The Prometheus Saga Author Interview: Ever After by M.J. Carlson


Our featured author today is M.J. Carlson, author of "Ever After", a short story in The Prometheus Saga. "Ever After" is available for FREE on Kindle today, 3/9 - 3/13, so be sure to download your copy!

Welcome, M.J. Tell us, what inspired you to launch / join the Alvarium Experiment?

When my friend, Ken Pelham contacted me prior to the 2014 FWA Conference and asked if I was interested in joining a dozen other writers in “something never done before,” I was intrigued. Since we hear so much about publishing being in a flux right now, I decided to meet with Ken and Charles A. Cornell, the co-conspirators, as it were, behind the Alvarium Experiment. In preparation for that initial meeting, Ken sent me two papers describing the concept. One was the guidelines for the character and story premise behind the saga, the other was the publishing paradigm outline – the Experiment itself. The more I read both, the more interested I became, especially since I not only write science fiction, but have also written a couple of time travel stories that explore our history. Meeting with Ken and Charles and some of the other talented authors they had approached, I signed on.

What are some of the benefits and challenges of writing “into” an existing framework for Prometheus as a character? How did that shape your creative process for your story? Is it different from your usual writing process?

Writing into a framework wasn’t a challenge for me. My writing style involves a lot of preliminary planning, often a twenty or thirty page outline, before I ever start a novel. In this case, having a framework in place provided structure similar to how I usually begin anyway. The challenge was how to best utilize the Prometheus character in my story. I decided early on to separate the protagonist and main characters, so I could use Prometheus to move the story, but allowing the reader to enter the story through other characters. This is a well-known technique in fiction which has worked well for authors from Harper Lee to Arthur Conan Doyle. It allows the reader an emotional entry point into the story while keeping the protagonist (Prometheus) shrouded in mystery. This also allowed me to tell the story without giving any of Prometheus’ internal mental workings away that might conflict with the other stories.

Tell me more about your other work(s).

I use main characters who are generally average people in extraordinary circumstances. Often, these characters are academically oriented, but they always lack the borderline superhuman traits so common in much of today’s fiction and they are never “the chosen one,” except in that they are the ones who will not give up. My first novel was a story about a biochemist who accidentally discovers a compound that gives him limited, temporary, extrasensory perception, allowing him to establish contact with an individual from the future, sent back to help him develop his compound. My second novel (also still unpublished) is about an alien entomologist whose space ship is shot down, dropping him into the life of a young Air Force widow, told from the point of view of the alien.
Changed, my first published novel, tells the story of a twenty-six year old janitor in 2132, the unsuspecting subject of an experiment, who discovers computer processors have been wired into his nervous system without his knowledge – using technology that isn’t supposed to exist. Natural Selection, to be released this year, explores what happens when a molecular biologist who runs a small DNA testing laboratory in 2047 is given a DNA sample for testing. He discovers the gene for psychopathy in the sample, which happens to belong to a presidential candidate running on a mandatory genetic testing platform.

Tell me more about your short story in The Prometheus Saga. Why did you pick that episode in history?

Prometheus_Ever-AfterAs it turned out, I had written most of the story a few years ago with no plan for what to do with it, and in the process, did quite a bit of research into the story’s history. I rewrote it in several versions, including one setting the story on Mars 200,000 years ago with Earth as the main character’s destination, but nothing felt “right” until I met with Ken and Charles. The story jelled for me at that point, and it was a simple matter to move the Prometheus character into place, telling essentially the same tale to different authors over several centuries in various parts of the world and monitoring how each local culture changes the story in its retelling, revealing that culture’s true heart and soul.
I chose the Grimm Brothers because next to the Disney version it’s the one we’re most familiar with. Many people are also familiar with how very different the two versions are, further making the premise of the story (that the tale originates with one teller and is changed by each culture where it’s introduced) more believable. My other bookend, Giambattista Basile, is the first known Western author to write down and publish Cinderella (although it was actually published after his death by his sister). The story also references much earlier versions of Cinderella that the careful reader should easily pick out. As a caution, though, I would remind readers that while the main characters (Giambattista Basile and Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm) actually existed, this is not a historical essay on the differences in their versions of Cinderella, but a work of historical fiction to be enjoyed for its own sake.

Is there any special significance to the title Ever After?

