As the summer rolls on, it’s becoming harder and harder to hide in my cute little office and work. There are exciting things to do, things to see, and I might be a teensy weensy bit stir crazy. When the crazies set in, it’s time for a change of scenery.
This weekend that drive to adventure took our family up Big Cottonwood Canyon to explore the Mill B area. What’s great about this spot is that the water from the river cools down the canyon floor making it a welcome break from the summer heat. There are stunning waterfalls, comfortable short hikes, and plenty of rocks for the kiddos to scramble around on.
On a recommendation from a family member, we found Hidden Falls which is marked only by a tiny sign. It’s not even a hike, but rather a climb up the side of a hidden stream that leads to a lovely isolated grotto. The kids had a great time climbing and traversing the stream on half submerged rocks like a real world “floor is lava” game, and I was thrilled to get them away from their screens for a while.
To finish up the afternoon, we hiked Mill B South which is also a short well-maintained and nearly flat trail that leads to a larger staircase waterfall at the end. It’s a perfect place to bring a picnic and get away from things.
A lot of this area is what I imagine the dramatic canyons and mountains in Stonebearer’s Betrayal to feel like. There are steep slopes and hidden gems just waiting to be found. Maybe if I go far enough, I’ll find an immense castle occupied by magical immortals.
Hey, a girl can dream.
What are your favorite outdoor activities?
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Last weekend the amazing Tremonton library held their annual Summer Reading Kickoff party; an outdoor extravaganza with games, food, firetrucks, a chalk fight, and an amazing community turnout. Ben and I were almost author table buddies and I couldn’t pass up the chance to interview him while I was there.
Onto the interview!
What are two things most people know about you and two things most people don’t?
Two things most people know about me: – I am a jr. high English and social studies teacher – I have a collection of swords.
Two things most people don’t know about me: – I have six kids (hers, mine and ours family) with ages ranging from 21 to 2. – I grew up on a medieval living history farm.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
Just because I don’t say anything, doesn’t mean I’m not silently correcting your grammar.
Tell us about your Archipelago Series and even better, what inspired you to write seafaring science fiction?
The Planet Archipelago is a fictional world of islands and seas; there are no continents. It is home to four sentient races; humans being one of these, are the most recent to arrive to the planet. The humans on Archipelago are the descendants of a failed colony. Their ancestors came in spaceships with advanced technology, however they were cut off from Earth and the rest of humanity and because the planet is full of dangerous, hungry creatures, they found it necessary to regress to a more sustainable, medieval technology level.
It’s been hundreds of years since the first humans arrived and humans have spread across thousands of islands. Earth for them has become a myth, a religious legend. On one of these islands, a young man named Rob Engleman is curious about the world he lives on. His mentor, Doctor Morris, tells him all he can about the planet, but the conservative small-island community they live in forbids him from encouraging youngsters like Rob to explore. It’s just too dangerous. When an abandoned boat comes to the island, Rob sees this as his one chance to get away and begin the exploration he’s always dreamed of. Together with his older brother, cousins and some new friends, he sets off on a danger-filled journey of discovery where he learns about the lost history of his own people as well as that of the planet itself.
But there are more dangers on the planet than just the wildlife. A faction of humans called the Falcon Empire is the warpath, looking to conquer all the islands of Archipelago in the name of humanity and Rob’s home is next on their list of conquests. Rob must decide whether to stay and defend his home or continue his explorations of this strange and fascinating world.
What’s the most important lesson your main character has learned so far?
Now, three books into the series, Rob has learned that true friendship and loyalty are just as important, as knowledge.
I ask this question to everyone – what’s the most interesting item you have in your writing space and what’s the story behind it?
I have a small house, therefore my writing space is a corner of the dining table. I suppose the most interesting thing is the space itself. When I decided to take my writing seriously and publish my work, my wife agreed to support me on condition that I not neglect our family. Being at the dining table rather than cloistered in a back room ensures that I can’t ignore her or our children. It also has a great view of our yard, which is a constant reminder of my duties as a homeowner.
What’s next? What are you working on?
My current WIP is the fourth installment in the Archipelago series. I’ve taken time here and there to write short stories, most of which are set on Planet Archipelago as well as develop other ideas unrelated to this series. I’m determined to finish this series (five books in all by the end of 2020. After that, I’ve outlined three other novels, but we’ll see which takes my priority when I come to that place.
Sneak Peek into the Archipelago Series –
“Keep back,” Tyler shouted. “You’re interfering with an arrest!”
“Why are you arresting them? What have they done?” Mark asked.
He had an arrow nocked on his bowstring but hadn’t raised it. Tom and Pete followed suit, trying to be as non-threatening as possible.
“They’re thieves! Now back away or we’ll arrest you also.”
“Sir, I can assure you they are no thieves. They’re part of my crew and we’ve done nothing illegal,” Mark said as he slowly stepped closer.
“You take another step and I’ll gut this boy here and now,” Tyler threatened. He moved the point of the sword to Edwin’s abdomen and pressed there.
Mark paused. He looked at Edwin wincing as the point of the sword broke the skin and a small bloodstain formed on his tunic. He looked at Anna who had exhausted herself trying to break free of the deputy’s grip and now stood with her arms wrenched behind her back.
“Sir, whatever you think they’ve stolen, we will compensate you for.”
“I doubt you could. These were … rare and valuable items,” Tyler said. “So I suggest you give us no trouble as we take these thieves to the jail and you can visit them there until after their trial.”
“What happens after their trial?” Pete asked.
“When they’re found guilty, they’ll be executed. We don’t believe in long prison sentences here.”
There was silence. Each side-eyed the other, waiting for one of them to make a move. It was into this standoff that a new figure emerged from behind the nearest house. Rob ran out into the road and struck the deputy that held Anna with his bronze axe.
About today’s guest –
B.A. Simmons grew up roaming the mountains of the western United States. He still finds time to explore and run the trails. He started writing when only 10 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His love of science fiction is only rivaled by his love of history, or his love of family.
He attended Utah State University where he graduated
with a degree in English Education in 2011. He teaches junior high school
English and social studies. He is a self-professed sesquipedalian ludditish
He currently resides in Ogden, Utah with his amazing wife and kids, two dogs, a cat and myriad of imaginary worlds.