War veteran’s latest novel addresses the trauma, aftermath and ethics of a terrible war

Author Mark Iles’ own experience with PTSD, and in helping other sufferers, informs the character and behaviour of the protagonist in his latest novel Gardens of Earth.

DARTFORD, KENT – 27 July 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that is becoming known for high quality, entertaining yet insightful speculative fiction, addressing real-world issues through a fictional prism. Their latest title, Gardens of Earth by author Mark Iles, is set on a future Earth but tackles issues that are very real today, as well as others that our society should be preparing to address.

Gardens of Earth is military science-fiction, with additional aspects of both horror and fantasy – making this a truly cross-genre epic. Mark explains, “Imagine an alien life force that knows your deepest fear, and can use that against you.” In the book, Mark’s main character (Seethan Bodell) suffers from PTSD. In the story we can see the effects it has on him and the coping strategies he uses to mitigate them. Mark says, “Apart from a damned good read, I hope that readers will gain an insight and understanding of PTSD itself.”

Here in the UK, the NHS estimates that 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience develop PTSD, sometimes immediately, sometimes months or even years later. Symptoms may remain unaddressed for a long time but, once diagnosed, sufferers can be successfully treated, even long after the traumatic event(s) occurred. Of course, one widely recognised cause of trauma is warfare and conflict. Mark Iles fought in both The Falklands War and the First Gulf War. He has friends suffering from PTSD.

Surprisingly, one relatively unknown effect is that many of those suffering from PTSD manage to channel it through creative outlets. There are those who do so through carpentry, leatherwork, painting, and also writing. Mark started writing science fiction and, now a well-published author, he also supports other veterans through the ‘The Scribe’, a creative writing site that he helped set up specifically to support veterans seeking to develop their own writing ability (https://thescribe.space).

Peter Buck, editorial director of Elsewhen Press said, “Mark’s latest book not only presents the horrors of war, albeit against an alien race, but also the implications and aftermath – both societal and personal. But it is much more than that. The protagonist’s co-pilot and lover is an android, but they have to keep their relationship a secret because of widespread bigotry and discrimination. Social justice, human rights and android rights are all themes explored by Mark in this book. In many senses this is classic science fiction, but the abilities of the aliens provide an environment, and archetypal creatures within it, that are also reminiscent of myth and magic fantasy. Truly cross-genre, Gardens of Earth is an exciting adventure, a heart-rending quest, and an eye-opening insight into the coping strategies of a war veteran.”

Gardens of Earth is now available to pre-order in eBook format on most platforms for release on the 6th August, and will be out in paperback in October.

Notes for Editors

About Gardens of Earth

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

Corporate greed supported by incompetent surveyors leads to the colonisation of a distant world, ominously dubbed ‘Halloween’, that turns out not to be uninhabited after all. The aliens, soon called Spooks by military units deployed to protect the colonists, can adopt the physical form of an opponent’s deepest fear and then use it to kill them. The colony is massacred and as retaliation the orbiting human navy nuke the planet. In revenge, the Spooks invade Earth.

In a last-minute attempt to avert the war, Seethan Bodell, a marine combat pilot sent home from the front with PTSD, is given a top-secret research spacecraft, and a mission to travel into the past along with his co-pilot and secret lover Rose, to prevent the original landing on Halloween and stop the war from ever happening. But the mission goes wrong, causing a tragedy later known as The Sundering, decimating the world and tearing reality, while Seethan’s ship is flung into the future. The Spooks win the war and claim ownership of Earth. He wakes, alone, in his ejector seat with no sign of either Rose or his vessel. When he realises that his technology no longer works, his desperation to find Rose becomes all the more urgent – her android body won’t survive long in this new Earth.

Gardens of Earth is the first book of The Sundering Chronicles. The story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, depending on who you ask, and a protagonist coping with his demons in an unfamiliar and stressful environment – not to mention immediate threats from a pathological serial killer, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse pre-industrial society under the watchful eye of the Spooks, and returning human colonists intent on reclaiming Earth.
 

ISBN: 9781911409854 (paperback, 264pp) / 9781911409953 (eBook)

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

About Mark Iles

Born and raised in Slough, Mark Iles began studying the martial arts when he was 14 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17. A voracious reader he used to devour up to three paperbacks a day – primarily science fiction, fantasy, and horror – by the likes of John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Brian Lumley, Frank Herbert, Stephen King, and a plethora of others. After The Falklands War Mark was drafted to Hong Kong, where he began writing features, for a variety of martial arts magazines, and short stories for a wide range of markets.

In 2012 he decided to challenge himself and undertook an MA in Professional Writing, followed by Diplomas in Copywriting and Proofreading. With over 200 short stories and articles under his belt the book he wrote for his MA Project, A Pride of Lions was published by Solstice – followed by two other novels, a short story collection, and four novellas. His latest novel, Gardens of Earth, book 1 of The Sundering Chronicles, will be published by Elsewhen Press in August. Currently Mark is working on the second in the series, as well as another short story collection. Now a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, Mark is still involved in martial arts and has also written both a book and an app on the subject.

