Saturday, February 27, 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for February 2021

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.

So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie and small press authors (as well as the occasional Big 5 book) newly published this month, though some January books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. This month, we have epic fantasy, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, fantasy romance, science fiction romance, science fiction thrillers, space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, Cyberpunk, Steampunk, historical horror, LitRPG, magical realism, fairy tales retellings, dragons, elves, mermaids, superheroes, aliens, UFOs, interstellar wars, intergalactic smugglers, headless horsemen, matriarchical werewolves, crime-busting witches, crime-busting ghosts, lovelorn cupids and much more.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books without further ado:

Conviction by Jennifer BlackstreamConviction by Jennifer Blackstream:

Shade’s FBI partner has shot a kelpie.
And this time, the law may not be on his side…

Agent Andrew Bradford once used deadly force to stop a kelpie from kidnapping a human teenager. And now Shade has gotten a call saying he’s done it again. Flesh-eating kelpie dead, human victim saved.

At least, he thinks that’s what happened.

He doesn’t remember.

His inability to clearly recall the night’s events forces Shade to seek answers among the monsters of the Otherworld. She’ll have to question scheming leannan sidhe, malicious waterhorses, and take a dangerous step into the world of vampire politics.

Otherworlders are nothing if not opportunistic. And there are plenty of powerful players ready to take advantage of Shade’s desperation to do whatever it takes to save her partner…

The Wolf of Rajala by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Wolf of Rajala by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

Before Kurval became King of Azakoria, he was a wandering mercenary and monster slayer for hire.

One day, Kurval is hired to take out the monstrous wolves that have been besetting the village of Rajala. However, he quickly finds that the wolves are not what they seem. He also realises that the wolves have a very good reason for attacking the villagers…

This is a novelette of 8700 words or approx. 30 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

Mercadia Stalling by Shaka BryMercadia Stalling by Shaka Bry:

Immortality takes time. Armageddon is inevitable. Love is somewhere in-between.

In a faraway fairy tale world, the first mermaids and merliens are evolving. Maya, the newly crowned queen of Mercadia, is learning how to rule. Hermann, freshly immortal, is brimming with strange feelings. When they meet, sparks will fly.

Mercadia's magic is vanishing. An apocalypse is brewing. To save their species, explorers are going to have to step up. Someone will have to risk everything and travel through a portal to an ocean realm called Earth.

Before they had tails, mermaids and merliens basked in the glow of eternal life. Existence is about to accelerate.

Secrets of the Sword III by Lindsay BurokerSecrets of the Sword III by Lindsay Buroker:

I’m Val Thorvald, tough butt-kicking assassin and soon-to-be wife of Lord Zavryd'nokquetal. He’s a dragon from another world, and he’s haughty, arrogant, and has horrible taste in footwear, but I love him. Our wedding is going to be amazing.

At least… I’d like to think so. But when the coffee shop I’m a co-owner of gets bombed, our youngest employee goes missing, and the entire elven family I didn’t know I had shows up for a visit, my wedding preparations take an alarming turn.

Oh, and did I mention that Zav’s clan is coming to the wedding? Dozens of dragons flying into the Seattle area. What could possibly go wrong?

Cupid by Demelza CarltonCupid by Delmeza Carlton:

As a Cupid, Orel has plenty of experience helping other people find love, even if he's unlucky in that department. But when he ends up covering for another Cupid at a speed dating event for singles in the leadup to Valentine's Day, he dares to hope.

Can a lonely Cupid find love?

Or will he fall victim to the Cupid curse, too?

Heather's Marauders by M.D. CooperHeather's Marauders by M.D. Cooper:

When the Alliance calls in the ISF Mech Corps, they never know what the situation might hold, but one thing is always for certain: the shit has hit the fan.

Heather had never even heard of the Tchyros System until orders came in from the Hegemon herself; an urgent message to deploy an entire division of mechs into the system with orders to put down an insurrection before it topples the democratically elected government.

A simple enough task for her mechs, but Heather knows that if she’s going in, then the situation on the ground will be far from clear cut—and her suspicions hold true upon arrival.

‘Murky’ doesn’t even begin to describe the situation and as Heather attempts to determine who is in the right, the Marauders find themselves in the middle of a three-way battle for control of the system with no clear path to peace.

