Author Interview: ‘Hell Holes Series’ by Donald Firesmith

What Lurks Below (Hell Holes Book 1)

About the Book:

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he picks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team. Uncharacteristically, Jack also lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Demons on the Dalton (Hell Holes Book 2)

About the Book:

When hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appeared overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, geologist Jack Oswald picked Angele Menendez, his climatologist wife, to determine if the record temperatures due to climate change was the cause. But the holes were not natural. They were unnatural portals for an invading army of demons. Together with Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old sorceress demon-hunter, the three survivors of the research team sent to study the holes had only one chance: to flee down the dangerous Dalton Highway towards the relative safety of Fairbanks. However, the advancing horde of devils, imps, hellhounds, and gargoyles will stop at nothing to prevent their prey from escaping. It is a 350-mile race with simple rules. Win and live; lose and die…


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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US


Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’ve loved reading science fiction and fantasy books and short stories since I was a teenager, and I started writing short stories while still in high school. Most of those stories were pretty mediocre, and some were embarrassingly bad. I was unsuccessful at getting any published and gave up writing fiction for several decades. I am a mathematician by training, and have worked in software development since the late 1970s. I started writing software and system engineering books in the 1990s. Tired of only writing technical books, I started writing novels in my spare time about ten years ago. 

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I work as a system and software engineer about 45-50 hours a week Monday through Friday. That leaves evenings and weekends for writing.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Let me give you an example. I read numerous science magazines and books. During the summer of 2014, I first read about the huge holes found in the frozen tundra of northern Siberia. They are very mysterious given that they are huge, are cylindrical with vertical walls, and exist in permafrost. The question is how could such holes be created in ground that has been frozen since before the last ice age, and where has all of the missing dirt gone? I asked myself, what if instead of three holes, there were hundreds of holes? What if instead of being located on one peninsula in northern Siberia, they existed around the entire Arctic Circle. What if instead of forming sometime during the previous year, they had all formed overnight? Thus, the series Hell Holes was born.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I create an outline and block out what I want to go in each chapter. The outline may well change over time, but the general shape and story arc tends to be fairly stable. Things flow more in the individual chapters, and I sometimes learn what happens while writing a scene, so that writing is a combination of creation and discovery.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

The Hell Holes series are apocalyptic science fiction, horror, and modern paranormal fantasy. I love speculative fiction’s freedom to explore new realities and play What if?

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Amazingly, Hollywood producer Michael Chamoy has hired scriptwriter Leland Anderson to develop a movie script for a full-length feature film based on my book, Hell Holes: What Lurks Below. Once completed later this month, Mike will have one-year shopping rights to sell the movie to a studio and investors. The three main characters are Dr. Jack Oswald and Dr. Angela Menendez, who are a middle-aged married couple, and in spite of being 1,700-years-old, Aileen O’Shannon, who “appears” to be an amazingly beautiful woman in her early 20s. I would like to see Beau Bridges play Jack Oswald, Patricia Rae play Angela Menendez, and the 25-year-old Charlize Theron or Kate Beckinsale play Aileen O’Shannon.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I grew up on the grand masters: Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke. I loved Tolkien so much that The Lord of the Rings was the only English language book I took with me when I spent a year studying at the university in Munich. I must admit to being a true fan of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I also love steampunk books. Beyond that, I have a huge number of authors I read. For example, I really enjoyed spending a year reading a ton of books with strong female protagonists that were written female authors in preparation for writing Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton, which is told first person by a strong female character.

8: What books are you reading at present?

I actually just finished a book on the bus ride to work this morning and am currently trying to decide which of dozens of books on my Kindle Fire to read next.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

It has to be Lord of the Rings. It is such a classic and has such depth that I can read it for the 10th time and still enjoy it and get something new from it. I love the characters and the world building.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Spend a huge amount of time both reading and writing. Writing is a skill, and like any skill, it requires a great deal of practice. Iterate, iterate, and iterate some more, because your first few drafts can always be improved. Hire a professional editor and have lots of beta readers.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

The best place by far is my author website:

I’m also very active on Facebook (, where I do a lot of sharing of posts I like. Be forewarned; I’m a staunch progressive and share a lot of liberal political posts.


About the Author:

A computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs and cats.

Social media links:

Personal website:


Twitter: @DonFiresmith


Feuerschmied’s Wand Shoppe:


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