07FEB2012: MilSciFi.com interviews Kris Alexander author of the military
science fiction novel, Servants of the
MilSciFi: "Welcome. Please tell us a little
something about your novel."
Alexander: "It's a bit of a genre-bender with
strong military elements and themes running through it. One blurb describes it as a "gritty
metaphysical thriller", which is about right.
It's set in the contemporary world yet there are hidden histories and
powers that most people don't know about and wouldn't comprehend.
The main character is Jake McPherson who is an ex-Army Ranger who
discovers that he has superpowers during a brutal ambush in Iraq.
He can lift heavy objects and block bullets. He uses his new found powers to save his unit
from annihilation, but this reveals him to two groups of similar groups. The first is the Servants of the Light, an ancient
order of protectors and swordsmen who have been in a steady decline in the
modern age. The other is the evil Chosen who believe their powers sanctify them as
gods on earth. They thrive in chaotic,
ungoverned spaces like Iraq in 2004 where the novel opens.
The Chosen determine that Jake will not be any use
to them so they send assassins to kill him when he returns home. He is rescued by a Servant of the Light named
Erika who is both a beautiful and dangerous warrior.
The rest of the book is about Jake learning to control his powers
and leading the Servants of the Light into battle against the Chosen.
The story careens from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to Iraq and to wild Texas borderlands.
One this about Jake is that he is a scotch swilling, skirt chasing
irreverent smart ass so there is a lot of humor--dark military humor that is
MilSciFi: "Is this part of a large series or
Alexander: "I don't know if I'd call it a
large series. I'm writing a sequel write
now because I wasn't really done with the idea or the characters. We'll see where it goes."
MilSciFi: "What inspired you to write this
Alexander: "I had been kicking around the idea
and sketching out this story for a while.
I did a tour in Iraq in 2009 and decided to make the most out
of the time when I wasn't working. I was
doing a staff job in the Embassy in Baghdad so I had a little free time which I spent
writing. I guess the environment was
inspiring in itself. "Living in the
Embassy" sounds cushy, but we were getting rocketed regularly. There was always the threat of IEDs whenever
you were traveling. I witnessed some
pretty big attacks too.
I wanted to say something about it but through science
fiction. The Chosen were my fictional answer to Al Qaeda."
MilSciFi: "Does science and technology play
an important role in this story--or in your work in general--, or is it
secondary to the story telling and characterization?"
Alexander: "Science and tech are there in the
sense that Jake, through his military contacts, gives the Servants of the Light
access to some military hardware. But
the story is not a tech story. In fact,
it's more of a low-tech story. Because
of how the powers in my universe work--the Light or the Dark depending on your
alignment--high technology and even firearms are vulnerable to mental
attack. Those with powers end up
fighting each other with swords and other melee weapons. Jake is a bit of a gun nut so he still
carries one, but it gets him into trouble."
MilSciFi: "Do you have plans to expand upon,
or write other works based on this novel?"
Alexander: "Like I said, I'm writing a
sequel. I was transfixed last spring by the
Arab revolts especially the footage coming out of Tahir Square.
I thought to myself that Jake, Erika, and the Servants of the Light need
to be in the middle of that."
MilSciFi: "What advice would you give the
aspiring military science fiction writer?"
Alexander: "I guess the same advice that I'd
give to any other writer--write everyday and don't quit. The only person who can decide that you're
not a writer is you. Besides that, I
think it is both a scary and exciting time to be in the writing business. We're in the middle of a revolution and there
is lots of opportunity for those bold enough to take chances."
MilSciFi: "Who is your single-most influence
in science fiction and what impact have they had on our own work?"
Alexander: "For science fiction, it would have
to be William Gibson. How many people
can rightfully claim that they invented an entire genre? His cyberpunk stuff was great, but his later
works are really what inspire me. His
last few books are set in the world we live in, but he sees things in it that
we don't. He somehow makes our world
seem stranger than fiction. There is
something very appealing in that, the idea of the hidden yet real."
MilSciFi: "What is the one thing you find the
most difficult about writing military science fiction?"
Alexander: "Authenticity. First, I struggle
with the idea that I might be cashing in on my military experience so I want to
get the military details right. I feel
like I owe that to my brothers and sisters in arms. But then again, I'm writing fiction that
needs to have a good pace so I can't explain every little nuance. Plus, I'm writing about a modern world
populated with sword-wielding warriors who can block bullets with their minds
so I do have to make some stuff up."
MilSciFi: "Is military science fiction the
only thing you write, or is there something else out there we should be looking
Alexander: "I occasionally contribute to
non-fiction writing to Wired Magazine's Danger Room defense blog."
MilSciFi: "Please tell us about your
publisher, and how did you came to chose them?"
Alexander: "Equinotes Media is a small start
up press founded by a fellow writer who I've known for years. He knew that I had a book in the works and
that I had not enjoyed my interactions with the legacy publishing industry with
other, yet unpublished novels, that I've shopped around. The digital revolution in e-books, print on
demand, and distributed collaboration was creating a new world that we wanted
to be part of. In a sense, publishing is
just venture capitalism. We're taking
risks in new markets."
MilSciFi: "Do you have any other projects in
Alexander: "Besides the Servants of the Light
sequel, I've started a novel that I plan on tackling next. It's a military twist on zombies and plagues
that I think will take the genre in a new direction. Well, that's the plan anyway. I'm also pretty fascinated with idea of
quantum entanglement combined with time travel and counter-terrorism. Maybe I watch too much late night science
MilSciFi: "Do you have any upcoming author
Alexander: "Not yet. I'm waiting for the print edition of my book
to be ready so I can start book some. I'm
open to any invitations, especially in the Northern California area where I'm currently stationed."
MilSciFi: "Thank you, for your time."