Sunday, February 24, 2013

Author Spotlight: Doug Dandridge

Doug Dandridge is the author of the science fiction novel The Deep Dark Well. He was born in Venice, Florida in 1957. An avid reader, Doug has read most of the classic novels and shorts of science fiction and fantasy. Doug has military experience including Marine Corps JROTC, Active Duty Army, and the National Guard. He attended Florida State University and the University of Alabama, completing a Masters in Psychology. He has worked in psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, a prison, and juvenile residential facilities. Doug has been writing for over sixteen years. He concentrates on intelligent science fiction and fantasy in which there is always hope, no matter how hard the situation.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

Of course there is the entertainment aspect. Growing up I remember reading Conan or Heinlein's Starship Troopers and getting away from the teasers and the bullies that populated my school. It was pure escapism. Of course there was Star Trek, and watching them as an adult I can see how Gene Roddenberry was tackling some of the social problems of the day. And Rod Serling, using The Twilight Zone to make commentary that made it by the censors, when he couldn't do that with a more mainstream series he had done previously. So I think that is one of the big roles of speculative fiction, to show people some of the absurdities of our society by exaggerating it in another context. There was also the teacher factor in old scifi. A lot of times there was a lesson in underlying science in those stories, and fantasy had lessons in history and mythology. I believe good speculative fiction gets people to think about things they normally wouldn't think about without them realizing it. And some works can be a warning, like post apocalyptic fiction. Keep doing this and this is where we might end up. Or Star Trek's message of keep doing good and good things are coming.

Why do you write in this genre?

I really couldn’t imagine writing anything else; though I may eventually try my hand at an idea I have for a historical novel. But I truly have a passion for what I call the fantastic, science fiction, fantasy, even some horror (not slasher type though). I was looking at Fantastic Four comics before I could read, and read Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy when I was six. Found a copy of Howard’s Bran Mac Morn that my brother left around the house when I was seven. I have a love for all of these genres, and a passion to tell stories within them. I have been told I could make more money writing romance novels, or even erotica, but I could never put the time and effort into those genres. I have read all these books, watched all these movies and TV shows, and studied enough science and mythology that I’m not a complete idiot in any of those subjects. And my imagination comes up with ideas for stories, which sometimes I must pursue. Maybe someday I will get them all out, thought I doubt it.

How did you come up with the idea for The Deep Dark Well?

I wanted something really big, set in the far future. I was a big fan of Larry Niven, especially his Ringworld series, and also read a book by physicist Kip Thorne which diagrammed how a rotating charged black hole could be used to generate enormous power. And I also read something about wormholes, and the possibility of opening them at will, which of course required that enormous power. So I came up with the idea of the Donut, the space station that had been the center of a galactic empire, a true megastructure. I had just moved back to Florida from Alabama after a divorce from someone I loved deeply, who became the inspiration for Pandora Latham. As I did more research the ideas kept piling up. NASA supplied the various forms of possible hyperlight travel, my own study of psychology, especially neuropsychology, gave me the idea of using multiple personalities in my antagonist, making him both good guy and villain. I plotted everything out on 3X5 cards and then started into it. I actually got very good rejection letters from two publishers telling me how good they thought this book was, with the caveat that they didn’t think it would sell in today’s market. So when I decided to self-publish, this was the first one I went with.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

Actually changing the way I wrote. I liked to use what I called realism, in which people only encountered things they could actually control, otherwise they died. Then, while studying how to plot a book, I found the most successful writers put their characters in situations that really had no practical way out, and then wrote them out of it. So I started writing this way, trying to make it a page turner. I was also still very down from my divorce, and that was probably making my mind wander down some very dark channels. I wanted this to be a book about hope, so I sometimes had to fight what I wanted to put down on the hard drive with what should be put there. I think it turned out pretty good.

What are you working on now?

I am actually working on several things right now. The primary is book 3 of my Exodus: Empires at War series, which is selling really well on Amazon, with almost a hundred reviews between the two books. That is the priority. I also have a fantasy series out called Refuge which, while not doing as well as Exodus, is picking up in sales. It's kind of a genre crosser at first, though it will migrate more into the high fantasy sphere as it moves along, and I am hoping to attract more of the high fantasy fans to it. And I just put out a sequel to The Deep Dark Well called To Well and Back, in which Pandi and Watcher fight against the xenophobes of The Nation of Humanity. I will also try to come out with a third book called Deeper and Darker which hopefully will be both, and will explore a new civilization, very fascist in nature, that wants to become the ruling power of the Galaxy. I am planning on quitting my job either at the end of March or of April, and writing full time, which has always been the dream. I seem to be doing well enough as a self-published author to make that dream a reality, and the risk seems worth it.


