Author Interview: The Augmented Man by Joseph Carrabis

Mar 04, 2020 by PD Alleva
The Augmented Man
by Joseph Carrabis

Genre:  scifi/military/thriller

Publish date: 25 July 2019

Publisher:  Black Rose Writing




The US is engaged in an unwinnable war in South America. The US Military concedes that any kind of combat leaves soldiers psychologically damaged and makes reintegration to society difficult. The solution is to find individuals who are already so psychologically damaged the most horrendous combat experience will seem trivial by comparison. Better, find individuals psychologically damaged who’ve also experienced massive physical insult and trauma. Best, individuals psychologically damaged, physically traumatized, and emotionally vacant.


But where to find such individuals?


Captain James Donaldson suggests using massively abused and traumatized children as the basis, arguing “...they’ve already experienced more at home than they’ll ever experience in the field. All we need to is help their bodies catch up to where their psyches and emotions already are.” 


Nine individuals are selected for Augmentation. They are bio- and genetically engineered into humaniform monsters and entered into combat with devastating results. 


But at the end of hostilities, how can you return them home? You can’t. Instead, give the enemy the means to neutralize them and let the enemy kill them. MIAs, one and all.


Except one survives. 

And comes home.





From the opening section of, Surface, to The Augmented Man


Trailer closed his eyes and sat at the end of the bar where the cigarette-burned, cheap black Formica countertop met the wall. He eased himself onto the last stool, tucking into the corner in the dim light, a spider hiding out of sight at the edge of its web. His fingers hovered over the cigarette burns closest to him as if divining their cause, sensing them like small, unhealed wounds, seeing the people involved, learning if each burn was an accident or intentional. 

The door opened and he smelled the cool April evening on his skin. It was followed by the alcoholic breath and sweat of two men and a woman they supported between them.

Trailer brought his attention back into the bar, collating the activity immediately around him. 

The barkeeper, a heavy smelling man gnawing a toothpick, his face somewhere between needing a shave and growing a beard, walked over to Trailer. “Yeah?”

“A beer. Whatever you got.”

The man grunted and walked to the other end of the bar. When he left, Trailer opened his eyes. A river of tattoos flowed up the man’s left arm. An old style claw prosthetic served as his right, its hinges and catches polished like silver and glinting in the mirrored bar light. He wore black jeans and a tie-dyed t-shirt over powerful shoulders and an ample gut. Trailer closed his eyes again as the man returned. It seemed to Trailer that the man swam upstream in a river of his own sweat. 

He placed a bottle of Coors in front of Trailer. “Six.”


“Six. Six dollars.”

“Can I run up a tab? I’ll probably stay a while.”

The man shook his head. “Uh-uh.”

Trailer handed him the money and nodded at the prosthetic. “Amazonas?”

The man eyed him and shook his head cautiously. “Loreto.”

“I was there, too.”

The man eyed him a moment longer then nodded as he walked away. “Uh-huh.”

A five-man band walked onto a stage surrounded by a plexiglass cage reinforced with steel fencing, closed the cage door, set up and tested their instruments. 

A woman screamed from a room hidden by a beaded curtain.

Trailer stood up. The barman caught Trailer’s shirt in his claw. “You gonna drink your beer or what?”

Trailer stood a head and a half taller than the barman. He said nothing, closing his eyes when the woman screamed again. 

“Eddie, Bill?” the barman called out. “We got ourselves a pretty boy here.”

Two scar-faced men got up from a table near the door and walked towards Trailer. He shook his head slowly, searching with his ears as a blind man might search out a strange sound. He moved his head from side to side and made a sound, quiet and deep in his chest, a great cat purring. His head snapped back and shook. He whispered, “,” as if tasting something tart, bitter, something he wanted to spit it out. 

Eddie and Bill smiled as they moved closer. Thin and wiry, Eddie had a chain around his waist held on by a drop hook. Rolled back sleeves revealed lean, muscular arms, but with shoulders too high and too stiff for the arms they supported. He wore tight-fitting pants and taped his boots, the laces stopping half way up. The right boot’s tape stopped half way down on one side. 

Trailer’s eyes snapped open wide and he catalogued, his irises retreating as if aflame. “Parkerized Military Machetes, eighteen-inch, sheath cross harness. Walther P38 9mm Short nine round capacity, right ankle lift grip, Rockwell C57-59 EK Combat Knife left ankle rip release.”

Bill’s face and scalp looked as if he’d been lyed. Short and squat, the lines on his clothes were clean, hiding no weapons but revealing the scarred musculature common to bikers who played too hard too long.

