The Shadow’s Project Limited’s Terry Melia Interviews Joseph Carrabis

Gifted author Terry Melia interviewed me recently as part of The Shadow’s Project Limited‘s author interview series.

All cards on the table, Terry’s Tales from the Greenhills is an amazing novel and how Terry and I got in touch. We knew each other via Twitter, I enjoyed our interactions, and decided to give his book a go.

Strongly recommended.

Terry contacted me a while back about being interviewed. As my The Augmented Man was re-released by Sixth Element Publishing, I said “oh…well…if i have to…PLEASE DEAR GOD YES OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE!”

You can watch the video below or on YouTube.


31 Years to Publication

It took two months to write, thirty-one years to get published. And you know what? It was worth the wait.

I am so proud. I wrote The Augmented Man in April of 1990. Now I’m holding copies in my hands.

And the delay wasn’t because of slow mail.

I wrote the novel side-by-side with the novella, The Goatmen of Aguirra (to give you an idea of what my mind was working on at the time).

I’d workshopped The Augmented Man and received high praise. I shopped it around, no publisher was interested. I asked AJ Budrys, my mentor and an accomplished author and editor, if he’d be willing to read it and let me know if I was kidding myself, did it just need work, should I give up my dreams of being a published author…?

What you need to know is I was an accomplished trade technical author in the late 1980s through the early 1990s, at the height of the PC Boom (I discuss this in my interview) and my work was in high demand. I knew the publishing industry at that time.

AJ read it and was so blown away he offered to agent it for me. He’d published some of my short fiction in his Tomorrow magazine and he knew my work from workshops. He was familiar with my work, my style, my weaknesses, and my strengths. But The Augmented Man caught him by surprise.

I was flattered, honored. I almost fainted when I read his letter offering to represent the novel (1990, remember? We didn’t do lots of emailing back then).

For reasons that had nothing to do with the book, AJ couldn’t land it. We met at a con and he explained the situation to me. Someday, should we meet at a con, ask me and I’ll share the story.

AJ passed and I got another agent. She loved the book. Could I add 30,000 words to it?

Sure, why?

Because (at 85k words) it was too short (I reedited it to its present 97k words). Thirty-k words longer and she was sure she could land it. I added 30k words, edited, proofed, and sent the rewrite to her in under a month.

Didn’t hear from her. Called and got “Oh, on second thought, no, I don’t think this is a good enough novel. Besides, there’s too much out there already like it.”

Really? Did you read the novel?

Yeah, sure. It’s about a guy lost in a jungle, right?

On to agent #3. Who was a joke. I finally asked point blank, “How many projects have you placed?” and she responded that she couldn’t work with someone who asked such questions. This after the head of the agency phoned and talked with me for an hour to let me know how impressed he was by my work.

So I put it on the shelf. I went on with life.

Because I’m patient.

And now I’m holding the novel in my hands.

I’m so proud.

Would you like a personally autographed copy?

(and feel free to pass this on to every one)

Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell

Enjoy the panel discussion. Information on the participants is below.

Continue reading “Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell”

(Video published – see link below) Join science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, special guest alt-history and dystopian author Liz Tuckwell and myself in a two hour talk on #worldbuilding this Saturday, 6 Mar 21, noonET on Facebook

UPDATE: You can watch the panel discussion at both Litcon 2021 World Building Panel with Science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, steampunk, YA science fantasy, speculative fiction, dystopia, and military science fiction authors F. Stephan, Geoff Genge, Claudia Blood, Theresa Halvorsen, C.G. Hatton, and Liz Tuckwell and YouTube

Watch it live Saturday, 6 March 2021, noonET on Facebook!

About Minnesota based Claudia Blood
The Relic Trilogy – Which is YA sci-fantasy (or soft sci-fi)
Book 1: Company Assassin
Book 2: Horizon Found
Book 3: Time Rift — Goes live March 15th

About PEI based Geoff Genge
Terra Obscura series
My genre is alt-history/steampunk/sci-fi. What can I say… I’m complicated.
I like romantic dinners, stiff drinks, and long walks down abandoned country roads. Ya’know… since you asked.


