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1. What made you start writing?
I was really upset with how the eighth season of the Game of Thrones TV show ended, especially after waiting almost two years for it to come out. After about a week of listening to me complain, my wife asked why it was such a big deal to me. Somewhere in my response, I said, "Is it really so hard to end a story well?" She suggested that I find out by writing my own story, and all I could think was, 'yeah, okay, that's what I'm going to do.' A year and a half later, I was holding a copy of The Great Migration in my hand. Prior to that, I had never once thought about writing a book. It's crazy when I realize I'm going to release the final two books of this trilogy later this year.
2. How does your family feel about your writing?
I've gotten a lot of support from my family and friends. I'm continually amazed by how positively people respond when they hear that someone is writing a book. My brother was one of my beta readers on this project. Growing up, we were huge fans of epic science fiction and fantasy.
3. Let's discuss your book The Great Migration. How did you come up with the idea for the story?
I had intended to write an epic fantasy trilogy, likely because I still had the Game of Thrones show on my brain. But, while I love consuming material from the fantasy genre, I found I didn't really enjoy creating it. So, I spent a few months studying the principles of general relativity and quantum mechanics and managed to science out the fantasy elements of my story. That change forced a lot of randomness into the broad strokes of the plotline, so the book I ended up writing was quite different from the one I had intended at the outset.
4. The reviewer mentions the imaginative new worlds you created. How did you come up with and keep track of the religions, languages, etc.?
The book Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond, had a tremendous influence on how I approached the book's world building. Beyond that, I really wanted to create a setting that was familiar but different for the reader. I based the architecture and engineering of the urban settings on the European Renaissance Period, and the aesthetics of the Zuni community living in Thunder Valley have been strongly influenced by the various Native American cultures throughout history, although the monolithic domes of the story were a creative choice on my part. The faiths in the story are very similar to each other, but there is a great deal of antagonism and rivalry amongst the different sects. Again, that was one more attempt at my 'familiar but different' approach to the world building. This society is largely opposed to the idea of formal, religious practices, however, so most of the people in the story express themselves freely, without any strong considerations to things like nudity, sexuality, or drug and alcohol use.
5. There were also multiple characters. Which one most resembles you? Any of them?
I can relate to the way Bellona's insecurities inhibit her self-awareness. I can also relate to her desire to explore Thunder Valley, despite all the potential dangers of the area.
6. What scene in the book was the most difficult for you to write? Which was easiest?
The scene where Azanon is hiding in a clothing store after a s'orne attack. As a character, he has none of the skills or abilities required to get himself to safety. For weeks I thought I had written myself into a corner there, but then I remembered a book called Deep Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Lawrence Gonzales. It's a brilliant book on survival, and once I revisited it, the only challenge left was getting the broad tenets of that book into Azanon's head. I've had a lot of people tell me that that was their favorite part of the book, which makes all the stress and effort of writing it worthwhile.
7. Is there a central message you want to convey?
Our empathy suffers whenever we view the world in terms of good and evil, or right and wrong.
8. What's next for you?
I will be releasing books two and three of The S'orne Saga in September 2023. After that, I've gotten a fair number of requests to write a book on Bellona's tour of Thunder Valley. I think it's a really good idea, and the story is already in my head. It will tell the story of how Bellona came to that region and why her tour group became so closely bonded.
I like to end with fun questions.
9. What animal would you most want to talk to you and why?
I'd like to talk to my dog Toby to see if he loves me as much as I love him.
10. If you had to choose, would you rather be deprived of sleep or food?
11. Do you like going to the movies or prefer watching at home?
Home most of the time, but every now and then, there's a movie you just have to see in 3-D.
12. What’s your favorite family tradition?
My wife and I take a trip every year for her birthday. We love exploring together.