Several things in Origins were vague references to things from my real life. There may be more minor references to things, but these are the major ones.
The adult bookstore Jarrod mentions when he’s talking to Tina and Sarah in the park for the first time. He says if you’re underage, but walk into the place like you belong there, they won’t card you or anything. That was based on a real adult bookstore in the town next to where I grew up.
The spooky old abandoned house where Jarrod and Sarah make love for the first time is actually based on a real house I went to with some friends one time in the middle of the night. My buddy and I went in there with three girls to use a Ouija board and have a generally spooky time. The part about the birds was real as well. I don’t know where they all came from, but the sky was black with them and they’d swirl around in perfect synchronization with one another, like the flowing tide. It’s still to this day one of the most incredible things I’ve seen.
The part about how Derek’s brother committed suicide was loosely based on a real person I went to school with who committed suicide in a similar way. He was in the grade ahead of us, so I was in the 7th grade and he was in the 8th grade when he killed himself.
As for the characters Tina and Sarah, it’s funny, because for almost the whole of book 1 and a large part of book 2…well, you know how when you read a character in a book, you get a mental image of them? It’s the same when you’re writing them. I kept picturing Sarah as Emma Stone with red hair. Now here’s the funny part about that. I was picturing Tina as Emma Stone with blonde hair, because I have a picture of her from one of the Spider Man promos where she looks just like I’d imagine Tina looking like. Now (as of this writing) I’m well into writing book 2, and my image of Sarah has evolved into something different, but for me, Tina is always going to be that blonde Emma Stone.
Another little bit of trivia is a little something about the writing process. I find that my writing flows out of me much more smoothly if I have music playing in the background. For about the first 20% or so of Origins, I was listening to a lot of Diana Krall, but then I discovered Kelly Sweet’s 2007 album, We Are One, and I was hooked. I had it looping over and over throughout the last 80% of the book, and well as through the entire editing and proofing process.
Now that I’m working on book 2, The Hunt, I still have it looping constantly in the background. I even play along with it on bass and guitar when I’m not writing. I’m just absolutely in love with the album!
Now for the last bit of trivia. I don’t really plan out much of my writing. I may have thoughts about events that I want to have happen now and then, but for the most part, I just start typing and let the writing go wherever it feels right.
I had several ideas during the writing of Origins that didn’t make it into the book at all, or that changed completely once I got to whatever parts they were supposed to go into, because that’s just not where the writing was going. Invariably, where the writing took me ended up being far better than the ideas that got pushed along the wayside.
Here’s a good example. At one point I had thought about having one of the Faranox living in our dimension, because he didn’t agree with the taking of humans and as such, he was ostracized by his people and sent to live here. I was also going to have a permanent dimensional portal that was hidden in a cave somewhere. Neither of those things ended up in the book. Instead, I made it so the Faranox can’t exist in our dimension for long without dying because of the different gas mixture in our atmosphere (more about that in the 2nd book) and rather than a permanent portal, they get a portal generating crystal amulet that the Agaronin use to pop into our dimension when they kidnap people.
There were a variety of things with the main and side characters as well that changed, and there were also numerous things that I added as I went along.
All in all, the end result was something I was really happy with. I love the story, and I love writing these characters.
The Hunt Trivia
When I started writing The Hunt, I knew what I wanted it to be in the most general of terms. They were going to go to the Faranox dimension to rescue Jarrod’s family. The journey they were going to take to get there and the personal revelations of the characters and their continued character development were all simply a product of typing. No, I don’t mean character types, I mean actual typing, as in pressing keys on the keyboard. What you get with the characters in both books is organic development. I write them in the way that feels the most natural to me in their present situation, and I treat them like real life individuals.
That goes for the story as well. Very few aspects of the story were pre-planned. The one thing I can honestly remember pre-planning was the scene with the mounted Agaronin that was running down Derek and Jarrod. The “punchline” of that scene if you will was pre-planned, but the rest was really just a matter of sticking them into that situation and seeing what happened. Their dialog was also generated completely on the fly based on their situation, their personalities and their relationship with one another.
The final assault near the end of the book was something that I pre-planned as well, though I didn’t actually come up with it until just before I reached that point in the story, so I’m not sure how honest it would be to call that part pre-planned. As with the other scene I mentioned above, even though I knew generally what was going to be happening, it developed organically as I wrote it, and turned into something that I was actually pretty proud of.
There are things in this book that are planned for by the characters that never come to pass. Just as in real life, sometimes you buy things you think you’ll need, and then end up using something different entirely. Sometimes you make plans, and then find that you have to change those plans depending on the current situation. That makes the story feel like it’s real and fluid. Nothing irritates me more than when I’m reading a book and the entire thing feels planned from start to finish. That just doesn’t feel like reality to me.
There’s a particular scene in this book that gets me all teared up every time. I got teared up when I wrote it, and I teared up again when I was doing the proofreading. It’s a scene where Derek and Jarrod are talking why they’re waiting for the girls to come back from their amulet run, and there are some serious new revelations, especially with regard to Derek, that come out during that conversation. I can’t help it. I tear up pretty easily at stuff like that. I always have. I don’t want to reveal it here, but it’s a pretty heart wrenching scene. There’s a part toward the end that kinda gets me as well.
The scene with the dead Agaronin in Patricia’s kitchen was very over the top, and was largely inspired by my love of various films, including the Evil Dead series. There’s even a nod to Army of Darkness when Tina refers to the Agaronin as “primitive screw heads”.
