Interview with Author T.W. Embry

My guest today is T.W. Embry.  Hello!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here again.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

My newest release is titled Alien Manifesto. It is the story of the human Thomas Scott who is recruited by an alien adventurer and trillionare Snarth to steal an ancient artifact from one of Snarth’s business rivals. A group of religious fanatics called the Cult of Eli covets this artifact. When they find out that Snarth now has possession of the artifact, they use their members in the Galactic Senate to try and blackmail Snarth into giving it to them. That is where the fun starts. Alien manifesto is available on Here is the buy link.

Is there anything that prompted your latest book?  Something that inspired you?

I was watching my favorite Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back. In particular the scene where Luke crashes his x-wing on Dagobah and meets jedi master Yoda for the first time. I thought of what would happen to a peaceful species who is unaware of life in the universe, much as we are, if an alien crash landed on their planet. This was the idea behind the beginnings of the villain in Alien Manifesto, the Ones. I got the idea of the main character after I read an article about how the life of SEAL team 6 changed after Bin Laden’s death, forgotten, unable to find a job and broke, all in the name of the good old USA.  

So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

I used to write ghost stories for my mom and grandma as a young boy. I could see the stories in my head, but being dyslexic, having ADD and being bi-polar, they turned out on paper as gibberish; only I could read them. Needless to say, I got frustrated and stopped until I was 47. That is when I started my first novel, Revenge from Mars, followed by Alien Manifesto. It has been with the help of computers and the Word program that I have been able to overcome these challenges.   

Great!  Do you have any favorite authors?  

I have a lot of them - Robert Heinlein, Alan Dean Foster, Orson Scott Card, Jules Vern just to name a few.   

Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

I live in south Florida and on the edge of a water management canal that is full of frogs, crickets birds, the occasional otter and bobcat. My lanai faces this area and I love to sit and write around dusk when the critters really get their opera on. I also love to write when it is raining especially in a good old fashioned Florida thunderstorm.   

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?

Yes, my advice is to write what you love, whatever it may be - Sci-fi, Romance, Horror, Poetry or even self-help. If you try and write only what you think will sell you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Also if you love it, keep writing it; someone somewhere will read it and like it and that is what it is all about. You can’t give up because your first effort wasn’t an instant best seller or because you didn’t get that huge publishing contract on your first submission. Keep trying and keep honing your writing skills; we can all improve. Lastly, some people are going to hate your writing just like some are going to love it. You must learn from the criticism and enjoy the praise.   

Great words of wisdom there, T.W.  

Readers, here is the blurb for Alien Manifesto.

When orphaned ex-Navy S.E.A.L. Thomas Scott decides upon a life of crime, he does not expect to be recruited to join an elite Special Forces operation charged with stealing an alien artifact. Especially a mixed-species alien team headed by inter-galactic billionaire Snarth. The close-knit team soon becomes Tom's family in more senses than one, which complicates matters when the mysterious artifact turns out to hold secrets that may plunge the whole of the known universe into a devastating war...

Here is an excerpt.


