Raymond Burke, is a British-born author - The Starguards being his first novel. His background includes an early life in Canada and the US, employment in the British Army as an aircraft technician, an MSc degree in Archaeology from University College London, short-article writing, and currently customer service work. He is also a member of The Mars Society. Through all, he has been a keen and aspiring writer. He currently lives in London.
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Interview with the Author:
When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
I have always liked writing since I was a child. While in high school in New York, I started out trying to create a comic book, but I couldn't draw and after sending in ideas to comic book companies, they replied you just can't have people fighting in costumes, you have to add character and plot. And that's when I decided to write a novel.
What inspires you to write?
I like coming up with ideas. I describe myself as an infovore – loving information for the sake of it. So once the idea comes in, I can regurgitate it in my own way. And hopefully I can put it down on paper so it makes sense!
How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I've always been interested in ancient mythology and how we still cling to it by reworking and reinterpreting it. Opposite that, I like how science/technology has affected us and how it will change us in the future. Sci-Fi shows were my favourite growing up with Star Trek, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica inspiring my imagination. Bringing that all together in The Starguards, I describe the book as Greek mythology meets Battlestar Galactica meets Justice League America. It combines my favourite things in mythology, science fiction and superheroes. There is always an element of these in every culture.
Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
I have written a few short stories (all sci fi), some ideas over a few pages, some finished, most incomplete, and some of which became parts of The Starguards. I have more ideas than time to develop or finish them all.
Tell us about your writing process.
I'm a night owl and even if I have ideas during the day, I don't seem to get to write until past 9pm. Plus, I'm more of an 'organic' writer in that I more or less write as it happens in whatever order. There is an overall plan, but I find that life is not like that so I try to mimic it sometimes with open threads and stories which may pay off later in book 2 or things that happen for no reason. And as there's time travel involved, there's more leeway to weave plots in different ways. And, I tend to write while listening to music, mostly rock or heavy metal.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
There are many favourite scenes like during what I call 'the battle of Magna Aura' in Part One, but there are two I like because they were written to music: 'The Death of ----' was written in a epic poem style to Entombed's 'Left Hand Path' (the last instrumental portion) and 'the Dream of Netherlord' was written to Metallica's instrumental 'The Call of Ktulu'. Maybe one day I will read them out in with the music.
Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
I hope not!
What is your most interesting writing quirk?
As mentioned above, I like listening to music – usually heavy metal. A couple of stories are actually written to heavy metal songs and one story 'the introduction of the Astrals' in Interlude One was written to 'Mars' from 'Holst's The Planets'
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
When I was younger I read Asimov's Robot series, which I loved. But then I switched to comic books (Alpha Flight, X-Men, The Defenders – I was more into Marvel when younger). During my years of study I read more history, archaeology (and New Age archaeology), science and cosmology. It's only recently that I've come back to sci-fi novels like the Pittacus Lore Lorien series, Asimov's Foundation series, Michael Cobley, and Martin's The World of Ice and Fire. I'm also interested in reading classic like HG Wells, Olaf Stapledon, and Philip K Dick. I've got a lot to catch up on. I also love reading about Antarctic exploration and the latest about Mars.
What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
There are a few bits of advice I have had, namely to finish the story, make it the best it can be, and to publish it the way I want (I didn't need the permission from or approval of a traditional publisher to publish!).
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Same as above. Do your own thing and make it the best you can.
What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
It changes all the time as there are so many actors who grace the screen. All I can say is that the Celestian Knights will be played by veteran actors to give them gravitas, while the Starguards and Astrals would be younger.
If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
Something to write with/on, a mirror (to signal of course), and a flint tool (caveman style).
How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I belong to a sci-fi group LOTNA (the League of the Non-Aligned) so I meet with them. I like keeping up to date with sci-fi TV and box-sets to see what I've missed or change if a similar idea comes out. And I like running in my local Park Run.
Can you share with us something off your bucket list?
I have my so-called 5 pilgrimage places to go – I've been to Machu Picchu, Peru and Tiwanaku, Bolivia and I would love to go to Iceland, Easter Island, and Antarctica.
Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I live without a fridge (long story!), satellite TV, iPod, and also can’t drive. I'm a self-confessed 21st century caveman . . . and love it!
I (supposedly) own a piece of Martian meteorite. It's some red dust in a capsule, but to test it would destroy it, so how can I really know if it is Mars in my drawer?
As a student Archaeologist, I helped with excavations between the Temples of the Sun and Moon near Trujillo, Peru.
What do you have in store next for your readers?
Book 2 - The Starguards: Earth Legacy is due to be self-published this year. Book 3 is in the making and there's a non-Starguard project being developed.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I'd like to thank the readers for all their support and hope you like The Starguards...
THE CELESTIAN KNIGHTS ARE DOOMED!
And they know it. But the consequences of their actions to forestall their end have deep and tragic ramifications for their children: The Starguards.
The Starguards: Novan, Sceptre, Altair, Decion, Alpha Rion, Astara, Cirrius, and Urana contemplate the future of their new worlds, as others secretly plot for control. But war beckons when their resurgent and terrifying enemy return to haunt them. Who will save them in their darkest hour?
Soon the Starguards are thrust into conflict with time-travelling rivals: the Astrals, echo through Earth’s 23rd century war with the Axalan Empire, find themselves cast as mistrustful superheroes; and flung into a universal apocalypse in the far future. And here at the end, after many trials, galactic wanderings, and lost loves – humans, superheroes and demigods face off in the ultimate destiny-defining battle against enemies never thought to have existed.
The Starguards - of Humans, Heroes, and Demigods is the epic beginning of a trilogy, chronicling the heroic family line from the beginning of time.