About The Deep Dark Well

Thrown through a wormhole forty thousand years into the future, Kuiper Belt Miner Pandora Latham finds herself on an enormous space station in orbit around a black hole. Once the center of Galactic Civilization, the station is now deserted, except for an immortal being called Watcher, the last survivor of that now ancient time. Watcher defends the station against all intruders, those who covet the technology of the station that would allow them to conquer and control the Galaxy. But he befriends the woman out of time because of the aching loneliness in his heart, the result of thousands of years of solitude. Pandi must discover the secret behind Watcher. What was his part in the fall? What happened to the rest of civilization across the Galaxy? And what can Pandi do to save the superman from himself, and restore the balance to the Galaxy that allows civilization to return? To fail is to die, as trillions have died before her. Pandora Latham is not used to failure, and she’s not about to give in easily this time.

Available at:

Visit Doug at his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Author Spotlight: Kimberly K. Comeau

Today we feature Kimberly K. Comeau and her science fiction novel Moons' Kiss. Kimberly was twelve when she began writing, fifteen when she published her first story, and eighteen when she won her first literary contest. Since then, she’s published short fiction, poetry and nonfiction, served as director of an online writers’ workshop, and co-founded PC Quill, a critique group comprised of award-winning writers. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with a musician husband and two fiercely protective cats.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

I view SF as the precursor of things-to-come, the imaginative arm of science. It takes the impossible, combines it with known facts, and extrapolates possibilities. I think, too, that it warns us of what can go wrong if we blindly persist down certain avenues of action. It makes us consider angles of thought we may not have considered before, and causes us to ponder right and wrong and how blurred each of those boundaries can be. I think it also prepares us for the day we make contact with an alien race.

Why do you write in this genre?

Science fiction allows me full rein to pursue ‘what if’ questions to unexpected conclusions. After all, every social issue includes what I call ‘the human factor,’ which is man’s impulse to rebel, to choose the illogical course of action, to believe that he knows better than his peers, leaders and Nature. Humans also exhibit a stubborn optimism about history. Just because a social experiment failed once doesn’t mean it won’t work on the second attempt. Or the third. Add science, technology and aliens into the mix and the opportunities for disaster and incredible advances multiply exponentially. How can I not write in this genre? There’s just too much fun to be had.

How did you come up with the idea for Moons' Kiss?

News reports of the 1978 Jim Jones Massacre in Guyana sparked a lifelong curiosity about religious cults. Then in 1997, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate made news when they committed suicide as comet Hale-Bopp streaked across the sky, believing their souls would join with a spaceship that trailed the comet. That started me wondering, “What if they’re right?” That wonder led to a second what if that became the basis for the story behind Moons’ Kiss. Unfortunately, I can’t say more than that without disclosing spoilers.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

The research for the character of Kayarra. And the funny part is, he’s the human! In chapter one, Kayarra is nearly killed, so I faced massive medical research on head injuries, trepanation, burns, and wound care. In addition, he suffers from psychogenic amnesia as a result of things he witnessed before he fell (jumped?) from a cliff. All this research was completed pre-Internet, so I didn’t have the ready resources available today. After I finished the book edits, I asked a nurse to read the novel, and I made minor changes based upon her questions and recommendations.

What are you working on now?

*Laughs* Way too many things, is the honest answer. Marketing Moons’ Kiss and a novella co-written with Jon Kohl entitled Fallout, released the first of January by Books To Go Now, has taken priority over most activities. After all, my novels are two tiny grains in a mountainous sand dune of books and getting them noticed is a daunting task.

My next release is an SF novel entitled Rainbow Gold, which suggests how the harvesting of animals can go horribly awry when an alien species is involved.

The sequel to Moons’ Kiss, entitled The Children’s War, is three-quarters finished in draft, but completion is on hold until Rainbow Gold’s release.


About Moons' Kiss

They found him in the South Ofrann Desert, where everything evil lived.

Manerra, heir to the tribes of Yatra, intends to abdicate--until his rescue of a man-thing from cannibals pits brother against brother and tribe against tribe. Prevented by decree from harming the creature, Manerra pledges to drive it away . . . and adds another layer of guilt to his already troubled mind.

Rebuffing all counsel, Aya, the nation’s ruler, takes steps to prevent bloodshed in future meetings between his people and the foreigners, and by so doing, hands his enemies the means to secure his downfall. As political maneuvering and violence escalate, there’s one wildcard that no one’s considered: the “demon” Kayarra. Who is he, what is he, and what do his people want?

