Monthly Archives: January 2014

Author Interview with B A Morton

Today B.A. Morton’s Blog Tour touches down at Grey Wolf’s Blog.

Born in the North East of England, B.A.Morton writes across a number of genres including crime, romance, horror and historical fiction. After a twenty year civil service career, she and her family escaped the rat race and relocated to the remote beauty of the Northumberland National Park. She now works part time in the village GP surgery and lives in a cottage built on the remains of a medieval crypt. Her debut novel “Mrs Jones” a fast paced, romantic, crime thriller set in New York, was runner up in the Yeovil Literary Prize 2011, published by Taylor Street Publishing and closely followed by the sequel “Molly Brown”, and the first in a medieval trilogy “Wildewood Revenge”. Her latest book “Bedlam” is a psychological/horror/thriller.

B A Morton author The books of B A Morton

Author Interview with B.A. Morton

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?

Not a lot. Most of my characters in Bedlam are knee deep in murder and mayhem and thankfully…I’m not. I do have a phobia of heights though, and the opening scene when Nell is poised on a bridge parapet two hundred feet above the chaos of Bedlam was fuelled entirely by my own fear.

How much of a story did you have in mind before you started writing?

Bedlam began life as a short story about loss and fear, penned the night before my daughter left on a great adventure to see the world. It was a very personal piece which took on a life of its own, won first prize in a Halloween short story competition and developed from that into a full length novel. I had no idea where I was going or how it would end. Usually my stories start with a simple prompt, a phrase or an image, a seed from which the story grows. I don’t ordinarily plan or attempt even the simplest of story frameworks as I like to give the story free rein. The exception to this is when writing my medieval books, where it’s essential to research a historic timeline so the plot can be woven around actual events.

Can you tell us what genre you write?

I generally write crime fiction, with an additional romantic element. My first two books Mrs Jones and Molly Brown feature an American detective and a young British woman. I also have a medieval time travel trilogy, The Wildewood Chronicles, and with my latest work I’ve taken a step to the dark side with a British horror thriller Bedlam. I like to try new things and mix genres within a story.

How do you cope with writer’s block?

I always have a few works on the go at the same time, so if I hit a brick wall I simply pick up something else. If that fails, a walk in the woods with my dog usually does the trick.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I’m not big on physical descriptions. I shy away from information dumps that tell you everything you need to know about a character, down to the colour of their socks, the minute they appear on a page. I prefer to allow the reader to develop an image in their own mind. I do however invest a lot into what my characters think, how they feel and how they behave. In real life it takes a while to get to know a person, and indeed we may never fully know the person closest to us and it’s that element of discovery that adds intrigue. Little by little they are revealed, quite often as they respond to other characters or to the challenges I throw at them, and sometimes they surprise even me. Voice is particularly important. In Bedlam I chose to tell the story from two very different POV’s. Nell’s lyrical first person POV is in direct contrast to McNeil’s stark world-weary third person narrative.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I’m afraid I’m not that organised. The idea I start off with is rarely what I end up with, that’s part of the fun. I just take the leash off and let that rascal run.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

Well, as it’s usually crime fiction, there’s a basic need to solve the crime and hopefully catch the bad guy, but sometimes you don’t end up with a happy ever after ending and it’s best to cut short and leave it at a scene that will stay in the readers mind. I do the same with chapters. Rather than have characters going from here to there, I’ll cut the scene and begin a new chapter. I don’t feel it necessary to spell everything out. The reader can fill in the gaps as long as you leave enough clues. When I do get to the end of that final scene there’s a sense of completion that I suspect every writer will identify with, an overwhelming YES! Of course that isn’t actually the end as it simply heralds the first round of editing. I love editing. I love the fine tuning, the deliberation over a single word that can transform a good sentence into a perfect sentence.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

No. I write simply to entertain.

What are you working on right now?

I have a number of projects on the go. First priority is the second book in my medieval trilogy The Wildewood Chronicles. It’s a twisted, time travel tale of crusader knights and feisty damsels, which is based very loosely on the history of both the Northumbrian valley where I live and my home which is built on the foundations of a medieval chapel. I also have the early chapters of the third book in my Mrs Jones crime series featuring Tommy Connell. Mr Valentine moves the story and characters on by a few months and with a twisted plot involving a contract killer it allows the reader a further glimpse into Connell’s chequered past. Sub titled, Good Men – Bad Things, we get to see Connell pushed to the limit. I have two stand-alone British crime books that are pretty much complete and crying out for my attention and I’ve just found the perfect image for Maelstrom the sequel to Bedlam, so I shall have to be very disciplined indeed as I’m itching to get on with that.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always written, but never considered that my work might be published until my husband and I escaped to the country about 5 years ago and I began to take writing more seriously.

At what age did you discover your love of writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. At school, English was my favourite subject and I filled exercise books and notebooks with scribbled stories.