If the Marauders are to keep the system from falling into utter chaos, Heather will need to…to… come up with a hell of a plan.

If only she knew what that was.

Pagan's Veil by Matt EatonPagan's Veil by Matt Eaton:

Washington Times-Herald reporter Edna Drake receives an anonymous tip about a classified government program in possession of a fully functional flying saucer.

But before she can publish she'll need to prove it, which won't be easy.

It's 1952… the flying saucer frenzy is at its peak. Sightings are through the roof across America.

Nobody knows what's going on, least of all the government.

Yet Drake is sure President Harry Truman and the US Air Force know a lot more than they're willing to admit.

Standing between her and the truth is retired soldier and wartime spymaster 'Wild' Bill Donovan.

Donovan is worried America will end up at war with the Soviet Union if Drake gets too close.

Pagan's Veil brings you face-to-face with the men who'll do anything to keep their secrets under wraps.

Dagger of Doom by Rachel FordDagger of Doom by Rachel Ford:

A fully immersive virtual reality system. A beta testing opportunity that’s the stuff of dreams – or a nightmare that may never end.

Jack Owens has been stuck in Marshfield Studio’s newest virtual reality RPG for so long that his mind is starting to break down the barriers between his real body and his avatar.

In-game, things aren’t looking any better. The greatest evil the world has ever known is coming back, and it's turned heroes everywhere to stone. Men, elves, and dwarves cower in their holds as the coming darkness looms. The only thing holding the wolves at bay? Jack and his merry band of ne’er-do-wells: a pair of purse-cutting goblins, a morally ambiguous ranger, and a throat-cutting giant.

While Jack works with Marshfield Studio to save his mind in real life, he has to work with his in-game team to rescue the world’s heroes, and save the day. If they can keep from plying their dark trades on each other long enough to survive, anyway...

Weapons Free by Daniel GibbsWeapons Free by Daniel Gibbs:

Thirty-five years of peace. One vicious attack destroys it all.

Reservist Lieutenant Justin Spencer loves every minute of flying fighters through space during his annual two-week tour with the Coalition Defense Force. The job back home isn’t nearly as thrilling as blowing up asteroids with the squadron under his command, but it keeps him close to his wife and daughter. After all, joining the CDF was only for the free education. Justin never expected a battle, much less a war.

With one shot across his cockpit, peacetime fades into memory.

An unexpected enemy emerges with overwhelming force designed to obliterate the Terran Coalition. The League of Sol has a different name, but it’s the same communist regime that chased away much of Earth’s population hundreds of years ago.

Illusions of returning home are shattered in a single instant. Simulated battles become all too real, and it’s full-on engagement or permanent elimination. Death and destruction erupt across the Terran Coalition and leave Justin in a protracted war with only one truth remaining.

The battlefield will leave no one unscathed.

Reign of the Colossus by Nicole GrotepasReign of the Colossus by Nicole Grotepas:

How many enemies can one hero have?

The faces of Holly Drake’s foes have never been so clear, yet so out of reach.

As kinks stop the flow of cash towards Holly’s goals to build her own empire, she must choose between solidifying her standing against the growing forces of evil…

...or saving her crew.

Never got enough of Firefly? Already longing for a new season of The Mandalorian? Then dip into this entertaining cast of characters and space adventure and grab your copy of Reign of the Colossus today!

All the Pretty Witches by Lily Harper HartAll the Pretty Witches by Lily Harper Hart:

Hannah Hickok was looking for adventure when she inherited Casper Creek from her grandmother.

She got more than she was bargaining for.

Now she’s grappling with two ancient sister witches, both of whom are inhabiting the bodies of others, and a war is brewing.

Hannah knows she has to fight on the side of good but she’s not certain their ally has anybody’s best interests at heart, and it has her faltering. On top of everything, there’s a new demon on the loose and he appears to have joined sides with the dark witch who wants to end them all.

Life has never been easy for Hannah but it’s harder than ever for her now. The magic she’s only recently discovered is taking hold … and growing. That makes her an appealing target for the sister witches should they want a stronger body to leap into.

