Thursday, November 15, 2012

Was Once A Hero

Title: Was Once A Hero

Author: Edward McKeown

Published: Hellfire Publishing – January 2012

Word Count: 78,000

Genre: Sci-Fi


Reluctant privateer Robert Fenaday searches the stars for his lost love, Lisa, a naval intelligence officer whose ship disappeared near the end of the Conchirri War . He’s joined by the genetically engineered assassin, Shasti Rainhell, whose cold perfection masks her dark past. Both are blackmailed by government spymaster, Mandela, into a suicidal mission to the doomed planet Enshar. Leading a team of scientists and soldiers, they must unravel the mystery of that planet’s death before an ancient force reaches out to claim their lives.

“What’s our status on ground troops?” he asked, adjusting his breather and zipping his leather jacket.  It was bitterly cold in the ship’s shadow.
“Pickings have been better than I expected,” she said, putting Johan out of her mind.  “With the war over, the economy lousy, there are lots of hard cases available: LURPS, Commandos, and Air Space Assault Team troops.  Mars seems full of people with little concern for life and hungry for money.” Shasti knew the type too well, having been raised from childhood as an assassin in the Denshi Order on Olympia.  She’d developed an eye for the good, for the ones putting up a front and for the plain crazy.  She made her picks, hoping she read people—standard humans as she thought of them—correctly.
Fenaday grimaced, “Great.  Well, the contractors showed up an hour ago and began the most extensive maintenance Sidhe’s ever received.  I’m glad Mandela’s footing the bill for it.  We’ll have shipwrights around the clock.  I’m having them pay particular attention our shuttles and fighters.”
Something tickled Shasti’s senses and she turned away from him.  In the distance, just coming around a machine shed, a group of people came into view.
Fenaday stepped forward to stand next to her, eyes narrowed.  “What’s that?”
“Must be Mandela’s contingent.  About fifty of them,” Shasti said.
“I wish I knew how you do that,” Fenaday muttered.
“Just rely on it that I can,” she replied.
The group passed the gate to Sidhe’s launch pad, led by another forgettable individual.
 About the Author…
I've enjoyed a life-long love affair with science fiction. I write believable people in extraordinary situations, balancing romance, humor, adventure and reasonable extrapolations of science in stories that I believe people will want to return to. Whether it's in the short stories of my "Lair of the Lesbian Love Goddess series" or in the Fenaday and Rainhell novels, classic "Planet" tales of a crews of unlikely companions facing unknown dangers, my intent is to give the reader the sort of page turning, involving adventure that Andre Norton wrote and leaven it with the emotional complexity and ambiguity that CJ Cherryh brings to the field.

