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Featuring an interview with Zanne Raby, author of scifi space opera Descent into Darkness

cover of Descent into Darkness by Zanne Raby

Descent into Darkness: Mayhem follows the Mayflower in the second book of The Chronicles of Deneb series. Journey along with the crew of the Space Ark Mayflower as they adapt to their new home on the planet Deneb. But along with their struggle to integrate into an alien culture, a new battle sweeps across the planet with the arrival of the human-transmitted Chimera bactovirus, bringing war and fanning the flames of racial intolerance. With a bloody conflict raging across the planet, the crew of the Mayflower is split between the two factions and embroiled in the chaos and destruction. Descend with the crew into darkness, where the only survivors of a global war will be on the right side of the border.

Excerpt from Descent into Darkness

“Pallav? You alright?” Tara’s voice broke him from his reverie and he pasted on a phony smile.

“Sorry darling, I was a million light years away. I’ll be fine,” he promised. Sweat trickled down his back in the unrelenting heat of the Denebian day, his disruptive pattern shirt already sticking to his body as he shrugged into his rucksack.

“Daddy, I’m gonna miss you.” The chirpy sing-song voice of little Jolanta gave him cause to smile at the child as she held out her arms to him. Swooping her up, Pallav dropped a kiss on the little girl’s rosy brown cheek, her eyes glistening with tears.

“And I’m going to miss you too, little one.” Hugging the orphaned girl to his chest, he burrowed his face into the cloud of dark hair that was as soft as a feather before pinching her cheek and gently setting her down. Guilt pierced his heart at the sad resigned look on the child’s face. Had it not been for him, Jolanta would be snug as a bug with her biological parents and not in lockdown high above the capital city living with a pair of humans.

Poor little thing… she’s known so much loss in her short life, he thought. Surrounded by death as the human Chimera bactovirus raged across Deneb, Jolanta had been cruelly abandoned by her mother after Tara retrieved the fallen child from the cobblestoned marketplace in the centre of the capital city. He could still picture his wife walking through the door with the tiny tot in tow. Shocked, surprised, but then captivated, Pallav let the child into his heart. It wasn’t like his two teenagers wanted him around anymore. No, Luke and Isabella were busy chartering their own course in the Wessel world with Gomalan insisting that they attend the best boarding school in the nation.

Taking advantage of his position, Pallav had initiated a thorough search for Jolanta’s parents only to get confirmation that they were amongst the thousands in Styria who had succumbed to the pandemic. Since her arrival, the young orphan had been his little shadow, never leaving his side, following the big man’s movements with her luminous opalescent eyes. He smiled inwardly at the thought of Jolanta climbing into her little cot and begging her new daddy for a bedtime story. Guilt-ridden he realized that he’d miss her more than his own children who were so immersed in their new lives that even their weekly holotalks were rushed and awkward. Laughing at himself, Pallav knew he was totally under the child’s spell.

“I promise to be back in time for market day, so no tears, okay?” Taking the little urchin’s chin in his hands, Pallav stared into her eyes. “And you have a promise to make to me too young lady, don’t you?” The little brown head nodded up and down, serious eyes acknowledging the responsibility her adopted father had assigned to her.

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An Interview with Zanne Raby

-What inspired you to become a writer?

Back when I was a very small child, I remember my mother putting me in her bedroom every afternoon and telling me to take a nap. I was a very active little girl and there I was in my parents’ bedroom on the loose. I pulled open the bottom drawer of their dresser and there was a book in it. I was too young to read, but I remember thinking to myself that one day I would be able to understand these strange symbols on the page. Every day my mother would read children’s books to me. I devoured them; I had a real thirst for reading. I began to craft stories in my mind every day when she put me down for my nap. Then when my naptime was over, I’d amaze my mom with these wacky stories. By the time I was ten I was writing them down. I wrote hundreds of short stories before I was twelve. My mother encouraged me to write, she was a real inspiration to me. I wanted to become an author, as well as a paleontologist and an archaeologist. And of course, a truck driver. Kids, right? But in my heart, I knew that becoming a writer would have to wait and so I chose another path. For nearly four decades I served my country until freed from the frenetic workload, I began to write once again. Now I’ve written two sci-fi novels, The Flight of the Mayflower and Descent into Darkness, and I’m working on a third.  If it weren’t for my mother, I would never have had the encouragement or the inspiration to become a writer.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

In my latest release, Descent into Darkness, the characters that were introduced in the first book of the series are now living on two planets: Deneb7 – an arid planet with a warrior culture, and the planet Cepheus9 ­– Headquarters to the Interstellar Collective for Peace and Security. Think of Hawaii, or the Tahiti Islands or any archipelago located in a tropical paradise and you’ve got Ceph9. Both planets are vastly different in terms of geography. And me, being from the Great White North, aka Canada, you’d think I’d opt for the tropical paradise, right? But that’s not where I’d go. About half-way through the novel, one of my characters finds a job at the bustling Siddi Oasis Resort on Deneb7. There’s everything you can imagine there from wave surfing to hang gliding to the best shopping in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. And of course there’s a world-class spa nestled within the exclusive complex. What better place to spend the day than at the Siddi Oasis Resort, soaking up the sunshine, seeking some adventure then being pampered in an amazing spa. Mind you, that’s not at all what my characters get up to, but you did ask about me, right?

