Journey to the Crossroads of Science and Myth--winner of the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and Cygnus Speculative Fiction Award. The New Leprosy plague and a geomagnetic reversal threaten the world’s precarious balance. An unlikely trio may hold the key to reset the compass of the world: • “Saint Ariadne” Demodakis—a Greek bioelectricity researcher who realizes she’s curing plague victims by laying on hands. • Peter Mitchell—a jaded American veteran of the latest Gulf War, now a smuggler in the Mediterranean. • Leeza Conreid—a paparazza equipped with the latest neurally-connected media implants, who wants revenge and a big story. Peter, blackmailed into bringing Leeza along, hires on with reclusive Ariadne to secretly transport her to sacred sites in the Greek islands. She seeks to confirm a connection between the pandemic, geologic upheavals, and ancient lore that promises healing for humans and the planet. Peter doesn’t realize they’ll be pursued by violent Sons of the Prophet, mercenaries, and a cult of warrior women, out to claim Ariadne’s rumored powers—or kill her.
Our Bublish theme for the week is the "hook" that should grab readers' attention in the opening pages of novels. This is the brief opening of my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, when we get a glimpse of the conniving paparrazza Leeza Conreid who records her experiences via direct connection to her spinal cord. She's after a big story, and clearly there will be trouble ahead.... If you write, what kind of "hooks" have you used? What kind grab you as a reader? I deliberately started this novel with an outrageous, unpleasant character who will evolve over the course of the novel, but would love to hear from you -- did this glimpse catch your interest? Thanks for reading!
Our Bublish suggested theme this week is hope, and the blossoms of spring often bring that grateful feeling. In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne Demodiakis is a scientist trying to come to terms with her inexplicable healing ability. She sets out on a journey through the islands, testing geomagnetism, but is starting to realize that her instrument readings can't explain what's happening. When she finds a green ravine in the midst of a drought, she also finds wild crimson poppies, a sign of the upcoming Easter season. A sign of hope and rebirth.... On my first long, backpacking trip around the Greek islands many years ago, I came upon such oases of green near springs on even rocky, seemingly barren slopes. It was approaching Easter, and I was enchanted by the beautiful wild poppies bowing in the breezes, crimson cups brimming with sunlight and hope. As the Greeks say, "Chairete!" Rejoice!
Our suggested Bublish theme for this week is books that have inspired us -- even changed our lives -- and our hopes for what our readers might take away from our own stories. One of many influential books in my life is DUNE by Frank Herbert, which presents a riveting future story that incorporated at-the-time revolutionary ideas about ecology. Since human-caused climate change is the most urgent issue facing all life on the planet today, my hope for readers of my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION is that they will enjoy the adventure and also become involved in the environmental theme. (The novel, of course, is speculative fiction, so I'm pushing beyond established science into conjecture).... In this scene, my young Greek scientist Ariadne is just starting to realize that science cannot explain her ability to heal and to sense currents of pollution in the world. How will she proceed? How will we all, as the global crises mount?
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne and Peter have been pursued by violent factions out to control her mysterious healing abilities. Having lost nearly everything except the clothes on their backs in their quest, they buy a decrepit sailboat with the last of their funds and set off across the Aegean Sea to reach the mainland and sacred Delphi. On the way, they are hit with a violent storm that nearly sinks the boat, but they survive.... In my travels in Greece, I've experienced storms at sea, and appreciate the calm after the wild waves and wind. Peter and Ariadne deserve a break, and finally let down their protective walls to find loving comfort together. Happy Valentine's Day, and thanks for reading!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, "Saint" Ariadne is pursued by violent factions out to control the secret of her mysterious ability to heal plague victims. Exhausted and ill, she collapses. Her reluctant ally Peter, a former smuggler, brings her to the Cretan mountain village of her uncle Demetrios. She will learn that she, too, can accept loving help.... This week's Bublish theme during Valentine's month is ReaderLove, asking us to recall a time when a reader's input gave us a boost. It's often a solitary pursuit, being a writer, and kind words from readers mean a lot. A comment from a close friend really floored me, when she told me that she reread some of my novels every year because she loved them so much. I had no idea! What a precious gift and warmth to keep writing!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, gonzo NeuroLink media celebrity Leeza Conreid is pursuing her big story about healer "Saint Ariadne." Hiring smuggler Peter Mitchell to take her to Ariadne's island, she tricks him into linking into her gear for direct connection to sensory input that she edits for her "news hits." But even jaded Leeza is captivated by the real-world magic of the Aegean Sea as playful dolphins appear around the boat.... Our Bublish theme for this week is how to stand out among a "sea of content," so I chose this passage as celebrating the literal emergence of these beautiful denizens of the deep, come to visit us. While traveling in Greece, I loved seeing the enchanting dolphins come to play alongside boats underway. They always seem joyful, beckoning us to be alive in the moment.