What was the first story that you wrote?

The first story I can recall was a tale involving a rabbit, which at the age of around 7 years I entered in a competition in a children’s comic. I remember using a green crayon, because I couldn’t find a pencil. Needless to say I didn’t win. The first of my published stories to be written was Wildewood Revenge book one of The Wildewood Chronicles, though it wasn’t actually the first to be released.

When were you first published? How were you discovered?

Mrs Jones took second place in The Yeovil Literary Prize in 2011 and was published in the same year by Taylor Street Publishing following a direct submission. Wildewood Revenge and Molly Brown were published in 2012 and Bedlam in August 2013.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

Finding the time to write is probably the hardest for me. I work part time in the village GP surgery, so tend to write late at night. After that I’d say marketing/promotion – a necessary evil, as it takes up time that I’d rather spend writing.

What do you like to read?

I’d say crime fiction is my preference – dark twisted plots with tormented heroes. But I also enjoy historical fiction.

What writer influences you the most?

I wouldn’t say I’d been particularly influenced by anyone. I grew up with Enid Blyton and Tolkien. Now I enjoy the work of crime writers such as John Connelly, Dennis Lehane and Ian Rankin, and historical fiction writers Bernard Cornwall and Ken Follett. Stephen King is of course the king of horror.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Oh dear that’s quite a difficult one. Hmmm, Joe McNeil is a bit of a wreck and has an aversion to authority. I think maybe someone like Colin Farrell would fit the bill. Philip Glenister (BBC Life on Mars) would make an excellent DI Todd. As for Nell, I think maybe an unknown British actress, someone a little quirky. The perfect soundtrack would be the album Graffiti on the Train by the Stereophonics.

Where can people learn more about you?

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Erm…let me see. I once gave mouth to nose resuscitation to a Dalmatian dog. His name was George. Sadly he didn’t survive. I live in a haunted cottage and have a blue belt in Judo. I love dogs, chickens and chocolate and I’m terrified of heights. I think that’s about everything!

Innovate E-Magazine

I would like to present INNOVATE, issue 1 of which is now live at Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo and will soon be live at iTunes and

INNOVATE is a new literary e-magazine, devoted to bringing original and thought-provoking features from established and up-coming authors, as well as establishing a new frontier with enhanced media.

The first issue has short stories by Elizabeth Audrey Mills and Mark Fleming, instalments of ongoing stories by Grey Wolf (The Library) and Swaroop Acharjee (Beyond Nemesis – Sherlock Holmes on the Titanic), poetry by KD Rose and Val Trevallion, and ‘The Re-emergence of the Book’, an article by KD Rose, looking at the multi-media options that ought to be available for ebooks.

Issue 1 has a unique cover by Mark Fleming, and an interview with best-selling author, Herbie Brennan. H T Brennan’s book “Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World” is reviewed by Elizabeth Audrey Mills and Grey Wolf.

Issue 2 is due out at the end of February and will feature an interview with Brien Foerster, archaeologist, ancient historian and author, particularly about the pre-history of Peru and the Andes, and the phenomena of elongated heads.

INNOVATE E-Magazine is seeking submissions to new categories for future issues. We are opening a Poet’s Corner where 6 to 8 poems an issue will receive the space to breathe. An Art Gallery and a Writers’ Tips section will allow both artists and authors to show their work, and propound on essential features of their craft.

Each issue will be open to at least two submissions of short stories or the like, selected from applicants by The Innovate Team. We hope this presents an exciting opportunity for writers across the genres to get themselves featured in a new and exciting e-magazine. Whilst we will consider material that is previously self-published, we will prefer material which has yet to be published anywhere. All rights, including serialisation rights, remain with the author, excepting only that the author gives permission for INNOVATE E-Magazine to use the material in the specific issue, to keep it in print for 8 months and to continue to offer the magazine with the material in it as a back issue indefinitely.

To become involved in Innovate E-Magazine you can like our Facebook page at

where you request involvement in the Submissions Group. Alternatively, submissions can be emailed to

If a submission is accepted we will endeavour to publish it in the next issue of the E-Magazine. If this is not possible, we will let you know but you can guarantee it will be published in the first available issue thereafter.

Due to copyright restrictions we are unable, as things stand to accept fan fiction. Where the character is legally out of copyright, we will of course consider such works. A recent ruling in the United States has verified that Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is out of copyright. Famous science fiction/fantasy author Barbara Hambly has celebrated by announcing that she will publish her Sherlock Holmes story. In Innovate, Indian author Swaroop Acharjee has penned an exciting Sherlock Holmes story, set around the fateful first journey of the RMS Titanic.

Future issues will also be open to guest artists designing the cover for the magazine, though this will not be open until issue 4.

