Author of Adventure & Cryptid Fiction
If, like me, you loved the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or Raiders of the Lost Arc, or Jurassic Park, or Bob Morane... If you enjoyed Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Back to the Stone Age... Check out Ancient of Genes, by Dan Gallagher!
Here's a riveting interview I did with Ancient of Genes' very adventurous author.
Dan Gallagher, tell us about yourself. Where are you from and where are you based currently? What first got you into writing?
My parents moved from Rhode Island to Alexandria, VA in 1967. We were a Navy family, but I joined the Army Infantry at Virginia Military Institute in 1977. There, I soon started writing a predecessor to what is now the short story, “Monster in the Sand” (see free stuff in the Cryptid Adventure stuff at http://AuthorDan.com). I studied Economics and Modern Languages. In the Army, I wrote classified pieces ranging from Standard Operating Procedures for mechanized Infantry Platoons to briefings for First Special Operations Command, and studies for the Army Research Institute.
I completed the MBA program at William & Mary in May 1986, became a financial planner, and met my future wife, Laura, sixteen months later. We married in April 1988 and loved raising our two giggle-goosie girls and two goof-guy boys, who are now adults. In addition to some hair-raising Army experiences, I loved exploring – often with the family and training our kids to handle danger: Our adventures included tracking animals in places like deserts, forests, and swamps around the Americas and Asia. I moved my practice from Williamsburg VA to Charlotte NC in 2000. I retired from thirty years in Financial Services at the start of 2018.
Starting in 1992, some of my Pension, Financial, and Business Brokerage articles were published in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Financial Planning and other professional, business, and consumer journals. I was a co-author of a licensing manual, a Realty Manager training program, and the 2018 The Secrets of Successful Financial Planning (still sold in backlist through Simon & Schuster). By 1996, I had been published in fiction (humor) and a Cryptid/Genetics/Military novel that evolved into today’s Ancient of Genes (AOG). Folks seem to immensely enjoy it. AOG spin-off short stories are building into an anthology that will form its sequel (pairs of mysteriously connected shorts, one set in ancient times and one in the 2030s). My spine degeneration is debilitating, so it takes me much longer to write, but Ancient to Light should be a summer 2023 read.
Ancient of Genes portrays a plausible – terrifying – means by which the prophecy becomes manifest. The most frightening choice can lead to redemption. This series explores the shadowy influence of the divine and the diabolical upon the empirical world and individuals. It unfolds on two interconnected levels, with a military/heroic climax and a psychological/spiritual climax.
What books have influenced you and your writing the most? What are you reading now?
I’m almost finished with Graham Hancock’s America Before. Archaeology, Natural History, Cryptozoology, Genetics, and Comparative Religion fascinate me; strongly influence my adventure writing. I have read many books from the Classics to modern horror and Sci-fi. But Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Back to the Stone Age influenced me most. Humans faced cousin races and denizens at least as dangerous as the dinosaurs, and that fires my imagination. Storytellers like Arthur Conan-Doyle and researchers like J. F. Bierlein and Svante Paabo are my staples.
On your website, you describe your work as Adventure & Cryptid Fiction. I must admit it got me hooked and wanting to know more. Can you tell us about how you view your writing genre?
I’m fired up by the connections between the metaphysical and the scientific. So what interests me most is not one book, but the synthesis of worlds and discoveries that my mind conjures from nonfiction and fiction. My fiction absolutely must be plausible. In fact, my slowly-building cryptid series features nonfiction accompaniments to each short story. Besides, I am thrilled by the idea that my readers' thrills are propelled by the possibility that my fiction… could be hauntingly close to reality.
What does your writing process look like? What role does research play in your writing?
I would feel unprepared if I failed to research the topic of my fiction thoroughly. I also make sure to outline my work. That step essentially is built during research and prevents writer’s block & logical flaws because it is essentially creating a writing assignment composed of logically arranged prompts. I create or change the story concept as I go through the research.
What is your approach to world building?
I place myself in the imagined world I research. Most research is with my face in a book, but there is no substitute for actually experiencing the dangerous environment; stalking through a “living museum,” or at least obtaining first-hand testimony. I usually have an idea of the surroundings, animals and technology, and events before I start the research. Research enables me to paint word pictures thoroughly. For me, it’s as if setting is more than place & time; it becomes a course through danger, emotions from love to hate, through conflict to resolutions and, sometimes, a substantial denouement. Later editing (multiple passes) enables me to slay errors and assure fast pacing.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?
Inspiration comes from many places and activities. It’s a good idea to keep a writer’s journal or notes. Ponder and imagine what people experienced long ago while I meditate (in prayer or merely pondering). I’m usually in the mood when I place myself in such states and environments. A good example is me (at 30) on the back cover of Ancient of Genes: I was out in the forest along historic Virginia’s James River. Which reminds me: Check out the Salutreans discovered near what is now Jamestown VA. Before these pre-Clovis fugitives from Iberia were discovered there, I could not help but conjure the scene of ancient Europeans in VA, SC, and Florida 23,000 years ago -- or lost Hebrew Tribes migrating up the Amazon around 750 b.c. -- battling saber-tooths and Terror Birds long before the arrival of people we now call “Native Americans.”
