You may know by now that I really like SF books. So, when I got an opportunity to interview author Dr. George H. Elder, I jumped at it, as I wanted to know how SF authors go about creating their worlds, the science and all the things that make SF books wonderful. So, lets get to it, I can’t wait!
Interview with Dr. George H. Elder, author of the Genesis Continuum Series
Describe your book? What genre would you classify it into?
Amazon classified the Genesis series as Sci-Fi Adventure. The book is basically a quest story, with the key twist being that it is set at the end of time. The universe is dissolving in an entropic whimper, although many of the extant species of the time are desperate to kick-start another cycle. The question is, how? Ancient legends speak of a being of unimaginable power who once united the entire universe for an unforgettable moment. However, this “Seeker” was a very flawed being, one who exterminated over ninety-nine percent of his own kind. He locked himself in perpetual dormancy to contain his savagery, and his location was lost over the passing eons.
Missions are sent to find the missing Seeker, but some are diverted by unknown forces. One such mission ends up on a seemingly primitive planet, the home of a stone-age culture called the Labateen. Here we meet Kara, the outcast daughter of a Labateen noble. She encounters the misdirected mission, and soon finds herself as part of its crew. Thus begins Kara’s journey to find the missing Seeker. She will go through deadly battles, be aboard titanic ships, and learn that nearly everything she believed was a lie. In the end, she wants to have never been born. Then she shall arise from the ashes… but how and why would be telling.
How do you come up with the idea for the book?
I study physics as hobby, and wanted to contemplate what the end of time would be like—as in the current view that entropy will one day claim this universe. What would the people of that time be driven to do, if anything? How would those who wanted to perpetuate existence act? In effect, we have a dynamic here between being and nonbeing, which is about as high as stakes get.
I also wanted to explore what it was like for a person to have everything she believed in reduced to lies and manipulations. We are all taught religious and ethical values, but what happens when nearly ALL of these are proven to be false? We see a strong and powerful person slowly reduced to despising everything she once held true and even her self. Kara’s subsequent elevation as the quest comes to a conclusion is also intriguing.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing professionally during my coaching years at UNH. My main reason was a desire to share weight training, conditioning, and sport’s medicine knowledge, and I soon became published in several nationally circulated magazines. My reputation grew, and I found myself getting numerous fan letters. However, one cannot toss around the weights I once did indefinitely, and I suffered several serious injuries that eventually pushed me out of coaching.
It seemed best to pursue a career in writing and thus I attended UNH’s Nonfiction Writing program—which is very demanding. At this time, I focused on newspaper and essay writing, and continued being successful in terms of being published. I did unexpectedly well in my course work, and thus got into Penn State’s Doctoral program in Communication. My program went very well, and my dissertation became a textbook—the first Ph.D. project to be published within my department in over twenty years. The plan was to become a teacher, but my health continued to decline.
Then I died from 2000-2009, the victim of running a very busy internet based retail sales business and a tumultuous marriage. There was little time to write during this period, and my tastes began to change. I always loved Sci-Fi, so why not give it a shot? I sold the business and began writing, having completed five books since 2009. I love Sci-Fi, but I am also branching back out into writing about spirituality and a series of essays.
How has your journey from writing to getting published been?
I believe I have been very lucky for the most part, and especially with regard to magazine article writing. That can pay very well, but books are more compelling—at least to me. Here again, my first efforts in Sci-Fi were published very soon after they were completed, with me only sending out a total of twelve queries to various agents/publishers.
Who is you favourite character from your book? Is there a character in your book you think the readers will hate?
Kara is by far my favourite. I mean, she would cut your throat as soon as look at you, but if you managed to gain her friendship—well, that would be a friend for life. Ral, the ship’s AI is very difficult to like. Star Trek’s Data is endearing, but Ral is arrogant and bad tempered, having little patience for fault-ridden biological beings.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The only problems I had are the shifting views in string theory and dark matter effects. It seems we’ve a long way to go before working those ideas out fully. They certainly matter in terms of the basic premise of the universe’s entropic demise.
Who designed the covers of the book?