Best Regards
Grey Wolf

Author Interview with Fiona Skye

We bid a warm welcome to Fiona Skye

Fiona Skye author Faerie Tales, book 1 of the Revelations Trilogy

Fiona Skye is an urban fantasy novelist currently living in the deserts of Southern Arizona. She shares a home with her husband, two kids, three cats, and a Border Collie.

Fiona’s passion for story telling began early in life. At age twelve, she wrote her first short story, which was based on a song by 1980s hair band. She has dedicated her life since then to writing, only to be occasionally distracted by her insatiable love of yarn and crochet, and the dogged pursuit of the perfect plate of cheese enchiladas.

She counts Diana Gabaldon and Jim Butcher as her favorite authors and biggest influences. Joining these two on the list of people she would wait in queue for a week to have a coffee with are Neil Peart, David Tennant, and Brandon Sanderson.


Fiona Skye – Interview with Grey Wolf

Question 1
How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve years old, when I wrote my very first short story. It was based on a song by a 1980s band. I was quite proud of the finished piece and gave it to my English teacher, who helped me edit it and improve it. I became enamored of the whole process and decided then and there that what I really wanted to do when I grew up was be a writer.

Question 2
What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

When I was in high school, I wrote for the school’s newspaper. My first published piece was an interview of the drama teacher, in which we talked about the upcoming spring musical. All I remember of that experience was that I was incredibly nervous and the teacher ended up spoon-feeding me more than half of my questions during the interview because I couldn’t think of anything interesting to ask him about.

Question 3
Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

I honestly don’t think I was inspired by any authors to write. I mean, I had favorite authors—JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and JM Barrie—but none of them really inspired me to write. They more inspired me to love books and the written word and story-telling, which I suppose are necessary traits for a writer to have.

Question 4
Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

My two biggest influences right now are Jim Butcher and Diana Gabaldon. Butcher’s main character, Harry Dresden, and my own main character, Riley O’Rourke, could be twins—fraternal twins—separated at birth. They both have a very snarky, sarcastic sense of humor. Plus, Butcher writes about the Fae and it’s always very cool to read other people’s interpretations of them.
Gabaldon’s characters are just so real. They all have flaws that one might come across in a real person; they’re all driven by passions and base needs and that just amazes me. I can only hope to ever have half as much ability to write REAL characters.

Question 5
Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

I’ve been posting some real-life settings on my Facebook account that will show up in my books. One is of a wintery garden that I’ve decided is part of the Winter Faerie Queen’s castle, and the other is of a small cottage in the middle of Edinburgh’s Prince’s Street Gardens, where a major character from my next book will eventually live. I also have a bunch of photos that I’ve taken around Tucson that also show up in my books.

Question 6
Which was the first book you published and why?

My first published book is entitled Faerie Tales, and it’s the first because I’ve been living with the main character in my head for eleven or twelve years and I figured that it was high time I got her out of my head and into the hands of interested readers.

Question 7
Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

I haven’t really had any negative reaction to my work. I’ve received some three-star reviews that pointed out some weak points that will have to be corrected in the next two books, but no one has really said anything bad about my writing. There is one comment—from a friend, actually—that said she’d be surprised if a lawsuit doesn’t come out of my book, because I mention Dungeons and Dragons in it. That really, really stung.

Question 8
Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

Gabrielle Giffords, one of Arizona’s former US Representatives, who was shot in the head during a public meeting with some of her constituents. Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was also shot in the head because she was very outspoken about womens’ and girls’ right to education. They both are simply amazingly brave and strong, and they inspire me every day.

Question 9
If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

I’d love to find out, once and for all, who Jack the Ripper was. I’ve read so many different opinions and seen so many different movies and TV shows about it and none of them agree. I’d really like to know for certain. I’d also like to know just how he got away with keeping his identity secret for so long!

Fiona Skye, Thank You very much!

Author Interview with John Holt

John Holt author The Kammersee Affair by John Holt

I was born in 1943 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. I currently live in Essex with my wife, Margaret, and my daughter Elizabeth. And not forgetting Missy, the cat who adopted us, and considered that we were worthy enough to live with her. For many years I was a Chartered Surveyor in local government. I was a Senior Project Manager with the Greater London Council from 1971 until it was closed down in 1986. I then set up my own surveying practice, retiring in 2008.

I suppose like many others I had always thought how good it would be to write a novel, but I could never think of a good enough plot. My first novel, “The Kammersee Affair”, published in 2006, was inspired by a holiday in the Austrian lake district. We were staying in Grundlsee. The next lake, Toplitzsee, was used by the German Navy during the war to test rockets, and torpedoes. As the war came to an end many items were hidden in the lake – millions of UK pounds, and US dollars, in counterfeit currency; jewellery stolen from the holocaust victims; and weapons. There were also rumours of gold bullion being hidden in that lake. Despite extensive searches the gold was never found. In my book, however, it is found, only in the next lake, Kammersee.