What are you most proud of in your writing journey so far? (No matter how small!)
From reader feedback over the last quarter century, I know that my writing does make people think deeply without the author protruding into the story. It vividly shows and emotionally involves readers, leading them to explore moral or scientific discovery rather than tell them what to believe. Some say it actually prompts external research by the reader.
The way you see it, what are the pros & cons of indie vs trad publishing?
All of my nonfiction, humor, and short fiction has been traditionally published. In 1997, the writing duo of Doug Preston and Lincoln Child loved my novel’s manuscript so much that they provided blurbs and gave a copy to Robert Gleason, their editor at Sci-fi giant Tor. My agent took over but I, ignorant of the then severe stigma of self-publishing, foolishly terminated that avenue to “cooperatively publish” (A fib?) through Cypress House. Despite this bridge burning and also stigmatizing of my novel, it did sell 4,080 net of returns during its modest sales campaign (first 15 months). Self-publishing is a hard and bias-ridden slog I would not wish on anyone. A quarter of a century passed as I improved AOG, gaining many “almosts” through agents (Nancy Ellis, etc.) submitting to markets like Paramount Studios (DiBoneventura) and Dell (Hoye). My agents could not erase the stigma, at least in the book world. Bill Pettit, my current agent agent, is making very hopeful progress with two major TV/cinematic giants, plus one mid-sized NY publisher. But at the moment, Ancient of Genes is published by a new and reasonably well funded publishing partnership called StoriesAmazing – technically a self-publishing venture as I am a minority but substantial partner. StoriesAmazing is for real, though, and hopes to publish other authors in 2023.
What’s the title of your current work in progress? Can you tell us about it?
Last May, I finished the pilot script and TV series proposal materials for Ancient of Genes and also a Sci-fi espionage TV-series, $ecret$ (see AuthorDan.com). Agent Bill Pettit has thrilled me with his promising pitch results for both – and both were finalists in the Page-Turner international TV-series script competition -- but there is no sale yet.
My current project is slow going because of my back pain: slow and error-filled so that I edit and utilize an editor to perfect works. The Ancient Beacon series begins with the novel, Ancient of Genes.
AOG’s sequel, Ancient to Light (ATL), is a short story anthology that has paired tales, one set in ancient times and one in the near future. ATL progresses through human history to its end. I’ve finished and polished three of ten paired tales. All of these have been royalty published, but I have my rights back.
The third in the series is Ancient to Eternal (ATE). ATE posits the recreation of humanity and all life, but with a twist: Humanity, in its resurrection, has become more than physical, more than angelic in form and is responsible for more worlds than merely earth. Subsequent books are planned but not yet titled.
Tell us about your book, Ancient of Genes. What do you hope readers will take away from it? What inspired the idea for the story?
What inspired AOG was my discovery that there exists exactly one prophecy which, in one form or another, is ubiquitous among the world’s religions and myth traditions… as if this prophecy echoes into all cultures now from the dawn of humanity. That prophecy is a physical regeneration of humanity and nature after a cataclysm. Since this is – at least – a physical event, what physical mechanisms could possibly do that? Those mechanisms are emerging now in Genetics. So I hope readers will grapple with actual metaphysical and scientific mysteries waiting at their murky juncture. Take the challenge of that journey of discovery!
There’s a progressively more detailed description of AOG at AncientOfGenes.com, including a teaser video for the Ancient Beacon series, action illustrations of cryptid beasts, and Audio Theater & book excerpts. It also links to spinoff short stories and nf research.
Can you talk a bit about Ancient of Genes’ main characters? Who are they? What makes them very special?
In order of significance:
Kevin Harrigan - Irish American. Stubborn, tough, egotistic - but brilliant. A military leader who becomes a gene researcher, and who is fiercely loyal to all in his charge. Raised in a deeply pious, Catholic family, but remains skeptical of spiritual reality. He is plagued by dreams and apparitions and evolves with humility, ultimately to sacrifice himself to defeat Ishmail Mon.
Manfred Freund - A German neurologist who acts as Harrigan’s conscience - a brave helper, and skilled military exchange student.
Ishmail Mon - Iraqi (born Egyptian). Polished, brilliant, ruthless, deceiving and profoundly evil. Able to gain international acclaim - only to pave the way, as <Spoiler Alert!> “666, the Beast”, itself, for the end of humanity.
Tikvah Strauss - Jewish. Truly brilliant and caring as a computer scientist - quick with thinking and bravery. Harrigan’s love interest, later to become his wife, supportive and a needful foil to Harrigan’s ego; suspicious of Mon, and crucial to enabling Harrigan to have even a shred of hope to oppose Mon.
Can lovers Kevin Harrigan & Tykvah Strauss thwart Mon’s bid to be a god? A frightening choice can lead to redemption… or the terrifying sunset of humanity!
