INNISFAIL – Imagine being in a hot dry wasteland far in the future and you stumble upon a face-covered humanoid deep in the sand.
The human is awakened. You might be startled or even deeply afraid.
But the humanoid turns out to have a sense of humour, even if it’s on the oddball side.
There’s a mission, undefined at first, behind the eccentricity.
The tale begins. And it’s a rollicking ride.
Such is a story of a mysterious anti-hero named Slate – described as a man with strange abilities and an even stranger personality - in a recently released young adult military science fiction novel by Alberta journalist Peter Shokeir.
His own story begins in Vancouver where he was born. From the ages of 13 to 18, Shokeir was raised in Innisfail where his family still resides.
He chose his post-secondary schooling in Lethbridge and at SAIT in Calgary, which included journalism.
In 2016 Shokeir completed a summer internship with Mountain View Publishing in Olds. Now 29, he is currently the editor/publisher at the Jasper Fitzhugh.
However, in the back of his mind, way outside the discipline of day-to-day or week-to-week news gathering, was an idea that percolated for a decade; a story he felt had to be told, had to be put on paper.
“I kept refining it and refining it. It eventually got to the point where I felt like I wanted to try and put it on paper,” said Shokeir, who has been developing the novel for a series until all the ideas finally came together. “I tried to auction it off to some agents, but they are very overwhelmed these days.
“And unless you have a really big following, or if you have a big name, they don't really have to choose books.”
But he still could make his own choices.
Shokeir decided to go the self-publishing route, and his 320-page debut novel The Silver Prison, which is the beginning of The Silver Prison Saga, was finally released through Amazon on March 31.
Described as an “epic sci-fi adventure” series for young adults and older readers with a penchant for genre fiction, The Silver Prison is the story of Slate during an unspecified time in a war-torn future.
He has been dug up out of the sand by cadets in the Sahara desert.
This mysterious man has been found with an indestructible silver helmet. It can’t be removed.
Slate is an almost comedic figure; an anti-hero who is a super soldier, said Shokeir.
The author then weaves a scenario of Slate’s capture. He’s held prisoner.
There’s a daughter of a dead corporate tycoon attracting dangerous enemies.
And then there are others who depend on the services of the “Helmet Man” to survive.
“There's other super soldiers that come in and have to fight him and it's very comedic; fun fast-paced,” he said. “I would call it like more action comedy but there's definitely dramatic points to it.”
And are those dramatic points part of a quest that is heroic, humorous or even strange?
“Undefined at first. But he first wants to reconnect with his father figure who kind of raised him in a lab,” said Shokeir. “He's kind of has a protector role at the beginning of the book.”
It has now been just over a month since the release of The Silver Prison. Shokeir knows it could be a long challenging road towards success.
“I've been working hard at it. I’m trying to find the market. There’s a lot of legwork that still needs to be done,” he said. “Overall, I am glad I am going in this direction but it is still a long ways to go.”
The Silver Prison is available for purchase in e-book and paperback format on Amazon and is expected to be available at select bookstores.