I take you to the blue fin dimension several times in this book, and we get to meet the blue fin people. They’ll be making a re-appearance in Unseen Things: Exploration. I also introduced the two other races which are as of yet unnamed, although they were referring to one of them as leprechauns since that’s generally what they looked like. There’s a very small mention of their dimensions as well. Inventing new dimensions and new races is probably the most exciting and fun part about this series. Each one presents it’s own problems and potential dangers, and it creates a vast canvas into which I can paint the characters from book to book. I’m going to be devoting a fair amount of time to the blue fins in book three.
I had Kelly Sweet’s We Are One album playing throughout the entire writing process, just as I’d done with the first book. I’m so used to it now, that as soon as I hear it, it completely shifts me into writing mode.
As with Origins, I’m extremely happy with how this book came out and how the story and the characters developed. This book is a completely different animal from the first one, because I wanted it to be. The first book was an introduction to literally everything, and that’s exactly what it was intended to be. It was a book that had to happen for me to be able to write this one, and I’m incredibly proud of both.
When I finished up the main storyline in The Hunt when they rescued Jarrod’s family, I wasn’t really sure where I was going to take the series from there. My plan was to take a little break to let the next idea just come to me naturally, but after just a couple of days, I couldn’t stand not writing anymore, so I just sat down and started typing. All I knew was, I wanted to put a lot more focus on their relationship with the blue fin people, but outside of that, I really didn’t know what I was going to do.
The opening scene of the book that involves the confrontation with Diedre almost didn’t happen. Before I started writing the book, I was actually debating whether to turn that whole thing into a full on scene or to just leave it as something that they made reference to as something that had happened between the previous book and this one. Ultimately I decided I not only wanted to do the full scene, but I wanted it to be the opening scene of the book since the reference to them wanting to do it occurred at the end of book 2. It just seemed like a natural place to pick up again, so I ran with it, and it quickly turned into one of my favorite scenes.
Something else that almost didn’t happen was the blue fin village. My original idea was to have the blue fins living in undersea cities, but considering the fact that the Faranox had captured them as slaves, it didn’t make sense to do that, so it ended up being an idea that was quickly discarded.
Several of the biggest revelations in the book about the blue fins, the amulets and Derek’s mother were all ideas that just flowed out of me as I typed. None of it was pre-planned. In fact, very little in any of the books in the series has ever been pre-planned outside of having a vague idea of things I wanted to do here and there, and even then nothing was ever set in stone. I just typed and it became whatever it was going to be.
Some people may be a bit shocked by the development in the relationships between Jarrod, Derek, Tina and Sarah, but to me it felt like a natural extension of what they already felt for one another. If it hadn’t have felt so natural, or if it had felt forced in any way, I wouldn’t have included it in the story.
I actually considered killing off Derek’s mother in this book, but I figured it would be too cruel considering his brother had already committed suicide.
There are scenes in every book that actually make me cry every time I read them. Mostly because I’m a big sap when it comes to sentimental stuff. In this book, one of the ones that was getting me every time was the scene where Derek sees his mother in the hospital. Another was when Sarah was in bed, staring at the photo of the four of them in their gear outside the cabin. I always feel stupid when I cry about stuff like that, but I can’t help it. I also make myself actually laugh out loud every time I read some of the scenes as well, like the meal scene in the blue fin village.
The revelation about the amulets will lead to something down the road, but I haven’t written it yet, so I couldn’t even guess at what it’ll be. I guess I’ll find that out when I get to it.
The developments regarding the blue fin people in this book were conjured up on the fly, and it all really started with Freddie playing video games with the guys. Something as simple as that actually led me to some incredible new revelations about their entire race, which has added immeasurably to the series and has led to the development of a story idea for the fourth book. Many of the major developments in the series have spawned from seemingly minor, innocuous events.
Once again, I had Kelly Sweet’s We Are One album playing in the background throughout the writing of this entire book. As soon as I turn it on, I just go into writing mode. It’s become habit now I guess.
While there was a bit of a nod to The Evil Dead movies in The Hunt during the kitchen scene in chapter 5, I actually make reference to two films in this book – Conan the Destroyer and Tremors.
Revenge was actually written in two weeks. I started it on December 31, 2013 and completed the story on January 13, 2014.
I’ve included small nods to various movies in the different books. In this one, there’s a small nod to the television show Sanford and Son when I mention that Patricia looks like she’s about to have the big one.
The developments that happen with the blue fin people in this book weren’t planned. I came up with them on the fly as I was writing, simply because one thing led to another and they led in a logical direction toward what’s coming in the future books. It also makes them far more interesting as a race and a way larger part of the overall story than if I’d have just left them as a simple, island dwelling people.
Even though this book explores the leprechaun and insect dimensions a bit, I purposely haven’t gotten too involved with those people or those dimensions as of yet, and I haven’t decided if I’m going to. One option is to leave them behind as they start exploring new dimensions, while the other option is to leave them as a more major story element for Jeremy, Mike, Jenny and Laurie to explore.
There’s a huge development coming in the next book that came to me while I was thinking about the Jan Brewster character and about how the beginning of the next book, Unseen Things: Immortals, was going to play out.
Barbara’s unexpected kinks came to me as I was writing as well. I wanted to have a funny scene involving her, Billy and Freddie, and that one scene added a whole new dimension to her character.
Very little of any of the books have been pre-planned. I usually just start writing and let the story go wherever my fingers take it. The part in this book with the confrontation between Tina and her mother had been semi-planned for a while now. I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I didn’t know when. I also didn’t plan how it was all going to play out ahead of time, and to be honest, I actually had a hard time figuring out how that scene was going to conclude. Without giving anything away here, they ended up in a pretty tight spot that could have landed them in some legal trouble and I had to figure out a way to get them out of it.
