Inspiration and the Creative Process

My fifth novel, Dun Ringill, is complete.   Though it took me over a year to write, I only recently stumbled upon a bit of information that I wanted to share.

Some of you already know that Dun Ringill is a real place, an approximately 2,000 year old fort on the Island of Skye off of Scotland.

I was inspired to name my book after it because of its reference in a song by Jethro Tull, the progressive rock group introduced to me by my mother at a young age.  Most of Tull’s lyrics were written by its frontman, Ian Anderson, who lived near Dun Ringill during some of his youth.  Anderson’s recurring themes are rife with references to the ancient peoples of England, their culture, and rituals.  They are all explored in depth on the outstanding fan website Cup of Wonder,

Edit: 27 OCT 2019:  It has come to my attention that the website Cup of Wonder is no longer up.  I’m disappointed as no other website seems to have the level of in-depth analysis of Tull lyrics.  Below are some alternatives.

Including, of course, Dun Ringill itself, from the album Stormwatch.


Though often inscrutable, Anderson’s lyrics are not always difficult to decipher, and Dun Ringill’s meaning is fairly easy to discern if you know the history behind the ancient structure.  Though in reality the fort probably has no special meaning other than a defensive position that long ago became obsolete, it inspired me to research other ancient English structures that almost certainly did, including the most famous, Stonehenge.  In fact, many ancient structures in England feature astronomical alignments at significant times of the year (solstices and equinoxes, most notably).  Whether built merely for utility or for a ritualistic purpose, people who visit these places often remark on there being a peculiar feel to them, probably the same sense of mystery that Anderson himself experienced at Dun Ringill.

It was while researching these places that I learned about cursus lines, man-made ditches, barrows, or earthenworks put in place thousands of years ago for unknown purposes:

I thought these were interesting enough to apply them in a practical way to the science fiction of my novel.  However, I also decided to use them because I suspected that one of Anderson’s lines from Dun Ringill, lines joint in faint dischord, referred to cursus lines and their possible importance in ancient rituals.  As courses constructed by people who may have believed that some kind of mystical power flowed through them, they are related to the pseudoscience of ley lines:

But are things like this what Anderson was really referring to in the song Dun Ringill?  I wasn’t sure until I started studying the lyrics of Jethro Tull songs that weren’t my favorites, either growing up or today.  So, it was just last week that I came across an explicit reference to ley lines in the song Cup of Wonder itself.

Songs From The Wood

For the May Day is the great day, sung along the Old Straight Track.  And those who ancient lines did lay will heed the song that calls them back.

If you looked at the Wikipedia article I linked above, you may have noticed that The Old Straight Track was the first published book on ley lines.


Still, despite that I could have answered my own question a long time ago by being more familiar with Jethro Tull’s discography, I was elated to learn of this relationship.  Maybe this makes me a verifiable Turbo Nerd but this revelation sent chills down my spine.

In all of my writing, I’ve been inspired by astronomy, ancient legends, and music.  Whether any of this translates into good science fiction is certainly up to the reader, but the fact that it keeps me going back to the page is good enough for me.  However, now that my characters have solved the mystery of Dun Ringill, it seems that I have, too.

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New Cover Art for Reckless Faith

Work on the fifth book in the Reckless Faith series slowly continues, but I recently hit the 50% point for its projected length.  In the meantime, I was so happy with my cover art for Dun Ringill by Alejandro Quinones, that I commissioned him to redo the cover for Reckless Faith.

This scene depicts the first time the main characters find Seth, the repository of technological data sent to Earth from Umber.

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Reckless Faith V: Chapter 10

The Faith and the Fox had arrived in the Dellal system, and had parked themselves at the heliopause to scan the area.  It had been 16 hours since Cane and Talyn had fixed the engine problem on the Fox, having pulled an all-nighter by the ship’s clock, and they were glad to have had a chance to clean up and sleep before the next round of action.  Dellal itself was no more than a particularly bright star at their current distance of 100 AU, and Christie set to work confirming the layout of the solar system.  John, Ray, Dana, Richter, and Sparrow were with her on the bridge of the Faith, while Vecky, Cane, Talyn, and Evangeline manned the bridge of the Fox.

“I’m ready to give a rundown of the solar system,” said Christie.  “Captain Kitsune, are you there?”

“We’re listening,” said Vecky’s voice.

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Book Review: Outer Demon by Gabriel Landowski

Outer Demon is a fun, fast-paced fantasy novel that combines a cohesive storyline with a well-timed twist near the end.

The main character is a young man filled with a mysterious power passed down through a familial legacy, though he begins this classic hero’s journey quite unaware of his potential. He is forced onto his path by a strange illness that almost kills him, an affliction that is only quelled by the appearance of a beautiful woman. Her interest in the boy, along with her own origins, are closely kept secrets, though he quickly begins to suspect that their destinies are intertwined.

Filled with action, deft storytelling, and a well-defined arc, Outer Demon is an easy choice for a reader looking for a new and accessible tale. Some may notice a few grammatical errors of the type often overlooked by all but the most tenacious editors, but it’s not enough to detract from the story. Overall it should appeal to fantasy fans of all types.  4/5 stars.

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Reckless Faith V: Chapter 9

In a desolate void fifty light years from Dellal, the Faith and the Fox waited. The mysterious ship, invisible if not for the plasma flare and that it was blocking a few stars in the background, had frustrated any further attempt at scanning. On the bridge of the Faith, John tapped his fingers on his armrest. The door behind him opened, and Milly, Dana, and Sparrow entered.

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Reckless Faith V: Chapter 8

The Cygnian Liberation Front was based on a large, rocky moon of Dellal V, in an underground complex that had been a palladium mine.  The mining operations were still ongoing, at least on paper, but any meaningful amount of precious metal had long since been removed.  A meager haul of palladium was still pulled from the mine, though profit was no longer its reason for existing.  The Cygnian Offworld Mining Export and Transport company had been transformed into a shell corporation for the CLF.  It was not a perfect arrangement, but the eyes of God were everywhere.

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Reckless Faith V: Chapter 7


The crews of the Faith and the Fox, save for Cane, had front row seats at the arena, as Tomoyasu had reserved those spots ahead of time. Unlike the last time Evangeline had visited this space, the arena was filled to capacity. Over 200 people had managed to squeeze inside, and some were forced to stand on the stairs of the bleachers just to get a view. The arena was ovoid, 50 meters on its long side, and despite the asteroid’s need to save power, Tomo had ordered the lights to be raised to full brightness. Even with the lighting, motionless stars could be seen through the dome that covered the arena.

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