Sunday, January 27, 2019


Richard Hacker is a longtime resident of Austin, Texas who now writes and lives in Seattle.

His writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In addition to his writing, he provides editing services to other writers and is the editor of an online science fiction and fantasy journal, Del Sol Review. His three published humorous crime novels ride the sometimes thin line between fact and fiction in Texas. DIE BACK, his first fantasy thriller novel, has been published by Del Sol Press.

When not writing he’s singing in a vocal jazz ensemble, cooking with a sous vide and a blow torch, or exploring the Pacific Northwest with his wife and his springer spaniel, Jazz.

Twitter Link: @Richard_Hacker

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Title: DIE BACK (Book One of the Alchimeia)
Author: Richard Hacker
Publisher: Del Sol Press
Pages: 332
Genre: Fantasy/Thriller

In 272 AD Egypt, an enemy thwarts an attempt by League Inkers, Thomas Shaw and Nikki Babineaux, to obtain the Alchįmeia, a document holding alchemical secrets. Sensing his impending death, Thomas secures Nikki’s promise to keep his son, Addison, from the League, an organization defending the time continuum. After his father’s death, Addison inherits a mysterious pen, accidentally inking himself into the consciousness of a man who dies on a muddy WWI battlefield in France. Hoping to make sense of his experience, he confides in Nikki, his best friend and unknown to Addison, an Inker. Keeping her promise to Thomas, she discounts Addison’s experience. 
Fixated on the pen, Addison inks into a B-17 bombardier in 1943. The pilot, whose consciousness has been taken over by someone calling himself Kairos, gloats over killing Addison’s father and boasts of plans to destroy the League. As Kairos attempts to wrest Addison’s consciousness, Nikki shocks Addison out of the Inking. She confesses her knowledge of  the League. When Kairos threatens to steal aviation technology, she she sends Addison and his partner, Jules, to an Army test of the Wright Flyer in 1908. Believing they have succeeded, they return to find the continuum shifted and Nikki knowing nothing about the League.
Inking back to his father’s mission in Alexandria, Addison and Jules hope to get his help in returning the time continuum to its original state. Instead, Addison’s father gives him the Alchįmeia to hide in a crypt at the Great Lighthouse on Phalos. On their return to the present a Kairos agent murders Jules, her consciousness Inked into the past. Addison follows the clues, Inking into Pizarro in 16th century Peru. He finds Jules in the child bride of the Inca emperor. His plan to find the technology and save Jules without destroying the Inca civilization is thwarted by a fleet of Inca airships. Captured, he is taken to Machu Picchu. With Jules help, they find the stolen schematics, but are confronted by Kairos. He stabs Addison, forcing Addison’s consciousness back to the present and traps Jules in the 16th Century. Addison returns to another altered world. Nikki no longer exists, the world is at war with the Inca, and Manhattan lay in ruins.
Addison Inks his father, learning the origins of the League. Thomas urges Addison to uncover their enemy with the help of his colleague, Maya. Putting suspicion on another inker,  Cameron, she insists he must be killing Inkers and acquiring Pens. In a final attempt to stop him, they entrap Cameron, only for Addison to discover Maya is Kairos, his enemy.  She kills Cameron, also wounding Addison.  He chases Maya, who intimates that she holds his mother’s, Rebecca’s, consciousness. Confused he delays, giving her time to scrawl a name with her pen before shooting her dead.

Inked away when Maya died, Kairos finds himself, not in his intended host, Hitler, but in a German infantry soldier POW in the Ardenne during the Battle of the Bulge, WWII. Hoping to repair the shift in the time continuum, Addison brings the League Pens together with the fate of the world and everyone he loves at stake. He awakens to a dissimilar world, but Jules and Nikki exist. And with life there is always hope.



Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Thanks for having me on your blog. I like your color coordinated bookshelf, by the way. A palette of books. Very cool. So, what do I do when not writing? I sing with a jazz vocal ensemble, so I usually spend a bit of time rehearsing music each day. And I like to draw—although I’ve only been at it for about a year. I’ve been honing my drawing skills so I can do quick sketches in a travel journal. And these days I’m learning French. I’ll be going to France next year and thought it would be best to be a bit more conversant than I’ve been in the past. I also love to cook. I recently picked of a sous vide. You essentially cook the food in a bath of water at a regulated temperature. It does amazing things to meats. I even sous vide hard boiled eggs! LOL And I’m a runner and hiker, so you’ll find me out with my springer spaniel, Jazz, running through the neighborhood or out on a trail either on an urban walk or in the Cascades.

