likened to that. It’s just a bit confusing for new readers to understand the impact of previous events without reading about them.
If there has to be something to nitpick then perhaps the grammatical and stylistic errors that pop up ever so briefly would be the culprits. They aren’t startling enough to detract from the story, but a few rereads might be needed to make sense of what the sentence is supposed to say.
Cosby knows his craft and he knows his audience. It’s clear that he wrote this book for young adults as the language is easy and comfortable to read. The teens speak like real teenagers and ask the questions while speaking the frustrations that most teenagers might be too afraid to voice. It’s comforting to be able to read a book targeted to your age group and actually be able to identify with it. The fact that Cosby can share a point of view from the perspective of a young woman with just as much ease as sharing one form the view of a young man shows that he is dedicated to telling the best story that he can.
The space-odyssey of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby is not a book to miss. It’s engaging and well written that readers of all ages will enjoy it. Young adults will get the most out of this book as they identify with the trials and tribulations our protagonists find themselves going through. While it might be confusing for new readers who have picked up this third book in the Star-Crossed Saga to understand what’s happening in the beginning, if you’re patient and devote your energy to this book, you will not be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01LZ4OMHI
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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 Literary Titan 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 we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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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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Pegasus, by Ken Cressman, is the story of Justin Thorn’s revelations about a mining company working from a base on the moon and the fateful trip endured by his crew of five unlikely and unassuming heroes. Thorn himself is a laidback, hard-on-his-luck man given to long stretches of solitude. When he is offered a single job transporting cargo to the tune of six months’ his normal income, he is unable to turn it down. As he assembles his crew and prepares for their journey to the moon, Thorn cannot fathom the ways in which his life and the lives of his crew will change over the course of what is supposed to be a ten-day venture.
Cressman, as always, has handed readers a memorable main character full of quirks with a relatable backstory. Justin Thorn, throughout this first-person narrative, reveals much about his fears and suspicions in addition to regrets about his history with Kelsey, his lost love. I found myself rooting for a Justin and Kelsey reunion from the first mention of her name. As I continued to read, however, I believe Justin’s lone wolf type character is much more suited to the vagabond lifestyle with no romantic ties. Cressman has drawn his main character exceptionally well.
I am always amazed at the amount of technical knowledge Cressman incorporates into his plots. What I find more astounding is that he manages to successfully describe complicated procedures with ease for even the most clueless reader. Cressman is a master at making these aspects of his writing readable and enjoyable. I am always able to successfully visualize his characters’ technical challenges.
Steven Wilson, a huge part of the success of Justin Thorn’s mission, is a character I would like to see further developed. As far as the ins and outs of flight and space travel, Steven is the brains of the operation. His backstory involves an inordinate amount of time sustaining himself on library books during the Armageddon-type setting of his youth. He is self-taught, self-assured, and dead-on in all his predictions. He could easily grow into a regular character.
The imagery created in Pegasus is quite stunning. Justin Thorn reveals bits and pieces of his past and describes both a commune and a scene rivaling any dusty and dried up town in the old West on the verge of becoming a ghost town. Where his characters also describe the invention of anti-gravity units powered by sapphires and ships owned by private citizens equipped for multiple trips to the moon, Cressman keeps things grounded with snapshots of struggles here on Earth following the collapse of nations as we know them.
Cressman offers a science fiction piece for both fans of the genre and readers who may wish to experiment with something outside their comfort zone. The author ties up loose ends quickly in less than 200 pages but does seem to open the door to more books with Justin Thorn and his beloved ship, Pegasus.
Pages: 160 | ASIN: B0101DHBLQ
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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.
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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GROND – The Raven High is a sci-fi book set in the future where pollution has caused giant storms across the planet. What was your inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
I have a lot of inspiration sources, mostly the Golden Age Sci-Fi and the movie of the eighties, from the “Masking” of Henry Kuttner to Thing and Aliens. But most of all I was influenced by the old and almost forgotten Young Adult Sci-Fi – Earth Star Voyager. I saw it when I was at school, and loved much more than Star Wars. This should be a good sci-fi for teenagers – exciting, realistic, without superheroes, but with smart and courageous heroes. And it was Earth Star Voyager that I first saw the idea of a catastrophic climate change and the search for salvation in space. I was so pleased that I decided to create the same story. The same, but completely my own. No sooner said than done.
I recently reviewed Earth Star Voyager for the first time in twenty years. And he’s still good.
So, if you are looking for inspiration for a great space adventure – you are welcome.
Olga’s nanny is an android that I genuinely started to care for towards the end of the novel. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
Creating Olga, I wanted to get rid of two obsessive stereotypes of teenage literature.
Firstly, the main character isn’t the despised loser or ordinary schoolgirl, who suddenly finds herself in the center of the universal conspiracy.
Secondly, Olga’s superhuman abilities don’t fall on her in one fine morning, free and without consequences. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch in her world.
