Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Eldridge is talking with John Henry Hardy, the author of The Legend of the Phantom Effect.
FQ: Did you spend time in the Lubbock or Amarillo area to gain inspiration for the scenery in this book?
HARDY: No, Kristi, but I have been through the area and realized it is rather isolated and sparsely populated north of Lubbock. The park mentioned in the book, Cap Rock Canyon State Park, is an actual park and was an ideal location for the landing site of the spaceships. It also has a buffalo herd, eagles, hares, and cacti. It also marks the beginning of the Llano Estacado-the high plains.
FQ: What was the inspiration for the main character and did you always plan to have him be a reporter?
HARDY: The inspiration for the main character came from a movie I saw many years ago about a reporter, who encountered mystical monsters that were haunting the Earth. But that story is totally different than the tale depicted in The Legend of the Phantom Effect.
FQ: Did any information or stories from the famous Roswell UFO sightings provide inspiration for this book?
HARDY: No. The inspiration for this book was the knowledge that there are 200 billion stars in the Galaxy of the Milky Way, and by the Law of Probability forty billion of those stars are Earth-like suns. But I am not into monster stories, but dwell on the possible reality of creatures that may have evolved like humans beings, since those forty billion suns are so much like our sun-with some differences of course.
FQ: What was your first step in creating the world of Rau?
HARDY: I studied the constellations from excerpts from NASA and discovered there is a star called Proxima Centauri in the Constellation Centaurus. It is a Red Dwarf Star and a planet known to science as Proxima b revolves around it. I call it Rau in the story, but all its attributes are true facts about Proxima b as taken from my research.
FQ: What was the inspiration for the name Rau?
HARDY: I wanted to keep it simple, and as I was typing a sentence that name just popped into my stream of thought.
FQ: How did you go about creating a world that was different enough from Earth to be intriguing, but similar enough to be relatable?
HARDY: What I kept thinking was; what are the next steps for mankind? I thought about advancements in medicines, and medical procedures; space travel; foods and farming; social relationships; correctional institutions and capital punishment; finance etc. etc. etc. But I also kept in mind the greed, paranoia, sexual mores, and the lust for power that is so prevalent amongst humanity today, and contrasted this to the lessons learned by the advanced civilization that had evolved on Rau.
FQ: What research in astronomy did you do in writing this book?
HARDY: I relied a lot on what was on the internet as presented by NASA and other astronomers. I discovered there is an Earth-like planet that orbits an Earth-like sun in the Constellation Centaurus that mankind has never seen, not even in photographs taken by satellites. We know it as Proxima b and that it exists by it’s gravitational pull on other suns and planets. It’s sun is a Red Dwarf Star-Proxima Centauri, and it is many times cooler than Earth’s sun, but it is much closer to the planet than our sun is to Earth. The same side of that planet I call Rau always faces the sun just as the same side of our moon always faces Earth. These are all true facts and many more than we don’t have the time or room to discuss here, but it is all told in The Legend of the Phantom Effect.
FQ: When writing this book did you picture the ending and then write to that ending, or start from the beginning?
HARDY: Neither, Kristi. I always knew what the middle of the story was going to be about (the discovery of a spaceship by a persistent reporter), and then wrote the beginning, filled lots of material in the middle of the tale after my research, and then thought of the ending that power hungry dictators might pursue.
FQ: You seem comfortable in a wide range of genres (judging by your past books and very positive reviews for those books). Do you have a favorite genre? Or find one easier, or more difficult, to write?
HARDY: You know, Kristi, I honestly don’t know! I find it easy to write about war, since I spent more than thirty three years in the US Marine Corps; but the horror of war is not the only thing that can teach us about life. In my book The Place Where the Giant Fell it is about prejudice in pre-statehood Arizona; When Brothers Meet is an account based on the fact that China wants to control the world by controlling the supply of oil; The Day God Played Baseball is a humorous tale that conveys the human urge to lie and cheat in order to win at any cost-and what may happen if you do.
FQ: You’re quite prolific. What’s next - would you give our readers a peak into your next book?
HARDY: My next book will be quite controversial. It concerns the horrific characteristics of the present day political climate that is plaguing the United States. Some people will love it and some will hate it, but this does not concern me. What does alarm me is the trend toward Socialism, Progressivism, and far left liberalism, which are preludes to communism.