Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stelly's Human Trial

“What happens when all that remains of the world is fear, distrust and desperation?”
A scattershot group of men and women are left to fend off alien attackers who have waged a thermal war on the earth. The survivors must endure intense heat while warding off marauders, rabid animals and their own prejudices.
Daron Turner and a pregnant co-worker Regina Jackson, lead this eclectic mix of survivors: Dan, a former construction worker; gang member Melvin Hicks; Barbara, a tough-talking widow who more than holds her own with her male cohorts; and escaped prison inmates Rocks and Ray Earl. neither of whom is eager to follow orders.
The aliens desire to use the remaining children on earth for study and hybrid procreation. Daron and his cohorts must decide whether to give up or fight to protect the planet’s future: Regina’s unborn child.

Human Trial is an apocalyptic tale that focuses on race, group dynamics, and the survival of the human species. A ragtag collection of Americans struggles to survive after intergalactic invaders use their advanced technology to manipulate the earth’s temperature. The thermal war leaves the earth scorched and devoid of nearly all human and animal life. The survivors, a scattershot group of humans (who dub themselves “Mulholland’s Mad Dogs”), gather in the fictional town of Stonecutter, where the stress takes a toll in the form of suicide and deadly in-fighting. As group members come and go, the consensus is that they must overcome personal prejudice to work together, to not only endure the altered climate, but ward off marauders, rabid animals and the unseen danger lurking in the nearby woods.
The night after several group members are drinking, one of them claims to have seen an UFO. He is perceived as “losing it” by the others, and after he is abducted by the aliens and returned nude, they are certain of it. Making matters worse, two group members are discovered to be manufacturing and using methamphetamine. The confrontation between them and the group results in a volatile group meeting, where racial animosity comes to a head.
The MMDs prepare for the battle, and several of them attempt to force a confrontation with the aliens, but their attack is a futile one. The aliens retaliate by putting each of the MMDs into a deep sleep—except for Daron and his newborn son, Adam. When the aliens escape with Adam, Daron goes after them and there is a final woodland showdown.

Timothy N. Stelly, Sr. is a poet, novelist, screenwriter and essayist from northern California. Human Trial is his first novel, and is the first part of an urban sci-fi trilogy. He has also written more than 350 essays for and from social and political issues to film noir history. In 2006, he won first prize in the Pout-erotica poetry contest for his poem "C’mon Condi". He has contributed several poetic pieces to Oysters & Chocolate and is currently working on rewrites of his first two novel attempts, Tempest In The Stone and The Malice Of Cain, which were published by PublishAmerica. His upcoming book is a sequel, Human Trial II: Adam’s War. He is also putting the finishing touches on a crime drama, Blanket of Authority. He is a native of Northern, California, where he resides with his three youngest children -- Dante, Kimberly and Lawrence.

Welcome, Tim.
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
I began writing around age nine, mostly humorous rhymes. My first serious effort began in high school with poetry and short plays. Now I prefer writing novels, short stories and screenplays. I became serious about this in 1999 after experiencing several personal setbacks. Writing was therapeutic. I had some notes from two novels I’d started writing in 1991 and from 1999-2003, I did my best to polish them. Since 2001, I have written more than 40 novels and 30 screenokays, most of it is what I call “hip-hop political satire,” a cross between Richard Wright and Richard Pryor.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
I simply wanted to get published the old fashioned way—with the services of a vanity publisher, or self-publishing. Now I want to continue to publish in this fashion, but I may self-publish a series of books. I am also trying to break into Hollywood. As for a message, in my writing I try to deal with issues of injustice and that old standby, good vs. evil. I think I accomplished the latter with my sci-fi book, Human Trial.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Series or stand-alone?
Human Trial is the first part of a sci-fi trilogy. The story has a simple premise in that, it argues man may not be capable of saving himself from aliens because we cannot save ourselves from the evil of other men. The characters have to overcome their fears and prejudices to not only save their group, but what remains of mankind. I’ve always believed that smaller groups—families and neighborhoods—are a microcosm of how our nation functions, and if you have dysfunctional families and neighborhoods, you will have a dysfunctional nation. Sadly, we live in a dysfunctional world, so to change it, we have to start with ourselves and those we influence. This is what the group in Human Trial seeks to do.

The story itself, centers on a scattershot group of humans who survive a thermal war launched by aliens that leaves fewer than 3,000 people left worldwide. The group os led by Daron Turner, and his pregnant co-worker (who later becomes his wife by less than traditional means), as they attempt to find out who is responsible and why. The alien’s home planet is on the brink of destruction, and the intergalactic visitors are seeking a new environment—one with a species that is genetically compatible with their own. Their ulterior motive is to breed with earth dwellers and discover an emotional-depth their own kind lack. Furthermore, they are planning for a later, and larger, battle with earth dwellers.

What’s the hook for the book?
What happens when all that remains of the world is fear, distrust and desperation?

How do you develop characters? Setting?
I try and put the reader/my characters in uncommon situations. For Human Trial this was easy: Place an eclectic mix of humanity in confined quarters where they must fend of wilding youth, rabid animals and a more powerful enemy they can’t yet see. The challenge was to hypothesize as to how these people might react, while at the same time convincing the reader to suspend their disbelief.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
The most unusual is Daron Turner. He is the leader, but he isn’t too trusting of strangers and reacts (sometimes overreacts) too quickly to dangers real and imagined. Throughout the book, however, we see him grow into a more thoughtful group leader. The most likeable character I think is Dan, a construction worker whom I tried to draw as an every man: a person who wants to fit in, follows orders and will fight ferociously for his own survival and that of the group.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Many of my stories center of social issues, in particular racial injustice. I grew up in a town divided racially and was bussed to a high school in the heart of an all-white enclave, where blacks madder up but 10% of the student body. Over a four-year period there were three racial conflagrations that temporarily shut down the school. However, when we black students returned, we were met by a mob of people whom had graduated years before. This opened my eyes to racism, and reinforced the pronouncement of Malcolm X that racism is prevalent in the south—south of the Canadian border.”

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.
"Human Trial is at once a sci-fi story, a look at the psychology of survival, and a timely cautionary tale regarding current environmental woes; our individual and collective responsibility to one another and to the planet…It is an entertaining and intricate story that can be read and enjoyed along with the likes of Mitchener, King, or Peter Straub. Stelly intuitively knows what everyday people will do to survive and how their interactions with each other will sound".—Brian Barbeito, Columnist and author of Fluoride And The Electric Light Queen

Great review!

What are your current projects?
I have Human Trial II: Adam’s War finished and ready to go to the publisher, hopefully in January. I have a crime-dramas finished—Under Color Of Authority, and a zombies-in-the-hood tale, The Zombie Factor. I also have a coming of age tale set in the 70’s—my magnus opus--titled Darker Than Blue.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
E-mail me at:, or visit me at

Tim, thanks for the interview. Continued success!



princessdominique said...

Awesome interview Tim!

Anonymous said...

Nice interview, Tim...As a matter of full disclosure, I had the opportunity to review a draft of "Human Trial" and I love it from the start. It's a fine book from a fine writer, and I encourage people to check it out for themselves.