This book had several references in it to various films and books. Some are rather overt while others are more subtle. See if you can pick out the references to They Live, Star Trek (The Trouble With Tribbles episode), The Evil Dead 2, The Waterboy, South Park and Twilight. There are also mentions in passing of some notable characters, like when Tina calls Sarah Nancy Drew.
The whole thing with the Steve the insect man was intended to be a funny bit, but then it quickly turned into a running joke.
The reptilian booze was something that was completely random. While I was writing that section, I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do with them in that dimension. Ultimately I decided to make the dimension rather boring, so I threw in the part about the reptilian booze to make up for the boredom of the dimension, because that particular detail led to some very amusing scenes later on.
I came up with the whole leprechaun, amulet thing on the fly. I was trying to figure out how to make the leprechaun dimension more interesting, so I figured I’d give Jenny and Laurie something to find outside of the village. It added a new aspect to the story while at the same time creating an interesting mystery for them. It also gave them a really awesome way to wrap up their first mission.
The Ach’len race are based on the whole Nordic alien story. There’s reportedly a race of aliens called the Nordics that look similar in appearance to the Ach’len, so I used them for inspiration. If you’ve never heard of Nordic aliens, look it up. It’s pretty interesting.
What happened to Jarrod’s arms was one of the few things I really pre-planned. I wanted to have a scene that showed off their new regenerative abilities, so I figured what better way to do that?
For the scenes in Scotland, I spent some time with Google Street View looking around Killearn and the surrounding area so I’d have a rough idea of where I wanted the events of that part of the story to take place.
Making Dylan McKenzie drunk when the girls first meet him was something I came up with just as I was writing that scene. It was a random thought that led to some very funny moments and also his reasons for being drunk and not wanting to keep the records anymore. There have been a lot of random little thoughts and details like that throughout the series that have led to far bigger and more involved things.
This book had more references in it to various characters and films than any other. See if you can pick out the references to Twilight, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Revenge of the Nerds, Highlander, They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Sealab 2021, Strange Brew, Rodney Dangerfield and David Beckham.
Billy referring to getting fitted for tuxes as a long, slow death was a little inside joke I threw in. One of the Kelly Sweet songs I have on loop while I write is her cover of Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight. She can’t stand the original song and refers to it as feeling like a long, slow death.
At some point, Sarah calls Jarrod “Muffin”, which is a pet name I call my wife frequently.
Tina says, “What’s up buttercup?” This one will take a little explaining. Our border collie Buddy has trigger words that make him go nuts. There’s a whole list of words and phrases that make him freak out, and that’s one of them. It’s really hilarious. He’s such a quirky, awesome dog. The funny part is that if we stop saying whatever trigger words we’re saying, he looks at us and smiles, waiting for us to say more so he can keep freaking out.
Like many things in the series, there are a variety of elements that become major things in the story that I just came up with on the fly as I was writing. Their developing the ability to link and bringing back Martin Decker are just two examples, but a major example of this is when I decided to have Jarrod and Derek work on a secret project that eventually led to them marrying Tina and Sarah. I had no intention of having them get married when I started the book. As I was writing however, it just felt like it was time, so that’s what I had them do.
This is the longest book in the series. The entire book comes in at over 105 thousand words.
There are only a couple of references to things in this one. See if you can spot a quote from Cheech & Chong, and another reference to a joke that Sam Kinison once used in his act.
I named the character Heather after Connor MacLeod Heather from the movie Highlander.
While they’ve all been of varying lengths, all of the books in the series so far have had sixteen chapters. I find that if I set an average goal of around 5,500 words per chapter, the books end up being the proper length for the stories.
I hadn’t originally intended to bring Beth forward as a leader, but as I wrote the story, it suddenly occurred to me how awesome it would be to take the one person who was the least likely to become a leader and turn them into one. I absolutely love what Beth has become, and I had a seriously great time writing her.
The part about possibly having to kill Heather if she didn’t work out was something that just popped into my head. It was a good way of showing the change in Beth and her willingness to do whatever it took to protect the team and what they were doing. The whole theme of the job being more important than the life of any one individual sprang from that initial thought. In a way she’s like Carol from The Walking Dead. She’s wiling to do anything it takes to protect the team and the work, even if it means killing someone. Fortunately, she didn’t have to.
The part about Jarrod’s eyes changing was something I hadn’t really considered the first time I wrote that he was able to see through Steve’s eyes while they were linked. It was actually an idea I came up with while I was writing this book, and I think it turned out rather well. The changes in their eyes will come into play in the next book, Ghost Worlds.
Ghost Worlds Trivia
Ghost Worlds is the first book in the series to really become a fantasy / sci-fi hybrid. The only time they’d dealt with an advanced civilization in previous books was when they visited the Ach’len dimension, but that wasn’t a major part of the storyline.
There are two references in this book, one to a film and one to another book series. When Billy says, “Well honk my hooter!” that’s a reference to a line from the film Better Off Dead. As for the book reference, at one point Beth is talking to Thayelle and offers to take her dimension hopping. This is a reference to the Myth Series of books by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye. That series involves multiple dimensions and dimension travel as well, and they refer to it as dimension hopping. They even have a device that allows them to travel from one dimension to another called a d-hopper.
