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Author pens post-apocalyptic view of U.P.

“Tales of the Green, the Black Priest” by Robert Jones tells a post-apocalyptic story based in the Upper Peninsula, with colonies of Marquette, Ontonagon and Ironwood. The book is available via online purchase at Target, eBay, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. (Photo courtesy of Robert Jones)

MARQUETTE — A post-apocalyptic story about a mysterious event called the Green has taken over the continents and separated the world. Trees grow as tall as skyscrapers. Their roots bust through the pavement and tear apart cities, leaving survivors cut off from normalcy and each other. But a safe haven in the city of Marquette is where people flee to to find shelter, food and power.

Author Robert Jones released his first science fiction-fantasy book “Tales of the Green, the Black Priest” May 29 and is excited for readers to explore the unknown this book has to offer. Jones, who lived for a short period of time in Marquette in 2016, wanted to write his book set in the Upper Peninsula because nature is always “at your doorstep.”

“The towns up there are just little pockets of salvation where you’re free from forests, which really rule up there. That’s what I really liked about the U.P. It’s more pure, it’s more nature (and) it’s more beautiful up there,” Jones said.

Instead of cities, Jones uses colonies in his book to depict the safe areas in the region. A group of guardians, called the Riders, are warriors of the road who protect colonies from the Green. By clearing trees from the roads and keeping man-killing animals in the dense, dark forests, the Riders locate other groups of people to connect with and are like the “Jedi Guardians” but not too overly equipped with super powers. With a vision to make the Riders a cross between a police officer and a park ranger, Jones said he wanted them to be well rounded who are skilled motorcycle riders and can shoot like a sniper.

One of the main characters, Jack, is a top Rider of the Marquette colony and is asked to move to “Iron Wood,” which was once called Iron Mountain, to help his fellow Riders Doug, Kshea and his beloved wife Niki. But meanwhile in the Ontenogon colony, a man dressed in black has appeared, speaking to the people of “a great land of milk and honey and possesses a powerful voice that can sway even the stubbornest of people.” Though he seems harmless, the Riders don’t know that he “spells great danger, heartache and bloodshed for Marquette and her colonies.”

This book is more of prologue because it is just the beginning to this new world, Jones said. Unlike other fantasy books, Jones didn’t want to follow the elf-dwarf trope fantasy and he created his characters based on subcultures, looking into futuristic ideas.

“In a way it’s kind of the theme of (the) unknown. A big contributor to the way I wrote this book was that love for the theme of the unknown and what’s out there. I mean the world’s been separated (and) overgrown for years. There’s no internet, there’s barely any power,” he said. “What technology is left has been refurbished so the unknown of what’s out there is, both, what intrigues these Riders … and also terrifies them because they don’t know what’s going on.”

Authors Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman and H.P. Lovecraft inspired Jones with their abilities to create characters and scenarios beyond imagination.

“As far as Martin and King, I think those two were the biggest inspirations because they show me that fantasy writing doesn’t have to be knights and elves and dwarfs,” he said. “… In my opinion, fantasy goes more into that realm of self-discovery and that’s what I try to put my characters through. George R.R. Martin and Stephen King put their characters through all sorts of self-discovery and it’s not always the most pleasant kind.”

Themes of diversity, self-discovery and power is what will intrigue readers, Jones said.

“A person wants to read this story is because it’s different, in my opinion. Most stories go for a happy ending or a completely sad ending. With this book, I tried to go down the middle. It’s not really a happy ending, it’s an ending where you know more is coming but it’s satisfying at the same time,” Jones said.

Though this is Jones’ first book, he’s looking forward to writing a sequel story to this work.

“One thing it’s relaxing. It’s creating a scenario in your head, it’s like building your own universe and you get to see how the characters play out,” he added.

“Tales of the Green, the Black Priest” is available via Amazon, Target, eBay and Barnes & Noble.

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