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The INTRATERRESTRIAL paperback has arrived!

Hey, paperback readers! The UFO carrying the paperback edition of Intraterrestrial has finally touched down on Earth, and materialized in physical form. Get your copy on Amazon, straight from the stars. Here’s the link:

Get your copy here!

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months. After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life. Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

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Here come the Intraterrestrial reviews!

The ebook edition of Intraterrestrial has been out for a few weeks now—though the paperback is still coming soon—and the reviews are starting to roll in. Here are some highlights!

“Creatively mingling reality and science fiction, Nicholas Conley crafts a mind boggling, intense story. It left me soul searching, a little heart broken, and overwhelmingly in awe of the way he weaves not only Adam’s story but that of his mother, Camille.”

– Shelley, Nerd Girl Official

 

“Intraterrestrial deals with some heavy topics: brain injury, bullying, and finding your place in the world when you’re different than everyone else.”

– Misti Pyles, My Trending Stories

 

“There is some Descartes-ian philosophy thrown in here too, which is always fun.”

– Sean, ReadWorldBooks

 

“This is a very good story. It has several tough issues that are discussed and will make you think about if you were in the same situation.”

– Jessica Bronder, JBronder Book Reviews

 

“The scenes with Adam’s mother Camille should have seemed boring and dull in comparison to Adam’s journey. On the contrary, her character arc and voice were just as engrossing. The ending to both character’s journeys tied up neatly, but still packed a satisfying emotional wallop.”

J.L. Gribble

 

“This book reminded me of my childhood. I grew up behind a gas station. My playground was a shed in the back of the station. It was used for car parts, old radios and such. With my spacecraft set up, I blasted into outer space.”

– Randy Tramp 

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Intraterrestrial is nominated for #CoverOfTheMonth

Intraterrestrial has rolled right into the first round of AllAuthor’s #CoverOfTheMonth contest for February, where members of the public can vote for their favorite covers for new releases of the past month.

Now, obviously, I love the cover for Intraterrestrial, which was designed by Streetlight Graphics. I’m still amazed by it, and I can’t wait to see what it’ll look like on a paperback. Of course, being the author and all, I might be a bit biased—but seriously, I think the cover really captures the heart of this story.

If you agree, and are interested in helping fly Intraterrestrial into Round #2 of the contest, place your vote at AllAuthor’s online contest. No registration required.

Vote for the cover here!

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The writing soundtrack for Intraterrestrial

The creative process is a magical thing, and every creative person out there has their own unique way of tapping into it. Some people just flip open their laptop and go. Others need to do it with a pen and paper. And then there’s the vast majority of us, who have all kinds of ridiculously particular routines that will probably only get more ridiculous as we get older.

For me, when I decide that I’m feverish enough to start writing another novel, I like having a soundtrack. Seriously, having the right music gets me into the zone. You know, the creative zone. That’s the place where characters come to life and start arguing with you. Where the environment you’re creating starts to become more real than the room around you. Writers exist for this zone. We think about it constantly, whether we’re at the grocery store or trying to sleep. And for me, the right music helps me tap into that zone like cracking an egg creates the possibility of an omelet.

Coffee helps, too.

Nicholas Conley coffee dark

But it’s not just any music. For me, I’m apparently so ridiculous that by now, I like to have a specific playlist for each writing project I take on. I know, I know, it’s too much! But that’s how it is. When I’m writing, this music becomes so intimately connected with the novel that it becomes, for me, the story’s playlist. Back when I was writing Pale Highway, I spent a lot of time listening to The Album Leaf.  But Intraterrestrial required a different soundtrack.

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

Intraterrestrial is, without question, a weird novel. By its nature, this book is two stories, each one wrapped around one another like a braided rope: on one hand, there’s the tale of Adam, a young boy undergoing an imaginative journey through the cosmos, meeting “aliens” formed by his own imagination, while knowing that when he comes back to Earth, his life could be totally unlike what it was before. On the other hand, there’s the story of Camille, his mother—a woman stubbornly fighting to protect her son from the perils of the medical system, while battling her own guilt about the car crash that created this situation.

