October 12, 2015

Greeks, SEALs + Giveaway: Havoc Rising by Brian S. Leon

Havoc Rising
Brian S. Leon
Urban Fantasy
Red Adept Publishing
June 16, 2015

Eternal life. Eternal battle.

Steve—Diomedes Tydides to his Trojan War buddies—just had a bad day on his charter fishing boat in San Diego, but when the goddess Athena calls on her faithful warrior for another secret mission, he’s ready. The bomb that exploded inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the crime American authorities think it is. Someone also stole the Cup of Jamshid, and Diomedes knows its fortune-telling abilities won’t be used for anything benign.

Though Diomedes recovers the Cup from a determined shaman holed up beneath Central Park, when he finds his allies slain and the Cup taken once more, he knows he’s up against a truly powerful enemy. Over a millennium has passed since Diomedes last contended with Medea of Colchis, deranged wife of Jason the Argonaut, but neither her madness nor her devotion to Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has waned, and she intends to use the Cup of Jamshid to release across the world a dark brand of chaos unseen in human history.

Immortal since the Trojan War, Diomedes must once again fight for mortals he understands less and less, against a divine evil he may never truly defeat.

Havoc Rising in 5 words... The Iliad meets Tom Clancy.

I love The Illiad or The Trojan War. Of all the heroes in that epic, why choose Diomedes to headline your novel?
Outstanding question. Most people familiar with the Trojan War are aware of Achilles and his diva-like antics, but few who have even read the Iliad remember Diomedes, who was the King of Argos at the time. Well before the Trojan War and even before he was old enough to drive by today’s standards he was a feared warrior from the War of the Epigoni. By all accounts he was one of the wisest, bravest and most honorable of all the heroes who fought in the Trojan War and easily as deadly and feared as Achilles. As a matter of fact in the Iliad several times the Trojans pray that the Greeks would send anyone, including Achilles, but not Diomedes to fight. And Diomedes is the only mortal ever to wound a god in combat—not just any god, but Ares himself. And in fact, he also wounds Aphrodite. Granted, he did it with the help of Athena, who favored him above all others, including Odysseus. He is also the only mortal that she ever revealed herself to in her full form. Agamemnon and Nestor both considered his counsel as invaluable. He devised the plan to sneak into Troy to steal the Palladium with Odysseus, who wimped out on him during the mission. The theft of the artifact led to the downfall of Troy and places Diomedes in line as possibly the first commando in history. He was such an honorable and wise king and warrior that Athena offered him the gift of immortality. No one knows much about what happened to him after the war but it left me a perfect back story for my books. I just made the assumption that he accepts Athena’s offer, though it comes at a price—using his abilities to protect humanity. And that’s how my hero came about. He is about as bad ass a hero as you could want. One of my favorite quotes from Book 5 of the Iliad sums it up:

Not a word of retreat. You’ll never persuade me.
It’s not my nature to shrink from battle, cringe in fear with the fighting strength still steady in my chest.
I shrink from mounting our chariot—no retreat—on foot as I am, I’ll meet them man-to-man.
Athena would never let me flinch.

Can you tell us more about Steve aka Diomedes Tydides?
By all appearances, Steve Dore is a simple 35-ish charter fishing boat captain in San Diego, and a former Navy SEAL (not to mention former pretty much every special operations soldier in history, from French Grey Musketeer to British 2nd Commandos). His true identity, Diomedes Tydides (Greek for “Son of Tydeus”), is known only by a few, who also know he is a Guardian or a protector of mankind and a champion for Athena. He functions as a troubleshooter for Athena’s Metis Foundation, a think tank type organization dedicated to peaceful solutions to worldwide problems. When the issues and problems fall outside normal human parameters, Diomedes is sent in to solve things in any way necessary. He is a formidable soldier, both faster and stronger than a normal human thanks to his connection to Athena (a la the powers she gave him on the battlefield at Troy to fight Ares and Aphrodite) and necessary since the beings and creatures he deals with are far from human. Unfortunately after 3200 years of doing this, he is losing his connection with humanity and identifies better with his most trusted companions, a pair of notorious Fae brothers. He views himself as a blunt instrument--a last line of defense--and is unafraid to kill when necessary but duty and honor bound to protect the humans he feels less and less connected to. He is the consummate soldier.

Why "adapt" another Greek hero/pantheon instead of something less popular?
Well, to be honest, Diomedes is one of the lesser known characters from the epic, but the truth is the more I researched him and his back story, the more I knew I had to use him. I really like the idea that he had an existing backstory. It somehow made him seem more real. Plus he left me 3200 years to play with and I have no intention of limiting my stories to strictly Greek or even Roman mythology. I will and do use myths, legends and folklore from around the world and across history.

Is the Cup of Jamshid a real myth or something of your creation? Is this similar to the infamous Holy Grail?
I try very hard not to make anything up unless I have to. There’s way too much cool stuff out there and I try to connect myth to reality whenever I can. Saying that, the Cup of Jamshid is a “real” legendary object. In fact, it is the item that gave rise to the concept of the Crystal Ball used to foresee events. Some argue that it was in fact a crystal ball and not a cup at all, though most scholars agree the legend suggests it’s a cup. And Jamshid was a pretty powerful guy—plus he created wine according to his legend.

The blurb has a lot of potential antagonists, who are the villains here and can you tell us more about them?
Well in truth there is one main antagonist who is using a lot of players to achieve her end game. The main big bad is the nutcase Medea—also from Greek mythology. She was the wife of Jason, from the Argonaut story and a very powerful witch in her own right and a chief priestess of Hecate. The woman is bent. She killed all but one of her kids, another husband, an uncle, a few others and all because she was pissed off or didn’t get what she wanted. But she was always considered a very powerful witch. I did not change that part, only the part where she is still alive and still plotting revenge.