Cooper Wyatt loves Hannah with his whole heart but fear has gripped him by the throat. He wants to help Hannah with her battle but he’s not sure what he has to offer … other than loyalty. He will protect her with his dying breath, although she’s determined to make sure that’s not necessary.

Ancient evil is about to take on a powerful new witch. Who will be left standing? It’s anybody’s guess.

Project Charon by Patty JansenProject Charon 1. Re-Entry by Patty Jansen:

On the backwater world of Cayelle, Tina Freeman runs a shop with her son Rex: fifteen years old, half-human, half-android with a massive chip on his shoulder about having been born without arms or legs.

The shop makes a modest profit, but when a creditor turns up wanting his money back, everything goes pear-shaped.

She needs money, and needs it fast. Another creditor is impossible to find. That leaves her one option: to return to the world she fled fifteen years ago and Kelso Space Station, where her spaceship has languished for over fifteen years, and finally sell the thing.

Tina worked as scientific officer in the Federacy Force’s top secret Project Charon, and was forced out when she rang alarm bells about particles that escaped out of a rift to another universe.

As it turns out, the alien dust has been infecting people in her absence, causing profound changes in human behaviour.

When Tina re-surfaces at Kelso, her presence is a threat to those who still defend the project, including her ex-husband, and they want to shut her up, but her continued silence may well mean the end of civilisation.

The Last Exit by Michael KaufmanThe Last Exit by Michael Kaufman:

Set in Washington D.C. in the near future, climate change has hit hard, fires are burning, unemployment is high, and controversial longevity treatments are only available to the very rich. Enter resourceful young police detective, Jen B. Lu, and her 'partner', Chandler, a SIM implant in her brain and her instant link to the Internet and police records, and constant voice inside her head. He's an inquisitive tough guy, with a helluva sense of humor and his own ideas about solving crimes.

As a detective in the Elder Abuse unit, Jen is supposed to be investigating kids pushing their aging parents to "exit" so they are eligible to get the longevity drug. But what really has her attention are the persistent rumors about Eden, an illegal version of the longevity drug, and the bizarre outbreak of people aging almost overnight, then suddenly dying--is this all connected? Is Big Pharma involved?

When Jen's investigations of Eden take her too close to the truth, she is suspended, Chandler is deactivated, and her boyfriend is freaked out by "the thing inside her brain." This leaves Jen to pursue a very dangerous investigation all by herself.

Fire Fight by B.V. LarsonFire Fight by B.V. Larson:

The colonies of the Faustian Chain have gone dark. No star freighters have come from the star cluster for decades.

Captain Bill Gorman, a smuggler on the Fringe, is one of the few who know the truth. He’s personally battled the alien invaders who’ve overrun the human colonies of the Chain. He and his crew are faced with a choice: will they fight the invaders, or will they run?

Find out in FIRE FIGHT, the thrilling sequel to STAR RUNNER.

Extinction Protocol: Rogue by Marc LandauExtinction Protocol: Rogue by Marc Landau:

They rule with a cold-steel heart and an iron fist. But these technological terrors haven't reckoned with the revenge brewing in one man's soul.

Harkly Colson has only a tenuous grasp on his humanity. Living off the grid after the war with the machines cost him his family, the grizzled veteran clings to his few pleasant memories of the time before mechanized oppression. But when a rare trip into town goes sideways and a female cyborg shows up near his home, he fears the ruthless rulers have sent an assassin in judgment.

Discovering the girl is an escapee from an experimental facility, Hark takes her in and tries to nurture her human side. But with computerized killers seeking them both, rescuing the young hybrid may prove to be a fatal mistake.

Will Hark's last chance for redemption come with a lethal price?

Rogue is the first book in the gripping Extinction Protocol post-apocalyptic science fiction series. If you like futuristic combat, determined fugitives, and rising up against the state, then you'll love Marc Landau's dark vision.

Freaky Mage by Amanda M. LeeFreaky Mage by Amanda M. Lee:

The members Mystic Caravan have Georgia on their minds as they land in Savannah … and immediately find trouble.

In a city full of ghosts, Poet Parker expects a few magical things to happen, but when an evil cult sacrifices a young woman on the beach next to their camp, things take a turn nobody was expecting. Thankfully, she’s not alone for this fight.

