The Origin Key: Read a FREE Excerpt

Read a free excerpt of my sword-and-science fantasy adventure! Happy reading!

logo-stackedTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, is a sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third-century. While on a quest to avenge a horrific attack on his father the king, a Persian warrior discovers a strange kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. He thinks the villain is hiding there, but a sly princess is determined to sabotage the Persians to protect her kingdom’s ancient secrets. What is she so desperate to keep hidden?  Get your copy on!

Readers praise Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key

  • OriginKeyCover_lo-res“Filled with wonderful imagery, distinct characters and adventurous plot points that kept me turning the page. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a compelling story, and am looking forward to whatever’s next from this first-time author.”
  • “Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key by Susan McPhail is a smart, intriguing tale that seamlessly melds historical fiction, fantasy, and suspense… Highly recommended for fans of history, fantasy, and mystery stories.”
  • “My ONLY criticism is that I was left wanting more. Luckily McPhail left the tale so it can be taken up again. Soon, I hope.”
  • “McPhail paints vivid pictures of the world she’s created and engages all of the readers senses in the story.”
  • Very descriptive. I could easily imagine being in some of the battles! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great storyteller!”
  • More books, please.”
  • WOW! Add Susan McPhail to your must-watch writer list!”
  • “This book is definitively the best third-century Persian sword-and-science novel I’ve ever read!

Authors praise Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key

  • “A smart, thrilling mix of history and fantasy. S.D. McPhail is definitely an author to watch.
    – Brian Niemeier, author of Campbell-nominated Nethereal and Dragon Award-winning Souldancer
  • “Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a stunning debut novel. McPhail’s creation is packed with tension and excitement, from the political machinations of the empire to the almost Atlantean history of Dodrazeb and mythical Anutupi. The imagery is enchanting, but the adventure is mesmerizing.
     Ashley Chappell-Peeples, author of  Of War and Taters and the Dreams of Chaos series

The Origin Key Launch Event


Russell Newquist and Susan McPhail

My first novel was published and we threw a party! Here’s a gigantic THANK YOU to Terranova’s Italian Restaurant, family, friends, and everyone who came out and helped make it a fun event!

On Friday, August 12 we were at Terranova’s Italian Restaurant in Huntsville enjoying fantastic food, signing books, and giving away prizes. Russell Newquist of Silver Empire Publishing was there with me, getting to know some local sci-fi/fantasy fans.


Cecilia Della Pella was excited to be one of the first in line to buy a copy of The Origin Key. Later in the evening she won one of the drawings and received a lovely writer’s journal. Other winners went home with copies of the book, an gift card, or a journal.

The winner of the grand prize—a copy of The Origin Key, a copy of Between the Wall and the Fire, a writer’s journal, an gift card, and a signed poster of The Origin Key cover art was Terranova’s own Stephen Johnson!

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If you weren’t able to join us at Terranova’s, don’t worry! You can get The Origin Key in either paperback or e-book format on Want a signed copy? Look for me at the Southern Author’s Expo at the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library downtown branch on September 10. Start your holiday shopping early and get a personalized copy of my sword-and-science fantasy adventure novel for all the readers on your gift list.

OriginKeyCover_lo-resThe Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a sword-and-science fantasy adventure like no other. Prince Rasteem, a third-century Persian warrior, discovers an obscure culture that uses something more powerful and dangerous than magic: twenty-first century technology.


The Origin Key Book Launch

Writing is creative fun, but launching a published book can be a blast! Mark your calendar for Friday, August 12.


The traditional way to commemorate publication of a new book is to have a launch party. Help me celebrate this achievement and support a wonderful local family restaurant at the same time on Friday, August 12. We’ll be at Terranova’s Italian Restaurant in Huntsville from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. enjoying fantastic cuisine, giving away some great prizes, and autographing books.


Prize drawings begin at 6:30. We’ll be giving away autographed copies of Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, copies of the anthology Between the Wall and Fire, gift cards, and some beautiful writer’s journals. The Grand Prize package, to be given away at 8:00, consists of The Origin Key, Between the Wall and the Fire, an gift card, a writer’s journal, AND an autographed poster of The Origin Key cover art.


The Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a sword-and-science fantasy/sci-fi adventure like no other. In the third century, a Persian warrior discovers an obscure culture using something more powerful and dangerous than magic: advanced technology.

We’ve also cooked up some fun ideas for Terranova’s menu! For this one night only, get in the spirit of ancient Persia and the mysterious kingdom of Dodrazeb with these cleverly named drinks and appetizers.

