On a visit to Huntington Beach, California, with some friends in 1983, nearly a decade after seeing Jaws, I finally mustered enough courage to enter the water. Like many, that movie made me fear doing something that I had always enjoyed while growing up in Southern California. Obviously, I survived. Not only that, I had a blast, and that visit marked my return to not just sandy beaches, but to the water and waves beyond their shores.
In retrospect, Jaws was one of many key influences on me as a writer, as well as a beach-goer. Although I do have many favorite authors and books, I have to be honest and admit that several blockbuster movies have had a profound impact on me, both as a writer and a human being.
I saw Star Wars over 20 times during the summer of 1977. The epic story, backed up by incredible special effects, awoke me. The other Star Wars movies and, of course, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, fueled my imagination and convinced me that in the eternal battle between good and evil, it is the unlikely hero who will save the day.
Immersed in those epic, fictional struggles, I cheered, laughed, cried, and took a firm grip on very real values and beliefs. Now, as a writer, it is no wonder that I try to create unlikely heroes and call upon them to join extraordinary and mysterious struggles. Like Chief Brody in Jaws or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, my characters' choices and actions put them on a collision course with destiny. In every adventure, survival means confronting personal flaws and doubts, and forging unexpected victories.
In short, I strive to turn ordinary people into extraordinary heroes.
I like to explore this theme through science fiction, fantasy, conspiracy, mystery, suspense, and thriller books. My first novel, Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project, centers on a decades-old government cover-up of contact with extraterrestrial life. Other works include The Outworlds series, which is comprised of science fiction adventure stories set in the early twenty-fourth century at the fringe of human civilization; and a hard-boiled, World War II era detective series called Richter’s War.
Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project grew out of my lifelong interest in UFOs. To say the subject is controversial would be an understatement, but that makes it all the more suitable as the topic for a novel. There can be a sharp divide between believers and non-believers, especially in the context of alleged government secrecy. That tension, blended with the fundamental question, Are we alone?, makes for a great storytelling opportunity.
Years of watching or reading anything and everything about UFOs informed my writing of it. I filled in other details from my military and government experience, travels, and imagination. My core motivation, however, was anger.
Like many who follow the subject, I’m routinely frustrated by the response of science, the media, and government to controversial subjects such as aliens and UFOs. In addition, there is a lot of evidence that the government is engaged in a cover up of UFOs and alien contact. They lie and change their stories all the time about UFO cases, and not just famous ones like Roswell. It angers me, and I have to wonder why more people aren’t outraged and vocal about this.
So, in writing Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project, and now my other works, I write, in part, as a catharsis. I channel my frustration with secrets and arrogance into epic stories where unlikely individuals choose to fight for what’s right.
One of my goals in writing Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project was to populate the story with a variety of interesting, meaningful characters. The far-flung scale of the situation basically demanded it. After all, we are talking about an alleged, decades-old secret conspiracy to cover up alien contact and the effort of a diverse alliance of people to stop it in its tracks. In both camps, there are key individuals, but they are each part of an alliance with others.
Leading the “good guys” is former FBI Agent William Harrison. A shooting incident ended his FBI career. For various reasons, he moved to Tucson, Arizona, and set up shop as a private investigator. He’s good at what he does, but is unfulfilled and, in fact, feels downright useless. His parents passed away years before, while he was in the FBI Academy, so I’d say the Harrison we meet in Tucson is lost and lonely, and ready for something or someone to bring meaning and purpose back into his world.
Leading the “bad guys” is General Stone. He heads the Saint Mary Project’s operations. His boss is the Chairman of a working group comprised of various military leaders and scientists, and they are all subservient to the Circle, an archaic, highly-secretive group. We see Stone’s humanity in different ways, but he slips only briefly into this soft side, absorbed mostly by the side that exercises unquestionable obedience to his masters’ goals.
Ultimately, I would call Truth Insurrected: The Saint Mary Project a sci-fi conspiracy thriller, a kind of Tom Clancy meets the X-Files. I tried to build it on a range of UFO lore, and keep it true to that lore so followers of the subject would see their interests, knowledge, and beliefs reflected – and respected -- in the book.
In writing it and my other works, I try to make good on other important promises to my readers. First, while I may create fiction, I want it to feel realistic and authentic. I am a veteran and former public servant who has worked and travelled around the world. My experiences in life come out in my writing. Accuracy and details matter as much as a good imagination.
Also, I feel obligated to write high-quality, meaningful, and engaging stories, ones that also inspire a bond between the reader and my characters. Like other fascinating protagonists, they will seem lost and uncertain at first, and are afraid of what they face – such as a sinister, decades-old and deadly government conspiracy. They are, after all, intended to be ordinary people, just like you and me.
But, if I succeed in fulfilling these promises, I will hopefully hear you cheer, just like you would for Chief Brody or Luke Skywalker. It will mean that you enjoyed the adventure, and cared about the characters, their epic struggles, and their heroic victories.