I had originally planned to kill off a character in this book that had appeared in previous books, but as the writing of this book progressed and I actually remembered that I’d wanted to do that, I was too far into the book to include it any sort of a natural feeling, organic way, so I’ll be adding it to the next book instead.
I rarely plan the events of my books ahead of time. As such, things like breaking up the human trafficking ring, the dimension of Paradise with the super tame and fearless animals, the mineral they found there that was the key element used to create zero point energy and a variety of other events were all completely written on the fly. I did pre-plan a few things for this book, as I often do, but I didn’t plan very much.
This book, as with all the others, continues with the 16 chapter format. I find that 16 chapters with a certain average word count brings me exactly to the length I want my books to be.
I skimped a bit in the references to different things that I threw into the last book. This one has several.
Derek tells Logan, “Wish in one hand, shit in the other and see which gets full faster.” This is something my father used to tell me when I was a kid, and not only did I find it funny, but it’s also a very good way of telling someone that nothing’s going to happen unless you make it happen.
When Tina is demonstrating her new mental abilities on Derek and Beth, she casually and randomly changes their colors a few times. This was nod to the movie Kung Pow: Enter the Fist.
The part where Derek hugs his mom and he’s so big and muscular that he can’t quite close his arms around her. That’s something I’ve had a problem with many times, especially when I was heavily into weight lifting.
When Heather tries out remote sensing, and in fact the entire method that goes into them using their new mental abilities, that comes directly from a method I was taught by a psychic many years ago.
There’s a reference to The Undertaker and his patented choke slam move when Erin choke slams a purse snatcher in Italy.
Tina makes a reference to Meatloaf and his song, I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).
The part about being able to project disguises over themselves is a little nod to Robert Asprin’s Myth Series.
The whole thing with relation to Thayelle and Jonathan near the end of the book was simply an impulse on my part. I came up with it while I was writing the conversation between her and Beth, and it just felt right, so I ran with it and turned it into something that became a major part of the end of this book, and will play a major part in the beginning of the next one as well.
As far as the new mental abilities are concerned, I hadn’t originally intended to take it as far as I did, but what I did end up doing added a hell of a lot of fun to the story. The more I developed those abilities, the more fun it became, so I just ran with it.
The hobbies I gave to Giles and Savaric were things I came up with on the fly, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It gave the characters some unique and distinct qualities that were indicative of their personalities.
This book was almost the first book to have more than sixteen chapters, but I decided in the end that it would be better to stop where I did so I could pick things up right where they left off in the next book.
There’s a part where Savaric is drunk in the control room and they hear him burp loudly over the intercom, followed by Diana shouting at him, “Sav!!! That’s rude!!!” This is a direct reference to something I personally did in the second grade. We were all sitting around the reading table, and while one of the other kids was reading, I had the guy next to me lean over so I could whisper something in his ear, only instead of whispering, I ripped out a big ol’ chunky belch. The teacher was all, “Duane!!! That’s rude!!!”
When they’re trying to decide on who the strippers will be at the party, Derek insists he’s not going to do it again because he looks like a wounded moose when he dances. That’s something I’ve personally said many times, because that’s exactly how I look when I try to do anything but slow dance.
Explaining how the blue fins built the building on their island, as well as their process for making glass was a lot more of a pain to write than I originally thought it would be, mainly because I had to come up with reasonable ideas for how they made both the building materials and the glass they created.
I actually disgusted myself a little in describing Thayelle’s transformation, because I could see it all in my head as I was writing it, and I was like, “Ick!”
I came up with a different job for the parents of Mike, Jeremy, Jenny, Laurie and Heather because I didn’t want their team to be doing the same things the others were. My plans for them are that they’ll be mentioned from time to time as to what they’re working on, and once in a great while I may have Heather’s parents in it for a bit, but as of now I have no plans to turn any of them into fully active characters.
The new mental trick that Tina came up with was something that just popped into my head as I was writing the scene, and as with so many other things that just popped into my head as I was writing, it turned into a major thing that’ll see a lot of use down the road.
I purposely limited how much I included Alarwyn and the other Nathalis in this book, because I want the relationship between them and the humans to develop slowly.
The stories Giles and Savaric tell the others about their time in the Zethichtalarin labs is something I’ve had rolling around in my head for quite a while, but there was never an appropriate moment to include it until now.
Likewise, the entire part with Sarah’s mother Deborah in this book is something I actually planned on doing two books ago, but there was never an appropriate place to fit it in until now.
The new telekinetic abilities the characters develop in this book is a bit of a nod to the movie Zapped!
When a robber comes into the restaurant, Martin called him “My weasly little friend.” This is a reference to a line in the film Detroit Rock City.
When Sheryl holds her chest and starts staggering around saying, “I’m comin’ ta join ya Elizabeth! This is the big one!” it’s a reference to the 70s sitcom, Sanford and Son.
When Heather’s drunk and talking to them on the phone, she says (talking about her brother), “He’s just a boy. Poor little feller.” This is a reference to a line in an episode of South Park, which in itself was a reference to a line in the movie Sling Blade.
When Jarrod is irritating Sarah and he says, “It was totally worth it,” that’s a reference to a line from animated series, Sealab 2021.
In chapter 13 there’s another vague reference to the Twilight books and films that’s sort of a running joke in the series.
When it came time to do the spell checking in this book, the scene where the girls drunk called the guys had so many slurred words and odd spellings that it caused the whole spell checking process to take considerably longer than usual.
This book is the longest in the series, coming in at just over 120K words. It also took the longest to write and edit due to some personal issues.