Zoe Lake-Winters is considered the most powerful mage in existence. She’s brash, full of herself, and ready for a brawl. When she and her husband bring their daughter to the circus, Poet is immediately intrigued. She can feel the power rippling off Zoe, and it’s the sort of power that can force a reckoning.

The cult has magic, but it’s not enough to frighten Poet. It’s what they’re protecting that has everybody in a tizzy. It seems there’s a door to another plane, and the enemy trying to cross over to a world they were driven from is significant.

With Zoe and her mouthy daughter Sami on the prowl, Mystic Caravan is in a tumultuous state. On top of her normal worries, Poet also has to contend with her boyfriend Kade Denton, who is delighted to have another mage to learn from even as he struggles to trust his new abilities.

Magic is might, and there’s magic bubbling at every corner of Mystic Caravan. That’s a good thing because for the final fight they’re going to need every ounce of it they can muster.

Worlds are about to collide, and nobody will ever be the same again.

Vengeance and Dinner by Sophie LoveVengeance and Dinner by Sophie Love:

Marie Fortune, 39, a successful dog groomer in Boston, leaves the stressful life behind and heads to a small town in coastal Maine to create a new life. She remains intent on renovating the old, historic house her great-aunt left her and giving it a new life as a B&B. Yet there was one thing she couldn’t plan for: the house is haunted. Two things, actually: her great-aunt also left her a dog—and he is far from a typical dog.

When Marie is invited to exorcise a supposedly haunted house, she encounters a twist she never could have anticipated. But before she can wrap her mind around the situation, a man turns up dead—forcing her to solve the case and to clear her own name.

New Moon Rising by Brandy NacoleNew Moon Rising by Brandy Nacole:

Meet Tamsin Grey, witch extraordinaire…

At least, she would be if the High Council would heed her family’s warnings.

For decades her grandmother had tried warning the council that the supernatural races were not safe, especially the witches. She could feel the darkness that haunted the bloodlines, as could Tamsin as she got older.

A hopelessness often troubled Tamsin’s dreams, dreams filled with secrets hidden in the dark wood. Secrets the council had tried to hide. She feared for the witch’s future, as well as the other supernatural races, if she didn’t unravel the dreams meaning. But how?

It wasn’t until three years after her grandmother’s death and a life outside of Pyreshore, New Hampshire that she gets her chance. A letter inviting her to become a Keeper. It was the ticket she needed to bring her home and give her the opportunity to right a wrong so many chose to ignore.

But upon returning she finds that not only will she have to worry about the Witch’s Keeper watching her every move, but also Talon Strohm, son of the witches High Council. Talon tells Tamsin she can trust him but revealing the truth to him could put everything in jeopardy.

Tamsin will have to make a choice, trust Talon or let her only chance to save the witches slip away.

After all, every secret needs a Keeper

Kelianna by Leah NegronKelianna by Leah Negron:

What my fellow countrymen do not realize is that the tales are true. From the leprechauns to the fairies, the banshees to the pooka, the merrow to the kelpie, the changelings to the far darrig, they all exist.

There are many more creatures; some of them are good and stand by us in the fight to keep the evil ones at bay. The others, the dark ones, try to destroy everything that is good in the world.

Now there is a new threat, one that I have never seen before. Thankfully, Tiamat sent word through the portals to warn me of what is coming.

It’s time to bring my forces together for the battle of a lifetime. It looks like it’s going to be one hell of a Bloody Valentine’s Day.

Choosing Cleo by Ava ParisChoosing Cleo by Ava Paris:

This isn’t Sci-Fi. This is my lab.

He is a gorgeous Swede who has a couple of secrets, the biggest being that he isn’t a Swede at all, he’s an alien from another planet. She is a curious scientist who lives in her head, and who would never have imagined what she is about to discover.

Will he be able to help her break out of her head and into the world around her? Her world, which is slowly falling apart and needs her to come to the rescue? Together, will they be able to make a difference before it’s too late?

