When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been able to write. In grade school, I wrote several plays. In high school, I dabbled in poetry. But it wasn’t until I turned 61 that I really got the urge to try to write a novel. I knew that many people aspire to write one and wasn’t sure I’d be able to. Taking a deep breath and having a unique idea, I sat down one day and began to type. That was three years ago and I haven’t stopped typing yet. The ideas just keep coming.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
I think many people think that, since it’s science fiction, anything goes. But that’s not true. There are still certain laws you have to stay within. Example: If life does exist beneath the ice shield of Europa, chances are it exists in a high water pressured environment. Because of that, I couldn’t just have my Oonocks arrive on Earth and exist in their true form – they would have disintegrated. I needed a way for them to survive in low pressure. Pressurized suits were out because that would restrict their movement, plus would have prevented them from moving undetected amongst us. So they are shape-shifters, able to transform into beings that can live on land or sea, just as we do. There were also certain laws of physics that had to be addressed for living underwater. Just because it’s made up doesn’t mean anything goes.
What are some day jobs you have held?
When I began working many years ago, I started in the clerical field as a way to make a living, not as a career. However, that is what happened. I worked in the department of Human Services first as a receptionist, then a file clerk, working my way up to supervisor. After thirty-one years, I retired from the state. After moving to California, I began to volunteer on the whale watching boats. I am a naturalist for the gray whale and blue whale seasons. My experience there has been a valuable asset to writing my books, as they deal with whales and other ocean life.
What have you written so far?
I have written the Europa Series, a collection of six books. The first book, EUROPA Awakenings, begins the epic tale of adventure. Once I completed the series, I felt there was more of the story to be told, so I wrote three books in a sub-series (The Light of the Blue Planet, The Shadow of Apathy and The Dream of Atlantis due out late summer, 2016). These three books tell Prince Enok, Jr.’s story and his endeavor to save Earth from global warming, deforestation, pollution and species loss. He battles the wealthy and powerful to end fossil fuels and stop the loss of our rainforests. Currently, I am working on a new spin-off starring Prince Enok’s twin daughters, Mary and Amber. The Secret of Mars is about the search for the lost Oonock colony on Mars that JeffRa destroyed. Since I’m only about a third of the way through writing the book, I do not know if there will be more than one book or not.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I’ve never used an outline. I have a general idea of what the story will encompass. The rest just happens, sometimes even surprising myself. The books have all written themselves, with little help from me. An example is the Horrturn, a savage beast from Europa, who plays a very important part in books five and six. In fact, book five is called EUROPA The Horrturn Truth. This creature just suddenly appeared in my dreams while writing the fourth book. Most of what I have written I have dreamed, like watching a movie. Even while awake, I see the story playing out in my mind. I seldom have to think about it – it just flows.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
I’ve been able to envision the books on the big screen ever since I began typing them, and have often contemplated who would play each role. I now evaluate every actor and actress to see if they might fit the role of one of my characters. I can see Cate Blanchett as Queen Medaron and Sam Elliott as Jeanip. Jeanip would definitely speak like Sam Elliot does, a slow, caring yet authoritative voice. Chris Hemsworth would make an excellent King Enok. I haven’t cast the other characters yet. I believe they would be lesser known actors or even new ones. The hardest character to cast would be Kiijon in the second movie. He is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous.
What is your next project?
I know for sure they will be a tenth book. In book eight The Shadow of Apathy, Swaybuk realizes there are only a handful of Oonocks still alive who came on the original starships. He decides to write the tale of their journey, why they left Europa, their adjustment to Earth life and the day they sank Atlantis. It will be the true account of what happened to the Atlantians.
What role does research play in your writing?
Since I have never traveled to many of the places in my books, like Puma Punku, I’ve had to do a lot of research on those locations. And to keep everything believable, I’ve had to research the attributes of whales and dolphins further, what they are capable of, how deep can they dive, etc. I’ve also had to refresh my memory of the various oceans around the world and ways to traverse the world without going over land. Since the Oonocks are the lost Atlantians, I’ve done a lot of research about Atlantis and what Plato wrote.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping the time frame correct has been challenging. The Oonocks landed on Earth over six thousand years ago and have influenced many of our legends. I’ve had to make sure their encounters and times hidden beneath the ocean corresponds with recorded history. Another problem area was developing a world that existed in water. They couldn’t read a book made of paper, cook with fire, even drink something – all because they are in water. What would their furniture look like? What could they use as a bed that would be comfortable? It’s been a challenge trying to keep things possible.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Probably average, although still a little disappointing. For every hundred requests for a review made, I may get fifteen replies. Of those, maybe nine will read the book after I send them a copy and do the review. I did a free giveaway of the second book, EUROPA Quanundocii and was delighted that just under nine hundred copies were downloaded. To date, I’ve not gotten one review. There are so many authors out there trying to get reviews, readers are just being bombarded by requests. One reviewer told me he gets over a hundred requests a day. It can get very discouraging. Unless you’re a well-known author, it’s almost impossible to get your books noticed. And around every corner is someone willing to sell you a review, something both Amazon and Goodreads does not allow.
What is one thing you hate about being a writer?
Promoting and editing. I love writing. I could sit at the computer and type all day long. Editing is a chore, especially since I have problems finding my own mistakes. I know what it’s supposed to say, and that is what my mind sees. So “he smiled at her” is typed “he smiled at he” and I don’t see the error. Promoting is the worst. I wish I had the money to hire a publicist. You spend days asking for reviews, trying to promote your book on various websites, blogging, posting on Facebook, etc., mostly for no reward. There’s just not enough time in the day to promote, edit and write.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?