The books that followed, The Mackenzie File, The Marinski Affair, and Epidemic, all feature Tom Kendall, a down to earth private detective, and were originally published by Raider Publishing in New York. My fifth book, A Killing In The City, another featuring Tom Kendall, was originally published by Night Publishing. In August 2012 I decided to go down the self published route, and formed my own publishing brand PHOENIX. All five novels have now been published on PHOENIX. A sixth novel “The Thackery Journal” was published on 8 August 2013.

I am currently working on two other novels featuring Tom Kendall, and I have made a tentative start on an Adventure novel.

John Holt’s Books

The Marinski Affair

The Marinski Affair began as a dull mundane case involving a missing husband. Okay, so he was a rich missing husband, but he was nonetheless, still only a missing husband. The case soon developed into one involving robbery, kidnapping, blackmail and murder. But was there really a kidnapping? And exactly who is blackmailing who? Who actually carried out the robbery? Who committed the murders? Who can you trust? Who can you believe? Is anyone actually telling the truth? What have they got to hide? And what connection was there with a jewel theft that occurred four years previously? All is not as it seems. Tom Kendall, private detective, had the task of solving the mystery. He was usually pretty good at solving puzzles, but this one was different, somehow. It wasn’t that he didn’t have any of the pieces. Oh no, he wasn’t short of clues. It was just that none of the pieces seemed to fit together.

A Killing In The City

‘To make a killing in the City’ is a phrase often used within the financial world, to indicate making a large profit on investments, or through dealings on the stock market – the bigger the profit, the bigger the killing. However, Tom Kendall, a private detective, on holiday in London, has a different kind of killing in mind when he hears about the death of one of his fellow passengers who travelled with him on the plane from Miami. It was suicide apparently, a simple overdose of prescribed tablets. Kendall immediately offers his help to Scotland Yard. He is shocked when he is told his services will not be required. They can manage perfectly well without him, thank you.

The Kammersee Affair

The lake was flat and calm, with barely a ripple. Its dark waters glistening, reflecting the moonlight, as though it were a mirror. Fritz Marschall knew that neither he, nor his friend, should really have been there. They, like many others before them, had been attracted to the lake by the many rumors that had been circulating. He thought of the endless stories there had been, of treasures sunken in, or buried around the lake. He recalled the stories of the lake being used to develop torpedoes and rockets during the war. Looking out across the dark water, he wondered what secrets were hidden beneath the surface.


Tom Kendall, a down to earth private detective, is asked to investigate the death of a young newspaper reporter. The evidence shows quite clearly that it was an accident: a simple, dreadful accident. That is the finding of the coroner and the local police. Furthermore, there were two witnesses. They saw the whole thing. But was it an accident, or was it something more sinister? Against a backdrop of a viral epidemic slowly spreading from Central America, a simple case soon places Kendall up against one of the largest drug companies in the country.

The Thackery Journal

On the night of April 14th 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was attending a performance at The Ford Theatre, in Washington. A single shot fired by John Wilkes Booth hit the President in the back of the head. He slumped to the floor, and died a few hours later without recovering consciousness. Was Booth a lone assassin? Or was he part of a wider conspiracy? What if Booth had merely been a willing party to a plot to replace Lincoln with General Ulysees S. Grant. Let us suppose that Booth had been set up by a group of men, a group of Lincoln’s own Army Generals; Generals who had wanted Ulysees S Grant for their President, and not Lincoln. And let us also suppose that the funding for the assassination had come from gold stolen by the Confederate Army.

The Mackenzie Dossier

Kendall could just see the television screen. There was a photograph of Governor Frank Reynolds. Across the bottom of the screen the ticker tape announced in large black letters ‘Governor Reynolds Murdered’. The voice over was filling in whatever detail was available. Apparently his body had been discovered earlier that morning. He had been found lying in his garage. He had been shot twice. One shot to the upper chest, the other hitting his shoulder. ‘Police believe that the weapon used was a 38 mm caliber revolver,’ the reporter said. Kendall froze. Anthony Shaw had also been killed by a 38 mm bullet. Kendall was not quite sure of what it all meant. What connection was there between Anthony Shaw, and the State Governor, and the business mogul, Ian Duncan? And what about Senator Mackenzie? Where did he fit in? And who or what was Latimer? Only a short while ago Kendall was a small time private detective, a Private Eye, investigating an insignificant little murder with no clues, no witnesses, and no motive. In fact, no nothing. Now he had so many pieces of a puzzle he didn’t know how they fitted together. He didn’t even know if they all came from the same puzzle.

International Giveaway

The winner will be announced at the end of the tour.
For a chance to win one of three e-books by John Holt (winners choice) and one paperback by John Holt (winners choice)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

John Holt, Thank You very much!