About Temecula based Theresa Halvorsen
heresa Halvorsen has never met a profanity she hasn’t enjoyed. She’s generally overly-caffeinated and at times, wine-soaked. The author of multiple spec-fiction works, including Warehouse Dreams and River City Widows, in addition to various short stories and non-fiction articles, Theresa wonders what sleep is. Because she didn’t have enough to do, she also started No Bad Books Press with S. Faxon and edits for other spec fiction writers.), Theresa enjoys board games, geeky conventions, and reading. Her life goal is to give “Oh-My-Gosh-This-Book-Is-So-Good!” happiness to her readers. She lives in Temecula with her amazing husband, occasionally her college-age twins, and the pets they’d promised to care for.

About Lyon, France based F. Stephan
I have now 4 science fiction books in the same universe
The first two will tell you of Brian’s path to become a fully qualified starpilot and to overcome his worst fears
The third brings you back to Earth and the first trading space station above it, unsupported by the planet below
The fourth introduces you to a new character. She is forty, her birth has been deleted from the databases by the Federation until now and suddenly she has to find out what happened then.
I have pushed back the anthology of short stories
I am writing a fantasy book, set up in an alternate roman-styled world. When Giants attacks Antiago’s ally and northern border, General Torkal has only one choice. Step in. But the Giants are only the first threat he faces. We follow Allus Vernal, Scout Master of the First Legion, protegé of the General, from reconnaissance to battles, from throne rooms to secret fortresses

About North East England based C.G. Hatton
I write fast-paced action adventure military scifi (Thieves’ Guild), far future, galaxy at war, lots of intrigue, character-driven, complex, six books in main series, two so far in YA origins series set ten years before the main drama, new book out in April is the 3rd in that origins series…
Also editor of the Harvey Duckman Presents series of scifi, fantasy, steampunk and horror short story anthologies…
Background is degree and PhD in geology, worked at Durham Uni for five years, worked as a journalist, sub editor and editor on local newspapers for six years or so… started Sixth Element Publishing in 2009… mentor writers, run writing workshops, edit work, publish stuff… did some other stuff here and there

And from Special Guest alt-history and dystopia author Liz Tuckwell
I have written one dystopian short story and I’ve written several alternate history fantasy short stories about an alternative Rome. And a urban fantasy novella.


The Goatmen of Aguirra, Finale

The Goatmen of Aguirra is one of my favorite stories and, based on comments, popular among my readers (thankee!). It appears in my self-published Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, as an individual ebook The Goatmen of Aguirra: A Tale Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, and was serialized in Piker Press in 2019.

I’m sharing it here because a friend is having some challenges using 1st Person POV, and The Goatmen of Aguirra uses 1st Person POV throughout.

Read The Goatmen of Aguirra, Part 12.

Hope you enjoy.

The Goatmen of Aguirra (Finale)

Tenku wakes me early in the morning. He is as excited as I’ve ever seen him.

“Where are we going?”

“Yes.” He gently butts me.

I know what he means. The nannies are kidding. The field behind the village is littered with nannies on their sides, their legs folded slightly up towards their bellies and their eyes glazed. They do not scream or weep. There seems to be no pain at all. Tenku leads me to Hepob. Gomer is with her.

I ask questions, the xenopologist in me still strong even though I’m sure my transmissions are no longer reaching any ship.

Kids are born one hundred twenty-eight Aguirran days after conception. Kids are always born in the village. They’re only single births with twins being very rare and it is unusual for any individual pair to have more than two children. If there is is a methodology for deciding which partners will have more kids it alludes me.

It is dawn and the kidding begins. Like popcorn in an old style popper, the plateau pops with the bleats of first one kid then another, the sky filling with bleats and nays and hinnies as the kids pop from their mothers, the air turning first rich then acrid then pungent as puddles of blood and bowel and afterbirth meet the rising sun. The kids’ coats are damp, matted flat and mucousy. They steam as they dry. This is perhaps why they are born so early in the day; to ensure their coats being dry and fluffed before the night’s cold and rain. Close my eyes and I can hear the nannies’ tongues licking, scraping, and cleaning their kids, followed closely by the hollow sucking as the nannies consume the afterbirth.