In my near-future Greek island thriller, Ariadne Demodakis has been trained as a scientist, yet is dubbed "Saint Ariadne" when she develops a Plague cure that can't be scientifically explained. On the run from various factions who want to exploit her abilities--or kill her--she continues to hope for a rational explanation. In this scene, she is forced to admit she is somehow channeling ancient earth powers.... As I've mentioned before, it's fun to create a splashy "bad" character, but harder to bring a "good" character to life who isn't flat or boring. Ariadne has plenty of issues to keep her grounded, like her rebellion against her tyrannical father, her distrust of all men, her grief for her mother who died young, unwelcome advances from an old flame, and wariness of the Church. In this scene, she's just too tired to fight her gift any longer.
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell signs on to help "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis escape the control of her tyrannical father. They are also fleeing various factions trying to capture her to control her seemingly miraculous healing abilities. In this scene, they're crossing the Aegean in a small sailboat, having just witnessed the village stoning of captured terrorists. Both Peter and Ariadne are grappling with challenges to their former belief systems and who they are now becoming.... The Bublish theme for the week is "fresh starts," for our characters and for ourselves as authors. In the writing and revision process, fresh starts are often in order, even though they can feel painful. My first real jolt of change was with my first science fiction novel, when my mentor strongly advised me to turn one of my favorite characters into a robot! I rebelled, then found a compromise for the character as a cyborg, which fit the themes of the novel very well and provided additional inspiration for an examination of technology and human values. Viva fresh starts!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink celebrity. She's pursuing a big story about supposed faith healer Ariadne Demodakis. Meanwhile, she freelances creating quickie "news hits" that let audiences viscerally experience events recorded via direct neural connection. All they have to do is "link in." .... When I first created Leeza and her NeuroLink technology, I imagined such developments would be farther in the future than it appears today. As I've been told before, my fiction seems somehow too close to predictive for comfort. Our Bublish prompt for this week asked us to look back on the year about to end, and to me this passage echoes the apocalyptic tone of much of our real-world news this year. I find myself getting jaded from so many disasters piling upon each other; my character Leeza comes to regard such disasters as mere entertainment to be exploited. But I look forward to 2019 for some positive changes in our real world! Best wishes to all of us for the New Year!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, my heroine Ariadne Demodakis takes an expected break to enjoy a village celebration on her home island. She is part of the islanders, yet apart as the daughter of the wealthy "Tyrannos" and as a rumored healing "saint." She's seeking a way to escape both cages.... During my travels through the Greek islands, I've fallen in love with the spare beauty of the landscapes and sea, and have enjoyed spending time in villages like the one I created for this story. Greeks love parties, music, and dancing, so please join in!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is a former soldier turned smuggler, who finds himself on an "insane" quest. He's hired to help "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis escape her tyrant father and various violent factions trying to control her ability to heal a New Plague. Peter has a lot of issues from his past as the prodigal son of an evangelical preacher to his PTSD from Gulf War III. He's very wary of charismatic religious types like his father, and at first rejects Ariadne's inexplicable healing abilities. In this scene, he's faced with both religion and her healing abilities.... The character of Peter draws on war veterans I have known, as well as adventurers and treasure hunters. Peter, in the course of this novel, grew and deepened in ways I hadn't expected when I started writing. His initial physical attraction to Ariadne morphs into uneasiness, then commitment, a big change for him. That's one of the joys of writing these stories!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink NewsEntertainment celebrity. Technology allows her to connect directly through her spinal cord to record and transmit her experiences, as well as "ride" the experiences of others who Link. With the world in crisis due to environmental degradation and a geomagnetic reversal, she ignores the scientists raising alarms. She focuses only on getting her big story about Ariadne Demodakis, the rumored miracle healer of a new plague.... With the official U.S. report on human-caused climate crises just released (and our U.S. President already denying its validity), I felt this scene with Leeza, in full denial mode, was all too apropos. When I wrote the novel, of course, I didn't imagine our government would soon be in the dangerous hands of those who denigrate the vast majority of scientists around the world. May we find a solution before my novel becomes reality! Okay, that's my soapbox speech -- thanks for reading.
