Wesley Newman makes his published novel debut with science fantasy novel Into the Abaddon.
Read on for details about the book, my thoughts, and a special guest interview with author Wesley Newman!
Vincent, Sarah, Grace, and Karl are working together on a teleportation project when Vincent finally makes a breakthrough. After his work is presented as a team effort, Vincent feels flustered but debates whether speaking up is the best thing to do.
After the team is offered a job at a secret facility known as the Abaddon, events begin to take a strange turn. Vincent discovers someone is spying on him and another man named Trent shows up in his apartment uninvited to tell Vincent that he’s a fan of his work; after implying that Vincent’s current friends don’t care about him, Trent tells Vincent to give him a call if he needs new friends.
The others contributed, sure, but without you, there is no project, is there? They’re only getting this job because of you. How does that make you feel, Vincent?”
Vincent also meets a mysterious man named Leo, who we learn has suffered some severe trauma through his work in the military.
At a glance, you’d think this novel would structure around a revenge plot, but revenge isn’t part of Vincent’s modus operandi.
At the Abaddon, the crew is excited about their work and the new friends they make, but when Vincent learns that his new coworkers may not be what they seem and that Trent wasn’t the one spying on him, Vincent starts to feel confused.
When people start disappearing, the plot thickens even further.
Who can Vincent trust? Who is he really working for?
Vincent is neurotypical, and the way he understands and perceives events around him can be different from what is intended. This representation is important in our media, especially for people who aren’t used to seeing someone like them as a main character.
There is also a deep cultural background developed for Dr. Smith. Newman blends the historical knowledge of how Native Americans were treated by the government with nods to sacred traditions.
The background that Wesley Newman developed for Leo is pretty intense, and being able to see that character’s perspective really enhances the story. Sprinkled throughout the novel are background stories of a few other key characters, as well.
One of the things I enjoyed was the connections between characters who are so different from each other, and how they come together either as a team or as foes.
To me, Into the Abaddon presents the ultimate question of what it means to be right or wrong, good or bad. It’s not always as simple as we think it is, and sometimes we have to make choices that can at times seem so difficult as to be impossible.
With a few surprises in store, this story is sure to please science fiction lovers and fans of Michael Crichton.
(For reader awareness, this story explores manipulation, death, PTSD, and bullying.)
Into the Abaddon is available in paperback, hardback, and Kindle e-book. Order your copy today!
Q. Congratulations on publishing your first novel! What inspired you to write Into the Abaddon?
A. Thank you! As I’m sure is the case with many people, I have always been fascinated by the concept of teleportation. Nightcrawler was always one of the coolest superheroes, but the mechanics of his powers would be way more complicated than they make it out to be in the movies. One big problem is this: Nightcrawler is moving through time and space at incredible speeds… and so is his target location. In order to show up where he wanted to show up, he’d have to make calculations to adjust for this movement through time/space. I thought it would be cool to write a story using a “magic” system that more accurately showed how much effort – and genius – would have to go into such a cool superpower.
Q. What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the novel conception-to-completion process?
A. As a writer, my favorite part is also probably the most difficult: structuring the story. When I started writing, I considered myself a “discovery” writer. I would just start writing and let the story reveal itself without ever really taking the time to remove or rewrite parts that didn’t serve the story itself. As far as I was concerned, outlining was just homework that never served a purpose to my own process. As I continued to write, though, I realized that structure is what makes a story a story. There are a million different tools out there to help you figure out the right structure for your story, but I feel the moral obligation to give Dan Harmon a shout out for his “story circle.” I’m still learning different ways to use his Campbellian style circle to help me plot out my own stories, but I will always credit it (and Harmon himself) as the catalyst that turned writing from a hobby into a passion for me.
As an author, my least favorite aspect is definitely the book market. It’s wonderful that there is such a vast amount of content available to so many people across the world, but as a self-published author with no prior publishing experience, I had to learn everything about how the book market works from scratch. That was—and continues to be—a very painful experience.
Q. What authors do you like to read and who do you look up to?
A. Brandon Sanderson has to be toward the top of my list of authors that I look up to. That man can write hundreds of thousands of words while keeping his pacing at exactly where it needs to be to keep the reader’s attention. His YouTube series where he uploads his university lectures is incredible; not only are his lectures themselves insightful content, but the fact that he puts them up there for free shows just how much he cares for the writing community.
