Wednesday, December 9, 2015

ABOUT THE BOOK: Mythical (Stone Soldiers #1)

About the Book is a new feature on Stone Soldiers where the author shares some background, easter eggs and other hopefully interesting information about the book...

Colonel Mark Kenslir is the last of the Cold War supersoldiers--and he's just come back from the dead.

Sent to Arizona to hunt a heart-devouring shapeshifter, Colonel Kenslir and his team of supernatural-smashing soldiers thought it was just another mission. But instead of stopping the monster's murderous rampage, the Colonel and his team became the latest victims in a trail of carnage blazed across the Southwest.

Suffering from partial amnesia, with no weapons and no support, Kenslir must rely on two reluctant teens to help him remember his past, complete his final mission and avenge his men.

Debuting on Kindle June 5, 2012, Mythical is the one that started it all. The first in the Stone Solders series, this shortish novel was the culmination of more than twenty years of writing and submitting. 

It all started back in 1986, when I was reading The Destroyer and Doc Savage and Mack Bolan. I wanted to write Men's Adventure. Of course, I didn't think I could score a job on any of those illustrious titles, so I set out to create my own over-the-top Men's Adventure stories. Looking at what was out there, I decided that one area that hadn't been covered was superheroes. Or rather, secret agents living in a super hero world, dealing with Soviets, Psychics and Supers. 

Over the next few years, Agent Antaean (a Greek adjective for possessing super-human strength I found randomly flipping through the dictionary), a sort of synthetic-organic cyborg that was part Six Million Dollar Man, part Wolverine and part Mack Bolan had three thrilling adventures--written in long hand pencil. 

There was "Night of the Bear" a tale of Soviet espionage in America, with a wereBear and a telepath coming to America, hunting down werewolves.

There was "Shades of Gray" and "Secretly in her Majesty Service", 007-reminiscent thrillers about a secret order of druids that had been controlling England and the Colonies until the American Revolution. 

None of them were probably any good. I mean, I was a teenager and while well-read really hadn't latched on to what makes Men's Adventure or Pulp work. After several years of feeding the New York Slushpiles, I gave up and shelved my literary dreams and joined the USAF...

Being stationed overseas, I had a lot of free time, and in 1990, decided to give writing another try. I polished off my old notes and decided to go green and recycle my old character, Mark Kenslir, Agent Antaean. In "X-Ponent", the enigmatic, Terminator-like killing machine goes after an organization of American Terrorists bent on plunging the country into a race war between Homo- and Xeno-sapiens. It was perhaps a little too close to the mark on what Marvel was leading up to and despite me working on it all the way up to 1997 and self-publishing on an old Tripod page (complete with paypal tip button) it never really saw much light of day.

In 2012, I learned about Amazon Studios, and decided to give screenwriting a shot. Young Adult seemed a popular trend, so I decided to engineer a trope-filled story of superaction, and once again recycled Mark Kenslir, this time as a mysterious man who represented the old ways, opassing the torch of 20th Century adventure on to a new generation. 

Only it didn't work out that way. When I was done with the script, I realized all the changes I'd made--influenced by the CW's Supernatural--might just have a place as a novel. I learned about Kindle Direct Publishing, and voila! Mythical was born...

So what is Mythical? (Or Heart of Stone as I once called it briefly). Is it YA? Pulp? A little bit of both?

I fully intended the book to be YA when I wrote it, but clearly my Men's Adventure and Pulp roots came out. Also, and much to my surprise, the story set itself up for a sequel, thansk to a hastily-added epilogue. 

The recurring theme of Mythical is past meets present. A past, antediluvian (pre-Flood) monster is awakened in the modern era, fighting heroes of mythical proportions. Super shapeshifter versus super soldier, with two teens caught in the middle. 

Past meets present is also in the amnesia trope I used to introduce readers to a supernatural world where monsters and magic exist, but cling to the shadows, just out of the mass public's view. All throughout the tale, Mark Kenslir must recover his memories of the past few decades of his nearly-immortal life, remembering his mission and his dead team, and exacting revenge.\

Finally, past meets present in that Mark Kenslir, is the ultimate throwback to a bygone Pulp era. An overly manly-man, with super human strength, Conan-proportions and the ability to kill nearly anything. He's Christian, quiet, reserved and does things the old way. He's a marked contrast to the modern teen couple of Josie and Jimmy, who have no powers, no idea what's going on in the shadows, but who are every bit as determined to stop evil. Josie is the modern femme fatale, a tough-as-nails girl who can hold her own, while Jimmy is a slight, nerdish type who doesn't appear to be a threat to anyone. They are completely the modern-type of heroes and were originally seen as student who would go out and fight battles alone, with only rare appearances by their immortal teacher.

Did you realize Mythical takes place in an alternate reality? When you think about it, most fiction does. Most fiction depicts events that never happened. But Mythical goes one further--magic remains. Unlike many modern fiction shows set in the "real world" it's pretty clear magic is much more rampant in the Mythical universe. That's reinforced with a little what-if, Man in the High Castle-type alternate history. 

The biggest clue in that department lies in Presidential succession. George Bush Sr. won his second term in the Mythical 'verse. John F. Kennedy's assassination was averted thanks to precognitive psychics. John Edwards won the 2008 Presidential elections, as Hilary Clinton was just the First Lady to a one-term Bill Clinton, never achieving the fame and importance of her real-world counterpart. 

There's also military equipment in Mythical without full real-world counterparts. Like the Sir Hugo Drax versions of the U.S. Spaceshuttle--Moonrakers--from Ian Fleming's books-turned-movies, Mark Kenslir has alternate reality variants of real-world aircraft to fly around in, from the MA-12 Raven to the MB-1R Lancer. The Raven is based on the CIA's A-12, a hypersonic plane that eventually became the SR-71 Blackbird. A single-pilot craft, the A-12s conducted recon flights while the SR-71s were being built, then went on to be used by NASA for high-altitude research before being retired... in our world. In Mythical's world, four of the planes were adapted to an entirely new military role, aimed at precision strikes anywhere in the world at a moment's notice. 

About the Book: Brothers in Stone (Stone Soldiers #2)

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