Hell Holes- What Lies Beneath Interview


About the Book

Title: Hell Holes: What Lurks Below

Author: Donald Firesmith

Genre: Apocalyptic Scifi / Horror

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all…

On to the nitty, gritty… Thank you so much, Donald Firesmith, for being on my blog! And to Enchanted Book Tours for setting this up!

  • Let’s start at the beginning… how do you like to start your mornings? What does an ideal day look like for you
    I’ll restrict my answer to weekends when I get to start my day with my author hat on. I wake up around seven, cook a ham and cheese omelet that I eat while watching 30 minutes of news, then enter my home office, fire up my computer, and start writing. I try to get in about four hours of writing before lunch when my wife usually rises. With luck, I manage an additional three to four hours of writing and an hour of book marketing over the course of the rest of the day.
  • I love that you did a book trailer. Can you tell us something about the process? What words of advice can you give writers looking to create their own and what, if anything, would you do differently next time?
    I started by spending several hours browsing book trailers on YouTube to discover what I liked, what was possible, and what was practical within my budget, skill level, and the software tools I owned. I would have loved live actors, but I clearly couldn’t justify the cost, especially given the book’s setting in Northern Alaska. I would have also loved having a voice actor but decided against it for my first trailer, once again for cost reasons. Once I settled on a basic slide show with music, I started by writing a script and searching for appropriate graphics. Then, I found a company to create the actual trailer that had successfully produced similar trailers, was reasonably priced, and promised to work with me until I was satisfied with the result. While I am pleased with the results, I am considering upgrading the trailer with a voice over and commissioning a trailer for the second book.
  • SciFi is a genre that seems to become more difficult to stay ahead of as technology continues to advance at an ever increasing pace. How do you as an author stay ahead of the curve?
    I don’t have that problem with my Hell Holes series because it takes place in the immediate future. Due to my day job helping the US Government acquire software-reliant defense systems, I am aware of current military technology and have also developed relationships with military technical advisors. For example, Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back will involve small military UAVs, a plague virus, and tactical nuclear weapons, all three of which have been relatively easy to research to the level of detail needed for my books.
  • What is next on your writer’s journey? What goal do you have in your sights next?
    In addition to completing Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back and finalizing the plot outline of Hell Holes 4: A Slave in Hell, I am currently completing a non-fiction book titled Free and Low-Cost Book Marketing for Indie Authors.
  • How does your work as an engineer inform your writing or is writing an escape from your day job?
    I believe that by making the real parts of science fiction and fantasy books as realistic as possible, I make the paranormal and fantasy parts more believable. In addition to all of the systems and software engineering reading I do as part of my day job, I also do a great deal of reading of popular science and technology magazines, journals, and books. These often trigger ideas for science fiction books and short stories. Writing is definitely a skill that is improved by practice, and it goes both ways. Writing non-fiction improves writing fiction and vice versa. And I must admit that there is a certain amount of escapism in reading and writing speculative fiction,
  • Can you share three new, relatively unknown books? We all love recommendations so choose three awesome titles to champion. (No fair picking your own- we all know you love that one!)
    I recently had the very good fortune to meet Marry Robinette Kowal, who is not only a great writer but also a wonderfully interesting public speaker. I just finished her book of short stories titled Word Puppets, which I highly recommend. Her stories are very creative with wonderful characters. I especially recommend “For Want of A Nail,” “The Consciousness Problem,” and “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.”
    Currently, I am really enjoying the first two books in Cyberpunk Tales by A.L. Hunt and J. R. Forrest. In addition to a real kick-ass heroine, they have created an absolutely fascinating future world run by corporations where the vast majority of people live in underground slums also populated by the cybernetically, genetically, and psychically enhanced. Finally, I am really into the steampunk graphic novel series Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio.
  • Can you share one resource: website, marketing strategy, social media medium that you feel has most helped you and could help other writers on their way?
    I have been collecting all of the book marketing material that has helped me into a book that I am incrementally making available on my author website. Until I finalize it this summer, my fellow indie authors can download partial drafts (updated each weekend) for free. All I ask is early feedback so that the final book is as good as I can make it.
  • What do you wish your readers could know about you?
    That in spite of the current mini Dark Ages we’re going through, that I believe the future is going to be more like the early Star Trek universe than an apocalyptic dystopia. In spite of being an older white man whose day job involves national defense, I am a socially liberal progressive who favors progress over conserving our not-so-great past. Having lived overseas twice and visited nearly forty countries, I have a decidedly international rather than nationalistic viewpoint. I am pro-science and technology, and if I were in my twenties, I’d get in line to join Elon Musk and the Space X colonization of Mars.
  • The world is full of problems. If you could fix just ONE… and expense or transportation were no object- what would you fix and why that one?
    I would make a major disease-causing germ or virus go extinct. I think that the eradication of smallpox was one of the greatest achievements of modern science.
  • Paper vs. eBook- the debate rages on… compare and contrast, please.
    I have a huge collection of physical books including many autographed books and books over a hundred years old. Nothing feels quite like holding a fine leather-bound volume in your hands. And you really need large format paperbacks for graphic novels. That being said, I have gotten very used to being able to carry around hundreds of books in my Kindle Fire and iPhone. You can’t beat the cost, convenience, and instant gratification. To me, it’s not a case of one or the other, but of both.
  • If you had to choose… mountains or sea… what would you choose as a home base and why does your choice speak to you?
    I love both. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington), where the coast was an hour to the west and the mountains were an hour to the east. I’ve lived on the beach and at the base of Mount St. Helens. I used to spend all weekend hiking alone in the Cascades with only the animals for company, and I would love nothing more than spend a week scuba diving in the Caribbean. Sorry. Sparks flying from ears. Can’t choose. Must move on to next question….
  • And lastly… what is your favorite reward after a long day of writing—that little treat you give yourself?
    Probably either reading or watching science-fiction on TV. However, my favorite reward for writing is not something I give myself. It is a thoughtful book review posted by a new fan who enjoyed reading one of my books. Making a reader care enough to take the time to write a real review, explaining what they liked and even what they didn’t like, is the best reward any author could ask for.

About The Author:

A computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky and his youngest son Dane.


The Links:

Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, CreateSpace, Goodreads, Indigo, Kobo, Smashwords

The Book Trailer:


This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog. Erika’s debut novel, The Dragon in The Garden can be found at Tirgearr Publishing.