While the experiences of the SF Universe are out of reach of those unable to pay for a rocket ride, I use my own background to try for an underlying verity in my characters. I’ve parachuted, flown in gliders, hang gliders and strapped to the floor of military helicopters. I’ve been rated as an expert shot and carry a black belt in the martial arts. I’ve been paralyzed by fear, exhilarated by love and walked into fights, both literal and metaphorical, that I knew I could not win. I have the good fortune to be married to the talented artist Schelly Keefer.
Savannah: Edward your book has just been contracted to become a movie. Who would be your first choice to play the lead role(s)?
Boy is that a tough one.  Perhaps I should have given it some thought before I came up with a six foot nine-inch, inhumanly fast and beautiful Amazon!
When I came up with my everyman POV character, Robert Fenaday, I decided he would be about 6 foot tall and around 190lbs.  I wanted him to solid and capable, so that he would be plausible in the action to come.  He was to be pleasant looking but not overly handsome.  In his early thirties so as to appeal to people as a mature man and not a boy.  As with many such characters, I did not want him overly described, for all my own emphasis on very descriptive writing.  It would be easier for people to see themselves in the adventure in his place.
Emotionally he would be more complicated than common for a male character.  His childhood would have been hard though wealthy, with the early loss of a mother and a bigger than life and domineering Irish father.  It would give him a somewhat harder outer shell. Underneath, he was an unusually warm and open man, longing for someone to share a life with, to give meaning and form to the man he was still trying to become.  Fenaday would be uncertain and over his depth in the quasi-criminal world of privateering, having departed a world of corporations and wealth for a shadowed existence running a barely legal vessel on the edge of financial collapse.
Yet another frightening layer lies in this man.  Once provoked there is literally nothing that he will balk at.  Fenaday will do things that will make the reader feel at least a moral ambiguity, possibly even a sense of horror about him.  That is intended.  Many of the gentle, wonderful and decent men I knew who served in wars, could do such actions under the fierce and irresistible goad of the God of War.  Understand that there is no condemnation in this; it is however an undeniable contradiction of human life, that the same fine man who would throw himself between a child and a car, could fly a B-17 over a city of women, children and kittens.  Yet these men are our best.  Purity will elude most in these circumstances.
This would require an actor who had a great range.  To be frank it is hard to select one from among the crop of too pretty, too man-scaped actors who seem to fill Hollywood now.  Fenaday hearkens back to a plainer sort of guy.  When I was working with the cover artist, Michael Church, I was not very helpful to him because I had a better idea of who he didn’t look like, than who he did.  When Michael came up with his cover, I thought, you know he kinda looks a little like Nathan Fillion.  I liked that thought.  Fillion is an actor whose work I enjoy.  He has gradually, in my minds’ eye, come to be the mental visual for Robert.   The actor who could give life to Firefly and Castle could, I believe, do it, though he is a bit mature to play Robert in the first book.  Ryan Gosling has been voiced as a possible also.  Another person suggested Danielle Radcliffe but for all his good work as Kipling’s son I couldn’t see it myself.
Ah, Shasti, the beautiful fantasy female.  Shasti has her roots in Japanese anime where the women warrior character has a long and developed history and mythos.  Some of those elements made their way into her description.  Her hair is long silky and black falling to her waist.  Her skin has an ivory cast to it and her green eyes have an almond shape.  I wanted her to be a large and physically impressive woman, but one whose symmetry was so perfect, that you did not realize how big she is until you are standing next to her looking up.  Like the female body-builder Cory Everson, she would look like “girl plus” a look we now associate with the fitness models.  Shasti has some of appearance of Lucy Lawless in the early days of Xena, La Bella Donna sans Merci.
Shasti’s interior life is more like that of the average female reader than one would ever suspect.  I can’t say too much about that without a spoiler alert.  So this actress would need to combine a certain youthful vulnerability with a power, almost a savagery that could make even a good friend doubt her sanity or judgment.
Michael Church gave me two or three different Shasti’s.  She is a little more tousled on the cover of Hero than I usually see her, but perhaps there was a dearth of conditioner on Enshar.  The body is very much what I envisioned but it is the cold and menacing face that grips me most.  I loved Shasti as he has done her on each and every cover including the short story prequel Regrets and Requiems.
Since we are fantasy casting here, I guess if we drop the idea of doing Shasti as CGI then Lucy Lawless at 28 is the best I could do for you.  The suggestion has been made of Gwendolyn Christie, who plays Brienne in Game of Thrones.  She is 6’ 3” and prettier than they let her be on Game of Thrones so that might work.  I don’t believe she has the facial symmetry to pull it off but you know what?  I don’t want to be in the role of Ann Rice who was sure no one could play Le Stat but Rutger Hauer, and then Tom Cruise belted it out of the park.  The art of acting is a different skill so may it falls beyond my scope.
Now there is another character who did come to me quite literally with the voice of an actor.  Duna, the Enshari professor, a small otter-like creature has always spoken with the voice of Edmund Gwenn as Dr. Harold Medford from the movie, “Them” from the 1950’s.
Telisan, the charming, loyal, Denlenn Ace pilot, should be tan, fit and handsome enough to end up on the walls of teenage girls.  That role should be easily enough filled.

**There is a tour wide giveaway!! Prizes include ten (10) eBook copies of Was Once A Hero by Edward McKeown. Giveaway is International.

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1 comment:

  1. You have a very lovely blog and thank you so much for having Edward as a guest :)