Friday, September 29, 2023

Pop-Up Blog-Hop & Giveaway: Rip the Sky by Mark Packard


Mark Packard

Speculative Fiction / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Publisher: Bluestreak Publishing
Page Count: 317 pages
Publication Date: August 21, 2023

Scroll down for a giveaway!

After a shocking courtroom tragedy, a disturbed Vietnam veteran and the vindictive judge who sent him to prison become an unlikely pair of time travelers in a chaotic multiverse. The fallen angel who rescues them wants to guide them to a radiant new life. But first they must return to the scene of a ghastly crime.

Billy Worster was a naïve teenager ill-prepared for the gruesome realities of war. The sole survivor of a deadly massacre in a Vietnamese jungle, he avoided certain death only because he ran away when the shooting started. Riddled with guilt, he comes home to a dusty Texas farm with post-traumatic stress disorder and the crazy notion that he can fly in and out of parallel worlds.

As Billy struggles with addiction and questions his sanity, he is arrested on a drug charge and ends up in the courtroom of Judge Madeline Johnston, a bitter old judge tormented by a dark secret surrounding her father’s death. She callously tosses Billy into prison, but when a greedy executor files a lawsuit to steal his inherited land, Billy is hauled back to her courtroom in chains, where a stunning twist of fate launches them into the sky on an odyssey of discovery and healing.

Spanning forty years from the jungles of Vietnam through infinite, parallel worlds, Rip the Sky examines how the power of forgiveness can lead us toward a better life, no matter how many worlds we may live in.

Top Ten Books that Inspired Mark Packard

1.         Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author, and this is his best book.  Billy Pilgrim is an American prisoner of war held captive underground in a slaughterhouse in Dresden, Germany. The prisoners wake up one morning to find that the entire city had been incinerated by firebombs during the night (Vonnegut was there).  The trauma caused Billy to become “unstuck in time,” travelling to and from various parts of his life, unsure of where he will land. I loved this book so much that I named my main character Billy and had him struggle his whole life because of the terror he witnessed as a teenager in a bloody war.


2.         “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” (short story) by Ted Chiang

I had been working on my novel for several years when I came across this gem.  I had already woven the multiverse and how choices create new parallel worlds into my book when I read this short story.  It inspired me and caused me to tweak the narrative a bit.  The story is about the anxiety created when people can look into their other lives in parallel worlds and see how different choices created different outcomes. It’s genius.


3.         The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is another book I read as I was approaching the finish line to my book. The main character travels to a library in a mysterious place between life and death and is given the opportunity to open any book and examine other versions of her life where she made alternate choices. It’s a journey of depression and despair, but ultimately about discovering that the only path to happiness is to embrace the life you are living.


4.         Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

This is the first book I read about the multi-universe theory of quantum mechanics and that the possibility exists that we live different lives in other worlds. To quote from the book, “We all live day to day completely oblivious to the fact that we’re part of a much larger and stranger reality than we can possibly imagine.”


5.         The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

This classic vividly describes a painful and harsh part of our history. I wish every teenager had to read it. The poverty that the Jobe family endured on a dusty country farm painted a picture that I used for Billy’s world.


6.         Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I was inspired by the fantasy world he created—London Underground—and the interconnection between that world and the ordinary world that the main character lived in. His fantasy world is filled with monsters and murderers with religious overtones. It’s a fascinating read.


7.         East of Eden by John Steinbeck

A generational story about two families and how we can choose to overcome the badness that we might be born with.


8.         Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

A painful story about how our plans go awry.  A gentle giant with a big heart who loves to touch and tend to the animals, and it leads to his mercy killing.


9.         The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book inspired me because it shows that a writer can extend the boundaries as far as possible. Nothing but craziness. A depressed robot and a restaurant where you can watch the end of the universe.


10.       Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

I’m attracted by misfits.  Science fiction author Kilgore Trout steals the show in this one. At the end he pleads to his creator, “Make me young again.”  I feel his pain.



Mark Packard spent the last 38 years as a trial attorney and is now retired from the courtroom and working as a mediator. In a life before lawyering he was a journalist and regrets waiting far too long before returning to his roots to write his first novel, Rip the Sky. Though he knows he should have jumped off the merry-go-round years ago, he hopes to hang around long enough to craft a few more tales. Connect with the author:

Signed hard copy of RIP THE SKY & $50 Amazon gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 10/13/23)


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Kristine said...

What an excellent list of books! Have read half of them, and most of the rest are sitting on shelves in our house (spouse is a Vonnegut fan). Thanks for sharing!

Rox Burkey said...

I love your list and this review is perfect.

Mark Packard Writer said...

Other Vonnegut books that are a must read are Breakfast of Champions and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. When I was in law school, Mr. Vonnegut actually spoke to our class. I was too young then to know that I was in the presence of such genius.

traciem said...

What does literary success look like to you?

Mark Packard said...

To me it's the satisfaction of putting something out there with your name on it and then having someone write a positive review about it, or tell you that they enjoyed it, or give you the greatest compliment of all, "I couldn't put it down." Just knowing that I have enriched their lives and that the message I was trying to convey came across clearly to someone else. That is success to me.