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is a jaded former soldier, now smuggler, who finds himself caught up in dangerous currents. Everyone is out to capture "Saint Ariadne" Demodakis and find out if she is really healing New Plague victims with her "magic touch." Captured by her father's soldiers, and surviving an attack on their island, Peter is just trying to find a way out.... Since I'm undergoing surgery this week to repair a hip injury, I picked this passage about healing!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne Demodakis is struggling to accept her role as a healer, while juggling numerous threats. She turns to the solace of making music, which feeds her soul but can offer only temporary reprieve from converging dangers.... When I saw that the Book Bubble theme for the week was music, I realized that almost every main character in my different novels is a musician -- Ariadne a pianist like myself, others playing the flute or harp. When I sit at the keyboard to play one of my favorite classical pieces, like Debussy's "Clair de Lune" that seemed to choose itself for this scene, I enter a different dimension of sensation and emotion. My characters at times seem to need this escape -- or immersion. Sometimes it's a letting go, or a giving of permission for insights to surface. Come to think of it, that's also the process of writing stories!
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, scientist/healer Ariadne Demodakis is slowly admitting her inexplicable link to ancient earth powers. Her connection to ambient geomagnetic fields is amplified by the use of crystals, and in this scene she makes her first scuba dive into a dangerous sea cave to locate a mysterious energy source calling her. When she finds it, she's swept into a dangerous place.... When I wrote this scene, I recalled my own early days of scuba diving and also my work as a scuba instructor and guide, helping others overcome their nervousness and enjoy the mysteries of the deep. Submerged cave penetration would certainly be a dangerous first dive, but my heroine is plucky!
I just returned from a research trip through the Greek islands, as I work on the sequel to THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. Cyclone Zorba, an unusual storm for this area, was wreaking havoc along the coast near Athens, where we were experiencing crazily fierce winds that had shut down some public venues. We escaped before the storm to the Dodecanese islands, south of the cyclone's path through the Cyclades, but experienced the stormy sea surges very different from the calm seas of our trip the year before. So I chose this scene of Peter struggling to pilot his boat through a dangerous storm in "homage" to Zorba! I owe many of the scene's details to commercial fishermen of my acquaintance, who have weathered rough seas in Alaska, and my own past work on boats as a deck hand and then scuba instructor. Enjoy the vicarous thrills!
In this early snippet from my near-future Greek islands thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell has taken on an unusual assignment: ferrying a media celebrity to a forbidden island. Things go wrong quickly, as they're captured by a patrol boat for the new Med League.... Have you visited the Greek islands? Set in the stunningly beautiful purple-blue sea, these rocky outcrops seem like an improbable mirage. My earlier visit to the islands inspired this novel, and now I can't resist the lure to return-- once more this fall, as I gather material for the sequel in progress. Stay tuned!
When I first conceived of my young Greek healer Ariadne, I knew that she had had a mystical experience as a child. But growing up with a tyrannical father led her to seal off such vulnerable feelings, as well as faith. She studies science and believes she has found a cure for a New Leprosy plague. What she is beginning to accept in the early scenes of the novel is that she is somehow tapping into ancient powers the she can't explain scientifically. Is she going crazy? Can she trust what is happening to her?.... Making characters face such daunting challenges is the perhaps sadistic job of a novelist! I do pity poor Ariadne in her struggles, but she is strong.
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid, NewsEntertainment celebrity, is on the track of a big story. Bribing her way onto a remote Aegean island to meet rumored spiritual healer "Saint Ariadne," she does some exploring and runs into some horrifying discoveries about her hosts. Then, shaken, she stumbles upon an ancient chapel... In my early backpacking travels in Greece, I spent several weeks camping and exploring the rugged south coast of Crete. The chapel in this scene is based on one that a gracious local man showed me there. Like the one Leeza finds, it was built up in layers of history that triggered my imagination. My journey through magical Greece was life-altering for me, as this one will be for my character Leeza.
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is piloting his smuggling boat in the Aegean, fighting a hangover while hoping to elude pursuit. He's already regretting the night before, when the bottle bit back and he was persuaded to smuggle NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid across a forbidden border.... I've experienced a hangover only once in my lifetime, when young and inexperienced, and that once was enough! So I felt for Peter while writing this scene, and hoped that the beauty of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas would help ease his pain. Like Peter, I can't get enough of those deep purple-blue waters and the gleaming, rocky Greek islands. I'll be returning soon for more research as the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect, nears completion!
In this early excerpt from my near-future thriller, Ariadne Demodakis on her Greek island has been experimenting with cures for the New Leprosy plague. The local villagers call her a saint, but she refuses that designation, looking for a scientific explanation of her inexplicable abilities... It's a great challenge for a writer to create a truly "good" character, who feels a calling to help the world. I gave Ariadne "warts" and issues, especially with her tyrannical father and mistrust of men. She will eventually have to face her own shadows.
