An Interview with Nicholas Rossis, author of the Pearseus Series

Today, I’m honored to present to you a person very close to my heart. It’s my dear friend and valuable beta reader, Nicholas Rossis. What you may not know, is that Nicholas and I are related in a way as well. He’s a Corfiot like me, having family in a village next to mine on the island of Corfu. We share the same set of cousins there, plus his great-grandfather has baptized my granddad! In a country so serious about religion, this almost makes us cousins if not siblings in a way. The craziest thing is though, that instead of meeting him in Corfu all these years, I met him on Twitter just months ago! So without further ado, here’s the man in question and the eagerly awaited sequel to his bestselling Pearseus series!

coverMadWater500

Yesterday’s crime. Tomorrow’s retribution.

Blurb

In the third book of the best-selling Pearseus series, the incessant scheming of the various players and their nebulous puppet-masters has brought about major change. Cyrus is now the new ruler of the Capital, struggling to fight Jonia’s revolt along with his own demons. Gella strives to keep abreast of Teo’s devious plans in order to end the war with Jonia. David returns to the First in an effort to overcome his loss of the Voice. Lehmor’s struggle to reunite with Moirah brings him to uncharted territories, where the enigmatic Iota play with minds, senses and the future of the entire planet.

Old foes and unlikely new friends appear as invisible forces continue to pry humanity apart. Masks drop to reveal the ultimate truth: on Pearseus, everyone has their own agenda. And they’ll stop at nothing to achieve it.

What people say about Pearseus:

“He simply tells a story of corruption, people struggling as pioneers seeking to do with what they have… The measure of this book is that the triumph is not a textbook description, but a sense of a living struggle.”
“A cross between Game of Thrones and Dune”
“Astonishing, intriguing, thoughtful”
“It will be hard to put this book down long enough to eat and sleep, never mind doing responsible things like going to work and taking care of the kids”
“[It] hits on those big archetypal themes of invasion, loss, leadership, death… and high tech. It gives the reader plenty of material for discussion.”
“Warning: May cause loss of sleep, lowered work productivity, and missed meals”

nicholas and meli

Hello cuz, and welcome to my blog!

Hi Frostie, it’s a pleasure to be here today!

What has inspired you to write this book?

Pearseus is a sci-fi novel that describes a dystopian society formed on a remote planet by the survivors of a destroyed starship. It picks up 300 years after the accident, when humans have split up in three competing factions, all embroiled in endless intrigue and constant warfare. The planet also has a native population, as well as ethereal entities, all caught up in their own wars, and it all ties nicely together to form “an excellent read from a new writer, that leaves you expecting more,” as a review I’ve memorized put it.

The concept itself came to me after reading Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, followed by Jim Lacey’s The First Clash and Herodotus’ Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC. Marathon is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it?

I have a long history of rushing in where angels fear to tread, so I did!

What other writing have you done? Anything else published?

It all started with keeping a dream journal. Some of the stories I recorded were too good not to share. I wrote Simulation Over, my very first story to be published, after a particularly vivid dream. It went on to be published by 9; a Greek sci-fi and comics magazine. When I was paid some $200 for it, I was astounded. So I could do something I loved and get paid? What is this madness?

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I just published Mad Water, the third book in the Pearseus series, and I’m also penning more short stories, to be published in a second anthology, following The Power of Six: 6+1 science fiction short stories. Finally, I’m having Runaway Smile, my first children’s book, illustrated.

How exciting! Having read Runaway Smile, I know it’s going to be a treat for children of all ages! And I can’t wait to get my hands on more short sci-fi delights from you after having read The Power of Six! Please hurry that, will you? *chuckles* Which are your favorite authors and what do you love about them, Nicholas?

Mostly Philip K. Dick, whom I consider a modern-day prophet, visions and all. Richard Bach, for his brilliant Jonathan Livingston Seagull. William Gibson, for his amazing Neuromancer. Neil Gaiman for breaking down the walls between the various genres and media. Frank Herbert, especially his amazing third book, God Emperor of Dune. Also, I’m partial to Jorge Luis Borges and the magical realism school; they have influenced my work greatly. Finally, Lao Tzu, whose Tao Te Ching I have spent a year translating into Greek. He has influenced not just my writing, but also my way of thinking.

Oh, I also love Philip Dick – what a genius! Do you have any advice for other indie authors?

The thing that’s shocked me most in my life, is the realisation of just how free we really are. If you think about it, there’s very few limitations on us, but the ones we place on ourselves. Of course, one has to pay the consequences of their actions, but to me that’s only fair.

What stops us from doing all sorts of crazy things, is usually fear. Now, fear can be a great thing and a useful tool. However, it can also strangle us, stifle our creativity, steal away our life. If someone decides, even for a second, to ignore the fear of failure, ridicule and loss, they may realize that life is far richer and filled with more beauty and potential than they could possibly imagine.

So, hang on in there, and don’t be afraid of risks! It’s not an easy journey, but it’s the most fun I’ve had so far in my life.

Very profound Nicholas and I couldn’t agree more. Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

I’m very proud of my blog, http://nicholasrossis.me and as a result have spent too much time writing posts, instead of writing my stories! I console myself that writing is writing, though…

I focus on all things of interest to me, namely writing, book marketing and social media tips and my thoughts on the current and future state of publishing. There’s pretty little information on my books, as I believe that my visitors come to read about things relevant to them and their own work. In my mind, it’s a great way to network and I have made some great friends through it.

