Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beyond the Horizon by Greg Spry | New Release Spotlight & Interview


Doodles, doodles everywhere congratulates author Greg Spry on the release of his latest book, Beyond the Horizon! Let's welcome him on the blog for an interview with DDE today. Read on!


1. What inspired you to write the Beyond Saga?

My primary influence actually came from an Anime series known as Robotech in the USA or Macross in Japan and internationally. As a little kid, I used to race home after school to watch the show with the pickle spaceships (Zentradi warships). I also read the 21-book series through, three times, in middle and high school. I wanted to do a similar grand-sweeping, fate-of-the-universe-hangs-in-the-balance space opera series with the beginnings of FTL (faster-than-light) travel, first contact, space combat, time travel, and more. I also draw influence from Star Trek: The Next Generation in that I want the plots to deal with higher-brow ethical dilemmas rather than cliche good versus evil.

I talk about my motivation and influences in more detail at https://www.beyondcloudnine.com/Background.aspx and https://www.beyondthehorizonbook.com/Background.aspx.


2. Can you give the readers an idea about what they should expect in Beyond the Horizon?

Beyond the Horizon (Beyond Saga Book 2) is the story of a young ensign who must foil an attempt at genocide during humankind’s first interstellar mission.

Regarding expectations, let’s use some comparisons to shows and movies. Where Beyond Cloud Nine (Beyond Saga Book 1) might loosely be compared to Robotech, Battlestar Galactica, or The Expanse, book 2 probably has more of a Star Trek feel to it, given that it involves interstellar travel, first contact, and a smidgen of time travel.


3. Do you decide the character traits before you sit down to write the book, or as you write?

Both. Part of my outlining process is to create character bios. To start, every character needs to have a basic physical profile, a primary personality (optimistic, pessimistic, serious, jovial, etc.), a goal that drives them (become first person to fly faster than light), a fatal flaw that motivates them to achieve their goal (pride, guilt), habits/tells (tap cheek, scrunch nose), an interest unrelated to the plot (tennis, cereal), and more. Then when I write, I begin with those traits and let the character grow and react to situations according to how their traits dictate.


4. Can you tell us what kind of research went behind the Beyond Saga?

Lots of tireless research. For starters, earning a master’s degree in space systems helped me learn the realities of real space travel, which are much different than the common person knows. Were you aware that to catch up with a spacecraft ahead of you in orbit of a planet, you actually need to slow down and lower your orbit? Or did you know that it’s just plain wrong to have spacecraft bank like aircraft in movies like Star Wars? How do those x-wing fighter pilots withstand such high g-forces? News flash. They can’t. It doesn’t make sense.

Also, I spent time doing calculations to make sure the travel times between planets and star systems are accurate. I researched each setting to do my world-building. For instance, I included the low gravity, dense atmosphere, lakes of methane, and bubble rain on Titan and used those characteristics to drive events. Contrary to what Hollywood typically portrays (largely for practical production reasons), not every planet and moon has the same gravity as Earth.

Moreover, I often give names of people and places deeper meaning. For example, I sometimes name ships after sci-fi authors and places after scientists who made the related discovery. I even name each chapter with an obscure word that encompasses the theme or events of the chapter.

Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that even though an author should ground his or her story in such realities, it’s important not to beat the reader over the head with technical details.


5. If you had to pick one favorite character from the first two books, who would you pick and why?

Well, let’s eliminate Brooke (guilt-ridden fighter pilot) and Maya (optimistic and brilliant young officer) right off the bat since they’re the main protagonists in the first two books. They’re the obvious choices, so I’ll go with a more minor character. Actually, for now I’ll go with a very minor character, the sarcastic fabrication bot aboard New Horizons that 3D prints tools but occasionally gives relationship advice. “Stop being a wuss and ask the girl out.” Ha ha.

I’ll give an honorable mention to Bob, the benevolent artificial intelligence who many readers say is their favorite character in the series.


6. Tell us about some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your writing journey till now.

My early struggles involved learning the craft of writing. Unless you’re a rare genius, I don’t think it’s possible to just sit down one day, start writing, and craft a publishable story. A writer needs to learn how to structure exposition (A leads to B leads to C, no info dumping), develop plot (three act structure, Harmon Embryo), create characters (see #3 above), weave earned descriptions into the flow of the story (not go on for multiple paragraphs about what someone looks like), etc.