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

Let’s talk about General Pallav Kóbor. Big guy, lots of muscles, works in intelligence for the Army and he’s a human trying to adapt to life on an alien planet. You know the kind of guy I’m talking about? The strong silent type. Pallav’s the kind of man you can count on to get the job done. Any job. But he’s keeping a big secret and he doesn’t tell anybody about it. Not even his wife. That’s because Pallav’s battling for his soul in a personal war between what he knows is right and what he has to do.  But hey, he can’t let anyone in on that right? They’d lose confidence in the fearless alien general. So when it’s two in the morning and he’s had one too many, maybe, just maybe, he’ll confide in you that there’s a big bad boogeyman lurking behind him in the shadows.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

I had to think about that one for a while and I actually changed my mind a few times. Dr. Daniel Radu is a pretty interesting fellow. First of all, I need to explain that the series “The Chronicles of Deneb” takes place about sixty years in the future. So jump forward to 2080 and there I am having a drink with Daniel, the mastermind behind the design and construction of an amazing piece of space transportation that enabled the Great Escape from Earth. He’s a brilliant engineer with a love of botany and the ocean. Even his new home on Cepheus9 sits high on a ridge with a view of the dazzling Cepheusian Sea. Daniel’s travelled across the galaxy, visited alien planets, bested dangerous criminals, traded barbs with his nemesis Pallav Kóbor and came out alive and in one piece. A very interesting person! And since I’m drawn to the water (like Daniel, I live on a hill overlooking a sparkling body of water), and love the outdoors, we’d have tons to talk about. Hmmm… maybe I should change my answer about what I’d do if I ever got a chance to visit my book’s world for a day. Kayaking the Cepheusian Sea sure sounds appealing!

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

Well, considering I’m recovering from a torn meniscus in my knee, I’d probably knock him on the head and throw him out the door. I’m a pretty good shot with a 9mm pistol and I fenced in university, so I don’t think the dwarf would have a fair chance. He’s better off being booted out the door since that way I get to avoid going to prison and he can live another day to pester some other poor soul.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

Horror stories. I could never write fictional horror stories. That is, unless they’re factual and then they’re no longer fiction. I mean, there are so many real horrifying stories in the news, right? We’re just getting over a pandemic and there are wars burning across the globe. Real horror. When I write, I need my work to bring me to another place and quench my thirst for adventure. Get the bad guys, foil conspiracies, save the planet type thing.  I could never do a horror story justice. Give me a light saber any day and a fast star ship and I’m off. So I’m going to be leaving that genre to other authors.

About Zanne Raby

author Zanne Raby

Since the days of the Napoleonic War, there has always been a member of Zanne’s family in uniform. Choosing to follow in the footsteps of her ancestors, Zanne joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1980, and was selected to attend the Royal Military College of Canada – the first year that women were accepted into that prestigious academy of learning. After graduation, she studied to become a Transportation and Movements Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

During a career spanning 38 years, some of the most memorable experiences involved command of 8 Mission Support Squadron as part of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, leading a study on support to the Canadian Arctic involving several trips to Northern Canada, including Canadian Forces Station Alert (the most northern settlement in the world), a three–year tour with NATO at Joint Force Command Brunssum, a deployment as the NATO Liaison Officer to United States Central Command, and finally a nomination as the Deputy Commander for the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group.

After hanging up the uniform and putting away the combat boots, Zanne bought a small acreage in Central Ontario and designed her own house. With an office overlooking the picturesque shores of Georgian Bay, surrounded by maps and images of alien worlds, she is pursuing her life-long ambition to become an author. Enough of the reports and returns that littered her desk over her career, now she could turn her attention to unleashing the creativity that had taken a back seat to the analytical world of logistics. The time had come to shake the dust off and begin a new career. The winds of change had called.

Zanne is currently crafting The Chronicles of Deneb, a sci-fi series that will take the reader from a dystopian earth on a voyage across the galaxy in search of a safe haven. But the planets the team discover provide anything but the sanctuary they sought. In her spare time, Zanne enjoys travel, photography, hiking, and gardening. And always, a good story to pass the time.

Connect with Zanne Raby


Zanne Raby will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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    10 thoughts on “Interview+Giveaway: Descent into Darkness by Zanne Raby

    1. Zanne has woven an amazing tale that will take our imagination to life in a far away world. Makes us think about the possibilities for our own not too distant future…. What lies ahead? Read on, dear reader!

    2. Great interview. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on what motivates a science fiction writer. It certainly is proving to be fruitful as I thoroughly enjoyed reading your novels. Lots of action, well researched concepts, not forgetting of course the intrigue and the unexpected. Looking very much forward to the next installment in the Chronicles of Deneb saga!

      1. Hello Michel, It’s great to know that you enjoyed my novels. Look for the continuation of the series late fall 2022 when book # 3, Fires of Fury, will be released!

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