Today we hear from Patrick Thomas, author of the story “Divining Everest”. Patrick was recommended to me by an author and editor whose work I greatly respect, Danielle Ackley-McPhail. I took her recommendation very seriously and decided to drop him an e-mail. I was glad I did. Not only did he turn in a fine story for Space Horrors, he proposed writing brand new editions of his wonderful “Dear Cthulhu” column for Tales of the Talisman Magazine. You’ll find the first column in Tales of the Talisman volume 6, issue 1. The second column should be appearing in a few short weeks in volume 6, issue 2.
My wife tells me that my contributor copies of Space Horrors arrived at home today. Tonight is the last night of my shift at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Looking forward to seeing the book in a little less than 24 hours!
Be gentle. I’ve never done this before—blog that is. It seems odd in retrospect. I have well over a million words in print with more than 20 books and over 150 shorts to my credit, but no blogging. It’s not that I have anything against it per se. It’s just my writing time is always at a premium, always a deadline to meet. And some deadlines are pleasant while others can be incredibly difficult to handle, always causing trouble so to add more to my plate always seemed foolhardy, at least for my writing. At an all you can eat buffet, well that’s another matter. But when David Lee Summers offered me a one-shot blog, I figured I could handle that. Better still, he said to talk about my story in his Full-Throttle Space Tales: Space Horrors.
Talk about my work. That I can do.
When David and I first chatted (technically e-mailed) about what he was looking for, I let him know about my two space faring series. The first is my Startenders tales, which take place in the future of my Murphy’s Lore series. Fun, space travel utilizing a mix of magic and science. Tricksters in Space. The second is The 142nd Starborne, military science fiction set in a universe where the Earth has been destroyed by dark forces and The 142nd survived by one man—Major Hans Benedict—deciding to ignore suicide orders and do the right thing by mutinying in order to finish the job they had started. They save an endangered world while the Earth burned. Everyone except a couple of hundred of the Sway’s leaders were already dead and those calling the military home were only trying to save their own skins. It’s dark, moody and everything doesn’t seem brighter when the story is done. Still the soldiers of the 142nd fight on, even if in the long run they may not win. They fight because someone has to and if not them, there won’t be anyone else.
Mr. Summers chose the 142nd Starborne.
He also told me that the original title was going to be Space Vampires but was changed to give the book a broader scope, but the vampire part stuck with me.
That was important because the 142nd fight monsters and I don’t mean just the human kind. Vampires could work.
But first I should give you a little background on how the 142nd Starborne came to be. When I first got published, 3 of my first 4 books were SF, but it was the fantasy that sold the best so I ended up doing more fantasy to the point were I rarely wrote SF. And I certainly never wrote military SF, so in a very real way the 142nd Starborne owes a thanks and it’s very existence to Mike McPhail. Mike invited me to submit to Breach The Hull, the first book in his Defending The Future series. At this point I feel obliged to say the tradition things about the books like mention that it is an award winning series and even name drop—it has stories by David Sherman, Jonathan Maberry, CJ Henderson, Bud Sparhawk, and Jack Campbell but that does a disservice to those not mentioned because each story is something special. Simply put, if you haven’t yet had the pleasure and like military SF you won’t be disappointed.
But there was the rub. It was still military SF and I had never written the stuff. Of course I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge. Run away screaming, sure, but back away? Never.
It’s strange how ideas come sometimes. People often ask me my process, but it’s difficult for me to explain. My mind likes to think in stories. It’s something that happens naturally, but can be eased along with prompting. In this instance, I had to come up with a concept for a military SF universe before I could write the story. And at the same time I had deadlines for two zombie stories. And the ideas did a mash up in my head and the 142nd Starborne was born. Or perhaps invaded my psyche would be more accurate.
The military, never one to let a good weapon go to waste, has utilized weres, vampires and zombies. The 142nd Starborne has to clean up the messes caused by the collapse of the government when these creatures get loose.
Which brings us to “Divining Everest.” I prefer to write in series. For one thing, it’s easier not to have to create a new world every time you have to write a story, at least for me. Plus, I enjoy the world building. I decided to use vampires if for no other reason than my stories for DTF all involved zombies. And I got to thinking—what if the vampires weren’t the bad guys or at least were the lesser of two evils. What happens when soldiers are facing two kinds of monsters and only one has fangs?
To tell anymore would involved spoilers, so I’ll stop here except to say that of course I think you should get yourself a copy of Space Horrors. Is it worth it just for my 142nd Starborne story “Divining Everest”? Sure it is—and yes, I’m incredibly modest, but have been working hard to overcome it and seem to be in recovery. However the rest of the stories in the book make it more than worth it. Plus Laura Givens had done one of the best anthology covers I’ve seen in a long time. And as an artist I’ve done a few. Of course, it should go without mentioning—which of course means I’m about the do just that—that anyone who’s ever read an issue of Tales of the Talisman or Full-Throttle Space Tales: Space Pirates knows, Mr. Summers is an editor supreme. He’s not letting anyone in his book who’s not at the top of their game. And yes, I can name drop again and mention that CJ Henderson, Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Sarah A. Hoyt and a host of other talent writers are in it. But that would be overkill.
Then again, overkill is what the 142nd Starborne is all about.