I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s featured author, David Sakmyster. Not only does he already have a smorgasbord of awesome books for you to choose from, but his latest novel (the first book in a series) is just way too cool not to enjoy. Plus, he’s another Variance Publishing author…and you guys know how I feel about them. If it’s a Variance book, it’s fun, action-packed and family friendly…so, keep reading to find out more!
David Sakmyster is the award-winning author of over two dozen short stories and two novels, including from Variance Publishing THE PHAROS OBJECTIVE, book one in a series about remote-viewers and psychic archaeologists searching for ancient mystical artifacts. In 2009 Dragon Moon Press published his epic historical fantasy tale, SILVER AND GOLD.
The Pharos Objective (Book One in the Morpheus Initiative), I’ve got to admit, has a really very cool concept. I honestly wish I had thought of it! But I’ll let the back of the book blurb fill you in on the details. It can do it so much better than I can!
Driven by visions of his dead father, Professor Caleb Crowe reluctantly joins the Morpheus Initiative, a team of remote-viewing archaeologists determined to locate the remains of the seventh Wonder of the Ancient World—the Pharos Lighthouse—beneath which the legendary treasure of Alexander the Great is rumored to be hidden.
Crowe’s quest spans two thousand years of visionary history that connects the ashes of Herculaneum and the lost Library of Alexandria with a secret government program and ancient society called The Keepers.
To discover a threshold guarded by deadly traps and forgotten prophecies is one thing, but facing the truth about himself is something else altogether.
See? I told you it sounded cool! Anyone who knows me knows I love Indiana Jones and archaeology and deadly booby traps and races against time type books. And I know many of you do too. So I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this unique take on the classic adventure novel!
But don’t believe me? Well, here’s what others are saying about this book:
“THE PHAROS OBJECTIVE is Indiana Jones meets the X-Files — an archaeologist adventurer with psychic powers of remote viewing who can see the past, ancient treasures, historical mysteries, action and adventure that crosses the world, and a damned good story.” — Kevin J. Anderson, #1 international bestselling author of The Edge of the World. [I pretty much believe anything Kevin Anderson says when it comes to books…he’s an AMAZING author!]
“This is a book I wish I’d written – great premise – great imagination!” –M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of The Reincarnationist and The Memorist
“A classic good vs. evil story, a novel that kept me turning pages far into the night.” –Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 EPPIE science fiction winner Regs and the High Places trilogy.
Here’s the trailer for the book:
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Dave about his book, his writing, and just about anything else I could think of. Here’s what he had to say:
1) In my introduction on the blog, I’ve already talked a bit about Pharos Objective. But I’m wondering if you can tell us, in your own words, what it’s about. Where did you get the idea for “psychic archaeologists”?
It’s about a psychic who up until this point has only suffered because of his gift, tormented by unwanted visions and sights he’d rather not see. Now he’s been given the chance to not only solve one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world, but also to solve the mystery of why he has this ‘gift’ and what it means. He’ll reluctantly join up with a team of psychics as they investigate the ancient Pharos Lighthouse, braving the deadly traps and puzzles guarding a secret chamber below the foundation, while contending with an ancient society determined that its secrets are never discovered.
I actually got the idea from a non-fiction book I found one day by chance. ‘The Alexandria Project’, by Stephan A. Schwartz, was a fascinating chronicle of a team of volunteers who had displayed some degree of psychic ability –’remote viewing’, and had chosen to solve an archaeological mystery (the location of Cleopatra’s lost Palace in Alexandria). Their successes – and the objective quality of the study was astounding. I kind of filed that away as something cool, but while researching Alexandria’s Pharos Lighthouse for a short story I was writing, I came across early Arabic legends hinting that the treasure vault of Alexander the Great might have been hidden beneath the Pharos’ foundation – and protected by diabolical traps. I decided I really wanted to explore that in a novel, but I thought I needed a hook, something far more original than what other authors have done – pitting modern-day adventurers against powerful adversaries in a race to find the prize. Then I remembered the remote-viewing book and it clicked – I had the plot device on how to make this unique by having my characters able to remote-view and experience the past in vivid detail. This ability then opened up great possibilities, taking the story in unique and exciting directions. Plus I think it resonates with everyone who has looked at history’s most enduring mysteries and wished they could go back and see it all firsthand in order to learn the truth. How great would it be to settle all the mysteries that are out there? Other writers naturally have tackled this concept with the notion of Time Travel, but I’ve bypassed all those tricky logic and paradox problems by going the psychic route instead.
2) This first book wraps things up nicely, but it has an epilogue that leaves readers with an intriguing cliffhanger. Tell us about the entire series – what’s next for the Morpheus Initiative?
