September 5, 2022

Interview with Donald Firesmith, author of sci-fi series Hell Holes

Hi friends! 

I'm pleased to be featuring an interview with Donald Firesmith today. Donald is an award-winning author of multiple books, and his latest release is Hell Holes: A Slave's Revenge (the fourth book in the sci-fi series Hell Holes). 

Thank you to Donald for taking the time to answer my questions!

About the Book - Hell Holes: A Slave's Revenge

An award-winning prequel to the Hell Holes series of alien invasion novels, Hell Holes: A Slave’s Revenge is an epic story of love, loss, friendship, and survival under the most hellish of conditions.

After killing his father, alien demons teleport a fifteen-year-old boy, his mother, and his sister to Hell, a desert world in the Demonic Empire. With survival far from certain, they have just two choices: to live as useful slaves or die as demon food. As the boy becomes a man, he is forced to decide just how much he must collaborate with his demon masters to survive. But can he live long enough to take his revenge and regain his freedom without losing his humanity and his very soul?

Praise for the Book

“Firesmith jam packs his engaging story with otherworldly beasts… The author deftly describes a bleak but colorful hell… An engrossing dystopian thriller with a vibrant, beastly cast.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The author’s book blends science fiction with an action-based thriller into an entertaining and exciting read. With the momentum of Independence Day and a setting reminiscent of Total Recall, the novel carries readers through a brutal spacescape where psychological strength is just as vital as physical prowess." — US Review of Books

"It’s a riveting read for newcomers and prior fans alike, highly recommended for horror and sci-fi fans, who will enjoy blends of both in a coming-of-age story like few others.” — Midwest Book Review

“A great addition to the Hell Holes series! An absolute must-read for the fans of Hell Holes and all the readers who enjoy quality, compelling books." —


Winter 2022 Pinnacle Achievement Awards – Winner – Science Fiction Category

2021 The Wishing Shelf Book Awards – Finalist – Adult Category 50 Best Indie Books of 2021

2022 Purple Dragonfly Book Award in Science Fiction/Fantasy Category (Honorable Mention)

2022 Author Shout Reader Ready Awards – Recommended Read

About the Author

Donald Firesmith is a multi-award-winning author of speculative fiction including science fiction (alien invasion), fantasy (magical wands), horror, and modern urban paranormal novels and anthologies of short stories.

Prior to retiring to devote himself full-time to his novels, Donald Firesmith earned an international reputation as a distinguished engineer, authoring seven system/software engineering books based on his 40+ years spent developing large, complex software-intensive systems.

He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, his daughter Sera, and varying numbers of dogs and cats.

Q&A with Donald Firesmith

  • What are two things you can't live without?
    • I was diagnosed with very significant coronary artery disease last December, so my new heart-healthy diet and exercise program are literally something I can’t live without.
    • I must write because I have stories demanding to be written.
  • What are your favorite books?
    • That would have to be the Tolkien Trilogy. When I spent the 1973-1974 school year at Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich Germany, they were the only English-language books I took with me.
  • Where did you get your inspiration, information, and ideas for your books?
    • The Hell Holes trilogy mostly takes place on Earth over the course of two weeks. I wanted to tell a much longer story describing the life of a slave on the planet Hell during a span of over twenty years.
    • Since life as a slave on Hell should be hellish, I included aspects from slavery in the Antebellum South and NAZI slave labor camps. I selected gladiatorial combat as the demons' favorite blood sport. I also based the aspects of the book on my personal history. For example, I used to engage in medieval combat as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I used that experience when I wrote the scenes involving gladiatorial combat.
  • Do you write full-time or around another job? If you have a full-time job, does it ever play into your writing?
    • I retired after over forty years spent engineering large, complex, software-intensive systems or overseeing the technical aspects of such projects. One of my reasons for retiring was to devote myself to writing full time. As a former engineer, I tend to write hard science fiction. Having spent half of my career on military systems, I have a lot of experience with the military aspects of my novels. That said, I still rely on technical advisors to ensure the accuracy of the technical aspects of my books.
  • Do you have any favorite music you enjoy while writing?
    • I don’t really have a favorite snack or drink. I do have favorite music that I often play while writing. When writing combat, I listen to songs by Two Steps from Hell. Otherwise, I often listen to ambient music from the Skyrim video game or the Harry Potter movies.
  • What was your hardest scene to write and why?
    • SPOILER ALERT! Probably the scene when the main character’s wife and baby died in childbirth. It was by far the most emotional scene I ever wrote, and I didn’t have much in the way of something I could get inspiration from except for one episode of Downton Abbey.
  • Name one way your book has changed from the first draft to the final draft
    • Although I do a story analysis up front that captures each chapter and how it fits into a traditional story arc, I usually end up adding additional chapters as I go. Also, while I use three different editing apps as I write, there are definitely changes due to the human editor and my group of beta readers.
  • Aside from writing, what is one thing you do for fun?
    • I make one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted magic wands because I like working with my hands and also like colored gemstones. I also like going on hikes with my daughter Sera. Finally, I like reading books and listening to audiobooks.
  • What projects do you have coming up next?
    • Hell Holes: Insurrection, which will tell the story of how the slaves on Hell rebel against their demon masters after Earth's counterattack destroy Hell’s interstellar portal complex and spreads a deadly plague virus among the demons.

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