Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I love science fiction because I can change one little thing about life and create an entirely different reality. It can have an impact on the whole world or the entire universe. It gives readers a chance to let their imagination run with an idea and possibly make it a reality someday. I think most science fiction writers have that notion pop into their head at some point in their book: “Maybe in 100 years someone will make this for real.” It’s fun to dream about it and try to figure out how a simple idea could change the world as we know it.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I don’t have a writing schedule. I run through “scenes” in my head over and over in different ways until I find a way that makes me jump up and get to the computer to type it up.
I’ve tried setting aside specific times to write. It usually ended up in just staring at the computer, not making any progress, or I’d type for a couple hours and then delete it all the next day because it wasn’t very good.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
One thing that helped me evolve is something that I often think about in life: our society is constantly divided–rich or poor, republican or democrat, cat person or dog person. It seems like people only have the capacity to take one side and one view. I’m different. When asked if I’m a cat person or dog person, I ask why I’m not allowed to like both. I do like both. In my writing, I often come across difficult questions that require difficult decisions. Which way do I want to go? Which idea should be the one to pursue? When I started using “both” as an answer, my writing opened up and evolved a lot. “Both” evolved into “many.” This way of thinking really shows in The Project. I think it catches readers off guard and results in a lot of surprises. Readers are looking for one answer, but they get multiple answers. That keeps them on their toes. It keeps the reader thinking. If you know there’s more than one answer, you have to keep thinking, even when you think you have one correct answer.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
I start with a general idea and a clipboard with a stack of blank paper. I create targets to work toward. These are key “scenes” that I want to add to the book. Once I have a pile of targets I put them in order and fill in the blanks one chapter at a time. I use a similar method for each chapter. I create targets and “talking points” for the chapter and improvise my way towards those targets.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
My latest book is called The Project. It’s a high-concept science fiction novel. The main theme of the book is how money is destroying the world and hindering human progress and technology. I started with a basic question: if there was a cure for cancer or diabetes, would the rich and powerful let us have it? If we could all have free electricity without pollution, would companies sit back and let it happen while losing billions of dollars a year in profit. I had to answer these questions with a big NO.
In The Project, a new tropical island country called Adrianna is founded and dedicated to the advancement of humankind. Within five years they have a simple cure for cancer, diabetes and heart disease (a plant called greenleaf) as well as a method for providing the entire world with free wireless electricity without pollution. Adrianna’s president, John Greenleaf, wants to give all of Adrianna’s technology to the rest of the world for free. A group of American CEO’s led by American President Ryan Thomas try to stop John Greenleaf from releasing Adrianna’s technology because it would cost them trillions of dollars a year in profits. There are a lot of side stories in the book that could be separate books on their own. One of the most interesting things about the book is how an entire country (Adrianna) functions with no system of currency while everything is free. The Project gives many different examples of how money is hindering human progress and gives fictional examples of how bad things could get if greed is left unchecked. Unfortunately, problems make more money than solutions, and that has left the entire world in a dangerous position.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing this book?
Insomnia. I have a million ideas for books and movies in my head. They often keep me up at night. I started writing to see if getting the ideas out and making progress toward the completion of a book would help me sleep. I don’t know if it really helps me sleep, but once I get a scene down in a chapter I don’t have to think about it anymore and I can move on. I’m not really sleeping any better probably, but at least I have something to show for it.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
Most of the characters in The Project were not exactly designed to be likable. I did that on purpose to retain the mystery of their origins. Throughout the book, you don’t really know if they are genuinely good or if they’re pretending. I’ve left that up to the reader to decide. The characters are part of the mystery.
That being said, Mr. Fedotenko is my personal favorite. I love the way he mixes up American sayings. “Well, half of one, six dozen of the other.” Even I wonder if he really doesn’t know how the sayings go or if he’s just messing with people to test them. Maybe we’ll find out in the sequel. The other thing I like about Mr. Fedotenko is that throughout the book we see him with a full range of characteristics. In one scene he’s tough, the next he’s caring, the next he’s cold, but he’s always funny.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you cast?
The first actor that came to mind while writing the book was Dominic Purcell from Prison Break for the part of Tommy D. He just looks like what I imagine Tommy D would look like. If the casting were up to me, I’d have Johnny Depp as John Greenleaf, Ben Kingsley as Mr. Fedotenko, Tom Hanks or Michael Emerson as Dr. Allen and Terry O’Quinn as Ryan Thomas. For female roles, I’ve always pictured Melissa Rauch as Janet, but I haven’t thought much further than that.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing about writing The Project was trying to keep the page count reasonable. I didn’t want it to be more than 350 pages. The problem I had was probably one of the best problems to have. I had too much material to put into the book. I had way too many ideas that could have gone into the story and most of the ideas could be an entire book by themselves. I could have been a bit more descriptive throughout the book, but it would have made the page count way too high. Plus, that’s not my style. I don’t believe in using two pages to describe a sunset or a tree. I’ve had many readers tell me that’s why they liked the book so much. It also left me little room to develop the many characters in the book, but it works out well as most of the character’s motives need to remain questionable to keep the mystery around them.
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