Tiamat by Serenity RayneTiamat by Serenity Rayne:

You would think I was living a fairy tale life. I live in my ancestral home high up in the mountains, and I am heir to the Ice Dragon throne. With the standard court drama and Prince's trying to court me that don't measure up to the man in my dreams, life can be quite stressful at times. But in the darkness, an old evil lurks, one we thought my mother Aurora had extinguished long ago. Villagers start going missing by my father Klaus's pack lands, and all signs point to the Strigoi. Time to help mom and get my talons dirty; this will be one bloody Valentines Day.

Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons by Keith RossonFolk Songs for Trauma Surgeons by Keith Rosson:

With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson once again delves into notions of family, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels. In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and the returning soldier in “Homecoming” navigates the strange and ghostly confines of his hometown, as well as the boundaries of his own grief. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes new work as well as award-winning favorites.

Mermaid Song by Anthea SharpMermaid Song by Anthea Sharp:

Five delightful fairytale retellings from USA Today bestselling author Anthea Sharp. Featuring magical cats, romance, and a touch of wistful faerie enchantment, escape the everyday with these entertaining new twists on old tales.

Mistress Bootsi
A girl sets out to seek her fortune - and luckily, she has a clever cat for a companion, in this Puss in Boots retelling.

The Sea King’s Daughter
The Little Mermaid, reimagined in an ancient Celtic setting full of wild and bittersweet magic.

Faerie Song
A magical retelling of the Pied Piper, with a dark faerie twist.

Escape: A Liza Roth Adventure
A princess on the run and her feline companion find adventure and danger on Starhub Station in this story based on the Icelandic fairy tale Kisa the Cat.

A Victorian Cinderella retelling complete with an absent-minded Godmother, an orange carriage, and a slipper mishap. Prepare to be swept away into this (nonmagical) fairytale romance written under the pen name Anthea Lawson.

Headless 1776 by Tom SchneiderHeadless 1776 by Tom Schneider:


America wasn't the only thing birthed in 1776. The year also gave rise to the brutal terror of the Headless Hessian.

Elijah sets off from Philadelphia to the village of North Tarrytown. There, his path leads to a showdown with the murderous horseman on All Hallows Eve, and his deeds give birth to a legend.

Bridget Bramble and the Wandering Elf by Aurora SpringerBridget Bramble and the Wandering Elf by Aurora Springer:

Fantasy romance. A young witch escapes the destruction of her home and embarks on a perilous quest for the fabled land where elves and humans live in peace.

In a land threatened by cruel invaders from the east, Bridget Bramble lives in a small village where she barters herbs and carved buttons. When marauders target her village and murder her family, she flees into the woods. Armed with her Granny’s advice and a bag of magic buttons, she sets out on the perilous journey to Oakenwald, the fabled land where elves and men live in harmony. As she travels farther from home, she encounters malicious creatures from the worst kind of folktale.

Lost in the foothills of the mountains, Bridget meets the elf, Windswift the Wanderer. He offers to guide her across the mountain range. But what is the elf doing in human lands? Can an ordinary, or almost ordinary, human girl trust a cold hearted elf to lead her to safety?

Epic fantasy adventure and romance with darker overtones. This story weaves elements of folklore and a quest for a safe haven in a land where magic is real.

The Fall of Rho-Torkis by Tim C. TaylorThe Fall of Rho-Torkis by Tim C. Taylor:

When your worst enemy has your back…

…you know the mission is doomed from the start.

Sergeant Osu Sybutu of the Legion had a simple mission. Take five men and travel unobserved to a location in the capital where he would deliver a coded phrase to a contact. Simple, that is, except for the fact that there was a war going on, and all the different factions he had to pass by on the way would cheerfully shoot him on sight. And that was only if the planet didn’t kill him first.

Militia Sergeant Vetch Arunsen’s task, however, was far more complex. Shepherd a group of hated rivals across the frozen wastes, keeping them safe from everyone who wanted to kill them, which was pretty much everyone. Including the oddball troopers under Arunsen’s own command, who would happily shoot the Legion soldiers if given the slightest opportunity.

Legion versus Militia. Joint defenders of the Federation. In theory. Their mutual loathing, however, could burn the armor plate off a battleship. For rival sergeants Sybutu and Arunsen, there’s only one way their squads could survive trekking across the iceworld of Rho-Torkis.

Legion and Militia.