The Adventures of the Human, Thomas Scott

 My name is Thomas Dale Scott, chief petty officer third class, U.S. Navy, retired. Former Navy S.E.A.L. now soldier of fortune, minus the fortune. I was not retired either by choice or by mandatory retirement. My career was over the minute the hostilities first ended in Iraq then Afghanistan. Some pencil pushing politician in D.C. decided that Tom Scott, and anyone like me, were no longer necessary in the new Special Forces. I knew too much and I had seen things those in power never wanted to become public knowledge. I was a liability, turned out like the next day’s garbage. Now if I came forward with what I knew, I would simply be discredited, jailed under false pretenses like a common criminal.
You see, I was with S.E.A.L. Team 4 for two tours in Iraq and then three tours in Afghanistan fighting the Islamic radicals. I have twenty-one confirmed enemy kills to my credit, all in hand to hand or small arms combat. I even have some of those unconfirmed, long distance non-combatant kills. The ones I won’t ever talk about and will try desperately to forget for the rest of my life.
I was very good at my job. I have the scars as proof; I’ve been shot twice, stabbed four times and hit with grenade shrapnel in my left shoulder. Let’s not forget the scars no one could see; I had plenty of those. Now, to the military brass I am just a broken down has-been waiting for his shrinking government pittance at the end of each month, discarded and forgotten. If it weren’t for my meager disability pay I might not even exist at all.
In order to survive, I decided to try my hand at a life of crime. I ran into a former comrade of mine a while back who, like me, was out on his ear.  He had been discharged by the US Army Rangers without even a thank you from a grateful nation for killing in the name of God and country. The both of us were a modern version of crusading Christian knights of old. He introduced me to some friends of his, all ex- Special Forces with no other skills except teamwork, breaking into places, killing and blowing shit up.
Trouble was we were fresh out of Johnny jihads here in the states. It would be a dishonorable thing to kill my fellow Americans for a living.  Not after I swore a sacred oath on my personal honor, to protect them from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Even from each other if needed.
We could start a revolution, and teach those corrupt, greedy, self-serving politicians the true meaning of honor and patriotism. Bring back a government that defends the rights of the people, instead of dispensing them to us as if we were unruly children, ignorant and unable to think for ourselves. This was, however, not my idea of a good career choice. Since killing and blowing shit up was out, this limited our skill set to a kind of specialized teamwork, one not much in legal demand.  I figured I might as well put all that expensive training to good use now that Uncle Sam could care less about me, or my future.
I have no family; the sisters at the Good Shepard orphanage in Miami raised me. I have bright red hair and a temper to match. I learned to fight bigger opponents early on, much to the anger and dismay of the good Sisters, who ran the orphanage. To escape, I went straight into the military on my eighteenth birthday. It was either join the military, or a short life of crime followed by lots of jail time.
 So why not a life of crime now that I have the skills, while I am still young enough to use them. It might be fun. Beats the hell out of being broke, homeless and despised like so many other of my older fellow veterans. I missed the sound of nightly gunfire and the camaraderie. I especially missed the helicopter rides in the dark, I thought to myself. What I did not know is that tonight my whole life was about to take an abrupt turn into the “holy shit I can’t believe this is happening to me” direction.
My newfound associates were staging a raid on a high security warehouse, just outside of the port of Miami security perimeter. The plan was to steal a shipment of recycled money scheduled to be withdrawn from circulation and replaced with new. Having drawn the short straw and as the group’s newest member, it was my job to stand guard over the team's secondary escape route. Never mind that I have more combat experience than any one of my newfound friends. It didn’t matter, I was the FNG so I got the shit detail.
It began when something moved into the corner of my vision, silent like a ghost from my imagination, snapping me to full alert.  I turned my head, instinctively scanning and saw a black silhouette on the nearby street, silent, stopped, waiting. The incoming threat, if that is what I saw, was outlined faintly in the pallid flickering of the only working streetlight left in this deserted section of the wharf district. Probably some lost biker getting directions from his GPS. No need to alert the others, not yet, they would just think I was a nervous rookie. They would be wrong because I was as far from a rookie as any living, breathing ex-S.E.A.L. can be.
We were in the outskirts of Miami. I was guarding a dock jutting out into Biscayne Bay, near the inlet and the intercostal waterway. It was hot, gusty and insufferably humid as only it can be in south Florida at night. My black fatigues were damp with sweat and sticking to my back. It was pitch-black, not even the full moon shone through the thick, black clouds. It would rain again soon, lightning was flashing in warning of another oncoming thunderhead. Perfect conditions for a heist; no one would venture out voluntarily in this weather.
 My team mates had fanned out, moving into attack position, headed for the warehouse, close by, yet out of sight. We intended to escape down the inter-coastal with our loot by the speedboat I was guarding should the need arise.  Our backup plan in case an alarm was raised, and the land route was blocked by the cops.
The silhouette suddenly vanished from the flickering light, just as silently as it had emerged from the darkness. A brief glimpse of a helmeted figure on what looked like a motorcycle was all I had seen, in the streetlights pitiful attempt at illuminating the sticky darkness. Whoever it was turned toward me, moving closer, raising my alert level to high. Was it a cop on a motorcycle? No, it was moving too fast, too quiet!
Instinctively I retreated deeper into the shadows, trying to melt into the darkness. I reached for the com-link to warn the others. My gut told me it was too late.  Damn it! I am better than this. I had been made by whoever was riding that bike.
He must have night vision, which ruled out the local cops. This spelled a different kind of trouble. Closer the bike came, straight at me now, silently, deliberately, without slowing. Then, breaking suddenly, he stopped about one hundred feet directly in front of me, smashing all of my remaining hopes of escape.
With my back to the water, the only place to retreat was down the dock; I was trapped. I could attempt to escape into the shallow water around the dock, abandoning the speedboat and my teammates. It meant a long swim in the dark. It wouldn’t be my first long, dark swim. That would be my emergency plan. I would make my stand here; there was only one of them. If it wasn’t the cops, then who? And why?
