The idea for The Human Chronicles had been swimming around in my head for decades, but it was only after I became convinced that ebooks and independent publishing were here to stay that I decided to commit the time and effort to actually finishing a book. I had been kicking around the writing profession my entire life, from junior high and high school journalism, to college and as a Journalist in the Navy. I went on to do freelance editing and publication design for a number of years before settling into a real estate career — of all things! Yet throughout all those years, I had never completed a single book or sent out a single submission to a traditional publisher. That all changed in 2011.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the origins of the concept behind The Human Chronicles.
I don’t know about you, but I had always been frustrated with the majority of science fictions stories and movies that depict humans getting our asses kicked by either a handful of aliens or by a spore or two released into the atmosphere. Let’s face it, reality could be a whole other ballgame. Just think of a den of lions, masters of the savannah, fearing no creature. Now what if these lions entered the territory of the humans? What do you think would happen? No matter how strong and mighty the lions may be, it’s a pretty good bet that this encounter would not work out well — for the lions! I believe it would be the same for aliens.
Let’s face it, mankind has dominated everything on the planet Earth, and yet we’re to believe that every alien race we encounter will be able to kick our ass? It hasn’t worked out like that so far on the planet Earth. Here we are the head honchos, the top of the freaking food chain.
My vision of a science fiction story where the humans are doing the terrorizing and ass-kicking came into full focus years ago when I saw a cartoon in an old Soldier of Fortune Magazine. It was of a muscle-bound man standing over a dragon-looking thing and holding a smoking gun. The caption read, “I don’t know what it was, but it’s dead.”
Whether you like it or not, that is probably how it would work out for any aliens we encounter. Either by sheer force or by technology, I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way to prevail … and luck will have nothing to do with it.
So the premise of The Human Chronicles Saga is that Humans are the Supermen in the galaxy. No, we can’t fly and we can be killed, yet as I explain in the books, we come from a heavy-gravity world, helping us to build added strength, durability and quickness. I also remember seeing a study that was done on the bone structure of prehistoric man. As was necessary for survival in those days, their bones were a lot denser and stronger than ours are today. Frankly, you could take a baseball bat to the arm of a Neanderthal, — and even though you may really piss him off — you probably wouldn’t be able to break his arm, and he could probably outrun you, too. So it probably wasn’t such a good idea to hit him with a baseball bat in the first place! Now pretend you’re an alien and we’re the pissed-off Neanderthals….
I use a combination of literary license and suppositions to say Humans are more primitive along the evolutionary ladder than most aliens, like Neanderthals would be to modern man, at least physically. Then add in our heavy-gravity world and propensity for combat, and you have the perfect warriors — the Supermen among the aliens.
So with the premise of The Human Chronicles Saga established, now all I had to do was create a scenario where we would come in contact with aliens on their own turf, along with a way for us to show off our skills.
The Fringe Worlds introduces the readers to the world of Juirean Expansion, an alien empire encompassing half the known galaxy. The Juireans are a race of pragmatic aliens who, as part of an ancient alliance of races, were themselves the primitives among the enlightened. Using their own unique skill-set and warlike nature, the Juireans conquered their fellow alliance members and set about establishing a galactic empire using stolen technology and superior tactics of war. It’s within the Juirean’s efforts to rule a galaxy as a single race of beings that I also explore the difficulties the Juireans had to overcome while attempting to do the impossible. Eventually, their empire evolves into a loose affiliation of planets and coalitions, all under the banner of the Juirean Expansion. For my hypothetical universe, this seemed to work out just fine.
And yet, as always, there are forces looking to undermine the status quo, and that’s where the Humans come in. (By the way, I capitalize ‘Humans’ throughout the books, just as you’d capitalize Klingons or Romulans. It’s only appropriate.) An ancient alien race has discovered the Earth and realize that the Humans might be just the ticket to help them defeat the Juireans. However, like with all living things, there has to be motivation and incentive for the Humans to risk life and limb. And with that, I’ll leave that part of the story untold — until you read the books.
Now back to The Fringe Worlds. In truth, The Fringe Worlds was supposed to be twice as long as it turned out to be, and was to include what would become book two of the series, Alien Assassin. Yet impatience and curiosity got the best of me, and once a logical break point was reached, I decided to put the book up on Amazon and see if anyone cared about what I’d written.
The Fringe Worlds went live on Amazon.com on October 12, 2011, and needless to say it took off immediately. I was not only shocked but amazed at the reaction the book received. Here I was, a completely unknown author having just completed my very first book — ever — and it was selling like hotcakes. Yet this only goes to prove one of the basic tenets of science fiction writing: The Concept is King! If the idea is good, then science fans will flock to it. The story of Humans being the badasses in the galaxy really struck a chord, and now, exactly two years a few days after releasing The Fringe Worlds, there are six books completed in the series, and soon to be a seventh (and probably going to nine and beyond). I’ve sold nearly 150,000 copies of my books in two years, and The Human Chronicles Saga was one of the bestselling series on Amazon in 2012 — and should be again in 2013.
Besides the unique concept of the storyline, I also attribute some of the success of the series to the fact that I write very cinematically (after all, I am a product of the TV age). My writing is bare-bones and without fluff, so much so that many of my fans have commented on how quickly they’ve read my books … and about how long it takes me to write more! But with people’s short attention spans these days, I think readers like books they can blast right through … as long as there is another one available right afterwards.
I also believe in getting right into the story and in keeping the reader engaged — constantly — until the very last page. This comes from my journalism training, where one needs to hook the reader immediately, grab them by the throat and not let them go until they’ve read the entire article. (Well, maybe not so dramatic as that.) But really, I’m not out to impress anyone with my poetic and flowery writing style, or mastery of obscure words no one uses in everyday conversation. I have a story to tell and I’m going to tell it in the most direct manner I can.
On a personal note, the success of series has allowed me to leave my 25-year career in real estate and mortgages and pursue writing full time — an ambition of mine since I was twelve! Better late than never, right? Also, for you out there thinking about pursuing a career in writing, I’ve pulled in close to $400,000 in two years, simply from my little science fiction ebooks!
And although there will come a time when The Human Chronicles Sage comes to an end (or I take a break from the story of Adam Cain for a while), my writing style will remain the same. I hope my fans will follow me into the future, as I pursue other ideas and create new worlds in which to play.
By the way, there will be a large section in this blog devoted to writing and publishing. Even though my success has been recent, it has been substantial compared to others, and in an effort to keep it going, I do try to analyze everything so I can figure out what works and what doesn’t. Within this blog I will pass along my findings, advice and experiences. I hope all aspiring authors will follow me, as we discover even more writing success … together.
Frankly, being an independent author is the most fantastic job in the world. As I tell others: All I have to do is sit around and make shit up — and I get paid for doing it!
You can’t beat that.
T.R. (Tom) Harris
- A Quick Note to the fans of The Human Chronicles Saga (bytrharris.com)