Teeth of the Rakshasa by B.J. WestTeeth of the Rakshasa by B.J. West:

Revolutionaries, thieves, or terrorists?

Depending on who you talk to, Spider King and his cohorts in the infamous Gordian Net are either criminals or revolutionaries in the ongoing struggle against the corporations that have replaced the federal government of the formerly united States.

Nobody pushes their notoriety as Robin Hoods harder than Spider himself. Arrogant and egotistical, Spider is a veritable rock star of the hacking world. It would be annoying if he wasn’t actually every bit as good as his talk.

Attracted by their reputation, a peculiar client approaches the Gordian Net with an opportunity that could be the score of a lifetime. But what first appears to be a simple hack-and-grab run quickly snowballs into an all-out war with the most powerful tech company in the world.

Spider will have to outthink, outrun, and outmaneuver the most ruthless street operatives in San Francisco without becoming the next victim of a new weapon of unspeakable horror.

Super Gone by Mel WoodburnSuper Gone by Mel Woodburn:

High school sophomore, Emma Edgin takes a break from being Dragon Girl to learn how to be a better superhero.

Plus, supers have been disappearing, regardless of whether they’re a villain, hero, or just scraping by. Emma’s sure the Super Commission is to blame.

So, when she accidentally reveals a friend’s superpowers—powers she didn’t even know he had—they try to flee.

But the Super Commission arrests two of her friends, forcing Emma to team up with a Dragon Girl fan who sees the future and her rich cousin.

Can a handful of teenagers defeat the shadowy government agency or is Emma’s freedom super gone?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Speculative Fiction Links of the Week for February 26, 2021


It's time for the latest weekly round-up of interesting links about speculative fiction from around the web, this week with the Baen's Bar controversy, the many iterations of Star Trek, WandaVision, Superman and Lois, Behind Her Eyes, Wrong Turn, season 2 of For All Mankind and much more.

Speculative fiction in general:
Comments on the Baen's Bar controversy:
 Film and TV:
Comments on Star Trek in general:
Comments on WandaVision and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general (spoilers):
Comments on Superman and Lois
Comments on season 2 of For All Mankind:

Comments on Behind Her Eyes:
Writing, publishing and promotion:



Classics reviews:

Con and event reports:
Science and technology:

Free online fiction:

Trailers and videos: 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Interview with Declan Conner, author of The Prepper's Son trilogy

It gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to interview Declan Conner, whose new release Earth's Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving (Book 1 of The Prepper's Son Trilogy) we feature on Sunday March 7, 2021.

The Prepper’s Son is described as a Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian trilogy. What does that mean to you?

Well, the genres defined on Amazon are, Apocalypse – Post-Apocalyptic, then Dystopian. The translation of Apocalypse is revelation. In this case, it is the revelation of a disaster to come, then the aftermath of that catastrophe. Dystopian is the alternate society that develops out of that disaster. The books in the trilogy are crafted as disaster thrillers each with three distinct goals outside of the stories as – The destruction - the division – and then the rebirth of society in the United States, albeit an alternative one.

The first book in the series, Earth's Fury: Our Last Thanksgiving, introduces us to your protagonist, Rob Bell. Who is he and why is he a reluctant survivalist?

Rob Bell is someone we can all identify with, having a sense of family loyalty, hard-working, striving to make the best of himself in life doing it his way, yet finding it hard given outside circumstances. In that respect we would all be reluctant survivalists drawn into situations that test our moral compass and sensibilities, having to act outside the norms of our nature to face our fears and to survive.

Why are contemporary readers gripped by stories of catastrophe and survival?

I can only answer for myself, and in my case, I only need to look at history for examples. Unlike science fiction and fantasy, catastrophic disasters in Earth’s past are there for all to see as scientific fact, from the flood, to the ice age, to continents moving, to asteroids causing destruction, and so on. Then we have threats that we face in the here and now, such as a nuclear holocaust, pandemics, EMP strikes, climate change, etc. So, the scenarios are plausible. During our history, societies have come and gone, and while most of us alive have no experience of such disasters and changes in society, we all have an instinct to survive. So, if others are the same as me, I guess there are lessons to be learned of how we would face such catastrophes and how society would react. I also think the recent pandemic has honed senses in this regard. I know that I look in my refrigerator, and I think to myself, one week and if the food supply chain is broken, what then?

