Harper Voyager veteran authors reflect how their military experiences influenced their books

  • Posted by admin on Nov 11 2014

In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’d like to put the spotlight on our Harper Voyager authors who served in the military: Erik Williams, Ian Douglas, Nick Cole, and Henry V. O’Neil. They each described how their experiences serving have influenced the books they write. We thank them for their courage, as well as for their stories!

ERIK WILLIAMS, author of Demon (out in trade paperback today!):

How has my experience in the military influenced my writing? Hell, I don’t know how it hasn’t. You see, you got to go all the back to the beginning: my birth.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a long story.

In 1978, I was born to two parents both serving in the Navy. My mom didn’t stay in but my dad did, doing close to thirty years.  My youth was spent crawling around on aircraft carriers and under fighter jets and bombers. I went to the University of Southern California on an NROTC scholarship. I met my future wife in that unit. Upon graduation, I was commissioned as an officer and did four years on active duty, including a deployment to the Persian Gulf for the first four months of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  My dad was still on active duty at the same time too, both of us were in the Gulf on separate ships. In 2005, I got out of the Navy (as did my wife) but we turned around and got jobs a defense contractors supporting – you guessed it – the Navy.

So as you can see, the Navy has been, in some form or another, part of my life since the beginning.  Writers like to say, “write what you know.” Well, I know the Navy. So it’s only fitting my first novel Demon would feature a lot of military, including the USS Rushmore (the first ship I actually served on).

Of course, I wasn’t in the CIA.  I’ve never encountered a demon (nor wish to). But I like writing about them. And thanks to my military experience, I’m able to ground m supernatural thriller like Demon in a very real world. I guess you can say it gives the story verisimilitude. Yeah, that’s a good writerly thing to say.

 

IAN DOUGLAS, most recently the author of Dark Matter: Book Five of the Star Carrier series.

Corpsman front!

I was a corpsman, a “Doc” serving with the U.S. Navy, long ago and far away. We ran sick bays and labs and ORs for the Navy; we were medics for the Marines. And, yes, I draw upon those experiences in every book I write.

In his epic military coming-of-age novel Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein wrote movingly about a young recruit reaching “the hump” in his boot camp training … and then pushing beyond. That feeling is quite real and quite powerful. Suddenly, the recruit, his civilian attitudes and worldviews battered down by discipline, training, and a lot of in-his-face screaming, knows that he fits in, that he’s a part of a fraternity, that he belongs.

And he will never, ever be the same.

When I write military SF today, I’m constantly referencing that experience – whether I specifically mention it or not. U.S. military personnel live under a demanding and unaccustomed discipline – they sign away their civilian rights before they raise their hands and swear an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Usually, they find themselves entering a new relationship with their fellows; it’s well known that the guy in the foxhole fights and dies for his buddies in there with him before he fights for home, mom, and apple pie. That relationship is something most people who have not served in the military can never quite grasp.

Yes, there are exceptions: the cowards and bad apples, the moochers, slackers, and deserters. Humans are, well … human, and no two tick the same way. But in general, that Band of Brothers mentality forged in combat is as sharp and crisp and real as the blood on the sand at Omaha Beach … or the stink of death in Fallujah.

I became a Navy hospital corpsman partly because I hoped to apply my medical training to med school when I got out, partly because my dad before me was a corpsman. Turns out I never became a doctor. I did develop quite an insane love of, and respect for, the U.S. Marine Corps that has stayed with me throughout my life. The scientific, medical, and military training all stood me in very good stead afterward, particularly when I wrote a series for Harper Voyager (Star Corpsmen) about Navy corpsmen in the future. But what really stuck with me were details of life under military discipline and the chain of command, about shipboard life, about the vital need for a well-trained military to defend that afore-mentioned Constitution … and, always, about the goddamned U.S. Marines.

I’m proud to have served.

I’m proud of those with whom I served.

And I’m very proud to be able to bring just a taste of that experience, that fellowship of duty-honor-country, that history, that passion to my tales of the military in the future.

 

NICK COLE, author of Soda Pop Soldier and The Wasteland Saga

I joined the Army as a kid who had some immature ideas about life and writing. The Army changed me, as I’m sure it changes everybody. The Infantry unit I was in had a new 1st Sergeant. He’s the head enlisted man in the company. Even officers who outrank him are wise to listen to his sound advice and hard-earned wisdom.

He had the deadpan eyes of the late actor John Astin. He cut through lies, weaknesses, and youthful ignorance like a deli slicer. The patch on his shoulder told you he was the real deal.  Vietnam, back in the day.

One morning he was going down the line, inspecting us.  If you came up short it was back to the barracks.  Some guy was bellyaching about an important job he had to do.  The 1st Sgt dropped his tombstone gaze right down on top of that slacker.  I was behind the guy.  I heard it all, and it changed me forever.  He didn’t light the guy up and smoke him like a cheap cigarette.  No, he didn’t go straight to Heart Attack military-speak.  He didn’t do any of that. Instead he just said:  “You’re not ready for work.”

