The story behind The Mantis

Please be aware: This book is mature fiction, and not meant for children!



A long time ago I was renting a room in Columbus, Ohio, and I wrote a book called Absolute Infinity. I poured my heart out into that book and jammed tons of ideas, concepts and big picture philosophy into it. The finished printed book was a bit physically thick for a first effort, in retrospect. I dreamed of being lauded as a brilliant author for all the metaphor and puzzle-like components I worked into the manuscript. Becoming an author was the main reason why I sold my house in Sea-Tac, Washington at the end of 2000 and headed east to hang out with my brother, who at that time had temporarily relocated to Columbus.

For all my research, work and hubris, I was rewarded with failure. I have to take responsibility for it however, as I can't honestly blame anyone but myself. The project was too ambitious for a first time author, I had no viable marketing plan, no financial backing, no mentoring, no connections or anything else that would have been quite handy at the time. All I had was my ego, a vivid imagination and a decent amount of writing talent, although at the time I estimated it much higher than that.

Despite having no substantial indications that people would love Absolute Infinity before it was published, I ordered 2,000 copies from Bookmasters for $10,000. As for Bookmasters, they did exactly what they were commissioned to do. I, on the other hand, was clueless. I would go to festivals and hand out fliers. I crafted clever and mysterious blurbs that surely ended up in recycling with little or no consideration. I made unsolicited phone calls and wrote unsolicited letters to publishers. Getting an agent was not an option, if I was going to be realistic. Why would any agents champion an unproven writer they've never known nor read?

So I sold about 100 copies, and it died. I continued to pay the warehouse to store them for future fulfillments that never happened. After a few years, I had them destroy the remaining 1,900 copies as the monthly charge was no longer worth it. To put the cherry on top of this unpleasant sundae, I took a closer look at that time and realized the story, though engrossing in some areas, was too dark and arcane. Brutal honesty served up by the mirror.

In 2006, I decided to try writing another book. I hired the same editor (Sarah Wales-McGrath), so I had that part properly in place.

This time around I decided to skip being brilliant, and just write a story I'd like to read. I'm a huge fan of Taarna from the movie Heavy Metal, and I always wanted to watch a movie that depicted someone like her in a more realistic environment. Let's face it; tough women who may be descendants from Sparta are interesting, no matter what your political stripe. This approach resulted in a much shorter and more entertaining story.

I wrote The Mantis between 2005 and 2007. A good friend of mine, Jon Kalin, is an outstanding artist from the Pacific Northwest, and I hired him to paint a picture of Valerie. My niece posed for the initial photo, and Jon used that along with a detailed description of Valerie as the inspiration for the excellent artwork that would become the front cover. I completed the editing process with Sarah, and all that was left to do was create the glossary at the back of the book.

Years passed. Life happened. I met the woman who later became my wife. A few years later I became a father. I had musical interests, gaming interests, all kinds of interests, and a part time job.

More years passed. At some point I realized I could save myself financial pain and embarrassment and simply upload my story to Amazon as an ebook.

More years passed. I decided to remove the glossary, as many technical terms obscure in 2007 were now familiar to average computer users.

Here's the deal. I finally got around to formatting the text and uploading to Amazon because one day I realized if the story were any good at all, I'd be a fool to continue to sit on it simply because I had been burned so bad the first time around.

I hope you all enjoy The Mantis. Valerie is my ideal antihero, and that's why I created her.

Best Wishes,
Nick
November 11, 2021