Author Interview with Karina Kantas

We bid a warm welcome to Karina Kantas

Karina Kantas author Books by Karina Kantas

With my love for rock music and S.E.Hinton’s YA novels, it’s no surprise my first novel was in the motor-cycle fiction genre. In fact, my following novels are also urban thrillers. But those that have read my short story collection Heads & Tales and UNDRESSED know I’m not just a “one genre” author.

Born in the midlands UK, I grew up in a poor, rough area of town and used my writing to escape an unsettling reality. Delving deep into my characters’ minds and hearts, I give my readers thought provoking and sometimes dark story-lines.

I have over thirty publications including book reviews, film reviews, poetry and articles.

Nominated top ten of female authors of biker fiction, my horror story Crossed, also won the first prize in an International Short Story contest. And my books have received raving reviews.

With an International fan base, you can find me on popular network sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Myspace, where I’m only too happy to interact with my readers.

No matter what genre of fiction I write, you’ll always hear loud rock music playing while I work, as it allows me to fade away and become one with my characters.

Don’t except happy endings in my novels as I write about real life. What you will get, is exciting story-lines that will have you glued to the pages and eager for more.

I live on the beautiful Island of Corfu with my Greek husband and two daughters.

Titles to date:-

In Times of Violence
Lawless Justice
Heads & Tales: short story collection
Road Rage
Stone Cold: YA supernatural thriller.

Facebook fan page:

Karina Kantas – Interview with Grey Wolf

1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since high school but I wasn’t published until twenty years ago.

2. What is the earliest work of yours that you have published or intend to publish?

In Times of Violence was my first novel. I wrote it as a short story when I was 18. My first publication was a film review of the horror film Constantine.

3. Who were the earliest authors to be an inspiration for your writing?

S.E.HINTON inspired me to publish my first book. Music, especially rock music, inspires me to continue to write.

4. Which other authors do you consider to be an inspiration and for what reason?

I love it when I hear of an Indie author (independent) become a huge success and doing it alone.

5. Are you inspired by any landscapes or buildings, or even towns and cities?

Life inspires me. Meeting new people and learning of their stories.

6. Which was the first book you published and why?

After reading The Outsiders by S.E.Hinton I knew I wanted to write my own rebel fiction. So I started work on In Times of Violence which is still my number one best seller.

7. Have you been surprised by a negative reaction to any of your work?

Only from other authors, not from normal public readers.

8. Other than authors (and friends and family) who are your heroes?

Nelson Mandela. RIP

9. If you could go back in time to learn the truth about one historical mystery or disputed event what would it be?

Which came first the chicken or the egg!

Karina Kantas, Thank You very much!

Indie and Proud

Indie and Proud… a year long campaign showcasing some of the most exciting and diverse indie voices around. With authors from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and Germany we can truly offer an international experience…Throughout 2014 you can expect a whole host of interviews, book reviews, articles, giveaways plus much, much more. Please spare a minute or two to check these fab authors out and show your support by buying their books/stopping by and following their blogs/sharing their details on your social media sites. Support indie authors by showing that YOU are proud!

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Using a dream as a story idea

It was a dream of a desolate Western Europe controlled by American expeditionary forces. It was the mid 1860s and the Americans had been there since the beginning of the decade. A disaster of epic proportions had depopulated Britain, France, Iberia etc, and the Americans had stepped in to enforce order. But their rule was decaying, decrepit, the generals and colonels who commanded the forces increasingly disillusioned and exhausted, the new recruits resentful of a posting so far away from home for a purpose they could little understand. Some commanders had given up all but a pretence of military discipline and spent their time hunting or fishing, whilst their troops sulked in barracks or roamed the barren countryside. Nature was reclaiming its own at a phenomenal rate, and the small surviving native populations were not enough to sustain widespread food production.

The Americans had established full colonial bases at places like Brest, Londonderry and Bristol, but controlled the rest of the countryside through various puppet governments, more on paper that in actuality as the disaster had shattered native communication, leaving the Americans as the ones who now controlled the few remaining, or rebuilt, railways, canals or serviceable roads, the latter mainly restricted now to military highways.

In a few places pockets of native survivors did remain, such as in Southern Portugal where the native aristocracy cavorts with the American diplomats who rarely get further into Europe than the Algarve and issue their orders from villas, or palaces, with little understanding of the tented camps and broken communications that lie beyond this corner of civilisation. Some Irish aristocrats survived, Anglo-Protestants who now roam the barren lands with little travelling courts, visiting American commanders or what passes for native authorities in decadent splendour.

As the disaster had spread, the states of Central Europe had enacted scorched earth policies on their borders, creating shattered borderlands where the population density is higher in the barren lands but where all pre-existing native authority has been destroyed. American forces also occupy these lands, but with a higher density of population, and with more serviceable communications and industry, the successor regimes in Flanders, Wallonia, Lorraine and so on are more in control of their affairs than their puppet counterparts in France, Britain or Iberia. American forces in Flanders are there as guests, not as as controllers, they have helped the native aristocracy reimpose order, and proclaim new kingdoms than serve as a buffer between American-controlled lands, and the Central European states.