Revealed: Alex Storer’s Cover for Gardens of Earth by Mark Iles

Gardens of Earth, book 1 of The Sundering Chronicles is the latest science fiction novel from author Mark Iles, and the first of his books to be published by Elsewhen Press. The story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, depending on who you ask, and a protagonist coping with his personal demons in an unfamiliar and stressful environment – not to mention immediate threats from a pathological serial killer, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse pre-industrial society under the watchful eye of the Spooks, and returning human colonists intent on reclaiming Earth. Underlying all this are issues of social justice, human and android rights, and love that transcends difference. In many senses this is classic science fiction, but the abilities of the Spooks provide an environment, and archetypal creatures within it, that are reminiscent of myth and magic fantasy. Truly cross-genre, Gardens of Earth is an exciting adventure, a heart-rending quest, and an eye-opening insight into the coping strategies of a veteran.

We asked artist Alex Storer to work with Mark to produce a cover that could encapsulate all of that! We were concerned that it may have been a tall order, but we are delighted to reveal the cover that they have produced. What you can’t see here is how beautifully the cover artwork wraps round the spine onto the back of the book. You’ll just have to wait for the paperback to experience that 😉

Gardens of Earth is now available to pre-order in eBook format on most platforms for release on the 6th August, and will be out in paperback in October.

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

Available from today in paperback: Riftmaster by Miles Nelson

Cover art: Miles Nelson

The paperback edition of Riftmaster by Miles Nelson is available from today. Order online or from your local bookshop.

Science fiction publisher’s life saved by devices straight out of science fiction

DARTFORD, KENT – 30 April 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that pushes the boundaries in speculative and fantasy fiction. Their stories present otherworldly but terrifyingly prescient visions of the future, featuring Android writing machines, body-augmenting mind control and transdimensional crime-fighting. However, present-day technology can also feel like it has been sent from a future world, where even a watch can save a life.

Following complications with his heart over the Easter period, Peter Buck, co-founder and editorial director of Elsewhen Press, needed hospital treatment. But it wasn’t a doctor that told him he needed to dial 999 – it was his Apple Watch!

Buck explained: “My wife bought me the Apple Watch for Christmas because it measures heart rate, blood oxygen and ECG. Being of a nervous disposition when it comes to my heart, because I’ve suffered from hyper-tension for many years, I had been checking my ECG whenever I felt a skipped beat or ‘a bit funny’.

“Every time, the watch reassured me that it was a sinus rhythm and perfectly okay. However, over Easter, for the first time, it told me I was suffering from atrial fibrillation with a very high heart rate. Even so, I did it again a couple more times over the next hour or so with the same result, so was convinced by the watch that it was a genuine heart condition and not me being a hypochondriac.

“Later, when I saw the cardiologist in the hospital, he was impressed by the output from the watch’s ECG app. He wanted to do an echocardiogram and produced what looked like a tricorder from his pocket, grinned and said ‘You’re not the only one with fancy tech!’”

Thankfully, after a few hours of treatment, Peter was sent home to recover with a newfound appreciation for science fiction-inspired machinery.

Buck added: “It was a victory for geekdom, as a sci-fi gadget saved my life (as well as the NHS). The doctors told me that if I had not come into the hospital immediately, it could have been much worse, possibly fatal.”

 

“little short of a masterpiece” – review of HOWUL and interview with David Shannon in Reader’s Digest

Cover design: Alison Buck

In the Reader’s Digest online Culture section, HOWUL by David Shannon is featured as the Must-read of the week.

The review by Timothy Arden describes HOWUL as “unconventional, quirky, extraordinary … unmissable” and “little short of a masterpiece”. Following the review is a fascinating interview with David Shannon. You can read the review and the interview here on the Reader’s Digest site.

 

“It reminded me of a Doctor Who plot” – Reviewer names Million Eyes one of her top reads of 2020

Cover: PR Pope
Calling it “tense, ominous and addictive”, book blogger Karen at Hair Past A Freckle posted a review of C.R. Berry‘s time travel conspiracy thriller, Million Eyes, the first book in the Million Eyes trilogy, in January last year. On New Year’s Day 2021, she named it one of her top reads of 2020.

Karen begins by explaining how Million Eyes begins in 1100 with King William II and something that very obviously shouldn’t exist in the 12th century. Like many readers, she knew of this event having seen the Rufus Stone in the New Forest where William was supposedly accidentally shot, and which Million Eyes says may not have been quite as straightforward as history tells it.

It’s difficult to review this book without giving away spoilers but I can say that there are some completely unexpected moments which totally shocked me.

