James Austin McCormick talks about Dragon on Barbara Edwards Comments

Please welcome James Austin McCormick, author of Dragon

Although I write in several genres (all speculative fiction) the one I return to most often is science fiction. This is especially true for my Dragon series (Dragon being the name of a sentient space craft). First off, I should say a little about the first novel. The book centres on Sillow, a neurotic and hyperactive elf and Brok, a surly, taciturn and bad-tempered barbarian. They are very much the odd couple in space and are constantly squabbling. I enjoy writing fast paced scenes and action more than anything else, so I structured the book as seven interlinking chapter stories which follows the hapless duo over twenty years, from wanted smugglers to heroes of a peace keeping alliance.

Dragon is a self-contained narrative with a clearly defined ending (one of the favourite endings of all my books) yet I could never get these two characters out of my head. The idea of a sequel never appealed to me, and also wouldn’t have worked. Instead I decided to fill in some of the gaps between the chapter stories. There is a one-year gap for example between the first and second chapters, during which time the two decide to try their hand at smuggling. The second book I wrote covers this period and is titled, Dragon: Smuggler Tales, following the ill-fated duo on a series of bungled missions.

After Smuggler tales I still felt there were more stories left in the universe I’d created, although as far as the dysfunctional partnership went, that had run its course. Between chapters six and seven there is a ten-year gap during which time Brok returns to his home world to marry and take up a role in government whilst Sillow becomes a solo agent of the peace keeping alliance. This was fertile ground. The next two Dragon books, Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane and Dragon: The Prisoner of Valathia cover Sillow’s first two missions. When I wrote Prisoner, I’d decided it would be the last story, so as well as the usual action and comedy scrapes I always put into these stories, I also took the time to explore Sillow’s character more deeply and bring some pathos to the tale. 

I think I’ve done almost everything I can with this series although one more idea has bubbled up from my unconscious. This would involve an ensemble piece, focusing on Sillow, Brok and a handful of other characters (mostly bad guys) from the various books teaming up in a sort of Magnificent 7 type way, although this particular team would be more like the Farcical 7. Sillow would be the nervy pilot who has recently fallen off the wagon. Just an idea at the moment but I’m sure it will get written one day. 

About the Author:

James Austin McCormick is a college lecturer from Manchester, England and his free time enjoy writing speculative fiction, mostly science fiction, horror and a little sword and sorcery fantasy. He is also a particular fan of classic Gothic and Victorian horror tales and is currently in the process of writing updated versions of these with a science fiction spin.

Find out more about James at:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJamesAustinMcCormick/

Twitter https://twitter.com/jimbomcc69

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9860555.James_Austin_McCormick

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-McCormick/e/B00F3F9SGY

Class Act Books http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/our-authors/manufacturers/james-austin-mccormick

Blurb for Dragon:

As worlds conspire against each other, Gax, an insane warlord, stockpiles an arsenal of ancient technology in his attempt to rule known space. Less 

Two ill matched and reluctant heroes stand in his way; Sillow, a neurotic and cowardly Sylvan and Brok, a surly and ill tempered Herkulun warrior. After a chance meeting in a seedy, mobster owned casino the two find their fates interlinked as they are propelled into a series of hair raising adventures that takes them from wanted smugglers to agents of a peace keeping alliance.

Excerpt:

Asmara was a small desert moon orbiting its gas giant parent at a distance just great enough to put it outside the planet’s radioactive reach. It was a cold, dusty little place, barely capable of supporting microbic life. Yet it did have one thing in its favor, its location.Asmara was in the gray zone, an area of space almost central to the six worlds. None dared lay claim to it and consequently it was free of all outside authority. That was why the crime syndicates built their Pleasure Dome there, and in the two decades after the Dark Age Wars it flourished.

It was here, at one of the casino tables, the last three players of a merciless card game studied their hands. Two of them, a human and a reptilian Tuolon, were far from happy, glaring angrily at the third player as he whistled out a tuneless melody. If Sillow had been human, he would have been judged to be no more than fourteen. He wasn’t; he was a Sylvan, and his childlike face and adolescent build were quite normal for his twenty-five years.