The woman screamed again. Trailer counted Eddie and Bill’s footsteps by sound, measuring the two men by heartbeat. He felt Eddie’s muscles twitch as Eddie thought about dropping his chain belt. 

Before Eddie’s thought became action, Trailer’s spine released and he grew.

The barman’s claw didn’t open in time, and he screamed as his prosthetic ripped out of its socket.

Trailer’s eyes closed and his face relaxed, becoming calm, pacific, the face of a child fallen asleep. He brought his head down hard onto Eddie’s skull and smiled at the sharp-sounding crack.



Author Interview Questions:


Do you have a pen name and why?


I go by “Stephen King” but I spell it “J. K. R o w l i n g.” I find I get more sales that way.


What other writing have you done?


Everything from journalism to trade-technical to interview to peer-reviewed papers to poetry to children’s literature.


What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?


Wow that’s a dangerous question to ask an author. Ask other authors who’ve read my work and see what they say. I don’t know if the following makes my writing unique, and pretty much all comment on my characters and world-building, so I guess my ability to create believable, relatable characters and my ability to create realistic situations are good. Perhaps not unique, and good.


What made you choose this genre?


I didn’t. This genre chose me. I’ve always said I write autobiography and it gets purchased as scifi, fantasy, horror, poetry, kidlit, magic realism, fiction. Some of my readers offer that I’m genre defining, others that my genre is “Joseph.” Great branding, that.


What’s the story behind your book title?


I wrote the book in April-May 1990, before the word “augment” meant anything about augmented reality or such. I knew the main character, I knew his story, and I knew his life was his burden, that it weighed him down, pushed him down, held him down and back. I also knew he was bio- and genetically engineered to be monstrous. The word “augment”/”augmented” implies a heaviness to me, a thickness, a bigness, a massiveness. You take something and add to it, make it bigger, and in the process make it less of what it was and more of something else. The augmentation process removed what was left of his humanity and made him into a monstrosity; The Augmented Man.


What’s the basic plot of your book or series?

The basic plot. Not the theme, but the plot... 


What do you do with a deadly weapon when it's no longer needed?


Nicholas Trailer is the last of The Augmented Men, beings created first by society and completed by a political group the public can't even imagine exists. Captain James Donaldson takes severely abused and traumatized children and modifies them into monsters capable of the most horrifying deeds without feeling any remorse or regret.


But the horrors of war never stay on the battlefield. They always come home.


Battling what society and science has made him, Nick Trailer discovers he is loved. From the horrors of childhood to the horrors of a war, what does it take for someone to find true love and peace? Especially when everyone has their own agenda, from the senators who sanctioned his making to the Governor of Maine who wants to use Nick's struggle to propel himself to the White House.


The Augmented Men were good at war, perhaps a little too good. Now they have to come home...or do they? What do you do with man-made monsters?


Nick must decide if his friends are his friends and if his enemies are his enemies, all while protecting the woman he loves.


And are you truly the last of your kind?


What if you must remain a monster to defeat a monster? Will you sacrifice love to protect what you love?


Which scene from your book do you like best and why?


Another tough question. What’s the basis for “like”?


The scene where Trailer, the main character, talks with the old Jivaro shaman about forgiveness is great because it shows someone reaching out for comfort and being comforted. The scene where Trailer uses his augmentation - part of which involves rapid healing - to restructure his neural pathways (neuroplasticity) is, to me, one of the most amazing in the book because it shows someone working in real time to change their ideas about themselves and others. The scene where the Apache gunships are searching the woods for him is wonderful because it shows the comradery of combat specialists. The opening Surface piece is incredible because it leads so well to everything that comes after. The hospital scene because it shows Trailer’s extreme isolation.


So which child do I like best? I like them all equally and for different reasons.


Which is your favourite character and why?


Trailer. Because we wear the same size clothes.


How do you develop your characters?


A question to the non-conscious, in my case. My characters tend to come to me fully realised. I may ask questions about specifics unless I’m invading their privacy.


Which one of your characters would you like to be?


I have enough trouble being me. I don’t need to be somebody else.


Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?


All the time. Do you have any idea how vast the multiverse is?


Do you have another job outside of writing?


Nope, I’m a full time author.


What advice would you give to someone wanting to write a book?


Just tell a good story.


What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?


I’ve often thought of Indigenous’ Circle album’s “You were the one” intro as the background to a book trailer.


What music do you listen to when writing?


Right now it’s Cowboy Junkies. It can range from Dave Brubeck to Bob James to Coltrane to Miles Davis to The Beatles to Capercaille to Bach to Rachmaninoff to Seven Nations to ...