My near-future media celebrity Leeza Conreid monitors news and records her own sensations to create "quickie news hits" for sale. With the new technology, she can Link in with her direct neural connection via her spinal cord implant. Virtual Reality starts to outpace "mundane" reality. Wait! How far off is this future??.... When I first conceived this novel, such technology was a big imaginative step away. Now it doesn't seem like such a stretch. How do you feel about Linking In?
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, healer Ariadne Demodakis is in flight from various factions who want to control her power. With the help of smuggler Peter Mitchell, she finds brief refuge in the Cretan village where her uncle Demetrios lives.... When I was backpacking around the Greek islands years ago, I stayed in a similar village on the south coast of Crete, and was invited to attend the Easter service in a small chapel like the one I describe in this scene. A fitting moment for Peter to witness a small miracle....
In my near-future Greek islands thriller, "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis is being pursued by various factions out to control her ability to heal New Plague victims. Exhausted, she takes refuge in the Cretan mountain village where her uncle Demetrios has settled after years as a trader in the Mediterranean.... In my 4-month backpacking trip around the Greek islands many years ago, I fell in love with the rugged island of Crete, which has its own long history and distinct culture. I spent time in villages like the one in my novel, enjoying the slow pace and earthy connection. A Greek friend I made in a remote south coast village showed me where to find the wild asparagus. A philosopher, he rhapsodized like my Demetrios about the virtues of the wild plants.
NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid blackmails her way onto the boat carrying reclusive "Saint Ariadne" on a secret mission. She's torn between glee at recording news items and terror at the dangers. It's all funneling down the leads connected to her spinal implant, storing sensory input to replay later in extreme virtual reality for her "news entertainment" consumers.... When I wrote early drafts of this near-future novel, I didn't realize how close we were coming to a "plugged in" culture. Now Leeza's need for constant media stimulation doesn't make her such an outlier. I'll be watching to see how soon such neural connections become available.
In this scene near the beginning of my near-future thriller, Gulf War III veteran and now-smuggler Peter Mitchell is a forced recruit of the rogue Mediterranean League. Awaiting assignment, he goes spear fishing and grapples a lot of questions.... In my first travels in the Greek islands, I was captivated by the clear blue Mediterranean and Aegean sea, spending as much time as I could snorkeling off the islands. The clarity was amazing, like floating in air, although I was surprised by the scarcity of underwater life. The dynamite fishing I witnessed there explained part of it, as Peter reflects.
In my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my heroine struggles to accept her fate as a healer who can cure a modern plague with her inexplicable connection to ancient mythic forces. After many trials and tribulations, she accepts her destiny on the road to Delphi, where she must face a deadly challenge.... In my recent travels in Greece, I followed the route of the ancient road taken by mythical Oedipus. A very old tale dramatized by Sophocles, the story follows the horrific travails of the man who tried to circumvent the will of the gods and Fate. In the end, he and Ariadne must both bow to forces larger than themselves.
In the second half of my near-future Greek thriller, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid has gotten herself in a little too deep in her quest for a big news story. She finds herself stuck in a flea-bag hotel in Piraeus Harbor, pondering her dwindling options. Addicted to drugs as well as the rush of "Linking In" to sensory media, she's on a downhill trajectory..... Once more mining my own experiences from my first backpacking trip through Greece, I found this description in my journal of what became the seedy Piraeus hotel Leeza is hiding out in.I stayed there before catching a ferry to the islands. Back then I had more energy than money, so everything was an adventure, including the "found art" items on the rickety balcony.
In this excerpt early in the near-future thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell is still trying to determine the truth about Ariadne Demodakis and the rumors that she is a healing "saint." She insists that her experiments with New Leprosy victims are based on science, but the soldiers in her father's island kingdom clearly believe differently.... This taverna setting recalls many such simple local venues I came across in my early travels in Greece. And Josef the rascally goat-herder looks like the herder I met while hiking the south coast road on Crete. The real Josef was a wonderful, friendly fellow, and we made the most of pantomime and my very limited Greek vocabulary as we walked along the dirt road with his goats.
On my first backpacking travels in Greece in the 1980s, my partner and I hiked down the Gorge of Samaria on Crete from the snow-dusted mountains to the Mediterranean Sea. It's a very narrow cleft-- in some places you can stretch out your arms and nearly touch both walls. A stream flows down it, which swelled to a torrent when we got caught in a rainstorm. Escaping the flood, we sheltered overnight in an abandoned chapel.... Years later, when I was writing THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my adventure in the gorge inspired a scene in which Ariadne follows a local midwife up the creek ravine to find the source of earthquake tremors.
