When a debilitating neck condition suddenly changed Robert Storey's life completely, he started writing as a means of escape. Storey was very interested in forbidden history, conspiracy theories and disaster scenarios, which inspired him to start writing the Ancient Origins series - little did he know that his books would become bestsellers. As our Author of the Day, we chat with Storey about his journey as an author, archaeology, giants and much more.
Please give us a quick introduction to what Ancient Origins: Revelations is about.
Ancient Origins: Revelations is about human ingenuity in the face of overwhelming odds and our innate curiosity to uncover and expose earth shattering secrets. It’s about good and evil and how mankind might prepare if it knew an asteroid would impact Earth in twenty years time. Or perhaps, how I hope it might prepare. It’s also about lost worlds, ancient races, political conspiracies, and later on in the series, hidden prophecies.
What inspired you to write this story?
My inspiration for the story came from a variety of sources, mainly subjects I was interested in at the time which included, and still includes, conspiracy theories, forbidden history and the array of threats that face mankind, such as asteroids and mankind itself.
Tell us a bit about your journey as an author. Did you always know you wanted to be an author? Was the experience so far anything you expected?
I always dreamt of being a writer when I was young and I was an avid reader as a child, with Dick King Smith, Roald Dahl, CS Lewis and Tolkien being some of my first loves. I never thought I could pursue that career, however, as I never had the direction, tenacity or comprehension that it was mine for the taking if I was willing to take a risk and work hard for it. It was only after a car accident and the contraction of a debilitating neck condition known as Cervical Dystonia that my life, which up to that point was misguided, changed drastically. Housebound on and off for over a decade I struggled to adapt to being someone capable of going anywhere and doing anything, to being unable to drive, walk, sit or even lie down without intense pain and discomfort. And it was in some of my darkest times that I turned to writing as a means of escape. I still have the same condition which is so far without a cure, although committing to a healthy lifestyle has enabled me to nullify the worst symptoms I used to experience.
As to the experience of being an author, I would say so far it is more demanding than I had ever imagined, but also more rewarding too. Nothing brings me greater pleasure than to know someone has enjoyed reading my work, on the flipside, knowing someone hasn’t enjoyed reading my books makes me feel like I have failed them, which can make me quite morose, and then I realise I need to work harder. Although saying that, I also know it is impossible to please everyone.
Do you think there's a lot more archaeology can still reveal about mankind? And do you think that giants really existed?
Archaeology, to me, is beyond fascinating. What it can reveal about mankind’s past is vast, it tells us where we came from, who we were and points the way to where we are going. Although we only need to look around us to know what we are, and who we are, as life does not exist in the past or future, but only in the now. Do I think giants existed? Who’s to say they don’t exist now? Probably quite a lot of people, thinking about it, but they may well have existed in the past, if giant apes and a host of giant animals existed, why not giant hominids, too? And of course there are always massive gaps in the fossil record, and they’re always unearthing new species of Hominid, maybe one day undeniable proof will surface that giants did exist.
Why did you pick an asteroid as the number one extinction threat?
I don’t believe asteroids are the number one extinction threat, although it’s right up there in the top five. I picked the asteroid threat as one of the main themes in order to highlight the precarious existence we all have of the surface of the Earth. Almost monthly there’s another report of a close call with an asteroid, or video footage has been taken of one entering the atmosphere. Only last year did a continent destroyer speed past Earth and they only noticed it three weeks before its flypast, three weeks! They believe it might be a dead comet with an unusual trajectory, check it out, it’s called TB145. As a whole, though, humans are extremely clever at certain things and many believe we are the superior species on the planet, but despite our technological advance, one asteroid could wipe out all life in the blink of an eye and we’d be powerless to stop it, despite popular fiction giving us the false sense of security to the otherwise. Also I wanted to envisage what could be done if we had time to prepare.
Did you know right from the start that you were going to make this into a series?
Yes. I like long reads, and wanted to give the story a long arc in order to encompass everything I envisaged. It also gives time for characters to grow, or not as the case may be.
How does the next book in the series tie in with this one. Can they be read as standalones?
