This weekend at the Thought Bubble Comic Festival is the launch of Forgotten Warriors the sequel to the action adventure novel Fallen Heroes. It will also see the launch of the 70 page prequel comic ‘The Chimera Factor’ written by Richmond Clements, with art by PL Woods and letters by Paul Mclaren.
Unseen Shadows fan Brett Harris threw some questions at author Barry Nugent about these latest two entries to the Unseen Shadows universe.
Brett Harris (BH): Barry, thanks for agreeing to the interview, I am looking forward to reading your answers !
The novel Forgotten Warriors is the sequel to the great page-turner Fallen Heroes. What can we expect from this second novel in the series ?
Barry Nugent (BN): Thanks man glad you enjoyed it! As for Forgotten Warriors readers can expect a shed load of action,scares,cliff hangers, twists and suspense just like Fallen Heroes. However this will be a darker tale then the first novel and our heroes and heroines are very much on the back foot. To nick the marketing phrase that most people seem to use for second books or films…this is very much the Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy. The baddies basically got their asses handed to them in Fallen Heroes and they are none too pleased about it.
BH: Without spoiling any plot points, can you talk about who the “Forgotten Warriors” of the title might be ?
BN: It is almost impossible to say anything about the Forgotten Warriors without spoiling the plot. What I will say is that title works on multiple levels, which will become clear as you read the book. My initial idea behind the title grew out of my desicion to focus on those characters from Fallen Heroes who would have been considered the secondary/sidekick characters. In this book the spotlight falls on Steph, Vincent, Kathryn, Nathan and Eve. Any readers who remember Eve without referring back to Fallen Heroes get extra kudos points. For me it was about moving those characters out of the shadows and letting them stand on their own two feet. As much as we might love Batman or Indiana Jones..wouldn’t be cool to how Robin or Marion Ravenwood cope when they are forced into the driving seat? I would also put Jason Chen into this category. I know he was the central character in the first book but I think this time around Jason is far more capable and able to drive story forwards rather than we saw in his first outing.
BH: A theme of the first novel seemed to be overcoming the negative events of the past to escape allow a better present. Based on the solicitations it seems like the theme of this second novel will be how to move forward now the past has been dealt with and the future lies ahead. How will you be exploring that theme ?
BN: Dealing with the demons and mistakes of our past was very much at the heart of Fallen Heroes. One of the main themes in Forgotten Warriors, aside from saving the world again of course, is that of loss. During the course of this book both my father and my oldest brother died suddenly. It is difficult to not suffer that kind of loss and not have it effect you as person but also as a writer. This books is set three years after the Events of Fallen Heroes and time has not been kind to the survivors of that story. I wanted to show that there is a cost to what happened, one that they are all still paying three years on. This wasn’t a case of saving the world then getting on with their lives. All of the characters, even the villians, are dealing with loss whether it is loss of mentor, a friend, their dreams of conquest, of a better future they all have something to contend with. In this novel they each have to deal with those losses and thrive own survivor guilt and find a way forward.
The other theme I wanted to touch was that of legacy. The idea of picking up the mantle when you don’t want it because you’ve been left no choice and how you deal with that. Forgotten Warriors some of the characters deal with things a lot better than others. Of course as well as all that events on the world stage within the novel have gotten much bigger along with the stakes.
BH: Along with the novel being released soon we have the debut at Thought Bubble of the graphic novel The Chimera Factor. How does this story interact with those of the novels ?
BN: The Chimera Factor is set a year before Forgotten Warriors kicks off. Although the graphic novel is standalone it also does serve as a prequel to Forgotten Warriors. Many of the characters and events in the graphic novel will play a much bigger role in Forgotten Warriors. The real fun of doing something like this is even the creative team working on The Chimera Factor have very little idea how the story will plug into Forgotten Warriors. Again though I should make it clear that those new to the world of the books should be able to just pick up The Chimera Factor and enjoy it on its own merits.
What is also great about this story is that it also guest stars Victoria Sullivan, a character who made her debut not in Fallen Heroes but in the Empire of Blood audio drama.
