FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where did the idea for your book come from?
In April of 2015, I was watching an episode of “Hangar 1: UFO Files” titled “Space Weapons.” It was all about the secret space program and discussed Gary MacKinnon’s discovery of Solar Warden in the US government computers he hacked into. As I watched the episode, I thought, “Hey that would make a great story.” I wrote the first chapter and sent it out to several friends, who loved the idea. I wrote the first draft in a month. Originally, I intended to only write one book, but the ideas kept flowing, so I wrote a sequel, which became a trilogy. The ideas were still there, so I kept going until I had written six novels. I’m now considering others, including some short stories. But for now, I have to focus on the first novel.
What are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished reading "Tracker" by Indy Quillen. It's a little out of my wheelhouse - it's called "Native American Literature." But Indy is a friend of a friend, so I wanted to support her. Tracker is the first in a trilogy, and I've just started the second book in the series , "Pursuit." I've also picked up a new author, M.R. Forbes, and I've just finished two in one of his series, "Exodus" and "Emerge." Good reads, all of them.
When does your next book come out?
The second book in my Solar Warden series, “Solar Warden Two – Requiem,” will be released in the fall of 2020 (I hope). I’ll note its progress as it goes through the publishing process.
Where did the ideas for all of the advanced technology used in your novel come from?
I didn’t make up any of the technology in my story. Most of it came from research into the secret space program. Surprisingly, there is a lot of information out there about the SSP, and not just on the internet. I have a list of book titles and internet links here where you can find information on the history of antigravity research, the TR-3B, signal non-locality, and all the rest. My son Jonathan is a computer “savant,” and he helped me develop the concept of the quantum computer tablet used by Solar Warden personnel, as well as the “Bird-brain” AI, and the sensory inhibitor.
How did you get interested in Science Fiction?
I blame my grandfather for that. He introduced me to science fiction, especially Edgar Rice Burroughs, when I was around ten years old. I read all of the John Carter of Mars books, Carson of Venus, Tanar of Pellucidar (At the Earth’s Core), and every Tarzan book I could find. Although the latter isn’t really SF, I loved Burroughs writing. From there I read a lot of SF by other authors, although I can’t remember many author’s names. I did read Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Larry Niven and Fred Saberhagen, to name a few. I don’t read much fantasy, although I did read lot of Robert E. Howard, and of course, Tolkien. I watched the original Star Trek series when it first aired in the 1960s, but I never grew to like Star Wars. There are a number of reasons for that. I watched the British TV series, "UFO," which was about, surprisingly enough, a secret space program, although it had no bearing on my writing Solar Warden. I enjoyed the original Battlestar Galactica when it first aired, but when I watch it now, it seems so campy. Love the spaceships, though, and the Cylon’s electronic voice is just too cool!
Where does your interest in UFOs come from?
I’ve been interested in the UFO phenomenon since grade school. During the 1960s, there was a lot of popular entertainment that dealt with the subject, and my parents controlled the TV set, so I and my siblings had to watch what they wanted to watch, which included a lot of UFO-related stuff. I remember watching the movie about the Betty and Barney Hill abduction with James Earl Jones, and numerous documentaries. I started checking books with UFO subjects out of the library, and even bought a few. Things just kind of grew from there.
Have you ever seen a UFO?
Yes, on several occasions. Once when some friends and I were bivouacking in the bush one night when I was around 12 years old. We saw a stationary light that appeared to be nothing more than a star, suddenly move across the sky and stop once more. It traveled from one side of the night sky to the other in a matter of moments. Then many years later, my wife and I saw a UFO when we were vacationing in Mexico. We had two more experiences at home in Calgary, both of which we reported to MUFON.
What did you edit out of this book?
A lot. The first draft was only about 80,000 words, but I kept adding to it, until it grew to 150,000 words. I hired a professional editor to help me with it, and I managed to pare it down to 115,000 words. They say as a writer, you should be prepared to kill your darlings – well I committed genocide! I had a flyby of the Nautilus, describing the exterior of the ship that I edited out, I had a much longer conversation between Scarecrow and Hicks, much more interaction between Scarecrow and Lieutenant Vickers, as well as a lot of detail about the alien's interaction with humanity in the early years of the UFO phenomenon. Much of it had to go, because it didn’t move the story forward.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes. Those who study art history should look carefully at the cover art. They might be surprised at what they discover there. I also use names and phrases that are familiar in pop culture, and insert them into my narrative prose and dialogue. Nothing is overt, so you have to keep a watchful eye out. There’s no real significance to them, just something I do for fun. I’m not saying anything else.
What was your hardest scene to write?
That would be found in Book Two. I won’t say any more until Book Two is released.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, enthusiastically so. Even though I doubt my abilities as a writer, my family is continuously encouraging me.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Let’s see … the five remaining books in my Solar Warden series (all complete but needing revision), then an adventure novel about a Viking settlement in North America that survives undetected to the 21st century (finished), as well as an unfinished sequel. I’ve also completed a screenplay based on the first novel. Then a book about cloned medieval people being studied by scientists while living in a secret compound, unaware it’s the 21st century (unfinished). I have a half-finished novel about the Templars that presents them in a positive light, instead of the bad guys like everyone else likes to paint them. Then a story about a 12th century knight who captures an Arab princess in Sicily, and agrees to return her to her family in Bagdad (unfinished). An unfinished non-fiction book called “Things My Father Taught Me,” and a completed, non-fiction book about Roman armor, complete with photographs of armour that I produced. I’ve also written about two-dozen short stories, in various genres.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a very good friend, Captain Russell Ervin, USN (retired), who is also a writer, and has been somewhat of a mentor to me. He has encouraged me and provided me with invaluable insights into the craft. He’s been extremely helpful over the years, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to him. I've also become friends with Indy Quillen, who I mentioned above has written the "Fox Walker" series. I'm also friends with Christian Cameron, who writes medieval fiction.