She goes on to describe the two main characters, Gregory Ferro and Jennifer Larson, saying that they are “very different people” and that she “particularly enjoyed seeing how Jennifer’s understandable scepticism gradually diminishes as she realises that he is telling the truth”. She calls the characterisation “excellent throughout” and that Jennifer in particular is a “fabulous character”.

She rounds off her review by saying that “as a long-time Whovian, perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay to Million Eyes is that it reminded me of a Doctor Who plot”.

You can read the full review on Hair Past A Freckle here.

 

Sex and Drugs and Mind Control

Latest novel from Simon Kearns is a literary fusion of science fiction, existential terror and psychological thriller in the style of the ‘New Weird’

DARTFORD, KENT – 22 January 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of The Night Has Seen Your Mind by Simon Kearns. In an isolated house in the snowy wasteland of the Arctic, five people take part in a cryptic experiment funded by a tech billionaire – although they will be well rewarded financially, have they even considered the potential psychological impact, and is it worth the gamble? Crossing genres, this story is the epitome of modern speculative fiction.

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “Especially pertinent as we all live through yet another lockdown, Simon Kearns has successfully leveraged our inherent fear of isolation and bleakness to make us identify with his diverse characters as they slowly try to come to terms with their prolonged stay in the Arctic. That anxiety combines with a natural suspicion of hi-tech entrepreneurs, distrust of intrusive devices that attempt to read your mind, and the inevitable suspicion of stir-crazy strangers. The result is an exciting yet very well-grounded story that may literally blow your mind. Not only is sex and drugs and mind control an appropriate tagline for the story, it may also turn out to be how many readers have coped with lockdown.”

The Night Has Seen Your Mind is available from today in eBook format and will be available in paperback from 22nd March.

Notes for Editors

About Simon Kearns

Simon Kearns was born in London in 1972 and grew up in Northern Ireland. In his teens he returned to London to study philosophy. At the end of 2004 he moved to the south of France where he lives with his partner and two children. His debut, Virtual Assassin, (Revenge Ink, 2010), explores personal responsibility in a corrupt society. It was followed by Dark Waves, (Blood Bound Books, 2014), about a powerful haunting and the scientist determined to debunk it. His stories have appeared in publications such as The Future Fire, Litro, The Honest Ulsterman, and on numerous websites.

He revels in etymology, guitar, gaming, and the science of superstition.

About The Night Has Seen Your Mind

Tech billionaire, Mattias Goff, has invited five creative professionals – programmer, pianist, writer, actor, and photographer – for a month-long residency at Crystal Falls, his Arctic retreat. Researching brain waves, and especially the enigmatic gamma wave, Goff asks his guests to wear a kind of EEG cap in order to record the electrical activity in their brains while they engage with their respective disciplines. Although they will be paid $5Million each for the experience, they all start their sojourn a little wary – some more than others. Cut off from the outside world in the stunningly beautiful, if stark, Alaskan winter landscape they immerse themselves in their work. Soon, though, reality seems to be shifting. What is Goff really researching? Are his guests only being observed, or manipulated?

Cutting across genres, The Night Has Seen Your Mind is a literary fusion of science fiction, existential terror and psychological thriller in the style of the ‘New Weird’.

Visit bit.ly/TheNightHasSeenYourMind

 

Cover reveal: Riftmaster by Miles Nelson

Riftmaster is an adventure by Miles Nelson, telling the story of college student Bailey Jones who is plucked from his life on Earth by the Rift, a mysterious and unpredictable force which appears to move people at random from one world to another. Stranded on an alien planet, he is relieved when he meets a fellow human, the self-styled Riftmaster, who is prepared to assist him. Bailey is curious about his new companion’s real identity, but hopes that, with years of experience of the Rift, this cosmic traveller can help him find a way to return to Earth. First though, as the two of them are ripped without warning from one hostile planet to another, Bailey must rely on the Riftmaster to show him how to survive.

Cover art: Miles Nelson

For many of our books we commission an artist to design a cover based on one or more ideas from the author, ideas that may be expressed in words or illustrated with a basic scribble. In this case Miles, the author, provided an eye-catching concept design that was virtually ready to be used. After he had made a couple of small tweaks, the cover was complete. The intriguing star-filled silhouette of the eponymous Riftmaster sets the scene well for this story.

We probably shouldn’t have been surprised that Miles would provide suitable cover art, as each chapter starts with a stylish fleuron, also designed by Miles. One of them, depicting the Riftmaster and Bailey, makes an additional appearance on the back cover of the book.

Artwork: Miles Nelson

Riftmaster, an adventure, an exploration, is concerned with loss, and letting go, while still holding onto your humanity and identity, even when life seems hopeless. It will be published in eBook format in March and in print in May.

