Category Archives: Science fiction

Introducing John G. Stevens

Recently I’ve been reading novels by newer, largely unknown indie writers. By way of helping them along, I’ll be introducing some of them here. These authors are up-and-coming, at varying stages in their development as writers. They may not all have the polish of traditionally published authors, but I think they all have potential and deserve encouragement.


John G. Stevens’ Echowake is the first book in a truly unique triology. Combining post-apocalyptic SF with fantasy and a touch of steampunk, goggles included, this tale pulls you in and keeps you reading right up to the cliff-hanger conclusion. In terms of story, this is a five-star effort. Bravo!

Plagued by horrific nightmares that come true, the young courier Trede spends his life moving from place to place in hopes of outrunning his inexplicable curse. He carries a unique weapon that attracts the attention of the Cytech guild, who are convinced Trede must be a gifted inventor, not to mention a pair of rival Mystics, one of whom who wants to destroy Trede and the other of whom wants to use him as a tool for conquest. Along the way he runs afoul of a marshal who’s sure he’s up to no good, meets a strange creature who wants to be his friend, and faces down a barrage of swords and magic assaulting him from all sides for reasons he cannot fathom. Echowake has all the makings of an epic adventure.

But I have to downgrade it because as with so many indie first novels, the writing needs work. I’d probably score the book three stars at best in that category. The dialogue and the narrative passages just don’t show the polish we expect of a practiced writer.

Yet–and here’s the surprising part–the story was so amazingly good that I was willing to forgive the writing issues and eagerly read through to the end. I hope that Stevens will grow as a writer and that the sequel(s) will be more polished. I certainly want to read them!

I recently asked John G. Stevens a few questions about his writing:

What inspired you to write Echowake?

I’ve been working on little bits and pieces of the world that became Echowake since the sixth grade. I had a large sketch pad with scrabbly drawings of maps and story ideas. I loved imagining a new world that no one had ever seen before. I guess I’ve always loved to create in general. The thing that has stuck with me the most over the years is stories. I dabbled in writing shorter fiction but I always had this “big idea” of a trilogy of stories. One day it dawned on me to novelize the whole story that I’d been playing with in different forms for years. The further I went into that world the more I never wanted to leave!

Had you published anything previously or since?

Echowake is my first officially published work. It was a huge learning process but well worth the effort. I have done some unprofessional blogging at times, though. (But who hasn’t?)

What are you working on now?

I’ve fully thrown myself into the first draft of a direct sequel titled Echowake: The Coming Storm. I’ve learned so much during the first book I feel like I’m flying through this time. It’s already feeling like it will be a faster paced and more action-packed book. I can’t wait to share it.

I’m also outlining and gathering ideas for two in-world spin-off novellas. More info on my website (https://echowake.com/upcoming-books/). Every answer I find in this world poses another set of questions. I can see myself happily spending years here. Maybe you’ll come visit?

Where can readers find you?

On my author website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

The End

I’m terrible with names, but I remember clever comments, even if not always verbatim. I had to look this one up: author Jonathan Carroll likened a short story to a  sprint and a novel to a marathon.

Although it can take a long time to write some short stories, it’s possible to complete one in a day, or even in an hour if it’s “flash fiction.” Novels are a very different matter. Planning and writing a work of that length and complexity chews up a great deal of time.  I need eight to twelve months to finish the first draft of a novel.

Minimum. Sometimes it takes much longer. Life can get in the way. Other projects can get in the way. The dreaded writer’s block can get in the way. So you can imagine the thrill of crossing the finish line by typing the words, “The End.”

I did so a couple of days ago with my SF/humor novel, Space Operatic. This marathon was longer than usual; it took about three years. I had a lot of fun writing it, but time and again I had to shove it onto the back burner, while at other times it simply stalled. But now it’s done!

Done being, of course, a relative term. After a brief hiatus to gain some distance from it, I’ll launch into the revision work, and after a two or four passes through it will land in the hands of my editor-wife. More revisions will follow. Eventually it will be ready to send out into the world.

This one we probably won’t publish under our own imprint (Serpent Cliff). I don’t think it fits with our publishing program. Instead, I’ll probably look for an agent to represent it.

That could be a whole ‘nother marathon . . .