John Astin burrowing right into your pathetic soul.

He said, “You show up at the right time, in the right uniform, ready to work.”

Maybe a lot of you figured that out early on. I didn’t. I was young. I was perpetually messing up or not meeting people’s expectations or standards by trying to skate by on charm, mercy, and occasionally getting lucky. I was a kid.

In that one moment, trying to figure out what my major malfunction in life was, I finally understood something that would save me a lot of trouble. Show up in the right uniform, at the right time, ready to work.

The novel is a leviathan. Maybe Melville was really identifying more with Ahab than anyone else. When I wrote my first published book The Old Man and the Wasteland, I knew it had to be the best. I knew I’d get one shot with readers. It couldn’t skate by. This novel was going into the battle that is the marketplace and it needed to be ready. It needed to show up only when it was ready. I held myself to those words. I didn’t let myself say “good enough” until it was ready. It wasn’t done until it was prepared to show up at the right time, in the right uniform, ready to work.

A long time ago I was a young kid, waiting to get in trouble again. I learned something in the Army that would one day help me write a book other people might actually want to read. Thank God for whatever experiences that 1st Sgt had: Vietnam, life, an endless parade of clueless kids who thought life was something else. Thank God for him. And … thank you, 1st Sgt Bannon, wherever you are.

 

HENRY V. O’NEIL, author of Glory Main and Orphan Brigade in the Sim War series

I graduated from West Point in 1985, and spent the next few years as an officer in the US Army Infantry. I was a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division at the newly-activated Fort Drum, N.Y. and then served as a company commander with the 1-508th Airborne Battalion in Panama.

During those years I got to meet just about everybody. One of the great things about military service is that the people you work with come from every part of the United States (as well as other countries) and from every walk of life. I quickly learned that there was a vast pool of talent all around me, and that it was important to foster an environment where individuals would step forward to offer their advice or special skills when they were needed.

I incorporated that lesson in my military science fiction tale of survival, Glory Main. In that story, four strangers find themselves marooned on a seemingly barren planet. Confronted with increasingly dangerous threats, their survival often hinges on the hidden talents and inner strengths of the group’s dissimilar members.

Another lesson from my time in the Army was the importance of building genuine, functioning teams. When a team member feels his or her contribution is unwelcome or unappreciated, it can cause that individual to stop trying, or even to withdraw from the group. The initial behavior of the castaways in Glory Main threatened to do just that, and it was an interesting exercise to come up with plot developments that overcame that problem.

Although I never went to the war zone, peacetime training exercises showed me just how complex a military operation can be. When different units act in concert, especially for the first time, there is a huge potential for confusion. Even with effective communication and the best intentions, things still get SNAFU’d all by themselves.

After Glory Main, I wanted to write a story that explored how minor miscalculations can have an enormous impact on a military operation’s success and dire consequences for the soldiers involved. A big battle scene in Orphan Brigade —the sequel to Glory Main—includes a chain of missteps that put the soldiers of the Orphan Brigade in an extremely dangerous situation.

The Human Defense Force depicted in this series is not meant to represent any existing military organization, but of course I was able to draw on my Army experience for the atmosphere and the tone. Both books are a testament to the toughness and resilience of human beings, which I saw demonstrated many times in my years with the Infantry. Whenever I capture that successfully, it’s a tribute to the dedicated men and women of our armed forces.

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Out Today: THE GIVEN by Vicki Pettersson and DARK MATTER from Ian Douglas!

  • Posted by admin on May 27 2014

Out now in paperback and ebook:

THE GIVEN

by Vicki Pettersson

The dramatic conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Vicki Pettersson’s critically acclaimed Celestial Blues series—an inventive blend of paranormal romance, noir mystery, and urban fantasy—involving a fallen angel and a flesh-and-blood rockabilly reporter.

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Out now in mass market and ebook:

DARK MATTER:
Star Carrier Book Five
by Ian Douglas

An enemy might just have to become an ally in order to save humankind in Ian Douglas’s new Star Carrier novel!

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Voyager books on ebook sale through April 14

  • Posted by admin on Mar 31 2014

We’ve got a great way to kick off the week – an ebook sale on some great Harper Voyager books! These three books are on sale today through April 14, across all e-reader platforms. So what are you waiting for? Get these deals while they last!

BY THE BLOOD OF HEROES by Joseph Nassise. $0.99. The first book of The Great Undead War series, this alternate history blends steampunk, horror, and action all into one heart-pounding read. At the tail end of 1917, the Germans introduced a new type of gas to the battlefield, T-Leiche, or “corpse gas,” and changed the face of the war by resurrecting the bodies of the dead, giving the enemy an almost unlimited source of fresh troops. The sequel, ON HER MAJESTY’S BEHALF, will publish in December 2014.