What are you working on now?


This interview. Beyond that, a complete rewrite of a short story, Mitre, another chapter in a Tales of the Northern Clan series, a fantasy based on my years as a cultural anthropologist, some blog posts. I’m working on this interview to give my brain a chance to relax from my other writing. I use blog posts pretty much the same way. A lot of my writing is exploration, it’s body-building before the pose-down. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t, how and why.


What’s your writing routine?


I sit, I write. I walk, I write. I exercise, I write. I go to sleep, I write. Pretty much everything I do is involved in my work. I’m constantly doing the one while doing any other.


What do you do when you have writers’ block?


ROFL! I don’t have writer’s block, I have moments when I’m not paying attention and/or being stupid. In either case, once I recognize what’s going on, I lower, center, relax, and breathe. I listen, pay attention, watch. Everything works out fine.


Describe your road to publishing your book:


Never give up, never surrender. 



How did you go about developing your cover artwork?


I had an idea. I did some A/B testing. The responses were consistent and what I’d anticipated. I went with it.


How do you handle marketing on social media?


I don’t, really. I spend my time developing my craft and do social marketing when I need a break or the mood strikes me. And when I do go social, it’s usually to promote others, not myself. At least I think I do that. If someone disagrees, do let me know.


If you could only take three books with you through an interstellar portal, what would they be?


The Complete and Unabridged Guide to Living Anywhere After You’ve Gone Through an Interstellar Portal, Volumes I, II, and III


List some great books you have recently read:


I’m rereading the complete Katherine Mansfield because she incredible at settings and character. I recently finished Face Value which is a must for authors and anybody in half a dozen social and anthro fields. Memoirs of Hadrian is a must for language and voice.


Who are your five favourite authors?


Who has lasted the test of time...Budrys, definitely. Heinlein because he wasn’t afraid to explore. Brautigan for the power of his language. Van Vogt and Blish because when they cooked, they cooked. Bradbury. Piper. Hammett. Aldiss. Swinburne. 


What is your favourite quote?

Today it’s “A compass need not see north in order to feel its pull.” - Rita Mae Brown in Starting from Scratch


Do you have a blog?


Yes -


What do you write about in your blog?


Now it’s largely where I’ll be appearing and please, dear god, come by so I won’t be alone. Also excerpts from work in progress, things I’m learning about storycrafting and storytelling, some opinion pieces, and about our wildlife.


Who would you like to be stuck on a deserted planet with?


My wife, partner, Princess, Susan.


Who would you choose to read your audiobook?


How does one read an audiobook? Do they come with the equivalent of dustjackets? I would think people would listen to an audiobook. Who would I choose to listen to my audiobooks? Everybody. Through all time. Generations yet to come. 

Or is the question, who would you choose to narrate your audiobook?

Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, Derek Jacobi, Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford, Alec Baldwin.Think they’re available?


What’s your dream job and do you think you’ll do it one day?


I’m doing it now.


What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?


What is this “not writing” people talk about?


Where do you like to travel to?


Places you’ve never been. Some places I hope you’ll never be.


What’s your favourite pet?


We’re back to that favorite child question.


Do you prefer ebook or hardcopy?


Depends on where I am and what I’m reading.


Are there any writing styles or genres you dislike?


Oh, yeah. I can’t stand Poor Writing. It seems to be a pervasive genre, though. I find it everywhere.


Quick quiz:


Favourite thing to cook: Anything for family and friends.

Silliest saying: Yakka foob mog. Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. Chumble spuzz. - Calvin, giving Newton's First Law "in his own words"

Best holiday spot: You think I’m going to tell people?

Most played song: That I play the most (Bach) or that I listen to the most (no specific favorite)

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? Both. 

Do you prefer to read SciFi or fantasy: If it’s well written, I’ll read it.

Best superpower: Kindness/Compassion

Number one thing to do on your bucket list: One more good thing.


Author Bio:


Joseph Carrabis’s short fiction has been nominated for both Nebula (Cymodoce, May ‘95 Tomorrow Magazine) and Pushcart (The Weight, Nov ‘95 The Granite Review) and has recently appeared in Across the Margin, The New Accelerator, parAbnormal, serialized in The Piker Press, and HDP. His first indie novel, The Augmented Man, is getting 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble, and others. His two self-pubbed books, Empty Sky and Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, are getting 5 star reviews (and he has more books in the works). Joseph holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. When not writing, he spends time loving his wife, playing with his dog and cat, flying kites bigger than most cars, cooking for friends and family, playing and listening to music, and studying anything and everything he believes will help his writing.