Some of the South-Eastern coastal towns in Britain survive as habitable, and from here a rudimentary seafaring operation is run into the Baltic, cruise liners (such as they are in this period) taking Americans like visiting aristocrats into that Northern sea, but the allure is dying off and the liners are now sparsely populated, the crewmen from Kent or Sussex surly, or despressed, and the few guests either ageing rich women or pensioned off military commanders. A few others come now and then, an industrialist trying his luck for all that the Germans and the Swedes have closed their markets to American goods, or younger officers on furlough. But the once-full pleasure cruises are now a thing of the past.

On land, a few American commanders still strive to do their duty, hitting out at the delinquency and dereliction of duty of their colleagues, but even for such men there is the awakening of the question of what they are doing there, why they are bothering, and would it not be best to decide one way or the other, rather than to try to have it both ways – either annex the barren lands, as overseas territories to Union, or withdraw the troops and leave the natives to their own devices, maybe providing support to whoever proves stronger in the long run.

And underneath, or running through, all this is another question, that of race or slavery. The army units, their commanders and the civil servants, diplomats etc are all white. There are some black individuals serving as Rangers, akin to Marshals in the West, and these Rangers operate independently under American government writ, focused mainly on the border kingdoms, enforcing American law and liaising with state organisations in the Central European states. Whilst most of the Rangers are white, a sizeable minority are black.

But apart from amongst the Rangers, blacks can largely be seen in the ports as slave labour, or at best as indentured labour, serving the equivalent of military conscription. The need for large numbers of men in the Western European provinces has given a boost to slavery, and American ships now once again trade with the West African kingdoms, buying their slaves from kings and aristocrats happy to trade their people for luxuries or manufactured goods. American troops and ships have taken over the trading posts and bases that the shattered, vanished nations of Western Europe once possessed, and from Senegal to Cameroon, the slave ships on the one hand, and the traders bringing American goods on the other, are booming.

That is what I saw in the dream. As far as I could see, my role in the dream was that of an Examiner, visiting the army camps, meeting the generals, colonels etc and hearing of the situation from their mouths, whilst at the same time “knowing” the rest of the story, the way you do in a dream. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and these must be approached not from the direction of dream memory but from that of alternate history.

Best Regards
Grey Wolf

Story 4 – Fallen Realms?

I reposted my previous blogpost on this sequel to The Ariadne Cycle trilogy, so as to show where these ideas are progressing from.

As yet, this sequel does not have a name, so “Story 4″ is its working title.

The first scene is the Ranger jumping out of warp at Phoenix, battered and with significant visual battle damage, tho the jump time has enabled Kandinsky’s men to enact most of the most vital repair work. Whilst this exterior view is going on, the Commander X of the Ranger (ie basically Kandinsky’s flag captain) is overseeing the bringing out from cryo-med Emperor Karl who was thrown into the medical deep sleep due to wounds received in the hurried and chaotic evacuation of Kitahna, humanity’s last base within the lost Human Imperium.

Due to the haste of the evacuation, the extent of his wounds, and damage to the Ranger itself, Karl is hazy, disorientated and its not at all clear he knows who he is, where he is, or the circumstances he finds himself in. Commander X does not dare report this to Kandinsky or to Levan who was in command of Kitahna’s defences and who is the one who got the Emperor aboard against the odds. X is aware that Kandinsky has some doubts as to his competence, especially since he took up with Felicity, once the young trophy, now a woman who looks for trophies of her own in her faded glamour. He convinces Karl to pretend to remember, telling him that it will all come back soon enough, and that his authority will be dented if his people don’t think he is capable.

This will be worked at as the opening scene. More details to fill it in, include the Governor of Phoenix, Gavrilla Setax, her position now in flux as what was established as Deep Reserve has now become, with the fall of Kitahna, the capital and last central authority of humanity. With the rescue/return of the Emperor, the established political system here is in flux. A Senate and its attendant Consuls already exist at Phoenix, and are pushing to take over legislative powers now that Phoenix is all there is.

At Phoenix, characters such as Visantia, commander of its defence forces, and Karlan Kandinsky, grandson of the admiral and (former ?) poet, one of the Consuls stand as ready as the Governor to receive the Emperor, each looking to stabilise and expand their own power bases. With humanity constricted to just this last Deep Reserve, the conflicting power bases of those who serve there, and those who fled there, come into sharp focus.

