Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dominic Hodgson ~ an interview and his novel ~ The Archk of Angels

Dominic Hodgson

TITLE: Archk of the Angels: The Ragnarök Chronicles 2
AUTHOR: Dominic Hodgson
CATEGORIES: Science Fiction/Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1974034307
IMPRINT: Devil’s Tower

 As a student of English with Creative Writing and as a self-proclaimed geek, it has long been my ambition to write novels, especially in the science-fiction genre. A lot of my time is spent, whether I want it to be or not, impulsively devising stories of various kinds, some of which invariably pique my interest. Over time these tales seemed to begin to fall into place with one another, forming an interlinking multiverse of adventures. Thus The Ragnarök Chronicles was born. A collection of short series building up to the eponymous Ragnarök, these are the stories that I attribute most of my spare time to realising. Moving into the future, whatever life has in store for me, I aim to continue writing as much as I can, be it as part of this series or something original, be it on the page or maybe even someday on the screen. I only wish to give others the chance to share in my imaginings if they so wish. After all, what’s life without its stories?


Q: What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have an all time favorite song?
A: I honestly don’t listen to music too much, and most of what I do hear comes from YouTube or TV. From that, my favourite group/artist would probably be Steam Powered Giraffe, but I’ve also been known to get fixated on the sondtracks to musical episodes of TV shows. All in all this means that while I may not have an all time favourite song, I do cycle between obsessions over ‘proper songs’ and lately the ‘random songs made from autotuned remixes of YouTuber’s comments in other videos’, such as with Markiplier’s ‘Fly Like A Butterfly’.

Q: Did you like school when you were a child?
A: I’m the sort of person who continually just loves to learn any new information, regardless of its topic, use or whether or not it’s actually something I want to know, so yeah, I did get a lot of enjoyment out of school. My liking it may also have had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really see any of my friends outside of it, so school was also the extent of my social life at the time. So many of my favourite memories came from it, and I suppose it may be a testament to it that I am now working weekends as a tutor.

Q: Dress up or dress down?
A: If it wasn’t for my limited wardrobe…and the odd looks I might get in certain situations…I’d dress up as much as I could. I don’t think it’s so much about how I actually look in smarter clothing, I just find them to be more interesting items in general compared to normal clothes. More than this, however, I’m going to take the opportunity for interpretation to say that I would really prefer to ‘dress up’, i.e.: cosplay, specifically Once Upon A Time’s Rumpelstiltskin, if only I had the resources and necessary knowhow.

Q: Texting, love it or hate it?
A: Obviously texting is an extremely useful asset in modern life, being yet another means of easing communication, even if it’s a little more tedious for me with my nine-year-old Nokia. In general, though, with any such form of electronic communication, I do have some personal reservations about it due to my feeling that being the first to send a message is somewhat intrusive, with the recipient having my message forced upon them (even though I know they have no obligation to look at it). There’s also the issue of not being able to judge the course of the conversation by reading their body language etc., but nevertheless I would be in a much worse situation without it.

Q: When did you start writing and why?
A: For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a writer, with my imagination constantly throwing up new story ideas almost every day. Writing all of the ideas I liked down on pieces of paper around my room, a ten-year-old me one day realised that a lot of these stories could actually exist in the same universe, given some minor tweaking. Thus I formed my Ragnarök Chronicles series, with each individual book series capable of being read independently, while if read together forming a wider interlinked multiverse of events. It was soon clear, however, that despite how much I was condensing series into fewer books, it would take decades to write this all, so it was at the age of thirteen that I began writing the first in order to give myself time to attempt them all (although it still took me a few years to actually finish that first one). 

The following is an extract from the novel  Gift Of The Mancynn (Book 1).

Hubert couldn’t take his eyes off of that seat. There wasn’t a clock, but he knew it was almost time. It would come very soon. He just had to keep waiting. There was no point in trying to run. It never worked. Not for anyone. Not when you were dealing with these people. They would always find you in the end and they punished those who inconvenienced them.

In the background, the fire crackled, the firelight shining off the shadowy walls of his living room. He hadn’t moved a muscle. You would have thought that by now he’d have run out of sweat, yet still his pores dripped, in his state of mortal terror.