Now, after more than ten years of learning the trade and getting feedback from critique groups, I feel like my writing is ready for prime time, so my struggles are more with promotion. Despite being an IT professional, I’m not a big fan of spending lots of time on social media and shamelessly plugging my work like a sleazy used car salesman. One of the realities I’ve learned in the industry is that someone can write a mediocre book and gain great notoriety with incessant promotion while a magnificent book can toil in obscurity without the proper exposure. Marketing is a necessary evil.


7. What is your writing routine like? 

Before writing, I start by brainstorming an exciting idea I came up with, which is typically a mix of different elements from shows, movies, books, or even video games. Often times, a concept is born by me thinking, “What would X be like if I changed Y?” or “I liked the movie okay, but if I’d directed it, I would’ve done this, that, and the other thing differently.” I created Beyond Cloud Nine with two thoughts in mind: (1) what would Top Gun or Macross Plus be like with a female lead and (2) how can I take the standard alien invasion story every sci-fi has seen too many times and use that to my advantage?

On a day-to-day basis, I try to get my day job and other things out of the way so I have blocks of time to write. I might go days at a time without being able to write and then I will find time to bang out most or all of a chapter. I tend to be a slow writer because I think through the cause and effect of the content of each sentence before I write it. I also try to meticulously craft the wording of each sentence so it comes out perfect the first time, which is a losing battle.

My publication routine is to write and polish multiple drafts, submit chapters to a critique group or beta readers for feedback, and work with an editor and proofreader.


8. Do you have any rejection stories to share?

I submitted my short story Goodbye, Mars to Analog, Asimov’s, and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine and each publication rejected it. There must be something wrong with my perceptions because I often find the majority of the stories in these magazines underwhelming. While there’s always room for improvement, I think my story was just as good as anything these mags print. Chalk it up to author bias, I guess.


9. What's next?

I’m currently writing the third book of the Beyond Saga, Beyond Yesterday, in which Maya heads back in time to figure out how a piece of modern technology ended up 200,000 years in the past. Then the saga will conclude with book four, Beyond Existence, in which Maya must travel to alternate timelines and time periods to prevent powerful exobeings from wiping mankind out of existence. Learn more about the Beyond Saga at http://www.beyondsaga.com.

After the Beyond Saga, I’ll resume work on the first full-length manuscript I wrote as an adult, Destalis. Set several thousand years in the future, Destalis will be the unofficial sequel to the Beyond Saga and finish exploring the concepts introduced in Beyond Existence. I haven’t yet decided whether Destalis will be a single novel or multi-book series. Visit the Destalis official website at http://www.destalis.com to learn more about it.

I also have plans to write a sci-fi comedy series of short stories entitled Bears in Space, the concept for which can be found at https://www.gregspry.com/bearsinspace.php


10. Lastly, any special thoughts for the readers?

I’d like to thank anyone who takes the time to read my work or even read to the end of this interview. I especially appreciate readers who leave reviews, which are like solid gold to lesser known authors. I mean, who cares if you write a review for an electric razor you bought online. The corporation that manufactured the product will get along just fine without your comments. But reader reviews sustain indie and self-published authors. Honest reviews help us stay in business so we can write the next book. So, please consider always posting reviews for the books you read. They don’t have to be long. Just say what you liked and didn’t like about the book.


Beyond the Horizon

(Beyond Saga #2)

by Greg Spry



Page Count: 365
Published: 1 May 2016
Publisher: Beyond Innovation Books




Ensign Maya Davis has had her sights set on the captaincy of a starship since she launched her first toy rocket into Earth orbit at age four. 

But not long after she departs the solar system aboard humankind's first interstellar vessel, New Horizons, sabotage cripples the ship, killing a third of the crew and stranding the expedition light years from home under the siege of hostile forces.

Without knowing who she can trust, Maya must risk her life to get the crew home and prevent the genocide of the very exospecies Horizons set out to contact. 


Buy the book

Book #1

Beyond Cloud Nine


Ace star fighter pilot Brooke Davis lives for pushing hundreds of gees in orbital combat, but she’d give it all up in a moment to become the first human to fly faster than light.

When Brooke stumbles upon a conspiracy involving terrorists, aliens, and the highest levels of government, she finds their goals seductive but their methods abhorrent. 

With the moral core of human civilization hanging in the balance, she must risk her shot at history, her family, and her life to prevent the schemers from forcing their nefarious brand of salvation upon the solar system.


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About the author


Greg Spry was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1978. He majored in industrial engineering at the University of Wisconsin—Madison before earning a graduate degree in space systems from the Florida Institute of Technology.

When he’s not writing the next epic sci-fi adventure, he enjoys playing kickball and cheering on the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers.

He currently resides in the United States.





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