BERSETO pounded on my door that night. I was half expecting something to
happen, so I hadn’t been sleeping well anyway. I popped out of bed, hit the
floor and started slipping sweats and sneakers on as he entered the room.
Sergeant wants to see you, Blackwell,” he said, then ducked back out into the
there,” I replied. I tied the second shoe and stood up.
was nowhere to be seen when I got to the hall. I crossed and knocked on
Fletcher’s door, but got no answer. I knocked again, louder. Still nothing.
Well, he had asked for me, and I was starting to get nervous. I took the knob
in my hand and tried to turn it. Unlocked. I opened the door and peered into
were all out. I could see someone sitting on the bed in the gloom, but that was
about it. “Drill Sergeant? You OK?” I asked, reaching toward the light switch.
lights,” he said.
retrieved my hand and stepped in, leaving the door open a crack for some light.
“You called for me?”
then seemed to shake himself a bit. “Close the door,” he said, turning on a
small bedside lamp. I thought I could hear a little bit of a slur in his s. Had
he been drinking?
him over as I shut the door and stepped nearer. He was sitting on the bed, both
feet planted to the floor. Dressed in civilian clothes, sneakers – so he’d been
out somewhere, most likely. His face was down, only partly visible to me, but
he looked pale, very pale. His hands were shaking.
happened?” I asked, keeping my voice soft.
parties in the wood line, you know. The upperclassman do,” he said, looking up
at me. “Something we do.” I could smell beer on his breath now. Northshield was
a dry campus – no alcohol allowed. But it was no surprise that the older cadets
had found ways around that. I nodded.
“I was out
there, hanging. Been a tough week. Wanted to kick back. Good way to do it.”
again. He was rambling, but I wanted to let him talk this out, so I kept quiet.
“We had a
little fire. Nothing big. Staff doesn’t pay attention to what we do out that
way, down by the river.” He drifted off into silence.
“I went to
take a leak in the woods, away from the fire. I stepped out far enough to be in
the dark, and took care of things. Turned around to head back, but… I
couldn’t go. I couldn’t move. Felt it out there, watching me. Hungry for me.”
rolled down my back. “Hungry for you?” I whispered.
he repeated. “I couldn’t move, and I could feel it slipping closer. Couldn’t see
it, but I could feel it rolling in nearer.”
remembered every moment of my experience earlier that day in vivid detail.
looked at him again. “You saw it?” I asked. He shouldn’t have seen a spirit
being unless it had somehow covered itself with something solid. Or unless he
had Sight himself, which I was pretty sure he didn’t.
“It rose out of the brush in front of me, all inky black. I could see it by
where it blotted out the campus lights behind it, and where it blocked the
stars as it rose above me. I felt like a mouse in front of a cobra. Then I
managed to scream, and ran back to the fire.”
He took a
deep breath. “The guys razzed me about the scream, asked if I’d run into a
man-eating raccoon. I was too shook up, they were too drunk. Didn’t know how to
explain what I saw, so I stood there by the fire for a long time, hoping it
wouldn’t come near. It didn’t.”
you came back here?”
“Yeah, couple of the guys were coming back to barracks, so I walked with them.
Strength in numbers, right?”
sure numbers would really help. This thing had made itself visible, not as a
wind or even as a fire, but as something else. I didn’t know what. But if it
was able to be seen physically, I was pretty sure that meant it was incredibly
powerful and incredibly dangerous.
Sergeant,” I said. “We need to get down there, get those people out of there.
We’ve got to get them back into barracks. They’re not safe. How many people
were at the fire when you left?”
dozen?” he said.
enough to give it pause, I thought. But maybe not, too. “Come on,” I said.
“show me where. We’ll think of something to get them back to bed.”
be fine, Blackwell. Let it be.”
thing still out there? They’ll be tasty treats.”
know if I can go back out there,” he said.
ran into something earlier. Sounds like the same thing you saw, and it almost
ate me, too. But I beat it. We need to stop this thing.”
looked up at me then. “Why didn’t you say something?”
thought it was just after me. But it’s not – it sounds like it’s just hungry
and looking for a snack. Which those drunk kids are going to give it if we
He got up.