It wasn’t a sudden change. It started as part of the woodwork of the chair, an arrangement of the visible knots and lines. In the following minute or so the lines became more prominent, a clearer outline, until finally there was a blatant image of someone sitting in the seat, made up of the natural patterns in the wood. Following its transfiguration, the outline looked Hubert up and down, inspecting the timid man. Its fingers drummed on the arms of the seat. Eventually it spoke, which was in some ways a relief to Hubert. He had never been good at handling tension or suspense. Yet the lines that were its mouth did not move. It was in fact the crackling of the gentle fire behind the chair that seemed to form the words.

“These chairs were provided for the select only. They won’t want others sitting in them.”

“Yes, I noticed that with Gideon,” Hubert managed to say.

Its voice filled the room. He should be used to it by now; it had been happening for long enough. But nobody could keep calm in the presence of this associate. Slowly, the figure rose from its chair with a symphony of cracks and creaks, the body tearing itself from the chair. Its face remained immobile and emotionless, swivelling upon its timber neck. The lifeless carvings of eyes took in his shabby abode.

“We will need to obtain you better accommodation for your efforts. You have done well over the course of your work with us,” the fire crackled in the grate.

Hubert bowed his head, “You are most kind.”

“Your approval is unnecessary and, as always, unwanted.”

“If I may be so bold,” Hubert’s voice trembled as he looked up at his superior, “the boy has his task, as you wished, so is not my part complete, can I not go back to my normal life?”

The fire flared, the sound of burning reverberated loudly, like cackling laughter.

The figure cocked its head and began to circle Hubert’s own seat, “You think that was your only duty to our cause?”

It stood behind the quivering man and ran its wooden fingers through his thinning hair.

“No, we have plenty more planned for your piteous group. But think yourself lucky. I’m not known for my benevolence. But then again, I’m not really known, am I?”

The feel of its fingers lingered on his scalp for a short time after it had disappeared, merging with the patchy wallpaper, where its pattern dispersed. It was a long time before Hubert Sneak got himself up from his chair and moved around once more. He wouldn’t contact Gideon, or anyone else for that matter. This was his other life, outside of the pristine workplace and ordered systems. This was his secret life; the private one, which no one else could share; the one that kept him within the grip of fear.

Gideon had proved that no one else could understand. Hubert may be a coward but he could not countenance putting anyone else at risk. He was alone, all alone.

The front door wouldn’t move over the coming weeks. He had enough supplies to sustain him through this self-induced confinement. They may say he had done well, had won, been victorious in his mission, but it didn’t feel like it. This was wrong, it all was. Real, well deserved, was different. He had the courage to lock himself up in this decaying prison, but not enough to confess his crimes to any judge and jury.

Q: Are you a sit down and play it by ear kind of writer, or do you need a structured guideline, or maybe a little of both?
A: I’ll always go in with a skeleton structure to the book, maybe a chapter-by-chapter guide or just a sense of the plot’s gist, with consideration of how these books in particular have to fit into the larger Ragnarök Chronicles tales. From there, I may bullet point the individual sections of each chapter as I go through them, but these are by no means fixed and as I write they may easily get switched around, added to or taken away. I’m going in a general direction, but I won’t force the story to avoid natural tangents so long as I can indeed get back to the eventual goal.

Q: When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?
A: I try to write lineally to begin with, but I know that I will eventually descend into jumping around between chapters depending on where in the story my mind feels like focusing. I mentioned before that I have a sort of point breakdown for each chapter, and this allows me to more easily keep my story fragments in line with each other regardless of what other parts I’ve written already. For instance, with the book I’m writing now, I’m currently writing the climax, with most of the middle of the story complete, yet I’ve still to wrap up chapter two.
Q: How long does it take you to create a novel?
A: At this point I try to set myself a target of a chapter a week, but of course it varies from book to book and more importantly because of external factors. I’m at university now, so that also has to take priority, but if you were to take the time actually spent writing, it would probably be around six months to do the first draft, followed by a few more months of sending it off to proofreaders and editing it with their advice.

Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: Well, I’m always working on something, usually a novel, in this case it’s finishing the first draft of my fourth book. Other than that, I do also like to dabble with scripts, both wholly original and what some might call ‘fan scripts’ for existing franchises in the uncertain event that I might someday get to work on those projects. 154 planned Doctor Who scripts, a few already written, just saying in case anyone at the BBC’s listening.

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.
A: My third book, ‘Celestial Coup’, which is again part of my ‘Ragnarök Chronicles: 2016’ series, is coming to the end of its editing process, and I would love for it to come out next year, but a recent change in circumstance has made the timing of this a little uncertain. Similiarly I believe my aforementioned fourth book should also be ready by next autumn, so I’d hope that that too could be released around that time. But without any sort of dates for them as of yet, readers will just have to keep an eye out.

