TITLE : Wistful Ascending (Hybrid Helix #1)
AUTHOR : JCM Berne
GENRE : Science-Fantasy/Superhero/Space Opera
INTENTED AGE GROUP : Adult
DATE OF PUBLISHING : September 5, 2020
PUBLISHER : The Gnost House (Self Published)
Welcome to my tour stop for Wistful Ascending (Hybrid Helix #1) by JCM Berne, hosted by Escapist Book Tours. I am so grateful to be part of The Escapist Book Tours and for getting the chance to do a Q & A with the author. Make sure to check The Escapist Book Tours out because they do an awesome job of introducing a lot of new titles mainly self pub and indie published SFF books.
If you are interested in checking out the official page for the book tour – CLICK HERE
Content/Trigger Warnings :
Shown on page :
Violence (possibly gratuitous, including action/combat scenes and some visceral descriptions of death)
Alluded to :
Retired from a career as a weapon of mass destruction for the Imperial Fleet, Rohan wants little more than decent coffee, a chance for romance, and a career that doesn’t result in half a galaxy shuddering at the mention of his name.
When a long-dormant wormhole opens near his employer, the sentient space station Wistful, the Empire takes renewed interest in the system. As scientists and spies converge, Rohan struggles to protect his friends and his peaceful life without again becoming the type of monster that can’t have either.
AUTHOR Q &A
1. What was your inspiration for writing Wistful Ascending?
I can answer this in two different ways, so I will!
I’ve been writing fanfic in my head for as long as I could read. Every time I read
something I love I make up some parallel story that adds to the core story (Star Wars,
but with dragons added!). I have turned these stories into novels before, but in late 2019
I was feeling creatively unfulfilled. I wanted to make something I could share with
people. Noticing how easy it had become to self-publish, I promised myself that if I
could finish a novel I would release it on Amazon, even if it wasn’t very good! That
promise motivated me to actually stick to the computer and grind out the rough draft of
Now, that explains why I wrote a book, but not why I wrote this book.
My most direct inspiration for the Hybrid Helix was the comic book Invincible. I’m a
huge, huge fan of the story, but there was one plot twist that annoyed me. I don’t want
to give it away, because of spoilers and it happening in a later volume, but let’s just say
that I kept wondering why, if the race of super-beings in Invincible could pass on their
powers to their children, none of them had flown off in their history and bred an army to
conquer the universe. That led to the basic premise of the Hybrid Helix, the relationship
between the il’Drach and their hybrid children. I took many, many other elements from
other books. You’ll find things from Godzilla movies, the Marvel comic Nova, Thor,
Rurouni Kenshin, and many other properties reflected in this story.
2. What are some of the sci-fi books that have influenced you as an author?
I fell in love with space opera reading EE Doc Smith’s Lensmen series. I’m not sure it’s
actually good, but I read it when I was young and it was very formative. I really like the
serial standalone format for a series, and I was drawn into that by the Jhereg novels,
Glen Cook’s PI Garrett series, and the Dresden files, among others. The Man Who
Never Missed by Steve Perry made a huge dent in my brain by combining science
fiction and martial arts.
3. What was the research process like?
Researching Wistful Ascending was super easy: I did none. I very carefully chose what I
would describe so I’d never have to do actual work to figure out what was going on. For
example, instead of defining Rohan’s acceleration in gravities and then calculating
orbital distances and figuring out how long it would take him to get from place to place, I
just… didn’t. Things were farther or closer and I left it at that! Much easier.
4. How did you come up with the world for this series, what was the process of bringing to life a character inspired by Tollywood and also could you tell us a little bit about the Hybrid children?
The setting really started with the idea of the il’Drach: they’re not incredibly powerful on
their own, but their hybrid children are incredibly strong, to the point of being the
greatest military asset in the galaxy. The technology and the way magic works is
something I’ve been working with for thirty years, so applying it to this world was easy.
With my magic system, ships have to be artificial intelligences (otherwise they’d be too
vulnerable to magical attacks), and the rest falls into place. I tried to keep a sense of
diversity as well. Wistful is a melting pot, a place where aliens from a thousand different
worlds gather and mingle, and I tried to give a small sense of that in the setting.
In my eyes, having a Tollywood inspired character meant he had to be competent, he
had to be cool, and he had to have a strong sense of morality (even if it doesn’t match
the reader’s). I’m not sure I got the cool part (in fact, having Rohan dress badly does
NOT reflect genuine Tollywood heroes, who always look great), but making him one of
the strongest people in the galaxy made me feel like he’d fit in on the set of Baahubali.
Giving him a moral system was simple, since I basically just gave him my own, and I’m
a 51 year old man with an ABD in philosophy. I’ve spent years thinking about ethics and
morality, so applying it to this fictional character was easy.
The Hybrid children are all different. il’Drach men (only) go out into the worlds, in secret,
start families, and have children that they can raise to be warriors. They see their
children as tools, so they aren’t really great parents. They are much more concerned
with raising kids who will follow orders and do as they’re told, since that’s how their
army is formed. The kids themselves all have the il’Drach curse. They’re immensely
powerful, which just means they have very strong telekinesis. They can fly, rip steel with
their hands, and are almost indestructible. Some have additional powers depending on
their race. But their power comes with a intense anger, so the more they use, the more
prone they are to falling into berserk rages with devastating consequences. They’re
living weapons of mass destruction, and that has implications for their personalities.
We’ll probably meet a few more as the series goes on!
5. If you were on a mission with a team of your own to save the world from destruction, who would you like to have on your team(please choose authors you want on your team) and your reason for choosing them?