Rise of the Prince starts with the scene of Styx murdering General Parad’s son and feeding him to his father during a banquet. How easy was it to write that?

I hope I’m not revealing too much if I tell you that the General’s son escapes, and a pig gets slaughtered instead, tricking Styx into believing she is performing this unfathomable act.

In fact, I struggled a lot with that scene. I don’t describe it at all, only Parad’s feelings when he thinks he’s been served his son. Even so, I didn’t want to make it a bigger deal than it already is. You see, the overall story arc is copied from Herodotus, who describes the coming to power of Cyrus, king of the Persians. Styx’s terrible crime is taken straight from that book, and I realize that a lot of people had trouble with that part (myself included), but hey, I blame a long-dead Greek dude.

Having said that, Greek mythology is peppered with similar acts, like Cronus eating his own children, so I grew up listening to such harrowing tales. In my mind, they are not that worse than the Grim brothers’ fairy tales – say, when two children about to be baked by an evil witch kick her into a burning-hot oven.

However, in the latest version of the book, I ended up moving Cyrus’ escape to the very beginning, as a lot of readers did not read long enough to realize the ruse, having freaked out by Styx’s actions!

As to what something like that brings to the story, I think it’s easy enough to answer: emotion. People can’t help but react emotionally to a terrible crime like this.

Of course, it also presents a challenge: Styx could not be more of a villain, if she was a chain smoker. Then, the challenge becomes to let people understand her reasons for her actions, in accordance to what I was saying before, about the need for anti-heroes to have redeeming qualities. In fact, the highest praise a reviewer has given me was to say that she almost felt sorry for Styx.

Your main character is Cyrus. What was the inspiration behind him?

In a nod to Herodotus and his Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, I named the second book Rise of the Prince. So yes, in that sense Cyrus is the protagonist. However, he is but one of many, and I find it more interesting to examine the thoughts of each of them, as they perceive things differently to each other.

Cyrus suffers a devastating psychological trauma as a young boy, being dragged from his bed to be thrown into prison in order to be killed because it has been prophesized that he will kill their ruler, Styx. This makes him insecure; a trait he tries to hide, longing at the same time to feel security and to make sure everyone he loves is safe. A trait the Whispers are quick to take advantage of, to push him over the edge when he loses someone dear to him.

As mentioned before, the inspiration behind his story comes from Herodotus, who tells the story of Cyrus, grandson of Astyax, king of the Medes. The king orders him killed as a baby after dreaming that Cyrus will someday destroy him. In what could be a precursor of Snow White, the general who is burdened with carrying out the execution takes instead the boy to a couple of shepherds, who raise him as their own.

Ten years later, the king learns of the deception and pretends to have changed his mind, allowing his grandson to return. He then kills the general’s own son and feeds parts of his body to his father as punishment for his disobedience. When the general hears what the banquet entailed, he hides his rage and simply comments that the meal was as exquisite as everything the king had ever offered him.

As soon as Cyrus grows up, the general approaches him and convinces him to rebel against his grandfather. He then asks the king for the honour of leading the troops against Cyrus. The king, blinded by the gods, accepts and the two armies join forces instead of fighting. Astyax is captured and led to Cyrus in chains, to disappear from history in 535 BC.

This is a truly amazing story! What do you think makes for great fantasy fiction?

Primarily, fantasy authors continue the great romantic tradition of describing the struggle between good and evil. Tolkien is the greatest example of this. People think his fiction is great because of the richness of his world. To me, that is part of it, but his books are great mostly because of the war between Eru Iluvatar, Melkor and their servants. It is no coincidence that Tolkien had been through the second world war, pitting the evil of Nazis against the fight of men.

However, modern fantasy has taken this tradition one step further, and few can pull off such a maniheistic view of the world – good vs. evil. Modern readers tend to be more sophisticated, and I for one frown at a one-sided character, whether good or evil.

So, to me, great fantasy fiction requires well-developed characters. This means that heroes need their flaws, just like anti-heroes must have their redeeming features.

Thank you Nicholas for being here with us today and best of luck with Mad Water! May your readers drink it all in one go, as I’m sure they will!

Lol – thank you for this opportunity, Frostie!

 

Nicholas C. Rossis bio

book photo NR 500

Author. Avid reader. Web developer. Architect by training, holder of a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh.

Nicholas loves to write. Mad Water, the third book in his epic fantasy series, Pearseus, was just published, while his first children’s book, Runaway Smile, is currently being illustrated. He has also published The Power of Six, a collection of short sci-fi stories.

He lives in Athens, Greece, in the middle of a forest, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always sitting on his lap, so please excuse any typos in his blog posts: typing with one hand can be hard…

Book links

Web presence

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8 responses to “An Interview with Nicholas Rossis, author of the Pearseus Series

    • Thank you for dropping by Jenny! Yes, that was one wise observation! I think there isn’t be a single indie out there who won’t agree with this statement simply because it takes guts to do what we do. I am not blowing our trumpets here, it’s a fact. The fear of rejection or ridicule is a demon we all must fight to do this and we’re are all already winners in this battle.

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    • It was just as delightful for me Nicholas – it’s not every day that I have ‘family members’ on my blog 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself and your writing to my readers 🙂

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  1. What a lovely interview! I’m in complete agreement, Philip K. Dick was indeed a prophet and one’s of the genre’s truly great thinkers. Nicholas, I truly enjoyed The Power of Six and look forward to reading more of your work in the future. Congrats and best wishes for your continued success! xoxo 🙂

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