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“A Core Goal Is to Keep Readers Guessing”

AdmiralSean Danker's new sci-fi novel starts with a man awakening from cryo-sleep to find himself with an admiral's rank but not his uniform. His three comrades are suspicious of his identity—and the reader, too, believes the Admiral is not what he seems. But who is the Admiral?

Sean Danker answers our questions about his book but of course not that big one—because that would just spoil everything.


Amazon Book Review: What was the inspiration for this sci-fi story of a man who awakens out of his sleeper with three trainees on what appears to be an abandoned spaceship—and who refuses to share his identity with his shipmates even as they are trying to survive?

Sean Danker: It was a Philip K. Dick story that planted the seed, but over a few years the idea grew into something very different from what I originally outlined. The ambiguous character dynamic was intended to add one more dimension of mystery to an already strange set of circumstances.

Your main character is known only as the Admiral, because that's what's on his sleeper when he and three trainees come out of stasis. The Admiral doesn't reveal his identity until the last chapter of the book, and both his shipmates and the reader is kept on edge throughout the book, trying to figure out who he is (especially whether he's from the Ganraen Commonwealth or the Evagardian Empire) and how trustworthy he is. Aside from wanting to keep the reader intrigued, did you have a larger point you were making by shrouding the Admiral's identity for so long?

There are definitely larger things at work, but that would be straying into spoiler territory. They say the most important thing in a relationship is trust. 

You recently wrote a blog post about the challenges of successful selling books with ethnic or gay characters, and you say about Admiral, "So I…wrote a book about a white male with a white female love interest. Or rather, I wrote about a man and a woman and didn't specify race. We all just assume." I have to say, there was a good chunk of the book where I stopped assuming the Admiral was even male (due to a few lines that I won't quote because I want other readers to be able to search for their own clues). Was that deliberate on your part, or was I trying to be an overachieving Sherlock Holmes?

Admiral and its sequels are packed with clues and foreshadowing about what's coming, and it's great for readers to play detective along the way. Everything has meaning, and the Admiral isn't someone you want to make assumptions about. A core goal of this series is to keep readers guessing and never let anyone get too comfortable. 

Admiral has the tagline "An Evagardian Novel," suggesting that this is the first of several Evagardian stories. What's next for you?

There's a full series ahead of the Admiral, and also some Evagardian novels that focus on other characters and topics—but for now, the priority is on the Admiral books. 


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