I had originally intended the book to focus more on Alarwyn, but that isn’t the way it ended up because of the addition of another new character named Stephanie. As Alarwyn and Stephanie become fast friends and practically sisters in this book, the next book will have quite a bit of content with the two of them getting their feet wet by heading out on some explorations runs together.
There’s an Are You Being Served? reference when Beth is talking about ways they can steer girls in Giles’ direction at the club.
There’s a quote used by Derek: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Many people mistake the source of this quote. It’s actually a quote from Voltaire in 19th century France.
There’s a Gordon Ramsay reference with regard to Giles’ cooking.
When they go to see the raccoon lady, Diana projects herself as the old woman from the movie Drag Me To Hell.
The colonel makes a small reference to stepping into the Twilight Zone.
Stephanie makes reference to the first Highlander movie and then goes on to talk about how all the sequels sucked.
The colonel makes reference to the aliens in The Simpsons in the last chapter.
Some of the information and references to the aliens known commonly as the grays are based on real accounts from abductees.
I hadn’t originally planned on bringing in a new main character as Giles’ love interest. However, as I wrote their conversation in the club, the personality that came out of her made me absolutely fall in love with the character. Plus, adding her into the mix allowed me to connect her and Alarwyn together as best friends since they were dating Giles and Savaric.
Bringing in someone from Area 51 is something I’ve been planning on doing since the last book, though I didn’t know what form their involvement would take. Even as I was writing it, I still wasn’t sure. That’s what’s fun about organic writing. You just sort of let the story write itself as you go along. In this case, the colonel turned into a relatively major, recurring character, which wasn’t my first thought at all. I originally planned for it to be a one time encounter, or maybe just a character that would show up once in a great while, but that all changed as I wrote his initial scene.
The part with Tina’s biological mother Helen getting sober is something I’ve had planned for a while, but it needed to be done at the right time, and this book was that time. As of now I have no plans on bringing Helen back into the story. This, at least for now, was just sort of closing the chapter on that whole thing, while at the same time making Tina and Barbara even closer than they were already. It also gave me a chance to bring up Sarah’s sadness over the fact that she’d never know the love of a real mother.
Demond, the guy who took the promotion from Stephanie right before Giles met her is named after Demond Wilson who played Lamont on Sanford and Son. Why? No particular reason. I just like that show and the name popped into my head while I was trying to think of a name for him.
Stephanie is surprised when Alarwyn cracks a joke, so Alarwyn says something about not being allowed to have a sense of humor just because she has pointed ears. This is an obvious Star Trek reference.
Jarrod calls the prehistoric dimension Jurassic Park, though it doesn’t retain that name in the book. That particular dimension is simply referred to as the prehistoric dimension.
While the girls are out on their mission, Giles tells Savaric that he can’t keep walking around like a miserable old boot. This is a reference to a line from an episode of Are You Being Served? in which Mr. Grainger had been walking around the store for days in an extremely bad mood.
There’s a reference to a surstromming challenge video on YouTube. The video I was referring to is here, and I highly suggest subscribing to Jeff’s channel as he does wonderful review videos on a variety of things. He also has some very entertaining story time videos where he relates different amusing stories from his past.
When they go into the distillery on the reptilian dimension so that Giles and Savaric can see how the reptilian booze is made, Savaric says that some things really are better left unseen. This is a vague reference to the name of the series.
After Derek’s unpleasant shopping trip with the girls, Jarrod has a talk with him, and at the end of it he gives Jarrod a Chris Reeve large Sebenza knife. This is a real knife made by Chris Reeve Knives right here in Boise, Idaho. Maybe someday if the series really takes off I’ll actually make enough money to buy one for myself.
At some point Stephanie and Giles are talking, and she says, “Cross my heart and hope to die.” He asks, “Do you?” and she says, “Not at the moment.” This is a direct quote from the movie Better Off Dead.
There’s a small reference to the face huggers from Alien movies when they’re talking about how Darla latched onto Derek at the club.
There’s two Ghostbusters references in the haunted house part. The first is when Patricia says she forgot to bring along her unlicensed nuclear accelerator, and the other is when she mentions later that they’re not the Ghostbusters and that she doesn’t have a trap hanging off of her belt that they can use to toss under the ghostly creature they found.
Tina says, “If we had a nickel for every time we beat up some ass hole who deserved it, we’d have a shitload of nickels.” This is a reference to a quote from the movie Baseketball.
When Jarrod tells Derek what scares him. He says, “The thought of living an average, boring life and then dying someday without having done anything at all of any real value.” That’s a direct reference to how I feel about my own life, which is a big part of why I’m so passionate about writing this series.
The first book of the Unseen Things series, Origins, was published on November 23, 2013. Conspiracy, the fourteenth book of the series was published on November 22, 2014, one day before the one year anniversary of the publication of the first book. That means that I’ve published fourteen books in one year, with a combined total word count of 1,437,533 words. That’s not counting the bonus scene and the deleted scene that are posted here on the website. That’s just the count for the books themselves.
When they find the parallel dimension and discover that Martin is homeless there, they do a remote viewing on him and find out that he’s in Spokane at the House of Charity – Catholic Charities homeless shelter. This is a real place in Spokane, Washington.
Tina asks, “What’d you do? Twiddle his knobs or something? He went out of focus.” – Loose reference to a quote from a very drunk Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served?.
There are numerous references to Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson and the film Stroker Ace. I also threw in a reference to the Cannonball Run movies.
When Jeff, Steve and the colonel go to the prehistoric dimension on an exploration run, there are several references to the television show Land of the Lost. There’s also a reference to the film Quest for Fire in this scene.