The image of Arina combines the features of an ideal mother and ideal teacher. She really loves Olga, so, when necessary, she can be very strict and demanding of her ward, otherwise, Olga won’t stand the load of enormous responsibility.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Earth is ravaged by pollution. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Morality is very simple – dreams and good intentions won’t change the world for the better. But the world can be changed for the better by persistent daily work. There are thousands of brave book heroes who save the world by simply believing in themselves and accomplishing a great feat in the battle against the system. Olga also saves the world, but in a completely different way – just goes on the next shift at her space plant. Day by day.
This story was written in Russian and translated to English. What were the challenges you faced when translating?
Most of the difficulties were caused by two things – compliance with the size of phrases and slang expressions, to which it is hard to make a direct translation.
The Raven High is book 1 in the GROND series. Where does book two take the story?
In fact, the GROND story begins with the second book, GROND: The Blitzkrieg. And at the beginning of this story, Olga will be forced to leave her orbital home, join the gang of space mercenaries and take part in the brutal war of the Martian colonists for independence. It’ll be cool!
In the year 2086, Earth is exhausted. The seas have been emptied, the bedrock and soil stripped of their resources, and the superheated atmosphere churns with terrible storms. Those who can afford to do so live in the limbo of virtual reality, and the billions who suffer in poverty have no work, no clean water, and no security from the chaos.
The only hope for those trapped on a dying Earth are the Changed—the seven bioengineered post-humans who work in their separate manufacturing facilities orbiting high above the planet. Raised from birth for their work and fully matured at ten years old, their genius provides the nanomaterials that have begun to cleanse Earth of the pollutants that have wiped out almost the entire ecosphere.
But for Olga Voronov, youngest of the Changed, the isolation and endless toil are not the greatest of her challenges. Down on Earth there are those who resent and fear her talents—and would prefer that humanity not be given the second chance that only she could make possible …
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Joe is an average kid on spring break when he’s abducted by alien spies. This sets off a series of events that are both fun and entertaining. What was the initial goal when starting this novel and how did it change as you were writing it?
EDWARD: It started out as a 14 page script; typed on loose leaf paper, back in high school when I was big into super 8 film (before VCRs or home computers were invented). Then it sat until I decided to convert it into a book (the iMac was invented but the iPod wasn’t.) and then it sat until two years ago when Al and I decided to give the self-publishing world a go. I figured if I was only able to write one book in my lifetime, (and it seemed to be taking that long) I would make it the book I’d want to read, so my target audience was one. And I’ve been my own best customer. There was pressure to follow market criteria for a successful book; a dazzling cover, writing to a customer base, grammar and punctuation, but I don’t do well that way. I’m a little rough around the edges and unrefined and my story is too.
ALLEN: As this was an idea Ed had back in our school days, I think we both wanted to maintain as much of our original “fun concept” and yet bring it a more grown up feeling. We wanted others to fall in love with Joe as we had over the years.
It seemed like you had a lot of fun writing this book. What was your favorite part to write?
ALLEN: As part of our process we would both send each other changes we wanted and Ed would choose what he thought was best. I would open up his changes and often be laughing out loud minutes later. Ed always had the better sense of humor. For me the beginning is the most fun to write as it is the most important part, without a good start readers won’t keep reading.
EDWARD: The most fun and most frustrating was weaving Poe’s ‘Raven’ into a chapter, but I also enjoyed turning the play by play of the Ali/Fraser, ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ into a diplomatic fray. Unfortunately Longfellow, Tennyson and Whitman took a beating too. Sometimes things don’t work out well like my attempt to turn a car chase into a foxhunt but that did spawn the British/Aussie feud between the helicopter pilots. I also enjoyed paying homage to all the sci-fi I grew up with by weaving a lot of trivia into the book, the numbers 42, 2001, 1999 and terms like space seed, Thunderbirds, and countless more.
Joe is an interesting character, that encounters many odd situations and aliens. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
ALLEN: I have always felt we took the best of both of us and smashed it together to create Joe. So he is truly an average earthling. Other characters developed by trial and error. Whatever seemed best to throw Joe into some crazy situation seemed the direction that the other characters went. Then we tried to keep them as believable as possible.
EDWARD: I always found that ordinary people in extraordinary situations make the best stories. I also figured if we gave any character a name, they needed an idiom, because all people have their little quirks and it seems to make them more real. Other than that the characters drove the story, I was along for the ride and didn’t really know how it was going to turn out at times.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
ALLEN: We have a book in screenplay form coming very soon called “The Pen”. It is about a Squire helping his Knight win the affections of a damsel, while they defend the land from a ruthless enemy from the Knight’s past. Squire helps his Knight win the affections of a damsel, while they defend the land from a ruthless enemy from the Knight’s past. Squire helps his Knight win the affections.