When did you start writing?

When I was in the third-grade I started writing short stories which I read to the class for show and tell. Why I did that, I’m not so sure. My squirrel skeleton in a shoebox had been a hit, but I think having the class respond to my stories got me hooked on writing.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

There was a time when I got all wrapped up in the idea that success as a writer was about a big audience and lots of money, awaiting my Stephen King moment. Then I stepped back to acknowledge that writing is an art form. And like all art, its value is in its expression. There are many artists from writers to painters to sculptors to musicians whose work is never recognized on a large scale. Would a Picasso painting or a Hemingway short story be of less intrinsic value if it hadn’t been placed on a world stage and purchased by a wealthy art collector? I don’t think so. Guernica or A Clean, Well-Lighted Place would be great works of art whether they sold for millions or were in a small studio apartment. Art is art. And once I got that, it freed me up to be an artist. Not a purveyor of books. Not a market-focused writer. An artist who writes.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
Florence, Italy. It’s a beautiful place with fabulous food and wonderful architecture. And walking the cobbled streets, you get the sense of a fifteenth century Florence. The Leonardo da Vinci and the Galileo museums have some wonderful artifacts, the magnificent Duomo, and the stunning David at the Accademia Gallery, just to name a few.

For the second book in the Alchimeia series I went to Washington DC in the dead of winter to spend time in the Washington Monument. There’s a pivotal scene and by taking detailed notes and photographs I was able to accurately describe the setting, including the views from the monument.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Certainly more time with my wife, with family, with friends. But if it’s what I would do, I’d say more writing, more singing, more drawing, more exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

As you might have guessed from an earlier question, Florence. There’s such a since of time in the place. I can see the characters walking the streets.

Back to your present book, Dieback, how did you publish it?

My publisher is Del Sol Press. I attended a workshop lead by the publisher, Michael Neff, a few years ago. In fact, he heard an early pitch for the book. He liked the story idea, but wasn’t enamored with the title at the time. The Geneologist. He was right, by the way. Dieback is a much better title. I had several crime novels published by a small press a few years ago and after the contract expired, I decided to get the rights back and self-publish those, just to keep them out in the wild. So, I’ve gotten to go both ways. Del Sol Press is committed to putting out top notch fantasy novels, so I’m very pleased to be working with them.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

The story goes all over the world. Ancient Alexandria, Egypt; modern Tokyo, WWI France, fifteenth century England, an altered present Austin and Seattle; WWII Guadalcanal; and fifteenth century Peru to name a few. I did visit Austin (I lived there for many years) and I currently live in Seattle. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in England, so I had memories and photos of my times there. For Peru, I had a writer friend who just happened to be going to Machu Picchu and she provided some wonderful details about things you just can’t Google. How does the air feel, smell? What insects, birds and other fauna did you see? What is the vegetation lie? The ground at your feet? And for some of the places I just couldn’t get to, I traveled virtually. It’s amazing these days how you can get on Google maps and walk the streets of a city.

Why was writing Dieback so important to you?
Oh my. When I have a story idea it’s burning a hole in my head. I’ve got to get it out, got to share it. I can’t put it down and walk away. So, I guess you could say it was so important to me because if I didn’t write the story my head would explode. LOL.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get my best ideas where and when I’m not trying to get my best ideas. I think it’s something like that thing when you can’t remember a name and more the try to remember the further the memory seems to be. And then a few hours later, when it’s not even on your mind, suddenly the name pops right up. I think when I get out of the way, I let my imagination run free. And it comes up with some crazy stuff!

Any final words?

Thanks so much for providing this opportunity to share my work with your readers. I hope they enjoy reading Dieback as much as I enjoyed writing it. For fun, go check out the trailer for the book. And I’d love to hear from you. Visit my website, and drop me a line.

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