BH: I noticed that the kick-arse Steph Connisbee is featured on the cover of both. What is it that makes her such an important character ?
BN: I think Steph is just a fantastic character to write because no matter what you put her through (and she gets put through a lot in this book) she has this vein of iron running through her. In the first book even though it’s really Ben’s journey we’re following Steph serves as his bodyguard, sounding board and consicence. She was very much the Chewbacca of their criminal partnership if that makes sense. The great thing about this book has been throwing that idea out of the window and placing the lion share of the plot on her shoulders and letting her run with it. I think she does a pretty good job of it. I also see this book as the third part of the unofficial Steph Connisbee story. In the first comic we did with her Operation Solomon we saw Steph’s last mission for the Navy, one which led to her court martial. In The Chimera Factor we see a much more seasoned Steph, made even harder by her experiences in Fallen Heroes. Now she is heading up a covert unit tasked with bringing down the Book of Cademus. In Forgotten Warriors elements of both the previous stories come to a head in a massive way.
BH: Speaking of important characters, Napoleon Stone is just plain awesome ! What are the influences you had in mind when creating him ?
BN: Napoleon Stone (no not Nick Fury…which is usually a conversation I have to have when people see the book cover) I came up with when I was about 15/16. Even though there are elements of the characters I grew up loving he was the very first character where I felt I was not just ripping off someone else’s character and changing their name. Now originally I had actually used Napoleon as secondary character in some stories I was writing as a teenage called ‘Prime Syndicate’ not some of my best work but I still absolutely love those strories. Napoleon was the only character to survive that story and when I started to work on the plot for Fallen Heroes I knew I needed an adventurer type character but not someone who people would just think Indiana Jones knock off. So I reworked Napoleon’s back story so it still had the mystical/pulp elements you would find in an Indian Jones story but it is looked at in a very different way. Napoleon does what he does to save lives first and foremost. The relics he comes into contact with aren’t for study or a prize to be placed in a museum. They are there to be used against his enemies supernatural or otherwise or to be destroyed because the are just too dangerous for human hands.
In terms of influences there were a shed load; Indiana jones, most of the main characters from any John Carpenter film, the books of David Gemmell and Deep Space Nine. One the ideas a lot of these influences gave me was that is was ok to have heroes who weren’t likeable but sill got the job gone. In Fallen Heroes Ben Ashodi is someone you would want to have a beer with but if you’re marching through hell you want Napoleon Stone backing you up.
BH: Follow up question: Will we be seeing any of his earlier adventures ? Will you ever reveal just how he lost an eye ?
BN: Well we did the Fragments of Fate comic which was an earlier Napoleon Stone adventure and the Napoleon Stone and the Army of Set choose your own adventure is set before the events of Fallen Heroes. Although if you want to get into some of the stories which molded a younger Napoleon into the Demon stalker we meet in Fallen Heroes then there are a couple of comic titles on the way which should hit the spot. The first up is Eye of Stone. This story I think is interesting as it was pitched to me by writer Cy Dethan as ‘A story in which we get to see how Napoleon Stone’s enemies view him’ the story is fantastic. The other story which is another comic is called Ashfall is written by Dan Thompson (Band of Butchers, Moon) with art by Paul Williams. This is very much an early stone adventure as it deals with his relationship to his mentor Nathan Ash. As anyone who has read Fallen Heroes knows these two have a complicated history.
BH: Finally, what else can us fans of the Unseen Shadows universe look forward to ?
BN: Well not much I can say at the moment other than there are a few more comics in the pipeline. We are still working on the pilot script for the TV show but we are nearly there with it. After that the plan will be to start pitching. Corey and Yomi have done fantastic work on the script and it’s been a great learning experience working with them. The choose your own adventure gamebook – Napoleon Stone and the Army of Set is almost complete but I don’t think we’ll be releasing that until the new year. Of course Forgotten Warriors is the second in a trilogy so I will be starting work on book 3 soon. I can say that anyone coming to book launch at Thought Bubble this weekend will be treated to the reveal of the Book 3 title and an early work in progress at the cover.