When I first traveled in Greece in the 1980s, I was backpacking and finding myself catching meals in lively and/or seedy tavernas. I eagerly drank in not much alcohol, but a lot of local color and an international hodgepodge of travelers and Greeks. On more than one occasion, I joined in dancing on broken dishes -- a custom discouraged by the owners in which drinkers celebrated by throwing dishes onto the floor. So some of those memories went into Taverna Georgios in the first chapter of THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. I also wanted to present some "world building" in the near-future, with the world in multiple environmental and social crises, and some people more or less saying, "Might as well dance as the world burns." Challenges to come will force changes on Peter and Leeza, for better or worse....
With my near-future New Leprosy plague reaching pandemic proportions, desperate people seize on the rumor of "Saint Ariadne." The mystery woman supposedly heals plague victims with her touch. Meanwhile, Ariadne Demodakis, with her scientific training and help from other scientists on her wealthy father's Greek island, is experimenting with healing techniques. At a crucial stage, she realizes she must escape the control of her father -- the Tyrannos/dictator of the Med League. At the worst possible moment, her old college roommate Leeza Conreid arrives on the island. Leeza is now a NeuroLink media celebrity and ruthlessly pursuing a story about Ariadne, and perhaps more .... In this brief excerpt, Ariadne reflects on the old friendship and the new reality. It's a quiet moment revealing Ariadne's vulnerability, before all hell breaks lose.
When I first created my near-future world in turmoil experiencing a geomagnetic reversal that blocks many communication channels, that future was at a comfortable distance. I had fun projecting technology to "link in" via direct neural connections to record sensations to sell to consumers as a hybrid news/entertainment. I put the novel aside for several years while I was adventuring around the world, and then recently completely rewrote it. Alas, much of what I predicted in terms of social alienation, pollution, and even the progression of a geomagnetic reversal is coming to pass or seems soon to be possible.... My narcissistic NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid exploits the technology and weaknesses of human nature for her own gratification. Why do I have such fun writing her scenes?
In my near-future thriller set in Greece, former smuggler Peter Mitchell finds himself on a dangerous path after he hires on with "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis. Able to cure those stricken with New Plague leprosy, she's the object of pursuit by violent factions. But now Peter has been the one captured by the eco-terrorist Corybantes, women warriors who want Ariadne to lead them in their opposition to the military and corporate patriarchy.... After hiking around the rugged, rocky hillsides of Greece, I could easily visualize how Peter would fall and break his leg. And it was fun to create his fierce captors, the Corybantes. They are my hybrid of ancient Greek warriors, legendary Amazons, and the Bacchantes who held ecstatic rituals in the caverns near Mt. Parnassos. After dancing themselves into a frenzy, the celebrants would chase over the mountainsides in search of prey to tear apart and devour.... If you'd like to read more about the ancient Bacchantes, check out my blog post of 4/22/18 at www.sarastamey.com
As my agent has told me, I seem to write ahead of my time. When I originally conceived of the near-future world and technology of THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, direct neural connection and recording of sensations seemed far off. Today, with virtual reality at full speed ahead, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid may be with us soon. In this early scene in the novel, she has tricked boat captain Peter Mitchell into Linking into a visceral jet ride, and enjoys mocking his queasy reaction. Readers seem to enjoy Leeza's narcissistic antics, and I have to admit that she is fun to write. I'm now embarked on the sequel in which she's busy throwing her unique monkey wrenches into the best laid plans of "good" characters. Leeza isn't evil, but she rarely considers consequences in her quest for the next thrill and her next newsstim story. Like many of my characters, she's an amalgam of people I have known or observed. I always ask why these flashy types seem to get away with sometimes-literal murder. Maybe because we do find them entertaining? With Leeza, I also look for her vulnerable moments, when she drops her acting and simply embraces a true moment of beauty.
In this scene from my near-future thriller, "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis has been working with scientists to develop a cure for a new pandemic, while resisting the recognition that her cures may not be explicable by science. Meanwhile, her dictator father holds her a prisoner on her Greek home island. Converging forces are reaching the breaking point, as she seeks refuge in her childhood secret labyrinth of caves.... My early travels in Greece took me into some of the many caverns in this porous geography, and those visits, along with the myth of the original Ariadne and her labyrinth, inform this passage.
In my near-future thriller, Peter Mitchell is a veteran of Gulf War III and a smuggler of refugees and banned media across shifting Mediterranean borders. He's persuaded to ferry NeuroLink News celebrity Leeza Conreid through dangerous waters in search of a big story about "Saint" Ariadne, supposed healer of New Plague Victims. All does not go well.... Many of the characters in my different novels borrow bits of people I have known or observed. Peter and his personal issues, as well as his earthy solidity, partly arose from Vietnam-War veterans I have known. There are shadows stirring beneath the sunny surface for many former warriors.