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THE ECHO by James Smythe. $1.99. The second book in the Anomaly Quartet, The Echo picks up where The Explorer left off. The disappearance of the spaceship Ishiguro twenty-three years ago devastated the global space program and set back exploration for a generation. Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of twin brothers Mira and Tomas Hyvonen, the program has been resurrected. Spearheading a new age of human discovery, the brothers also hope to solve the mystery behind the Ishiguro‘s disastrous mission.

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DEEP SPACE by Ian Douglas. $0.99. The fourth book of the New York Times bestselling Star Carrier series, Deep Space is an action-packed tale of humankind’s struggle to bring down an evil empire that spans the universe. Twenty years after the fragile truce with the Sh’daar, Koenig is now President of the USNA, and Gray is skipper of the CVS America… soon to be promoted to commander of the entire battle group, Koenig’s old position, and one which he might not be ready for. The truce with the alien Sh’daar is unraveling as many predicted, and Humankind still knows little about them, or what they are. The fifth book of the series, DARK MATTER, will publish in June 2014.

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You can win a grab-bag of Voyager goodies!

  • Posted by admin on Nov 15 2013

It’s another Friday giveaway here at Voyager, but this week is an extra special one! We have two exclusive Harper Voyager tote bags STUFFED with fantastic HarperCollins books and swag – advanced reader’s copies, temporary tattoos, pins and more!

Inside the bag you’ll find a great selection of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, and mystery titles. There’s even an online sampler of our newest books, which gives you a sneak peek at what’s to come. You can even deck yourself out with a DEAD RUN tattoo while you read through these titles.

Enter to win by 6 p.m. EST by leaving a comment below, or by RT us on Twitter – @HarperVoyagerUS! Good luck! Two winners will be randomly selected and contacted directly. (Open to U.S. only.)

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Four fabulous Voyager books publish today!

  • Posted by admin on Oct 29 2013

Today, FOUR of our amazing Voyager books are released! Consider it Christmas in October, or an early Halloween present! Be sure to get your hands on our new releases today.

DEAD SET by Richard Kadrey is released today! The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Sandman Slim series has written a stand alone novel about a teenage girl Zoe who is trying to find her way. After her father’s funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and life in the city is not so easy. Money is tight, and Zoe’s only escape, as has always been the case, is in her dreams. But something or someone has entered her dreamworld uninvited. And a chance encounter at a used record store, where the vinyl holds not music but lost souls, has opened up a portal to the world of the restless dead. It’s here that the shop’s strange proprietor offers Zoe the chance to commune with her dead father. The price? A lock of hair. Then a tooth. Then …

Find out why Kami Garcia (co-author of Beautiful Creatures)  says, “A dark and eerie world, a razor sharp plot, and a heroine worth rooting for make DEAD SET unforgettable.”

Buy Dead Set: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM

ABYSS DEEP, book 2 in the Star Corpsman series by New York Times bestselling author Ian Douglas, is out today.  As Bravo Company defuses a hostage crisis on an orbiting mining station, Navy Corpsman Elliot “Doc” Carlyle not only saves the lives of a wounded Marine and two extraterrestrial friendlies—he averts a terrorist strike intended to kill billions. His reward? Deployment on a recon mission into the darkest depths known to man.

Abyss Deep is a foreboding ocean planet torn by extremes: boiling storm world on one side, unbroken glacier on the other. Humans established a research colony there to study the planet’s giant sea serpents—but the colony has gone ominously silent. When Carlyle’s team arrives, they discover a vessel belonging to a warlike alien species hovering above the atmosphere. But below the ice lurks a mystery so chilling it will make even Elliot Carlyle’s blood run cold.

Buy Abyss Deep: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM

EVER AFTER, book 11 of The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, is out in mass market paperback! And this edition contains an original short story, TROUBLE ON THE RESERVE, at the end of the book!

The ever after, the demonic realm that parallels our own, is shrinking, and it’s up to witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan to stop it before the fragile balance between Inderlanders and humans falls apart.

Of course, there’s also the small fact that Rachel caused the ley line to rip in the first place. And the most powerful demon in the ever-after, the soul-eater Ku’Sox Sha-Ku’ru, has kidnapped her friend and her goddaughter as leverage in his quest for vengeance. If Rachel doesn’t give herself up for execution, they will die. Rachel must team up with elven tycoon Trent Kalamack— a partnership fraught with perils of the heart and soul— to rescue those she loves.

Buy Ever After: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM

DREAMS AND SHADOWS is now out in paperback! Screenwriter and acclaimed film critic C. Robert Cargill made his fiction debut with Dreams and Shadows, taking beloved fantasy tropes, giving them a twist, and turning out a wonderful, witty, and wry take on clash between the fairy world and our own.

Something is missing from Ewan and Colby’s lives. Residing in the corners of their memories is their time in Limestone Kingdom, a realm filled with magic and mystery, a world where only some may travel among the menagerie of mystical souls and sinister demons.

Buy Dreams and Shadows: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | BAM

 

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