Book Beat: Jon Batson has new sci-fi novel

Jon Batson’s latest novel, “Mars Quake.”
Jon Batson’s latest novel, “Mars Quake.”

Jon Batson’s latest novel, “Mars Quake” (Midnight Whistler Publishing), is a fast-moving sci-fi mystery that takes readers to Mars and back with its twists and turns. The tale of astronomer Dana Wright’s journey to decipher what she thinks is writing on the red planet is Batson’s ninth novel.

Batson, who owns Midnight Whistler Publishing in Raleigh, also has three short story collections and several writing awards to his credit. He won top prize in the 2014 N&O Ghost Story Contest. He also writes songs and sings.

“I have sung on the Great Wall of China and over Voice of America,” he says.

Batson lives in Raleigh and has deep roots in North Carolina.

“Though I was born in Washington, D.C., due to the war years,” he says, “my family is here, spread from Wilmington to Raleigh, since 1725. My aunts, uncles and cousins, even those we don’t mention so much at family reunions, all live locally.”

Batson is already focused on his next book. The upcoming trilogy, “Adventures of a Space Bum,” follows the adventures of Starwort Bacchus, named for a flower found in North Carolina.

New titles


Robert Huddleston

of Chapel Hill says he wrote the novella “An American Pilot with the Luftwaffe” (Amazon) to commemorate his 90th birthday. His experience as a combat fighter pilot in World War II influenced the narrative.

• “Beautiful Eyes: A Father Transformed” (W.W. Norton & Co.) is

Paul Austin

’s account of life with his daughter Sarah, who has Down syndrome. Beginning on the day Sarah is born and ending when she is a young adult living in a group home, it is the story of a father’s journey toward acceptance of a child who is different. Austin, who lives in Durham, is an emergency-room doctor at Duke Regional Hospital.


• “Ahvarra: The Heart of the World” (CreateSpace) is the first novel by Holly Springs’

Brian Lang

. In the fantasy, the island of Lorenya is slowly being eaten by a black desert and its inhabitants – both humans and Ameleons – need a solution.

• Durham’s

Carol Phillips

recalls her years as a Peace Corps nurse and teacher on the islands of Fiji in “Fiji and Me” (Xlibris). “It includes my views about the people, customs and activities I enjoyed,” she says.

• Bob Ladrach of Raleigh explores genetic modification at its extreme in “More Than Human” (CreateSpace). The sci-fi adventure, which delves into the world of taboo genetic manipulation, is suitable for mature young adults. Ladrach has written screenplays, but this is his first go at a novel.

For children

“Tucker’s Story” (CreateSpace) by Bobbie Asad is the story of an abandoned German shepherd mix and his journey to a new home. It is fiction inspired by a real-life rescue by the author. Asad is the owner of Mad Hatter, a shop in downtown Fuquay-Varina.


“The Brothers’ Keepers” (MuseItUp Publishing) by Matthew Peters is a psychological thriller about a Jesuit religious historian who assists in an FBI murder investigation. A strange document found among the victim’s possessions will rock the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world. Peters is a graduate of Duke University.

Triangle-area authors: We want to hear about your new book. Send information to As space permits, we will mention self-published books by local authors that are for sale on commercial sites.