As I was writing Intraterrestrial, the music that really jump-started my creative process was that of Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, whose work I was introduced to when he scored the French film The Intouchables (which, by the way, I highly recommend!). To put it clearly, Einaudi’s album Divenire helped me form the backbone of this novel. Seriously, I almost can’t imagine writing it without that soundtrack. This particular piece, to me, totally captures Adam’s journey through space:

 

However, there’s another song that played an important role in the development of Intratrerrestrial, and this song also plays an integral role in the novel’s story. If you’ve read the book (now available on Amazon, don’t forget!), then you know the song I’m talking about: it’s Soundgarden’s “The Day I Tried to Live,” sung by the now tragically deceased Chris Cornell.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment that Intraterrestrial first came to me, as a concept. But I do remember that when the story finally came together in my head—as I envisioned this boy riding a “lightboard” through outer space, while his physical body remained in a hospital bed on Earth—I was definitely listening to this song.

Now, let me ask all of you other writers, artists, and creative types in general: do you have specific soundtracks for your projects? Or on the other hand, maybe you have your own specific creative habits, outside of that?

If so, what are they?

Intraterrestrial: Available on Amazon!

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New Book Release: INTRATERRESTRIAL

For an author, days like today are the ones you dream about.

The creative process always starts with a flash of lightning: that first moment whereupon an idea occurs to you, and you take on the heavy responsibility of bringing it to life.  Then, there’s that frenetic feeling—excitement meets anxiety, happiness meets fear—as the story you’ve been carrying inside you slowly empties out onto the page. You work on it for longer than you ever imagined. Weeks. Months. Years. You nourish it, you love it, you loathe it, you go through all of these emotions, but you always, always keep plugging away at it, letting it flow together. You experience tears, you experience laughter, the characters become friends, the locations become real. You let the story grow and change, and then—finally—you put it out into the world. At which point, it’s no longer “your” story anymore: now, it belongs to the readers. And that’s exactly how it should be.

These are the days where you remember why it’s all so, so worth it. As of today, February 16th, the ebook edition of Intraterrestrial has officially landed on Earth.

Get your ebook copy of Intraterrestrial here on Amazon today. If you prefer reading your ebooks on a Nook, then snag it here on Barnes & Noble. You can also find it on iTunes, Google Play, and Kobo. Choose whichever format you prefer; the aliens won’t mind one bit. Just make sure to grab it while it’s hot, before their UFO takes off again!

To all of you reading this, thank you for your support, whether it’s through comments, emails, Tweets, or what have you. Seriously, you folks are awesome. I hope you all enjoy reading Intraterrestrial, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts, theories, and speculations!

Also, for all you paperback fans: don’t worry! The hard copy will be coming soon, and I’ll let you all know when it does.

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Now available on Amazon!

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

 

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

Book Trailer: Intraterrestrial

Next week, on January 16th, the aliens are coming. On that day, the ebook edition of Intraterrestrial will finally touch down on Earth. The paperback will be arriving in the near future, as well—and as soon as there’s an official date, I’ll let you all know.

In the meantime, I’m excited to unveil the official book trailer for Intraterrestrial. Watch it below!

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Intraterrestrial alien meme night sky looking up Nicholas Conley Adam Helios Red Adept sci-fi science fiction ufo

Alien Autopsy UFO roswell aliens weird footage

Extraterrestrial Aliens Should be Less Human, and More Alien

Okay, let’s be honest. If aliens are out there, whether they’re monitoring our world or flying around their own little corner of the cosmos, they probably aren’t hairless, bipedal primates like us. They might not even perceive the universe in the same way we do. And yeah, they definitely don’t speak English. So why is that in the vast majority of books, movies, and TV shows about aliens, they seem so much like human beings with unique skin tones, claws, or bigger heads?

Why aren’t aliens… more alien?

This exact thought was a huge part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial, my upcoming weird, emotional, psychedelic alien novel which will be floating your way later this month.