In this snippet from my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is still following her big news story about "Saint Ariadne." Pursued by violent factions, Ariadne, Peter, and Leeza are hiding out with a Cretan fisherman. But Leeza, always impatient and addicted to drugs and excitement, breaks free to hitch a ride to the nearest town. The description of the coastal town and taverna scene comes pretty much straight from my own experiences while backpacking along the south coast of Crete many years ago. The Greeks know how to party!
In the near-future Mediterranean, Gulf War III veteran Peter Mitchell has become a smuggler, ferrying refugees and black-market goods across unstable borders. Lured into a hunt for the elusive "Saint Ariadne" Demodakis, he's detained on her home island. The soldiers of Ariadne's dictator father have allowed him to do some spear fishing along the rocky shoreline, where he has an unexpected encounter. I enjoyed writing this scene of Peter snorkeling, after my own travels through the Greek islands and experiencing the wonderful, bracing clear sea. Thoughts of history and mythology just spring naturally from the sea and the rocks of these ancient islands....
First, I want to thank my readers and fellow writers for their responses to my characters, and helpful feedback. It means so much to writers to know they are making a connection. Most people I talk to agree that creating and breathing life into a truly good character is much more challenging than creating an entertaining bad gal or guy. Ariadne Demodakis is a good person, but far from a "saint." She is dedicated to healing others, as she failed to heal her mother, who died as a child. She has deep wounds from her authoritarian, abusive father. And she has created a bubble around herself as a survival mechanism. As a scientist, she believes that she is healing Plague victims with logical treatments. But soon she will have to face a different truth.
In the near future, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink news-entertainment celebrity. With direct connection to her nervous system via a spinal port, she records her experiences and sensations to sell to consumers. On the track of a big news story, she has located "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis on a remote Greek island. After a terrorist attack, Leeza hikes uphill to record local color, when she stumbles upon the crucified body of a captured terrorist. Running in shock, she comes across an ancient chapel among the desolate cliffs, which is pretty much exactly like one that I saw many years ago while backpacking around the island of Crete. A wonderful local man, Stelios Mamalakis, had befriended my partner and me and took us on a ramble to a deserted spot above the sea where the tiny chapel still held fast through the centuries.
In my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, various factions are pursuing "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis, who is rumored to be healing New Plague victims. Mercenaries for a pharmaceutical cartel want her healing secrets; ecoterrorist women warriors want to recruit her as their new Gaea Incarnate; and the extremist Sons of the Prophet want to execute her for heresy. The reclusive scientist has now been traced to a remote Greek island by NeuroLink paparazza Leeza Conreid, who hired smuggler Peter Mitchell to find her. Then all hell breaks loose.... As I wrote the novel, I enjoyed projecting current-day issues into "what-if" scenarios. What I didn't anticipate is the way the real news is catching up to my imagination.
Writing in the point of view of Ariadne Demodakis was the most challenging of my three main characters in this near-future novel. Most writers would agree that writing flawed or even villainous characters is easier than trying to believably portray a selflessly good person. Ariadne was trained as a scientist and is dedicated to curing victims of the New Leprosy plague, but discovers that she is curing patients in what she finally has to admit is a manner beyond scientific explanation. This flashback scene gives us a glimpse of her childhood on a remote Greek island, where she ran with the wild goats and experienced her first vision of ancient mysteries.
In the near-future Mediterranean, radioactive Hot Zones linger after the tactical nukes of Gulf War III. Media celebrity Leeza Conreid is chasing a big story, but didn't anticipate it would involve exposure to lingering radiation. In this snippet, she replays her recording of her visit to one of the Hot Zones, site of a battle during the war. In my own early job as a nuclear reactor operator, I learned all about exposure measurements, as well as the unearthly beauty of Cherenkov's radiation that emanates from spent fuel rods stored underwater.
The inspiration for my near-future novel came from a 4-month backpacking trip through the Greek islands many years ago. My partner and I ended up in a remote village on the south coast of Crete during the Easter holidays, when the only road along the coast was blocked by a huge pile of sticks and branches, topped by a straw-stuffed dummy of Judas that would be burned at midnight before Easter. Traditions in the islands hold that the "Judas goat" will take on the sins of the year to be purged. Greece is a land subject to many earthquakes, which ties into the main plot of the novel, so my character Peter gets to experience one up close and personal.
This snippet of Leeza Conreid, NeuroLink media celebrity pursuing a hot lead, gave readers a brief glimpse of the stakes in this near-future thriller. My original prologue for the story of a reluctant healer "saint" featured Ariadne as a young girl experiencing her first connection with mythic mysteries, but I came to feel it didn't have enough propulsive energy. And readers seem to enjoy anti-heroine Leeza as she schemes and rides her Links into world crises. I know she's a hoot to write!