 

Author invents quirky future dialect of English for a literary tale of revenge

David Shannon’s absurdist satire, HOWUL, recounts an unlikely hero’s journey, in a ravaged yet familiar future

DARTFORD, KENT – 15 January 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of HOWUL, a life’s journey by David Shannon. Provocative yet savagely funny, this absurdist satire is ominously relevant today despite being set, in North Wales, in a future following an undisclosed catastrophe which has radically affected technology, culture, and even language. Shannon says, “Buried in it is a howl against austerity and oppression. My inspirations were Riddley Walker, Don Quixote and Mad Max.”

Cover design: Alison Buck

Lindsay Nicholson MBE described HOWUL as “Un-put-down-able! A classic hero’s journey, deftly handled. I was surprised by every twist and turn, the plotting was superb, and the engagement of all the senses – I could smell those flowers and herbs. A tour de force.”

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “HOWUL is a brilliantly unique book that sparkles with wit and tells a compelling story. It is an account by the eponymous ‘hero’ of events that befall him on his quest to seek answers and revenge. It is, therefore, written in the patois of the future that Howul inhabits – a clipped, almost pidgin, dialect of English which is nevertheless entirely comprehensible. It not only adds authenticity, humour, and at times pathos, to the story, but also illustrates the skill with which Shannon has constructed not just the world and the storyline but even a consistent grammar in which to tell it – comparisons with Anthony Burgess are inevitable.”

HOWUL is available from today in eBook format and will be available in paperback from 15th March.

Notes for Editors

About David Shannon

David Shannon grew up in Bristol, the youngest of 3 children. Yes, he was the spoilt one. After stints as a TEFL teacher in Italy and croupier in London, he had a first writing career as a journalist working for (among others) Cosmopolitan, the Sunday Times, the Radio Times, Good Housekeeping, Country Living and Best. He wrote a lot about showbiz, interviewing and profiling many celebrities. Even though any actors he met kept telling him what a difficult career theirs is, he then abandoned journalism for acting. Many years later he’s still doing it, using the name David France. How successful has he been at this? Judge for yourself. Have you ever heard of him? He’s done plenty of low-budget feature films (including Werewolves of the Third Reich) but makes most of his living by writing, running and acting in murder mystery events. Chronic shyness afflicted him for many years but he is now painfully opinionated about almost everything. And he loves pigs. Despite this, he remains happily married to a writer slightly more famous than him – the 2019 Booker Prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo. They live in London.

About HOWUL

Books are dangerous. People in Blanow think that books are dangerous: they fill your head with drivel, make poor firewood and cannot be eaten (even in an emergency).

This book is about Howul. He sees things differently: fires are dangerous; people are dangerous; books are just books. Howul secretly writes down what goes on around him in Blanow. How its people treat foreigners, treat his daughter, treat him. None of it is pretty. Worse still, everything here keeps trying to kill him: rats, snakes, diseases, roof slates, the weather, the sea. That he survives must mean something. He wants to find out what. By trying to do this, he gets himself thrown out of Blanow… and so his journey begins.

Like all gripping stories, HOWUL is about the bad things people do to each other and what to do if they happen to you. Some people use sticks to stay safe. Some use guns. Words are the weapons that Howul uses most. He makes them sharp. He makes them hurt. Of course books are dangerous.

Visit bit.ly/HOWUL

Unveiled: Cover image for The Night Has Seen Your Mind by Simon Kearns

In January, Elsewhen Press will be publishing The Night Has Seen Your Mind, the latest title from France-based British author Simon Kearns. Cutting across genres, The Night Has Seen Your Mind is a literary fusion of science fiction, existential terror and psychological thriller in the style of the ‘New Weird’.

Set in the snowy winter landscape of Alaska, Simon wanted a cover that would set the scene for his story without giving away any of the plot, “something involving a night sky and the aurora borealis” was his brief to artist Alison Buck. Below, you can see the cover she has designed. When he saw it Simon said “I LOVE IT! I was nervous about the cover, but Alison has created something so very similar to what I had in my head. Wonderful work!” Alison’s response was “Phew!”.

Cover artwork: Alison Buck

Tech billionaire, Mattias Goff, has invited five creative professionals – programmer, pianist, writer, actor, and photographer – for a month-long residency at Crystal Falls, his Arctic retreat. Researching brain waves, and especially the enigmatic gamma wave, Goff asks his guests to wear a kind of EEG cap in order to record the electrical activity in their brains while they engage with their respective disciplines. Although they will be paid $5Million each for the experience, they all start their sojourn a little wary – some more than others. Cut off from the outside world in the stunningly beautiful, if stark, Alaskan winter landscape they immerse themselves in their work. Soon, though, reality seems to be shifting. What is Goff really researching? Are his guests only being observed, or manipulated?

The Night Has Seen Your Mind will be published as an eBook on 22 January 2021 and in print on 22 March 2021.