There’s a Captain Kirk reference made by Derek after Jeff has an unexpected sexual encounter in the prehistoric dimension.
When Tina’s upset about Alarwyn’s situation and the guys are talking to her and Sarah about a side job that Patricia told them about, Tina gets irritated and says, “Fuck him and everyone who looks like him!” This is a loose reference to a George Carlin quote.
When Steve and the colonel disappear for several days and then eventually return, Patricia asks them where the hell they’ve been. The colonel says he left them a note on one of the wall panels and Patricia gets upset because she never thinks to check those. This was a reference to something similar happening to her in an earlier book in the series where she didn’t think to check the wall panel.
This book was originally planned to be the penultimate book of the series, but those plans changed as I was writing it. There was no way I could wrap things up with the main part of the series within this particular book.
I always have music playing while I’m writing, and I have some standard artists that I listen to. During this book I was listening to Queen, Kelly Sweet, Teagan and Sara, Echosmith and Aur Revoir Simone. From chapters thirteen through sixteen however, I had one song playing on loop throughout, simply because it fit the mood of what I was writing. Those chapters are the lead up to the big battle, the battle itself and then the aftermath. The song I was listening to was Robert Tepper’s There’s No Easy Way Out from the Rocky IV soundtrack.
Charles mentions that perhaps it hasn’t been the wisest of decisions to grow their numbers the way they have, but also notes that in a way it’s been highly beneficial to them. This was a reference to how I felt as the author about bringing in so many characters. They’re needed in their own capacities, but having so many has become a bit difficult and burdensome at times.
While I was editing this book, I discovered a plot hole that would have made the last four chapters of the book completely unnecessary. I had to rack my brains trying to figure out a way to make it all work, and grew ever more frustrated as everything I came up with had the exact same issue. Fortunately, I finally came up with a solution that only required a small bit of editing and made everything work out perfectly. Phew!
Gilese 667C c, which plays a rather large part in this book, is an actual planet thought to be habitable. (Yes, that small “c” on the end is supposed to be there. It’s part of the name.)
The part with the crashed ship on Gilese 667C c was simply a thought I came up with as I was writing the scene, and that one little event ended up turning into a major part of the storyline. Many of the more major story elements in the series either came from a random thought or a small event that ended up turning into or related to something much larger later on.
The part where Richard explains to Jarrod why using crystals to amplify the power of a zero point bomb wouldn’t result in a significantly larger explosion by showing him what happens when you plug a resistor into standard AC power is something we used to do back in electronics class in high school. We’d plug the resistor into the socket, turn on the power and it’d either burn up or pop like a firecracker.
The use of the adrenaline needle to revive Raina after they restored her body was a reference to Pulp Fiction. Later, there was a direct reference to it as well.
Tina complains that there’s nothing to watch on television because there’s so much crap and filler. This is a common complaint in my own household. It’s like, why are we paying for so much stuff we have no desire whatsoever to watch?
When Tina tells Naelen that all the freaky stuff is kept hidden from people in the human dimension, he notes that none of them seem overly freaked out by any of it, to which she replies, ‘That’s because we’re the ones who knock.” This is an obvious reference to the show Breaking Bad.
Derek asks Jarrod in the bathroom at Gencore if he’s got any big, mean dookies on deck. This is a reference to the Bad Lip Reading video, Everybody Poops. Look it up on YouTube. It’s pretty funny.
In chapter 12, Jarrod calls Derek bro and Derek questions him about it, because that’s not the way it usually works. Derek calls him “bro” and Jarrod calls him “man”. This was a little acknowledgment of the fact that I’ve always had them refer to each other in this way, and when it was suddenly reversed, it threw Derek off a little.
Chapter 13 jumps to June 12, 2112. I chose this year because it was about in the right date range for where I needed to take the story, and it’s also a nod to Rush’s 2112 album.
In the riot scene in chapter 13, Tina says, “Let me do the talkin’. I speak their lingo.” This was a reference to the Cheech & Chong sketch, Ralph and Herbie where Ralph (Cheech) says that when he spots a French poodle named Fifi.
Tina uses one of the rioters like a ventriloquist’s doll. This was a nod to a similar scene in the film Killer Klowns from Outer Space, when one of the alien clowns uses the town sheriff in the same way.
This book (book 17) was written before book book 16 because it was supposed to be the first book of a companion series that takes place in the same universe called the Wasteland Earth series. As I wrote it however, I decided that it would make a much more fitting end to the main series, so I scrapped the idea for the companion series all together and used it as book 17 instead. Plans to have it end the series changed as well, because while I was writing book 16, I came up with ideas for three more books.
In my head, Jake’s character is sort of like a slutty version of Bruce Campbell.
The reason I wanted to write this book was so that I could work with an entirely new group of characters who had to face everything without godlike powers. They’re just normal folks who survived the Echnid attacks and are struggling to rebuild everything so they can get their lives back to some semblance of normalcy in a world that’s gone through a drastic and devastating change. It gave me a chance to write new characters in a world that was unfamiliar, facing an enemy that was completely new, and other enemies of the human variety (the Skinks), that were somewhat based on the baddies in the Mad Max films.
In chapter three Jake tells a story about the homeless shelter he stayed at, and in the story there’s an old guy named Eddie who lives there. This character was loosely based off of a real person, though he wasn’t really homeless. When I was seventeen years old, my first job was working at a gas station, and living behind the gas station in an old trailer was this guy named Eddie who used to come over to talk to whoever was working there at the time. He was old and had been smoking all his life, so his voice sounded like five miles of bad road, but he was a nice old guy. Anyway, I happened to think of him when I was writing that character, so that’s why I named him Eddie. Sadly, the last I heard of the real Eddie was that he passed away a very long time ago.
