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That’s Where The Story Begins

Rick Stepp-Bolling Author Interview

Ulan follows a woman that after being turned away from her community goes in search of discovering more about her gift and how to control it. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Because Ulan is a major character in the PATCH MAN series, I needed to know more about her. I needed to know why she became an assassin and how she could change from that role to become a leader in the rebellion. In order to understand her better, I needed her background and that’s where the story begins.

What was the inspiration for the relationship that develops between the characters?

Ulan never had a father figure in her life, so I needed to create someone to fill that role, but I also needed him to be conflicted so that their relationship helped Bas to find a kind of solace and purpose. Tara’s relationship with Ulan was a natural development of their intimacy. Tara provided Ulan with a role model in the Lore facility, but she also provided her with a love she had never experienced before and that love helped Ulan understand deeper emotions that would help her in the future.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Redemption is probably a major theme, but at the heart of everything love becomes the primary motivation for most of the characters. I also wanted to explore how a good person could be persuaded to do bad things. What drove Ulan to become who she will eventually be in the PATCH MAN series?

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

Book four of the PATCH MAN series, The Doppelganger Effect, has already been written and will soon be going through the editing process with my publisher, Crimson Cloak. This book takes the characters, Ten, Ulan, Meesha, and Riata into a parallel domain, but where their twins are mirror images. It should be out in another six months or so.

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A young Summian woman witnesses the murder of five Clan Hemite boys by Imperial Panthers. Shamed that she could do nothing but watch this tragedy, she returns the boys’ ID tags only to discover Clan Hemite blames her for their deaths and she is now targeted in a blood reckoning. With the help of Bas, a former underground fighter, she flees her village.

Bas travels with Ulan to Sum-Est, home of the Lore Master, Ja, in hopes the young woman will benefit from the mystical training to become a Lore Mistress. But the Red Ward from Clan Hemite has vowed to fulfill the blood reckoning and follows Ulan’s trail to Sum-Est. Ulan undertakes the rigorous Lore training so she will be strong enough when she again meets the Imperial Panthers, but becomes sidetracked by the beautiful novice, Tara.


Ulan, by Rick Stepp-Bolling, is a prequel to The Patch Man. The story follows Ulan as she navigates a war between Summia and Imperia. Ulan comes into her own and sets the stage for many other characters in this novel. Ulan is a young girl in a poor living situation. Her father is a shell of the man he was before the war and abuses his wife and daughter. Ulan is outside of the compound after curfew and surrounded by six boys, taunting her, and making her feel unsafe. A militia, the Imperial Panthers, put an end to their actions by brutally killing the boys. Ulan is left alive to send a message to others in the compound. What Ulan witnessed changes her forever and puts her on a path to finding herself and her strength.

The thing that stood out to me with this book, looking back, is the characters. The characters in this intrepid adventure story were all methodically developed throughout the book and felt like thoughtfully crafted and layered characters by the end of the novel. Each character had their own unique development but kept the reader always wanting to learn more about them. I know I was looking forward to seeing how they would react to certain situations I saw coming.

The relationship between Bas, Ulan, and Tara were my favorite to read about throughout the novel. Bas is tasked with leading Ulan out of the compound and decides she is worthy of saving. He brings her to a sanctuary where she can learn how to use her gift and control herself. Tara is a Lore Mistress who becomes meaningful to Ulan and helps her learn their ways. Tragedy strikes at the sanctuary which prompts Ulan to get revenge. Reading about the strength Ulan develops and seeing who she becomes was the best part of the story. While I thought the characters well developed throughout the story, I would’ve liked to have known more about the character’s backgrounds.

The second thing that stood out to me was the intriguing detail that is infused within this post-apocalyptic world. It is a world that sets your imagination alight and is filled with fascinating things that add color and depth to the world.

Ulan sends a young woman, and readers, on a perilous adventure that is consistently entertaining. If you are a science fiction fan looking for a gripping story that is driven by a strong female character than this is a fantasy novel that will be hard to put down.

Pages: 283 | ASIN: B09LPS299M

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