Once he was moving, a little determination seemed to go a long way. He was
getting some color back, and looking more sure of himself. For that, if nothing
else, getting him to help was a good idea. And he’d seen this thing once and
yanked himself away. I knew from experience how hard that was. Fletcher might
be a bigger help than I’d guessed.
We went to
a light jog when we hit the hallway, and moved down the stairs at speed. Not
recklessly fast, but a taking two at a time in a steady pace. We were side by
side when we reached the bottom, neither of us winded. Some advantage to all
the PT. The doors out onto the parade ground were double, and we each hit one,
still moving fast.
us were really in a hurry to see this thing again, but I didn’t know how much
time we had. We’d barely taken three steps from the building when that question
was answered – not enough.
thundered in the darkness, coming from a ways away. I counted six shots, then
were from the woods around the party,” Fletcher said. “Come on!” He took off in
a sprint, and I picked up the pace to follow him. As I ran, I reached out,
drawing magic into me.
Book: By Darkness Revealed
Hi and hello! Very excited to be here with you today. For
those who don’t know me yet, I’m a Boston writer of science fiction and
fantasy. I’m an amateur astrophysicist and play with swords in my spare time as
well, so my hobbies line up really well with my line of work. When I’m not
hitting friends with sticks, I might also be sailing. Or writing. More often
the latter than the former, but I enjoy both.
How long have you been a writer and how did you come to
I came by writing naturally: my mother made me do it. No,
not quite! As a kid I used to fall asleep listening to my mom writing fiction
at her typewriter, tack-tack-tacking away while listening to some movie
soundtrack or another. Taking up the craft was so natural that I wrote my first
short story at age 7. It took second place in a local writing competition. I’ve
pretty much been involved in telling stories in one format or another ever
How did you come up with this storyline?
By Darkness Revealed is close to my heart, because it’s
personal. I went to Norwich University as a cadet – that’s the well I drew from
to paint a good picture of cadet life for the protagonist. Obviously the
‘Northshield University’ in the story is a fictional place, but much of the
feel I captured in the story was drawn from the real college. As for the
storyline itself? Again, a lot of it is drawn from reality. No, people were not
actually slinging bolts of magical energy around campus (not that I was aware
of, anyway!), but the real world Norwich is an unusual place with all sorts of
magical legends and tales.
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing?
For me the best part is telling the story, hands down. When
I get into a really good flow state, I might be typing as much as three
thousand words an hour. Just letting the story spill forth onto the screen.
Those moments are a bit like singing, or dancing, or sailing, or martial arts
forms… It’s like meditation where the mind is active and burning at full speed.
Where you have complete focus on the task and everything is moving in
The worst part? Edits. We hates them, my precious. When I’m
done telling the story, I am *done* telling the story. I don’t really want to
read it over for errors and nit-picking bits. I do, of course. And I have a
great editor who finds what I miss. But this is my least favorite part.
What inspires you to write?
I like telling stories. I really like telling stories for a
living. I really, REALLY like running my own business telling stories for a
living. There’s no other career out there which I get as much satisfaction
from, where I feel so complete working. If I wasn’t writing fiction, perhaps
I’d be making up stories for film or for video games or something else
entirely… For me the telling of exciting stories is more central than the
medium I use.
How did you conduct your research for By Darkness Revealed?
I cheated. I do this often.
Writers have two choices when it comes to research. They can
set a story someplace they have never been, in a land or culture they don’t
know at all – and then have to research the heck out of it. Or we can write a
story set someplace we either know really well, or which we are making up
entirely. Or both. For this book I did both. I set the book at a fictional
university in a fictional town, and then painted the fictional place with
real-world experiences from a similar place.
So, I cheated. No research. Zip. This is how I write most of
my books, actually.
What is your favorite quotes from By Darkness Revealed?