In chapter six, the following comment is made:
Derek: “That’s the problem with immortals that breed. There gets to be too many of ’em after a while.”
Patricia: “Kinda the same for those that don’t breed as well.”
This was a reference to the large number of characters I’ve brought in throughout the run of the series. I’m sure you’ve noticed by this point that I have members of the “family” that don’t even have names and are rarely ever even mentioned. That’s because they do their own thing outside of the context of the main story. Mike, Jeremy, Jenny and Laurie’s parents are a good example of this, as is Thayelle’s father.
In chapter 9, Jarrod says: “Hell yeah, I’m totally in! Just let me know when and I’ll be there with balls on.” – I’ll be there with balls on is a quote from Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, when Cheech is talking to Donna on the phone.
There are two references to the Adam Sandler film, The Waterboy. The first is in chapter 12, and the second is in chapter 14. This is one of my all time favorite films. In fact, I’ve seen it so many times that I can pretty much quote the entire movie verbatim at this point.
In chapter 16, Stephanie says, “Buck up little trooper.” This is a quote from Better Off Dead, when Lane is nervous about having to ski the K12, and his friend Charles says that to reassure him.
I wanted to write this book in such a way that it could be the final book in the series, if that’s what it ended up being. As such, I wanted to revisit a lot of things from their past, so we could see what happened as a result of their influence on various people and events. A part of this book however opened up a story line that can be continued in a subsequent book, so there will be at least one more book in the series after this one.
Bringing back Diedre was something I’ve sort of had in the back of my mind for a while now, but I hadn’t really anticipated the direction it would take until I actually wrote it. As it turns out, it all ended up being way different than I had imagined.
I realized right before I was ready to publish that I forgot to write Steve into the party scene at the end of the book, so I remedied that by including him in the after party group discussion where they ask him if he had a good time, and it’s at that point that he tells them how things went for him.
I really wanted to write more of the Jake and Lana characters, because they’re just insanely fun to write. Jake in particular has quickly become my favorite character in the series, because he’s not only hilarious, but he manages to be completely shallow, reckless, irresponsible and cocky, while at the same time he’s also deeply honorable, loving and sincere. His past regrets weigh heavily on him, but he doesn’t let that stop him from living his life and loving the people around him. He internalizes those regrets, and every so often then when he talks about those regrets and the stories behind them, you get a glimpse of just how deeply he’s been hurt by them. I’ve considered writing a whole book about his and Lana’s experiences from right before the met, all the way up to the point where they reach that town in Utah they ended up at in Travelers, so that may still be in the pipeline somewhere before I end the series.
In chapter 3, Jake says “What a rush, huh?” after Jarrod tells Slappy that he’ll be reverting back in age. This was a little quote from Chong in Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke. He said it after Cheech ate a whole handful of acid.
In chapter 4, Jarrod asks why the guys messed with that building on Purgatory and then and then had to go on the run afterward. He says, “We need ’em here right now, not out there dimension hopping.” Dimension hopping is a reference to The Myth Series, by Robert Asprin. That’s what they call traveling dimensions in that series. They even have a device called a D-hopper.
In chapter 8, Jarrod asks Charles if he’s sure that Freddie’s not gonna train the guys from the parallel dimension wrong as a joke or somethin’. This was a reference to the movie Kung Pow, when Master Tang says that they trained Wimp Lo wrong, as a joke.
In chapter 9, a colossal drunken roar emanated from the house. This was a reference to the Black Adder II episode where they had a drinking competition on the same night when Edmund’s puritanical aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Whiteadder came over for dinner. They hear something, so Lady Whiteadder asks what it was. Edmund says he didn’t hear anything, and then he asks Lord Percy if he heard anything. Percy responds, “No. Apart from that colossal drunken roar.”
In chapter 10, Charles is drunk and suddenly he wakes up, gets to his feet and asks, “What place is this???” before he passes out on the couch again. He says it again after Richard puts him to bed later. This is a reference from the classic film The Comedy of Terrors. Basil Rathbone’s character suffered from catalepsy, so every time they thought he was dead, he’d eventually wake up and say, “What place is this?” It’s one of my all time favorite films.
Entangling the two Purgatory dimensions was something I came up with on the fly while writing that particular discussion. It worked well to not only explain what happened to the sun in that dimension, but it also explained the corruption of the energy forms, and I was able to link the cause of it back to a malfunctioning portal generator on a random alien ship.
Derek visiting himself from two years in the future was also something I came up with on the fly. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to put there when I started writing that scene, but having Derek coming back to warn himself about future events worked out perfectly. Originally I was planning on having it be a bear that would have attacked the girls if Derek hadn’t have stopped it, but that would have just led to a whole lot of nothing later on.
Jarrod figuring out how to alter reality is something I’ve been planning for the characters for a very long time now. I knew they’d eventually reach that point, and even though it’s not explained in this book, I generally know why they can do it and how it works. I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually explain it in the books though. I’ll just have to see how things progress.
My original plan for Diedre was to have her regain her memories, after which she would turn psychotic and try to kill them all. I decided against this, because I thought having her find redemption and forgiveness was a far nicer and more interesting way for her character to develop.