Star-Trek-Discovery-TKuvma-Klingon-Leader alien human

In most sci-fi media, “aliens” tend to resemble futuristic humans. Sure, maybe they have grey skin and tentacles, but the differences from us are relatively minor. Aliens still wear clothes or ceremonial armors, they still pilot metal ships, have families, and interact with the world using the same five senses. Alien technology, while usually more advanced than Earthling technology, is nonetheless quite similar to ours. (Though Giger’s hyper-sexualized designs in the Alien movies are a notable exception.)

Now, the reason that fictional aliens are so “human” is easy to understand. For one, humans have a tendency to try to imprint our image on everything, whether it’s finding human faces in wood grain (the pareidolia phenomenon), or believing that an omnipotent creator would resemble an old white guy with a big white beard.

This is also because from a storytelling perspective, it’s easier for readers and audiences to connect with “creatures” that resemble us. That’s why it’s easier to recognize the “life” in an animal than it is a plant, even though both are equally valid lifeforms. The use of “human” aliens has been a necessary ingredient in many important media franchises, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Marvel Universe. That’s because the “aliens” in these tales aren’t there to explore the sci-fi idea of aliens: these “aliens” are representative of humans, so it suits the story to make them as human as possible. This aspect is particularly strong in Star Trek, which uses a utopian “Federation” of alien races to represent the ideal of humankind’s many races/cultures/societies one day working out their differences and living in harmony. It’s powerful stuff.

Ufo flying saucer nicholas conley aliens

So, I’m not criticizing the use of “human” aliens, because they serve a valid narrative function for many stories. However, I am asking: shouldn’t our stories have room for both types of alien, both human and…. less human?

And furthermore, can’t we see more stories featuring inhuman aliens, which don’t simply write the beings off as “monsters,” or “beasts,” and instead work to engender audience compassion and connection for creatures that aren’t just like us?

 

I say this, because many stories demonize inhuman creatures, and that’s problematic, because it signifies how we feel about (and treat) animals, plants, and other lifeforms that don’t have smiling faces. For example, when I used talking slugs as characters in my last novel, Pale Highway,  I did so hoping that it might make at least one reader reexamine these “slimy” creatures, and perhaps come away with more respect for them. Slugs might be totally different from us, but they are a valid form of life. If my story convinced even one person to never pour salt on a poor slug again, then hey, that’s an achievement I’m proud of.

Anyway, getting back to the central point, depictions of truly otherworldly aliens—particularly more sympathetic portrayals—are rare. Off the top of my head, the most noteworthy example of this in recent times was the film Arrival, where the Heptapods were seen as complex, intelligent beings of a truly alien background. The other example that comes to mind are the “Scramblers” in the novel Blindsight. While these creatures certainly weren’t “sympathetic,” due to their total lack of free will and/or emotions, the novel itself presented their strange nature as a plot point, and an examination of what our “free will” really is.

 

Arrival aliens ufo space science fiction ship.png

Now, why am I interested in seeing more alien-like aliens? A few reasons. One, it’s largely unexplored terrain. It’s a big, cosmic horror (or mesmerizing wonder) of possibilities that fiction has only begun to tap.

Two, because I think it’s an important way to break through the myopic nature of human perception. I think that telling stories wherein the aliens are distinctly not-human—but are still viable creatures in their own right—could help break down barriers in human society, help tear down prejudices, and make it easier for people to relate to others who aren’t like them.  After all, the “other” is not the enemy.

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For Intraterrestrial, the key difference I wanted to explore was the notion of perception. The main character, Adam Helios, is a 13 year old boy with a brain injury: this injury causes his perception of the world to differ significantly from a “normal” person.

However, the aliens who contact him perceive the universe in an even stranger way: while us Earthlings use five senses, the aliens do not possess senses. They explore the universe psychically, using creativity as a “sense.” They are so incomprehensible to our hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, and sound that the aliens can only appear before Adam by “creating” sensory constructs of themselves, with his imagination.

A large part of what inspired me to write Intraterrestrial was my desire, both as a writer and as a reader, to see fictional aliens that are more “alien,” instead of just seeming like futuristic humans. This book will be my own contribution to the cause I’ve described above, and I look forward to you folks reading it, and letting me know if my aliens are “alien” enough!

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