by John Joyce


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Where did the ideas for Fire & Ice come from?

I've always been interested in paranormal phenomena and enjoy exploring them as the subjects for stories. I also know, from reading my own favourite authors such as Michael Crichton, Frederick Forsyth and Thomas Harris, that research and attention to technical detail is essential. After Virtually Maria, A Matter of Time and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, with their fictional exploration of ley lines as the underlying force behind such phenomena as the Pyramids and the Bermuda Triangle, I started looking inwards at telepathy and "remote viewing".

Remote viewing is a skill that enables a suitably gifted and trained person to project themselves out of their bodies and visit remote locations without ever physically leaving the place where they started. I saw a very interesting documentary on this on television a number of years back which described American efforts to use this technique as a form of espionage and the idea hit me that this would make a very good thriller, if only I could find the right plot.

Then Jane and I paid our regular visit to the annual Mind, Body and Spirit Fair in Dublin, where I heard a Russian expert speaking about how the USSR had experimented with telepathy as a way of communicating with nuclear submarines under polar ice during the Cold War. Further research on the internet unearthed a rumour that the USA had actually conducted experiments to send telepathic messages to the nuclear submarine USS Nautilus on the first underwater trip to the North Pole.

That set me thinking, and the plot of Fire & Ice started to form in my head.

Was Fire & Ice a very different book to write from The Virtual Trilogy?

In many ways it was very similar. There was a lot of background research involved - this time into the technologies of remote viewing, of military procedures in the Cold War and of Russian nuclear submarines. Fire & Ice also has a very strong female character - in this case the Havasu Indian woman Ruth Weylon ("Little Eagle") - and a very tragic love story. There are also very strong and vivid characters - in particular the sadistic Russian KGB officer Vladimir Cherlenko, who was great fun to write, the dissident Russian scientist Professor Boris Kharkov and the crew of the Russian nuclear submarine. I enjoyed being with them all very much and exploring their motives and actions - very much as I had done with the characters in The Virtual Trilogy.

What made Fire & Ice different was that I was dealing with a story based on real events that happened almost fifty years ago, so there was a great deal of background information to go on - books and records I could refer to, places I could visit, people I could talk to - to make the story as real as possible.

The main theme of The Virtual Trilogy appears to be "regaining lost love". What would you say was the main theme of Fire & Ice?

I would have to say "triumph of the human spirit under oppression" would have to be the theme of this novel. Ruth Weylon, the gifted Native American psychic, triumphs against the combined forces of a gang of Mafia hit men, the machinations of the US government and her own personal tragedies.

The Russian submarine captain Nikolai Petrachkov, outwits the entire US Navy to break the blockade around Cuba and put himself in a position to launch his nuclear torpedo.

Even the dissident Professor Boris Kharkov wins out against the forces of the State for a very poetic revenge. Each of these characters start out against enormous odds at the beginning of the book, but through sheer determination and skill, they manage to win out in the end. But how they do that, and who dies and who lives, will have to wait until the book is published.


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Copyright John Joyce 2008




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