Mallory from Novel Publicity
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I knew most of the science going into the book, but I did learn that the ideas in theoretical physics are changing so quickly that the plausible plotline of today could be the folly of tomorrow. It is VERY frustrating.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I would have the entire work re-edited by Kira McFadden, from Novel Publicity, who is as good as it gets. Granted, the work went through three editors, and they got things in good shape. However, Kira has this way of making any work she undertakes a bit better and more concise. She took Book 4 in the series, Deep Thought, and made it into a fine literary piece of work as well as good story. That woman is as good as it gets!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the books you felt stuck?
No, I seldom get stuck in any book. I am very ill, and that can slow things down. However, the stories just flow for the most part. I hate all the rewrites, but that is just part of the game. It is part of what we owe the readers—which is doing our very best.
What are your current projects? When is your next book coming out?
I have just finished a book entitled Reflections, and it will go off to my editor in a week. The text is spirituality based, but it reads like Sci-Fi. This is only natural because the book is about dreams, and they are very unusual by any standard. The writing was extremely difficult in places because it is written in the 1st person active voice. It is a bit risky to put so much effort into a stylistic approach that could fail, but what the hell. Nothing ventured, nothing shared.
Could you describe what happens in the next book? Can we get an excerpt?
Well, Books 3 and 4 of 2012 are due out very soon. Book 3 is the last of the Genesis series, and herein we get to see if Kara and the crew succeed in finding and waking the Seeker. There are some great scenes in Book 3, and especially in the Seeker’s city. Book 4 is entitled Deep Thought, and this is the prequel to Genesis. Here we find how the damaged Seeker came to be. The action takes place over a period of less than twenty four hours, and is varied and devastating. Over 99% of humanity is destroyed, and the scenes would put 2012 to shame! It was great fun to write, and readers have loved it. I always test my works out with readers after the editors, etc., have done their thing.
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
I’m rereading Kirk, Raven & Schofield’s The Presocratic Philosophers. But I can’t read Greek to save my life, so it’s kind of pointless. However, I like the ancient ideas on how the universe was ordered–the cosmologies of the positivist thinkers. Folks like Thales, Amaximander, Hericlitus, and Pythagoras had some neat and insightful views–and I often employ them in my work!
I like most of the ancients, and especially Plato. Aristotle’s metaphysics is more evolved, but all we have is his working notes—and sometimes he misquotes those who went before him. The ancients’ depth and insights are impressive, even after 2,400 years.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
When young, I was well on the way to becoming a ruthless sociopath, a drug addled man of great violence and reckless behaviour. I lived hard and played hard, and continued to be a hedonist well past the time I gave up my wanton lifestyle. As a result, I destroyed my health, and my time runs short. I have serious heart trouble, diabetes, high blood pressure, degenerative joint disease, and a progressive neurological disease called multisystem atrophy (MSA). Karma is a bitch, but I well deserve everything I am getting. My hope is to spend whatever days remain informing and entertaining others.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Hey, we all screw up at times, despite the opportunities life gives us. Writing is a great way to share with others, and I feel blessed in being here at all. Indeed, by all rights I should have died over a year ago, yet here I am. The point is, don’t give in to ill health, despair, or the knocks life dishes out. You all have stories to tell and time to spend, and I am convinced that you will do so.
About writing scifi books:
How do you research or come up with the science for your books?
I read as much physics, science, neuropsychology, etc., as time allows. I wrote a textbook on the neuropsychological basis of human communication, so I am very well versed in a number of sciences—having used over 1,500 sources in that one book alone.
How important is it for scifi books to be based on real science?
I believe it is best for Sci-Fi books to be based on current scientific ideas as much as possible—depending on the subject matter. However, these ideas often change faster than one can imagine, so one cannot fault authors who employ concepts that later prove to be unfounded.
If someone asked you how the world would look like 100 years from now, what would be your answer?
Different. I don’t expect a utopia or a lifeless world. I only expect that our kind and our world will have changed. I surely hope we will have changed for the best, but we have not evolved very much in the last few thousand years. Granted, out knowledge is much greater, but if we don’t gain control over the beasts within (greed, violence, etc.)—how can we expect a bright future? Instead of throwing spears and arrows, we toss bombs and nukes. In 100 years all God’s children will have nukes and even nastier tools. Hmmm… seems like our knowledge needs a better direction.