I tensed for the bikers’ move, my fighting knife drawn in my left hand, held low along my leg. It would have to be a quiet kill. Suddenly a flash of very bright light stunned my eyes, completely disorienting me. In those couple of seconds my warning to my teammates went unsent, forgotten in the changing of the situation.
Suddenly the bike was much closer than it had been. As my eyes struggled to regain focus, I heard a deep almost mechanical male voice hiss in perfect english, “Tom, I have been watching you for quite sssome time, my boy, and I must sssay I am very impressssed.” He knows who I am! That strange voice caused a cold chill to run down my spine .What the hell is going on here!
Slowly the stranger dismounted his bike, swinging his left leg up and back over the seat, leaving the bike between us. Standing, he removed his helmet, tucking it under his left arm. He remained in the darker shadows of the two huge oak trees that guarded the entrance to the dock. He was right-handed. I crouched, tensing, preparing my attack, waiting for his, remembering my S.E.A.L. hand-to-hand and small arms combat training.  But Who? And Why?
“You sssee”, he hissed softly as he began moving toward the front of the bike, getting closer “I saw you get your asss kicked by ssShorty in the sssecond grade. And I sssaw you covering for that girl they caught sssmoking on the playground, after ssschool. What wasss her name? Jill? Jan? No matter,” He hissed, “what isss important isss that you ssstood up for sssomeone weaker than you. I doubt you thought the whole thing thru at that age. But you ssstuck to your gunsss and never told what really happened, no matter how hard the nunsss punissshed you. They forced the church’s twissssted version of right and wrong on you for all those years. Thossse church run orphanagesss can be ssso dehumanizing if you are not a believer or at leassst pretend to be one. Later in high ssschool,” he continued, as I was still speechless to say the least, “Good at sssports but not good enough to go pro. Then a little trouble with the law and it wasss the military or jail. Followed by two toursss in Iraq then three toursss in Afghanissstan with the ssS.E.A.L.s You have become quite the bad-asss, my boy. You will however be very sssorry you fell in with this group of losssers sssoon enough. That bringsss usss to why I am here,” he hissed.   
He knows all about me! How could he? No one knows me that well! Regaining my voice, I growled, “Who are you and what do you want. Tell me quickly, I’ve no patience for this kind of game.”
By now, my eyes had completely regained their night vision. I could make out what could only be described as an alien, not the kind from Mexico either. The shadowy voice had stepped in front of the cycle’s headlight revealing the identity of the mysterious stranger, who knew all about me.
It, or should I say he, was well over six feet tall. Complete with small, slender tentacles surrounding a very large mouth full of long, needle sharp teeth. His bulging, muscular arms had hands with claws on the end of the fingers.  His equally muscular legs ended into bare, clawed feet. His skin was leather like, a dark, dull green, almost reptilian.
He was wearing a plain, black, short-sleeved fabric tunic, much like the fighting ghee used in Earth martial arts. Around his waist was some sort of equipment or weapons belt.  He wore a small square metal device on his neck, as to its function I could only guess. His voice seemed to emanate from it. Equally strange was his bike, it had no wheels, made no sound and it was suspended somehow in mid-air, seemingly floating.
            As he moved even closer, I moved my right hand, reaching to bring the Beretta .40 cal. on my right thigh to bear on mister mysterious. He was getting too close. In a blur of motion, I was facing a similarly fashioned hand weapon. I had not even seen him begin his reach for his weapon. Frozen, poised to draw, I waited. I would have never drawn my weapon in time, I realized. “Now, Tom, I am jussst here to talk, I have sssomething for you”, he hissed softly, carefully.
“What could you possibly have that I might want?” I growled, fully tensed, intending to strike, and just waiting for an opening, my hand right hand gripping the still holstered Beretta. 
“My name is ssSnarth and I have a job offer for you,” he hissed ever so gently.
“What kind of job? Why should I trust you?” I asked, relaxing my stance ever so slightly, sheathing my knife. 
“Becaussse if I wanted you dead, dear boy, I would have just disssintegrated you long ago, and sssaved myself consssiderable time and expenssse,” Snarth hissed louder confidently, relaxing his stance in kind, holstering his weapon with a twirling flourish. “Keeping tabsss on sssomeone from acrossss the galaxy getsss expensssive, no matter what planet you are from.”
            I relaxed my combat stance completely now and stood facing the alien, Snarth he called himself. Having been raised in an orphanage, I was not one to let opportunities pass me by no matter how strange they may be. “Where might that be?” I asked, releasing my grip on the Beretta, yet not letting my hand stray too far. 
“Where issss what, dear boy? Snarth hissed, confused. 
“The planet you are from!” I said evenly, trying not to let the strangeness of this encounter show in my voice, yet unable to stop the sharpness in my answer. 
“Oh that, noticed did you, sssuffice it to sssay it is a very long way from here,” Snarth hissed with a guttural chuckle and a casual wave of the hand opposite his weapon. As if this happened to him all the time, meeting an alien for the first time and who is to say he did not., “To dessscribe it to you would be an exercissse in futility asss you have no frame of reference to understand it in. It would be a sssafe bet to sssay that I am not from Earth,” Snarth hissed casually.
“No matter, that isss a discussion for another time. My ship isss nearby. Won’t you join me in a chilled glassss of the finessst Belgian abbey ale you have ever had? Or a sssmoke of the finessst, if you prefer it’sss delightsss inssstead.” My now gracious, newfound, seemingly best friend hissed smoothly with what must pass for a smile on his tentacle wiggling face.
“Besidesss”, he hissed, “thisss whole job isss a ssset up by Metro-Dade police department and Homeland ssSecurity. There isss no money shipment in that warehoussse. Your friendsss are walking into a trap that will either get them killed or arresssted. And when they do, they may blame you. It would be assshame to wassste all that talent of yoursss locked away in sssome jail cell now, wouldn’t it, my boy. I am here to help you essscape if you would rather. I do wisssh you would look passst who I am and hurry up and make up your mind. Time isss very ssshort, the authoritiesss are on their way, a large number of them,” Snarth urged in response to the trill of some sort of sensor alarm on the bike. Snarth was right they would think I was an informant. I had fought with some of those guys in Afghanistan; they would make some very bad enemies.
Throwing caution to the wind, “Why not? They are no friends of mine,” I answered as I climbed onto the back of the strange, still silent bike.