But Phoenix is not the total human story, for within what was the Imperium, but is now the Fallen Realms, pirates, guerillas and those who are both remain fighting, battling and surviving. Some of these were renegades against the Imperium when it was at its height, others have taken up the life, and some like Saloran Ratan on the Delh Homeworld have escaped the slave prison camps to fight in the shadows in the very heart of the alien menace.

We should be able to establish a tripartite set of characters that does not get infected by numerical bloating. There are the following settings:-

1) Phoenix

2) Mobile guerilla forces within the Fallen Realms

3) Those in, or escaped from, the slave prison camps on the Delh Homeworld

Number 2) includes the successor to Vorp’s organisation (Beholder/Cerberus) as well as additional, “looser” characters we can meet/use when we need them. Such additional characters would include Salik and the AI Tamara, making their own way and surviving their own way.

Number 3) will include Marnee as a major focus character, four years old when she was taken captive by the Delh (Bellerophon), now fourteen and a slave prisoner on the Delh Homeworld, held since her incarceration in a different camp than Saloran Ratan, but always remembering him, though hardly expecting, rationally, to see him ever again.

And somewhere within it all we have Skorjine, traitor, merchant or survivor whose dual citizenship on the eve of the war prevented his execution by the Delh and now sees him aligned alongside them in an uneasy commercial partnership even he is never sure of.

Fallen Realms would probably be a good name for the book, as long as it survives a Google check for similar names used in similar circumstances. People may not be able to copyright names, but having one which obliterates any hope of your own SEO standing would not be clever.

Beholder can be bought at
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Best Regards
Grey Wolf

Resurrection or Data Mining

I’ve long had these three science fiction stories I wrote in the 1990s at the back of my mind. One was completed, one was well underway, and the other was just begun, but together they form a trilogy, and somewhere along the way they gained the names Beholder, Bellerophon, and Cerberus. For a long time Cerberus was almost a myth – I knew there were several parts, but I could only ever find one.

Beholder was in some ways worse – I had tried a couple of times to collate it, but it consisted of chapterettes catalogued by a numbering system that often jumped to the next decade number to mark the end of a cycle, and seemed to jump to the next century numbers to mark the next major ‘book’ inside the novel. Over time, the originals on floppy discs had been taken off, catalogued, analysed and so on but I was never sure how much was missing – for missing an amount certainly is. I remember my first attempt at doing this and the creation of the ‘Lost Lambs’ folder, those missing chapters found on their own on a floppy disc otherwise dedicated to another subject. Eventually, it might be said that there are at a minimum two chapters missing (there is a mid-teens gap that makes no sense in terms of jumping to the next numerical milestone) and at most maybe a dozen or so missing. But the bulk of the story is there, and has finally now been collated into one document. Even that was not without its trials, for I did this on holiday and only had my laptop to work from, but the originals were written using Microsoft Works, yet Vista on my laptop refuses to install Works, so I had to work through Notepad, opening each document, stripping it of code and copying it into Word. Fine, but it had the very peculiar effect of always including a stray snippet of text at the bottom, often somehow pulled from a different Works document. I decided to keep these in on the basis that if I could match each snippet to a piece of text elsewhere, good, but if I couldn’t I might have the only remaining fragment of one of the lost chapters – truly story-writing archaeology!

Bellerophon was intact, of reasonable length and would probably have formed a third of the total novel length, whereas the 3 chapters I eventually found for Cerberus are clearly only a beginning, and may yet be missing a part I vaguely recall writing, or perhaps I only recall planning, but never wrote?

The continuous thread through the three stories was the Artificial Intelligence known as Ariadne, and the possible naming of the books relates to her role in the stories – in Beholder she is watching for the mostpart, in Bellerophon she is fighting, and in Cerberus she is protecting. At least that is a rationalisation!

In the past I had tried to make something of the existing stories, either to rewrite them in a more coherent manner, or expand upon what existed, but neither approach had really worked. They are in a sense too much of their time, even though written in a somewhat distant future, and they were written with influences long since eclipsed by more recent influences – eg there are clear streaks of Deep Space Nine in some of the terminology and imaginings, whereas since that time I have taken in all of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica.

Instead, I decided this time to write a sequel to the trilogy, taking it as a whole, and setting it ten years after the events in the original work. On one level this was an easy enough decision, but on another it raised some rather large questions. Due to the disjointed nature of the trilogy, that Beholder’s characters other than the AI are not in Bellerophon, and that Bellerophon’s characters, other than the AI, are not in Cerberus, but Cerberus revolves around one group only of Beholder’s characters, what has happened to all the rest of the characters? This is not simply a question of what has happened to them over ten years, since that is my decision as the writer of the new work, but it is very much the question of what happened to them during the time-frame of the original trilogy. As an example, General Kalister escapes from Station One when it is destroyed by the aliens and is last seen hurtling towards Earth in a convoy of evacuation ships. What happens to him during the timeframe of Bellerophon, and if he survives that what has happened to him by the timeframe of Cerberus?