“What I got in this 408 page novel more than made up for the time it took to read. Ms. Comeau’s tale slowly drew me in and by the end I found myself comparing it to another sci-fi book, Stranger In A Strange Land by a master of the genre, Robert Heinlein. (Coincidentally Heinlein was listed by the author as one of her literary influences along with other sci-fi greats like Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov and C.J. Cherryh.) This is a classic “fish out of water” story that I really enjoyed as the author took the time to create a world and characters so complex and real that you cared about them and wanted to learn more about them as a you continued to read.” - Review by Tavin Gamache, The Indie Bookshelf, September 15, 2012

Available at:

Connect with Kimberly at her website, Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Author Spotlight: Joshua Unruh

Today we feature Joshua Unruh and his fantasy novel Saga of the Myth Reaver Vol 1: Downfall. Joshua is a stay-at-home dad and professional author who refuses to think of either as being unemployed. He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, his son, his father-in-law, two dogs, and absolutely no peace. Still, he manages to write a little bit. He strives to make everything he writes clever, interesting, or funny. Like Meatloaf said, two out of three ain't bad.

Joshua is a lover of genre fiction, especially superhero comics and hardboiled detectives, and this comes through in his genre-bending style. Weird Westerns, nihilistic Norse-style fantasies, YA espionage stories, and hardboiled Noir tales with shades of fantasy or science fiction are just a few examples of the twisting and warped hallways of his imagination.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

I don't know about society, but for me, the speculative part lets me use fantastical or sci-fi elements to shine a spotlight on different bits of the world around me. If I hide it among ten-year-old supervillains and armies of robots, then the coming of age story sneaks in nearly unnoticed. If I tell a story of a talented man who wins constantly but still doesn't feel fulfilled, that's going to leave a lot of people cold. If I make the striving and winning all about killing monsters, then it almost becomes soft allegory. The speculative part lets me disarm my reader and maybe get them to think about something very commonplace in a vastly different way.

Why do you write in this genre?

The everyday world doesn't have to be boring, but the fact that it's the everyday world means we often think it is. The everyday with a touch of weird or fantastic is more exciting. Imagination is spice, whether that's monsters or flying ships powered by steam or intrepid people plying the spaceways.

How did you come up with the idea for this series?

I love Noir storytelling very much and have for my adult life (and a bit before). The poetic description of personal foibles resulting in ultimate downfalls is endlessly fascinating to me. But I'm also a lover of mythology, and during a rereading of Beowulf I realized how much epic poetry in general and Norse sagas in specific have in common with Noir.

But of course, the ways those stories were told could not be more different. I decided to try and write something with subject matter that would be at home in a saga through the lens of Noir storytelling rules and conventions.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

I had to find a balance between modern language and the poetic, sometimes almost stilted in its formality, language of epics and sagas. Kennings are the best example of this. Noir storytelling, especially in the hardboiled detective area, is famous for its metaphors and similes. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts and women can give looks you feel in your hip pocket.

Kennings are very like this. They're poetic other-names for things, such as calling a sword a "wound hoe," blood "life tears," or battle the "storm of spears." And of course, through all that playing with language, I had to make sure I had the rip-roaring action and visceral, gut-wrenching violence Vikings demand.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a Batman story for the next Kindle All-Stars anthology which you can read about here. I'll have a Weird Western called Hell Bent for Leather published in the next few months (I wish I had a specific time frame, but it'll definitely be this year and probably sooner rather than later). And the latest long form thing I'm working is actually the sequel to Downfall. It's called Ascension and will be the closing chapter in The Saga of the Myth Reaver.


About The Saga of the Myth Reaver Vol 1: Downfall

Noir: Everyday men and women drowning in the murky, corrupt waters of their own flaws.
Saga: Peerless heroes fighting epic battles yet ultimately doomed to fail.

At the crossroads of these two literary traditions stands The Saga of the Myth Reaver.

The Nine Worlds have never seen a hero like Finn Styrrsson. Blessed with an unmatched thirst for victory and the supernatural strength and vigor to slake it, Finn might have been the greatest warrior-king his people had ever known. But he was born the youngest of eight princes with a conniving eldest brother who won’t abide the threat Finn poses to his rule. Despite Finn’s unfailing loyalty, he is forced from his home to forge a new destiny.Already a powerful warrior and deadly reaver, Finn discovers that he above all others is equipped to kill the monsters, the giants, the myths that besiege Midgard. He becomes the Myth Reaver and a living legend.

Yet despite his prowess and fame--indeed because of them--Finn never wins that which he most desires. His longing for home goes unfulfilled. After a lifetime spent battling dread monsters and shining demigods, Finn realizes that in all the Nine Worlds, there is only one enemy whose defeat can give him the renown he so richly deserves.