After I sold the first book, I decided I didn’t want to leave these characters yet… there were so many more interesting possibilities – ‘objectives’ in remote-viewing-speak – for them to try to solve. But what really excited me was the concept of evening the scales – pitting my characters against one of their own: a renegade member of their team, a complex villain with his own psychic powers, someone who could always be one step ahead of them. So in the second book, called THE MONGOL OBJECTIVE, my heroes find themselves in a race against this renegade to discover the hidden mausoleum of Genghis Khan – which itself is one of history’s most enduring mysteries. There’s also a mysterious artifact common to all the books, one that holds a terrible, apocalyptic power if it falls into the wrong hands – and by the third book, some pretty astounding revelations start to happen. But the fun thing is that I base all these elements on a lot of research – stretching from the cosmic myths of ancient civilizations all the way to contemporary remote viewers’ visions of stuff they’ve seen on the moon or other planets in the solar system…
3) Besides Pharos Objective, if a reader was going to read any one of your books…what would you recommend them to read first? Which would be your favorite? Why?
My favorite, and the one I’d recommend, is SILVER AND GOLD. It’s epic, it’s powerfully emotional, and it was as much fun to research and write as I hope people find it is to read. It started as a homage to my favorite childhood character (Yukon Cornelius, from the Rudolph special), but developed into a full-fledged adult retrospective on America’s Gold Rush period, an era full of larger than life characters, settings and adventure. Full of dogsled races, gunfights, arctic monsters, a love story and a lot of history. You can’t go wrong there…
4) I’ve noticed that many of your books seem to deal with archaeologists. Is there a theme there? Do you have an interest in archaeology yourself? What do you find the most fascinating about the field?
Well, I’ve always been drawn to history – especially ancient history, so archaeology was a natural fit. I have three bookshelves crammed with what I call ‘speculative archaeology’, all really interesting and well-researched books about things mainstream archaeologists can’t fully explain. There are so many unanswered questions about the early civilizations, and the more we discover, the more baffling it is to try to fit their accomplishments into conventional theory. So that’s where I hope the Morpheus Initiative books will fit in – with my characters tackling some of these enigmas, and perhaps discovering the truth about ourselves and where we’ve come from.
5) A common question, but one that I always enjoy hearing from different authors…what is your writing process like? Share with us the process from idea to manuscript to finished product. Do you outline? How do you develop your characters? Etc.
I do an outline – and I’m sure I’m weird here, but I actually use an Excel spreadsheet (a holdover from my 15-year job as a financial analyst), so I can cut and paste, insert and rearrange chapters, that sort of thing. I basically try to keep it short, just one row per chapter, jammed with just the major plot points. I don’t spell out too much in there because I find the creative process mostly kicks in once I sit at the computer and start writing. Usually very soon I toss the rest of the outline away and rewrite it because the characters have taken the story in a whole new direction. So about the end of act 1, I stop, read what I’ve done so far, and then focus and rewrite the whole outline. After that point, I usually stick to the outline, and write pretty fast. I spend a lot of time dreaming about the upcoming chapters too, playing the action in my mind before I fall asleep, and I keep a notebook by the bed for ideas, lines of dialogue, or anything that springs to mind. I’d say I spend most of the time on the characters, keeping a notebook page or two for each major character, jotting down notes, background, arcs, major personality aspects, that sort of thing.
6) Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing for fun? What hobbies are you passionate about?
I play a lot of tennis – and since I stopped working full time, I’ve had time to get better at it, which in turn helps focus my mind for writing. I’ve also got a five year old daughter who’s got an unquenchable energy reservoir, and she basically takes up all the rest of my time, but in fun ways, as I get to be a kid again. That’s pretty much it; plus I try to read as much as I can, at least two books a week. Oh, and of course TV. And XBOX. I guess I pretty much don’t sleep.
7) There are plenty of aspiring writers who read this blog. What one piece of advice would you like to give them right now?
I would say, apart from working on your skills as a writer and improving your craft, try to find a unique idea and be able to boil it down to something you can use to quickly interest an audience that sees a hundred ideas a day (i.e., agents and editors). I got an agent, not for this book but for my next, on the basis of a query letter that posed a really interesting plotline. She didn’t know if I could string two chapters together, but the idea caught her eye and she asked to read the manuscript. Of course, at that point, you need to have a kick-butt novel ready to back up your idea, but you get the point. You can have the best book never published, but if you can’t interest someone in publishing it, it’ll remain unpublished.
Thanks Dave for the great interview! Be sure to check out more info about David at his website: http://home.roadrunner.com/~davidsworks/homepage/index.html
And feel free to pick up a copy of The Pharos Objective here: http://www.amazon.com/Pharos-Objective-Morpheus-Initiative/dp/1935142151/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282748303&sr=8-1