For my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, I imagined a world struggling with environmental and social crises centering around a geomagnetic reversal and a New Leprosy Plague (officially Rapid-Proliferating Hansen's disease). A young Greek scientist, Ariadne Demodakis, gets promising results with a new cure for plague victims, but rumors spread that these are miracles, and she's dubbed "Saint Ariadne."
In my near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, a geomagnetic reversal (which, incidentally, is starting now as one of many in the long geologic timeframe) has complicated communications technology. I had fun envisioning a return to transmission of data via computer "chips," coupled with the new ability to "plug in" and experience sensations via direct nerve connections. My lively but obnoxious NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid was a hoot to write, as I could run free with all sorts of creatively narcissistic behavior for her. As another character says of Leeza, "She's trouble with a capital T."
After my 4-month backpacking trip around the Greek islands, following a lifelong fascination with Greek mythology, I started writing stories that eventually became "The Ariadne Connection." Peter Mitchell, an unlikely hero, found inspiration in my partner at that time, a Vietnam War veteran who also struggled to find a purpose. Peter is drawn into Ariadne's quest to cure a pandemic related to misdirected technology, and the NeuroLink reporter Leeza Conreid epitomizes that media addiction. It's all wrapped up in my love affair with the gorgeous, magical Greek landscape!
Award-winning romantic suspense and adventure: "Welcome to Paradise," archaeologist Susan Dunne hears on arrival at the Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and unravel the mystery of her brother's drowning. Was John murdered? This sunny tourist paradise conceals shadowy secrets--violent native unrest, a sunken treasure guarded by legendary Jumbies, and a bloodthirsty cult. Susan literally dives into her investigation of the sunken treasure ship where John drowned, and its link to the photo of underwater petroglyphs he'd sent before his death. To find the truth, she must work with her number one suspect--Vic Manden, the salvage expert who was working the site with John. Resisting her attraction to the unpredictable combat vet Manden, Susan is soon in over her head in more ways than one. The only way through the murky intrigue is to dive deeper into the clues in her disturbing psychic visions. ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist Hollywood Book Festival Genre Award Winner Chanticleer Paranormal Suspense Award Winner "A superior mystery and suspense novel with solid characters, some very spooky goings-on, and lots of wonderful writing.... An intellectual thriller? Absolutely. It's a fast read, a stomping, vivid ride, the work of a woman who is passionate about lots of things." - Dan Hays, Statesman Journal "A highly palatable soup of the novel... She galvanizes considerable interest from the reader." - Locus Magazine "A page turner from beginning to end." - The Bellingham Herald 5-Star Readers' Favorite review: "Islands" by Sara Stamey is a gripping read.
In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, Susan Dunne is an archaeologist from the Pacific Northwest who has arrived on this tropic island to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. In this scene, she's been harassed and threatened and confused by various characters, but finds comfort with friendly natives who challenge her preconceptions.... Like Susan Dunne, when I arrived on St. Thomas many years ago to work as a scuba guide, I encountered culture shock at the same time I eagerly soaked up the exotic setting, the shimmering sea, and the lively culture. This scene describes pretty accurately my own experience of stumbling upon the hole-in-the-wall diner Le Lambi's. I can hardly wait for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean to enjoy such cooking again!
I admit it -- gloomy cold winter is wearing me down, and I'm longing to escape back to the Caribbean islands that inspired my suspense novel ISLANDS. In the novel, Pacific Northwest archaeologist Susan Dunne visits the Caribbean for the first time, and takes a magical scuba dive with an engaging stranger who guides her through the underwater world.... When I lived in the Virgin Islands, working as a scuba guide taking tourists on intro dives, my partner and I would take them to a very similar underwater park, and much of the experience in this scene is taken from my beautiful dives there. I, too, looked up from the depths to see a huge manta ray swimming over me -- what the locals called "devil fish" for its ominous batlike appearance and "horns." In reality, the mantas are gentle plankton eaters and "fly" gracefully through the sea. We fiction-writers like to create dread and tension to drive our stories! And Susan Dunne will be facing plenty of dark days on this sunny island....
In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist Susan Dunne plans to research petroglyphs and also investigate the drowning of her brother on the island. Her best intentions lead her deep into island politics, rumors of a violent cult, and more suspicious deaths. After a friend is killed in a traffic accident, she seeks comfort in the poetry of John Donne, one of her favorite authors. As she's reading one of his passionate love sonnets (to God), her number one suspect shows up at her door, and she's torn between distrust and attraction.... When I wrote the early draft of ISLANDS while teaching scuba in the Caribbean, I had just finished a degree in English literature and writing. One of my favorite literature periods was the Elizabethan period, including Shakespeare, John Donne, and Philip Marlowe, so a lot of the drama of those works echoed in my own story of Susan Dunne and her trials. Even as a girl, I read and wrote adventure stories, and my reading may have launched my own world-travel adventures, which led to more of my stories.... What kind of reading brings you pleasure or comfort?