Whether it's in search of glory or a glorious death, Finn always overlooks his true enemy. That mistake will be his downfall.

Downfall is the first book in The Saga of the Myth Reaver.

Available at:

You can connect with Joshua Unruh at his website or Twitter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Author Spotlight: Robert Rosell

Today the spotlight is on Robert Rosell, author of Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman. He was born in Montreal, Canada and, being a bit restless, he ended up graduating from three universities and bouncing through a number of careers. These included stints as a high school teacher, theater director, university instructor, writer, video director, and children's media producer. While serving as the president of three educational media production companies, Robert wrote and directed over 50 award-winning films and videos. Robert is the author of the Civitas Rising series and a non-fiction book to be released in March, 2013. He lives with his family in spectacular Washington State.


What role do you believe speculative fiction plays in society?

There are many forms of speculative fiction, and they each influence us in a plethora of ways. Some stories activate our social conscience, others allow us to dream fantastic fantasies, while still others challenge our most fundamental beliefs. All forms of literature lead us through the author’s imagination into the realm of story, but with speculative fiction we are invited to explore distant worlds, bizarre universes or preternatural alternative realities.

Taking us away from the familiar frees us to think bigger thoughts. It changes the filters through which we experience our day-to-day existence, perhaps opening us to challenge conventional wisdom and established norms. Its impact can be revolutionary.

Why do you write in this genre?

I’m a political person. I always have been. As a teenager I used to have screaming matches with my father about the Vietnam War and racial issues. As a young man I was a campus activist and troublemaker. Writing speculative fiction has given me a platform on which to dance. It’s also fun.

How did you come up with the idea for Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman?

Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman began as a screenplay over 10 years ago. I was concerned about balance in my life, and balance in the lives of those I cared for. I sought to explore the impact of a life out of balance by taking an ad absurdum approach. How far out of balance can one man get? Jonathan Newman was that man, and living his life on a table, working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, literally selling his blood and organs for his employer was as extreme as I could imagine. The task then became to envision the world in which such a life was possible.

What was your biggest challenge in writing it?

Something strange happened when I got about one third of the way into writing the story. A major character died. Having someone die in a novel isn't unusual, however it wasn't part of the narrative I had imagined. Besides, I loved this character. Once the deed was done, I sat in my little office weeping like an idiot. Everything had suddenly changed.

I tried to rework my outline, rethinking how the story should now unfold, but was unable to find the new narrative. After several frustrating weeks I decided to set my planning aside and simply write. It took me over a year to finish, and most of that time I had no idea what was going to happen each day as I stared at my blank screen, waiting… waiting… waiting for the words to arrive. I didn't know how the book would end until I actually wrote the final pages. For someone who likes to plan things in advance, this was a healthy though often scary voyage outside my comfort zone.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman was published last August. Civitas Island – The Birth of Hope was fun to write, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

There will be at least one more novel in the Civitas Rising series, but I thought I should take a short break from the narrative to keep things fresh. Right now I’m finishing a non-fiction book on making better relationship choices. If all goes well, that one will be released by the end of June, 2013.


About Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman

Work, sex and the meaning of life - in the future.

What is a good employee? Is he one who contributes everything he has to help his company succeed? All his time? All his energy? How about his kidney? His wife? If a virtual life feels real, looks real, tastes real, and smells real - is it real? What happens to your real life when your virtual life appears to be an improvement?
Welcome to the bizarre world of Jonathan Newman, who lives at a time when the government is weak, the powerful are playing dirty, and life is no tea party.

Nineteen years after the Freedom First Party sweeps Democrats and Republicans from power in an American election that shocks the world, government departments, regulations, and programs are gone and free markets rule.

With medical care now beyond the reach of all but a fortunate few, musician Jonathan Newman must find a way to pay his gravely ill son’s hospital bills. In desperation he takes a sales job with QualLab, a global laboratory supply company that offers a generous compensation package. Once there, a web of wires, tubes, and sensors connect him to a table in a secluded cell where he works day and night selling bio-laboratory tests made from human materials - his. To keep him sane in his tiny chamber, Jonathan is immersed in a thrilling virtual world – part of a clandestine effort to transfer his loyalty from family to Company.

Virtually Yours, Jonathan Newman chronicles a tug-of-war between competing values. The novel presents a funny but credibly dark view of America’s future. It is fiction that will make you think.

"Rosell’s novel is a consistently fun read with a strong message at its core." - Kirkus Review

Available at:

Connect with Robert Rosell at his website, Facebook or Twitter.