EDWARD: I always have a bunch of half started storylines on my computer, but we are halfway through the first draft of what promises to be a more traditional sci-fi serial that Al developed (sorry Poe I took another shot at you in this one too). The Arturo Express (as mentioned in JOE) is beginning to form. And I’d love to write a Dr. WHO script.
It starts out with a very contrived first chapter setting events into motion for our hero, Joe, as he is accidentally abducted by alien super spies. They screamed like girls because the war is cold. And yet the book still continues with no well-defined antagonist, as a thief in the night complicates things further when data, the super spies are after, is stolen. This brings in the detective force with the android advantage. Soon after you fall into a precipice of idiocrasy, only to find that a painstakingly slow chapter ensues until we meet several minor characters one of which has a chapter named after him. A massive chase begins with Joe as the objective, and an old lady hits on a south of the boarder inamorta. A supplemental chapter is added because I couldn’t resist a childish bathroom joke. This just in! Joe finds out, that after her boyfriends, he’s not frightening. A quick night on the town with a montage is followed by mimosas and tomato juice. While Henry sits in the park. Intellegence? I dare say not. But there is a house party that leads into a musical interlude of Peer Gynt Suite I. Repetitive redundancy repeats itself with another chase of the same alien through the same town again…because…why not. And then we get to the last chapter which ends the book.
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Seed of Treachery takes place far in the future, where humanity is on the brink of extinction and alien star systems are on the brink of war. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
First of all, thank you so much for your kind words on Seed Of Treachery. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. Architects as a series is actually the realization of a long-game story arc that I’ve had in my head since I was a tween or so, which went through various forms until it finally ended up in this format as a published work. Seed Of Treachery, in particular, was always intended to be just that: a seed, an introduction to the universe, with a story arc that resolves while also sending out hooks for the next books. The tragic rift between the two sisters was the first plot point that really came together as the beating heart of the story. And as I got deeper into the writing process, the Jagged Edge plotline came together, and the idea that our protagonists are fighting a war against people whose motivations they actually agree with, the more they think about it, informed the way the narrative moved forward from there.
This story follows two interesting characters, Eva and Ashy, members of a bird-like alien species. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
I think most of us can relate to Ashy, who constantly feels judged as something she’s not, tension and anxiety worming their way in with every intrusive thought. Outcast and downtrodden, I admire her spirit to keep running if it means a sliver of a chance of making right. She’s clinging to a past that was unjustly stolen from her, while Eva, always the more stoic of the two, has abandoned her past to become what some would call a beacon of hope, and others have called an ‘outlaw with exceptions’. I think one of Seed Of Treachery’s main themes is Separation, and the sisters are no exception. It’s clear that Ashy still has hope for a brighter tomorrow, but at this point, is Eva really a totem of stoic resilience, or, as a certain someone says, “a shell waiting to be shattered”?
As for their species, the arkerian race, I had a ton of fun with it, and I’m still having a ton of fun with it as I currently write the third book in the series; they have hollow bones, which means that they break easier, and they have a species-wide aptitude for feats of tricky athleticism to compensate for that, which means I always enjoy writing their action sequences. In the back of my mind, I kind of like the term ‘genetic parkour’ when summing it up.
Space adventure novels are my favorite. What were some authors and books that inspired you as a writer?
I like to think I soak up inspiration from anything and everything I can get my hands on. A lot of things that inspired this series in my formative years actually weren’t books; films like Star Wars and video games like Metroid Prime caused the sci-fi bug to bite me early on. I love entertainment-art in general, no matter the format (music, film, books, games), but I latch on to just about anything with elements of futurism, sci-fi or a speculative nature.
What was the driving force behind the idea in this novel that humans are a dying race?
It’s something a bit different, and there’s an inherent sense of intrigue behind the idea of having outraced our own extinction, I think. It turns humanity’s socio-political paradigm in this universe on its head. Lots of great sci-fi narratives depict a universe where humanity goes right from Earth to joining with a wider universe full of cool aliens and worlds, like Mass Effect (one of my personal bibles of thorough sci-fi worldbuilding) and Star Trek. In Architects, humanity’s still managed to lift up and join the Convergence, but it hasn’t been without some pretty huge speedbumps in their past that inform their future.
Where does the story go in book two of Architects of the Illusion?
Storm clouds are gathering. If Seed Of Treachery is a bit more insular – most of the action mainly takes place in a single star system – then The Great Scourge is the gateway to a larger, darker, wilder, more dangerous universe.
Earth is long-gone. In a distant future where the endangered species known as humanity has assimilated into a much broader tapestry, the star system of Arela is at the brink of war with itself. What measures are right and wrong in the moral vacuum of space? Join the last vestiges of the human race, the birdlike Arkerians, technological Terraxins and others in the first installment of Architects Of The Illusion. Though the galaxy may be won by the bolts of blasters and forbidden sciences, darkness lurks just beyond the corners of perception…
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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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