Bart Lloyd - African-British. Initially a buffoonish paleontologist/explorer, he is brave and loyal to Harrigan, and later becomes a leader in his own right - upon Najik’s attempt to murder Harrigan’s staff.
Captain Hassan - Iraqi. Mon’s minion. Advances from Captain to Colonel. He craves the suave and power of his mentor, Mon. Takes foolish action at times, and later comes to hate Harrigan.
Captain Najik - Iraqi. Vicious, bloodthirsty, and cowardly. He could not lead a pig to slop.
Kora - Neanderthal mystic. She may be the regeneration of prophets of old. Has the genetic memory of the extermination of the Abli clan (metaphoric of Abel) by the Khayni clan (metaphoric for Cain) - later revealed to be one of two witnesses in Revelation.
Rhahs - Neanderthal. Kora’s mate. Fights to protect Kora - leads the Neanderthals to help Harrigan, Lloyd and Staff.
Mo’ara - Leader of Khayni (Cro). Tough leader who steals the loyalty of his clan from the surrogates - leads a hunt/attack on the yeti.
Claude Olivier - French. Gene Recovery Technician. Character exists to show Harrigan’s staff are loyal and expert.
Major Ronald Jasper - Major. Executive Officer. Commander of the reserve team (Team Foxtrot). Tough and always ready. Critical to the action climax.
Joe Di Nucci - “Airborne Joe.” Command Sergeant Major. Consummate soldier. Critical to the action climax.
Bryce Fulton - Army Lieutenant Colonel. African-American. Harrigan’s former Cadet Battalion Commander. Critical to the action climax.
I definitely want to read your books now! Where should I start?
Start here: AncientofGenes.com. This website has a more detailed description than online stores. There, you can explore more audio and print excerpts and check spinoff short tales.
Prehistoric Resurrection... or Genetic Warfare? A geneticist’s regeneration of Ice Age animals and humans is stolen and becomes the basis for genetic warfare weapons – and the prophesied Resurrection of the Dead! This multi-award-winning, fact-based bestseller is razor-close to real genetics & metaphysics that could manifest the ONLY prophecy that echoes eerily… whispers ubiquitously… among religions & myth traditions! Using Fossil Gene Redemption (FGR), geneticist Kevin G. Harrigan experiments with genes from a frozen Ice Man. His work prompts Iraqi leader, Ismail Mon, to provide resources for exciting research, enabling Harrigan's team to regenerate Ice Age cryptids and human sub-species. But FGR can be the basis for genetic weapons of mass destruction. U.S. intelligence and defense leaders must act! Radically distinct from Jurassic Park, Ancient of Genes shows new regeneration methods by which an Eden can succeed cataclysm. Will FGR enable Ismail Mon to inherit the earth? Can lovers Kevin Harrigan & Tykvah Strauss thwart Mon’s bid to be a god? A frightening choice can lead to redemption… or the terrifying sunset of humanity! Learn more about Ancient Of Genes!
Dan Gallagher, Author of Adventure & Cryptid Fiction
Dan graduated from Virginia Military Institute (1981), third among Economics majors, simultaneously completing the Modern Languages curriculum. He served in the Infantry, then as a reservist in a Special Forces support role, next as a Training Company Commander and later in a classified Army Research Institute role. Dan Gallagher completed his Master of Business Administration at William & Mary (1986).
He and wife Laura married in 1988, loved raising their four children, and assisted both Boy and Girl Scouting at their church through 2010.
Dan has given numerous seminars at major employers and other entities including Delta Environmental Consultants (now Antea Group), Anheuser-Busch, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Canon USA and small businesses. Charlotte Magazine selected Dan as a ‘2009 Five-star Wealth Manager.’ Dan was a panelist and guest speaker at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s 2007 ‘Business Disposition Workshop.’
Dan is the author of a novel, a licensing manual, and numerous articles in journals such as Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Financial Planning, The Daily Press and The Virginia Gazette. Articles by and about Dan have also been published in the Charlotte Business Journal and Charlotte Ventures. His fiction and narrative nonfiction have been published by Skyhorse Publishing, Superversive Press, Millhaven Press, Creative Loafing, NFAA Archery (a humor short story), Tuscany Bay Publishing and StoriesAmazing.
Dan retired from financial services (January 2018) to focus on endeavours as an author and freelance content creator. During his practice, “Dan Gallagher, MBA, CLU, ChFC, CFP®, CBI®”, Dan’s professional designations included: Chartered Financial Consultant & Chartered Life Underwriter (1989), Certified Financial Planner® (1992) and Certified Business Intermediary (2002).
Dan’s thirty-year financial practice encompassed group and individual benefits, money management, financial plans, business valuation & brokerage, commercial realty and – often very personal – counselling. He has been published in fiction and nonfiction. Dan is registered as an “expert witness” with The Expert Institute, New York.
Back Cover - Ancient of Genes, by Dan Gallagher