This book is the first time Jarrod has really gone off on Derek and bitched him out for his attitude and the way he treats everyone when he’s upset over what’s happening with Logan and Diedre. The only other time I ever did this was when I had Sarah bitch out Tina over her attitude in one of the earlier books, but even that pales in comparison to the bitching out he gets from Jarrod in this one.
Bringing Peter into the story 19 books into the series was something I wanted to do simply so we could hear his story. What I wasn’t planning was just how horrible his story actually was. That all just came out as I wrote it, but I think it works really well in establishing not only why he’s so close to Charles, Richard, Giles and Savaric, but also why he’s been such a recluse for so many years.
As ridiculous as some of the names are, all of the towns mentioned in this book are real places.
I suffer from primary acute insomnia, and I went through a severe episode of it for about two and a half months during the writing of this book. As such, I only had maybe a few hours a day where I had enough focus to actually get any writing done, which is why it took over four and a half months to get this book written.
Something else that delayed me in my work on this book is that I was editing a cookbook for a neighbor as a favor to her.
In chapter 2 when Danny says to Mike and Jeremy, “Yeah well, I’m over it. Sniff you jerks later.” This is a quote from Captain Murphy on Sealab 2021.
In chapter 3, Chapter 3, Jarrod quotes the movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, where the character Chiun said, “Assassination is the highest form of public service.”
In chapter 5, Tina says, “But that would actually require us to do somethin’. We’re already too busy doin’ nothin’.” is a reference to a quote from the movie Trinity is Still My Name.
In chapter 8, Jake talks about his lack of life skills because his parents loved him so much that they did everything for him. This is the same thing that happened to me with my own parents. To this day I’m still not very good at being a self sufficient adult because of it.
In chapter 9, Jake has a giggle loop welling up inside of him. The giggle loop is a reference to an episode of the British comedy, Coupling.
In chapter 10 –
“Ugh…thanks for reminding me. I swear, a week ago if you’d have told me that aliens were gonna show up and destroy the world, and that I’d be stealin’ some rich guy’s car and goin’ on the run with some guy I sprung from jail, drivin’ from one shit town to another, killin’ people for food and blankets, and fixin’ cars for a bunch of inbred rednecks with extra digits and wonkey eyes… I mean, if you’d have told me all that literally just a week ago, I’d have dragged your ass to the nearest rehab facility and had ’em lock you away.”
“Heh. I wouldn’t blame you a bit. It does sound pretty ridiculous when you throw it all into one long sentence like that. Oh hey, there it is there I think,” he said as he pointed to the left side of the road up ahead.
Jake was goofing on the fact that what Lana said all came out in one really long sentence. I love self aware humor, and the fact is that I reread that sentence over and over again like ten times and I couldn’t really think of another way to word it, or figure out a way to break it up in a way where it would still convey the same feeling. As such, I figured I’d just goof on it instead.
In chapter 11 Jake asks Max if he’s got somethin’ gnawin’ on his conscience. This is a quote from My Name is Trinity.
In chapter 16 –
“Well what is it then? Fires, floods, earthquakes…double A batteries…,” Richard asked with all the dryness of one of Savaric’s finer comments.
“Double A batteries? What the fuck man,” Jarrod asked with a laugh.
“I dunno. It just popped into my head. So seriously now, what did you want to tell me?”
Double A Batteries is a reference to a line in Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy where the evil CEO of the pharmaceutical company is offering Dr. Cooper a bunch of random stuff.
In chapter 2 Sarah puts her arm around Freddie and says, “Now chin up little buckeroo.” This is based off a line in Better Off Dead when Lane’s friend Charles is trying to encourage him to face the K12 ski slope.
In chapter 2 after Sarah transforms into an energy being and then back again, Gerald said, “What a rush, huh?” This is a quote from Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke movie.
In chapter 4 after Jake links with Snots, Jake says, “He likes me! He really likes me!” This is referencing that famous quote from Sally Fields.
In chapter 6 at the temple, Giles says, “This way. Follow me.” This is from the movie Cheech & Chong Still Smokin’. Chong said it in a silly Dutch accent, so every time I see this phrase I always think of it exactly the way he said it in the movie.
In chapter 6, Savaric says, “Uh huh. Ok.” This is Captain Murphy quote from the animated series Sealab 2021.
In chapter 9 when they’re calling Logan a little bitch in the locker room, this is based on a bit from the movie Baseketball where Coop and Reamer keep calling Squeak a little bitch.
In chapter 10 Derek says, “It ain’t that kinda party.” This is a quote from the movie Fear of a Black Hat.
In chapter 16, Derek says, “All right, all right! Jeez…always bossin’ me around.” The always bossin’ me around part is a reference to a line in the movie Strange Brew.
This is the 22nd full length novel I’ve published in less than three years. The first book of the series was published on November 23, 2013, so this one was published 24 days before that, on October 31, 2016.
I realized during the writing of this book that I’d written the Zethichtalarin race in a way that makes them seem very similar to Nazis. They’re very science oriented, they see other races as inferior, take slaves from other species, and they’re very militaristic and disciplined. To be honest, it hadn’t really occurred to me until now just how much like Nazis they really are. It’s sort of an interesting revelation.
I wasn’t sure this was going to be the final book in the series until I actually started writing it. I hate to say goodbye to the characters, but the series has finally run its course. I’ve had the idea for this story playing around in my head for quite some time now. It wasn’t originally intended to be the series ending story, but I think it worked really well in that regard, and I’m incredibly happy with how the ending turned out. I see it as a fitting end for both the series and the characters, and while it makes me sad to move on to different stories, in my heart, these characters are always going to be a part of my family.