As he looked over his cards from beneath a shock of dark green hair, only his large eyes were visible. It was just as well, for his lips moved frantically as he mentally played through the possible scenarios.

Finally he gave a little nod and placed his cards face down. He took his cigar from the ashtray and began puffing heavily on it. The human, a skinny man with pockmarked features, ran a hand over two day’s stubble,

“Make your damn move,” he growled. “If you’ve got the goods, show them.”

Sillow shrugged. “Hey, give me a break Garrick,” he replied in his soft, musical voice. “You can’t rush something like this.”

He looked at his cards again, studying them as he blew smoke rings in the air. His little feet tapped all the while on the hard marble floor.

His fellow players regarded him with extreme irritation, and the human cameto the decision the Sylvan was playing mind games with them. The truth though was far different. Sillow was scared and was trying to decide how best to safely extricate himself and the credits he needed from his present circumstances.

Although he couldn’t say why, he was certain now the Tuolon was a professional assassin here to kill him. His would be killer even blewhis ship up to stop him escaping.

Since then the little Sylvan had been busy at the tables making the money he needed to get a freighter off the Dome. There was a royal summons to answer and he’d delayed too long already. The message was just one word, Suleiman.

“Okay, ready,” he finally announced. “You want to see this hand it’ll cost you…” he paused for effect, “six more credits.”

The human thought hard for a moment, shook his head then threw the chips into the pot in the middle of the table.

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/674265

Paperback from the publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/dragon-396-detail?Itemid=0

 

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Sometimes Frustration Can Lead to a Different Result by my guest James Austin McCormick

My Guest,  James Austin McCormick is the author of Dragon: the Tower of Tamerlane.

Tell us why you wrote this YA Story.

dragontower-copy-2I’ve wanted to write a fantasy series for young readers for quite some time now.

The premise, I feel, is a promising one. It involves a kingdom bordered by a magical forest. The tale begins with a Machiavellian uncle plotting to kill his nephew, the heir to the throne.  Managing to escape, the young prince is lost in the magical forest, where he’s saved by the mysterious Fey who transport him to their realm and teach him their ways. When the prince comes of age, he decides to return to the human world and right the wrongs of his uncle, now the ruler of the kingdom.

Even writing this now fills me with a sense of creative excitement but—and this is where the sheer frustration creeps in—every time I attempt to set the tale down all I come up with are stale, clichéd characters and a sort of paint-by-numbers narrative that bores me even as I’m writing. The last time I attempted this was ten months ago. Then, I decided to use the 500 words a day/ just get it down approach. Well, I did and was over fifteen thousand words in before I was forced to admit it just wasn’t working.

I decided I couldn’t give up this time so went back and started revising what I had, trying to add more details, give characters a more distinctive voice and any idiosyncrasies which might work well. (I know Dean Koontz constantly re-works a single page over and over before moving on to the next one). I did this, but instead of improving what I had, the story got away from me, changing completely.

I found I simply had no control over it.

What I have now in its place is a rough draft of a steam punk, sci-fi, horror-fantasy that I had no intention of ever writing. It couldn’t be less suitable for a young audience. Don’t get me wrong, I think I have something with this new version, but I’m as far as I ever was in realising my fantasy series.

In frustration at so much work producing so little in terms of output I decided to return one last time to my sci-fi series, Dragon,  as I felt there was one more story to tell. I realised I’d never fully explored the backstory and inner psychology of the main character, Sillow, a cowardly yet also restless elf with an advanced ship which allows him to punch above his weight. He’s an orphan, driven by insecurity and a sense of not belonging. Although the tale is still very much light-hearted, action orientated speculative fiction; it has more depth than the previous books, with the character study being as important as the narrative.

I’ve now submitted this to Class Act Books (who have published several of my other works, including the Dragon series), so I’m hoping they’ll also like this one. If they do, it should be out sometime in the next few months, tentatively titled DRAGON: The Prisoner of Alathia.

jamesaustinmccormickAbout the Author:

James Austin McCormick is a college lecturer from Manchester, England and in my free time enjoy writing speculative fiction, mostly science fiction, horror and a little sword and sorcery fantasy. He is also a particular fan of classic Gothic and Victorian horror tales and is currently in the process of writing updated versions of these with a science fiction spin.

