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  • Keith Girard’s first novel has already attracted one high-profile fan. (Photo: IM)

    Award-winning journalist Keith F. Girard, has released his first novel “The Heidelberg Conundrum,” an action-adventure, science-fiction thriller, spanning time and space, that’s already attracted one high-profile fan.

    Micky Dolenz, actor, musician (The Monkees) an avid sci-fi fan, was one of the first to read the book, during downtime on his latest tour. His publicist handed him the manuscript, knowing his interest in the genre.

    He had this to say: “The Heidelberg Conundrum was a terrifically trippy read. Girard has put together a wild story with a great cast of characters. A wild-time-tripping ride. Now that I’ve read the book, I want to see the movie!”

    The Heidelberg Conundrum is enthralling story of self-discovery, danger and ultimately a trip through time to a far darker period in history.

    It involves mystery, intrigue, deceit and, ultimately, the intertwining of two distant worlds across space and time. Think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” meets “The Da Vinci Code” with a science fiction twist.

    Michael, the book’s protagonist, is a down-on-his-luck college professor until he lands what appears to be a dream job at an elite East-Coast institute.

    But he faces an impossible job—solve the Heidelberg Conundrum, a theory postulated 400 years ago that’s defied answers. Some believe it holds the key to time travel, including sinister forces that will stop at nothing to unlock its secrets.

    Together with girlfriend and fellow professor Mary Ann, they embark on a journey unlike any other that takes them across space and time.

    Check Out Keith Girard’s New Novel

    Girard is editor and publisher of TheImproper Network LLC, which publishes Web magazines, including The New York Independent in New York City. He has more than 35 years of experience as a journalist.

    In his career, he has covered such stories as the Invasion of Grenada; the Nicaraguan civil war; how U.S. companies provided Saddam Hussein with poison gas; the Reagan-era financial meltdown; the BBC scandal and Operation Desert Storm.

    He also served as editor-in chief at InvestmentNews and Billboard Magazine.

    Says Girard, “Most writers have great stories they develop over the years – this is one of mine. It has the luster of R. Line Stine and “Stranger Things,” but with its own campy originality.

    The Heidelberg Conundrum” is the first book in a trilogy. Girard sees the book series as an enduring franchise on the order of other movie blockbusters.

    TheImproper caught up with Girard to talk about his new book.

    IM: You’ve been a journalist for decades, why turn to writing novels?

    Girard: Well, I’ve always had a keen interest in history and science fiction going back to the days when I was a young teen. Writing novels just seemed like a logical progression in my career. I started out as a newspaper reporter, eventually working for The Washington Post. Then, I went into magazine writing, because I love long-form journalism. But my ultimate goal was to write novels.

    IM: I see that you’ve written one non-fiction book on Operation Desert Storm, why did you decide to write fiction?

    Girard: It was a thrill to write the book on the first Iraq war. It focused on the role of the Marines and was very well received. But fiction has always appealed to me because it is purely creative. I like the idea of creating worlds and putting people in them to face challenges.

    IM: You chose science-fiction as the genre for your first novel. Why go there?

    Girard: Science-fiction has always fascinated me. Growing up, I must have read dozens of sci-fi books by all the great authors, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip Dick, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert and, of course, Orwell, Huxley and Lovecraft. They were truly imaginary and in many cases they wrote amazing social commentary.

    IM: What books stick out in your mind, just off the top of your head?

    Girard: Beside the classics, like “Brave New World, and “1984,” one that jumps immediately to mind is Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It had a huge impact when it was published and was also biting social commentary. I also liked “Dune,” by Frank Herbert, just for the sheer scope of the work and the writing. I love epic science fiction. There are so many others. For pure science-fiction I liked Clarke’s “Rendezvous with Rama.” Then, there’s Bradbury’s, “Fahrenheit 451,” “The Illustrated Man” and “The Martian Chronicles,” again, great social commentary.

    IM: Where do you see “The Heidelberg Conundrum” fitting in?”

    Girard: Well, I have a keen interest in history, science fiction, horror and politics. “The Heidelberg Conundrum,” touches on all four. I wanted to write something that is reality based. Fantasy science fiction is great fun, if it’s well done, but it’s too easy to give characters super strength or magical powers and call it a day. I want to write about real people thrust into otherworldly situations who must rely on their wits and overcome their all-to-human frailties to succeed.

    IM: Yet, you have space aliens in your book…

    Girard: Right, well, it wouldn’t be science fiction without them, now would it? It’s one of the most enduring questions that humankind faces: Are we alone? I believe we’re not. So it begs the question: When will we find intelligent life on other planets, what will it be like and why would they contact us? The aliens in my book, the Elements as they’re called, have their own limitations and frailties. I’ve kind of just introduced them. They’ll play a much larger role in the second book in the trilogy.

    IM: What exactly did you have in mind, when you set out to write your book?

    Girard: Good question. I wanted the book to be tightly written with a strong narrative and strong characters both male and female. Most of all, I guess, I wanted it to be a good read. I love plot twists. I imagined someone picking it up before a cross-country flight and reading it the whole way. You know, there are so many enduring mysteries in real life, things that really happened with no logical explanation. So I wanted to use fiction to plug some of the holes in history, like the bombing of Dresden, or Nazi flying saucers. It was a perfect set up.

    IM: And Simon… amazing, what a character!

    Girard: Well, I really don’t want to say too much about that and give away plot spoilers. Let’s just say, never underestimate the power of children.

    Editor’s note: “The Heidelberg Conundrum” is on sale now on Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble bookstore. Check it out now!