Along the way Diomedes also contends with a Mapuche Shaman called a Kalku and its Wekufe familiar (South American) and a host of minions that include Ifrits and ghouls (Persian), Androktasiai, Phonoi and Stryx (Greek) among others. All of these are as true to their myths, legends and folklore as I could keep them. And of course, this doesn’t include his allies—everything from Peri (Persian Fae) to wizards in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (yep, that is a real group).

I am a big fan of Medea! Is HAVOC RISING part of a series or standalone?
Series for sure. I’m almost finished with Book Two, tentatively titles the Half Breed, which is much more Fae-centric, and I have most of Book Three written as well. I also have storylines for seven more books plotted out, too.

Romantic elements are almost always a staple in a lot of books these days. I love that HAVOC RISING went against the grain and has no romance, out of curiosity though, what made you forgo this popular device?
I’m a guy. But to be perfectly honest, there is a tad of romance, but it serves a very specific purpose, which is to help Diomedes connect to his humanity again. Plus I use it very much for humor. Diomedes: good with weapons, not so good with women. Very minor part of the story though. It was also a side effect of having a strong female character as well.

That's very surprising. I'd think after living for centuries, he'd have polished his style and picked up some skills along the way. What is the hook of HAVOC RISING and which fanbase will this novel appeal to the most?
If you like Butcher’s Dresden Files, you’ll like this book. If you like myths and legends you’ll like this book. If you like action adventure you’ll like this book. My hook is that I try to rely on the various myths and legends in their truest original forms and not limit myself to one type, like just Greek. I also weave as much reality into the story as possible: for example, the terrorist organization in the story, Jundallah is real and they trace their origins in what is now Iran to a race called the Medes, who were historically founded by Medus, the one surviving son of Medea.

Brian S. Leon is truly a jack of all trades and a master of none. He writes just to do something with all the useless degrees and skills he’s accumulated over the years. Most of them have no practical application in civilized society, anyway. His interests include mythology and fishing, in pursuit of which he has explored jungles and museums, oceans and seas all over the world.

His credentials include an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree from San Diego State University, plus extensive postgraduate work in evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied animals most people aren’t even aware exist and theories no one really cares about anyway.

Over his varied career, Brian’s articles have been published in academic journals and popular magazines that most normal people would never read. They can be found in The American Society of Primatologists, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Proceedings of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the like. 

His more mainstream work came as an editor for Marlin and FlyFishing in Salt Waters magazines, where he published articles about fishing and fishing techniques around the world. He won a Charlie Award in 2004 from the Florida Magazine Association for Best Editorial, and several of his photographs have appeared on a number of magazine covers—almost an achievement of note, if they weren’t all fishing magazines. 

Always a picky reader, Mr. Leon enjoys stories by classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell and Jim Butcher. These books, in combination with an inordinate amount of free time, inspired him to come up with tales of his own.

Brian currently resides in San Diego, California.

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  1. It's the first time I hear about the book but it sounds like something I could really enjoy. Thank you for this little interview!

  2. Poor guy looks so sad on the cover

  3. Oh man this sounds really incredible, I love Greek mythology and it's fascinating how it's been adapted into the modern day world. It sounds really cool, great interview!

  4. I.WANT! Wow, this sounds amazing! Reading the interview had me longing for English classes. ;) I love that Leon picked Diomedes and I'm excited seeing all the other Greek references. I even think my older daughter would enjoy reading Havoc Rising. Thanks for sharing, Braine! (btw, did you major in English Lit, Braine??)

  5. This sounds fantastic and Steve sounds like a character I would like to get to know on a more personal level. LOL
    sherry @ fundinmental

  6. What?!! This sounds like something I would love and it is completely new to me. I'm off to hunt this down - very curious now. Thanks, Braine :)

  7. This was a fun and different read. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. The blurb had me intrigued and thinking action packed. Adding this to my TBR, looks right up my alley!

  9. I loved this book, SO MUCH! Fantastic interview questions (and answers). I thought I was burnt out on mythology but this book renewed my interest and I want more! Thank you so much for hosting a tour stop!

  10. Well, I didn't know much about Diomedes myself... Interesting interview. And I'm still gaping at that cover - pretty amazing. Happy Monday, lovely!

  11. I would love to read this one, as I love anything with mythology and other legends. The cover fits the description and title perfectly. I mean, how out of place does he look right there? LOL! You can tell he's more than your average man.

  12. Can't believe I didn't come across this one already. I love the idea of blending the Greek Legend of Diomedes in with Urban Fantasy. Sounds like a strong series.

    Engaging interview!

  13. What a terrific interivew. I love a good UF and I hear this one is a bit like Kevin Hearne. I need to check it out.

  14. I enjoyed this book. I also could tell that the Illiad was well known by the author. BTW, about the romance... "I'm a guy"? Really? I know more men that are romantic than women. LOL

  15. You know I love me some Greek Gods! awesome interview.

  16. I'm liking that cover. It sort of reminds me of another I like too. Also, it's just my eyes, but I thought I saw a face in the lights and shadows on the right side of the cover, in the middle. lol.

  17. Great interview and that cover, wow love that. Sounds like a series I would like. Thanks for giving us the heads up on this one.

  18. Ooo that looks interesting. Love when a little bit of history or myth just grabs ya.


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