Actually, yes. All my stories have titles with at least two meanings which apply to the story. In this instance, “Ever After” is the obvious nod to the traditional fairy tale ending, but it also literally means “until they died,” which relates to the same story being told, century after century, by a nearly immortal alien intelligence to the authors who, each in turn, grow old and die. On a deeper level, it refers to the timeless nature of myth. Or, it just pokes fun at fairy tales. I did grow up watching “Fractured Fairy Tales” on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

What are your writing plans for 2015? What does the new year hold in store for you?

I plan to use the attention gained by The Prometheus Saga and Ever After to help market my current novel, Changed. I’m in the final stages of preparing my next novel, Natural Selection. Once it’s published, I have the first three books in a series I’ve been working on for a couple of years I’d like to bring to market this year. I also continue to submit short stories to various venues, and there are one or two contests I’ve had my eye on.



MJCarlson photoOne of M.J.’s early short stories and an early, unpublished novel were finalists in their respective categories in the Florida Writers Association RPLA contest, and two other short stories have received honorable mentions in the international Writers of the Future contest for science fiction and fantasy.
M.J. is a frequent speaker at writer’s conferences and local writing groups on the subjects of writing believable injuries in fiction from the character’s point of view, choosing the best software for various aspects of writing, and how to successfully separate the protagonist and the main character, with references from famous historical stories.




The Prometheus Saga is the premier project of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.

The Saga spans the range of the existence of Homo sapiens. The stories do not need to be read in any particular order; each story is an entry point into the overall story.

The Prometheus Saga stories & authors are:

The Pisces Affair by Daco Auffenorde. CIA operative Jordan Jakes meets Prometheus when the Secretary of State becomes the target of a terrorist attack at a head-of-state dinner in Dubai. Visit Daco at

On Both Sides by Bria Burton. When a mysterious woman vanishes during the American Revolution, young Robby Freeman searches for answers from a cryptic sharpshooter who deserted Washington’s Continental Army. Visit Bria at

Ever After by M.J. Carlson. Two mysterious women convey the same Cinderella story to Giambattista Basile in 1594 and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1811. How different cultures retell this story reveals humanity’s soul to those who listen. Visit M.J. at

The Blurred Man by Bard Constantine. FBI agent Dylan Plumm's investigation of a mill explosion puts her on the trail of the Blurred Man, a mysterious individual who may have been on Earth for centuries. Visit Bard at

Crystal Night by Charles A. Cornell. Berlin, 1938. On the eve of one of history’s darkest moments, a Swedish bartender working in Nazi Germany accidentally uncovers a woman’s hidden past. Can he avoid becoming an accomplice as the Holocaust accelerates? Visit Charles at

Marathon by Doug Dandridge. Prometheus, posing as a citizen of Athens, participates in the battle of Marathon alongside the playwright Aeschylus. Visit Doug at

The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover by Parker Francis. Writing in her journal, Mary Shelley recounts a series of perplexing events during her visit with Lord Byron—a visit that resulted in the creation of her famous Frankenstein novel, but also uncovered a remarkable mystery. Visit Parker at

Strangers on a Plane by Kay Kendall. In 1969 during a flight across North America, a young mother traveling with her infant meets an elderly woman who displays unusual powers. But when a catastrophe threatens, are those powers strong enough to avert disaster? This short story folds into Kay’s mystery series featuring the young woman, amateur sleuth Austin Starr. Visit Kay at

East of the Sun by Jade Kerrion. Through a mysterious map depicting far-flung lands, a Chinese sailor in 1424 and a Portuguese cartographer in 1519 share a vision of an Earth far greater than the reality they know. Visit Jade at

Manteo by Elle Andrews Patt. In 1587, Croatan native Manteo returns from London to Roanoke Island, Virginia. Can he reconcile his strong loyalty to the untamed land and people of his home with his desire for the benefits the colonizing English bring with them before one of them destroys the other? Visit Elle at

First World War by Ken Pelham. 40,000 BC: As the last remaining species of hominid, Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis, fight a desperate battle for ownership of the future, the outcasts of both sides find themselves caught in middle. Visit Ken at

Lilith by Antonio Simon, Jr. In this retelling of the Adam & Eve story, a hermit’s life is turned upside-down by the arrival of a mysterious woman in his camp. As the story of their portentous meeting carries forward through the millennia, only time will tell if Lilith is a heroine, a victim, or a monster. Visit Antonio at

Fifteen Dollars’ Guilt by Antonio Simon, Jr. 1881: After a close brush with death in a steamship disaster, Prometheus encounters another survivor who gripes about how aimless his life has become. Prometheus helps him find his calling, inadvertently setting in motion the assassination of President Garfield. Visit Antonio at

Visit the website to view all of the stories: The Prometheus Saga