In my Caribbean suspense novel, Susan Dunne is an archaeologist visiting a tropic island to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. Her investigations lead her ever deeper into frustration and danger, but she finds unexpected allies in a few natives, including young Conrad in this scene.... I didn't expect this scene when I was writing the novel, but gentle young Conrad insisted that I show readers the luminous, spiritual side of the island and its tropical beauty. I had researched local herbal lore, and the jumbie seeds and crab eye seeds will be important later in the plot. Meanwhile, Susan finally lets go of rationality and decides to "go with the flow," finding comfort in simple companionship and a vision of healing Nature.
In my Caribbean psychic suspense novel ISLANDS, archaeologist Susan Dunne finds herself in way over her head as she tries to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning off the island. As the temperature and threats heat up, she turns for consolation to her favorite Elizabethan poet John Donne.... I had been studying Elizabethan dramas, many of which could be called melodramas for their violent events, before heading off to the Caribbean to work as a scuba guide. So my novel, which one reviewer compared to Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," definitely took some dark tones from "Faustus" and other sources. What we read becomes an essential part of us, so choose wisely and read widely!
Celebrating Dia de los Muertos! In this scene from my Caribbean Island suspense novel, my heroine Susan Dunne is trying to solve the mystery of her brother John's drowning on the island. A former diving buddy of John's gives her a keepsake that she will treasure when she creates an impromptu shrine to help remember home and family in this foreign place.... On the first day of November, I follow the tradition of Latin American countries where I've lived, lighting candles and placing gifts of food and drink on my garden shrines to lost loved ones. And to fond memories, like my diving in the Virgin Islands, where I was a scuba guide years ago. One of my treasure dives inspired an early draft of this scene. I still have that antique perfume bottle I found on one of the wrecks in the harbor!
In this scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist heroine is investigating petroglyphs and trying to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning on the island. She finds herself diving with her number one suspect, facing more than one kind of danger.... When I worked as a scuba guide and instructor in the Virgin Islands (loosely the fictionalized setting for ISLANDS) and the Bay Islands of Honduras, I had a few encounters with sharks. Once I had to fend off an aggressive pair when I inadvertently swam into their breeding area. Another time a beautiful, big tiger shark swam close passes around me and then disappeared into the depths. Tiger sharks have occasionally attacked humans, so I chose one for this scene. Enjoy the sea and vicarious thrills!
This scene early in my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS finds my fish-out-of-water archaeologist from the Pacific Northwest taking her first scuba dive in the Caribbean. Susan Dunne has arrived on the island to research petroglyphs, but also to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. And to exorcise her troubling nightmare visions surrounding his death on a sunken treasure ship.... When I worked as a scuba divemaster on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, lo these many years ago, we would take tourists to an underwater park where it was easy to enter the water from a shallow, sandy beach. My job would be to follow behind the group and watch for "poppers," or divers who would panic and try to head suddenly to the surface. I would catch them and make eye contact, stabilize their buoyancy vests, and help them calm down by taking deep, slow breaths. Sometimes I would hold the hand of a newbie. These were shallow dives of only around 30 feet, so it was all pretty safe. And I never tired of the beauty of the shimmering clear sea and the multitude of fish, as described in this scene. Enjoy your swim!
When I moved from the cool, laid-back Pacific Northwest to the hot and crazy Virgin Islands to work as a scuba guide years ago, it was a combination of climate and culture shock. My fictional archaeologist heroine, Susan Dunne, arrives on a similar island for even more dramatic shocks, as she investigates petroglyphs and her brother's drowning there. The first jolt is the change in her old friend Laura, who drives her on a tour of the island. It's a bit more exciting than Susan anticipates....
My heroine Susan Dunne will find out, as she follows clues in her shadowy visions to the sunny Caribbean.... ISLANDS, set in the 1980s on a fictional tropic island, sprang from my experiences teaching scuba in the Virgin Islands back in the days before cell phones and the AIDS epidemic. Coming from the cool, laid-back Pacific Northwest, like Susan Dunne I was plunged into a bewildering stew of racial tension, tourist hordes, bloody colonial history, and hints of Voodoo. All of this on a stunningly gorgeous island of golden beaches and clear blue seas beckoning with their mysteries. How could I not write a mystery/suspense novel with lots of diving for sunken treasure?
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