When a natural disaster changes the landscape of the US for ever, Rob faces a journey fraught with unimaginable danger. How did you go about imagining and evoking that world?

For me it had to be plausible, and I didn’t want it to be one type of disaster affecting a small territory. It all started with a map I found on the internet of the changes to the US territory in the event of extreme increased sea levels. Then I found a recent NASA article that the sun goes through eleven-year cycles of solar storms. Added to that, scientists now say that solar flares not only cause EMPs, but the charged particles from such flares affect the mantle on Earth by disrupting the magnetic field, which leads to increased volcanic and earthquake activity. Taking that to its extreme, I imagined a world in which the entire tectonic plate system on Earth would be disrupted, with subductions to reduce areas of the land below sea level, and for new mountain ranges to be formed. The EMPs would destroy satellites for communication and the grid. Volcanic eruptions would darken the skies reducing temperatures and bring agriculture to a halt. Tsunamis of unimaginable levels would destroy civilisation along all coastlines. In effect, the territory would become an ashen landscape with populations displaced. I wanted the disaster to be of such immensity, that everything we take for granted, such as the internet, banking, shopping etc, would be destroyed, and how society would overcome that, in an attempt to rebuild society and an economy for who were left to survive from a level playing field, as everyone’s wealth would be lost. 

Rob is the (reluctant) hero. Tell us about Brogan, his antagonist. 

Brogan starts out as the head of security for the gated community where Rob lives. An officious character, and ex-army, he does everything by the book for the rules of life inside the community. Rob and Brogan have an instant dislike of each other. It is difficult for me to explain without giving away the story, but here goes. As the disaster unfolds, Brogan arranges for other guards to bring supplies to the gated community and he takes control of all aspects of life inside the community, leading to an Animal Farm type of existence. On a personal level, he lacks moral compass, which leads to tremendous animosity between them that follows both throughout.

The hero’s journey is an ancient trope dating back to Homer’s Odyssey and beyond. Like the Greek hero Odysseus returning to Ithaca, Rob has to return to his father’s bunker, a thousand-mile journey. Who is Rob’s father and what legacy does he leave his son? 

Rob has a love hate relationship with his dad, more from Rob’s misbelief as to his controlling ways when he was growing up after his mother and brother died in a bus wreck. His control was the reason Rob left home on the farm in Colorado to attend university in LA. Rob also wanted to get away from his dad’s obsession with prepping. His dad is rich and has built a bunker on his farm in a disused mine. As much as he hates his dad, he is his only blood kin and Rob longs for his dad to show affection. For all that Rob needs to go to the bunker to survive, it is somewhere he does not want to be. Their relationship is an interesting dynamic to witness as the story unfolds and with the legacy he leaves for his son, and not just in wealth terms after he succumbs to cancer.

In the second book of the trilogy, Secession: Last Fourth of July, Rob faces a new set of challenges, not least in the relationship with his father. How does he deal with those? 

Rob doesn’t deal at all well with his return to the bunker at his dad’s farm. I can’t give the story away, so again this is difficult. As I have said, he is not where he wants to be. Added to that, in view of experiences that have gone before, trust is a big issue and apart from Rosa, he becomes introvert, avoiding the others taking shelter in the bunker. His dad’s death is a big turning point for Rob for reasons best not explained as it would be a spoiler. 

Who is Rosa and what role does she play in the story?

Rosa is a strong character and just as important as Rob as the MC, as an integral part of the story as it develops. There is no need for her POV, as she is adequately fleshed out through the eyes of Rob. Rosa carries a secret from the first book until its revelation at the end of Secession in the form of a book with a brown paper cover that hides the title. Like most of us, we have books that inspire us, but this one is highly significant to the story and personal to her character.

Once again, Rob has to stand and fight, facing both old and new enemies. How has he changed since the first book and has he learned anything?

Rob could be described as naïve to start out with as to the ways of the world. He has awakenings or transformations in all three books as to his character when he realizes the need for change when faced with adversity of differing natures. Some are internal and some are forced on him by external events. So yes, he learns a lot about himself and he has to face his fears, truths, and especially his misbeliefs.