Q: How can we find you? Do you have a web page, FaceBook page or any buy links?
A:  Probably the best way to contact me would be via my Twitter - @DEJHodgson, but you can also reach me through my email I do have a sort-of-monthly blog where I talk about any number of random topics,, and while I realise it isn’t of too much use now, I might be planning on starting a YouTube channel based around my creative works, so again look out for that on my Tiwtter etc. As for buy links, my books are available in a few places, but the first port of call would probably be Amazon:

 The Archk of Angels

KEYWORDS: young adult; sci-fi; fantasy; horsemen of the apocalypse; supernatural; time travel; space ships

Before there was time, there was the hunt.

Few who live in the Alpha Realm truly appreciate the nature of time. Few realise that it’s a current of energy flowing through the multiverse, originating from an ancient artefact: the Archk of Angels. Those that do know may now be threatening it all.

Philip Quint’s life was turned upside down when he learned the truth of what he was. As a Mancynn, a person who can manipulate reality thanks to artificially-enhanced genetics, his supposed destiny was to work as emissary for the Brethren Lords as they used the Earth in their plot against the godly Entities. However, after fellow Mancynn Noah Mason freed him from their influences, Philip and his companions took to uncovering Lord Gryal Repa’s insidious operations.

With events having gone downhill in Egypt, Philip must now find his mysteriously-disappeared friends, avoid the authorities across America and take part in an Entity mission traversing time to find the coveted Archk before the now rivalling Brethren Lords do. But other threats lurk in the shadows, and throughout their journey one detail remains uncertain: into whose hands should the Archk really be allowed to fall?

The Archk Of Angels (Book 2)
There were only four seats at the controls, which Ylem, Philip, Noah and Tony jumped to, so Cary, Eve and Jimmy were forced to sit further away in the neat bundle of passenger seats. While Ylem settled down snugly into its chair, the other found their silvery jumpsuits caused them to slip about in what were for them rather oversized seats, but it was soon discovered that a firm grip on the armrests prevented this.

“So,” Tony leant over to Philip once more, a watchful eye kept on Ylem as it started up the engines, “do you trust them? I mean really trust them?”

“They’re a darn sight better than the Brethren Lords,” Philip defended, “even if they are a bit deluded.”

As he said this the craft began to shake, lifting off from the container floor. In response the front of the container whooshed upwards, exposing them to the harsh cold of space and a wondrous view of Earth hanging motionless below. None of the Earthlings had picked up on the fact that the container had not depressurised, so when the bay door was removed everything inside was suddenly sucked out into the vacuum without warning, including the scout craft.

They were tumbling. High above the Legacy was falling away, down below the blue planet was racing up to surely meet them with an imminent, hearty smack to the cockpit. The Legacy was beaming a ray of light from its underside towards a portion of the ocean, a beam they seemed to be following despite the first appearances of their descent being uncontrolled. From the start the ship was heating up in the atmosphere, green metal glowing into red, and the turbulence was worse than anyone had ever experienced on an airplane. Oh yes, there were also no seatbelts.

“Do you trust them now?” Tony tried to scream over the cried and panicky hyperventilation coming from behind them.

“Less and less by the minute!” Philip tried to say, but the effort of maintaining an understanding of what was up and what was down was draining his of most of his energy.

The beeps coming from the controls Ylem was working at under the gaze of Noah (who had somehow managed to wedge himself in place between the control bar and the back of his seat with his leg) were easily drowned out by the events of the passenger area. The girls and Jimmy were being buffeted in every thinkable direction, hair and limbs flailing aimlessly in the frenzy of slipping and sliding bodies. Cary flew out of her seat all together, slamming against the floor and immediately skidding down it. Eve threw out her arm to catch her, but she too was wrenched from her chair. This left Jimmy, who in a fit of fear lashed out his own arm and by chance caught a hold of Eve’s ankle. With his other hand clenched around the base of his chair, Jimmy anchored the ladder of people, stopping them from plummeting down to the front of the cockpit. This didn’t, however, prevent the craft from turning upside down, sending Cary head first onto the ceiling with Eve ever close behind, testing Jimmy’s strength to its limits. As Cary’s head made contact with the roof, tears flew away from her face, reddening from all the blood rushing to it, and hung there temporarily as if weightless.

