SHARK-KILLER: Prizes, Prejudice and The Dark Sea War Chronicles

This weekend marks the release of the third and final installment of my Scifi trilogy – THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES. It’s a space-opera/space-fleet adventure about a young man who enlists in the Space Navy after a violent trauma and as war breaks out he becomes a decorated hero in a faraway Solar System. The main concept is: a kind of WWII’s Battle of the Atlantic in Space. SHARK-KILLER is the last volume of this saga and is the culmination of years of work. My aim in this week’s post is to write a little bit about my own adventure in writing and publishing the trilogy.

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I started writing when I was 12 years old. My first unfinished fictional text, as it turns out, was a Scifi story about my brother and me going back in time and fighting bandits in 19th century’s American frontier. It was horrible, but it was fun. I never stopped writing from then on. At 13 I started my first novel, a spy-action story, but I quickly got disappointed as I found it was harder to write than I thought: my style was evolving so quickly and I was learning so much that by the third chapter I was writing in a completely different way than the first and the text was very incoherent. That’s when I started writing short-stories: so I could develop my style. It worked. Soon I wanted to develop characters and started writing novellas. It worked as well. After 10 years of training, I was finally ready to write novels… Or so I thought. Little did I know that I’d have to write four bad novels that would end up in the trash before I was satisfied with an end result.

Still, my short-story writing was getting better and in my 20’s I was able to earn a couple of prizes, having the honor to represent my country abroad and being published in Italy. Btw, that prize-winning short-story, MINDSWEEPER is about to get published again by a division of Penguin Random House, in a celebratory anthology, as it happens. More news soon.

Anyhow… By this time I was writing mostly realistic fiction. I like writing realistic fiction, but I realize now that I was being prejudiced against one of my favorite genres: Scifi/Fantasy. In Portugal in particular, Scifi/F is considered a minor genre and is not accepted as something as prestigious as realistic fiction. And so it took me a while to understand that my prejudice was keeping me from writing what I really wanted to write. And this actually blocked me for years. Finally, around 2007, I started writing a novel I had in my head since the early 90’s. A Saga de Alex 9That was THE ALEX 9 SAGA – a trilogy about a Special Forces operative from the 22nd century who gets lost in Space and finds a new planet very similar to Earth, but where they are still living in the Middle Ages. She soon finds out that she’s not there by accident and the intrigue spans through several light-years and centuries of time. This saga was eventually published in Portugal in three books by the Portuguese publisher Saída de Emergência, within the series that also featured George R.R. Martin’s SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, a.k.a. THE GAME OF THRONES, and other incredible works from authors like Bernard Cornwell. Imagine my joy!

After that (by now it was 2012) my attention was drawn to other stuff, like screenwriting (produced a movie!!) and more short-stories. Around 2014 I decided to face a new challenge. I wanted to go beyond Portugal and find more public. I had written several screenplays in English and found I could handle myself well enough in that language, so I bit my tongue and started writing a new Scifi novel in English. I’d been reading Napoleonic Era Navy novels by the likes of Alexander Kent and C.S.Forster, and loved the atmosphere they showed. I always liked good teams at work and Navy novels show you that. At the same time, I was hooked on a PC game called NAPOLEON TOTAL WAR, where battles last for hours and you could fight with powerful fleets of sail ships. I wanted to write something that felt like that. THE ALEX 9 SAGA had already been inspired by the TOTAL WAR series; and Scifi/F gave me the chance to invent great battles and geopolitical conflicts without sounding absurd. Then this idea came to me: what if I wrote about a war resembling WWII, but in a distant Solar System, where planets were as the countries on Earth? That was it! That was cool! So I started writing THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES.

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It took me a few years of writing and re-writing before I was ready to try my luck. I sent the book to some agents around the world, but became increasingly disenchanted. At the same time, I was reading and studying more and more about self-publishing. I decided I had to try it and late last year I finally published the first volume of TDSWC – FIGHTING THE SILENT on Amazon. I loved it. The whole process was enjoyable and soon I was getting results, people from all around the world buying and reading my book! I marketed it within the Scifi circles in Portugal and started getting reviews from people who knew my work, like this:

The book starts early on by setting the stage and the tone of a retro-sci-fi world building that is absolutely stunning, and only gets better. Am eagerly awaiting the next ones! Carry on!

 It’s always good reading something like this. But then you start getting stuff from people in other countries that you never knew existed:

Loved it. Can’t wait for the next book. I loved the notion of submarine warfare in outer space and how humans would cope with it. Also really enjoyed the romance between the two main characters.


Book 1 of a series. Great story. Great writing. Lots of good character development. Interesting from beginning to end.

 That’s when you get hooked! You start going to the Amazon page everyday to look for reviews. A fool’s errand, of course, as many others you have in this business. Another special date is when you get the first paperback copy in the mail. It looks so good on the shelf!


Then I published the second volume – MISSION IN THE DARK. The downloads kept coming. And I started earning some money in yen and rupees. That’s so cool! Here’s another review from some unknown person from around the world:

Superb, read it from cover to cover in one sitting as I simply couldn’t put it down. I can’t wait for the next book.

People are unanimous: the second volume is better than the first. And now comes the last one. As I usually do, I’ve sent it to some bloggers here in Portugal. The first review already came in and it’s stellar. I can’t resist translating a few lines for you, from Carla Ribeiro’s AS LEITURAS DO CORVO:

One of the most impressive aspects in this trilogy – and oh it does have some impressive aspects – is the way the author fits everything together in such a short volume. In one hundred and fifty pages you have large memorable battles, life and death decisions, revelations and inner demons, humor, strokes of emotion and a global context so vast it’s almost unending. And the best of it all is that nothing seems rushed, nothing is too narrow, nothing crucial is left behind.

It’s really good to get reviews like this. They tell you things about your work you hadn’t even noticed! They fill your soul. There are several things that really make me happy in writing, but three great moments come to mind: the moment I finish a large work as a novel; the moment I have the book in my hands, especially if I see it in a book store, and I know people are buying and reading my work; and finally, when I get great feedback. I love all of this. Tomorrow, the final version of my latest trilogy will be available for download – and soon after as paperback. Some will like it and some will not. That’s the way it is. I’m already working on the next one. If you want, you can download the first volume of THE DARK SEA WAR CHRONICLES for free at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. If you do, please get back to me on it. Tell me what you liked and what you didn’t like. Just comment below or review it at Amazon or Goodreads. Feedback is always welcome. And enjoy! That’s what books are for!! I sure love writing them!


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