Do you think the universe will one day collapse / end?
That’s the entire premise of Genesis. All things are in constant flux, and I imagine the universe will eventually follow a course that leads to either a total renewal of complete extinction. In either case, the reality we know will cease to exist. As for their being another “us” in a Multiverse, I suggest the proponents of that notion study the harmonics involved in string theory more closely. It is a matter of frequency, and what is the likelihood of two distinct universes sharing identical harmonics? Moreover, in that probability is a major component in our reality, what are the odds of identical experiences being manifest even should very similar species evolve? Yes, this reality will end, but it does so with each passing quantum moment—so nothing to sweat.
What about the earth? What do you think has the highest probability of destroying it?
Time changes all things. The earth will most certainly be changed by time, perhaps to its subatomic constituents. But as for destroying the world, it will simply be reconstituted and recycled—even if our sun devours it. However, once broken down by entropy…can anything ever become reconstituted? It’s an environmental question, so to speak, and I am sure one of you folks knows the answer.
If you could not write SF/F, what genre would you be writing?
Which is your favourite SF author and book?
My favourite reads from modern popular Sci-Fi authors are Dune by Frank Herbert, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams, and I, Robot by Isaac Asimov–which is probably my all-time favourite. But I’ve been writing so much I hardly ever get a chance to read.
Who has been the most influential author for you in SF?
I like Bob Baker, a British writer. He wrote some great Dr. Who episodes (The Three Doctors, The Mutants, Underworld, etc.), although these go back a very long time. He also did a few scripts for the Wallace and Gromit series, which are some of my favourite cartoon-type shows.
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Cats or dogs?
Coffee or tea?
Pizza (Sicilian style, with pepperoni, bacon, and extra sauce)
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Pants, shirt, shoes, wallet.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Every morning between when I wake up and when I run out of gas. I write in my bedroom, and seldom can stay at it for more than four hours—except on a good day.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you any why?
Plato, Aristotle, and Newton. Newton knew a bit of Greek, so he might be able to explain what Plato and Aristotle were arguing about.
List 3 of your all-time favourite movies?
The Empire Strikes Back
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Tell me your favourite song of all time (one song only, please).
Dust in the Wind.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Family Guy and American Dad (tied)
About the author
Dr. George H. Elder has lived a very eclectic professional and personal life. His education started with his Ph.D. fromPennState(in Speech Communication) and continued with a Master’s Degree in non-fiction writing from UNH. Dr. Elder has stepped into many different roles in his lifetime – a college teacher, custodian, upper-level scholar, drug addict, weight lifting coach, bouncer, and much, much more. The author of numerous articles in popular press and a scientific textbook. Dr. Elder prides himself on his ability to cover a wide range of issues with his wealth of personal knowledge and professional expertise.
You can learn more about George’s writing and philosophies on:
About Child of Destiny
The universe’s expansion is nearing its inevitable end and everything is being devoured by entropy. The key to having a future is a missing energy source, a legendary metaphysical being known only through ancient tales. The last hope of a dying universe is to awaken this dormant Seeker who possesses the capacity to link the entire universe in thought and deed. He alone may be able to rekindle the sparks of a new universal cycle.
The remaining advanced species desperately want existence to continue, and send for missions to search for the Seeker. One such mission unexpectedly and inexplicably materializes on a primitive world that is inhabited by the Labateen, a Stone-Age warrior culture. Here they encounter Kara, an outcast Labateen noble woman and fierce warrior. Kara knows details about the Seeker’s litany that go well beyond coincidence, although to Kara they are simply the ways of God.
Is Kara the key to locating the long lost Seeker? And what of the races who believe that existence should end in an entropic whimper and who will not sit by while others attempt to alter the end of the universe. Lofty ideals give way to brutal pragmatism as a confederation of races struggles to survive and save existence. For a view of the first few chapters, please click here.
- Child of Destiny book tour guest post (frellathon.com)
- On Sci-Fi: The Question of Religion – Guest Post by Dr. George H. Elder (jcandrijeski.blogspot.com)
- Child of Destiny book tour : Interview (frellathon.com)