• Mark Iles

Taking What You Can from Life's Traumas

With my new novel, Gardens of Earth, coming out on Friday 6th August 2021 I’ve decided to take this opportunity and share a little about the book. The protagonist is a marine pilot suffering from PTSD, who finds himself thrust into the future. The NHS estimates that one in three adults at some stage suffer from PTSD as a result of a traumatic event; no wonder then that so many veterans experience the misery of it. As you can tell, this is a subject close to my heart, as I have many veteran friends who have this issue. That said, there is also a little humour in it. After all, that’s what we do., try to find humour in the grim.

Showing that your character's weakness and strengths helps the reader to identify, and sympathise, with him or her. Likewise, using the tool of mindfulness also helps dramatically. You get to stop and really take in what is around you, the sound of birds, water, the smell of flowers etc, and that all helps paint the picture, so that your reader can find themselves immersed in the scenes. In other words, yes PTSD is a bitch, but we can also take from it and use this in a creative way.


Corporate greed supported by incompetent surveyors leads to the colonisation of a distant world, ominously dubbed ‘Halloween’, that turns out not to be uninhabited after all. The aliens, soon called Spooks by military units deployed to protect the colonists, can adopt the physical form of an opponent’s deepest fear and then use it to kill them.

The colony is massacred and as retaliation the orbiting human navy nuke the planet. In

revenge, the Spooks invade Earth. In a last-minute attempt to avert the war, Seethan Bodell, a marine combat pilot sent home from the front with PTSD, is given a top-secret research spacecraft, and a mission to travel into the past along with his co-pilot and secret lover Rose, to prevent the original landing on Halloween and stop the war from ever happening. But the mission goes wrong, causing a tragedy later known as The Sundering, decimating the world and tearing reality, while Seethan’s ship is flung into the future.

The Spooks win the war and claim ownership of Earth. He wakes, alone, in his ejector seat with no sign of either Rose or his vessel. When he realises that his technology no longer works, his desperation to find Rose becomes all the more urgent – her android body won’t survive long in this new Earth.

Gardens of Earth is the first book of The Sundering Chronicles. The story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, depending on who you ask, and a protagonist coping with his demons in an unfamiliar and stressful environment – not to mention immediate threats from a pathological serial killer, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse pre-industrial society under the watchful eye of the Spooks, and returning human colonists’ intent on reclaiming Earth.


“We’ve kept a lot of what’s been happening on Halloween from the public,” Hayes continued. “But now, the Spooks have gotten into the settlement. It seems that they have the ability to twist people’s minds, which means our colonists and marines are now killing each other. No-one knows how the Spooks are doing it, or even who to trust anymore. Halloween’s aptly named. The Spooks, or natives if you will, have an art of war that we know nothing about. It’s simply horrendous.” His opened his mouth as if to say something and then he closed it again, as if he were either lost for words or had thought better of it.

“I’ve seen the coverage,” Seethan said. “So, it’s all true?”

Perkins waved the commodore to silence and when he spoke, his voice was calculating and grating, like that of a gangster from a very old movie. “It depends what you’ve heard, Commander. Unfortunately, as you succinctly point out, some of what’s going on got into the news feeds before we could stop it, damned reporters. You see, the enemy appear to use whatever private fear each individual has against them. If you’re scared of dogs, they have a morphology that allows the creatures them to adopt the form of a large canine that can literally rip you to pieces. If it’s scary tales of ghosts or vampires, they come at you as one of those in the dead of night. Those unfortunate enough to be terrified of clowns could open closet doors to find one of them bursting out with knives in its hands or between its teeth. As for spiders—well, do I need to go on?”

“Clowns…” Seethan interrupted, waving a well-manicured hand. “It’s a goddamned circus up there.”

To follow the blog tour tomorrow, hosted by Ira Naymen, please click on the following link: http://www.lespagesauxfolles.ca/?pg=76&chap=5474

Book cover by the wonderful Alex Storer:

The Light Dreams – Art and music by Alex Storer (wordpress.com)

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