If I had to save the world with a team of authors I’d assume the world was doomed and
just pick a bunch of people I’d like to hang out with while we watch the end of
I’d probably choose the authors I love reading – Steve Perry, Glen Cook, Steven
Erikson, Jim Butcher (I just realized I should read more female authors).
Alternatively, I could make a team of indie authors I actually know (in the online sense)
so we could hang.
Really, none of these are good answers. It would be kind of mean of me to summon
Steven Erikson away from his family to my party in our last hours of life so I could pester
him with writing questions…
6. What are the best things and the worst things about your main character Rohan?
I’m having a tough time with this question! I don’t really think of Rohan in these terms.
People think he’s funny, which is a good thing if you appreciate his jokes (not everyone
does!). He tries to do the right thing, but as with most people, sometimes that in itself is
a mistake (see Return of The Griffin for examples of this).
The worst thing about him is probably a touch of arrogance. He may have a little too
much confidence in his own intelligence. And his fashion sense, which is definitely non-
His Power comes with a heavy price – it is colored by anger – which can lead to all sorts
of problems for those around him when, say, he loses his temper and kills thousands of
people at a time. Thankfully this isn’t a frequent occurrence.
I most enjoyed writing the Gabira character. If you listened to the audiobook, my favorite
part of Nina’s narration was how she narrated Gabira. “Daaahlink!”
7. What do you love the most about space operas and super heroes?
I love space opera for the scope. It’s fun to imagine big things – travelling to distant
stars, battles fought between huge armadas of ships, sweeping plotlines that take in
trillions of people.
I love super heroes for the most primitive possible reason: the power fantasy. I don’t
have a lot of control over things in my real, everyday life. People I’ve never met
determine so many factors about how much money I make, how safe I am, what health
care I can get, and so on (not that I’m doing badly, I’m just saying it’s not in my hands).
Super heroes, just like wizards and vampires and starship captains, have the power to
go out and make things happen. If Rohan sees an injustice, there’s a decent chance he
can go out and rectify it in a way that a real person can’t.
8. Tell us about a funny/weird/cool / most shocking thing you discovered while
researching for your series.
I did no research, so I can’t!
I will tell you 2 cool things about me: first, my college roommate is now a Hugo award
winner. It’s an amusing fact because neither of us wrote fiction or were in fiction-writing
education tracks when we knew each other.
Second, I once helped save Paul Auster’s desk. He’s a well-known author (literary, not
genre) and he hired some friends and I to help him move his office. I’ll save the rest of
that story for another day.
9. Tell us about the most fun and favorite thing you got to write in the book.
Probably the jokes, and probably either Ursula’s best lines or Wei Li’s. The scene where
Wei Li is training Rohan and mocking him for having external genitalia was pretty fun.
10. What do you love the most to write and hate to write in your stories?
I cheat by not writing anything I hate. I’m not much for writing sex scenes, so I don’t
have any! I find fight scenes the hardest (to avoid making them repetitive), but I wouldn’t
say I hate writing them.
I love pretty much all the rest equally. I like writing banter, so you’ll find a lot of it.
11. Do you have any writing rituals?
I can only write using a mechanical keyboard, sitting in a task chair, with at least a 24”
monitor to look at. If you put me on a desert island with a laptop I’d struggle to get any
work done at all.
12. If you couldn’t write in the genre you write in, which genre would you prefer to write in?
I’ve written fantasy before (my first novels were fantasy). I might be willing to write
straight science fiction, but maybe not.
If you told me I couldn’t write science fiction OR fantasy anymore I just wouldn’t write. I
don’t think I have the patience to write in a genre I don’t love, and those are the genres I
I don’t think I’d be very good at Mysteries, and Thrillers scare me.
13. Which genre would be the most challenging for you to write in and why?
Probably explicit romance. I don’t like writing sex scenes, not sure why (I’m not morally
opposed to sex scenes). I could possibly write a non-smutty romance if I had a reason
to, but it’s not something I’m looking for.
14. How has your journey of book publishing been?
I didn’t really try very hard to get Wistful Ascending published traditionally. I couldn’t find
traditional publishers or agents who seemed interested in this genre. Self-publishing has
been very interesting and quite difficult! It’s hard to convince people to give your book a
try if the blurb and cover don’t grab them immediately. A lot of people in the booktube
and bookblogging communities have been a huge help to me in getting the word out,
which has been incredibly gratifying.
15. Your favorite underhyped books you want more people to read.
The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry. Published in 1985 (the amazon listings
have dates for the re-release) it was a wonderful series.
Beyond that, there are a ton of great indie books out there right now. I’m not going to
name any, because everybody’s tastes differ, but people who like to read should
definitely spend time reading book blogs and viewing booktube videos so they can find
reviews of the books that will resonate with them. I would have loved to have these
resources available to me when I was younger!
See Also :
(This is our attempt at a bit of fun. We ask our authors to come up with a few short, clever, possibly pop culture laden, descriptions of their books just to give a little taste of what’s to come for readers.)
If Harry Dresden and Thor Had a Baby • The Only Tollywood Inspired Superhero Book You’ve Considered This Year • Dragonball Z with 100% Less Constipation
JCM Berne has reached middle age without outgrowing the notion that superheroes are cool. Code monkey by day, by night he slaves over a hot keyboard to prove that superhero stories can be engaging and funny without being dark or silly.
JCM Berne’s socials :
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Prize: An eBook, Audiobook, or Paperback Copy of Wistful Ascending!
Starts: November 24, 2022 at 12:00am EST
Ends: November 30, 2022 at 11:59pm EST