One of my favorite elements created just for By Darkness
Revealed is Kittybreeze. She’s a little air spirit with very feline traits.
When I was young, someone wrote a wonderful short story for Dragon Magazine
that I adored about an old wind mage who was looking for an apprentice. The
girl – who ended up getting the job – was overjoyed by the cute “puppy breeze”
that the air mage had as a pet/servant. The boy scoffed, saying that must be
the least of the spirits the master controlled. The master replied that
sometimes you need to measure worth not in terms of power, but instead with regard
to faithfulness, trust, and long years of loyal service.
I loved that story. Still do. Kittybreeze is something of an
homage to that author. (I just looked up the piece. It was “Master of the
Winds” by Sharon Lee, back in Dragon Magazine #84.)
What would your friends say is your best quality?
I would not presume to ask. I’m rather blessed with a few
very good friends. I like to think that I add as much value to their lives as
they do to mine. Being a friend is a give and take sort of thing.
Are reader reviews important to you?
Is this a trick question? *chuckle* If I say no, then I
encourage no one to ever review me. If I say yes, then I am paying too much
attention to them…
I read every review of every book I have out. I listen for
comments about what people liked, and what they did not. I strive to use my
reviews as a tool to grow and learn from. I do not generally respond to reviews
directly, but rest assured I read them all. Even the harsh ones! Because there
is certainly something to learn there as well, even if the lesson was simply
that *that* book did not reach *that* reader in a pleasing manner.
As writers, when we stop learning and growing and improving,
it’s time to hang up the keyboard. Reviews are one such tool for growth.
What do you do when you don’t write?
What is this “don’t write” thing of which you speak? *laugh*
I write almost every day. I’ll cross half a million words of new fiction this
year. A little secret? (Whispers:) I’m shooting for a million next year!
I love taking long walks through Boston with my fiancee as
well. It’s not unusual for us to walk five miles on a nice day, sometimes as
much as ten. Just exploring, seeing the city, the people, the places. Boston is
always in a constant process of endless change. It’s fascinating.
I fight with swords – steel and rattan alike. In armor,
thanks. It’s my current martial art; I’ve done a few other martial arts in the
past, but lately I am finding it harder to keep even this one up. I spend time
with my children, who are growing bigger and older each year. I want to make as
many memories with them as I can, so I will have things to cherish as they
outgrow their youth, although hopefully not their childhood.
Tell us about your other books?
The Blackwell Magic books are six titles so far. There may
be more books about Ryan Blackwell coming in the future, but for now I think
the series may rest a bit. I’ve also written three novellas called in a mini-series
called “Raven’s Heart” set in the same universe. I have the rough outline of an
epic fantasy series as well. If it comes to be, then it will very much interest
I’ve also written a few science fiction books – four so far
in the “Adventures of the Starship Satori” series, and two in the “Accord”
series – “Accord of Honor” and “Accord of Mars”. I tend to write
science fiction set in the near future, using technology and society just
beyond where we are today. “Over the Moon” is a science fiction romance which
could take place just five years or so from now. Perhaps ten.
If you could share one thing about yourself that you would
like readers to know what would it be?
C.S. Lewis once said “Since it is so likely that (children)
will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and
heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but
I believe that same sentiment applies equally to grownups.
We hear so much about the darkness of the world, these days.
We read about the cruel. We see videos of the unjust. We are deluged with
stories of the most horrific elements of human nature. But that is *not* all
that humanity is and can be. I write stories about people who have failings,
and make mistakes. Yet at the end of the day they strive to overcome those
things and act in a heroic manner. To show the best part of what it is to be
human. My heroes are there to shine light on our better natures, and to give us
all hope that we can be better than we are.
Thanks for having me! This has been fun. I hope readers
enjoy the boxed set enormously. If anyone has questions about my work, please
do drop me a message via email. I don’t always answer right away, but I *do*
answer every fan email that I get personally. (Kevins.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for believing in us enough to stick with this
Above all else, thank you for reading. At the end of the
day, readers are why we write.