Thanks for visiting us, T.W.!  It was fun learning more about you and your book, Alien Manifesto!

Author Bio
I am a navy brat thanks to my Dad's attachment to the US Pacific Fleet. My family is from Kentucky and both sides have lived there since just after the revolutionary war. I am a long time resident of St. Lucie county, Florida. My wife of 19 years is a Florida native, born in Stuart, FL, a cracker and proud of it. We have one daughter Corri who is currently a full time college student. Then there is the family dog Hobo and his two feline friends Oscar the grouch and Biggin kitty. All of who have inspired characters to write about.

How I got into writing is an unusual chain of events culminating in my first book, Revenge from Mars. I was working for BellSouth as an information operator and had been for 15 years when the office I was in was closed due to downsizing. As I had just enough seniority to receive severance pay equal to one years’ salary, I decided to go back to school. 

I chose culinary school as I thought I could cook and I thought I liked it. While I did graduate from Le Cordon Bleu with honors, I quickly came to realize that I was not cut out to work in a fast paced kitchen. You see I have two speeds, slow and slower. And when I get stressed, I downshift rather than speeding up. 
I was working in the kitchen of a breakfast and lunch country store in downtown Fort Pierce.  This is where I grew up when I met an author who was giving a presentation at the library just down the street. That seemed like a cool thing to do. 
Later that evening, I remembered some advice given to me by the language professor at Le Cordon Blue. I had finished an in-class essay much faster than anyone else in the class. The professor looked at my work and asked how many books I had written. I didn’t think anything of it at the time after all I was training to be a Chef not an author. It was what he said next that I remember the most, ”Maybe you should”. I did not know it at the time, but Professor Wolfish was a former big college professor who taught professional writing classes for many years before.
So, that night I sat down at my computer and sketched out what was to be the opening scene in my first novel. That was easy, I remember thinking. Little did I realize I had embarked on a new career. One that gives me much more satisfaction than any job I have ever had and there has been many. I have just finished my second novel and I have been picked up by Solstice Publishing. All of this, and hopefully more, because of a comment made by a well-meaning professor to whom I shall be forever grateful. 
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