It is the first time I’ve seen kids this early in their life. They more closely resemble goats back home –


Where am I?

There is a cracking sound inside my head and I feel myself drawn into the ground, my spine and legs fused into a trunk and roots reaching deep.

Where am I?

– although their craniums are noticeably larger and the eyes more obviously placed for binocular vision. But male and female kids walk on all fours and follow their mothers around just a few moments after birth, butting their mothers legs, near knocking the nannies over to get at their milk.

Hepob is on her knees before me, a newborn billy nipping her coat to get at her teats. Gomer comes over to me and places his left hand forward. “She is yours now. I have given you a son.”


He leans forward and grabs my testicles in his hand. His left hand. He takes his hand away then grabs me with his right. He says something, an untranslatable word but now its meaning is clear to me. Home. The untranslatable word is “I-Am-Home.” The meaning is not transitive but transcendental. It is an equivalence.


Does this thing work anymore? The lights come on. I know it records. I just don’t know if there’s anybody listening. Or anyone to listen.

Tenku is dead. Gomer, soon, I think. Age, when it comes, comes quickly to them. Gracefully, though. He has left me his Wa’asis. Hepob is teaching her daughters how to grow and cultivate it. What was once so unique I now know as ordinary. Unlike us, Goatmen mate for life. A mate’s passing is announced with a song. I suppose it would be translated as “He/She waits for us” that starts with the mate and finishes when the youngest has chorused that line.

The Theisen are always with me now. They’ve told me about their technology, one we had long, long ago and forgot because something inside us didn’t let the blue-eyed Neanderthals live.

I have blue eyes.

Our technology, they tell me, was developed because we feared the unique, the different, thus we created a science which ultimately made everyone equal without and did nothing to make us equal within. We developed the means to give everyone equality then mocked and mistrusted those who used the means.

How is it here the Neanderthals lived? How come evolution provided no challenges?


A young nanny has asked me to take her to the Theisen. I was afraid of this. As soon as she asked, by a communication I do not yet understand, Gomer was there. “Come,” he said. After some walking we are near a cave I recognize but don’t know where from. “You go in. I’ll stay here and watch.”

There is no need for Wa’asis this time, but I take some anyway. Dutch Courage for what’s inside.


I’m climbing the Theisen. There is no indication of how long I’ve been doing it, although I feel many days and nights have passed. As always with them, I am naked.

Long before I see their tops, I see Aguirra fall away below me. Shortly after, stars dwindle in the distance. Galaxies come and go. Nebulae bathe me then recede. The gravity storms of blackholes and radiation tides of pulsars wash over me without affect as I pass them, one by one.

Still the tops of the Theisen aren’t in sight. There is something, though. A barrier of some kind. It is semi-solid, firm yet yielding, and like Ezekiel breaking through to see the mechanisms of the Universe, I go through.

I know where I am. Robin is gone. So is Jeremy. So is The Merrimack and her crew. Earth is no more. There is no taste or scent of her.

Definitions are by what, not by who, and at the top of the Theisen the what and the who are one.

I see myself reflected in the whirlpools of this space, a goatman with broken horns staring at me. He waves and smiles.

And I remember. When I was a child. Shopping for Christmas Trees. It was a large lot. A field. Acres and acres of trees. Getting lost. Not hearing my parents voices or the voices of any elders or other children at all.

Just hearing the voices of the trees.

Screaming at what they said. Not wanting to accept or believe but knowing it was true.

I let go of the Theisen and start to fall, unafraid of the descent, knowing where I am and knowing now which direction is down.

I emerge from the cave and know many days have passed. Gomer, my first-friend and -brother, has died outside the cave. Hepob seeks comfort from me and weeps. Between sobs she whispers “He waits for us” and, not understanding, dimly aware, I quietly join in.


My kid is ten years old now. He is strong and fine and makes me proud. Gomer, too, I think is proud. In my dreams he offers to go into Hepob again if I wish another child.

Not yet, I tell him. There is something first I must do.

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