  • The Viper’s Kiss—Dirty Vodka Martini garnished with Olives
  • Wandering Librarian—Vodka, Cointreau, Cranberry Juice, and a splash of Lime
  • Garden of Persian Delights Terranova’s Sangria made fresh in-house with Red Wine
  • Scheming Princess—Terranova’s Frozen Italian Margarita mixed with Sangria
  • Drunken Scholar—Terranova’s Long Island Tea
  • Kamran’s Calamari—Tender, thinly cut calamari marinated overnight and lightly fried. Served with a spicy lemon butter sauce.
  • Conqueror’s Platter—Fried zucchini, mozzarella, stuffed mushrooms, and stuffed shrimp.
  • Rasteem’s Favorite—Breaded mozzarella triangles served with Terranonva’s house marinara sauce.
  • Laneffri’s Choice—Mushrooms stuffed with spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and Italian spices.
  • Dodrazeb Dip—Creamy spinach and artichoke dip with melted mozzarella served with rosemary croutons.

Don’t have your copy of Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key yet? Don’t worry! We’ll have plenty of copies for sale at the launch party.


Shangri-La: The Ideal “Happy Place”

KalachakraSeraJames Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, published in 1933, popularized the idea of a hidden, peaceful valley isolated from the strife of the outside world with happy, contented inhabitants who enjoyed long life in harmony with each other. He called his fictional paradise on earth Shangri-La and located it somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains.

Hilton’s inspiration for this type of Utopia may have been influenced by an ancient belief system known as Shambhala that pre-dates and influenced both the Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Wherever it originated, the idea of Shambhala has become associated with a fabulous realm that may be less geographical and more metaphysical.

Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeySet in the third century, Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure. A Persian warrior’s curiosity is ignited when he leads an invasion into Dodrazeb, a strange isolated kingdom that possesses incredible technology. Ancient Dodrazeb’s puzzling choice to hide from the world draws the warrior deeper into layers of mysteries as its princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What are the Dodrazebbians so desperate to keep hidden? Get your copy on! Available in both e-book and paperback.


Manjuśrīkīrti, King of Shambhala

Tibetans say that the need to find paradise is what keeps us from experiencing it. The present Dalai Lama describes the search for Shambala as “an outer journey that becomes a journey of inner exploration and discovery.”

Since the early twentieth century, the idea of a paradise on earth has permeated western pop culture. “Shambala,” a song written by Daniel Moore, was released in 1973 by Three Dog Night. (Click here to go to YouTube to view a live performance.) The lyrics are simple, the tune is catchy, and who wouldn’t want to live in peaceful harmony where “everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind?”


Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown

Josh Gates, the globe-trotting host of the television show Expedition Unknown, recently trekked high into the Sky Caves of Nepal with a team of archaeologists and explorers in search of the origins of the Shangri-La myth. What he found high in the Mustang region of the Himalayan mountains was hauntingly beautiful, fascinating, and may actually be a “real-life counterpart” to the legend.

I’ve put a different kind of spin on the Shangri-La theme in my novel The Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyThe inhabitants of the mystical kingdom in my story work hard to remain hidden from the rest of the world. When a Persian prince discovers it in the course of a brutal invasion, ancient secrets are revealed that may threaten not only the Persian Empire, but the future of all mankind.


The First of Many Literary Festivals


I was at the Athens-Limestone County Public Library’s Catfish Literary Festival on June 4, along with my friend and publisher, Russell Newquist.

This was the first event I attended as an author. In the past, I’ve been on the other side of the table, a reader hoping to meet some interesting authors and find some good books. This time I wanted to connect with avid readers and entice them to put my novel on their reading list. I think the candy dish at our table helped draw them in.


The Origin Key ARCs we gave away are the rare version with a collectible cover.

We gave away a few Advance Review Copies of my novel The Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key to some lucky individuals. Two of my short stories, Brotherly Envy and A Ruby for Dyree, are in Russell’s latest anthology Between the Wall and the Fire. It also contains Negev by Joshua M. Young, one of the best sci-fi short stories I’ve ever read.

Though I felt honored to be one of the panelists talking about writing science fiction and fantasy, I could have listened to the other guys on the panel discuss it for hours. Russell and I were joined by Philip Ligon (This Strange Engine), Lou Anders (Thrones and Bones), and Dan Thompson (Strange Voyages), representing a broad range of styles and perspectives in the world of speculative fiction.


Left to right: Lou Anders, Philip Ligon, Dan Thompson, S.D. McPhail, and Russell Newquist

CatfishFestIt was a day of many firsts: my first literary festival as an author, the first time I autographed a brand-new book, and my first time as a panelist speaking to a room full of people. It was exhausting, but wonderful, the first of many such days.

Thanks, Russell, for being a great table partner and giving me the opportunity to be a part of the Catfish Literary Festival. Huge thanks to everyone who stopped by our display and took the time to chat with us. Hope to see you all again!