Interview with Michael Foy (author of Ghosts of Forgotten Empires)

Wandering into the Ruins today is Michael Foy, here to talk about Ghosts of Forgotten Empires, the first book in his sci-fi/urban fantasy saga featuring Cord Devlin.

Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Michael. For those who haven't yet had a chance to give Ghosts of Forgotten Empires (or your trio of science fiction tales) a read, please tell us a little about yourself and give us an idea of what we can expect.

A: It’s a pleasure to be here. To answer your first question, I’m a high functioning immature adult male. Or at least I’d like to think I’m high functioning. ;-)

As a lifelong Sci-Fi fan I’ve gravitated (like that word?) to the abstract concepts that one can only find in this genre. I do have particular tastes, however. The stories have to make sense to me and they should have an impactful payoff at the end. Star Trek delivers that and I hope my stories do too.
As for what a reader of my work can expect it would be helpful to know that I’m fascinated by the concept of parallel realities. For instance what if in another reality there was a prehistoric star spanning empire based on earth? And what if only one man guesses at its existence and how it’s still influencing our history. The hero of Ghosts of Forgotten Empires is ideally suited to deal with such a reality since he lives a life guided by principles he learned from Star Trek. This philosophy helps him deal with something otherworldly in his profession of intelligence freelancer.

Q: Ghosts of Forgotten Empires is definitely a mash-up of genres, with elements of everything from hard science fiction, to a cold war thriller, to urban fantasy. What was the idea or concept that triggered you heading down this strange, dark road?

A: I guess it started with the Bourne series of books. I loved that character and I thought what if I put a Bourne like character into one of my weird Science Fiction scenarios. So Jamie McCord was born and appeared in my first book Future Perfect. He had amnesia but started remembering things like cell phones and planes. What was weird about that? He was in Arizona circa 1870. Cord Devlin in Ghosts… is his nephew. And he, in present times, has to deal with what his uncle eventually remembers.

Q: Mark Chadbourn, James Lovegrove and Chuck Wendig have all played with the concept of lost/ancient religions returning to have an influence in our world, but you’ve got a unique angle with the aspect of a cold war reborn. Did you have any influences or inspirations in mind?

A: There was a short story I read years ago that I count as one of my favourite reading experiences. In a future where mankind’s colonies revolt, Earth is about to be crushed. The hero sneaks behind enemy lines to a planet where palaeontologists discover the existence of an ancient race that ruled a thousand suns with a vastly superior technology. The hero hopes to find something that’ll help the home world but he’s discovered. Desperate, he puts on a helmet and throws a switch. Now his brain houses two minds. One is his and the other is the cunning persona of an alien which had been stored digitally. The alien has to be tricked to use its superior knowledge to help Earth in an existential war with its colonies.

Q: Cord Devlin’s “deep and abiding love for all things Star Trek” is a driving force in the novel. How much of that obsession comes from you, and how does it help shape the story?

A: Okay, you got me. I do love Star Trek in most of its incarnations. And I do catch myself thinking ‘how would Captain Picard handle this’ when I’m up against a problem that requires some diplomacy. But Even Kirk, who was my favourite Captain, would usually think before he reacted in spite of his swashbuckling ways.

Q: We all know, of course, the old adage that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When you’ve got men with the power of gods, how hard is it to restrain them and prevent that kind of corruption?

A: I’ve got to think it’s awfully hard. It’s part of the tension in my book. But it seems to me that if one has some lofty societal goal that’s more important to them than personal gain it should temper their abuse of power… in theory anyway.

Q: In the two years since it’s been out, what are some of the strangest or weirdest reactions you’ve had to Ghosts of Forgotten Empires?

A: Some people thought that the ancient Earth based interstellar empire was real. Or at least that some evidence of its existence had actually been discovered.

Q: If we can turn the clock back for a moment, your debut (Future Perfect) was a bit of a genre mash-up as well, bringing together science fiction and the western genres. What is it that drives you to blend genres and combine seemingly disparate settings into a novel?

A: I think because it’s the kind of thing that I’d look for as a reader. Something that takes the ordinary story, whether it’s a Western or Thriller, and injects something weird. Then the fun is solving the mystery of what’s going on. Why is there 21st century technology in the Old West? Why is JFK in painters’ overalls and eating at McDonalds during the Cuban Missile Crisis? How can a man from our time seek the help of a real Sherlock Holmes in the late 19th century?

Q: Looking forward, I know volume 2 of Cord Devlin’s tale is already available, but what’s next for you?

A: I’m (slowly) putting together a new Cord Devlin adventure where he has to try and stop breaches between universes from admitting people from other realities into ours. The intruders that are most recognizable come from realities where fictional creations in our universe actually exist in theirs. For a clue/preview see what I said about Sherlock Holmes in that last answer.

Sounds great. Thanks again for stopping by!


About the Author

Michael J. Foy was born to Irish immigrants in upstate New York and lived in London for a year on two different occasions as a child. He graduated Northeastern University in 1979 with an engineering degree. In 1993 he changed careers to become a recruiter servicing the publishing industry. In essence, his literary career has spanned two other careers but has always been his first love.
In 1991 he sold an option for his first novel, False Gods, as a screenplay to Timothy Bogart the nephew of Peter Guber, Producer of Batman. Michael has since published Future Perfect, a Science Fiction novel and local bestseller, and The Kennedy Effect which weaves the story of JFK with parallel reality themes.

He was also an early pioneer in publishing short stories over the internet including the Solar Winds of Change, The Adventure of the Moonstone and A Land to Call Our Own. He lives in Massachusetts where he enjoys kayaking, bicycling and exploring a wide array of literary subjects.


About the Book

Ghosts of Forgotten Empires, Volume I
by Michael Foy

Ancient artifacts like nothing ever discovered before are uncovered in Egypt. They are manufactured by a technique unknown to man and defy all attempts at analysis. Two top intelligence operatives from Russia and the United States acquire these artifacts and are instantly endowed with god-like abilities. But as everyone knows absolute power corrupts absolutely and even with strong national loyalties how will these men react?

Thus a new cold war is born with men and weapons that make a nuclear deterrent look quaint. The one thing that gives American intelligence freelancer, Cord Devlin an edge is also the thing that makes him immature in Paul’s eyes. Cord’s deep and abiding love of all things Star Trek and the lessons it inspired will also help him deal with an otherworldly threat whose sole purpose is to indefinitely continue the conflict.