The long and winding road. Using characters in sequels and spin-offs.


Back in 2013, in my first novel, Freefall, I introduced a character called Ballantyne Alysom. He was a galactic explorer and owner of the magazine Galactographic!

His claim to fame and the reason for his creation was as the discoverer of the famous Alysom Caves on Qister-Alu, where a lot of the action in the last part of Freefall took place.

It seemed such a shame to have created a character like him (and a place like the caves) and only give it a bit part in one novel. I wondered if either might have any more uses in the world of the future that I had big plans for.

I could see a place for Galactographic! magazine. It was a useful thing to have in my worlds and I’ve already used it a lot as a work of reference in various stories. But as for the man himself, I was unsure how to deal with his life story.

By the way I have already described him, he was an important figure in the history of my Sci-fi universe. Should I make him an Indiana Jones type of explorer in his real life? I thought about it but the whole idea seemed a bit obvious, perhaps I could take him in another direction?

Given the fact that he had lived a long time before the events in my stories and that time always distorts memories, I thought that I could introduce a dichotomy.

As Shakespeare said, in Julius Caesar,



What if we turned that on its head?


In my world, history remembered Bal Alysom as a good man. Meanwhile, in reality, he was anything but. Could his position of power have been used to create a myth around his image?

My novel Survive was the result. In it, as well as describing the discovery of the Alysom Caves, the real Ballantyne Alysom is revealed. He’s not the genial explorer who laughs in the face of danger that everyone might expect. In fact, he’s the opposite, a man with megalomania, who will accept no rivals. He has the money and position to stifle dissent and a team of fixers, people who will stop at nothing to make sure that Bal’s adoring fan club, the Alysomettes, never learn the truth about their idol. The first novel ended at an interesting place, and several readers have asked for more of the story.


Ballantyne Alysom is the Galaxy’s most famous explorer.

Davis Jansen is the cameraman he takes to record his latest mission. 
Alysom is giving nothing away, except that it’s something that’s never been seen before. 
When things go wrong, they are marooned on a savage and uncharted planet. The survivors need a leader they can rely on. 

Jansen watches and records it all as Alysom’s true character is revealed. He’s not the genial and fearless explorer that everyone sees. 

The Far Explorer is a ship riddled with infighting and jealousy, Alysom is controlling and arrogant, nothing like the man that his reputation suggests.

Jansen’s efforts to expose the truth carry just as much risk as surviving on the planet did. 

Maybe more

Find out if enough lies can ever bury the truth in Survive, the tale of Ballantyne Alysom.

“I recommend this book, it’s the kind you can’t put down till the end and then you’re disappointed when the end happens.”


This brings me neatly on to my current project, the sequel to Survive. Now I have to decide Bal’s fate (and that of his chief fixer).

Will he see the light, will he seek redemption for the way he has lived his life up to now? Or will he somehow carry on as a bad man with good P.R.?

The only way to find out will be to wait and see.


Even I don’t know yet, I’m waiting for the voices in my head to let me know.



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