Q. What kind of research did you have to do to make Into the Abaddon come to life?
A. Oh so much. So very much. The most apparent research that I had to do was surrounding the science of teleportation. Obviously, I am no scientist, so I had to study up on how supercomputers work, quantum mechanics, destructive scanning, astrophysics, and all of the sciencey things that made appearances in the book. It was really cool to learn about all of the crazy smart things that real people are doing in real life, every day.
I would say the most meaningful research I did was actually surrounding the Wind River Reservation. One of the overarching themes I tried to write into the novel was the struggles of the powerless fighting against the powerful. The Native American community has struggled throughout US history, and I think the Wind River Reservation is a great example of this. Through my research, I learned that Wind River is the only reservation where two different tribes—Arapaho and Shoshone—have to share the same land, and this has caused major identity crises for those living on the reservation.
Q. What do you believe makes your novel stand out?
A. While I would love to say, “it’s the best written book in the world!” it is my first novel, and I have tons of room for improvement. When I look at it from a distance, I think that the story uses an interesting blend of demographics to show the same power struggles that everybody faces when they see themselves as the little guy. The main conflict of the story stems from a neurodivergent character trying to find his social role in a neurotypical world, along with a Native American character trying to use the small amount of power he has left to fight against what seems to be an infinitely powerful authority figure.
Q. Which characters were your favorite to write? Were there any that took more work than others to conceptualize?
A. My favorite would have to be the primary POV character – Vincent. While I myself am neurotypical, I personally relate to many of the struggles that neurodivergent characters face – like Abed from Community and Sam from Atypical.
I had to do a ton of research to write Dr. Smith in as culturally appropriate a way as I could personally manage. He comes from a totally different socio-economic and ethnic background than I do, so putting myself in his shoes was something I had to actively engage with. I did my best to learn a small amount of the Arapaho language in order to connect with his background, and I hope this small amount will be able to travel some distance in connecting others to his culture.
Q. What are some of the true things in this story – for example, is Fort Chivington a real place?
A. Fort Chivington is actually a great example because, while the fort itself isn’t a real place, the barracks were based on real barracks that I stayed in during my time in the Navy. The Ducky Luck was also based on a pub that was a local favorite; sadly, the original pub has since gone under.
Q. Would you want to work in a place like the Abaddon?
A. Oh man, I can’t imagine I’d ever be smart enough to help the Abaddon research anything. If they came knocking on my door, though, it’d be hard to turn down that opportunity.
Q. Describe your writing environment – what does it look like, any candles, mood lighting, inspo, etc?
A. I wish I had a more interesting answer, but my writing environment has to be super boring. When it comes to creating material, a quiet room with few things to look at helps a lot. Synth and ambient music can help to get me in the flow state, but generally, when there’s more stuff for me to look at, I write less.
When it comes to editing, on the other hand, music and other small distractions can help with the more mindless tasks of correcting mistakes.
Q. Why did you decide to write Into the Abaddon in present tense?
A. I like this question because present tense certainly is not industry standard. I got into storytelling by way of DnD, where the dominating narrative style is second person present tense. Since present tense is what I practiced the most in my formative years as a storyteller, that’s where I felt most at home as a writer. I’ve also found that I have an overall personal preference for this tense due to its inherent ability to put the reader in the character’s shoes—and in today’s world of short attention span media consumption, I like the idea of catching the reader’s empathy quickly. It’s hard to not be in the moment when the story is telling you that the events are happening right now.
Q. What do you have planned next?
A. I’m currently working on an anthology of short stories chronicling a war set in my fantastical pirate world of Sylvamente. Every entry in the anthology is a complete, self-contained story for the featured character, but they all weave together to create a single, overarching through-line. The first entry is available on my website at: https://www.wesleynewman.com/future-projects/sylvamente
Q. What are you reading right now?
A. I’m finally getting around to The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss. It’s just been sitting on my bookshelf for weeks, maliciously daring me to crack it open. The time is now!
This cozy reading journal (available in hardback or paperback) is perfect for recording notes, quotes, and musings from your favorite books.