When most people read the newspaper, watch the evening news, or daydream, they usually don’t come up with vivid characters to base books around.

But for Clairton’s Barry K. Nelson, all the above proves fodder for good science-fiction novels.

“I always had a good enough imagination and I said I may as well put it on paper. I grew up watching Star Trek and other science fiction shows and you took the good with the bad and you say to yourself, ‘I can do better than that’,” said Nelson, 52.

COSMIC JOURNEY—Barry Nelson with both of his books in the cosmic series. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

He’s on his way to making that statement fact. Nelson has written two science-fiction tinged novels: “The McKenzie Files,” in 2008 and “Assassination Anxiety The McKenzie Files Book 2” in October 2011.

Both works center on the United Protectorate, a vast human empire established in a far quadrant of space. This once-thriving and magnificent civilization is now on the verge of total collapse as the Protectorate is plunged into war against a powerful alien enemy: The Brelac, a bloodthirsty reptilian alien race hell-bent on destroying humanity.

The main character, Colin McKenzie is part of a military team sent to a remote planet to investigate and capture a downed Brelac shuttle. As a result, Colin is captured and reprogrammed.

“Colin is parodied after myself,” Nelson said. “He is tall, thin and moody, even though I am not too moody. Colin has a good sense of humanity.”

Nelson’s first book was originally published by Leucrota press in 2008 but was reworked and re-released by Tennessee-based traditional publisher, Penumbra Publishing, which Nelson said he found through a writer’s resource website, http://www.duotrope.com.

“I left Leucrota and went to Penumbra because you get more interaction with editors,” Nelson said.

Once he got established with Penumbra, it only took Nelson about a year to get “The McKenzie Files” published. It took the wordsmith six months to write “Assassination Anxiety: The McKenzie Files Book 2” and a month to get it published.

Nelson is showing no signs of slowing down.

“I want to write as many books in the series as possible. My dream is to see these books turned into movies,” Nelson said.

He is currently working on completing the third book in the Colin ­McKenzie series. He hopes to have it completed and published by this summer.

“I’ve been writing for eight years and when I first started I wasn’t that serious about it. I wanted to capitalize on my creativity. I tell people not to give up and to keep on trying. I have a stack of rejection letters several inches thick but I kept trying,” he said.

Nelson has been featured on several science fiction radio programs like “Destinies—The Voice of Science” on WUSB 90.1 FM, “Sci-Fi Overdrive” on WMNY AM 1360 AM, “The Odd Mind with Lesa Trapp” and “That Sci-Fi show” on WWNN AM 1470.

When Nelson isn’t writing, he can be found working at Giant Eagle. In his spare time, he enjoys X Box gaming, gardening, reading and watching movies.

(To contact Nelson, visit his website: the official Barry K. ­Nelson Page.)

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