More about James at:

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJamesAustinMcCormick/

Twitter https://twitter.com/jimbomcc69

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9860555.James_Austin_McCormick

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-McCormick/e/B00F3F9SGY

Class Act Books http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/our-authors/manufacturers/james-austin-mccormick

BLURB for Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane:

Now a reluctant solo agent, Sillow is called upon to undertake his first mission, investigate the Tower, a high-tech prison complex along with the oligarch who runs it, a mysterious nobleman who calls himself Tamerlane.
Seeking evidence to prove Tamerlane is responsible for a series of terrorist attacks, Sillow quickly uncovers the sheer scale of his plans, a lethal military strike on all four humanoid home worlds. Caught and imprisoned however, the Sylvan finds himself helpless to warn the Alliance of the coming danger.

EXCERPT from Dragon: The Tower of Tamerlane:

Laser fire and shouts echoed as Sillow was thrown headlong into the cell.

“What are you?” a female voiced asked. “Some type of green midget?”

Sillow groaned and tried to get up. He settled for a slumped kneeling position.

“I’m a Sylvan,” he replied. He squinted into the shadows and saw a figure seated on the upper berth of a bunk. He could make out little apart from a muscular, yet shapely pair

of legs. “Who are you?”

The figure jumped down from the bunk. She was an Amazonian, strong and athletic with an impressive cleavage and long chestnut hair falling around her shoulders. She was

also extremely pretty despite the artificial eye and cheek implant. She stretched out a perfectly formed silver arm, extending her hand. “Titanya.”

Sillow’s eyes widened. “The Pirate Queen?”

The woman nodded.

The Sylvan took her cybernetic hand and let himself be hauled to his feet. He found himself head high to her magnificent chest.

“Sillow,” he replied, smiling at her breasts. “I’m from the Alliance.”

“Up here, short stuff,” the woman told him.

Slowly and very reluctantly, Sillow turned his attention upwards. He grinned. “Nice to meet you.”

Outside, cries and weapon fire continued to echo through the halls.

Titanya frowned. “Any idea what all that’s about?”

“Whole place is going crazy,” the Sylvan replied. “Something got into Tamerlane’s AI system.”

The woman took a couple of tentative steps toward the door. Screams echoed through the walls.

“Sounds like a warzone out there,” she remarked. “You sure the AI is causing all this?”

Sillow frowned. “You know, this is going to sound kind of crazy but…” he paused, running a hand over his pointed chin.

“What?” Titanya demanded.

“Well, it kind of looks like the one causing all this is Darius Drake. You heard of the guy?”

“Oh yeah,” the Earth woman answered. “We’ve met.”

“Well, somehow he’s put himself into the computer system.” Sillow gave an embarrassed shrug. “Sounds sort of off the wall I know.”

There was a sudden explosion and flames tore through the slits at the top of the door.

“Look out.” Sillow threw himself at Titanya, knocking her off balance and sending her tumbling to the floor. The Sylvan landed on top of her, head buried in her thick auburn

locks. A fireball tore past them, turning the bunks into cinder.

It was some moments before Sillow glanced up. He found himself looking at the stern, beautiful features of the Terran woman.

“You okay?” he asked. “Just so you know, that was me protecting you.”

 

“Just so you know,” Titanya replied, “under any other circumstances I’d have busted your jaw for that.”

Sillow grinned. “You mean saving your life?”

Titanya flung the little Sylvan back onto his feet. “Yeah, right. I can’t believe a pipsqueak like you got the drop on me.”

BUY LINKS:

Publisher’s website: http://www.classactbooks.com/index.php/component/virtuemart/science-fiction/dragon-the-tower-of-tamerlane-593-detail?Itemid=0

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Tamerlane-James-Austin-McCormick-ebook/dp/B011MNZQ52/ref=la_B00F3F9SGY_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470566864&sr=1-7

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dragon-Tamerlane-James-Austin-McCormick/dp/1938703634/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470585322&sr=1-7&keywords=James+Austin+McCormick