The third book is titled Invasion: Alliance of Nations and pits Rob and Rosa against his arch-nemesis Brogan, who has taken refuge in the Republic of New Mexico. How does Rob find himself drawn back into the conflict?

In book two, we see perspectives from differing POVs of emerging political leaders that clarify the governance of the divided territories that emerge from the aftermath of the catastrophe, and which are separated by race, religious, criminal, and political ideologies. In book three, Rob and Rosa are thrust into the cauldron of these political factions as impartial negotiators. Their involvement escalates when the territories are threatened by an outside invasion. It is during this time that Brogan has ingratiated himself with a criminal organisation that now governs one of the territories and leads their army on a mission in which there will be a final conflict with Rob, Rosa, and his best friend Tom.

You have written many short stories, and one, The End, or a New Dawn, reached the finals of a short story competition judged by Harper Collins editors and authors. What brought you to write a much longer work?

I’ve always had a love of short stories, though I always tried to stick to 5,000 words or so. I felt that I had to face the challenge of writing full-length stories that gave more time to develop characters that jump off the page. And the rest is history as they say.

What was your inspiration for the book?

My inspiration is multi-faceted. First, the political division, racial tension, and upheaval in the US seemed to me to be at a precipice, with secessions talked about in the media at one time. That got me to thinking, what if. I also had read two biographies. The first was Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana, about the general who liberated a large tract of territory from the Spanish in South America. I enjoyed the dynamic between him and his lover, and the political intrigue. The second was Nzinga: African Warrior Queen by Moses L. Howard. She is an interesting historical figure, a strong woman who ruled Angola for forty years, fighting and negotiating with the Portuguese against colonialization and the slavery of her people. Her strength and negotiating skills were the inspiration for Rosa’s character. Finally, Game of Thrones was an inspiration, with the warring factions, and an alliance needing to be formed to defeat the outside threat. 

Do you have any favourite authors? 

Lee Child and Michael Connelly are my favourites.

How has the pandemic affected you as a writer, especially of thrillers and post-apocalyptic fiction?

Well, yes of course, not many haven’t been affected. I’ve been isolated for over a year now, so with time on my hands it helped me to outline and research the trilogy in depth, then to put my fingers on the keyboard to write almost 300,000 words over the three books in five months. I’m usually a one book a year author, so the pandemic has been beneficial for me in that regard. But I also think those of us that are isolated have more time to withdraw into ourselves and deliberate how worse it could get, and to consider scenarios.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any favourite TV shows, movies, or books? 

I don’t read fiction much these days for fear of subconsciously copying tracts, though I’ve had a lifetime of reading. I strive for originality in all my works, so that’s been a conscious decision. For favourite books, I think back to King Solomon’s Mines, though the film was terrible. It wasn’t that I read it, but our teacher read a chapter a day for us. He imagined the voices when it came to dialogue, and the voice he used for the narration taught me about how valuable it was to have voice in you writing. When I’m not writing, I play guitar and sing, at times performing for the local bar in the gated community where I live in Brazil. I’ve also taken to writing poems of late and posting them on Twitter or Facebook. As for television and films, I really haven’t had time to watch either to any degree, I’ve been so wrapped up in my writing.


About Declan Conner:

Declan Conner lives something of a nomadic life, travelling and living between Portugal, the UK, and Brazil. Having written thrillers over the past ten years, he became fascinated with the political upheaval and divisions in the US. Not one to shirk from controversy, an alternative society along political ideological, religious, territorial, and racial lines began to ferment. Having taken a two-year sabbatical from writing, with the story he wanted to write buzzing around in his head, the pandemic lockdown spurred on the kernel of his idea of the new trilogy, until he felt compelled to start writing once more. After extensively reading books in the genre, research, and outlining, he put his fingers to the keyboard. To describe the trilogy in a nutshell, he fashioned each book in the disaster trilogy along the lines of - The Destruction -The Division - and the Rebirth of society and governance in the US. All of this is through the eyes of Rob Bell, a prepper’s son, and other major characters, with each book crafted as a thriller. Just now the e-books are available on preorder, with the print books ready and waiting for the e-books going live.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog