The Secrets of Harrowgate Valley

harrowgate 5Dive into the world of Harrowgate Valley University, where not everything is as it seems on the surface. This shared world anthology features eight tales of secrets, scholarship, and the paranormal.

The Secrets of Harrowgate Valley: A Shared World Anthology

It’s my first published work. My story opens the anthology. Tom Babbage is the newest faculty member at Harrowgate Valley University and a visit from an FBI agent starts him on a path to uncover mysterious happenings on the campus and the disappearance of his mother, the Dean of the English Department.

The other writers are all friends of mine and are all exceptional writers. Here are links to their websites:

Sheri Queen – Author of the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series

Traci Douglass – USA Today Best-selling Author 

Carrie Gessner – Editor of the Anthology and Author of the Heartfriends Trilogy

K.W. Taylor – Multi-genre Author of Sam Brody series and Jonson’s Exotic Travel Series

I hope you will take a look.

 

Max Barry is Coming to America with a New Book

Providence cover

Max Barry is one of my favorite novelists. I can actually say I’ve read every book he has published. His new book, Providence is coming out on March 31st. He is coming to the United States for a book tour. Here are the details from his latest letter:

A lot has happened since I was last in the US. The world became a dark dystopia ruled by corrupt oligarchies. Data-driven marketing companies sucked up our fears and turned them into products. The book publishing industry fell into crisis.

Ha ha! I’m kidding. It was all like that already.

If you’ve never seen me in person, boy, are you missing out. I mean, the accent alone, you can’t even imagine. So what happens at these things is first I talk about whatever’s on my mind. I’ll be traveling with my daughter this time, so, you know, brace yourself for some insights on what it’s like to take a 14-year-old Australian around the US on book tour.

Then I read from the new book a little. But not for long, because, really, you can read it yourself. That’s why we printed all these copies.

Then comes my favorite part, where people ask questions about whatever. Writing, NationStates, why Australian Rules Football is the greatest sport in the world: you name it. This is really the bread and butter of the bookstore event for me. Any kind of situation where people will sit and listen to my opinion on things, that really works for me.

Come see me here:

  • San Diego, CA

7pm @ Wednesday April 1st, 2020

Mysterious Galaxy

  • Beaverton, OR

7pm @ Thursday April 2nd, 2020

Powell’s Books — Cedar Hill Crossing

  • Seattle, WA

7pm @ Friday April 3rd, 2020

Elliot Bay Book Company

  • San Francisco, CA

3pm @ Saturday April 4th, 2020

Borderlands Books

  • Mountain View, CA

2pm @ Sunday April 5th, 2020

Books, Inc.

  • Denver, CO

7pm @ Monday April 6th, 2020

Tattered Cover — Colfax Avenue

  • Chicago, IL

7pm @ Wednesday April 8th, 2020

The Book Cellar

  • Washington, DC

7pm @ Thursday April 9th, 2020

Politics & Prose — Union Market

I also sign books. The new book, older books, you name it. I will sign anything not nailed down. Although if all you want is a signed Providence, you can contact one of the bookstores and we’ll arrange that without you having to leave home. I mean, that’s not my preference. But I want you to know that option is available.

Max Barry
maxbarry.com

 

Maybe I’ll see you at one of these.

 

The Pile O Books After IYWM

Just got back from In Your Write Mind @Seton Hill University and it was fabulous. More on that tomorrow, but for now you can see the books I just added to my TBR list. I have personal ties to most of these. Have you read any of them?

 

TBR1July

5 Things Friday: My 5 Favorite Books So Far

I am starting something new. 5 Things Friday. I hope to post every Friday with a new 5 things. I’m starting with a short list of my five favorite books of all time. Up until now at least. It’s difficult to stop at five but I like the alliteration. I’m not doing Fifty things. That would take weeks to write each one. Here we go!

5. Into the Wilderness – Sara Donati – This carries on the story after the James Fenimore Cooper novels, the Leatherstocking Tales, Last of the Mohicans ring a bell? I really adored these as a young man. Set in the New York wilderness in 1792, Into the Wilderness is the story of a headstrong English teacher and the son of a legendary frontiersman. I loved this entire series. A little romance, a lot of action, and a great mix of fact and fiction. I learned some history reading this series. My book review is here.

4. Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll – I have loved this book for a very long time. The highly imaginative world, the crazy characters, and the sing-songy nature of the dialogue is marvelous, and practically perfect in every way. The original artwork by John Tenniel is amazing as well and fits perfectly with the off-kilter view of the world. Continue reading “5 Things Friday: My 5 Favorite Books So Far”

Say hello to the Nemesi!

Today marks my one year anniversary of my blog and it also happens to be Halloween, I thought it would be apropos to introduce my vampires from Clear Ether. I like the caste system and heritage of the vampires developed by White Wolf but I also wanted something with more of a scientific bent to it, so I borrowed elements from all my favorite vampire genre and added a few of my own. My vampires call themselves the Nemesi. Allow me to introduce them…

There are only a few old languages that have words for vampire — Hungarian is one of them, and for good reason. That was where the vampires had first arisen on Earth.

Despite everything, tales of vampires have persisted throughout history, but as is usually the case, there is a kernel of truth behind the legends. However, it was not a curse from Satan or Cain as some of the old tales have guessed at, or in countless books or movies, but a simple meteor carrying an alien phage that was the true culprit.

The records from that time are of course nonexistent as it happened many thousands of years ago, before written records were kept. When the alien bacteriophage affected the first humans it was quickly spread as it was in a virulent form, any open sore was an invitation for the phage to spread and turn the inhabitants into monstrous blood hungry scavengers. The stories held that those first few months were hell on Earth for the villagers near the crash site of the meteor.

Unable to come to grips with their condition they savaged each other and it became a matter of survival of the fittest in the most literal sense of the word. When it was all said and done only a few had survived the savagery that destroyed several villages – thousands had perished. The few that managed to survive came to understand what they had become and realized that if they continued they would surely die, as there were no other humans left in that part of the country. They would have to move into other areas and carve out what they needed from the local population and move on.

Over time they figured out how to handle their desperate situation and even to prosper from it. Living forever has distinct advantages when that was coupled with perfect recall. They eventually became very powerful, controlling the black markets and the politicians from almost the beginning. Some managed to dabble in legitimate enterprise, but most found the easy path of crime and corruption to make their fortunes. They kept their numbers low, and had their own reasons for creating new members of their family.

There is no central controlling body, but the powerful leaders of each area do whatever they must to keep the Komedia, their word for keeping the secret of their existence. They don’t want to lose their fortunes or their lives to the raving lunacy of the newborn Nemesi, those that can’t be controlled are destroyed and their creator with them, so it makes creating a new offspring a challenging task, one not to be taken lightly. There is a council that meets regularly to take on the big issues, but the rules that they use are all agreed to and very minimal.

The bite of a Nemesi is fatal if not counteracted, although it is said to be pleasurable to be bitten, due in large part by the fact that the poison also has a powerful narcotic. It’s the blood that heals. The phage transmutes the blood into cruen, a healing elixir. It keeps the vampire young and vigorous and heals even the most grievous wounds. Humans can ingest cruen and it will prolong life and heal ailments, but has resisted the many attempts made by Laurent’s pharmaceutical company to be duplicated in any fashion for public consumption. Many Nemesi have a cortége of humans that they feed from and some are known to be extremely old.

The organs of a Nemesi are still intact, but most are no longer used. The heart still beats and fuels the body with cruen. Garlic does nothing to a Nemesi, but there digestive organs are very sensitive to regular food and it will give one indigestion. Blood is all they need to ingest, human blood the preference. They will not burst into flames in sunlight, but have what is the equivalent to a sun allergy. A cross means different things to different Nemesi. Some are quite pious and others are shockingly evil.

The phage itself has an amazing effect on animals, enhancing all the things that make them attractive to another of their species. It makes them the perfect hunter of their own kind, humans included. It not only gives them remarkable healing powers, but makes them stronger and faster than a normal man. It also imparts strange mental powers, with the ability to manipulate the morphic field created by the brain and allows them to read emotional states and get impressions from others, as well as influence their behavior and memory. The downside to being a Nemesi is the never ending thirst for blood and perfect recall, to remember in perfect detail every kill and scream. Some may relish it, but to others it’s a very heavy burden to bear.

Happy Halloween!

The Evolution of a Story

I talk to people all the time who, when they find out I’m a writer, tell me how they would love to write but can never come up with any ORIGINAL IDEAS tm There are no really original ideas anymore, supposedly, that may also be a lie, but let’s take it on faith that this is true. What there are, are variations on a theme . . . a juxtapositioning of notions with a different perspective or twist. You CAN find these if you try. I know I did, but it was a meandering path. It was like a seed that mutated as it grew, like a mad Dr. Frankenstein kept adding parts to it. I’m going to share how my current work-in-progress came to be the story that it currently is. I say currently because I’m still revising it. It likely won’t have any substantial changes at this point though, as it’s pretty well fully formed.

Let’s go back to 1991, Desert Storm was ending, and I had just completed my first overseas combat support deployment and I wanted to write the story, but I was distracted by a multitude of other things and really didn’t have the first clue how to start, but the seed to write had been planted. I toyed with the idea of writing for almost two decades and over that period I had this recurring desire to write something about being a pilot as that is the one thing I really know well. I also loved science fiction, and still do. The seed had been germinated somehow (perhaps maturity, I’m still not sure why), but was growing very slowly, it started to nag at me, it broke through the soil. I had to do something. But the whole, “I can’t come up with any ORIGINAL IDEAS tm was still plaguing me. I kept coming back to the concept of a crew on a starship, sitting on alert status. I needed a reason for them to be there, what were they sitting alert for? I hit on the idea of a scout service, which also doubled as rescue service and technicians for a Quantum Data Relay Station. I started reading more science articles on the interwebs. I found a few magazines that I really enjoyed like Scientific American and Popular Mechanics and devoured them. I wanted initially to incorporate Faster Than Light Travel, so I was looking desperately trying to find a loophole in General Relativity. I found some guys out there doing the math and trying to punch holes in the theory. One of them led me to the idea of my Quantum Gates, which is a pivotal part of the story. I chucked FTL travel. I knew it was a trope that would likely upset some potential readers as reaching too far. I still love the idea and I’m not giving up hope, but it just wasn’t needed to make the story work anymore. I had the first couple of elements, and then I focused on the characters. I had originally made the Main Character the captain of the ship and male. He had an all-male crew of poker-playing foul-mouthed rocket-jocks. I based them on a bunch of guys I knew from back in the war — I played a lot of poker in my off time. Now I needed something to happen, a major conflict to be resolved. I needed a villain, a big nasty one was what I was shooting for. It was feeling a little cliché at this point though.

I also happen to love vampires. I love what White Wolf did with Vampire: The Masquerade and all the variations in their World of Darkness. I read a trilogy called The Masquerade of the Red Death, which I highly recommend, and it showed me how really cool they could be. I was in a gaming guild that required regular postings in story form to stay in the guild, and we were role playing as part of the Camarilla, a sect in V:TM. It was fun and apparently it stuck with me, it was also the first creative writing I had done for fun on my own. But it was a decade before this project started.

I finally came to the conclusion that I should meld my two favorite genres together. I love science fiction and I love vampires. I knew there are a few stories that featured this combination, but I don’t think it’s something that had been overdone. I decided that my vampires were not going to be from the typical mythos, but needed a quasi-scientific reason to exist, to make it more science fictiony. I created the Nemesi, deriving from a space-born phage that came to Earth via asteroid collision, but gave them a lot of the same physical characteristics of the mythical vampire. (All legends have a kernel of truth in them.)

Here’s where the interesting thing happened. I was toying with how the Nemesi would fit into the story and started developing my villain, who was going to be a Nemesi. A basic idea started to form on plot and I was struggling with how I was going to tell the story. I was using first person perspective and my captain pilot dude was not going to see a lot of the action, I needed a better narrator. A bolt of lightning hit me; I needed to make the MC the vampire! Suddenly it all made sense! My vampire became the good guy and I could tell most of the story through his eyes. A second story arc with the main pilot character became a female, adding a potential romantic flavor, the plot took shape quickly. I knew what was going to happen! That was a magical moment for me. It’s those moments of clarity that keep us slogging through the days when we don’t feel like writing. At least part of why, it has become a full blown compulsion now. I have ideas coming out of my ears … funny how once the dam was broken the ideas just start spewing forth. The main plot has held steady for quite a while now, but I kept tweaking the subplots along the way.

This is the first installment of a regular series about my novel. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Clear Ether!

 

Welcome to the 28th Century

This is the second installment on stuff about my novel, if you want to catch up the first entry is here.  This week I’m going to talk a little bit about the setting.  One of the major story arcs centers on the Quantum Gates.   I had to make some decisions on how long it would take to get to that technology and then disperse it out into the galaxy.   After some mental gymnastics I decided on setting the story in 2749.  I had some discussions with a couple of established SF novelists and they warned me about the problem of setting the book so far into the future.  The easiest way to deal with this is simply to avoid describing life on Earth in that time-frame, because trying to extrapolate living conditions and politics will invariably miss the mark, with me either going far off in the weeds or maybe only a little way off the road.  But the story starts on Earth, so I decided to add a major catastrophe to slow down some aspects of technology and societal evolution.

Leading up to 2749 was a rough road for mankind, but it is only vaguely described in my novel.     Earth has been through major political upheaval and a global depression with warfare on a scale to destroy a lot of infrastructure, cell phone towers, internet nodes, financial institutions plunging much of the world into poverty and violent revolution, including the United States for the first time since the Civil War.  Some of the smarter and tech savvy managed to protect themselves from much of the devastation and manage to hold on to their wealth as well, including my Main Character, Laurent.  Medical and pharmaceutical advancement continues along with certain other technological advances.   Laurent relentlessly pursues his tech advances in India and China, who emerge as the new world powers.  The United States is no longer united but a balkanized group of smaller countries.  The opening of the Quantum Stargates spurred renewed interest in space exploration and a chance to escape the bad conditions on Earth.  Eventually man has colonized a good part of the Milky Way, with 57 widely known stargates.

Opening up space exploration to the commercial sector in the 21st century had unintended consequences.  Megacorporations lead the way into space and the broken politics of Earth do not follow mankind into space.  Escent Corporation invented and propagated the Quantum Gates over several hundred years, leading to the expansion of mankind to the stars.  Military presence in space was expensive and limited but in 2509 Nollevelle Corporation violently took over control of the Quantum Gates — the event that starts the story arc on its path.

In future posts I will go into more details of life in 2749.

 

Clear Ether!