We cannot think of him as still on that ship when up to a year must have passed within the internal reckoning of the triology.

In a sense, the opening scene of the new work suggested itself to me as a scene seeking a story. I needed not only a background, but a character and this took some working through. What became easiest was to extrapolate certain trends from the existing stories – the Human Imperium is on the backfoot, the enemy is not only choosing the battlefields within human space, but has some kind of secret weapon, but one group of characters has information taken from an alien battlecruiser and intends to use this to bargain for a pardon from the Emperor. Taking these as long term trends I could say that the aliens continue to win, but that the humans are able to fight back and delay them – delay them but not stop them.

Having thus decided the overall strategic situation, it becomes clearer both what to do with many of the characters, and what their likely fate would have been. A lot of the military characters are going to be dead. Given that a continuing alien advance is going to mean that human habitation after human habitation falls to the aliens, then a lot of the political characters are also going to be dead. The war is clearly going to have given pirates, freebooters, outlaws and bandits a certain free rein, but since the aliens are going to make little distinction, this kind of war also gives all of these types the chance to shine as unofficial adjuncts to the human military – or guerillas, if you will. Whilst this gives them a continuing valuable role in the story to come, it also means that, as with the other characters, a lot of them are going to be dead.

All of these dead characters seems a bit daunting on the one hand, but what a trilogy of novels does, even one with incomplete volumes, is to generate a mass of characters. Quite literally some of the ships are overloaded with characters when we last see them, so culling them down to a few key characters makes perfect sense for the story to come. The choice of characters to definitely kill, of characters to promote as it were, and of others to have surviving and able to play a useful role in the story to come was an interesting one. Resolving it, brought clarity to who it was I could see in my mind’s eye in the first scene of the new work. It also led me to kill off some of the leading characters who had survived the previous works, and to promote others into their places.

One thing a ten year gap does is to age people. An important segment of the characters from Beholder were teenagers chosen by the leaders of the criminal cartels for their youth as much as for their skills. They are now in their mid to late twenties, and the youngest of them, chosen for her ability to escape notice and to get around tight corners, whilst at the same time having a high intellect, is now a young woman of twenty-one. But she is not the character who emerged from Beholder intact and in high esteem, for Cerberus (what there is of it) is built around her ordeal at the hands of her captors. She is a more withdrawn figure after this experience, and ten years of fighting the alien menace has not mellowed this in her.

Ten years also does things for the youngest characters in the previous work – the youngest named character was a four year old refugee from Station Two in Bellerophon. Escaping on the yacht that contained the AI, she is clearly missing by the time that Cerberus comes around, and the only in-story explanation was an alien attack badly damaged the ship and the crew took to the life pods. Extrapolating on this, it seemed reasonable to posit that she fell into alien hands and forms one of probably hundreds of thousands of human prisoners on alien slave worlds. This puts a character of an interesting age in an important place, in terms of viewpoint.

The other youngest character was not born, but the mother came on board the pirate ship already heavily pregnant. As this was at the end of Beholder, it is obvious that a child must have been born during the time period represented by Bellerophon, and be present but not mentioned during Cerberus. That child is now ten, and has grown up on a pirate ship, all his life dedicated to the pursuit of such goals, and of hitting the aliens in the guise of being a privateer. This is going to make for some very interesting child development!

At the opposite extreme almost the oldest character is still around. I decided that in terms of what we know about the Spacefleet of the Human Imperium, the old admiral who refused retirement and who was sent in with his reserves when the aliens attacked, would be one of those characters most likely to have been able to use all of his experience to survive in a war where humanity is increasingly out-numbered and defeated. I decided that despite his now truly ancient years, keeping him in command makes perfect sense for the story. After all, this is science fiction, it is the future, and it is quite possible in terms of life-span for the better-off that when they retire they can look forward to some thirty or more years of leisure.

The sequel is now about ready to begin. Characters have been chosen, settings set, backgrounds assigned and the grand strategic overview is in place. A few names have had to be changed, not least that of the aliens for when the story was written Dell was something you associated with Dingley and not with a multinational computer company! Others have been standardised, their spelling having slipped across the chapters, whilst as far as it has been possible full names, including last names, have been data mined from obscure brief mentions in the chapters they occurred. Some characters don’t have any – perhaps they never did, perhaps they do not remember it, perhaps they choose not to use it and nobody really cares anymore, considering the circumstances. Some characters have been assigned roles in keeping with their stature but very different, at least in geography, to where we saw them before.

And of course, this new story also needs a name. Sometimes the name is the easiest part, sometimes it is the hardest. I have the vaguest inkling at the moment, but hopefully when the opening scenes have been written it will coalesce into something I can use. Wish me luck on this great voyage of exploration!

Beholder is available to buy at these locations

Best Regards
Grey Wolf