It would be another six or so minutes before the craft neared the surface of the sea, so these painful acts were inflicted on those inside over and over again with time to spare. They didn’t even get the reprieve of boredom due to repetition. The giant metal bullet just continued to fall through the dark night air, the distant lights of a continent flashing into view every so often on the horizon. To those who would be moving in the Alpha Realm time stream after they had gone, holes would miraculously appear in the multiple cloud layers, almost in alignment as though an invisible object had burst through them faster than the eye could see.

“I’ll bet astronauts on re-entry have it better than this,” Tony found the strength to call out.

Philip opened his eyes in time to see the white fluff of a cloud smear against the portholes, “I just hope there isn’t a plane below us.”

Next to them Ylem stood up straight, its three claw-like toes digging into the floor to keep it there.

“Why don’t you steady us with the engines?” Noah shouted at it, his hair whipping him around the face for the umpteenth time.

“Once on the other side we will have no contact with my people. What energy we have must be conserved lest we run out. At the moment we can use gravity so there is no need to waste fuel,” Ylem explained as it pulled its way towards the back of the craft.

The Entity passed the square of passenger seats with ease, taking no notice of how at least one of the humans was just managing to hold down their last meal. Behind the square was a panel on the floor, which once ripped off by Ylem flew down the length of the cockpit to the Mancynns and Tony, adding an extra element of shock for them. By craning his neck, Jimmy could just see between the chairs Ylem bending down by the newly exposed hole, attaching something to its forearm as it did so. The young boy tried to pull himself around the chair base to get a better look, awkwardly dragging the girls along whatever surface they were hitting a short distance away. Now he could make out the object on Ylem’s arm: a firearm with the shape of a crossbow’s body and four circulating prongs at the front. Ylem reached into the hole, securing its weapon on something within. There was a flash of light from inside the hole and everyone felt a wave of static pass beneath them towards the prow.

The three at the controls all watched as a laser erupted from the canon beneath their feet and streaked down to the frozen waves ahead. The orientation of the craft remained the same long enough to them to see a circle of water drop away from the ocean as though someone had pulled a plug. The ring of water around the hole did not fall in as there were no forces at play with them in this moment, so instead the well of nothingness remained unchanged as it grew on approach. The boys tensed as they turned over once more, looking up at the cloudy sky. The intensity of their dizziness fixed at a constant in their heads, they felt the craft complete its three hundred and sixty degree spiral just in time to see the well yawning in front of them. He didn’t have much time to look, but Philip could have sworn he’d seen islands surrounding the hole, islands he hadn’t spied earlier on their descent.

Once inside the well there was no longer any spiralling, though it felt as if the movement hadn’t stopped. The thing was, there didn’t appear to be any fixed source of gravity, yet they were not weightless either. Their sense of sight was made null and void, for there was no light here. Nevertheless, they could sense other things, some with senses they’d never experienced before and could never describe again. They succumbed to this barrage of sensations for what seemed like an eternity.

However all things come to an end, and after some indefinite amount of time the scout craft was emerging from the well, no longer spinning but travelling in a straight line towards a group of islands up ahead.

Noah relaxed, Philip and Tony righted themselves in their seats and the conscious ones of the other three picked themselves up.

As Ylem withdrew its arm from the hole, inspecting the fastenings between the weapon and itself, Tony yelled over, “Have you never heard of seatbelts?”

“You were told that this vessel is not ours.”

“You still could have installed some,” Tony retorted, rubbing his various bruises.

Philip hopped to his feet and strolled gingerly on legs his nervous system told him were rubber. The craft had already made it to the islands and the landing legs were automatically being lowered. The young Mancynn went directly to the exit, walking past Cary lying on the hard floor to which she was now closely acquainted.

He stood out amongst the broad-leafed trees, the cool sea air coming into contact with his face. The sound of large feet crunching the undergrowth reached his ears and Philip looked over his shoulder to see Ylem had followed him.

“Was that...why did you put a wormhole in the Bermuda Triangle?” he demanded to know.

“It was more direct than travelling in the Legacy. Plus why does anyone do anything on Earth? This is the location of the Archk. Why else would somebody come to this backwater planet in the middle of nowhere?”

Philip’s eyes widened with exasperation, “The Archk’s on Earth? Fine, I get that you had to prepare us...okay, so where are we?”

Ylem looked around, “I believe this is what you will come to call Great Abaco. But what I think is more prudent is the time. We are approximately twelve thousand years earlier than when we picked you up.”



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