The next book can be read without reading the first, and can be read standalone, although many things will be left unfinished, as the story continues into the third and fourth books, and onto the fifth which I’m writing now. The third could also be read without having read the previous two, although I always recommend reading them in sequence to heighten the enjoyment. Each book also runs, hopefully, seamlessly into the next, so they can be read back to back as one massive book, which I think would be about two and half thousand pages.
Your books have the making of Hollywood movies. If they would ever get a movie adaptation, which actors would you like to see in the leading roles?
This is a question I think a lot of authors think about. I do all the time, and not for the money, which would be nice of course, but as I really want to see it brought to life on the big screen. I wanted to write books (for people who liked them) that someone would want to read again and again. If they were films, I know I could happily sit down and binge on them for hours on end. And then rewind them and watch them again straight away. I think one of the main characters in the series, Richard Goodwin, would be a shoo-in for Tom Cruise. It would be a less action type role for him at first if he ever was to play him, but I can just imagine him being perfect considering his broad range. If you’re reading this Tom, please, please, please, read the books! Do you think he gets your newsletter? :)
Some of the other main characters, such as Commander Hilt, would be perfect for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Colonel Samson could be Vin Diesel or Hugh Jackman, although I have a feeling there might be someone more suitable elsewhere. The main protagonist, Sarah, would be more difficult to pin down, being tall and English would narrow it down a little, but some actors are so talented I’m not sure who would be best for the part. Keira Knightly maybe or Rosamond Pike could be good, too, saying that many American actresses can pull off an English accent, so Jennifer Lawrence would be perfect to tackle the darker moments Sarah experiences throughout the series. Kate Bekinsale would hands down be my favourite for Jessica Klein, and Cate Blanchett another shoo-in for Selene Dubois who appears in the later books. As you can tell I have given it some serious thought, although Professor Steiner and Malcolm Joiner still elude me. As to the film director, who is key to making any film work, I have a shortlist in no particular order, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Jon Favreau and Michael Bay. Although I would love it if one director could do the entire series as it would bring continuity to the process. I’d love to see what Peter Jackson or Joss Whedon could do with it I have to say. My ultimate goal would be to have the series made into Lego, how cool would that be?!
There is a lot of banter among the three archaeologists. Why did you create them this way?
That wasn’t intentional. Jason, Sarah’s friend in the books, is pretty juvenile, and he brings Sarah and Trish down to his level, which I know can infuriate some readers. It does give them the scope to grow through the series, however, which is a big plus. As to the banter itself, I thought it would bring some light relief to an otherwise serious plot. A grim story all the way through is good, but life isn’t always so serious. Some people say you can’t have such juvenile behaviour in the archaeological profession. I disagree; I’ve met some very professional people with a very juvenile side to them. As I say, we can’t be serious all the time, although some people can be far more serious than others, it’s true.
Do you plot out your books before you start writing? Or do a lot of the twists just "happen."?
I plot too much sometimes, although Revelations I just wrote without much of a plot at all and finished it in 6 weeks. I need to get back to that as I get bogged down with too may notes. Some major twists do just happen though, which is amazing when it does as it’s always just by chance as I know I would never have thought of it if I was just writing the plot straight off.
What is your secret to keeping your readers at the edge of their seats throughout the book?
I’m not sure I have one, although intuition is key to ending a chapter. I get bored quite easily as well and soon know if it’s getting slow as I sit there staring at the screen and think, “this is a pile of crap.” Although I’m sure some people will think it is regardless, in which case I concede defeat.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m not sure I have any secret skills, but I do love to design all the covers for my books, and I’ve just done a new one for Revelations which I’m quite pleased with. I also like to sculpt and draw when I get the time, aside from that, does falling off my bike count as a skill?
What are you working on right now?
The fifth book in the series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
They can check out my website, sancturian.com, although it leaves a little be desired if I’m honest. I need to do something about it at some point. And they can contact me anytime on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/Robert.Storey.Ancient.Origins or email me at: [email protected]
I always reply as quickly as I can as I love to hear from people, as like another writer once said, it’s the highlight of my day.